Dear people of Beirut,

I am brown. I am Indian. And I happen to be interested in Middle East.

I choose to walk everyday to university, here in Beirut. But the fact that I choose to walk doesn’t have to mean that I would be a ‘willing’ woman. If you think that India produces women and men to be gutter-cleaners in your house and live to your sexual frustration every now and then , you are wrong. In spite of our colour, both – the maid in your house and I, are human beings. Just like you.

I love the colour of my skin. I love to sit in the sun and let this nature be a part of me. I do this, in spite of the fact that my neighbor complains to my mother all the time that I won’t be able to find a ‘suitable’ husband. I refrain from bleaching my skin, a custom followed by numerous women in my society. And no, I don’t wear high-heels since I am scared that I might fall on my face.

I walk bare-footed, since it gives me time to be with the earth, to feel the sand and rocks and grass. That does not mean that India doesn’t have shoes. India is not so easy to define. If it were, I wouldn’t be alive.

I wonder sometimes what you define as beautiful. Maybe those plastic-nosed women who wear clothes too short, paired with high-heels, as they go around too busy with their cell-phones to talk to you. I don’t use sophisticated cell-phones because I only need one to contact people when necessary and not to simultaneously live with them when they are continents away. My choice of what cell-phone I use doesn’t mean that India doesn’t have the kinds you use. India is both rich and poor, just like your own country.

If you want to know more about my country and its people, do come and talk to me. I would be more than glad to answer your questions.

Yours sincerely,






About Shreya Parikh

I am Shreya. Project Rethought is my attempt to rethink my own observations as a brown woman of Indian origin. I currently live in Paris where I teach at Sciences Po Paris and Parsons Paris-The New School.
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One Response to Dear people of Beirut,

  1. Popat says:

    You show great respect for yourself, and this in itself is highly respectable. It is a great weight that you carry, every day. As much as I can’t realize it, I acknowledge it. Continue to walk to the school, use your old phone and go barefoot; it is heavy, yet you are authentically “being”.

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