By Anjum Choudhry Nayyar
Whether you blog for fun, to purge that issue off your chest or if it’s part of your job, South Asian mom bloggers are part of a growing community of bloggers. However many of you aren’t necessarily on the radar. In our series of regular profiles on South Asian mom bloggers, we speak to blogger, Salima Jivraj, a marketing maven by day and a super mom of two by night. She lives in Ontario, Canada. Her passion: talking about food and in her blog halalfoodie.ca, she does just that.
Why did yo start blogging? what do you blog about and why?
I started out by accident. By profession I’m a marketing manager at a large retailer here in Toronto. While my expertise is in print, online marketing has always
intrigued me especially with the popularity of social media. While on maternity leave with my second child, I wanted to learn more about social media and SEO, so I
started a blog to practice and hone those skills. My first site was based on keyword marketing and really bored me so I gave that up eventually. I thought about another
passion of mine and that was food! Specifically halal food (halal is what is permissible for Muslims to consume). My family and I eat out a lot and I love preparing dishes at home as well. Finding the right halal products is also a
challenge so I also wanted to include that in my writing.
There’s a huge Muslim community in the GTA (Greater Toronto Area), so I thought the info would be beneficial and really targeted: a Muslim Torontonian writing about halal food in Toronto. Content just came naturally and I was hooked. Plus with a smartphone, I can do 95% of my work on the go, which is huge!
What inspires you to write?
Opening a restaurant is probably the most challenging ventures out there because there is so much competition, long hours and a lot of work. I admire families that go into this industry. Their marketing tactics might be a little out of date, they
might not have the language capability to market on this social platform or they just might not have the time. Adding a third party boost, if it can help, would be a good way to support these local businesses and let them know they are part of a community that cares in their success. I have a disclaimer on my site saying that although I review restaurants and products, I would never post anything negative. Mainly because taste is subjective and also, it may be taken as slanderous and I don’t like that on my conscious. it’s these businesses that inspire me to write and give back to my community.
Do you feel connected to the momblogger community or do you feel disconnected and why?
Since I just started to blog I kind of hang out on the fringe of many momblogger circles. I feel that I don’t know enough at times to successfully participate but that’s really my own insecurity, mombloggers are a friendly, inviting and inspirational bunch so I hope to participate more in the near future.
South Asian moms sometimes have different cultural challenges and expectations coming from a culture so heavily entrenched in family, have you ever blogged about cultural issues and what kind of response did you receive?
I agree 100% about having different cultural challenges and expectations as a South Asian mom. One of my biggest challenges is women in general aren’t really required to be independent or intelligent within the community. It’s hard to articulate what I’m saying with written words but basically I find that in family gatherings where there are a mix of generations all women are the same, they chat about food, family, health and complain about housework etc. I don’t really experience any sort of conversation other than that. I’m sure most people in my extended family don’t even know I have a professional career. To them I just work, most likely for just slightly above minimum wage. I get gasps from ladies when I say I’m returning to my full time job after maternity leave. They don’t understand that it’s difficult to just step away from a career I’ve been building for the past ten years. I think that would be an interesting topic to blog about, but unfortunately it’s not really relevant to my site.
What role has social media played in your life?
Comparing this second maternity leave to my first where I didn’t have social media in my day-to-day life I find I’m much more in tune with the world around me. I’m not one to pick up and read the morning paper in the morning (who has the time!?) but a quick scroll down my timeline in Twitter and Facebook fills me in to everything in less than five minutes. I’m also
keeping myself creatively challenged with maintaining my blog. I think that will help me when I transition back to work. I might not feel as much of a mental block.
What misconceptions do you think are out there about South Asian moms?
I’m not sure about misconceptions from outside of the community, but going back to my rant on cultural roadblocks within the community – I think that’s where all of our misconceptions lie – with each other. I think society wants to hear from us and is intrigued by us but we’re too shy or feel like what we have say doesn’t hold as much value.
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