Chipotle


Today my aunt asked me to change my home address from India to New Jersey on my resume for a job at Chipotle.

My cousin said, “My appetite after coming to USA has increased. I can finish an entire rice bowl at Chipotle.”

Assimilation has varied forms.

Dear,


Dear fear,

Dear guilt,

Dear confusion,

Dear Youtube,

Dear Buzzfeed,

Dear Superwoman,

Dear Justin Bieber,

Dear Miley Cyrus,

Dear chronic backpain,

Dear insomnia,

Dear depression,

Dear weed,

Dear uncle,

Dear ex lover,

Dear future lover,

Dear Ria,

Dear Pema Chodron,

Dear Anne Waldman,

Dear Reed Bye,

Dear CA Conrad,

Dear Jane,

Dear Liat,

Dear John,

Dear money,

Dear woman,

Dear mother,

Dear Vassar,

Dear Social Justice Warriors,

Dear activists,

Dear Buddhists,

Dear white people,

Dear Americans,

Dear Indians,

Dear junk food,

Dear porn,

Dear Mom and Dad,

Dear Dada,

Dear incomplete sentences,

Dear

Keeping Quiet by Pablo Neruda


Now we will count to twelve
and we will all keep still.

For once on the face of the earth,
let’s not speak in any language;
let’s stop for one second,
and not move our arms so much.

It would be an exotic moment
without rush, without engines;
we would all be together
in a sudden strangeness.

Fisherman in the cold sea
would not harm whales
and the man gathering salt
would look at his hurt hands.

Those who prepare green wars,
wars with gas, wars with fire,
victories with no survivors,
would put on clean clothes
and walk about with their brothers
in the shade, doing nothing.

What I want should not be confused
with total inactivity.
Life is what it is about;
I want no truck with death.

If we were not so single-minded
about keeping our lives moving,
and for once could do nothing,
perhaps a huge silence
might interrupt this sadness
of never understanding ourselves
and of threatening ourselves with death.
Perhaps the earth can teach us
as when everything seems dead
and later proves to be alive.

Now I’ll count up to twelve
and you keep quiet and I will go.

—from Extravagaria (translated by Alastair Reid, pp. 27-29, 1974)

Reflections


Sometimes I think of kheer, the rice pudding and its coconut richness melting in my mouth at Kothri

Sometimes I think of a yellow saree clad woman with a toothless smile

Sometimes I think of a pond in a barren land

Sometimes I think of home.

Sometimes I think of what home is

In this homeless land without no hope

Sometimes I think of what hope is

And I wonder if humans need tangibility 

I wonder if definitions define us

If our scope is limited to the science and fiction of mind,

If we will ever move beyond

On nights like these I think of my mother’s flu inflected voice croaking through the phone

And I sit inside and hear the yelps of my intoxicated peers

I wonder how two worlds can coexist

If a person is capable of holding more than one land within his soul

I wonder if home means more than India and my mother’s scent to me

I wonder if America will ever mean more than just identity to me.

On nights like these I wonder if I will ever discover home

And I realize some questions are best understood lived.

I am living home, in this homeless country,

With a soul in this godless place

I am living in two worlds at once

And neither at the same time

I wonder if I will ever be the same again.

DSC_0861

Shades Of The Sea


Recently I had the opportunity to go on a Photowalk with some really talented photographers one fine Sunday afternoon on the streets of Mumbai. Equipped with nothing but an iPhone, I tried my hands at street photography and turns out, I was pretty impressed with the results. I also learnt several lessons along the way.

1) Look. Notice. See. Watch every corner of the streetside unfold into photographic beauty as you peer at every pebble and sand grain through the lens of your camera. Beauty can be found anywhere. All you need to do is look.

2) Wait till your subject gets busy and resumes his/her own work before clicking his/her picture.

3) If a Mumbai fisherman tells you not to click a picture of his colorful boats, you DO NOT click a picture of his colorful boats.

Enjoy and comment below!

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The fault in our wars


The fault with radical activism of any sort is that it is radical. It is fierce; it is aggressive and highly critical. Its proponents are a bulldozer, squashing you with their countless terminologies and dismissing you at the slightest hint of ignorance. It is the language of war and subdued violence, erupting like a volcano at the slightest provocation. While the use of activism to bring about social change and justice is validated, the use of aggression to make marginalized voices heard is not. Agreed, that people of queer identities or color face discrimination on a micro level—as an Indian studying in one of the finest liberal arts schools in the United States, I can safely say that the college itself is not so liberal. Despite its open dialogs and safe spaces of discussion about race, color, sexual identities, it displays ignorance at the most fundamental level. Racism, a vehemently opposed concept here, doesn’t cease to exist as my fellow classmates hesitate; trying to place my accent and nationality before answering my simple questions.  I have been the third wheel way too often during group conversations with my American friends—people forgetting to ask for my opinion on current topics or seemingly forgetting that I exist in the group eating dinner together. My conversations with the Indian diaspora in America consist of the latest Bollywood movie and reminiscences of the ways in which Indian food is more flavorful than that of America, as if the beginning and end of my knowledge spans only India. While writing and speaking about these issues deeply upsets me, I also realize that this is not a reason to lash out in anger at anyone who says, “Oh, are you from India? I know all about it, I have seen Slumdog Millionare!” or “How do you speak such good English?”

The reason why contemporary activism fails to make an impact on most occasions is because it polarizes, it strengthens the other as the activist struggling to be heard uses passion fueled hate. As an informed and educated citizen of this world, it becomes my duty as much as my audience’s to recognize the ignorance that exists in both parties. If their knowledge of India does not go beyond Slumdog Millionare, my knowledge of America does not go beyond popular TV shows such as Friends and How I Met Your Mother (this was only until I became a student in the United States). If my impatience stems from their blatant ignorance, their discrimination might stem from misinformation via film and other popular media. In order to truly connect and harmonize both worlds, I need an activism that uses the language of love and connection. One that does not divide, but one that joins. One that does not polarize but one that recognizes the other as an extension of oneself. One that does not vehemently dismiss but one that includes and gently educates. The idea of the other being separate from ourselves arises mainly from the Western individualistic society where the “I” is placed above everything and everyone else; it chooses to defend at the first signs of attack. This is where the socialistic model of society from the East can be useful.

Using this socialistic model, which stresses on the importance of connections and strength of interpersonal relations, we realize that at the end of the day we are all humans, all frail creatures looking for the same thing- love. Whether it is the queer Black activist in Boston or the white American heterosexual in New York,  both are searching for the same thing- ears that listen and hearts that understand. The term “open dialog” will only live up to its meaning when both come together from a space of curiosity, of wanting to learn and educate themselves and the other on the peculiarities of their own human existence. The “safe spaces” will only begin to take shape when there is patience, kindness and empathy in the hearts of those who watch Slumdog Millionare and Friends. When we begin to recognize that connections and the frailties that bind us, our polarities cease to exist, the You versus I and the Them versus Us crumble, giving way to We. Thus, the next time someone misreads your identity, take a step back and a deep breath; realize: I am just another You.