Coming Soon… Presidential Candidates and Citizenship?!

Today’s post is just a quick one. The Photo 101 task for the day was to post “something big”. As I sat waiting in the Buffalo airport this morning (the business trips are endless!) I found my quarry:  

Everything’s bigger in America. Even the shows of patriotism. Even when they’re for other countries.

I think it was my uncle, visiting from India, who once remarked to me how much Americans love their flag. Since then, I’ve noticed them everywhere – outside schools, offices, and hotels, in front yards, on t-shirts and mugs and mouse pads – seriously, just everywhere. I kind of love it. Patriotic songs from pretty much anywhere get me emotional. There’s something so majestic about seeing a giant flag waving in the wind. When I talk like this with my friends, they look at me like I’m crazy and point out that I’m still an Indian citizen.

I’ve been debating for some time now whether or not to get US citizenship. Pretty much all my life, I’ve faced the typical immigrant problem – Americans call me Indian, and Indians call me American. This didn’t help my identity struggle growing up. I’ve held onto my Indian citizenship for this long because I felt that I might choose to live in India at some point. Plus, I like being able to say conclusively to any family member who challenges it that I am, in fact, Indian. I’ve balanced this by having an avid interest in American politics (especially presidential elections). I figured that if I participate in the political process by reading articles, having discussions with people, and volunteering for campaigns, I was probably doing more than just voting would have done anyway. This is all still under debate in my head though. 

The point of all this is to say that I am going to be going to an event at the end of this month where Hillary Clinton will be speaking! I’m so excited, as I’ve been rooting for her to be president since the 2008 election. I’m not sure if I’ll actually get to meet her, but you can be sure I’m counting it, and you can expect a blog post on it very, very soon. 🙂

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Proma, Radhika, and Rads

I came out of college feeling like I didn’t need any more friends. I’m not sure if that sounds conceited or tragic, but I felt that I had a few really good friends, and while I was happy to meet and hang out with other people, I didn’t need to keep searching for people to share everything with. I spent my first year and a half in New York operating under this plan. I met some great people but, for whatever reason, didn’t allow myself to get close to anyone new. Life tends to work in funny ways though, and last summer, I met Proma, Radhika, and Rads.

I have been dancing with Ajna Dance Company since I first moved to New York. Last summer, two new girls joined – Proma and Radhika. Proma, I had actually met when I was 16, through some childhood friends. I had always felt we would get along (largely based on shared obsessions with Harry Potter and dance). Radhika was bubbly and came over to learn the Ajna choreography. We met Rads through Proma and together, the four of us quickly became friends.

Proma & Radhika posing for me as we make our weekly connection through Grand Central Station on our way home from rehearsal.

What I love about our little ‘crew’ (we call ourselves “Uptown Funk” – sorry not sorry) is how easy it is. We’re different ages, but all mid-twenties, we have very different personalities, yet we tend to be on similar wavelengths, we have a variety of interests, but we all push each other creatively. (Writing about Jasmine and my psychic experience was largely thanks to their encouragement to keep writing.) Best of all, I know I can rely on them.

We’re in such constant communication that in some ways, the most difficult part of my trip to Chicago last week was not being able to unwind with them at the end of the day. (Naturally, I saw them as soon as I got back, hah.)

Rads taking a mirror selfie of us the night before I left for Chicago.

I realize that we sound like typical 20-something’s from NYC – all inside jokes, texting threads, and cutesy group names. But these girls encourage me more than any of my other friends ever have to chase my creative goals, and that makes them really special. Plus, I swear we’ve only all gone for mani-pedis together once. 🙂

I’m interested to know what other people’s experiences have been. Have you made an unexpected connection or a new friendship recently? Do you expect to or do you think you’ve already made your “lifelong friendships”? Let me know in the comments below!

The Past #Throwback Thursday

This visit is the first time in 18 years that I’ve been back to Chicago. My family lived in Buffalo Grove from when I was 3 to 7. As a result, some of my formative childhood memories were created here.

Yesterday, we came back to our old apartment complex. The apartment we lived in looks exactly the same from the outside. The school bus stop where I once got hit in the mouth with a frisbee is still there. So is the winding path, bridge, and running track where I first learned to ride a bicycle. My dad would wake me up at 5 in the morning every day to teach me to ride with my training wheels off. He never learned to ride a bike himself, but that is the typical middle class mentality isn’t it? Make sure your kids get every opportunity you didn’t have.

This is where I learned to ride a bike. If I had been here a couple days ago, I might have used this picture as my “road pic” for Photo 101.

Another memory that always makes us laugh happened in the parking lot in front of the apartment. I was probably 5 years old and there was a puddle completely covered in white flowers and feathers. To me, it just looked like a patch of ground, but my dad knew there was water underneath. He saw my little kindergartener’s mind considering and he told me repeatedly not to step in it. Of course I thought he was just pulling my leg and I stepped in it anyway – my feet were totally covered in dirty water, hah!

