A New New Yorker | What Living in New York Has Taught Me | Tale 4

Today marks my sixth month in New York. Whatt?! Half a year?! How did this happen? Well, to be totally honest, not without tears, tantrums, lots of complaining and pent up anger (I’m afraid if I ever show aggression out on the streets someone will follow me home and kill me).

I’ve decided that, as a 6 month anniversary gift to the city that I…uh…(sometimes) tolerate, I will compile a list of things I’ve learned from living here.

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  1. Not letting gross things bother you (for that long): In the past 6 months in New York, I have been exposed to more disgusting things than I have in my entire life. I’ve had old air conditioners leak their cooling juices on my head as I walk below them, I’ve learned how to avoid getting bed bugs in a place infested by them, I’ve taught myself how to avoid breathing by port-a-potties, and I’ve even learned how to get over a cockroach the size of my palm scurrying across my desk.
  2. How to get from point A to point B: In New York, you just have to know where you’re going. Because if you try to ask someone, they will most likely give you incorrect directions. Really, this happened to me on my second day of work. You can truly only count on yourself. And Google Maps…but only if you check it before going underground because then you’re screwed.
  3. That I don’t like crowded, loud places: When I was living in Chicago, I attributed a lot of my nights spent at home to my lack of friends living in the actual city. Now, after some time in NY I’ve realized that even when I have the option to go to these jam-packed, rowdy places, I happily opt out without any FOMO at all.
  4. How to pretend like some rude person didn’t just cut you off or aggressively push past you: Okay. I’m not even a slow walker. Like, I walk really really fast. So when someone pushes me out of their way (instead of just saying “excuse me” like a normal, non-savage, human being) I simply don’t understand it. But I also don’t understand why most homeless people here have iPhones or iPads, so what do I know?
  5. Just get your groceries delivered: For the love of God, don’t make the mistakes I have made. Walking a mile with three filled Trader Joe’s bag or paying $25 for your cab…not worth it. Fresh Direct is the way to go.
  6. Wear layers: Subway stations are 100 degrees and the office is 60. Need I say more?
  7. How to deal with claustrophobia: My two-bedroom apartment is the same size as my studio in Chicago was. To deal with this I – pretend I live in the fantasy worlds I watch on Netflix, go to A’s apartment, or force myself to fall asleep to avoid life.
  8. How to do pretty much anything in bed: My bed is so much more than a place to sleep. It’s also a place to eat, work, paint my nails, do crunches, and pretty much any other thing you can imagine me doing during the day. This is what happens when you don’t have a real living room.
  9. How to ignore gross men or crazy people on the street: Whether it’s a catcall or a guy walking around in a leotard screaming Selena Gomez song lyrics, for your own sanity, learn to tune it all out. I actually always day-dream of responding with some witty, bitchy comment. But refrain because, again, someone from the street can always follow you home and kill you.
  10. How to look past all this shit because you’re in New York: As much as I dislike the city, I realize that it truly is a city of dreams. The number of opportunities you have just outside your door is astonishing. So learning to look past all the negatives and focus on all the positives, is the number one thing New York has taught me. Granted, I still complain at least 5 times a day. But most days I can step back, look at my life, and realize that I’m so lucky to be where I am.

Moment of truth: I actually don’t deal with most of these situations well at all. And my #1 way of coping is actually just calling my mom and complaining. Then she tells me she’s sick of hearing it. So then I call my dad. So thanks dad, for putting up with me!

Love,

K

My (Biggest) Struggle of being an Indian Girl

If you’ve kept up with Jointly at all in the past almost two years (ahh!), you probably know by now that one of my favorite things to write, discuss, and vent about is being Indian. In most cases I like to joke (but never exaggerate) about what it’s like to be an Indian girl, but today I want to be totally honest and share with all of you, my biggest struggle as an Indian girl.

I’ve always known my biggest pain point with my ethnicity, but the full extent of it didn’t really hit me until I finished Mindy Kaling’s latest book, Why Not Me. The number one reason I struggle with being Indian is because Indian culture prohibits me from being 100% real with all of you. I always think about my goals as a writer and how I can further refine my voice and skill only to realize that I can’t really, because I’m Indian.

