I miss you. 

Every year around this time, not having my older brother around gets harder and harder. Minutes turn to hours and hours in to days and before you know it entire lives have been built in the short time ours was destroyed. 

One of these days I’ll delve into loss, grief and how I paddle my way through the ocean of confused emotions. Today however, I just miss my brother. 

Hug your family and friends and tell them you love them and enjoy the holiday season.  

Empire State of Mind 

Manhattan: The city where struggling artists come to reside, corporate tycoons pound the pavement and humans aim to  retain some semblance of balance. 

The Hustle: outsiders assume NYC is one of two things; unattainable or unsustainable. 

It is neither. 

The fact of the matter is whatever you are chasing is contingent on your network, your end game and your effort. NYC provides you with the platform at which all three things are given the most likely going to collide and result in your dreams coming true. 

The harsh reality is if you don’t feel like you’re working hard enough, it’s because you are NOT.  If you desire a lifestyle that is supported by minimal work and aesthetics then you are in the wrong place. While NY is not for the faint of heart it is for the motivated and willing to grovel. 

Every step I take leads me to somewhere worth being. Every time I turn my head I’m looking at something of historical significance or of present value. Every place I have eaten, drank or socialized, I have sat where someone I aim to emmulate or admire has sat. 

It truly is the city of dreams and the city that doesn’t sleep……..

 until you pass out on the subway and miss your stop and end up in Brooklyn or Queens. (Trust me).

While work life balance is imperative and a healthy body is a healthy mind if you’re truly trying to turn your dreams into a reality you actually have to stop dreaming and start changing your reality.  

It’s not a destination you’ll reach or a vacation you’ll never take. It is home to centuries of historical, cultural, social and economic roots. It is the very place where people live, die and everything in between. 
It only works with one mind set. 
The Empire State of Mind. 

Young, Dumb & Brooklyn. 

After yesterday’s confessional post and some much needed TLC. I’m feeling rather Cest La Vie. 

I ventured out to one of my  favorite places in NYC, the Brooklyn Bridge. It is the single place in which I am surrounded by people from all walks of life and yet still, its as if I can breathe and think again. 

I feel revitalized. 

We walked across the bridge enjoying the fairly warm day.  Though it was much warmer than expected it wasn’t warm enough for me to appreciate the athletes running in short shorts.

Nonetheless I admired their hustle and reminded myself that I really needed to get my butt to the gym before the holidays. I acknowledged the fact that while I’ll probably make it to the gym, I will not be running in the frigid cold anytime soon. 

I stopped to admire the beautiful view of FIDI and the glistening water. The ferry boats and twinkle lights sparkled as the fierce wind had my hair LITERALLY whipping back and forth.  This was my home. 

We ventured into Dumbo and found ourselves nestled in a  relaxed cafe, smooth jazz accompanied our discussion about subconscious stereotypes people make. I laughed a little at how typically ‘artsy’ and ‘millennial’ we were coming off as…

There’s that stereotype again. (more on this tomorrow) 

I sat back, looked at my two friends from opposite sides of the country and thought to myself:

Life is good. 

Really, really, really good. 

Learning to Love Myself. 

It did not come naturally. 

It certainly wasn’t obvious.  

It was painful.  

It is hard. 

It is possible. 

Somewhere between adolescence and adutlhood I found myself carrying an unmeasurable weight, one so incredibly tolling that I literally couldn’t function with or get rid of. 

This weight, for many years I thought was physical. 

Fat. 

That’s what I had heard my ENTIRE life. 

” You’re so fat.” 

“It’s a shame you have broad shoulders, petite girls are more attractive.” 

“Lose weight or you’ll never get married” 

” You would be so much more attractive if you lost a few pounds” 

” Your skin is so patchy and discolored”

“You should cover up your eczema” 

” Your hair is so thin, why doesn’t it grow”

Like all dehabiltating critcism, most of it came from my family. Again. And again and again. The irony was, be it a medical issue, eczema or my weight they had a knack for very publicly throwing things outside of my control in my face. 

 I am not part of the over sensitive population but after a while you start to wonder why it goes from white noise to shear disdain. 

 Like any demeaned and frustrated adolescent, I want to scream on the top of my lungs that I didn’t choose my broad shoulders, eczema, 29 different food allergies, PCOS or thyroid issues, they chose me. 

Then I got a little older and a whole lot wiser. 

I learned the following: 

A. My weight was actually scientifically and medically under control and didn’t even qualify as something to be concerned about. 

