Category Archives: Paid Work

AgentsOfIshq: ‘You Should Wear Maroon For Your Skin’ And Other Advice I’ve Ignored As A Non-Fair Woman

I’m very thrilled to report that AgentsOfIshq has run my piece on surviving dark skin prejudice and reclaiming my pride. I called the piece ‘Golden Girl’ but they changed it to

You Should Wear Maroon For Your Skin’ And Other Advice I’ve Ignored As A Non-Fair Woman’

which also works, in my opinion. Please go read. It’s not a rant, I promise.

They also carried a collage of my lipart journey, to illustrate how I found my self-worth in colour. I’ve been a longtime fan of this website so I’m very happy to add my story to all the wonderful ones in their collection.

You can also read a version of the same on my own (other) blog XX Factor which is where I usually speak about vanity, sex and other bodily matters.


If you liked this post, you’ll want to follow the Facebook Page and the Youtube channel. I’m Ramya Pandyan (a.k.a. Ideasmith) and I’m on Twitter and Instagram.

Closing The Thirties Story

The last time I wrote here, I was on the other side of a birthday. And it just struck me that I’m now in the last leg of The Thirty Diaries. Appropriately, I’ve had an article published on Arre titled ‘My Tinder Bio: Not Here To Mother 20-Somethings‘. My overall mood, as in the article is breezy, slightly scarred but relieved and hopeful.

I’ve started a few work projects and am realigning how I find myself as a professional. My work ethic is always priority so systems, organisation, quality and timeliness are at the forefront. But I’m also considering my health and the moral/emotional implications of my every action. I’ve learnt that I cannot afford to neglect these.

I thought my 20s were dramatic, full of corporate fast-tracking, flashy/useless pedigreed boyfriends, cancer devastation in the family and dealing with the post-millenium (read: Recession-riddled) economy. Have my 30s been saner? Well.

There was the BIG FAILED ENGAGEMENT. This has undeniably coloured my experiences of this decade the most. One part of this is the realisation that relationship matters will always influence my well-being and identity more than other things. After all, my 20s were also driven as response and survival instincts to one heartbreak and one abusive ex. I did become a workaholic, something I recently learnt could be close to a condition called ‘high functioning depressive’. I learnt very early to substitute professional success for emotional stability and romantic happiness. But as with any other addiction with roots in emotional tangles, it created structural cracks in my being. A lot of the things I’ve experienced in my 30s have been these, including the heavy darkness I’ve struggled with through the better part of the decade.

The other side of it is the world’s reactions to me. The 20s were about my fighting back suffocating pressure to couple up and to succeed in tradition-approved ways. I naively thought the 30s would be easier since this pressure eased up as those folks seemingly gave up on me. But the broken engagement brought them crawling back with attacks. As recently as three months ago, people who I’d never met were influencing my work by declaring that I would wreak my married colleagues’ relationships. There’s the r onslaught of people’s expectations on what kind of a ‘Strong Woman’ I should be. It’s countless people outraged that my ex is dating someone, all culminating in the expectations that I should ‘rescue’ the new girl. It’s men I’ve rejected needling me about my failed engagement with statements like “Uske talent ki kadar karni chahiye“. It’s younger people putting me on a pedestal, then expecting me to rescue them from their life decisions and attacking me when I don’t play knight in feminist armour. No, the world is just as awful in my 30s, albeit in a different way.

In that sense, my script is still the same. I’m constantly at war with the world because of who I am. I have to be, because the only choice is to surrender to a life of silent harassment and abuse. There have been a lot of times in my 30s where I’ve felt like I couldn’t go on (which I never felt in my 20s). The ‘magical’ rescues in the form of career wins and passionate friendships have been fewer. Or maybe I’ve just felt the shadows deeper. This is, I’m learning, who I am. I feel fear deeply and my reactions to it may seem disproportionately strong. I am a crab. I retreat into my shell and in that sense, I’ve done that with my entire bruised and assaulted past.

I went to a condolence visit this week, in honour of a deceased family friend, the mother of one of my school classmates. I was quiet and awkward. My past does not give me a reason to feel comfortable or happy in it. I was overwhelmed by the people expressing great warmth and pleasure on seeing me. I also met people who had not been nice to me (notably this gentleman who shuffled awkwardly, then asked why I wasn’t married). I realised that people who harass other people about their romantic choices or their bodies are desperately unhappy about their own. I told him, “I don’t think I need a reason to NOT get married, I need a reason to be married.” He shrugged and then said, “Yeah, that’s right. Smart you are. Don’t make that mistake. No one is happy.”. Sigh, strange as it may sound, that did not vindicate me. I don’t want to hear about other people’s misery, least of all people who’ve added to mine.

