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Chaivory Tower

Chaivory Tower

By Chaivory Tower

Chaivory Tower is a podcast about public policy, urban planning, pop culture, and more. Hosted by Sidra and Zainab, drinking chai & reporting live from the ivory tower.
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Private Property Rules Everything Around Me

Chaivory TowerSep 20, 2018

Ramadan Reflections

Ramadan Reflections

Zainab and Sidra recorded this episode while fasting, so please excuse the delirium. In this episode, they reflect on spiritual renewal during Ramadan, Online Muslim traditions, and propose some more Whacky Ideas for a Better World. 

Apr 29, 202229:07
Chaos! At the Masjid

Chaos! At the Masjid

Sid and Z share stories about going to the masjid in Ramadan. It's not the holy month without a little bit of chaos in the mosque and honestly we wouldn't have it any other way.

Apr 28, 202208:45
Progress over Perfection

Progress over Perfection

GirlBOSS?? No! Girl, BOX your congressperson! In this episode, Sid and Z talk about shedding the need for perfection, moving through burnout, and trying to find Avan Jogia on Hinge. No Sheryl Sandberg… but we’re leaning into just being curious, chaotic, and okay with making mistakes. We’re reflecting on our journey with this podcast and launching a brand new segment called “Wacky Ideas for a Better World” where Zainab talks about why we should be allowed to fight our representatives, and Sidra proposes a National Stipend for Birthday Spa Days.

Mar 28, 202239:54
Dev Dive: The Dev Patel Episode

Dev Dive: The Dev Patel Episode

This episode we're doing a deep dive into Dev Patel's career and why we love him. We talk Skins, Slumdog Millionaire, and more! Dev Patel please come on our podcast.

Aug 26, 202133:16
Sisterhood/Behnchara with Saleha
Jun 14, 202101:08:28
Minisode: Suez Canal for Dummies

Minisode: Suez Canal for Dummies

Bonus Episode Alert!!! Tune into our new segment "chaivory tower breaking down the news", a possibly recurring series where we read news stories and discuss them without doing any research. Join us as we talk about the ship that was stuck in the Suez Canal and ask the stupidest possible questions about it so that you don't have to. Sidra tries to figure out maps, and Z tries to remember what she learned about in her middle eastern history class ten years ago. It's not drunk history, it's just dumb bitch history. The boat might be free but we're still stuck in the aftermath of the American education system so it's not our fault. Listen now wherever you get your podcasts!

Mar 30, 202110:35
Tinfoil Hats & WhatsApp Chats - Exploring Conspiracy Theories

Tinfoil Hats & WhatsApp Chats - Exploring Conspiracy Theories

We’re kicking off 2021 with Zainab telling Sidra about her favorite conspiracy theories. 2020 was a wild ride, and we’ve seen the rise of things that are stranger than fiction, so we looked into what makes people believe in conspiracy theories. From croissants, to #FreeBritney, to the royal family, join us as we try to find the truth about some of our favorite conspiracy theories from the internet, whatsapp groups, and the Islamic school rumor mill. 

Mar 11, 202148:08
The Brain Fog Diaries: Dealing with Burnout in 2020
Dec 30, 202049:34
Dreaming of the Future We Deserve

Dreaming of the Future We Deserve

We’re not Raven-Symoné but we have a vision for the future that’s better than whatever this shit is. We're taking a break from cynicism and despair to talk about hope and imagination! Also, we're sharing some resources on the upcoming election and talking about some candidates that inspire us. What are your visions for the future? Let us know! 

Oct 29, 202037:04
Indian Matchmaking & Desi Marriage Culture

Indian Matchmaking & Desi Marriage Culture

Sidra & Zainab are joined by long-time friend & our number one fan Rabee (@rabeeonline) to talk about Indian Matchmaking and our experiences with Desi marriage culture (aka a discussion on why every Desi needs to go therapy). Unfortunately, it’s Sima Auntie’s world, and we’re just living in it but we try to imagine a different world where we can just vibe, because it doesn’t have to be this way! 

You can get in touch with us by emailing, DMing us on Instagram or Twitter, or calling us at 818-949-8106! No rishtas please.

