The (Unexaggerated) Struggles of an Indian Girl Pt III

As you all know, A and I are two Indian girls, born and raised in good ol’ Cleveland, Ohio. Last year I started a series titled “The Unexaggerated Struggles of Being an Indian Girl”, and today I’m ready to share with you, part III of the series.

I know you’ve all been waiting for it, so let’s get this started.

1. Indian people are becoming so trendy

Maybe some other Indian people enjoy watching their people succeed. I, on the other hand, get pretty salty. I have this very distorted perception of myself and can’t help but feel that if any Indian-American deserves to be famous it should be me.

Whoops…

2. When your headphones fall out

So there I am, sitting at my desk, diligently working. To anyone who sees me, I look just like any other employee at an ad agency. I’m jammin’ HARD. Probably head-shaking, definitely foot-shaking and creating killer dance moves in my head. And then…one of my ear buds falls out and I’m struck by the silence of the work place and the horror of the fact that I was pretty much doing the Indian head shake at my desk.

Wait whhhat? So I’m not in a Bollywood movie? And we all really are just working? Oh…okay…cool…

3. Competing on who can cook better

I can’t help but to feel a jealous pang every time one of my friends tells me that they learned how to cook an Indian dish. I still need to call my parents to figure out how to make chai. Take your butter-chicken to your future mother-in-law’s house, I don’t want none of that, showoff.

4. Huge ass Indian weddings

A can attest to this even more than I can. But let me tell you a little something about being Indian. Every person you’ve ever said a word to, actually wait…every person your parents…no…grandparents have ever said a word to, will expect an invitation to your wedding. The number of people that came up to me at A’s wedding and said “Congrats! Where’s the lucky guy?!” Are you serious? You are here and you don’t even know who the bride and groom are…? Just…just leave. No nice words for you.

5. Oh, you left your coat on the chair while your mom was cooking? LOL sucks.

I know if you’re Indian you’ve for sure made this mistake. Your mom was making masala and your coat was hanging on a bar stool in the kitchen. Well kiddo, you’re going to smell like that for at least two weeks. Don’t even try to take a jacket to India House. The place stank up my handbag.

6. What’s up with their vocal chords anyways?

You always want to sing along to the latest songs but wait…Indian female vocalists put to so in soprano. Seriously, I grew up always having to sing the male parts of every popular song because I couldn’t hit Asha’s high notes. Thanks for the gender-confusion early on, Bollywood.

7. You said four words to a guy once

If you’ve said more than four words to a guy, you’re probably dating. If you took a photo with him, you’re probably in the process of planning your wedding and may even have a name or two picked out for your kids.

I’ve had quite a few close guy friends in my life, and you bet there have always been assumptions that we’re dating or are oblivious to the fact that we’re madly in love. This is not an Anjali-Rahul situation guys. Stop trying to make it happen.

Well. That’s it for this time. More to come as we continue to live our crazy Indian lives. Below is probably the best Indian/Bollywood GIF I’ve ever seen. Me every Friday to be totally honest (jk Aunty community).

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Love,

K

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A New New Yorker | A Writer in New York | Tale 3

Well goddamn, it’s been awhile.

I always used to twist A’s arm a bit about not putting enough time into this blog and she would always tell me it’s because she didn’t have enough time. I would sort of roll my eyes and ask my mom what she’s so busy with, but she never knew either. I don’t think I understood this concept of lack of time until I moved to New York.

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I don’t know what it is about this city but it truly consumes you. All your energy and all of your time. You get so stuck in your day-to-day life and trying your best to take any free time you do have to sprinkle in some stuff from your New York City bucket list (or binge watch Netflix because sometimes a girls just gotta relax and turn her brain off). All of this leaves you tired, drained and honestly – not really wanting to exert your brain in trying to write a blog post that is the perfect amount of analytics, truth and wit.

It’s funny, really. I always thought this city would inspire me. Well, it definitely does it some ways, just not the ways I expected or wanted it to. I thought it would bring out this artistic, creative talent that was hidden inside of me, waiting for the right place to unlock it. I envisioned myself spending weekends at various coffee shops writing or working in Photoshop, drinking black coffee and fawning over men in turtle necks. But instead New York City has unlocked the determined fighter in me. The one who works her butt off at work, and pushes through throngs of people near Penn Station only to come home and squat her butt off in the gym. The one who is fixated on having it all – a killer job, a fit bod, a bustling social life, at least two planned vacations at a time and time to attend any and all the New York specific events she can.