B. My scars, wrinkles, and discolorations we’re a part of me, they were effects of different struggles I faced, years of weeping eczema and chronic dermatitis. Years of no sleep, hiding from people and refusing to speak.  

C. I had developed such an intense inferiority complex that my self image had become so skewed that I couldn’t even see what I really looked like anymore, I only saw who they painted me out to be, less than sufficient. 


I had lost my grip on reality. My life was riddled with my insecurities. I deemed myself unfit for love and made enough sarcastic jokes about the citizenships or financial stability I’d offer men  because that would be the only way I’d convince someone to be with me, that I started to believe it.  I suddenly questioned my intellect, my passion for different things, my role in others lives. I had turned into such an internalized black hole, for a long time  I didn’t believe there was an alternative.  

In today’s society there is a beautiful acceptance of all body types which I love. I however am an advocate of being healthy and helping your body operate at it’s best so through the years I had let unrealistic Asian expectations convince me that I was unhealthy which in turn caused REAL stress induced health concerns. 

It wasn’t all physical, it was mental. I had deprived myself of the very things I loved and ruined relationships because I thought I didn’t deserve them. 

I grew up and I seeked affirmation from my friends and others. I searched for the stamp of approval, I was waiting for someone to say ” You are worthy”…….

I waited…………….

And waited…………………..

And then I said it to  MYSELF. 

It wasn’t this massive revelation, I didn’t suddenly gain confidence or fall in love. I just woke up one day and realized following my dreams and loving myself was something I  owed to myself because I was worthy and I was my own kind of beautiful.  

It really is true, when you allow yourself to love yourself, you allow others to show you you’re worth loving. 

P.S. Someone out there is singing like James Blunt, because baby YOU’RE BEAUTIFUL. 


Re-Connecting 

There are few things that warm the soul as much as Re-Connecting with family and friends. In life we go through such intense up and downs and we make mistakes and get caught up in the formalities that become our lives. 

Distance, disagreements and discourse result in the loss of life long high quality relationships and it’s not worth it. 

As someone with a very small immediate family reconnecting with my extended family and making an effort to have roles in each other’s lives has resulted in me living a much happier life. 
It’s almost as if life gives us such an extensive list of people who are connected to us purely by relation or blood, while it doesn’t always work out, extended relatives can be great resources that we often don’t tap into. 

Being Indian there isn’t extended family, everyone is  your family.  It’s such a privilege to be able to travel the world and find people that are uncdontionally there for you purely because they want to be. 
Enjoy the holidays and be  sure to get to know your family and maybe even hit up 23 and me or ancestry.com. Where we come from and who we surround ourselves with makes all the difference.  

London Nights

Outside of the typical American obsession with English accents I love London like Indians love masala.  

It’s the city that never disappoints, especially during the holidays. Christmas markets, winter villages and fairly lights galore. It’s any Hallmark lovers paradise. Handmade knit wear and ciders line the holiday markets and the smell of pine, cocoa and seeing your breathe in the air is the perfect way to put you in the spirit. 

Beyond the aesthetic appeal, London town has this charm I cant quite adequately articulate. It’s as though pleasantries and wit had a baby. An exceedingly sharp, eloquently spoken and ethnically diverse baby, that is.  

London has all the things I love with a side of sarcasm. The small city is so incredibly diversified you can grab some chicken Tikka masala and black pudding all on the same street. Its versatility and appreciation of varying cultures is refreshing and convenient. The monarchy and history are as rich as the castles and architecture is. 

As far as tourism goes, London’s sights can be seen in a day or so.  The cities little nooks and carnnies however, are where the real experiences lie. After a trip to Big Ben and a picture of the Eye on the river Thames, sneak away to a pub off the beaten bath. I can guarantee you will find the following things;

1. A bartender who will serve as the best conversationalist be it well curated fiction or not. 

2. Someone with charming manners that make you think, ” your mother raised you right’. 

3. The same someone or a different one that is serving intellectual sarcasm like it’s their job. 

I don’t have an extravagant list of places to see or things to do, I have a feeling. A feeling I hope you’re all able to experience one day. The magic that is London. 

…..my only specific recommendation is……

CHOCOLATE COVERED DIGESTIVES. 
Do it, you’re welcome. 

Being there when it matters.

We do not get to choose when tragedy or tough times strike, not for ourselves and not for others. It is imperative however that we make the effort to be there when it matters.   Today a close friend’s friend committed suicide.