Almost magically (so I guess magic is actually still a part of my life), my Arre article showed up online just that instant. It felt like the universe was telling me that all things were okay. The three year old grand-daughter of the lady who passed, came and sat on my lap and told me stories. Her mother hugged me and I learnt that she’s a Ph.D., making me very proud of the world I came from, even if it wasn’t always nice.

And this morning, this picture came up on my memories. Maybe life is about creating your place in the universe. Or maybe it’s about discovering it. I hope I can enter the 40s with wonder.


If you liked this post, you’ll want to follow the Facebook Page and the Youtube channel. I’m Ramya Pandyan (a.k.a. Ideasmith) and I’m on Twitter and Instagram.


Relationships Redefined – A SEXONOMICS Workshop

SEXONOMICS grew me as a performer and as a shaper of ideas and thought.  Ishmeet and I found that by pooling together our ideas, we came up with things bigger and better than each of us could manage. For instance, our first realisation was that we had gone beyond our individual identities as poets and ventured into the realm of drama. We were also pushing the envelope on the usual feminist discourse in our worlds, with satire, roleplay and more. This allowed us to talk about heavy topics like patriarchy, social structures and toxic gender roles but also stay accessible to our audiences.

Audiences across our performances have laughed with us, quoted lines from our acts in casual conversations later and on the whole, told that they enjoyed watching us.

We think our next step is to bring our listeners into our story and make all of you active participants in it too. So our next venture is an audience-interactive/performance based workshop titled ‘Relationships Redefined‘. We are going to explore the nature of intimacy, relationship expectations and the pitfalls and adventures that we each go through in our quest for a romantic partner. If you’ve been following my/our journey so far, please come be part of this next SEXONOMICS adventure!

BeHiver presents Relationships Redefined – A SEXONOMICS Workshop

Date: Saturday, 16 June 2017
Time: 6PM – 8PM
Venue: QTube, Bandra West
Fee: Rs.500/-
Registration: You must be above 18 years of age. Please carry a proof of identity. Call Aniruddha Chatterjee at +91-9769118555 to register your seat.
Facebook Event:



If you liked this post, you’ll want to follow the Facebook Page and the Youtube channel. I’m Ramya Pandyan (a.k.a. Ideasmith) and I’m on Twitter and Instagram.

The Stage Was My Doorway Out

I’ve had a rather nice September after the rough times before that. Looks like my health diagnosis was a step in the right direction. I took a break from the Open Mic scene for a month which is why there haven’t been too many poetry videos. But if you saw this post, you’ll know September brought me a bouquet of special poetry performances. That this happened right during a time I decided to take a break itself seems like a sign from the universe to me. And living through them makes me sure. I feel like I’ve finally walked through the doorway of that dark, deep dungeon I’ve been imprisoned in for years.

So, in the order in which they happened:

Gaysi‘s DirtyTalk was the one that I wrote a special piece for. I was super nervous, not helped by an unexpected Encounter, minutes before my performance. Maybe I will write about that in more detail another time. Or maybe not, it was probably the fullstop that I’ve been needing for four years. I went on to deliver the following performance and it was a great one, if I do say so myself. I really want to thank the organisers as well as the audience. You have no idea how much this performance was a turning point in my life. It was reprieve after years of struggling.

The very next afternoon was the Radiocity Free Verses feature event, where I had the pleasure to meet the vivacious Harnidh Kaur who I’ve been hearing about for ages. I enjoyed her poetry. I wasn’t feeling very well and my hands were shaking (after a long time). But again, I think that added to the flavour of my opening piece ‘A Lover of All Things Digital’. It’s nice to remember how far I’ve come from a stage-petrified girl to a feature performer.

And finally, I got to be one of the 100 Thousand Poets for Change at a ‘Women Empowerment’ themed event hosted by the US Consulate at Kitabkhana. I know a theme like that seems tailor-made for me so I brought out my old favorites ‘Superwoman’ and ‘Feminist Poetry’. I am enjoying being the fun, irreverent, fresh end of things. I don’t think I’ve been the fun side of any group that often. I wish I were also the funnier side but that’s for another blogpost. Here’s my performance from that day.