We walked around a bit more, taking our old routes and reminiscing about friends we had when we lived here and places we went. We visited my first elementary school. We visited some family we hadn’t seen in all these years.

My first day of kindergarten consisted of a scavenger hunt around the school which culminated with finding the gingerbread man. This is also the place where I learned how to hold scissors safely.

Perhaps my favorite moment was when my uncle spotted a tiny Indian girl with short hair and a pink jacket playing on the same swings I used to play on at that age and said, “Look! There’s Shachi.”

Chicago (A Bit of a Cheat)

A city on the water

Today’s post is a bit of a cheat. The assignment for Photography 101 today was to take a picture of water. I actually took this photo a month ago when I was flying through Chicago for a business trip (the one when I met Jasmine), but it felt relevant because I’m back in Chicago now. Another cheat: technically, I didn’t first meet Chicago in my twenties (I lived in Chicago from the age of 3 to 7) but as anyone who’s been dragged to Vegas as a kid can tell you, experiencing a place as a child and experiencing it as an adult are two very different things. 

Chicago is majestic. It’s not like the East Coast cities, formed because that’s where the founders happened to land. Instead, this land was chosen, and the city was built upon the banks of a mighty river. Buildings in cities like Boston (where I grew up) tend to be uniform in their brick and dark colors but there is a great diversity of architecture here in Chicago, and there are many buildings in light beiges and creams that somehow create a more optimistic, forward-thinking vibe to the city. Fellow Bostonians, don’t get me wrong, I love Boston and its history, but it’s like a breath of fresh air to be in a city where the past isn’t staring at you from every corner. 

How would you describe your city? Is it historic, futuristic, or a bit of both? Chicagoans, I’m just a visitor in your city – how would you describe it? Finally, Photo 101 classmates – what are your thoughts on plane photos? 🙂

The Retailers

I currently work as a product executive for a software company. If you’ve read some of my blog posts, you might understand that that’s a description I never thought I’d have. Our clients are major retailers, primarily in the grocery and pharmacy business. As a result, over the past year, I’ve met quite a few people who fit in a very select demographic – retail pricing analyst/manager – basically the guys who figure out how much to charge you for that banana you bought at the grocery store. It’s a complicated business, grocery retail – so much so that there are entire conventions dedicated to it. I’m at one such convention now. 

These “roadways” are where I’m spending most of my time this week. During the exhibition hours, the grey pathways are bustling with retail executives .

The floor feels like a marketplace and we’re the sellers with the stalls. It’s like a cross between my high school science fair and a street vegetable market in India. People are dignified and poised, but just under the skins of those crisp suits are eager salespeople. The retailers I’ve met have typically been in the business for a long time. They are mostly men, with some women, trying to coax their businesses into the modern world, shifting from paper and Excel spreadsheets to advanced analytics. They like sports metaphors and speak in regional accents. They’re hardworking, experienced, and savvy about their competition.
 

Our Booth at FMI: The other side to my dual-natured life

 
Sometimes, when I step back, I realize it’s an odd dynamic – I’m selling retailers a system that helps them decide prices for the groceries I will later buy from them. It’s a world that is all about numerical analysis and making profits. It reflects part of my nature, in that I’m interested in technology and small business, but it’s so very different from my creative, passionate-about-dance-and-writing side. The two don’t converge often, but on some occasions (like creating the materials for our booth or even writing this blog post) I get to use my creative skills at work. 

Me

Home is a funny concept. For most of my life, “home” was wherever my parents and brother were living. India was also referred to as “home”, especially by curious white Americans who wanted to know where I was “really from”. Now, home is starting to feel like New York City. (I try not to say this outright to my mother too often.)

Mummy in the hotel room: We are currently on a trip, and she is a familiar sight in an unfamiliar place

 
I knew relatively few people when I moved to NYC. It’s a place where my friends are truly just mine, and my apartment is just filled and decorated with my whimsies. None of it has been curated for me by family members or a school. I realize that for some people this is the exact opposite of “home”, but I’m really loving meeting new people with fresh thoughts – it just feels right. I have a wonderful little niché of friends (we call ourselves “Uptown Funk” – hah) and I like that I’m in a place where I can meet people from so many different walks of life. 

This blog was created because I want to take full advantage of that. I find that in life, and especially in a large city like NYC, it’s easy to get stuck in your own social bubble. I’m hoping that by keeping this blog, I’ll be more inspired to go out and explore the world, meet new people, and keep writing. In that vein, I’ve decided to take on the challenges of Blogging 101 and Photography 101 – a blog post and a photograph every day. I’m hoping it will get me back into the swing of writing for the public – and that it will help me create a little “home away from home” on the Internet. 

Are you taking part in Blogging 101 or Photography 101? If so, comment below and I’ll check out your posts!