Like many others, Raakhee Mirchandani didn’t grow up with proper representation in pop culture, politics, sports, on-screen, all of the above. It’s because of that lack of representation of her culture and her community that inspired her to become the change that she always wanted to see. Raakhee has challenged the norm and educated the mass community through several projects, and the Brown Mom Podcast is a testament to that much-needed change.
Raakhee has been a Hoboken resident since 2010, mother, author, journalist, and most recently a podcast host. Her new podcast Brown Mom, launched this month. Read on to learn about her journey and what to expect in her podcast.
Like many Hoboken residents can attest to, once you fall in love with the Mile Square, you never want to leave, and Raakee feels the same way. “I love this city. I love the people that live here and feel proud to raise my daughter here. But this year, more than ever, I am grateful to be in a city that has put our public health first, working to protect us through mask mandates, the volume, and organization of COVID testing sites, and more,” she told Hoboken Girl.
“I grew up never expecting to see myself in pop culture. I resigned myself to the fact that I wasn’t going to be represented in movies, TV, books, and art. Growing up, I had Apu. And I hated that guy. So as I got older, and saw films like Bend it Like Beckham, and watched actors like Mindy Kaling, Kal Penn, and Poorna Jagannathan and read authors like Jhumpa Lahiri, Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni, Sayantani Dasgupta, and Soman Chainani, well, my perception of where my voice belonged really changed,” Raakhee said.
Raakhee is the author of two books, Super Satya Saves the Day, inspired by her daughter Satya, and Hair Twins. She also wrote columns about parenting. “It may not seem like much, but brown voices aren’t represented in the parenting world,” she explains. And, now, there’s Brown Mom, the podcast!
All About The Brown Mom Podcast
Raakhee draws on her own experiences when tackling topics. So far, she’s dropped episodes on topics of names with Poorna Jagganathan, Diwali with Nisha Vedi Pawar, bravery with Reshma Saujani, hair with Hitha Palepu, and single parenting with Pooja Makhijani.
“These are our voices, talking about our stories, in the way that only we can. I also rely on the voices of my friends when talking about raising biracial kids, raising kids in faith, children’s literature, and gender identity within the South Asian community, and more. Brown Mom is a space for our voices to gather and rise,” she said.
She hopes that listeners will connect to the stories and the content in a meaningful way. “Folks have been reaching out to me on Instagram to tell me how the episodes have been resonating with them and that takes my breath away every time. I hope listeners walk away with something to think about, something to talk to a friend about or with. I hope this podcast, this gathering place for our voices, becomes a connection point beyond the episode length. I hope, truly, that it encourages folks to talk to each other more because when we connect with each other, that’s where life’s beautiful magic happens.”
Raising Awareness For Pediatric Cancer
Raahkee’s daughter Satya was diagnosed with pediatric cancer and like any mother, when she saw that there weren’t enough resources, let alone awareness of the condition, she sprung into action.
“When she was sick, and I prayed for her health, I promised in those moments that I would dedicate my life to the service of children and families dealing with a pediatric cancer diagnosis. And I have every intention of honoring that promise for as long as I have here on this beautiful planet,” she told us.
“There isn’t a day that goes by where I don’t give thanks for Satya’s health, deep, soul gratitude, and work to make the lives of kids with cancer better,” Raahkee said. “Sometimes I raise money. My friends will tell you I’m *always* hitting them up for cash, they aren’t wrong, but I’m also not sorry! I want kids with cancer and their families to know that they will always have a champion in me. Satya and I run races, sell her weird homemade art or stories, and try to think of creative ways to get people to give us dough.”
Every December, the two usually head to Memphis and pay a visit to St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, for marathon weekend. “Satya bangs out a 5K and I usually tackle the half marathon. This year is different, so we’re staying home, but we’re still running our miles in Hoboken and raising money,” Raahkee shared. You can support their fundraising efforts through their race link here.
“We are also big supporters of the Tomorrow’s Children’s Fund, The Hoboken Shelter, The Hoboken Community Center, The Sikh Coalition, and Stevens Cooperative School. If you can, give it to someone or an organization who could use your support. You just might be the blessing someone has been praying for.”
Looking forward, Raahkee’s goals are, “Survival, and a little bit of joy. It’s been a long, weird, and painful year, and I’m just trying to be gentle with myself and the people I love.”
A Day In The Life
2020 has really completely shifted the norm, and Raahkee knows a thing or two about adjusting lifestyles during a pandemic. “Satya is remote schooling, and Agan and I are working from home and the apartment feels very full, even though it’s just the three of us. Satya says I scream when I’m on work calls, but I think I’m just an enthusiastic person,” she says.
“So most days, after we’re done with the headphones and the screens and the endless Zooms and Google hangouts, we find ourselves at the park. We keep it safe, distanced, and masked, doing our part to keep ourselves and our community safe.”