Planet Radiocity Freedom aired my recorded performance four times this month. Eventually, they’re bound to put it up in the archives and I’ll share a link then. In the meantime, they also ran a short interview with me and the photo feature from the Free Verses September event is up on the site right now.



For a lot of reasons, I feel like I was carrying around a gigantic boulder in my mind that was blocking everything. That boulder has just been set aside. I’m still raw from where it was dragged out. But I can suddenly breathe better and see more clearly. September has been about clearing the stones and letting the dust settle. I have been to hell and back. I enter October with a lot of hope and a nod to the Sandman.


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If you liked this post, you’ll want to follow the Facebook Page and the Youtube channel. I’m Ramya Pandyan (a.k.a. Ideasmith) and I’m on Twitter and Instagram.


I Wear: Indian Wedding

*This is a sponsored post.

Two of my friends got married this week. I attended a ceremony that lasted over 6 hours, included a pheras-around-fire ritual, several small in-family practices, a wedding dinner and reception. And this was actually an Indian Wedding Lite. I didn’t have much time to dress or even plan what I’d wear, considering it was a speed tracked wedding (7 days to organise, invite and conduct!). Also, it was in the middle of a  weekday in oppressive, pre-monsoon June in Mumbai.

I went to my saree cupboard, of course. Sarees are my staple wedding wear. And the past year of saree experimentation have given me a mean confidence about a quick drape. I picked out an old favourite, my first ever Kanjeevaram saree, actually. I chose this one because its blue/green colour would be different from the traditional red/pink/purple hues that dominate Indian wedding guest attire. Also, with its stripy design and brown-gold border, it defies the kanjeevaram tradition of plain hues with gold buttis and  border.

I’ve been struggling to find good blouse alternatives for sarees and the last year has been full of experimenting with tee-shirts, croptops and even a blazer once. But for a wedding, I wanted to go a little more traditional (convention having being defied adequately in choice of saree). I wore a chilli green readymade silk blouse that I found available under a brand called Ethnicity. The fit is good, the colours vibrant and the design, just the right blend of saucy and conventional.

And finally (or rather, primarily), the accessories. The jewellery would have to be gold or close (I went with minakari) to match the saree border. My regular steel strapped watch would clash with the gold/yellow/brown tones. My latest timepiece came in handy. I have a new Jord Woodwatch in an unusual Cherry wood shade. It went beautifully with my attire. The watch is entirely made of wood, including its strap so it didn’t conflict with the material/fabric ensemble either. Here’s how I looked:


I Wear:

  • Blue-green striped kanjeevaram saree: Nalli, Chennai
  • Chilli green silk readymade blouse: Ethinicity (available in InOrbit mall)
  • Minakari jewellery: Central Cottage Emporium, New Delhi
  • Woodwatch: Ely Series (Cherry), JORD

*JORD wood watches can be ordered at their online store. The one I’m wearing in the photograph is here.ely-11-front-angled


Content Marketing: The Power Of Story

Content Marketing, yet another buzzword added to the business lexicon. Let’s not go the jargon way. Let’s just talk.

Every human interaction is a conversation of a sort. Negotiations are conversations. Transactions are conversations. Information exchange is a conversation. Relationships are a series of evolving and shifting conversations. The power to communicate leads to two human beings creating something bigger than themselves together – something that could be fuel to build bigger things like profits, a building, a government and even a philosophy.

Seen in that light, what else is marketing but a conversation between the marketer and the consumer? Isn’t every marketing effort about telling the consumer a story that they can identify with, that gives them a guaranteed payoff, that keeps them engaged and (it is hoped) paying and loyal? Content marketing uses story as a vehicle to connect to, interest and engage consumers as audience.

Custom media published by commercial establishments that were otherwise not involved in content production, were the early harbingers of content marketing. In-flight magazines and trade journals are some examples that continue even today. Procter & Gamble created and backed a series of serial stories on radio, then television that captivated their target audience for Ivory Soap. The product these were created for, gave its name to the content format known now as soap operas. Thus for over a century now, brands have seen value in catering to, even pampering their customers by giving them information & entertainment to hook their attention.

John Deere’s publication ‘The Furrow’ has created such a loyal reader base among its audience of farmers through its articles on agri-business entrepreneurship that it continues being published even today, over a century from its conception. Who do you suppose a farmer is likelier to look to for advice on what tractor to buy? A brand that he interacts with only when he speaks to its salesmen or one that sits at his table every day and gives him ideas on how to be more profitable in his work? For brands willing to look beyond visibility to recognize the value of long-term trust, content marketing is an answer.

