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The Woke Desi

The Woke Desi

By The Woke Desi
With lives in New York and San Francisco, the ladies of The Woke Desi came together for one reason: to give South Asian women (and men!) a voice, a place to call home and a friend to empower them as they make their badass way through life. Talking about fun issues like dating and marriage, to the heavier ones like infertility and desi stigmas, The Woke Desi explores the topics South Asians have only whispered about until now, lending itself to a generation unafraid of being bold and fearless. Join hosts Annika and Nehal as they take a fun, unfiltered, thoughtful approach to all things Desi.
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It's Not All Rainbows and Unicorns

The Woke Desi

It's Not All Rainbows and Unicorns

The Woke Desi

When Do You Draw The Line?
Drug addiction--two words that South Asians hardly ever mention in conversation, but an issue that exists far more widely than we recognize. In India alone, the state of Punjab has three times the rate of addiction than the rest of India, with two thirds of the population having an addict in the family. While heroin is the choice drug in Punjab, and TWD focuses on the west, the issue isn't separated by miles the way we'd think. Even in the US, drug use is a rising problem among South Asian populations. On today's episode, we discuss cocaine addiction with Rupal Patel, a former addict now celebrating two years of recovery, and Nimrat Bindra, a drug dependency counselor in Texas who primarily works with felons who have violated their probation with drug use. 
October 29, 2019
Namast'ay In Your Lane
Despite the comical titling of this episode, cultural appropriation is an issue that South Asians not only face but participate in. From bindis in the Halloween aisle, to Christian Yoga...from Gucci turbans to "blaccents," this episode of The Woke Desi delves into the notions of cultural appropriation versus appreciation, how appropriation comes from concepts of colonization and methods used to shame people of color, and how we see it today. 
October 15, 2019
Let Divorce Be With You
Divorce. Did it make you shudder? Probably not the same way it's made countless aunties and uncles give a divorced person the side eye. On this episode, TWD takes a different look at divorce within the South Asian community. Speaking with divorce coach Syeda Neary and divorce attorney Divani Nadaraja, topics of discussion include coping mechanisms, coaching through divorce and the process of shame and healing in SA cultures, legal obstacles and uniquely South Asian issues faced when trying to get a divorce, and more. A standout spin on a taboo topic, this episode is a must listen! This episode is brought to you by Bakwaas Apparel! Use our code THEWOKEDESI to get 15% off your order!
October 8, 2019
Trauma to Treasure
Please be aware this episode has a trigger warning on it for sexual violence, rape, assault, and shaming. Sexual violence. Rape. Sexual assault. So many names for what can only be considered one thing: a violation of humanity. On this episode, Annika and Nehal do their best with a heavy topic by speaking with two guests--Jitna Bhagani, Founder of She Will Survive, a non-profit aimed at empowering women and girls and deconstructing the attitudes surrounding sexual violence in the South Asian community, and Ragini Chatterjee, a survivor of rape who shared her painful experience and the ways she was able to survive and thrive in spite of it. Topics such as grooming within the South Asian culture, teaching children to own their bodies, understanding how survivors may cope, and how we, as the South Asian collective culture, tend to shame those who have suffered enough, are explored on this episode.
October 1, 2019
Not A Disg-race
You asked, we delivered. After a large number of requests to do an episode on Interracial Relationships, TWD is coming at its listeners with a show on two interracial marriages. The first guest, Disha Smith of the blog Disha Discovers, was disowned by her family for falling in love with, and eventually marrying a Caucasian man. The second, Padma Richardson, had the blessing of her family and she explains how she's successfully navigated her interracial marriage with a Caucasian man named Nate, and what challenges they've faced with her traditional background. An eyeopening episode, this one may lead to more intercultural, interracial, and interfaith episodes as we continue on with further seasons!  Let us know what you think by rating and reviewing us with 5-stars on Apple podcasts!
September 24, 2019
Nourish to Flourish
Eating disorders. In South Asian communities, they are often seen as a "white" problem--and those who suffer from eating disorders are largely described as just "watching their weight." Only emphasizing the unhealthy beauty standards that South Asian communities push upon their members, eating disorders can be a traumatic, lifelong experience. TWD speaks with Vaidehi Gajjar, a survivor of an eating disorder, and Dr. Rachita Sharma, a licensed therapist at the University of North Texas, about eating disorders, the effects on survivors and the unique concerns of South Asian sufferers of these sometimes deadly disorders.
September 17, 2019
Spillin' the Anxietea
Co-host Annika Sharma opened up about her depression and anxiety on this episode, along with Harpreet Gill, a listener who contributed her story as a depression survivor. Describing their experiences, physical feelings and coping mechanisms for anxiety, Annika and Nehal also had insights from Ravina Wadhwani, a mental health therapist with the South Asian Network, a grassroots organization aimed at assisting South Asians in the Bay Area with mental health issues, immigration problems, cultural stressors and more. A must-listen for anyone who is interested in how common mental health issues are amongst the South Asian community's women.
