A Long-Awaited Break

Since before I can remember, I’ve wanted a break. When I was in college and took summer classes, and packed my time with jobs, 21-credit semesters, and internships, I’ve wanted a break. When I jumped straight from college into a job, I wanted a break. When I moved to New York, and from company to company, I wanted a break.

By break, I don’t just mean a few weeks off to get married (for those of you who’ve gotten married, you know this isn’t a break), but a real, true, sit on my ass and do nothing but get my mind straight, break.

So in October, I decided to do it. Take off the month of November to just be. I tied my loose ends, checked my bank account, and quit my job. To be honest, I didn’t know what to expect. I didn’t know how I’d feel, or what those around me would think. Would I seem lazy? Careless? Privileged? Or God forbid… Millennial!?

I hate to say that I care what people think, but I do. Especially the people I love, appreciate, and admire. But if I’m really honest with myself, what I care about above all is transparency. I can understand the need for a social highlight reel, for sharing the good, and portraying oneself in the best light. But I don’t understand why that’s it. Why we never reveal any other aspect of ourselves. To me, sharing in each others humanity is far more powerful. Embracing each other during the ups, and cradling each other during the downs.

So I decided to share my news. Admitting that I felt disconnected from myself, my city, my relationships. Confessing that I wasn’t doing the best, or being the best I could. Revealing that even a few days in, I could still feel half of my body in knots, and the other half slowly unraveling. It was terrifying.

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Deep down, I knew, and know others feel the same way. So why don’t we talk about our vulnerabilities? Why don’t we talk about fading friendships, faltering love, and failure when these conversations can liberate us?

When I pressed “post” on Facebook, I braced myself. I knew some people might read my post and see the frailty and naiveté of my character. But I also knew that some people might empathize. I didn’t, however, expect the outpouring of support – from my friends, my parents friends, my family all over the world. The “best decision in world!”s, and the “THIS IS NUTS (in an awesome way!)”s, and the “you deserve it!”s.

It wasn’t just sympathy or empathy. It was people throwing convention to the wayside and standing by me when I was most vulnerable.

In retrospect, I don’t know why I was that surprised. Especially now, when solidarity is pulsing through all of us. When we’re all tapping into the same positive, loving, helpful, encouraging consciousness, whether we live next door to one another, or across the globe.

The world is a scary place, but our community is beautiful.

Thank you for your kindness, understanding, and support. May we all continue to inject one another’s lives with this same sense of friendship, camaraderie, and unity.

Love,

A

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

Better Together | Chicago Adventures

We are bumming hard today. A real case of the Monday doldrums.

It’s always so difficult to get back to the usual after an amazing weekend, especially when that amazing weekend is spent with each other, and some really close friends.

I hadn’t been to Chicago since a work research trip in the Spring, and Mr. P hadn’t been in almost a year, so we were due for a visit. Ask K… she had been on our case for months (with reason!).

We got in late Friday night (after catching up on NPR’s Serial for the entire flight, with wide-eyes and dropped jaws), and because we were desperate to eat at as many amazing Chicago restaurants as possible during our short trip, headed to The Girl and The Goat for an 11:30PM reservation. Of course, it was poppin’ and the food was exceptional, and it was totally worth the half-asleep ride home.

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Saturday was jam-packed with food, drinks, conversations, anddd more drinks. First, we went on a quest to find a gluten free donut (after I watched K, KM, and Mr. P grub on Do-Rite Donuts in the AM). We came up empty-handed, but stumbled upon Big Star, and hello… TACOS, Margaritas, and a big booth that got more and more stuffed as best friends arrived. Excellent.

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(Those peace signs are obviously meant to be ironic)

After a crazy amount of food, we walked around Wicker Park, stopping in record stores, bars, second-hand clothing shops, and more bars (we were with our college friends! No judgements, Judgies). It reminded Mr. P and I a bit of Williamsburg – except slightly more charming, slightly less gritty.

At night I went to hang out with my dear dear friend N, and her group of lovely and interesting friends. We had a delicious dinner at Travelle, in the Langham Hotel. It was seriously beautiful.