Now, before going any further, I would like to caveat that this post is based solely on my personal experience and feelings. Additionally, I would like to make it undeniably clear that I love being Indian and could not imagine my life in any other way. Okay? Okay, moving on…

I feel that, as an Indian woman, I have a certain image to maintain. I should conduct my life with the perfect amount of grace, respect and reservation. I should share little and keep my personal life, especially the portion of it grandparents may frown upon, personal. And to a certain extent, I totally agree with this. I am all for grace and you probably can’t find a girl who loves and respects people (who deserve it), more than I do. But not sharing…I’m sure you can see how that would hold me back as a writer.

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                          Indian girls should be all shy and shit

As I got deeper and deeper into Mindy’s stories, I couldn’t help but go a little bug-eyed as I read about her love life, how she enjoys filming sex scenes and her excessive drinking (and McDonald’s eating). I was shocked but inspired and could feel my already present admiration for her grow as I flipped each page. She is real, I thought. I want to be real too.

And I try to be. I really do. I’m sure you can tell from some of my writing. But there are certain personal topics I avoid completely, as I know my audience. But I’m getting to the point where I’m old enough to not care what other people think. I’ve been raised well and I know right from wrong and appropriate from inappropriate. I mean…it’s not like I want to be a lingerie model. Just a good writer. If you want to be a lingerie model (which I would also totally support, to each their own), and this post inspires you to do so, please do not tell your strict Indian parents that I gave you the idea. If you need someone to blame, blame Mindy.

Love,

K

P.S. For all Indians reading this and preparing to judge me for the unfiltered stories I am to tell in the future, just know – I heard young adults in India are way worse.

More Growing Pains | A Tribute To My Old Friends

Up until now life has gradually transitioned from one stage to another, without much of a bump in the road. The change from child to teen was pretty painless and the switch from high school to college even more so. At any given point I’ve always been, not just ready, but eagerly anticipating the next stage of life. And until recently – that had always worked out just fine for me. I didn’t just think I was ready, or feel ready, I always was ready.

I was so fond of these transitional, big life moments that I actually sought them out, for no reason other than craving the blood rush it gave me. When I first graduated college, I was ecstatic to be an adult. And once I was, I was even more ecstatic to be an adult in New York City. Nothing new, I thought. But I was wrong.

Twenty-three is still so young, people say to me (especially here where 50 is the new 25). And maybe they’re right. I mean if all goes well I’m only about a quarter-way through with my life. But age is just a number. It’s not the numerical value of the years I’ve lived that’s scaring me, it’s about how much has changed during them. And the fact that for the first time in my life, this change that I can see and feel, is unwelcome.

In the past year or two, I’ve lost more friends than I’ve gained. This isn’t for any dramatic, intentional reason. It’s the mere fact that life keeps moving, faster and faster, and if you don’t stick together, you don’t grow together. And if you don’t grow together, you grow apart. I always thought to “grow apart” simply meant falling out of touch with someone. But recently I realized that growing apart is actually when you fall out of touch for so long that when you try to come back together, you don’t find the same person you once knew.

My parents preached it, but I never believed it: growing up is scary. And what’s even scarier is that sometimes, when you just want to retreat and go back to the people who were once your home, the people that knew you and all your teenage weirdness so well, they’re no longer there. Maybe I’m the only person consumed by a sense of dread and regret over this, but I honestly want nothing more than to pick up the phone and talk to the middle school or high school friends like nothing’s changed. Like we still spend hours talking to each other, watching Laguna Beach, binge eating junk food and then doing crunches to negate the previously inhaled junk food. But everything’s changed.

I don’t mean “change” in a bad way. Don’t think that for a second. Every day I find out that someone else is moving abroad, choosing their life partner (!!), making their first million or doing their part to solve some large scale global problem I don’t know enough about. My childhood friends are nothing short of amazing. I just wish I had been there to watch them go from kids trying to understand themselves and life, to the incredible adults they are today.

* Shout out to everyone who was a part of my journey to adulthood, big or small, from Solon or from Naperville. Every victory of yours fills my heart with so much happiness and I wish you all nothing but the absolute best in life. Hope to catch up with you someday soon. 

Love,

K

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

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