September 10, 2019
Let's Get Cliterate
TWD speaks with Pussyriously blogger Srushti Mahamuni about the implications of South Asian discouragement of self-love, masturbation and body exploration, and how to please a sexual partner, paying attention to the clit, vibrators and more! A thought-provoking, relaxed, and fun conversation revolving around female pleasure, this episode is bound to make listeners excited. 18+ only.
September 3, 2019
Men-tality Shift
When South Asian men's mental health is searched on Google, there are hardly any significant findings, and contrary to first impressions, it's not because the problem doesn't exist. South Asians as a whole report higher rates of depression and anxiety than their similarly-aged, white counterparts, even after adjustments for socioeconomic status. Most mental health studies related to South Asians have been conducted in the UK, an indicator that Europe is ahead of the United States in recognizing this serious problem. For the first time, TWD is hosting men on the episode to lend their brilliant insights about their mental health. Abhi Ravinutala, the founder of MannMukti, a non-profit aimed at sharing stories of South Asian mental health survivors, and Adarsh Satish, a survivor of depression and anxiety, speak about their experiences as South Asian men and the sad truth that mental health is a pervasive issue deserving of more attention.
August 27, 2019
Are We "Move-In" Too Fast?
Living together--two words that cause a flutter of excitement in any gossiping aunty group. In this episode, Nehal and Annika (Resham had a family commitment this week!) explore live-in relationships, or cohabiting, with a significant other before marriage. Laws have only recently been passed in India--the only South Asian country to create a legal form of protection--but social opinions haven't made the same jump to acceptance quite yet, and the hosts explore their own thoughts along with facts and figures about the changing trend of cohabitation in South Asian cultures.
July 30, 2019
Aziz An-Sorry or Not? & Other Controversies
After a few heavy episodes, TWD takes a look at South Asian entertainment and famous figures. Is Aziz Ansari deserving of another chance? Did Priyanka Chopra and Nick Jonas make you go, "WTF"? Was Aladdin on your must-watch or must-go lists? From cultural representation to scandals to the social impact of having South Asians on mainstream media, we're talking all things glitz and glamour on Episode 9 of The Woke Desi. Please like, share, and subscribe on all platforms as it does make a difference to how this podcast is heard! Have a comment of your own? Email at
July 23, 2019
It's Not All Rainbows and Unicorns
Pride month just ended but supporting the South Asian LGBTQIA community is something desis should do far more than one month out of the year. This week, the hosts of The Woke Desi speak with the brilliant Priya Arora. Priya is an editor by day, and a podcaster by night. Born and raised in California, they moved to N.Y.C. to pursue a graduate degree in counseling psychology, and found their voice as a community activist and writer. Priya is now an editor at The New York Times, and previously worked at HuffPost and Yahoo. Priya currently serves on the board of SAJA, the South Asian Journalists Association, and previously served on the board of SALGA NYC, the tri-state area's largest South Asian LGBTQ+ organization. They are also the host and creator of Queering Desi, a podcast celebrating South Asian LGBTQ+ people. As TWD's hosts wrote this episode, they were struck by how much straight privilege they had, and used this as a guiding point for their conversation with Priya. Speaking about LGBTQIA communities within the South Asian population in the US, they discussed rights yet to be won, issues with coming out, and the uniqueness of the challenges faced within brown society. An eye-opening episode, this is one not to be missed.
July 16, 2019
Love & Abuse
Two out of five South Asian women are estimated to be in abusive situations. This staggering statistic is tragically underreported because of societal pressure to keep one's dirty laundry to themselves, a permeating and accepting culture of abuse, and victim blaming that can often lead to secrecy and shame. Despite these disheartening attitudes, one thing is still clear: every single person has a right to safety and South Asians are no different. On today's episode, we speak with Shikha Patel, LCSW about the signs and red flags to look out for and the different types of abuse that she sees within her work, particularly with South Asian clients. The Woke Desi is also privileged to have another guest on this episode--a young female listener (who wanted to stay anonymous) shares her experience falling in love, getting married and facing domestic abuse from both her husband and her in-laws, leading to her being thrown out with the clothes on her back. *If you need a list of resources, the girls at The Woke Desi have your back. Please message or email at so we can help. We have your back. This powerful episode of TWD is a must-listen. Please share, subscribe and rate us on all platforms, as it does help us get seen. 
July 9, 2019
The Inconceivable Truth