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We had so many insightful conversations – from love, to business ideas, to Ted talks. We ended our night out dancing, of course.

Finally at the very end of the night, which of course lasted another few hours – until about 5AM… I caught up with one of my college besties, L. Mr. P took to the floor for the night, giving us time to “pillow talk,” as he called it.

Overall, Saturday was one of my favorite days. With some of my favorite people.

On Sunday morning we lazed hardcore. K trekked around to find me the perfect gluten free donut (bless her, it was not as easy as you’d think), and me, Mr. P, K, and L all ate donuts on the top floor of K’s building and talked about urban planning, 3D printing, and what the world will look like in the future. But since we were so sleep deprived, and so happy, we just ended up laughing a lot. Sigh. The best of times.

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On Sunday, we met up with some family at The Publican. K and I both had the Red Wine Poached Eggs and they were pretty incredible.

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Sadly, our Sunday was cut short. I WAS GLUTENED. Beware that the Publican Mimosa is made with Orange Juice and Beer, NOT champagne. Womp womp.

So K and I just hung out, talking about life, and Jointly, and making plans for the future.

See what I mean about the Monday doldrums?

xx

A

Honesty Hour | Things We Like About Ourselves

Today, as I was doing my daily advertising research at work, I came across Dove’s latest film, Legacy. I know that body image, especially women’s body image, is something that has taken over the media in the past few years. But what I’ve never seen before, is the impact one’s body image can have on other generations.

I guess I’m so far removed from my childhood, that I forgot the impact my mother has had on me. Lucky for me, I don’t remember ever hearing my mom complain about her appearances (props to you, mom!), though I can’t say I’ve never done so. I think in a world that’s so focused on comparing and improvement (improving homes, pimping rides, getting makeovers, teaching others what not to wear), we often forget to celebrate the things we like.

I know both A and I are much more likely to complain about things than to celebrate them. So I figured today, despite our complete discomfort in doing so, for the sake of our pledge to honesty, we could share with you guys some things we like about ourselves. Here’s to self-esteem week, starting October 9th!

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Let me just start off by saying that K prefaced this post by telling me that I wouldn’t like it. And I don’t. For as long as I can remember, I’ve been really critical about my looks and my body. I had the pinnings of an eating disorder in high school, wanted to get a nose job for years, felt awkward about my height (I remember specifically being told by a cute boy that I was “too tall” and that “the perfect woman is 5’6”), and was conscious about having the “typical Indian thunder thighs.” I was bullied quite a bit when I was young, but in that weird, back-handed, it’s just a joke because we’re friends, sort of way. But it wasn’t a joke, and it hurt.

Growing up has been good for me, because I’ve slowly realized that while I care what people think, I care a hell of a lot more how I feel. Sure, it’s lovely to have a six-pack, and chiseled Michelle Obama arms, but it’s even more lovely to have healthy skin and hair, a happy demeanor, energy, and a bit of junk in the trunk – IMHO.

Which brings me to what I like about myself. Here goes.

My waist. I like it. It’s small and sits between two other parts of my body that aren’t as small, so it all works pretty nicely together. I am a curve enthusiast, so anything that ties, cinches, or sits at the waist, send em my way so I can put em on! Peplums? Yes please! Coats with belts? Get on me. Oh, those high waisted jeans from the 80’s are back in fashion? I’ll take 10 pairs.

My hair. I’m a hair person. And a bad hair morning can seriously ruin my day. But in general, my hair is on of my favorite parts of me. It’s shiny and healthy, whether it’s long, short, colored, straight, curly. Knock on wood. I can randomly cut my own bangs on a Tuesday mornings, and not only will it work (DISCLAIMER: Do not try this at home! I’ve had bangs before so I know a thing or two), people will tell me I look like Hannah Simone! Which literally makes my life (because have you seen her Instagram?! It and her are effing amazing).

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New Do

K

While I introduced this post to A telling her she’d hate it, it’s only because I knew I already hated it. Not just because my insecurities and the things I don’t like about myself, but also because I am not one to brag. Our dad raised us in a way that anytime we would talk about appearances, whether it be our own or a celebrities, good or bad, he would tell us to not be “so vain.” So I repeatedly had to tell myself while writing this post that it’s not vain or self-absorbed to like yourself. It’s actually good and healthy.