Anytime someone is grieving or struggling we as a society say the same following things because we’re conditioned to feel these are logical responses because most times no one knows how to react:

” They are in a better place”

“It’s all going to be okay”

“You’ve still got time”

“You have my thoughts and prayers”

“It is so sad how many young people keep passing away”

While these statements are innocent and come mostly from the purest of places they are not effective.  In most cases individuals dealing with loss are going through the varying stages of grief, they don’t want to hear their loved ones are “in a better place”, their place is here with them. Life tries us with moments of extreme sorrow or difficulty, what works in surviving these moments is actionable assistance.

What does actionable assistance really mean? It means being there for the birthday and the funeral. It means calling or texting without a reason. It means remembering and providing the little things.  No one who has lost expects or should utilize others as a crutch but it’s natural to crave physical presence and value during the weary times.

My love language is primarily physical and verbal.  Hugs, cuddles, kisses on the cheek and forehead, pat on the back, and general statements that occasionally remind me of my worth to a person.  To help someone grieve or to understand people, in general, it is imperative to understand their love language. Many people feel satisfaction is material goods or actions, whatever the case may be part of the healing process is “speaking” to someone in their language.  To know that someone is still there, to hear that they care for you. In a time where waiting to respond to a text or refraining from asking for help because of “how it makes you look” is exceedingly detrimental.

There are several hundred and thousands of studies on the human mind and its effects, triggers and coping mechanisms. Then there are the actual humans. For whom there is no formula for moving on and feeling better. There are choices and decisions we can learn from, paths we cant try to avoid but chances are at some point and somewhere loving ourselves became less important and getting social validation took first place.

There is no right or wrong, we know even less of how to handle loss than we do of why it happens. The things we do know are that our very choice to be there when it matters is the most important whether it be in good times or bad.

Pick up the phone.

Answer the message.

Write the letter.

Ask the question.

Tell people how you feel about them so they don’t have to wallow figuring it out. 

 

Rest in Paradise, Kurt Parrino. It was a privilege to have met you.

No day shall erase you from the memory of time. 

“Nous Sommes Tous Americans,  Today we are all Americans.”

Perhaps the magnitude or impact has faded for some, it’s true that we must move on in a sense. New York is the city to which my entire family immigrated, not via Ellis Island probably Air India but nonetheless they came with the same idea, a better life for their children. On September 11th this city, this symbol of a better life was attacked and approx. 3,000 people died. 

As I walked through the exhibition, I found myself profoundly experiencing the same fear I recall so vividly as a child. The shrieking mothers, my family waiting to hear that our fathers were safe and finding their way home. The clock ticking and the cries for help piling up.  What I remember more than the sorrow however, is the support, each day when school commenced we’d watch snippets of global tributes, world powers standing by America. Riveted by our pain and our grief. That day, we were all humans mourning the uneccesary loss of lives. 

The museum is beautifully constructed with wooden floors and architecturally impressive lines and angles. The high ceilings and wide rooms consist of remnants of that day, the blood covered high heels, the vests of heroes and the messages from loved ones amongst other memorabilia. The artist  had curated the wall pictured below, almost 3,000 individually painted tiles each in a different  a shade of blue to depict the color of the sky  that day to represent we all see the world a  a little bit differently. Your blue is not my blue but your loss is  loss. 

Footage of men and women having to jump to their deaths, simply because the alternative would be the same was difficult to watch to say the least.  One of the quotes read ” it was almost as if we had to watch them fall, out of respect”. On that day we as a country were strong enough to fight for each other’s lives and strong enough to witness them end and survive that.

. In a time where there is endless conflict and constant obstruction to justice and human rights, in this building, for two hours there was silence. Silence and tears. All types of people from all walks of life reliving this terrible incident, together. Im not one too show extensive emotion very often but, my eyes welled with tears and little sodium filled droplets trickled down my cheeks. I felt a hand touch my back, followed by a pat of support.  This was my America.

 As a Sikh many of our people were discriminated against post 9/11 because of misrepresentation and prejudice but before the blame game began there was a time period of solace. A period in which it did not matter what color or religion you were, strangers attended one another’s funerals and memorials. People sat on the street holding other strangers trying to fathom what had occurred, trying to pick up the fragments of themselves and cope. After 16 year, if we were able to weather that storm and band together to overcome adversity. Is it time we remember our grief to motivate our strengths ? There is no act too small, it is time we spend less time blaming and discriminating against groups of people and start doing more than offering our thoughts and prayers. 

