Good Indian Girl, Sort Of: Gurki Basra

What’s your name? Gurki Basra

Where do you live? Los Angeles, CA

What is your favorite hangout in Los Angeles? I grew up in Texas, where there was zero nature, and nature is deeply healing and calming for me, so I love getting into all of the mountains. It’s why I decided to settle in LA. My go-to hikes are the trails in Griffith Park that go up to the observatory and around Mount Hollywood. You can see some beautiful sunsets from up there. Even though most locals find it cheesy, I still love seeing the Hollywood sign from up there, too.

What’s your current gig? I have an MBA, and I’ve been in the fashion industry for most of my career. I’ve worked for some fantastic companies and leaders at the corporate offices of Victoria’s Secret, Old Navy, Neiman Marcus, Barneys New York, and Brunello Cucinelli. When the pandemic hit, I decided to freelance as a consultant instead of being tied down to any one company, and it’s been great. I recently worked at the clothing brand Vince and am looking for my next client.

On a personal front, I am passionate about mental health wellness and enrolled in Pepperdine’s prestigious Clinical Psychology program and study psychology in my free time. I launched Happily Ever Single recently to share what I learned for modern women who want to thrive and be happy while single. I love writing, and it’s been an excellent outlet for me.

I do this because fashion was ingrained in my blood from an early age, as my mom and masis (maternal aunts) are very into fashion. I’m also deeply artistic and appreciate the visual element that working in the fashion industry allows me to partake in. Regarding my interest in psychology, my viral moment on Netflix’s Dating Around opened my eyes to how many women were struggling in the world. I’m divorced but worked hard not to let the stigma associated with that keep me from being happy. I thought my struggles were unique to me, but after that moment, I realized they weren’t, and many women were in the same boat as me. It became harder and harder to ignore that fact and not do anything about it. I still get many messages today from women struggling with their mental health due to how they grew up, coupled with the fact that they have difficulty finding a healthy life partnership. Most women today are financially independent, so we don’t have to settle for less than what we bring to the table. Even if it’s our choice to keep looking for a life partner longer than our mothers did, it can be daunting and heavy to be single, and I hope to lighten that load with this newsletter.

What are some Indian traditions you still follow? I don’t follow many traditions daily, but I am always there to play my role in family weddings as necessary and wish brothers Happy Rakhris or send Diwali wishes, etc. My mom follows all the customs but never pushes them on my brother or me, so we always respected the traditions when we were at home, but on our own, they aren’t front of mind. I’m in touch with most of my cousins, though, and consider them siblings – I would say that’s very Indian.

Bollywood or Hollywood, and why? Hollywood. Don’t get me wrong, I used to love Lamhe and Dil growing up, but as I got older, it just became harder to find time to sit through four-hour musicals, and I honestly haven’t been in touch with what’s going on in Bollywood but am told that there are some great movies out. I loved Four Shots, Please on Netflix, a Bollywood series that married both eastern and western lifestyles.

Favorite movie? Need to pick more than one! I love movies that make you think about time and life differently, so I loved The Arrival and Inception.

What’s your favorite thing about Indian culture? The celebrations and, of course, the jewelry! I was the Senior Buyer at Barneys for Jewelry and Watches, and growing up around Indian jewelry made it so I could succeed in that role. Indian families are great about celebrating all the little milestones. Although it can feel overwhelming when you have a big family and multiple weddings to attend all year, it can also be incredibly special. The fact that every family member has a role in wedding celebrations is such a great testament to how unique the Indian family structure really can be.

What’s one piece of advice your parents have given you that you should be or are abiding by? It has nothing to do with being Indian, but my dad always tells me to be happy and enjoy life. I didn’t always follow my intuition or do what made me happy when I was younger. I tried to do what I thought would make me a “good Indian girl,” and it didn’t lead to happiness, which was confusing because I assumed that if I did everything right, it would. As I got older, I realized that life is truly about being happy and joyful but that you can’t be happy or joyful without getting to know yourself and following your soul’s calling. You can’t create a life for yourself that isn’t you and expect to be happy. If your calling differs from what you thought growing up, it’s hard, but you must follow it and break away from your societal programming if you want to be happy. You also have to embrace and love yourself. Be gentle on yourself if you aren’t who you deemed worthy of love growing up, and know that you are worthy and loveable just as you are. Once you get in touch with yourself, love yourself, and follow what’s true for you, regardless of what makes a “good Indian girl,” happiness and joy come.

Good Indian Girl? It depends on how you define that. But if you want to say traditionally, then No Way! However, I consider myself a good Indian girl; I love my Indian culture and family. I’m a good Indian girl, even if my life doesn’t look like what you traditionally think of as a good Indian girl; I just had to redefine that statement for myself first.

You can follow Gurki on Instagram or sign up for her newsletter, Happily Ever Single!

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