Aug 04, 202001:04:43
Rent? in THIS economy?!

Rent? in THIS economy?!

The rent crisis resulting from the pandemic has brought forth various strategies from tenant activists and organizers: rent freezes, rent strikes, rent forgiveness, eviction moratorium: but what does it all mean?? In this episode, Sidra & Zainab give an overview of these terms and discuss what’s being done by way of legislation and direct action. As always, feel free to send your comments, thoughts, concerns, and praises to Follow on Twitter & Instagram @chaivorytower for more updates

May 13, 202019:47
We Love TV

We Love TV

In this episode famous TV critics Zainab and Sidra discuss what makes TV so appealing, the shows we love, and ~representation~ in television. Listen to us talk about all the shows we’re watching and let us know what you’re watching in between learning guitar, crocheting, baking things (send us some please), and Facetiming everyone you know. Bringing you the social distancing content you deserve!

Apr 24, 202050:17
Chaivory Thirst: Celebrity Crush Rankings ft. Will Ellis

Chaivory Thirst: Celebrity Crush Rankings ft. Will Ellis

In this episode we're joined by special guest/friend Will Ellis (again) to discuss the good, the bad, and the humiliating celebrity crushes we have. For those of you with 3+ brain cells still in function, we also discuss "hotness" as a concept and the systems that inform who we find attractive, with citations courtesy of Will and Sidra (3:45 to 8:20). Also, Zainab cries discussing Bad Bunny. 

Apr 23, 202001:08:39
Minisode: Student Organizing with Sydney & Nevena

Minisode: Student Organizing with Sydney & Nevena

In this guest episode, Sidra gets to interview her friends and former colleagues Sydney & Nevena, current graduate students at Harvard, about student organizing, the Harvard Graduate Student Union of Auto Workers Strike, and visions for freedom futures. Listen in for a conversation about why graduate student unions are so important in academic institutions, their advice for those considering grad school, and the visions of liberation that keep them going. This episode is so fun because Sidra, Nevena, and Sydney would have these conversations in magical moments to survive grad school, and felt like such a treat to think about this in company. 

Feb 12, 202034:60
Unionize Your Workplace (and your country @ Canada??)

Unionize Your Workplace (and your country @ Canada??)

This episode we talk labor unions and share some examples of worker organizing that inspire us. Also, as Meghan and Harry take a mental health break from their family (relatable) we try, in vain, to unpack the monarchy and figure out if Canada is technically still a British colony. What is a commonwealth? How can the wealth be common if it's all owned by one person? 

Timestamps: Meghan and Harry honor the legacy of the late (Muslim) Princess Diana by saying fuck all y'all to the Royal Family (4:10). Sidra trying to explain  whether Canada is a British Colony and what is a commonwealth while Zainab has a mental breakdown (07:38). Unions, what led to their decline, and examples of worker organizing (13:00). The women we're crushing on this week (38:15).

Jan 20, 202044:53
Bon Appe-tea

Bon Appe-tea

In this guest episode Zainab sits down with friend of the podcast, Will Ellis, to discuss the online food sensation Bon Appetit. Listen to them talk about why they love BA so much, the magazine and the culinary industry's commodification of Lebanese/Levantine cuisine (08:40), their top five BA videos (24:00), and their BA test kitchen chef power rankings from best to most cursed (45:30). 

Dec 04, 201901:15:25
Spilled Chai-vory Tower: An Interview with Sumeera

Spilled Chai-vory Tower: An Interview with Sumeera

In this guest episode we have an amazing conversation with Sumeera who is a DJ, writer/poet, and curator of Spilled Chai, an online magazine that celebrates the hyphenated identity, and explores nuance and narrative. We talk creativity, grad school, cliches in Desi art, and what inspires us. 

Content warning: discussion of physical and emotional abuse from 23:50 to 30:25.

Find more of Sumeera's work at or on Instagram (@spilledchai). Cover photo of Sumeera taken by Simrah Farrukh. Find more of Simrah's work at and on Instagram (@simrahfarrukh)

Nov 18, 201938:29
Climate Nihilism
Oct 31, 201944:52
Minisode 1 - Who We Are

Minisode 1 - Who We Are

Welcome to Chaivory Tower, as told by Sidra & Zainab. 

