A young Indian woman wants to know why she looks Irish.
With red hair, green eyes, white skin and freckles, Pooja Gantra could easily be mistaken for an Irish lass, but the 24-year-old was born in Mumbai to Indian parents.
Her parents were stunned when she was born and even thought her looks might be the result of a medical condition. Her father, Rajesh, 51, has darker skin and looks “typically Indian,” while her mother Hemaxi, 48, has slightly lighter than average skin with a few freckles but not on her face.
Pooja, who says she feels like a foreigner in her own country, says she would like to take a DNA test to discover where her features came from.
She says that when she was born, her family “had never seen anyone” who looked like her.
“They all have brown skin, black hair and brown eyes, like most Indians,” she said.
“Everyone in my neighborhood was absolutely fascinated by me and were all very curious as to why I looked so different.
“When my freckles started appearing everywhere when I was three, because none of my relatives had ever gotten freckles before they didn’t know what they were.
“I was rushed to the doctors because everyone thought it was a birth defect or skin disease. I was always the odd-one-out at school, and was routinely bullied.”
She said, “When I get into taxis cab drivers start speaking to me in English and are shocked when I answer them in Hindi. The funniest one is when I’m charged the foreigner price for public attractions because they think I’m a backpacker, so I have to prove I’m Indian.”
Pooja, who runs her own clothes manufacturing business, once traveled to America, where she said people refused to believer her when she told them she was Indian. However, she said that traveling to Europe and America made her realize that there were other people who look like her and that she is, in fact, “normal.”
She said: “I’d love to get a DNA test one day to discover more about my ancestry because I don’t know anything about it.
“I have no idea why I look the way that I do but a test into my genes could explain a lot.
“My grandmother died when my mum was very young, so I was never able to ask her about it but I’m very curious.
“I always felt like such an oddity until I went overseas and saw all these people who looked exactly like me and it felt amazing.”
Pooja said that as an adult she has learned to feel happy in her own skin.
“Natural beauty is the most gorgeous thing a woman can wear. It took a while to learn how to love myself but now that I do, I always dress my best and bring out my biggest smile for anyone who stares at me.
“I don’t care anymore if people stare at me or judge me because of how I look. I’m too busy loving myself to notice.”