Meet The Unconventional Nashra Balagamwala, Creator Of Board Game Arranged!
Every girl dreads to face the groom hunting phase of her life that is so religiously and intently performed by all the overly flustered matchmakers of her family. Although this is an existing agony in the lives of many South Asian girls, our guest for the week, Nashra Balagamwala, has chosen a completely unconventional method to dodge it.
Meet the Event Designer from New York, who takes care of high-end events, and an innovative board game designer (Arranged!) who not only turned to her creative instincts but also found a way to earn from it.
In an exclusive interview with DissDash, Nashra reveals her love for board games and what prompted her to design Arranged!
When questioned about the reaction from dear ones towards her idea of designing board games, she confessed that they went wow upon learning the fact that she was a game designer. But when she specified that it is a board game, surprisingly all went “Oh.. board games? That’s…new.”
“I’ve been experimenting with ‘designing games’ since I was very young. My cousin and I would buy several games, throw out the rules and try to come up with our own versions of the game. As I grew older, I realized I was very interested in the medium, and took some classes on Game Design. I love how interactive the entire experience is, and I really enjoy making games about topics that are important to me,” says Nashra.
Her biggest support are her parents and her best friends from college who have been there through thick and thin in her journey. “I’m lucky enough to have more than one person supporting me and looking out for me every day of their lives. My parents have been amazing. Even though it’s against the customs, they sent me halfway across the world to pursue my dream. I don’t know where I’d be without them. This game also would not have been possible without my best friend from college who was there to help me every step of the way,” she recounts.
Nashra excitedly mentions that Arranged! was created and designed inspired by her own life story. “The inspiration behind creating Arranged! was my own journey and struggle to avoid getting into an “arranged marriage,” as well as watching my friends get forced into loveless marriages with strangers their family picked for them. Growing up, I started facing pressure to get married on the day of my sister’s wedding. People kept coming up to me and saying ‘you’re next’ – I was definitely not ready for a serious commitment at that time, so I started coming up with creative ways to avoid these aunties and rishtas (proposals) by doing things such as getting a tan, being seen in public with my male friends or wearing fake engagement rings. I then took all these examples and turned it into a lighthearted game, that is both, fun to play as well as eye-opening.”
She explained that the characters were inspired “by the people [she has] come across in [her] life, be it the shy mama’s boys, the womanizers who think they’re God’s gift to humanity or the pervy men on the street that make you feel unsafe. The Rishta Aunty was inspired by just that; every rishta aunty I’ve tried to avoid these past few years. The girls were inspired by my friends. I wanted to show a diverse range of women, so it goes from conservative clothing to moderate, to liberal.”
What would she be doing five years from now? “5 years from now, I’ll hopefully be doing what I love; working as an Experiential Designer, making political & controversial games and living with a family of cats and dogs!” We wish her best o luck for everything.
“Do what you want in life! It’s about time to let go of log kya kahein ge? (what will people say?) and pursue your dreams! You’ll never be half as successful if you do something that doesn’t excite you. Fight it out, and hopefully, your family will come around. And if they don’t, it’s not the end of the world. At least you’re doing what makes you happy rather than being stuck in a soulless job,” says Nashra to everyone who is in the quest of fulfilling their dreams.
Just as Nashra feels that “excited” is the word that can describes her best, we too feel “thrilled” to have met such an interesting personality!