Rahkee also serves on the boards of The Tomorrows Children’s Fund, The Hoboken Public Library, and Steven’s Cooperative School, and the Children’s Book Council. If she’s not on an evening zoom call for any of those, she’s most likely on a Hoboken Arts Committee call. “I like to do my part for the community. It makes me feel connected to where I live,” she said.
Highlight Of Her Career
Raahkee has had many things to be proud of and the list continues to grow, but some moments just stick out in a special way. “It would have to be Satya walking by Little City Books and seeing Super Satya Saves the Day in the window. It made me cry. Seeing my daughter, looking at a book I wrote, for her and so many other little brown kids, in the window of a bookstore was deeply meaningful to me,” she explained. “I write these books so kids, all kids, see themselves represented on the bookshelf, so they know, without a doubt, that they are worthy, valuable, and celebrated.”
She added, “I was also pretty amped when I crossed that NY Marathon finish line last year. It took me a long time – 6 hours and change, but I raised a lot of money for kids with cancer and crushed a goal I had set for myself. And, because it matters, I smiled the entire time I ran that race, 26.2 miles because I was really proud of myself.”
HG: What is your favorite restaurant in Hoboken?
Raakhee: Moran’s for happy hour, Simply Chai for a treat, Tony Boloney’s for pizza, Chocopain for bread and coffee, and Baking Mama for vegan cookies. I’m a loyalist, if I love something – the food, the owners, the people – I’ll be there all the time.
What is your favorite boutique in Hoboken?
The Washington General Store is a real favorite of mine. Meghan and Kelly are wonderful humans and they stock the best candles, and I am a huge fan of those mice! I’m also a big fan of Hoboken Clique, Athleta, and the Little Hoboken store. I also love Insta shopping with PixieLaneJamieandGenine and ShopISOStyle, both run by local mamas.
What do you love most about Hoboken?
Hands down, the thing I love most about living in Hoboken, is walking down the street and seeing lots of people I know and love. This town is filled with my friends, family, and local business owners I truly adore.
What is your favorite thing to do in Hudson County?
It’s a simple list, but it fills my heart: Park hopping in Hoboken with Satya and Agan, bopping from Church Square to Pier A, grabbing a coffee and mini baguette from Chocopain, browsing the shelves at Little City Books, then nestling in with my drink and new read on a bench at the waterfront and meeting a friend for french fries and vodka at Elysian Cafe. I also really love getting an outdoor, socially distanced coffee with the incredible Lt. Gigante, thinking of ways we can work together to make our city even better. She’s an amazing human and I really look forward to our talks.
Tell us about another business in the area you admire.
There are a few businesses I admire in Hoboken, places that cut into their bottom line, every September, to help me raise money for kids with cancer.
Clemence at Chocopain, Kate and Donna and Little City Books, Krista and Kiersten at Shaka Bowl, Tina and Dominic and Baking Mama, Melissa and Cassie at Little Hoboken, Summer at Athleta, Jay at Hudson River Athletics, and Joe and Travis at Elysian Cafe are legit heroes. When things were tough – this past September – they stood up for kids with cancer, throwing special outdoor dinners, outdoor workouts, cookie sales, and more to help me raise money for kids who need it the most. Their generosity and love of the community cannot go unnoticed.
And an extra huge hug and shoutout for Mike and Jill from Tony Boloney’s. Since March, Tony Boloney’s fed community members through the Hoboken Community Center, the CERT team, cops, the men at the YMCA, guests at the Hoboken Shelter, neighbors at HHA, and even had pizzas for pickup at the High School for families who could use it. He drove the pizzas, and the truck, himself, repeatedly, to deliver these meals, including to the doctors and nurses treating kids with cancer and COVID and Hackensack Hospital. Mike has a huge heart for people in his community and never misses a chance to serve the people and it really inspires me.
What is your favorite outdoor place to spend time in Hoboken?
Does the corner table at Moran’s count? Church Square Park. It’s where Satya is the happiest and the playground feels like an extension of our living room.
What is your favorite place to work out in Hudson County?
Hudson River Athletics, no competition here. Those field workouts on the Sinatra soccer field gave me deep life during the darkest days of the past eight months. The Riv is a really inclusive and shame-free place where I’ve not only had great results but also have found a class, the RPM class in particular, that both challenges me and gives me joy.
Riv members are cool, fit, and incredibly large-hearted – we’ve volunteered at HHA cookouts and Hoboken Community Center delivery days together. And the coaches, Jay, Andrew, and Cody, are the perfect mix of relentless and lovely. Plus, Bari, who runs the nutrition program is a person everyone should have in their life. Gyms aren’t really my thing, I often feel overwhelmed and ridiculous, but this one just feels so different.
What is something you think needs to come to Hoboken?
Oh, I think about this all the time. I would LOVE if Hoboken would get a dosa spot. We’re BIG fans of Sri Ganesh Dosa House on Newark Ave in Jersey City and would be amped if Hoboken had our own outpost. I can assure you Satya, Agan, and I would be there every week, likely more than once.