It may be naive but I firmly believe that there is a resolve. If in these moments we feel “American” then really all that means is that we are all human and want to see each other live.  Perhaps  we band together and help eachother live ? 

Winter in Paris

Today I am freezing.

This time last year I️ was also freezing….but I️ was freezing in Paris, walking along the Siene contemplating if living in America was really what I️ wanted to do.

As far as Paris goes, between the art history and fashion it is comparable to NYC but Paris has one teeny tiny thing that is a game changer for me…….

FRESH BAGUETTES.

You heard me, bread. There is NO greater joy for a carb lover like I️ than waking up, throwing on a tinted lip balm and following the aroma of fresh baked loaves to the nearest boulangerie.

Before you get all ” there’s tons of bakeries and all these other little cultural villages ” on me,

Yes. I️. Know.

BUT- in Paris I️ don’t have to venture to some other neck of the woods, every other storefront caters to my carbo needs.

If you find yourself in your very own Parisian winter paradise here is my list of must do’s:

1. La Vue at the Hyatt Hotel.

This little gem however contingent on the weather provides a 360 view of Paris and opens at sunset. The drinks may be on the pricier side but head to the top for the view and you won’t be in a rush to leave.

2.

The Balloon Generali.

For an extremely affordable price get a beautiful, unobstructed (besides the safety net) view from this hot air balloon! If you’re scared of heights, fear not. The balloon simply goes up and down! Prepare for a breathtaking, Not-so touristy view of the city, just be sure to check the weather !

3. Le Catacombes

If you love history, morbid and macabre history like I️ do you will genuinely love the experience that is the catacombs. Take a selfie with a skull and delve into the dark ages. Be sure to arrive well before opening hours because this tourist trap comes with a long que.

pro tip: there is a path through the park that leads to a DELICIOUS boulangerie, keep your hands warm with a baguette and coffee while your travel partner stands in line !

4. Leave you pre dispositions and stereotypes at home. Every individual I️ encountered was thoroughly friendly and appreciated my lame attempted at utilizing my high school French.

Don’t. Be. So. Judgemental.

PSA: they don’t smell, and their beauty regime is truly flawless.

5. Fall in love and get lost.

I️ can continue to list my best culinary experiences or hacks to tourist traps but as you climb the steps of the Notre Dame or admire the snow flakes caressing the plants at Versailles know this; this city is a story book.

The books you read as a child with tale of cities oozing with whimsical decor and exceptional architecture is real.

You may come across a cobbler patching a sole or the fresh markets setting up but if you follow the alluring smell of baguettes, I️ guarantee you’ll end up somewhere delightful.

I️ reckon I’ll spend the weekend in FiDi reminiscing on the Parisian cobblestone roads.

P.S we took the boat from Dunkirk and drive down the country side. It was breathtaking. Do it.

It Was The Best of Times, It Was The Worst.

Moments ago I waited for the crosswalk sign to change so we could continue our quest to find a coffee shop with seats available. As we turned to start walking a small caucasian woman with glasses, a cane, and kind eyes approached.

She began to tell us to be wary of the man across the street,  appreciative of the warning we thank her and prepare to cross, the sign reads “1 second remaining”. The woman continues on to tell us that she is so incredibly grateful for her old age and lack of children, that if she were to have to raise a child in today’s world she’d rather die. “Nothing is safe, no matter what they tell you”. The concern in her trembling voice was both kind and troubling. “Eat well, enjoy nature, enjoy comedy, dance, be young”. I agreed with her, I wanted to be young, to enjoy nature, comedy, and dance but then she proceeded to say “but don’t have kids because you’ll have to watch them drink gloop, chemical waste”.

It was in that moment that I realized, a very small woman who appeared to be sane was so shaken by the state of affairs that she was telling two young women on the street that life soon enough will not be worth living. I was neither appalled nor offended by the things she was saying; climate issues, lack of natural resources and a laugh-able political state is all true, and painful to accept. The part that caught me was, that to her life is not worth living, there is no hope for change. In all the terrible crisis’ she had lived through, this, today’s day in age was the worst.

In these times we have more rights than ever before, more access and louder voices. If in these times, we are SO defeated that there are individuals who are convinced that there is no resolve, we are not doing our jobs or taking advantage of our privileges. These may be the worst of times but sometimes it gets worse before it gets better, or at least that’s what I’m telling myself.

Side note: The BEST part of living in NYC is that no one can quite adequately articulate the strange interactions you will experience, and they keep getting better and better (or weirder and weirder)!