By Ragoo Raghunathan
Smiti and Abhinit are new residents to Shrewsbury, MA. During these COVID times, they have focused their energy on creating an alternative channel of entertainment and communication for themselves and their family back in India. I caught up with them to get a glimpse into their journey:
Q: I know you recently started up a YouTube channel called FunIndians, and you are having fun doing it. Over the past few months, you have gained over 300 subscribers. We think that there may be other people in the community who might want to do similar things during these COVID times. Would you mind sharing some of your thoughts and experiences with us?
For people who don’t know you, please tell us who you are and a little about yourself, when did you come to Shrewsbury?
I am Smiti Nagar. I married Abhinit in January 2019 and came to Albany, NY where my husband was a Ph.D. student. We moved to Shrewsbury in November 2019 when my husband got a post-doc offer at UMass Medical School. I’ve pursued an MBA (HR) in India and am currently on a F2 visa. As my visa’s restrictions prevent me from working in the US, I’m currently a homemaker.
Q: When and how did you figure out you wanted to start a YouTube Channel? What message do you want to convey thru this effort?
As I cannot work in the USA, I was planning to enroll in some diploma course. Unfortunately, due to Covid pandemic the whole country went on a lockdown and I postponed my study plans for one more year. During the initial period of lockdown, I realized that it was going to be a very depressing time for people like us who love to travel. I have an inclination for videography and as a result wherever we have travelled in the past year, I would shoot small clips. Also, I love cooking and would occasionally make videos of something new that I would try. The purpose of these videos was to send it back home so that my grandmom could try the same. When I was going through all these videos during lockdown, I decided to start a YouTube channel. I named it FunIndians as “Fun” is the common element in all my videos, whether it is about cooking, travel or anything else; and “Indians” obviously to denote our origin. Initially, I was posting our old videos which matched with my theme (Fun, Travel, Food) but now I have switched over to posting weekly vlogs. There is an interesting story behind this switchover, which I have described briefly below.
One day my husband received his Ph.D. diploma and found out that it was all wet as the delivery guy left it outside on the porch (it rained all night). So, to cheer him up I decided to cook for him. As a habit, I recorded a video and later decided to post it on YouTube. Surprisingly, I got an overwhelming response for that video. From that day onwards, I decided to post-daily/weekly vlogs as people are interested to see the life here. I want my videos to be a window through which everyone can view how life in the US is different or similar to one in India. Also, through these videos I wish to convey the feelings of every Indian living in the US to their relatives back home.
My goal is to spread happiness and to motivate people to show the world their creative side, their inner child and to ignore the surrounding negativity even during such a grim situation like this pandemic. My vlogs are mostly in Hindi, so that it can connect with most of the people back home.
Q: What drives you to keep going and what is your long-term goal?
I see my YouTube channel as a medium which teaches me some basics of videography and motivates me to expose myself to new software. In these three short months on YouTube, I’ve learnt so much. The happiness and satisfaction that I get from the love that my subscribers show me is another factor that keeps me motivated. At times I’ve got pings on our FB page (FunIndians) when I got delayed in posting my videos. My long-term goal is to create a few more channels where I can specify the contents (like cooking, art of homemaking, tips on getting on to YouTube etc.) It will be a long journey and I hope to reach there soon. Apart from all this, this channel provides me the platform to save our memories forever. So, twenty years from now, when we would like to cherish our memories, I know I’ve to just tune in to our YouTube channel and hit play on our playlist.
Q: How do you define ‘success’?
For me success is never ending. I feel success is when you achieve what you have aimed for whether it is small or big. With this channel, I’ve aimed to share the happiness with the world and connect with people back home. Once these goals are achieved, I would call it a “success” but that would give rise to another set of goals and hence would start another race for “success”.
Q: What advice/tips would you give to an aspiring YouTube enthusiast?
I would suggest that just keep things simple in your mind and do what your heart says. It is useless to worry about getting subscribers, rather focus on the quality of your content. Ignore any criticism you get and focus on people who are liking your vlogs. These are the people who are going to watch your videos, so focus on their likes and dislikes. Once you see yourself growing and maturing, you will be motivated to continue this forever.
Q: Anything else you would like to add?
Be happy and try to make others happy. I would like to end it in YouTube style, if people like you, they will definitely subscribe to your life and share it with others.
Feel free to check out our vlogs at https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCtrlMXJ8Mt1Zdx2ncIWPjzg/