“Hi, my name is Priya, and the sun wakes me up in the morning!”
Some 1.5 million TikTokers recognise these words to be those of content creator Priya Sharma.
The 29-year-old Sydneysider is seeing success as a social media influencer, aside from being an explosives engineer, an entrepreneur, and an adventurer.
Going from the mines to the motorways, Sharma shares doses of her day with her digital audience as she turns her dreams into travel diaries.
Taking to social media, Sharma has also been shining her spotlight on the intricacies of being Indian Australian.
@himynameispriya @sid_madiwale gives the best head massages #hair #hairoil #coconutoil ♬ original sound – Priya Sharma
From dreaming to travelling the world
Craving to leave the confines of their home during the first COVID-19 lockdown, Priya and her partner Sid ditched the banana bread and dalgona coffee and travelled down the coast of Australia.
“I became obsessed with watching people live in vans. Sid became obsessed with people travelling the world. We both then became obsessed with travelling the world and living in a van. After 5 years of working, we realised enough was enough; so we thought ‘Why don’t we just quit our jobs, live in our van and travel Australia?’”
And so, they did.
Kissing their families and engineering jobs goodbye, they packed their lives into their van and ventured into the horizon.
While on the road, Sharma began to create content documenting her daily adventures. Never expecting TikTok to take off, she only realised she was gaining a following when her friends noticed the virtual venture.
“Starting out, I thought it would be amazing if I had 10,000 followers,“ Sharma told Indian Link. “When I hit 10,000 it felt like a dream. Now we’re at 1.5 million. I never expected that to happen.”
After getting engaged on the road, the pair have no plans to pause, having now explored nearly 40 countries together.
“All we want to do is travel, travel, travel.“
@himynameispriya He loved this trend by the end of it #youknowwhereigo ♬ Magic In The Hamptons – Social House
A very special spice mix
Alongside the travel diaries, Sharma’s followers get treated to sugar, spice and all (vegetarian) things nice. Her lens frequently focuses on Indian food as she curates content showcasing her love for desi cooking.
“I’m not kidding when I say I could eat Indian food for breakfast, lunch, and dinner,” Sharma revealed. “Indian food is how I stay connected with my culture and I find that when I’m at home it’s my go-to cuisine.”
Even if you don’t know Priya Sharma, you are sure to have seen her Dad’s Special Spice Mix making waves on social media. Of the 38 ingredients blended, bagged and boxed for buyers, Sharma believes the most important is love.
“I was 22 when I moved out of home, and that too to remote Queensland to work in the mines,” Sharma described. “I didn’t know how to cook, so my dad made me this spice mix to sprinkle on top of my food. Over 5 years and countless concoctions, he’s finally perfected the recipe.”
Sharma introduced TikTok to her Haryana-born dad’s spice mix by sprinkling it into her dhal for a video. Curious followers then dubbed the magic masala to be ‘special’. And that’s how Dad’s Special Spice Mix got its official title, Sharma denoting full credit to her comments section.
The beloved blend is now at the forefront of a family business, having even made its way to this year’s Sydney Royal Easter Show. It sold out.
@himynameispriya My heart is so full 💕 What an amazing 12days! You all are so amazing⭐️Watch till the end for our collage, thanks for sending the photos #birthday #soldout #smallbusiness ♬ original sound – Priya Sharma
Now successfully seeping into the hearts and homes of many, Sharma hopes the spice mix will help counter one key cultural experience: the South Asian school lunch commentary.
“I remember in year 4 being asked to move away by a group of girls in primary school – because they didn’t like the smell from my lunchbox. What I realise now is, they weren’t making fun of me, they had just never been exposed to those aromas. At the end of the day, it’s all about awareness. To know the spice mix has found its way into all kinds of Australian households, brings me so much joy.”
Letting go of Log Kya Kahenge
Whilst many grow wary of the filters and façades of social media, Priya Sharma has found an audience that celebrates her authenticity.
“Even though it’s only two to four minutes of my day, the parts I share are 100% me.”
What adds to her refreshing quality, is her sheer relatability, as she shares her experiences as an Indian Australian.
“Growing up, I ignored the Indian side of me because others didn’t relate. As an adult now, I spend most of my time embracing that side of me,” smiled Sharma.
@himynameispriyaQuestions upon questions♬ The Magic Bomb (Questions I Get Asked) [Extended Mix] – Hoàng Read
The notion of ‘log kya kahenge’ has been known to plague the subconscious of many South Asians. Sharma believes it was when she turned her back on the whispers of ‘what will people say’ that she propelled herself to achieving everything in her power.
“If you get caught up with what people will say, you are never going to move forward. I left those voices behind a long time ago.”
Applauded for adding to mainstream media representation of South Asian Australians, Sharma continues to invite her followers to taste her culture with her TikToks. She’s even started letting her mother tongue Hindi make its way into her vlogs.
Her unstoppable drive for self-determination, inspiring in its own way, is one of the many reasons of her spiralling success.
“The opportunities from TikTok have helped me become more comfortable with – and in – my skin.”