You can imagine that in trying to do it all, the first few things that drop off your “to do” list are the ones that take the most heart, soul and mind. And for me that’s writing. It’s a shame because out of everything, writing is probably the one thing I want to be working on the most. But for some reason, New York won’t let me.

I think the problem is that in New York, I keep myself so busy that I don’t have time to truly assess and explore my feelings. I feel something for a second and then I’m thrown into a new project at work, forced to re-route my way home to avoid a rowdy group of men on the sidewalk or running out the door to meet up with friends and down a bottle of champagne at brunch.

I thought that this is what writers did. I thought they lived their lives to write about them. Instead I’m finding that it’s hard to do both. There’s being a writer (experiencing things that you plan to write about but never really finding the time to do so) and then there’s being a writer (focusing less on doing things you can write about and actually putting pen to paper). And I want to be one.

Love,

K

Being From Believeland

Tonight, we’re going to bed feeling broken in a way that we’ve felt before. In a way that, honestly, we have felt since we can remember. A dull ache in the pit of our stomach. Like watching someone you love suffer. A sinking heart mixed with hands trembling with exhaustion and exasperation.

The feeling of a broken heart from Cleveland sports.

We can handle the loss. We really can. Coming from Cleveland, one is raised tough. One is raised to be proud of effort, hard-work, determination, and fighting until there’s simply no energy left. We know Championships don’t come easy. We know that sometimes, great things that are important to a city, to a community, to a team, are snatched away. That’s just life. Life isn’t fair but it teaches incredible lessons on how to be the best one can be.

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What we can’t handle, is the people on the other side.

The jeering, the jabbing, the unfounded hatred. Hatred is a strong word, but that’s the only word we can use here.

What is the meaning of sports if not to bring people together? If not to unite us in the pleasure of Americas favorite pasttimes? Weren’t you all hoping for a game seven if only just to watch two incredible teams duke it out? Why has an internal appreciation for the sport turned into an external desire for putting each other down?

We can’t say we’ve never jokingly ignored our friends when they’ve rooted for the other teams. We can’t say we haven’t brushed them off, or made faces at them. But we’ve never gone as far as to hate.

Being from both Cleveland and Chicago, we’ve gotten the worst of this. Big sports towns with a lot of heart. Passionate fans with a lot of fire. And haters with an incredible amount of distaste.

But what saddens us most is that when Chicago has a win, Clevelanders let it be. We even applaud our midwestern brothers and sisters. We’re proud of where we come from, and since they’re our neighbors, we’re proud of them, too. No matter who you are, or where you’re from, we appreciate a valiant effort. We appreciate exceptional teamwork. But tonight, wearing a heartbreaking Cavs loss on our sleeves, seeing so much negativity and hate from people we spent so much time with in Chicago, at college, etc. was staggering.

They chalk it up to a long-standing rivalry. Which interestingly, very few Clevelanders even acknowledge. We reason with them. For Cleveland a championship is more than a win for a team. It’s a win for a city. We tell them they have no idea what it’s like to tell someone where you’re from, and have them snicker and say “Oh…I’m sorry.” (It is here we often want to say, “Oh really? Well I’m sorry that you have that big city skyscraper of yours stuffed up your a**.” But we don’t because that would be mean). We describe the power of believing, the attitude of persistence, and the zeal of faith. We open our hearts and share what a championship could mean for Cleveland. A skip that’s been missing from our step for years. An updated identity. A chance to prove everyone wrong. Isn’t that something we all want?

It’s moments like these that prompt us to wonder. What’s the point of sport? If it brings out the monster in people? The Cavs losing is tough enough. But the lack of respect from people we’ve broken bread with, and the respect that we’ve in turn lost for them, is tougher.

To Cleveland – thank you for a wonderful upbringing. You’ve taught us to hope in the darkest times and to persevere no matter what. You’ve given us a family that crosses zip-codes. You’ve taught us that East and West mean nothing. That when it comes to passion, we’re all one. Thank you for always lifting us up, and not even thinking of kicking us down.

And to the Warriors and all their fans out there. That was a killer series. Congrats, excellently played, and we’ll get you next time ;).

#AllinCLE #Believeland #Cleveland #Cavaliers

Love,

The Gautam Girls

(I wish) I Woke Up Like This

We all know those people. The ones that practically skip out of bed in the morning. At 6AM when their internal alarm clock rings from the depths of their subconscious. They have run five miles, done 75 squats and 50 lunges, and had a nutritious high protein, low carb breakfast all before 7:30AM, when most of us trudge from our beds to our bathrooms as if there were hundred pound shackles bound to our feet.

Photo credit to the cool things Colleen Leddy has at her amazing bachelorette party.