Oct 20, 201902:48
Throw Your Phone Away

Throw Your Phone Away

We’re back and we’re done with grad school! We’re talking about surveillance capitalism and the data being collected on us all the time. If you still have a Facebook profile by the end of this episode we will stage an intervention at your house with all your friends and family.

  • 1:40 - Intro, reflections on graduating (Z skipped graduation it’s fine), Desi daughter struggles
  • 10:55- Puerto Ricans ousted their corrupt Governor!!!
  • 15:15- Pakistani model Zara Abid in blackface and the burning trash fires of colorism and anti-Blackness
  • 21: 45- Mark Zuckerberg retire bitch, also everyone please stop using facebook!!
  • 28:11- Surveillance capitalism, our data is the product and companies are making money off of literally every human interaction
  • 36:20- Lyft and Uber selling rider data and screwing over everyone and all public transit
  • 45:00- WCW the USWNT and why we should stop paying all men
Jun 01, 201901:13:46
New Year, Same Us

New Year, Same Us

This week we're talking about how we’re back on our same shit in the new year. From You on Netflix to the government shutdown, Sidra and Zainab are back at it!!!

  1. It’s AQUARIUS SZN and Sidra made a flyer for her own birthday party (0:30 - 1:30)
  2. We are burned out by the millennial burnout article (1:45 - 4:00)
  3. You on Netflix is a shit show you MUST watch (basically all spoilers) (4:16 - 17:14)
  4. Government shutdown and Sidra yelling about the Space Force (17:19 - 28:21)
  5. Zainab educates us all about the LA Teachers Strike (28:27 - 32:11)
  6. Grad school reflections; we have grown a lot and still soliciting sponsorships from literally anyone (32:15 - 52:50)
  7. POLICY WATCH (52:53 - 57:04)
  8. WCW - (57:09 - end)
Apr 06, 201901:01:18
Grad School, It's Our Funeral! Plus, South Asian Activism ft. Barnali Ghosh & Anirvan Chatterjee

Grad School, It's Our Funeral! Plus, South Asian Activism ft. Barnali Ghosh & Anirvan Chatterjee

Topics in this episode:

This week we're talking about South Asian activism with the brilliant and inspiring co-curators of the South Asian Radical History Walking Tour, Barnali Ghosh and Anirvan Chatterjee. Also, Zainab learns a new white idiom.

1.  Congrats Mrs. and Mr. Priyanka Chopra (Beginning two minutes)

2.  Noah Centineo from To All The Boys I Loved Before is Zainab's spicy white fave with hot privilege (2:00- 5:39)

3.  Some thoughts on Crazy Rich Asians (5:40 to 11:23 spoilers at 7:09-7:20)

4.  Lana Del Rey and her big Zionist energy and bizarre tweet (she canceled her Israel show after we recorded, shout out to BDS activists) (11:24- 15:17)

5.  Sidra teaches Zainab the meaning of the idiom "it's your funeral" and changes her life (15:18- 17:49)

6.  Trevor Noah called Imran Khan the Pakistani Trump honestly Trevor please calm down (17:50- 21:15)

7.  JFK put exactly 20 seconds of thought into his Harvard application essay, Zainab and Sidra effectively ruin their presidential campaigns before they even begin (21:15 - 24:40)

8.  Interview with Barnali Ghosh and Anirvan Chatterjee, a dynamic Desi duo that run the Berkeley Radical South Asian History Walking Tourand do amazing work! Hear them talk more about their work, and if you're in the Bay Area check out the walking tour asap! (25:20 - 58:00)

9.  WCW- Gemma Chan we love you (58:05- end)

Resources/Organizations mentioned by Barnali and Anirvan

Feb 16, 201932:40


Topics in this episode:

  • Environmental racism and the cost of clean air (1:00)
  • Zainab is shocked that people continue to work in her office even though there's a wasps nest in the women's bathroom (2:00)
  • Lebron James built an institution that is changing the game and your tax money is paying for all kinds of shady shit and we would happily pay taxes to support building capacity in the future generation! (8:45)
  • Sondos al Qattan (instagram beauty blogger) has some terrible takes on new Kuwaiti law for the rights of domestic workers - we're mad about it. (9:39)

