INDIA

From Helsinki to Payyanur, with a pandemic-induced detour into vlogging

From Helsinki to Payyanur, with a pandemic-induced detour into vlogging


For the final seven years, Finnish YouTuber Johanna North has been documenting her life in India — capturing moments each massive and small — as she discovered her toes in a rustic hundreds of miles away from residence. However aside from a number of clips shared on YouTube over time, most of this footage hadn’t seen the sunshine of day. That was till the 34-year-old mum-of-one moved to Payyanur, a small city within the Kannur district of north Kerala, simply weeks earlier than the nationwide Covid-induced lockdown introduced life to a grinding halt.

“I couldn’t go to the gymnasium, go make mates with our new neighbours or go discover our new hometown Payyanur. And all my journey plans obtained cancelled too,” Johanna remembers. “At this level we didn’t even personal a TV!”

Confined to her residence, Johanna determined to movie a number of sit-down movies, the place she spoke about her experiences in India, interspersed with a number of snippets of her on a regular basis life along with her husband Vinod, a authorities official, and their one-year-old daughter Annika. Her first massive break got here in April that yr, when she shared a video titled ‘Why I selected to remain in India after the Coronavirus pandemic’. The video garnered over half 1,000,000 views. “And issues simply took off from there.”

Johanna along with her one-year-old daughter Annika and her husband Vinod.

“My channel began rising rapidly and by Could, I used to be monetised on YouTube after simply 4 months of creating movies,” she tells indianexpress.com. “That sort of gave me a sense of validation to maintain going.” However it was by no means in regards to the cash. “I’m positive each creator likes to know that their voice issues and other people like them.”

Throughout the lockdown, her husband was her largest cheerleader and fiercest critic. “Vinod was an enormous assist and help in the course of the lockdown video making after we have been caught at residence collectively. His suggestions may be even brutal typically, however I wouldn’t have discovered as a lot as I’ve with out him telling me that one thing doesn’t work!” she says.

The truth is, it was due to Vinod that Johanna determined to maneuver to India from Finland within the first place. Like so many twenty first century love tales, theirs started on-line.

In 2015, she had simply landed her dream job as a social media government at a health firm in Finland’s capital, Helsinki. The 27-year-old appeared to have every little thing going for her — she was doing effectively at work, had her personal house within the metropolis and an awesome set of mates. “I realised that I used to be in a fairly good place in life,” she tells indianexpress.com. However there was nonetheless one factor left on her guidelines — “I believed this was the precise time to search out myself a severe relationship.”

Little did she know that her seek for love — which started on the relationship web site OkCupid — would finally lead her to Payyanur, the place Vinod relies. “If again then somebody would have informed me I might find yourself in India for love, I significantly would have laughed,” she jokes. However that’s precisely what occurred.

Johanna and Vinod first met at New Delhi airport, the place they set off for a two-week journey in Himachal Pradesh.

Quickly after establishing her on-line relationship profile, Johanna ‘matched’ with Vinod. After a number of weeks of messaging, they determined to satisfy in individual for the primary time. Like most features of their relationship, their first ‘meet-cute’ was removed from typical — they met on the New Delhi airport, from the place they set off on a two-week journey collectively in Himachal Pradesh.

Driving pillion on a Royal Enfield Himalayan, selfie stick in hand, Johanna was capable of doc most of her journey with Vinod, who she finally married in 2019. “I really feel like assembly Vinod and shifting to India finally opened up a street in the direction of my precise desires,” she explains. Because the massive transfer, Johanna has travelled to 23 states throughout the nation. However her one massive remorse shouldn’t be beginning to vlog earlier.
Initially, most of Johanna’s content material was centred round her expertise in India as a foreigner. “I realised {that a} international woman in India will get numerous views on YouTube,” Johanna candidly admits. “So initially I wished to make use of that to get my channel rising.”

However from focussing on what she known as the “foreigner in India standpoint”, Johanna’s movies finally began to evolve.

With out the extreme enhancing, overpowering soundtracks and different frills usually related to ‘household vlogs’ usually discovered on YouTube, Johanna documented her household’s expertise.

She knew that there was a effective line between celebrating and appropriating a tradition. “One of these method didn’t actually work for me. I noticed that movies of foreigners sitting on their couches and reacting to usually Indian issues, or talking Hindi, or consuming road meals, have been getting a ton of views. However none of these have been actually my factor.”

“I’ve numerous respect for the tradition. I by no means wished to make the most of the Indian tradition,” she mentioned. “I do truly dwell right here and I need to be a part of this tradition. So, I don’t need to fake to be one thing that I’m not.”

Quickly after the lockdown restrictions started to be lifted, Johanna and her household began travelling once more.

Quickly after the lockdown restrictions started to be lifted, Johanna and her household began travelling once more. From an off beat eco-resort tucked away within the hills of Kannur, to her in-laws’ home in Haryana — Johanna documented every mini-vacation.

Her content material grew to become extra private. With out the extreme enhancing, overpowering soundtracks and different frills usually related to ‘household vlogs’ usually discovered on YouTube, Johanna documented her household’s experiences, each massive and small, as they occurred — nothing extra, nothing much less.

“I don’t need to do something only for the sake of getting , attention-grabbing video out of it,” she says. “I solely seize real moments that play out when my digital camera is on.”



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