In early 2001 I quietly launched a site that eventually became the largest online meeting place for Asians in Britain and North America.

Every day, thousands of people logged on to Barfi Culture and posted messages, chatted with each other, read articles and discussed whatever they wanted. It had messageboards, a blog, an events calendar, even an advice section. A local radio station gave us our own discussion show. We held events at parks, restaurants and clubs. People flirted with each other, they organised dates and some got married. Yes, I even got invited to their weddings too. I was the matchmaker (bachola)!

But Barfi Culture was more than just a website where people wasted time, it was also a very political project.

It brought together Sikhs, Hindus, Muslims, Christians and atheist Asians, forcing them to discuss politics and religion while being civil. People argued about mixed-race and interfaith relationships. It made them learn about each other and challenge stereotypes. We shunned trouble-makers and religious extremists.

At a time when most websites for British Asians were divided on religious lines, Barfi was for everyone. No group got special treatment. I closed it in 2008 to focus on other projects but even now I get asked about it.

Some regulars still get together and reminisce over the fun they had.

So… why is it coming back?


I’m glad you asked that question. Two reasons.

I've spent years covering and writing about the desi diaspora - with Barfi Culture, Asians in Media and Pickled Politics - and feel like we are still missing good coverage on all the wonderful and interesting things desis are doing. The national media is still utterly hopeless at the task, meanwhile the 'ethnic media’ has become smaller not bigger. The fearless and indepth coverage of the south Asian desi diaspora that we need simply doesn't exist.

We need to create that platform rather than waiting around for it.

Secondly - like the events of September 2001, the rise of ISIS, Brexit and Trump's election have changed our world. We are in an era of more polarisation and conflict where extremists prosper and sensible voices get drowned out. We need to do more to challenge racism, from outside and inside. I was hoping there would be more media outlets doing this by now, but there simply aren’t.

We need a media that helps write our own narratives and shape our own communities. This is why Barfi Culture is coming back.

What will it look like?


It will be more than just message-boards - it will be a news and features magazine for the global diaspora.

It will celebrate desi culture, backgrounds and achievements. It will carry comedy, music and new writing next to national politics and exposés on extremist groups. It will be an fearless voice - fighting racism, sexism, homophobia and extremism - while promoting human rights and debate.

But most of all, like last time, it will be a place where you would want to waste time while at work.

Ok, enough talk. When is this happening?


The site will launch by early June.

In the meantime, we are interested in what you'd like to see on the site, or if you want to contribute, or send us hate mail.

Who is behind all this?


That will be me, the editor-in-chief. That guy you may have seen pop up on your Facebook feed ranting about stuff. There is also a small, and growing, team of writers and journalists.

We've had some development funding to get this project off the ground. The rest is up to you.

We hope you'll like what we are creating.

Sunny Hundal
Editor-in-chief



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