For the past seven years, Finnish YouTube Johanna North has been documenting her life in India – capturing moments large and small – when she found her feet thousands of kilometers away from home. But with the exception of a few clips shared on YouTube over the years, most of this material hadn’t seen the light of day. This lasted until the 34-year-old mother of the boy moved to Payyanur, a small town in the Kannur district of North Kerala, just a few weeks before a nationwide Covid-themed lock stopped life.
“I couldn’t go to the gym, make friends with our new neighbors or go explore our new hometown of Payyanur. And all my travel plans were also canceled, ”Johanna recalls. “At this point, we didn’t even have a TV!”
Staying home, Johanna decided to shoot a few sitting videos in which she recounted her experiences in India, with some snippets of her daily life with her husband Vinodi, a government official, and their one-year-old. daughter Annika. His first big break happened in April of the same year when he shared a video called “Why I Chose to Stay in India Coronavirus pandemic’. The video garnered more than half a million views. “And things just started there.”
“My channel started to grow fast and by May I was commercialized on YouTube after I had been making videos for just four months,” she says. indianexpress.com. “Such gave me a sense of confirmation to continue.” But it was never about money. “I’m sure every creator wants to know that their voice is important and people like them.”
During the lock, her husband was her biggest cheerleader and harshest critic. “Vinod was a huge help and support during the making of the closing video when we were stuck at home together. His feedback may sometimes be cruel, but I wouldn’t have learned as much as I have without telling me something isn’t working! ” he says.
In fact, because of Vinod, Johanna originally decided to move from Finland to India. Like many 21st century love stories, their stories began online.
In 2015, he had just got his dream job as a social media manager at a fitness company in Helsinki, the capital of Finland. The 27-year-old seemed to be doing well – she enjoyed working well, had her own apartment in town and made good friends. “I realized I was in a pretty good place in my life,” she tells indianexpress.com. But there was one more thing on his checklist – “I thought this was the right time to find myself in a serious relationship.”
He didn’t know that his love loss – which began on the OkCupid dating site – would eventually lead to Payyanur, where Vinod is located. “If someone had told me then that I would end up in India for love, I would have really laughed,” he jokes. But that’s exactly what happened.
Shortly after creating her online dating profile, Johanna “pair” with Vinodi. After a few weeks of communication, they decided to meet in person for the first time. Like most aspects of their relationship, their first “meeting” was far from traditional – they met at New Delhi Airport, where they set off for a two-week joint adventure in Himachal Pradesh.
While riding the Royal Enfield Himalayan, a selfie stick in her hand, Johanna was able to document most of her trip with Vinod, with whom she would eventually marry in 2019. “It feels like meeting Vinod and moving to India eventually paved the way for my actual life. dreams, “he explains. After the great move, Johanna has traveled to 23 states across the country. But her great regrets have not begun to vlog before.
Initially, most of Johanna’s content focused on her experience in India as a foreigner. “I realized that a foreign girl in India gets a lot of views on YouTube,” Johanna admits openly. “So originally I wanted to use it to grow my channel.”
But focusing on what he called the “foreigner in India perspective,” Johanna’s videos eventually began to evolve.
He knew there was a fine line between celebrating and embracing culture. “That kind of approach really didn’t work for me. I saw that videos of foreigners sitting on the couch and reacting to typical Indian things or speaking Hindi or eating street food garnered a lot of views. But none of them really was my thing. “
“I have a lot of respect for culture. I never wanted to take advantage of Indian culture, “he said.” I really live here and I want to be a part of this culture. So I don’t want to pretend to be something I am not. “
Shortly after the barricades began to be lifted, Johanna and her family set out again to travel. From a remote ecological resort in the hills of Kannuri to the house of her in-laws in Haryana – Johanna documents every mini vacation.
His content became more personal. Without excessive editing, superior soundtracks, and other details related to the “family blogs” commonly found on YouTube, Johanna documents her family’s experiences, small and large, as they happened – no more, no less.
“I don’t want to do anything just to get a good, interesting video of it,” he says. “I just miss the real moments that show up when the camera is on.”