That being said, I’m proud to share a few things I like about myself.

I think the first thing would be my eyes. While I often tell my mom that if she had had green eyes like both her brothers do, I probably would have too. But now I’ve come to embrace my brown ones, though they’ve often lead to some very awkward moments. Namely the time I was getting my hair washed before a cut (so I was in that weird laying down position) and my hairdresser just looked into my eyes the entire time. It was weird. But it was also fun and I (well now not-so) secretly loved it.

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My legs. I got ’em from my daddy. I actually did and to me that’s hilarious. But for someone who’s just shy of 5’5 (I just discovered this, I always thought I was like 5’7. It was kind of heartbreaking), they’re pretty damn long. When I’m not suffering from thoracic output syndrome and other insane things, they also allow me to run and squat – which is just great. They’ve taken me around the world, they’ve allowed me to walk head-on into many experiences, all while looking pretty okay in short shorts. So, thanks dad!


While this post was insanely awkward and uncomfortable for us to compose (to the point where we repeatedly asked each other whether our sections were too braggy and over the top), we did it for the greater good, Dumbledore style. We want everyone to know that it’s not just okay, but amazing, to love yourself. We’re tired of being down on ourselves, comparing ourselves to others, and not feeling like a million bucks.

Hope we inspired you to think about what you love about being you! We know it might give you the creepy crawlies, but if you’re open to sharing, we’d love to hear. #LUVYOSELF.

Jointly yours,

A & K

Newly Married Life

I weirdly feel like this is my debut post. It’s been a while since I’ve been an active participant in Jointly, even though I’ve certainly been around. As you all know – if you’re one of our usuals – I got married just over three weeks ago.

Our wedding was somewhat of a miracle. We did a lot of planning, coordinating, and perfecting, but the weekend itself went off magically. Maybe it was the bride in me, I was obviously riding a huge, gorgeous, life-altering emotional wave, but I think others saw and felt the magic, too. It is cheesy for me to say that it all just felt right? Like it was meant to be? Maybe it’s the newly wed in me. (And now I’m rhyming).

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After our wedding, my husband (wuuuttt?), who will from now on be referred to as Mr. P, and I spent twelve days on our honeymoon. A big chunk in Bali, and a smaller bit in Singapore. I never realized how amazing it is to have nothing to think or worry about but the person you love. But it was incredible. My work email was silent (thank you!), my personal email was ignored, and my Instagram was only updated periodically. Silent, secluded, serene perfection.

Now that I’m back, people keep asking me whether life feels different. It’s such a polarizing question, because YES, of course. I am married. My last name on all of my social networks is Pai. Alongside my life-long family, I have a new family. And my “own family.” That’s the weirdest part. One day when people say “your family,” they will mean Mr. P plus whatever presently non-existent members we’ll have by then. That’s very different.

But it also feels the same. I guess after dating for a while you get into a rhythm that can’t really be undone. And I think that’s what makes committing to someone for the rest of time less scary. I asked Mr. P whether he felt like we were married the other day, and he said “NO!” And I don’t really either. We’re still young and in love and living life like it’s just one big experiment. Plus marriage is for old people…

Hugs,

A

Revisiting Sunday School

Hello all!

So the past few days, it seems as though Hinduism has popped up everywhere. I’ve seen random om tattoos (on non-Hindus…hey it’s cool!), signs of it in my favorite guilty pleasure, Charmed, and even in the book I was reading, Where’d You Go, Bernadette (more to come on this soon, but you should definitely try to snag it…or download it I guess). As someone who firmly believes in signs, I decided that all of these instances must mean that I’m meant to do a little research on Hinduism and maybe even become more religious. But as someone who has a Hindu god tattooed on their body, I should at least know more than the basics.

The number one reason Hinduism can be so confusing is because throughout its extensive history, there have been a vast number of key figures, each bringing a different philosophy, and sometimes even a different holy scripture, to the religion. It is for this same reason that Hinduism is frequently referred to as a way of life rather than a religion. All of this being said, most Hindus adhere to a body of texts (four of them to be precise) known as the Vedas and pursue a common system of values, dharma.

