Manage episode 284034598 series 2300559
As someone who was born in the ’80s and thus is not a digital native, I’ve enjoyed making Internet friends since my parents first got a computer when I was in the fifth or sixth grade. I’ve spent countless hours in dial-up chat rooms, writing bad poetry on LiveJournal, carefully crafting my away messages on AOL Instant Messenger, and eventually networking on Twitter and Facebook, connecting with people from all over the world.
When I first “met” Ruvani de Silva in 2019, it was online. In fact, despite having talked numerous times for stories, as writing colleagues, and as Instagram friends, we’ve never met in real life. But chatting with her about her first piece for Good Beer Hunting—titled “A Rare Gem or a Llama in a Suit? — South Asian Women on Navigating (and Advancing) the Craft Beer Industry”, which was published on January 20, 2021—was the first time our conversation focused solely on Ruvani’s experiences as a South Asian woman in craft beer.
The idea to pursue this story coalesced for Ruvani during the pandemic, as it allowed her to finally have the time and space to ask the question: Where are all the other people in beer who look like me? As she took to social media to find other South Asian women who publicly enjoyed craft beer, she found that, although their numbers were small, their experiences in the industry united them in a way she’d never experienced before.
In the piece, the women she meets share a palpable sense of relief at having found one another. The story feels like it’s following a community and a camaraderie as they form in real time, thanks to Ruvani’s quest. And even though the members might be far from one another, their shared experience now binds them together, and allows them to claim and relish in their own space in beer.
In this interview, we discuss Ruvani’s upbringing in London and now, what it’s like being a Brown Brit in Texas. We talk about her entry into both beer and writing, as well as the catalyst for her piece. She also examines the difference between feeling overtly welcome in beer spaces and how that’s not necessarily the same thing as feeling unwelcome, and the challenges—and opportunities—she’s experienced as one of the only South Asian women in a given taproom.
This piece is joyful. It’s optimistic, it’s full of surprises, and it’s illuminating. Most of all, it’s honest—an unflinching, open look at what it’s like to be her.