Most people are not familiar with my real name, it’s Asha Cynthia Varatharaja. If you are wondering how I got to Cindy Sasha, in short, my parents migrated from Srilanka to London in the 70’s, I attended a school where saying my full name seemed problematic to pronounce and to avoid racism and being called Paki, Cindy was a better option to fit in. I was lucky at nursery and primary school as my teachers saw me as child that needed protecting because home life was tough. However secondary school I didn’t quite fit in and ended up rebelling.
I was raised in one of London’s notorious Council Estate (not for too long though), a latch-key kid my second home was out on the streets playing, the city felt so free to me and I was always in awe with what was going on in the world. As a child I was glued to the TV or listening to the radio. In my adolescent years, during the day I was on the streets and night frequenting the clubs with friends. There was another side to my life, my parents made me and my sister follow typical Tamil traditions such as attending the local temple and community events. In London I had everything at my doorstep culture, fashion, food, art and music. I have never felt like a nationalist and I have no loyalty to a country that serves no loyalty to our human rights, I hate the system and will fight it! However, London is my home. I always had the urge to travel around the world after University but got trapped into the system I hate. Don’t get me wrong, I have gone on holidays to some far away and near places, but I never explored or lived in a place long enough to taste it. Either way all my experiences have made me become fascinated with the world and the people right in the heart of it.
On our way to school. Photo by Cindy Sasha. 1995
As a baby I always had a lens cap in my mouth, my uncle was a hobbyist photographer so he was always taking photos but would never let me touch his camera! That pissed me off, so I guess I just didn’t take as much interest until my mum bought a camera and I could use it. I would sneak it into school and take pictures of my mates. I liked taking photos (I could even develop a roll of 35mm at the age of 15 which my art teacher taught me) but I didn’t know at that age you could pursue a career as a photographer and everyone around me had different plans for me, including myself. As time and years went by I had the urge or was drawn to pick up the camera again and wanting to pursue a career but I was chicken shit, I lacked confidence, I felt too old. After a year of therapy I realised how photography has helps me to cope with my depression/OCD. I took a bold step to do part-time work so I can focus on my passion and I have been fortunate to have friends and family supporting my choices and most importantly to know that I am talented. I hope you enjoy my photos and my rambling words.