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The triumvirate are known as the three gods associated with the creation, upkeep, and destruction of the world. Brahma is considered to be the creator of the world and all of its creatures. Saraswati, the goddess of knowledge (one that I am familiar with through years and years of praying for good grades), is known to be Brahma’s spouse. Brahma, however, is the least worshipped god in Hinduism. It is said that this is either because a) his job as creator is done or b) his incessant pursual of Shatarupa, a woman he created to help in his creation of the world. Lord Shiva cursed Brahma for such incestuous behavior by making him a god that no one worships.

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Vishnu is the Hindu god of preservation and protection of the universe. It is said that in times of trouble, Vishnu returns to the earth in order to maintain the balance of good and evil. He has been re-incarnated nine times and believers say he will be re-incarnated one last time close to the end of the world. Two of Vishnu’s incarnations are known as Rama (the greatest warrior/ideal man) and Krishna (the mentally advanced man), who are respectively characters in the epic stories of the Ramayana and Mahabharata. Vishnu’s consort is Lakshmi, the goddess of success and wealth. Vishnu played a large part in the churning of the Milky Ocean (a story that explains how the gods defeated all the demons and became immortal).

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Lakshmi is known as the goddess of success and wealth not just to humans, but even to the other gods. It is because of her absence that the demons were able to take over the world in the first place and in order to get her and her blessing back, the gods had to churn her out of the Milky Ocean. This took 1,000 years, symbolizing that Lakshmi bestows good fortune on those who work hard, display virtue and bravery, and ask for blessings without greed.

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Shiva, the third god in the triumvirate is meant to destroy the universe, leaving room for re-creation. It is believed that his power to destruct is constantly in use, destroying any illusions and imperfections, paving a path for beneficial change. Thus, Shiva is seen as a source of both good and evil. Shiva is also known to be the Lord of Dance, which is a very important form of art in India. Shiva alone is known for his uncontrollable passions which lead him to extreme behavior. Parvati, his wife, brings him balance through their relationship of equality. Parvati is an incarnation of Devi, the Mother-goddess, who has also taken form as Kali, the goddess of death and Sati, the goddess of marital felicity. Together, Shiva and Parvati symbolize perfect marital bliss. Lord Ganesh is their son who has the body of a human, but the head of an elephant. Ganesh has always been a family favorite and is also my left hand man (literally). Ganesh is the Remover of Obstacles, new beginnings, and travel. Before getting my tattoo, I did a bit of research (it’s important to know exactly what will be on your skin forever), and Ganesh is always made to have large ears, to represent the importance of listening, a small mouth (if one at all) to signify the importance of listening over speaking, and small eyes to symbolize the importance of always seeing others as larger than yourself. To me, Lord Ganesh represents my family (especially my dad who has adorned all of our houses with literally almost 100 idols of Ganesha), new beginnings (and everything starts with your hands), and the remover of all the obstacles that come before me.

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My left-hand man

Why I’m drawn to Hinduism

The main reasons I’m drawn to Hinduism as a religion (other than the fact that I was born into it) are because of it’s portrayals of Gods, love, and it being more a way of life than a religion. Gods, in Hinduism, are shown to be extremely human in their feelings, emotions, and actions. They are all flawed, and defined by not just their strengths, but also their weaknesses. Another reason I find myself interested in Hinduism is because of the representation of love. The fact that God’s are married, the image of marital bliss, or even forbidden lovers. I know A really loves the emphasis of feminism found in the religion. All of these things combined make Hinduism a little more relatable. Of course, I also love the fantastical and sci-fi elements of it all as well, but it is important, I think, to be able to relate to a religion.

Obviously there is so much more to learn. It seems the information on Hinduism is endless. I’ve really only provided a brief background and information on a few deities. If you’re still curious, BBC provides great, but brief, information on their site or I’m more than happy to give you my Dadi’s (Grandmother’s) phone number!

Lots of love (and prayers),

K

Reasons I Smile

Hi everyone!

Hope you are all enjoying the very first stages of summer!

