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With her ginger hair, deep emerald eyes and white skin you’d been forgiven for thinking Pooja Ganatra was more likely to be from Ireland than India.
But the 24-year-old was actually born in Mumbai to “typically Indian” parents and is now demanding a DNA test to find out where her unusual looks come from.
The young woman has been shunned and bullied in a country where such features are decidedly unusual.
Pooja, who runs her own clothes manufacturing business, said: “When I was born, my family had never seen anyone who looked like me before because they all have brown skin, black hair and brown eyes, like most Indians.
“Everyone in my neighbourhood 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.”
She said her looks meant she was always the odd-one-out at school where she was routinely bullied.
She said: “People would always come up and ask ‘what are those spots on your face? Why do you have so many marks?’. It was a real mental challenge.
“Even in my first year of university, I was pulled aside and told not to wear sleeveless shirts because they were ‘too eye catching’ with my white skin.
“There was no rule against sleeveless clothing and every other girl dressed like me, yet I was singled out.
“Indians love to pose for photos with different-looking people from overseas, so I often get people coming up to me asking for pictures.
It’s happened more than 100 times in my life – I have to tell the, ‘relax, I’m Indian too’.”
She said taxi drivers often mistake her for English and are stunned when she starts speaking in Hindi.
She continued: “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.
“When I was in America people wouldn’t believe me when I told them I’m Indian. Even the customs officer at the airport had to look twice at my passport and asked me if I’m really from India.”
Pooja’s father Rajesh, 51, has darker skin while her mother, Hemaxi, 46, has slightly lighter than average skin and has a few freckles, although none on her face.
But it is a complete mystery to Pooja and her family why she looks the way she does.
Considering India was colonised by different countries and ruled by the British for over 100 years, the 24-year-old said there is definitely a possibility her ancestors were from the United Kingdom.
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.”
Pooja was recently snapped by prominent Mumbai photographer Karishma Mehtha for her popular ‘Humans of Bombay
Nigerian Customs: Cars importation ban Remains.
The Nigeria Customs Service (NCS) has maintained that the ban on importation of used and new vehicles into the country through land borders remains.
The comptroller-general of customs, Colonel Hameed Ali (rtd), said this on Monday, June 24, when he spoke at the official launch of a bilateral trade platform at Seme border.
a letter from our Editor-in-Chief Bayo Olupohunda According to Ali, the Nigeria Customs Service will not open land border for importation of used vehicles.
He, however, said the government was interested in the success of the connectivity platform that would facilitate border trade between Nigeria and Benin.
Ali urged that stakeholders should embrace the platform to enable the two countries to achieve seamless operations and trade facilitation as this would assist genuine traders.
“We are envisaging compliance, and we hope we get compliance; where individual decides not to comply, then the customs will ensure there is no illicit trafficking between the two countries,”
The NCS boss noted that through the platform, false declaration of goods and some other illegal activities, experienced due to manual operation, would stop.