Who is Simran?
I’m a 28-year-old Sikh from London, UK. I’d say the most prominent thing that I’ve been told time again about myself is the fact that people think of me as an “old soul”. I’ve always been THAT friend – one to listen and speak well beyond my years and this started from a very young age. I guess this also contributes to my obsession with historic architecture and old finds. I’ve always been a curious individual.
Who are your role models?
The biggest role models in my life are my mother and father who I have written about extensively on my Instagram page (@_SimSpeaks). As migrants from Punjab, they have always demonstrated strength and perseverance throughout their lives and I’ve always expressed that I wish to follow in their footsteps as a parent myself.
My second role model has to be Princess Diana. My admiration for her stemmed from when I first watched a documentary based on her life back in 2017. From her, I learnt that a person of any stature can be authentic in their day to day living. She was kind, elegant, an incredible humanitarian and loved by millions.
What is your favourite book and song?
Gosh, that’s a tricky question. I have hundreds of books in my collection and each of them are special but, if I had to choose one, it would have to be a novel – ‘A Thousand Splendid Suns’ by Khaled Hosseini. It told the story of two women sharing a marriage with an abusive husband and how they grew to develop a friendship between one another to become each other’s support system. There is nothing better than a story that speaks on female empowerment.
I can’t choose a favourite song, that’s too hard. But just to put it out there, I’m a keen Karan Aujla fan!
I have seen your sketches and you’re a talented artist. Has this always been a passion?
Yes. I took art for GCSE and (although I just about scraped a C) I absolutely loved it. Only very recently have I rediscovered my love for it and, though I’m not a pro, I take pride in whatever it is I feel like drawing/painting.
How difficult has it been to teach during Covid-19? Has it been challenging going back to work?
The pandemic has had a significant impact on student learning and development. Although alternatives were used i.e. virtual learning, not being able to physically teach has been a real challenge. Returning back to work after 3 months has been a delight. Not only is it absolutely great to see the children but it reset my whole routine. I didn’t realise how off my body clock was – sleeping at the crack of dawn and not waking up until mid-afternoon. I needed to get back to work; only lasted 2 weeks though before the summer holidays.
You are a talented Bhangra dancer, where did the love for Bhangra come from?
My love for Bhangra started from when I first went to a Vasda Punjab class back in 2013 thanks to the persuasion of my closest friends, Kieran. I was completely unaware that Bhangra was so unique in its art (not the usual ‘screw the lightbulb, pet the dog’ thing) and so, when I began attending frequent classes, I realised it’s significance and began educating myself on its intricacies.
You were a part of Vasda Punjab – a dance group based in Southall. How did you find being a member of the group?
It was some of the best years of my life if I’m honest. Being a part of a group felt like I had purpose. I made some great friendships and was exposed to some amazing opportunities over the years.
Were your family supportive of your dancing?
At first, no. It was tough. They couldn’t seem to get on board with me attending regular classes. It was only when they first watched me perform on stage along with other female dancers that they accepted this as something to be proud about. I don’t think they understood how diverse and popular Bhangra had become.
How did it feel stepping on stage to perform for the first time?
Nerve-wracking! I remember furiously rubbing my palms together to get rid of the of pre-performance sweats.
I loved seeing the girls perform at Folk Stars 2016. Do you think there’s a stigma around girls being able to perform live Bhangra?
That’s a good question! Yes, I do think there’s a stigma around girls wanting to perform live Bhangra. I was rooting for those girls at Folk Stars 2016. It’s not easy working so hard for a competition which is so male dominated and then to listen to scrutiny purely because they’re females attempting something new.
As Sikh Punjabi’s, we promote equality in every aspect of our lives – why not Bhangra? For centuries, it’s been a male dominated scene, but people need to understand that times have changed. It’s about time the UK showcases an all-female LIVE BHANGRA comp!
You were due to get married in April this year which, unfortunately, had to be cancelled due to the coronavirus. Tell me about that.
It was stressful initially but, after a while we realised there are hundreds in the same boat as we were – some in worse situations than us. It’s life after all, extremely unexpected and we just have to go with it.
How difficult was it overcoming all the plans that had been made?
Cancelling the wedding in Punjab proved to be a lot easier than re-planning a wedding here in the UK. I think everybody panicked and swarmed every Gurdwara trying to find a date for next year. I don’t blame them to be honest, we we’re doing the same and, what made it worse is the fact that we both work in the education sector, which meant we were extremely limited with dates.
You’ve recently started a brilliant page on Instagram (@_SimSpeaks) to post up your creative writing. Please tell us about that and what the page means to you.
I created this page with the intention to post short fictional stories that promote some sort of a message or just simply personal thoughts and feelings written as memoirs. I’ve always been a huge fan of literature, absolutely love to read and dissect different types of text. It’s incredibly thought-provoking and I felt that, maybe if I put my content out there, not only would it prove to be a great outlet for me personally but, it would (hopefully) catch the attention of people who find solace in posts such as mine.
I take great pride in @_SimSpeaks. It’s raw and authentic which is what I always aimed for, even if that meant exposing my vulnerable side to the world.
P.S. Can I be a little cheeky here and say, “go check it out!”.
The stories you have shared about your parents were incredible. Where did that idea come from?
Thank you! There are numerous pages out there that support the south Asian community, particularly parents and grandparents and, I wanted to make my contribution when I decided to post ‘The Vintage Series’. In all honesty, it was my partner who gave me the idea, so credit goes to him. Their life has been so rich with experiences, so it made perfect sense to write about them and, to my surprise, it was so well received.
Where would you take your blog?
Hmm, I haven’t thought about that yet. For the time being, it’s just a little passion of mine that I hope people will continue to love and support.
You and your partner, Rajvatan, are incredibly supportive of each other’s work. Why do you think that’s important?
There’s simply no point in being with each other if were not supportive of each other’s work no matter what it is we choose to do as individuals. People need to love selflessly, only then will they be able to let go of expectation and become each other’s strength.
What advice would you give to anyone who wishes to follow in your footsteps?
Never be afraid of judgement and never let anybody tell you you’re not good enough – their negativity is born from insecurity and, most times, they’re fighting their own battles.
What is next for Simran?
I aspire to be a novelist one day. It’ll take a lot of time, patience, and learning and I have a long way to go but, with the support system I have around me, I believe I will get there one day.