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Hello! My name is Rita, I am 28 years old and I am from Russia (my beloved sunny Krasnodar), but I have been living in India for two years now. What am I doing here? I am married to Indian. But not a typical Indian. And I believe that even living in such country like India is possible to remain yourself, though sometimes it isn’t easy, but not necessary to live according to social stereotypes. Actually for a long time in my life already I have complicated relationships with stereotypes. But let’s start from the beginning…
When I was at school, I was a shy nerdy class topper, who was perceived only so. Although I didn’t look exactly like one ever (now, looking from the Indian perspective, it seems very strange for me to remember how a shy nerd went to school in short skirts and with make up)…
At one point, my life and my mindset changed by 360 degrees: when I was 16 years old, I became a model. More precisely, only began to try. But immediately I saw an aggressive “panic” of people from the discrepancy of stereotypes in their heads. You will not believe me, but I even have been bullied for my desire to become a model! What only I wasn’t told: that I will clean the floors in modelling agency, that I will become a prostitute, that I will die from anorexia, that I won’t finish school well (because “models are stupid” and I suddenly supposed to become stupid because of such stereotype lol). Many people also asked me stereotypical and rude questions, such as: “Do you need to sleep with someone to receive the shoot?” or “You models hang out with rich guys, right?”. Needless to say that my decency haven’t changed when I became a model and I have remained being, in fact, the same nerdy girl. So I was shocked why people considered such questions as “normal” and OK to ask – just because stereotypes say so???!!! I have never been “a part of the group” anymore, but I didn’t want already. I no longer worried about people’s opinions and I realized how important it is for the human psyche and self-development! And, surely, how different stereotypes can be from reality….
After I finished the school (regardless of people “predictions”, that too, with the gold medal), I could choose any profession. But I decided to listen to myself, because I didn’t want to hate every day of my future life then. So, friends, I am graduated as decorator and ethnographer. Decor is something that I love to do: for the opportunity to create something from nothing, to transform the ugly into the beautiful or to the give old things a new life! As an ethnographer, I have studied and fell in love with Russian traditional culture history, despite the fact that at that time it was “unfashionable”. It was very interesting for me to study it, it was like a “time machine”. But in the same time I was always happy that now we don’t have to live according to the strict rules of traditional culture. Paradox, yes? Who knew that in a few years traditional culture would become my real surrounding, not just a historical knowledge? The ethnographer’s gaze, however, helps me to understand social processes abroad better.
I have been a vegetarian for 10 years now, but it happened NOT because of India, like many people think, it happened much earlier. Not vegetarianism is getting in “fashion” in my country, but before it was not that easy. And, of course, people stereotyped and given “suggestions” me from this point of view too!
I worked as a model for many years, and yes, no matter how opposed to stereotypes it sounds, but this job has really shaped my spirit. According to me, modeling is harder than office work. I worked as a model in India also, shot a lot for advertisement of Indian clothes, traditional clothes as well (if you want to learn Basics of Modeling in India, Click Here), and even shot a little bit for Indian movie! (You can watch it Here).
While working as a model, I started to be interested in photography as well. Bought a camera and started to shoot my model-friends. Now I’m doing it on more serious basis and you can find my photography Here.
I have also tried myself in other professions: car insurance, content writing and even marionette theater. I am also interested in such areas of knowledge as psychology, philosophy and spiritual development, medicine and health, ecology. Since I have moved to India and was hit by immigrant’s depression, I started to be very interested in cross-culture psychology as well.
Now again about India: the first time I came to the country in 2012, to Mumbai, in 2013 I came to Delhi. And in Delhi I live now. In 2016-2017 I spent a lot of time here, because I have been already dating my future husband. In 2018, at the end of February I moved here, and in May we got married. And, of course, having an Indian husband means being asked a lot of stereotypical questions as well, mostly about him forcing Indian culture on me – since the stereotypes say so. However, we didn’t have a typical Indian wedding, I didn’t change religion and they way I dress up after marriage. Why? I will tell you later!
India is the country that never stops to make me wondering about the way people mix traditions and modern life here. It makes my ethnographer’s mind to analyze and imagine, how would my country look like if our traditions wouldn’t just exist in books and museums now but be a part of daily routine until today, or what will be happening in India after a few decades?…
As an ethnographer, I believe in the need to remember our roots. But in the same time I consider myself a person without mentality. I have been traveling to different Asian countries, and, in fact, each of them had some impact on me, each of them made to look at my life BEFORE visiting it from a different angle.
It seems to me that in the modern world blind following of the habits of the past only contributes to establishment of boundaries in people’s minds, the separation and possible aggression between them and sometimes racism and even wars. Since now the borders between the countries are more open than ever, I believe people should be more open-minded to each other as well!