So inspirations been a little low on my end lately. I’ve had one jam packed day after another since my last day of college. Yes, a large reason is because I’m giving my body all the hours of sleep it has been cheated of the last four years (this, much to my mother’s dismay, means waking up at noon pretty much everyday), but beyond that I’m busy planning my post-grad life, A’s bachelorette party, A’s four wedding functions (Indian wedding are f-ing awesome…until you have to plan one), exercising (also for the wedding because let’s be honest, who in their right mind enjoys that s**t…seriously), and trying to keep up with my friends who are literally scattered around the globe right now.

I can tell you one thing…it ain’t easy. None of it is easy. And with all the stress going around, I have to remind myself of all the reasons to smile and be happy.

I know that everyone feels low sometimes, so I thought I’d share a few of my happy thoughts, hoping that maybe you can use them as yours too!

1. It’s summer

Sure, it comes every year, but that doesn’t make it any less wonderful! The warmth of the sun, the smell of chlorine, the sensation of freshly cut grass under your feet. Summer alone gives you over one hundred reasons to smile.

2. Family

Whenever I feel overwhelmed or down (and I mean whenever, even at 3AM) I pick up the phone and call someone in my family (depending on what the situation is). Having the most loving, giving, and beautiful family is always a reason to smile. How lucky am I, to have my mom, dad, and sister? The answer: so lucky.

3. TV

TV is good. Actually, it’s the best. All you really need when you’re feeling blah is a good show to watch. There are shows to make you feel like less of a failure, shows to make you feel less alone, and shows to make you feel nostalgic. My go-to show for an overall pick me up is The Mindy Project. Because she is amazingly hilarious, real, and people tell me I’m like her so I obviously love her. But sometimes all you really need is to get out of your shoes in order to realize that your shoes are exactly where you want to be.

4. Flowers

They’re beautiful. Need I say more? Hit up Trader Joe’s and put something fresh and colorful in every room. Then you can take artsy Instagram pictures and get a ton of likes and feel good about yourself (I’m totally being sarcastic…well kind of).

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5. Music

Turn off The Weeknd, Jeff Buckley, or whatever it is you’re listening to. While these are two of my favorite artists…are you trying to drown in self-pity? Put on some o’ dat Leighton Meester, Pharrell Williams stuff. Happy tunes = happy life.

6. Candles

It can be 90 degrees outside and I’ll still light candles. Because nothing is more beautiful than a dancing flame.

7. Kiddie foods

Popsicles, Dunkaroos, Moon Pies, Gushers. How can you not be happy in a world with all these delicacies?! The only thing that gets me through my beach/wedding workouts is knowing that soon I can eat all of these things. In one sitting.

8. My friends

I love ’em. I’m obsessed with them. More stuff you already know about me.

9. Anything colorful

I like being around anything that is bright and gives my life a little pop. I bought this turquoise blazer today with huge pink and red flowers all over it and I just wanted to sit with it all day. Being around pretty, lively things will make you feel pretty and lively…guaranteed. (This is also more proof for #4).

10. FaceTime

FaceTime is so fun. I could FaceTime anyone and the conversation would start with an ear-to-ear smile. Maybe it’s because it’s so awkward that you just have to have fun with it and smile. Or maybe it’s the thought that someone loves me and wants to talk to me so much that they’ll sit miles away from me, on their phone, staring at my face on their phone screen…I don’t know, but FaceTime is awesome.

11. Dogs (this is a bonus because the list was meant to end at 10, buuut…)

I’m obsessed with my dog. Every time I re-enter the room that she’s in I cover her with hugs and kisses and yes…baby talk. She’s happiest being at home, on the couch, with a comfortable blanket and a cuddle buddy. Which is perfect because that’s when I’m my happiest! We’re two peas in a pod. It sounds like I’m talking about my significant other but she’s way more significant than another “other” out there.

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12. Chipotle (another bonus…there are just so many reasons to smile!)

How could I have almost forgotten Chipotle? It’s been a long month without you…but I’m comin’ for you baby. Me and you, July 13th.

 

So guys, I’ve just given you twelve reasons to perk up and smile. Life ain’t so bad, sunshine!

 

Lots of love,

K