After breakfast, this person sits down to spend an hour on their personal project. They are the writers, philosophers, entrepreneurs, makers, creators. The enlightened ones, if you will. They are the masters of their own lives. They had a dream at one point (and yes, MLK would also be considered one of these SSs), and are either on the very well paved path to achieving it, or in the midst of the surreal splendor of it.

For the luckiest, this one morning hour turns into many hours. They spend their day building the landscapes and skylines of their future.

All my life, I’ve tried to be a Self-Starter. I set goals for myself, and I achieve them momentarily. Writing every day for two weeks straight. Opting into initiatives like the 100-day program. Taking classes and feeling the rush of anticipation in the moments before, and the flood of satisfaction in the moments after. Enlivening characters I fall in love with, rooms I want to occupy, and storylines I want to share with everyone I possibly can.

I do it! And I love it! And then comes a moment when I stop. When the path to achieving my dreams becomes so convoluted, like a maze in the dark, in the middle of a large expanse of land, surrounded by nothingness. So even if I were to ever emerge, I’d only find another harrowing obstacle.

The self-starter has this same moment. When they stop and evaluate. But, these f**kers (excuse my French) just happen to be Eagle Scouts who know how to use the crap on the ground and friction to create a bright and fiery torch to light their way. They have to push through and persevere, too. Even though we might feel that by sheer will-power they can light-up the world.

So all you Self-Starters out there. Can you please take some time from being incredible, jealousy-inciting humans to give us all some advice on how in the world you do it?! Also, sorry I called you all f**kers (excuse my French, again). It comes from a place of love and admiration. Promise.

XX,

A

A New New Yorker | Tale 2

I’ve been sitting on tale two of this series for a while – eagerly anticipating the next event that would inspire me to write. It hasn’t happened yet. So, I’m going to try to write on my lack of inspiration. Is this every writer’s nightmare or just mine?

I moved to New York City nearly a month ago now. My list of expectations was long and honestly, at this point, forgotten. Despite the move having happened not even a month ago, I can’t remember what all I had dreamt of – I can only remember how these hopes and dreams were unmet.

I think I thought it would be something like the opening credits to Sex and the City, where Carrie Bradshaw is fabulously strutting about the streets with a bright-eyed smile and a confidence only a character in a TV show can have. The sky behind her, blue as can be with some very picturesque cumulus clouds floating across the Chrysler building. Skip to the end of the video, the part where she gets splashed by a taxi cab – yup, that’s more like it.

Let me give you an example. One of the first thing I saw today was a man – how do I say this in a pretty, flowery way…I can’t…the man was literally peeing right outside the subway and I unfortunately saw it all! Last week on my way to work, I had to stop and gag up a little in a nearby trash can (which they should really put more of those around because if you look at the sidewalks you will clearly see that there is a lot of trash) because I couldn’t handle the various scents of NYC. Wet dogs, urine, dead fish – to name a few.

I know, I’m being a total Debby Downer. I don’t want to be! In fact, my least favorite question has quickly become “how are you liking it so far”, because it is for some reason impossible for me to lie and then I have to gently tell these happy New Yorkers that I have yet to fall in love with their home. A wants to kill me every time I talk about it and I’m sure I’ll get some backlash for writing about it.

But I think what I’ve learned so far is…

1. No matter where I go, I can’t leave behind who I am. I thought that this move would help redefine me – change me. But what I’m realizing is that even a new place can’t do that. Only I can. And getting myself to a place where I’m ready to let go of the past and embrace the present and future is a lot harder than packing up my apartment and leaving a city.

2. I’ve come to see that my present never seems as wonderful as it really is. While I’m living it, I’m discontent. Waiting for the next chapter. But when I look back, I ache for it. I’ve always heard those cheesy “the present is a present” quotes and dismissed them. Because well…that just sounds dumb. But learning to live in the moment and cherish it while you have it is so much better than regretting your lack of appreciation for it later in life.

So despite my less than warm feelings about The Big Apple – I’m going to make a public promise to give it a real chance. Feel free to keep me an honest woman here, guys.

With love,

K

A New New Yorker | Tale 1

Well, I’ve done it – I’m a New Yorker! At least, as much as I can be five days into my move here. I’ve mostly spent my first week here taking a mental break from work, actually hitting the gym, going out on solo expeditions and giving an excessive amount of love to my puppy nephew Kingston.