Gutwrenching, broken silence. That was the only thing left in the wake of guest Shreeda Tailor's story. We had no words. A husband's sorrow. A mother's grief. Losses that neither they nor doctors can explain clearly--and the sad fact that medicine still struggles to reason the miscarriages and infertility that afflict over 7.4 million women.  The most powerful episode of The Woke Desi explores infertility, miscarriage and South Asian culture. Men contribute to or cause 40% of infertility in couples. 1 in 4 to 1 in 5 pregnancies will end in a miscarriage. With such high rates, one would imagine the South Asian population would speak about these losses and obstacles with more openness but sadly, the opposite is true. For cultures that are so results-driven, the struggle to conceive a child or birth a child is often seen as a failure. Both women and men are encouraged to move on, but are often omitted from religious functions or isolated in their sadness. Shreeda's story, backed with the expertise of infertility specialist Dr. Rashmi Kudesia, allows men and women of all ages to understand the pain and grieving of this all-too-common loss, support those experiencing it, and serves as a lesson on how to empower oneself regarding your reproductive health. This critical episode is one TWD team hopes everyone will listen to, pass on to those who are suffering, and learn from. As always, like, subscribe, SHARE, comment on our social media and send us your thoughts on @thewokedesi on all social media.
June 25, 2019
It's Not You, It's Me.
Breakups...They suck. Whether you're the heartbreaker or the one whose heart is in a million pieces...breakups are an age-old tale and they never get easier. This week, we discuss why one of our hosts cheated, how it changed her, how to get through a heartbreak...and so much more.  Agree or disagree with all we've shared? Let us know @thewokedesi on all social media! Please like, share, subscribe and comment. We can't wait to hear from you!
June 18, 2019
Just Go With the Flow. Period.
Periods aren't just a girl thing. In South Asian culture, it means women are often prevented from going to places of worship, mingling with family, or, in Asia, even going to school. In this episode, we explore our own family traditions, why we agree or disagree with the idea of women "sitting out" and being isolated, how periods can often be a giant clash between Eastern and Western ideals, and how menstrual equity is different depending on the part of the world you grow up in. We hope the guys and the girls tune in for this one! As always, like, subscribe, comment, and share your thoughts with us on social media @thewokedesi on Instagram, Twitter and Facebook.
June 11, 2019
Until Society Do Us Part
Biodatas? Marriage? What?!? The pressure to get married is inevitable once you've come of age—AKA post-grad for most women in South Asian culture. From society’s expectations of looks, wealth, and education to the shame we are made to feel if we are unmarried, this onion just does not stop peeling. A few of us simply want to chase our dreams, others want partners and family, but most of us want the best of both. How can we attain both without feeling broken? Here are three difference takes on this beautiful, but often burdensome, social phenomenon. 
June 4, 2019
Unfair and Always Lovely
TRIGGER WARNING: Please be aware that this episode contains mentions of suicidal thoughts. "You're too dark." "You're too light." "She must be sick." "She's 'healthy.'" The beauty standards in South Asian culture are staggering. We talk to Nehal Mehra, self-love influencer, makeup artist, and all-around brilliant Indian woman, about the bogus standards we as desi women have been held to, how society needs to change and how we can transform our lives by adjusting the way we speak to ourselves.
May 28, 2019
Swipe Left or Find Mr. Right
"So...what are we?" How many times have we asked that question of the person we're seeing? At the very least, how many times have we wondered what stage of seeing someone we're in? In the world of dating apps, anonymity, and a million options at your fingertips, the landscape of love has transformed into one of swipes, likes, and instant gratification. In this first episode of The Woke Desi, we share a few crazy dating stories, some expectations, and all the WTFs that dating brings. Subscribe, like, and share to support The Woke Desi on all platforms now.
May 21, 2019
Bonus: Resham
A corporate woman. A certified yoga instructor. A raw vegan wellness enthusiast. From her all-natural methods to her philosophical prowess, Resham Dhaduk is going to make health the new wealth. Get to know our brilliant holistic health guru and co-host Resham on this raw, unfiltered episode!
May 14, 2019
Bonus: Nehal
A blogger. A fashionista. A pop culture genius. If you need anything from lifestyle advice to the latest scoop on celebrities, Nehal is your new best friend. Get to know our gorgeous glam girl and co-host, Nehal Tenany on this raw, unfiltered episode!
May 14, 2019
Bonus: Annika
A contemporary fiction author. A health communications manager. Two master's degrees. Is there anything Annika hasn't done? From Penn State to the Big Apple, Annika Sharma is here to conquer...get to know our favorite author and wordsmith co-host in this raw, unfiltered interview! 
May 14, 2019
Episode 0: Welcome to The Woke Desi!
Three women. Two cities. ​A million possibilities. With lives in New York and San Francisco, the ladies of The Woke Desi came together for one reason: to give South Asian women (and men!) a voice, a place to call home and a friend to empower them as they make their badass way through life. ​ ​They're powerful. They're besharam. They're woke.
May 8, 2019