SAARI’s 2021 Wrap-Up

As 2021 comes to and end, the SAARI team gets together to reflect on key moments over the past year. 

What was a big South Asian moment or event for you this year?

It’s going to sound very cliché and stereotypical, but as an Indian cricket fan it was amazing to see their Test series victory in Australia earlier this year. Despite all the adversity, injuries and experts writing them off, they showed a huge amount of determination and skill to just keep going. I think it was a win that was celebrated by South Asians overall too, to see that it is actually possible to beat Australia in their backyard. - Aman

The biggest national moment for me was when COVID was raging in India and the Australian government issued a discriminatory travel ban against Indians. It showed that different nationalities and cultures are still considered very differently, and we have to advocate as South Asians to make change, and we did. The biggest personal moment was when my oldest son, born in Australia, started playing cricket, and went up to someone with an Indian accent near the cricket oval and said, unprompted, “Are you Indian? I’m Indian too.” - Sandeep

It’s been an eventful year in global politics but the most seismic South Asian moment for me was when I learnt to make my mum’s chicken curry. It’s still not as good as hers, which I think is appropriate. I think my mum’s hands are pre-marinated or something, cos I’ve been watching her closely and she’s not adding anything different, but her touch seems to be packing extra flavour. - Chen

A big South Asian moment for me was the representation and the increasing voices advocating for it. From global politics and arts to Walkley winners, medical boards and CEOs, I’ve seen role models, people and journeys I can identify with - which is something the younger me yearned for. Also what comes with it is the recognition of how there still continue to be biases and glass ceilings and we must advocate, stand up and demand change. A win for one of us is a win for all of us. - Pranjali

For South-Asians worldwide, 2021 has been an incredible year for representation across industries and it’s been exciting to see our communities talents being seen across major platforms. On a personal note, my highlight in lockdown mornings would be making South Indian filter coffee. While a small part of my day, I always look forward to my filter coffee - it reminds me of being in Bangalore. - Harshdeep

What was a SAARI story that meant the most to you this year?

Quite tricky to narrow this down to a favourite since there were so many good ones. Suku’s story about the predatory behaviour of some anorexia coaches was a real eye-opener. Celebrating a Sustainable Diwali was one of the earlier articles that I also found quite interesting as the younger generation is becoming more aware of their environmental impact and footprint. - Aman

The SAARI community really came together to support South Asians when COVID was at its peak. We wrote about and offered free mental health support, wrote about how the isolation of the travel ban gave us a survivor’s guilt complex, and wrote a story about how to support South Asians you know who were struggling. I’m proudest of this suite of stories and initiatives, because it offered a real voice and real support for our community in a time of need. - Sandeep

My favourite story was Suku Sukunesan’s brave journey to research the insidious world of anorexia coaches. Suku’s work is unique and covert, and has helped bring awareness to the relationship between eating disorders and social media. - Chen

2021 has been a big year for news all-around. What stood out to me this past year was SAARI’s focus on supporting the mental health and wellbeing of the community through the big year we’ve had. The stories covering resources and tips on mental health and those recognising the intersectionality surrounding the pandemic really stood out to me. It gives a voice to the fact that not everyone experiences things the same way and that’s okay. Navigating the pandemic and all that’s been happening can be isolating for many so the message that there is a community here to support you and that you’re not alone is all the more important.  - Pranjali

I think the response stories to the farmers' protests in India were quite special for me. It was difficult seeing the protests from so far away and feeling helpless throughout. But it was heartwarming to see the diaspora come together to support the farmers despite being separated indefinitely by the pandemic. I also loved Ayesha’s piece on transhumanism -  it’s such a fascinating concept and not something I’d ever thought about before reading the piece. Reflecting on how the world has adapted to remote working, it’s so interesting to consider how technology connects to both our mind and body. - Harshdeep

What’s been the highlight for you this year?

It’s been a pretty turbulent year in general with world events. I think seeing people start to have appreciation for connection and community is something that has been great to see. For the most part, there’s been a sense of comradery and drive towards helping more, connecting with friends, family and loved ones, or connecting with the wider community. - Aman

This year the highlight for me has been SAARI get togethers, culminating in the events in Brisbane, the event with the Malthouse Theatre talking about diversity, and SAARI’s first birthday party. Through our events, we brought together South Asians from across Australia to connect, share stories, talk about real issues and celebrate their creativity. Each event had a tangible sense of community, and a lot of real, meaningful relationships were formed. I left every SAARI event with great energy that kept me going amidst lockdowns. And the other highlight was the day my kids and I dressed up in astronaut costumes and went to the rocketship playground and pretended we were on another planet! - Sandeep

The guy on the COVID hotline who talked to me for ten minutes about his cousin who had the same birthday as me. It was inefficient but refreshingly human. - Chen

For me, the highlight has absolutely been meeting new people, learning about their stories and appreciating the beauty of connection and community that comes with it. From meeting new writers, to speaking with some incredible people and interviewing fascinating powerhouses to working with my team, I’m incredibly grateful for all of it. All the conversations, the journey of actualising ideas and the unifying desire to make the world a better, more inclusive place for all. - Pranjali

Meeting and working with writers this year has been incredible. I am very grateful to be able to share this space with writers for the stories they want to tell. It’s a really special feeling when writers reach out because they want to write about something that inspires them or drives them and being able to be part of that journey with them has been amazing. - Harshdeep

From all of us at the SAARI Collective, we thank you for such an action-packed year, one filled with connections and ideas. We wish you all a safe and joyous New Year and look forward to voicing more stories in 2022!