A semi-misinterpreted interview

I was interviewed for a Swedish content/entertainment platform sometime over New Years Eve. It was over an hour long interview about motivation, passion, drive, hard work and personal baggage, over a call while I was in Goa with my family.

The article was published a month back, but the reason I still haven’t shared it with you guys is because I feel like it sincerely doesn’t reflect the conversation we had. Or at least, that I thought we had. The interview was deep, long and personal, but somehow I don’t feel like it did justice or captured the things I was hoping to communicate: The beauty of struggling, hustling, fighting for what you need and want in life.

Processed with VSCO with hb1 preset

”Det är stökigt, smutsigt, högljutt och fattigt.” Svenska Hanna Strömgren, 27, kom in på prestigefulla Brown University i USA och kunde få jobb över hela världen. Men hon valde Indien.”

The intro above reads something along the lines of “Hanna was admitted to prestigious Brown University in USA, and could have gotten a job anywhere in the world. Still, she chose India.” Somehow I feel like this has a semi-negative undertone. I had the world in front of me at the time, and I chose India because it was the most interesting, exciting and attractive opportunity.

Processed with VSCO with hb1 preset

“Hanna Strömgren har inte haft den där vanliga uppväxten som de flesta svenska 27-åringar har upplevt. När hon var fem år fick pappa Jonas jobb i Saudiarabien och familjen flyttade dit och stannade i sju år. – Plötsligt var vi i ett väldigt extremt land med mycket restriktioner om hur vi skulle klä oss och jag och min syster fick inte gå ut utan manlig eskort, berättar Hanna. Trots det väcktes hennes reslust där och väl tillbaka i Sverige hann Hanna inte ens spendera en månad hemma efter studenten innan väskorna packades.”

Then the article talks about me not having had an ‘ordinary’ childhood, and how despite me living in Saudi with all these ‘restrictions’ in life, I still, despite that wanted to go abroad again as soon as I had the opportunity to. The restrictions the article refers to were actually incredible opportunities to grow, learn and take interest in a culture and society so different from where I was from. It’s thanks to that experience I developed this need and urge to travel.

Processed with VSCO with hb1 preset

“Hanna älskar landet, trots olikheterna till Sverige.”

“Hanna loves the country, despite the differences compared to Sweden.” So, I love India for all the differences that it brings, compared to any other place I’ve ever been in the world. Because of the differences, not despite of them… It’s because its so different, challenging and crazy different from my home country, that it inspires, motivates and kicks my ass every single day.

Processed with VSCO with hb1 preset

Hannas Indiske pojkvän är en stor trygghet som gör att hon stannar i Mumbai, beskriver hon.”

Then the article goes on about how my boyfriend is a huge support for me, which is what makes me stay in Mumbai. Although Saif is obviously a huge part of my Mumbai life – or THE part, and the best kind of support – there are SO many reasons for why I choose to live here. Boyfriend and culture are two big reasons. Challenges and constant personal and professional development, are others. I just feel like this is also framed kind of weird.

IMG_7490

Oversized tee H&M, pants Ganni

“Även om det är tufft i Indien råder Hanna alla att testa på att bo utomlands.”

“Despite it being tough to live in India, Hanna advises everyone to try out living abroad.” OK guys! It’s because its tough to live in a foreign place, where you don’t speak the language, don’t really initially get the culture, and aren’t at all comfortable, that you should live abroad. There’s absolutely nothing unfortunate about it being tough to live abroad. It is tough, whether you do it for one month or five or ten years, but that’s the point, and that’s what makes it special.

I’m generally not critical of this stuff, and have only expressed gratitude and appreciation for anyone who’s ever asked to interview me or share my story. Don’t get me wrong, I’m sincerely grateful for every single opportunity. But, I do think its important that the undertone and attitude of the article reflects the positivity, encouragement and excitement that I truly feel about my years abroad, and the life I’m blessed to live every day. It’s not ever easy, but it’s always worth it.

Either way, thank you to Baaam for interviewing me, and thank you for shedding light on the importance of living abroad!

Swedes can read the full article here.

Kala Ghoda, fair trade sneakers & the art of saying no

Kala Ghoda is an area I spend a lot of my time eating in… It’s an artsy, cute, less crowded area close to where I live in South Mumbai. The place you see me eating frequently at, Sequel, is located here…

Processed with VSCO with m3 preset

Kala Ghoda is one of the areas I always take friends and family when they’re visiting. Small restaurants, cute boutiques and some random, local brands are located here.

Processed with VSCO with m3 preset

Was trying to get an in-action shot of me walking across the road, but since I was right next to a famous Synagogue, a guard asked us to stop taking photos here. This is basically me mid-telling him ‘we are just leaving’. Hence, my eyes being shut…

Processed with VSCO with m3 preset

This is what I looked like today. Maxi dress from H&M, sneakers from Veja, blazer from Soaked in Luxury, glasses from Gucci, and backpack from Mansur Gavriel. I know I’ve raved about these sneakers before, here, but I only came across Veja when I was in London last summer, and its basically a French brand that does some really cool ecological, fair trade footwear. Worth checking out for sure.

Processed with VSCO with m3 preset

I’ll have to apologise for not taking photos of myself more often. To be honest, I’ve started off this year on a rather ‘slow’ note, since one of my resolutions this year (if you remember), was to be more focused with my time. E.g. say no to a dinner or a fun party in order to have time to work on a cool idea or build on a personal project. Sadly, the best look/outfit for the best kind of brainstorming sessions don’t make up for the best blog posts.

I will try to make it a point to put up more photos of what I’m up to, regardless of look and mood!

Loving my new babouches from MumbaiStockholm

When I joined the company I work for as a product consultant two years ago, my very first client was an online jewellery brand. It being one of the first in India at the time, I found myself doing a lot of market research on similar brands abroad. One of the brands I ended up coming across, falling in love with, and often using to benchmark against, was MumbaiStockholm – a jewellery brand founded by a Swedish woman, Cecilia, who had spent some time living in Mumbai. Could it get any more spot on than that?

I reached out to Cecilia as soon as I found her very spot-on/perfectly-managed Instagram handle (which by the way, you must check out by clicking here). She offered to share her expert opinion, helped me out with my first questions as a brand new consultant in a brand new space, and since then we’ve kept in touch by liking each others photos and such…

IMG_7221

Until the other day, when Cecilia reached out for my address in India, to send me a pair of beautifully designed babouches by MumbaiStockholm. The package literally arrived within one week, which is by the way literally record breaking in India. I’ve never before received anything so fast from back home, so hats off to DHL for that. Won’t be using anything else for international shipments from this day onwards.

IMG_7222

The babouches came in this cute bag, and anyone who knows me knows how much I prioritise cute packaging. And by the way the packaging of their jewellery is actually what got me hooked on her products the first time I came across the MumbaiStockholm page.

IMG_7223

“Hanna! I hope you love your shoes!”

IMG_7224

I love the attention to detail, with the logo both inside the shoe…

IMG_7225

…and on the sole underneath.

IMG_7226

I couldn’t be more excited to be a proud owner of MumbaiStockholm’s babouches, and am so honoured that Cecilia thought of me all the way over here. My worry is always that Swedish brands will shy away from collaborating because I am based on the other side of the world. Cecilia + DHL just blew me and that thought far away. Easy peasy!

IMG_7227

I kicked off my Veja sneakers under my desk right away and slipped these cuties on. I couldn’t think of a better shoe to wear to the office, to lunch, for a day out with friends, and while traveling. These guys will definitely get to stomp across Mumbai grounds with me this year – back where it all started for MumbaiStockholm, too!

Thank you MumbaiStockholm!