Good Indian Girl, Sort Of: Shilpa Thakur
What your favorite hangout in San Francisco: Usually, I love hanging out and hosting people at my abode in Soma. Otherwise, I enjoy spending time at the nearby Samovar Tea Lounge overlooking Yerba Buena gardens sharing conversation over a nice hot cup of masala chai.
Also, I Iove paying visits to a little-known hilltop park which I consider the most breathtaking view of the city called Tank Hill that I would frequently go to during law school for a nice break from everything. I still enjoy taking visitors there for an offbeat experience and a chance to marvel at the city I grew up in from a different perspective. I also recently also shot a music video here with my band, Sufi Funk.
I currently work as a: Chameleon! Global Technology Attorney, Performing Artist (Singer, Dancer, Actress) and Brand Builder and Mentor
I do this because: My parents got me into Kathak classical dance and Hindustani classical music among other art forms at the age of four, and from the time I can remember, I was performing on stage almost every weekend–whether at the temple, in cultural shows or talent shows.
My friends and I also started a dance company, but when I began law school I had less time for my artistic endeavors, although I would still perform as often as I could. Over time it did get harder to balance both.
I started work as a global technology attorney, traveled to and from India for meetings and conferences, found love and learned more about the world but I felt something was still missing. I knew I had to reorganize my life and allow for more creative and artistic expression that I had so predominantly growing up as a more prevalent factor as I discovered that not only is it my outlet, but also stimulates creativity in all aspects of my life.
What are some Indian traditions you still follow? Though I grew up Hindu, it was in college that I took a class in philosophy of world religions and started exploring Sikhism. As an Indian Sindhi, my ancestors were neighbors with the region of Punjab and were greatly influenced by the teachings of Guru Nanak (founder of Sikhism). In fact, Sindhis were so deeply influenced by the Master’s teachings that it was not uncommon for Sindhis to make their first son a Sikh. As I was the oldest daughter and felt a strong connection with Sikhism, in addition to their teachings and music, I started visiting the Gurdwara (Sikh temple) every Sunday as is customary. I also connect with the Shabad (Kirtan-style singing of hymns). I also wear a kara (steel or iron bracelet) one of the articles of the Sikh faith.
Bollywood or Hollywood, and why? Bollywood music and Hollywood films. Classic Bollywood movies as well. Anything with a great storyline and execution!
Favorite movie? What Dreams May Come, Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, Bridget Jones Diary, Shaun of the Dead, Pursuit of Happyness, Before Sunrise
What’s your favorite thing about Indian culture? The warm-hearted people and acts of random kindness. People in India have the highest regard for guests and value hospitality.
What’s one piece of advice your parents have given you that should probably be or are abiding by? Actions speak louder than words.
Good Indian Girl? I don’t like to define myself as a “good Indian girl.” I love being good at all things Indian. I highly identify with desi culture more so than a lot of my Indian friends, as they often tell me. I believe my ties to my Indian roots have been strengthened by my love for Indian dance and music and it has enriched my life in every way possible.