HS Interview: Ishra Prasad

Tell us a bit about yourself?

I was born in Fiji, and moved to Australia when I was around 5 years old. I spent 14 years of my life in Griffith, rural NSW which is part of Wiradjuri country. 

On my Mum’s side I am half Pakistani and half Rotuman (Rotuma is technically part of Fiji but its culture compromises of more Polynesian elements than Melanesian aspects). On my Dad’s side I’m of Indian descent but my ancestors came as indentured laborers (a very jazzy term for slavery) so a lot of our family history has been lost, including our natural mother tongue. I was raised in a multi-ethnic household and also a multi-religious one – my Mum is a practicing Muslim and my Dad is a practicing Hindu. 

My parents are go-getters and I think that was instilled in me at a very early age. To have eggs in multiple baskets was a norm.  I feel like as part of me trying to live more slowly I have had to unlearn elements of this but the creativity and zeal my parents still have toward and for their lives, families and work is something that I truly admire and aspire to replicate (but with my own spin). 

I could go on about hobbies forever. It’s almost jarring to meet people who don’t explore hobbies and passions outside of their work – I mean, how else do you keep your sanity? Right now I’m trying to hone in my skills in clay and painting (possibly like everyone else during iso), as well as photography and digital content creation. Also trying to pick up Swedish but I can be extremely absent minded and restless, and usually keep adding to my list so if you ask me this in 3 months time, you would definitely get another set of answers! 

Share a cultural nuance or attribute you have and hold valuable and tell us how you use it in your general life.  

I mean I don’t know if this is a specific South Asian nuance because I think the act of taking over a cuppa is about as universal as it gets, but there is something so special in being invited over to another person’s house and talking over a cup of freshly brewed chaa (more commonly known as chai). Everyone has different methods and recipes and usually these are passed down from generation to generation, and I definitely feel like it’s a subtle form of cultural exchange. 

The one other thing that definitely sticks out for me is the concept of nazar, or evil eye. I’m not an overly superstitious person and I tend not to ponder on how others can or have the potential to give me nazar, but try and focus more so on the underlying principles of it, which is basically that the people that you interact with and surround yourself with can impact your wellbeing, especially in subtle ways. And more importantly, that you need to be accountable for your actions and inner thoughts especially when sharing in someone else’s joys or good fortune. 

What do you do for work/study each day?

I’m nearly at the end of my second degree, and first studied a Bachelor of Health and Med Sci (Adv). Hopefully post-grad med is the next move for me 

If you weren’t working in this area what would you do?

Probably something still within the medical field but maybe down the allied health path. But in all honesty, the more I learn about the work my Mum does as a child protection officer, and the more I correlate my own values of activism with what she has taught me through what she has learnt in her career, that’s also starting to sound enticing. 

What does success look like to you?

Being in a position where I have the freedom to explore and work on things that matter to me, and in turn, for those things to matter to people beyond myself. I don’t mean appeasing the standards that others have for me, but more so that the work I choose to do benefits people from outside my circle 

How do you take care of yourself during these unprecedented times?

By consistently checking in with myself and giving myself space to express and hold negative emotions within my body before allowing them to pass. I feel like doing inner child work has definitely helped me in this regard because I don’t feel selfish or guilty for deciding to choose myself in situations where I would normally opt to people please. 

Also just clearing and being more mindful of who I follow and engage with on social media (since it feels like I’m on it like 25 hours a day some days). Following more BIPOC brands and pages has been so grounding. I’m no longer allowing a narrative of ethnocentricity to define my beliefs or perceptions of beauty, style and philosophy. Refining my social media space was empowering because I didn’t realise how frequently I was being exposed to such outdated and irrelevant ideals. I am working toward surrounding myself with creatives who not only share my values, but challenge them and allow me to consistently evolve in all aspects of my life. 

What is a valuable lesson learned recently?

I think one of the more toxic traits I’ve realised within myself is the persistent urge to give advice when it’s not asked for. I think that realisation was so valuable because it was part of a series of thoughts where I came to understand that I was capable of toxicity and was then able to hold space for myself and then rework that into a more sustainable habit of checking myself whenever my mouth opened to spew forward some rhetoric. I am a great listener and that aspect of my personality was being overshadowed by this selfish desire to be righteous. That realisation of toxicity within my own self and also the realisation that my personality and characteristics are fluid and I can change and grow, is probably one of the most powerful I’ve had in a while. 

Quick Fire

Favourite book?

The Metamorphosis by Franz Kafka

Best way to unwind?

Talking to a loved one with a cup of chaa, and plate of high cholesterol samosa (minus the loved one depending on how many samosas there are)

What is a 10/10 series you’re watching?

After Life!

Honest coffee order?

If I’m being honest… it’s an almond milk hot choc 

Sweet or savoury?

Savoury all the way

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