The more time I spend in this city, the more I come to see the difference between New Yorkers and the rest of the world. It first hit me at a Moth GrandSLAM event – where people take the stage to share their own personal stories with the audience. There I realized, through both the stories and audience participation, that New Yorkers are unapologetically themselves. They aren’t afraid to (in my Midwest opinion, over) share tidbits of themselves with complete strangers – no matter how dirty the truth is. People sent slips, though anonymous, up to the host during judging breaks telling tales of “that time I got stuck in a sand dune during a threesome” or “when I did cocaine with the guy that I was in love with…and his girlfriend”. Actual performers shared in their struggles with depression, losing loved ones and accidental viewing of child pornography.

On the streets of New York, you’ll see completely normal city dwellers fully embracing themselves – whether that means wearing what I perceive to be a ridiculous outfit, having open and loud conversations about their weekend activities or driving down the street with the windows down, putting on a Beyonce-inspired show for everyone.

At times I would have found all of this alarming and, for lack of better word, improper. I have not been raised to catch attention of strangers or overshare my personal stories. But now, just five days into my move, these people make me smile. To be yourself, so unfiltered for the world to see, is such a beautiful thing.

As I’ve shared with all of you before, one of the things I’ve personally been seeking is a better understanding of myself. Maybe it’s because I’m 23 and that’s too young to truly know you, or maybe it’s because I stayed in one city for eight years, not pushing past my comfort zone. Whatever it is, I’m confident that taking a few years to grow in a place where people are comfortable to explore and be themselves is just what I need.

We Got Baked in San Francisco

I’ve been in a mood this week. A crappy mood. Did you know bloggers could have bad moods? Yeah, this is the real shit people. In fact, the lack of bad moods in the blogosphere (like the lifestyle blogosphere) was exactly why I was hesitant to start another blog. Where’s the realness? But I made a deal with myself that I could be as real as I wanted here. So even if it doesn’t make for the most uplifting, inspiring, enjoyable content, life isn’t all cupcakes and crinkle chips, y’all.

I think my mood stems from vacation-withdrawl. It has been just a few days since mom, K, and I returned from what I now know as undeniably amazing San Francisco. K and I had never been before, and it was RESPLENDENT. Like drop dead delightful. Coming from New York and Chicago (and Mom from Cleveland), the weather played a definitive role. Seventies, and not a cloud in the sky. No fog. Just crisp, clear, freakin’ California.

We really had an incredible time. The Gautam Girls hadn’t taken a trip in quite some time (if ever?). And we’re just GOOD travel partners. We enjoy the same sorts of things – wine, tacos, ice cream. We get tired around the same time. We don’t push each other to do more. We don’t hold each other back.

We got in late Thursday night and spent Friday roaming around The Mission. Taking snaps with murals, wandering into interesting stores, drinking coffee.

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And then we walked up some mad hills to the Painted Ladies. Which were okay. But the walk itself, the fresh breeze, the sunshine, was so so pleasant. And laying on the hill after all that huffing and puffing was also pretty great.

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We had Mexican for dinner, obviously. And they had this amazing gluten-free beer from Moonlight Brewery… so I had my first ever Michelada!

On Saturday we were super touristy, and went to the Golden Gate Bridge, which is truly a sight to see. It’s more impressive than I expected. We also look super touristy. In fact, my husband, after a boozy brunch, quite eloquently told me I looked like I belonged in the FBI. In retrospect, that’s exactly what I looked like…

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We then stopped in Sausalito.

From there, Mom, K, and I explored the Marina. We walked along the water and marveled at all of the extremely fit people of San Francisco (there were SO many six-packs). We stopped at the Palace of Fine Art, which is incredible, and then had an amazing lunch with a massive pitcher of margaritas, and… TACOS. We ended the afternoon with an insane walk all the way to North Beach, the Italian District.

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We slumped home sweaty and sore, and then took some time to recharge before some drinks and a really tasty Thai dinner.

Sunday was specially for me – wine country! We drove to Sonoma, stopping briefly at Lands End where I happened upon a very serendipitous “A+A” carving, and missed Mr. P.

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Sonoma was amazing. It was almost like being transported to Italy. It was extra special to me because my best friend got engaged in Sonoma, so the whole time I had this warm, lovey dovey feel (though it could’ve also been the wine). We had chocolate wine shots, gluten free burgers, and then drove home with the windows down playing Ne-Yo and Rihanna (dream).

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And then, sadly and suddenly, it was Monday. We were all in a slump, but our uncle (who is seriously the best host), took us out of the house for a final look around town. We stopped by Union Square, got baked at Mr Holmes Bakehouse (see Instagram here hehe), and then had one final delicious meal together.

The meal was super memorable, because something BIG happened while we were there… Super big. So big that it merited this face from K.

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She’ll be sharing in our next Jointly post.

Love,

A