What are some of the advantages of telling a good story? It goes beyond interest and right into the realm of engagement. A great story, pulls its listener into a new universe, makes him/her feel emotions and form attachments to the things that the story is about. Consider the effort that brand managers invest in trying to build, understand and sustain brand personality and perceptions. It isn’t a precise science but there is a craft to it and it’s the craft of story-telling. See the brand as a person, a character in a story that should grip the customer. The Sex & the City series singlehandedly made the shoe a hero in a woman’s wardrobe, lifting it up from its accessory status. At a more superficial level, the story relentlessly plugged the Jimmy Choo and Manolo Blahnik brands but look at the larger picture – the story created a new context of consumption for the entire category of women’s footwear.

Content marketing today takes the form of print, audio and video media. It also turns up in interactive media in the form of gamefication and online communities. It makes its presence felt in the form of events that aren’t brand launches or press conferences but well-crafted experiences that make its participants come together with the brand.

In sum, content marketing uses the fundamental premise of a good story to convey a commercial message in a way that it is received by an interested audience. Over and above advertising, which also does the same thing, content marketing helps establish a deeper connection with the consumer. And finally, in an increasingly interactive age, content marketing can turn a brand and its customers into collaborators as they join in conversations to build a common story.


I gave a talk called ‘Content Marketing: Powering brands through stories’ at the Technology for Marketing & Advertising (TFM&A), Delhi earlier this year. Here’s a video shot during that talk.


Payal and I will be conducting a workshop on Content Marketing this week, where we will talk about content as it pertains to brands and how to develop brand stories into conversations with customers. We will also work with the participants to build a content strategy for their respective brands. We are still taking registrations so if you’re interested, drop me an email at ideasmithy at gmail dot com or tweet to me –

The workshop details are as follows:

Content Marketing for Brands

Date: Friday, 6 September
Time: 11:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m.
Venue: Mahim West (close to Tulsi Pipe Road), Mumbai
Tuition: Rs.2500 per registration

CM 3

Make Your City Safe: Do You Have Your Emergency Checklist?

The Make My City Safe Squad undertook another activity last week. Week 1 asked people to tweet a location and @MakeUrCitySafe would revert with the phone number of the police station closest to that place. I’ve collated the responses here so do look up your location and store this safety number.

What other numbers should form a part of your safety easy-to-reach list? The Squad suggests the following:

Wk 2 activity sheetI found that a Google search could give you some of the information like Police Station, Hospital and Fire Station. Make it a point to look into these and the others and keep their contact numbers handy. You can also take it a step further and put up the list on your building noticeboard, a public place like next to the lift or share it with other people in your area, like I did.

Wk 2 putting up sheet

Ustadspeak on PriceBaba

Annkur Agarwal (of OnlyGizmos fame) has a new venture. PriceBaba is your one-stop shop for price comparisons. Currently they’re addressing the mobile phone market in Mumbai but there might be bigger plans in the pipeline. So if you’re phone shopping, don’t bother scheduling long hours trekking between shops to check out the best prices. Just ask PriceBaba.

Annkur wanted an interesting mascot who could encapsulate the mood & services of PriceBaba. I came up with Ustad and a few stories that would show what he does. Ustad is a street-savvy guy who’ll pull you out of your dilemma and help you figure out just how much you should be paying. Nishith Mehta took that idea and created the visual & comic panel artwork.

Here is Ustad in his final avatar on the PriceBaba site now:

Ustad speaks to housewives too!

How Social Content is Different and What This Means

Social Media signals a brave, new world of communication and interaction. Correspondingly the content on it pushes the boundaries of power, of ownership, of usage and of consumption. In my latest Social Samosa article, I take a look at what this means.

“Think of content on traditional media as a stone that you’re about to throw. Science allows us to determine its speed, direction, trajectory and eventually its destination. In contrast, Social Content is like a drop of water in the sky. It might fall as rain or collect on a leaf as a dewdrop. Or along the way, it might transform into a hailstone or even a snowflake. Each of these possibilities lead to numerous others. A snowflake might get trampled upon, slapped onto a snowman or shaped into a snowball. From here, it might get smashed on a surface or roll on the ground, pick up more material and momentum and building speed, go hurtling on to an unknown destination. The last is the phenomenon of going viral, that wet dream of every social media agencyperson.”

Read ‘How Social Content is Different and What This Means‘ on Social Samosa.

* Image via Master isolated images on FreeDigitalPhotos.

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