Partition (12:25)

  • Sidra got sucked into a research black hole about the history and spatial politics of Partition
  • The British made a hot mess of everything (no one is surprised) - there is no such thing as peaceful colonization or decolonization and millions of people died
  • Zainab talks about intergenerational trauma because of Partition and shares personal family history around the topic (20:15)
  • Low key Pakistani identity is fake but that's fine. Also- the oppressed will mimic the oppressor (25:40)
  • We can't talk about Kashmir because both Sidra and Zainab are on the brink of tears! This is too much! (30:13)
  • The impact of Partition on women (trigger warning- rape, sexual assault) (30:53)

WCW: Unfortunately we can't vote our way out of capitalism, and electoral politics are whatevs but we're still celebrating Rashida Tlaib, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, and Ilhan Omar in Congress. Also Fatima Farheen Mirza - author of A Place for Us (35:20)

Resources on Partition:

  1. Community, State and Gender On Women's Agency during Partition- Urvashi Butalia (trigger warning: rape, suicide)
  2. The 1947 Partition Archive
Feb 09, 201942:51
Mental Health in Desi Communities

Mental Health in Desi Communities

Welcome to the Chaivory Tower summer season - we are on break from grad school and digging into issues around south asian culture in the US and abroad!

Topics in this episode:

Some resources on mental health:

  1. I Am Shakti- a Desi led organization working to normalize discussions of mental health and support those with affected
  2. 24 Hour Crisis Line, Alameda County - Bay Area: 1-800-309-2131
  3. National Suicide Prevention Line: 1-800-273-8255
  4. South Asian Network provides low-cost counseling in the LA Area
  5. Center for Muslim Mental Health and Islamic Psychology (Los Angeles)
Feb 02, 201933:22
Keep Families Together
Jan 11, 201937:45
No Cop Academy

No Cop Academy

Topics in this episode:

Links to things we referenced in this episode:

Dec 01, 201858:48
Pakistan is not Palestine
Nov 30, 201838:53
Private Property Rules Everything Around Me

Private Property Rules Everything Around Me

  1. #TIMESUP at the Golden Globes and let's just let Oprah chill (2:00)
  2. Temporary Protected Status for El Salvador is being removed and why you should pay attention (4:15)
  3. PPREAM - the commodification of cities, Amazon HQ2, why do cities sell out (9:00)
    Zainab freaks out about how much Jeff Bezos is worth and we talk about the Black Mirror dystopia that is our future
  4. WCW: Kelly Marie Tran, the first Asian American woman to be on Star Wars, who went to Zainab's high school! (25:00)


  1. Radiolab: Brown Box - an inside look at an Amazon shipping center
  2. Amazon chooses 20 finalists for HQ2 
  3. This interview lol "what will cities do to get Amazon"
  4. See yourself in Frisco, Texas
Sep 20, 201827:34
2017 - The Low Bar is Now in Hell
Aug 31, 201832:34
Spooky Jinn Stories

Spooky Jinn Stories

This episode Zainab and Amal talk about how many times you have to say "jinn" to get possessed.

Sidra staunchly believes if you talk about jinn, they sit around and listen, and has opted out. AKA the only person in a horror movie to survive.

Aug 30, 201826:27
Kifah in Karachi

Kifah in Karachi

<li>Desi intellectual fuckboys and how they will be Zainab's downfall (2:10)</li>
<li>Amir Khan and Faryal Makhdhoom (part 2): They should have just talked to each other (4:03)</li>
<li>Sidra's first day of grad school and story about walking past MALIA OBAMA (6:43)</li>
<li>Hurricane Harvey: Orgs to donate to that are NOT the Red Cross (11:37)</li>
<li>Pakistani Independence Day and our uneasiness with nationalism (15:13)</li>
<li>Kifah Interview: Suki Se (20:44)</li>
<li>WCW: Tiffany Haddish (42:32)</li>
Sep 01, 201746:37
Pakistan: You'll Figure It Out
Aug 24, 201730:29
A Nuanced Self

A Nuanced Self

Aug 05, 201726:38