Devonrae: So where did you grow up? Where are you from?
Tasnim: Um, I'm kind of from all over the place. I was born in London and then when I was seven, I moved to Bangladesh...and then I moved to Toronto.. and then to Annapolis ...and after this little city in Maryland called Rocko and then I moved to New York City. So...
D: Wow ok I didn't even know all those places
T: I've moved a lot
D: Lots of good variety for understanding people though and like different people, ya know?
T: Yeah I mean you definitely encounter a varying degree or degrees rather of people. But it's interesting you get to know a lot of characters
ON SUBJECT MATTER
D: But what I found most interesting were the variances of subject matter that you touch upon. You know, whether it's self-care and wellness or race or politics and economy. So how do you place yourself within this writing frame? Do you feel like you want to constantly write about these things?
T: Well there's a number of reasons why I have written for different publications about very different things because firstly I think when you are a woman of color, you are in a certain box and so you're expected to write about certain things. Even if you're not a writer, like you're supposed to perform a certain way or behave a certain way and so I'm Muslim and I'm a woman of color and as much as I do enjoy writing about being a Muslim and being a woman of color, it's also just like..I want to talk about nail polish because I like nail polish
T: Or I want to just write about how I feel or anything, a book I've read or something and I think it's good to do that in order to breathe out of that mold of "you have to perform a certain way if you're a particular kind of person". Especially in America, I think there's a propensity to fit people into boxes and I didn't want to be in that. And also, I've always loved writing, when I was a kid I self-published my own newspaper and I wrote about everything from the time my mother took the curtains to the dry cleaner to making my own crosswords and I think it's just if anyone gives me a space to write about anything I will write about anything. I just enjoy the very act of writing.
D: I think having an openness towards whatever endeavor you're trying to accomplish is what leads you to interesting spaces and interesting commentary...not pinholing your interests
T: I actually read something recently about the poet, Cleo Wade...she does art as well. And I don't remember if it was just like an Instagram caption or if it was an interview or a profile that she had done but it was basically like " do whatever you want to do" it's ok to dream big and to have many ambitions and to want to do everything because you don't have to limit yourself. People aren't one dimensional. There's many facets to them and we can explore that.
ON THE PROCESS
D: So I feel like you did just mention this a bit but I would love to find out more about your process?
T: My process
D: Is there a great deal of research before writing something? Do you set aside a certain time of the day to accomplish writing something?
T: It varies. I like to do some research about what I wrote about only because I'm also a big facts buff
D: Yes, I know you read a lot as well!
T: Yes, I read a lot. I used to own many encyclopedias and dictionaries and Guinness Book of World Records when I was a kid. I think it's just interesting even if I don't write about all of those things, it's just interesting to know about it all so that if someone should ask me about what I've written about I can give them a back story and it's not just things that they would read.
T: One thing that I was really interested in was I wrote this article about Emmett Till for Live Fast Magazine and about how this white female artist had done her interpretation of Emmett Till in his open casket. There was a whole controversy about the whole thing but growing up in Bangladesh we didn't really have very much exposure to American history. We were taught a general world history so there's a lot of stuff about civil rights and many of the movements in America that I didn't learn about until a very late age. And while I knew the bare facts about what had happened to Emmet Till. I didn't know everything. I wanted to know where he grew up and where he came from and so it was very interesting to learn about that. Also just to learn about the artist as well and what her background was and try to figure what position she came from when she was trying to do something. It's almost like I'm creating a dialogue in my head with these facts and not necessarily could it be that this is what they were thinking but it kind of gives me an understanding and a place to write from.
ON SLOW FASHION
T: I'm extremely finicky when it comes to spending money on things because I come from a brown upbringing. It just has to be your money's worth..and so I do love a lot of beautiful things but I can agonize for a very long time about whether or not I should buy it and how it fits into my life.
T: And is it a meaningful and practical purchase? I think a lot of that comes from my mom. She has cardigans that she bought before I was born that she still wears and it's because she checked out the quality of the wool and there's a lot of factors. She gave a lot of thought into what she purchased and saw how it would position itself in her life somewhere down the line. I think I picked that up from her. And also she had that same thing of finances where you had to think through what you're buying.
D: What would you say is a deal maker or breaker for you if you're going to purchase something?
T: I have a really stupid philosophy of imagining myself in 5 different scenarios..
T: Wearing something in 5 different ways and if possible through all the seasons although that's not...
D: Yeah sometimes that can be a reach...
T: That's not very doable but I try to think can I wear this piece to class and to work and to meet up with friends or just to hang out at home with friends...can I go on vacation? Can I go hiking in this? There are all sorts of things I like to think about if I buy a special piece. I want to it be a part of my life as much as possible and I don't want to wear it for just one occasion and then put it in the back of my closet because it has a lot of sentiment to me.
T: So I like to look at clothing or designers who are trying sustainable practices or trying to reduce their carbon footprint. I guess you would say. I try to limit my impact on the world to be more conscious of what I'm buying and I think that also lends to just feeling more sentimental about your clothes. It helps you create your own aesthetic in a way 'cause not everything is sustainable and you have to dig around and hunt for it, going to vintage stores and thrift stores to find certain things that one out of a hundred people or a thousand people have, so it's more special in that way cause not everyone has access to it.
ON HOSTING GUESTS FOR DINNER
D: Maimoun comes from the Persian language word meaning "to have company or guests over" to your home. So if you could invite dream guests, who would you have dinner with?
T: I would definitely have all of my friends. I don't keep a very huge friend circle but I treasure each and every one of my friends that are in my life. I'm very inspired by Maryam Nassir Zadeh and so I think it would be fascinating to have her and be in her presence. I love David Bowie. I think he's a brilliant genius and I don't think anyone like that will ever come around
D: He's a very special man
T: So I would want David Bowie to come back from the dead...from whichever star he's hiding behind and come to dinner. I think having Bell Hooks would be very interesting because I love that she speaks her mind
D: She would be the wild card at that dinner party
T: Yeah and she would make people feel uncomfortable but in a good way
D: She does it lovingly
T: She definitely does it lovingly . Uh God! Toni Morrison and Bell Hooks together, that would be…so this is really random and I'm not a big fan of who he is as an individual but as a child I was very fascinated by Picasso because my dad took me to an art gallery in London when I was young and he bought me a sketch book and I tried to replicate all the Picasso drawings and paintings. He had a bit of a messy life but it would also just be interesting to kind of know the man. Mostly I would just want to surround myself with smart intelligent women who I love... and Picasso.
D: Yes he's allowed
T: I think that's a good group of people to have to dinner
D: I think so too