Biryani

Two days ago I was at a South Asian restaurant and I ordered my favorite dish called Biryani. It’s a pretty straightforward dish, which includes, rice, chicken and some of the most amazing seasonings to bring the entire dish together. Usually you pair it with cucumber raita (yogurt) because it helps tame the spices.

As I sat at my booth waiting for my food I started to people watch and saw many different relationships blossom in front of me. A middle-aged couple with kids, a couple that was showing excessive amount of affection and lastly an older couple behind me. The older couple and the new couple looked visibly happier than the middle age couple with kids. The lady was on her phone and the man was just not interested in anything. The smell of food was in the room and many different stages of love were clearly visible to the naked eye.

After 15 minutes my food came to the table and I quickly grabbed my fork (yes I eat rice with a fork). I looked at the plate and realized whoever thought of this dish is a freaking genius because its literally just rice and chicken mixed together but somehow with the right ingredients it all works together.  As cheesy or corny as it may sound this recipe is comparable to a relationship.

White rice by its self is okay (if you don’t have taste buds) and chicken with out seasoning is decent. Instead if you mix those two together with the right amount of ingredients it makes the entire dish come together in harmony. This same philosophy is applicable to relationships. Without the proper “seasoning “ such as teamwork, compatibility, trust and a proper foundation made of friendship the relationship wont blossom. Whether you are cooking biryani or working on a relationship we need to keep one thing in mind. Every now and then we need to find ways to keep the relationship new and fresh such as the plate of food I had on my table.  By no means am I a relationships guru or a chef but at one point in my life I had failed as a lover and as a man I didn’t spice my relationship enough to keep it hot and fresh such as the middle aged man at this restaurant .

The Two Sons

His big brown eyes looked up at the two wanting to be included. He often looked from afar hoping he could be part of the conversations. His older brother would share a big breakfast along with discussions about life, work and family with his dad. The younger brother sat looking at the tea and then every so often looking up at the two. The younger brother didn’t have much to say to his father he didn’t know whether it was because of age or different interests. As the years went on the younger brother pulled himself away from the family thinking he didn’t belong. He made him self busy with college, friends and making a name for himself. His only goal was to hear his parents say they are proud of him.

The problem with him being the youngest is he only saw his older siblings including the older brother gain success. He always felt he was too far behind in life or maybe didn’t have much in common with anyone. While everyone had a path in life the youngest wanted to be a writer, photographer or do something creative. The younger brother would often sit with his family and not feel connected because nobody understood him. He was an observer, a runner up and stuck in the shadows of his family name. What he didn’t know was his differences within the family made him have a rare mentality that pulled people towards him.

Sometimes we get so busy in life that we don’t realize how much has changed. The younger brother was now 23 years old, done with college, working and having conversations with his father. He also got to hear from his parents that they are proud of him. He soon became the life of the house and kept everyone happy because he had a different approach to life. Its funny how things change because now the older brothers brown eyes looked at the younger brother and said “I envy you” after the younger brother shared the conversation he had the previous night with his father. The older brother said “my entire life I could only connect with dad over work. I never had a chance to connect with dad over personal things”. Its as if the roles had switched between the brothers. Maybe I only observed the things that met my eyes on the breakfast table. Maybe just maybe my different ideologies, interests and this love for love helped me get what I want with my family. The difference with me is that I want to bring the two sons back together on that breakfast table. One can talk about work and the other son can talk about the new filter on instagram. It’s not the breakfast I want to share but rather the time spent on the table.

The Corner Store Man

Broken English was what I knew him as. The man behind the counter was nothing more than a the corner store man. He stood tall above the customers only because the counter made him look tall. Bulletproof glass was the only barrier between him and the customers. “Hello buddy” was said to everyone and each time I died inside because he had an accent. I was embarrassed of him and I didn’t want people to know this man was my father. He was nothing but an immigrant who the customers can mock, make fun of and disrespect. I was a young, shy and quiet kid who usually stood in the background because I didn’t want to be noticed. I remember one day a girl from my 5th grade class walked in and I hid under the counter because I thought I would be judged due to my father’s job and accent.

A bad accent was what I knew him as. The man behind the counter would make me broom and mop the store. I hated these tasks because I could hear the whispers of the kids my age laughing. I remember one day I was mopping and I saw this man throw change at the corner store man while he had his hand out to take the change. I remember people throwing racist remarks at the corner store man only because he had an accent. The corner store man would do nothing but smile back and do whatever he can to make the customer happy. I was so embarrassed because I couldn’t defend him. I didn’t know what to say, what to do and how to handle these situations. Instead I grew distant because I did not want to be at the corner store.

As I grew distant, the corner store man and me would only meet for breakfast and maybe dinner. He would always ask me to stop by and help him but I always was too “busy” or made some other excuse. At times I would wish he could just be a doctor or have a “real job”. While I was wishing what he could’ve been he dealt with body aches, back problems and various health problems. I was so blinded and so selfish at the time that I couldn’t notice he would need my help.

I soon went to college and I forgot the corner store even existed. The corner store man not only got me through college but also made sure I never gave up. The corner store man forgot all of his dreams to see me peruse mine. I followed my dreams of becoming a dancer, photographer and writer. I fell so many times during my undergrad career and he was always by my side to pick me up even when I didn’t ask for help. I was an asshole who was so concerned about what he did that I forgot who he was.

Yes, I proudly announce to the world my father is a corner store man but nobody is better at it than him. Yes, he has an accent but he can read, write and speak in 3 languages. The corner store man is not only a proud storeowner but also a son, father, husband and a selfless man who provided education to all of his kids.

As I write this I am standing at the counter greeting the customers who walk in. This time around my father is drinking tea at home while I try to manage the things he does with his eyes closed. My father is what I will always see him as.

For all of my South Asian readers, whose families are in some sort of a family business, show your parents love and appreciate them. The immigrant life is tough and it is not easy by any means. It’s a new language, new culture and pretty much new everything. Never let yourself be embarrassed of how they speak or what they do.

Unlearning everything I learned

I was spoon-fed to believe success is a degree, which helps you gain an X amount of money. I was enamored with people telling me only a certain majors will help you reach this success. For some reason I could never accept the fact that I was made to study biology, chemistry or some other hard science but I still went ahead and did psychology. The problem was that I did not know who I was at the tender age of 19 and I made this decision. I didn’t follow what I wanted but rather my family, friends, society and of course where I could find money.

Clearly I went to college for all the wrong reasons and everyday I walked into lecture hall knowing, this is just not for me. I ignored all of my internal voices because I just wanted to make my family proud. I remember wanting to leave my university and transfer to some other university because the academics got very overwhelming for me but my family always huddled around me and picked me back up. I got lost in their dreams to the point where I forgot to live mine out. I remember after three long years in my university I applied for graduation and I still felt like I had not done enough. So I applied for a masters in speech pathology because I figured my family would be even more proud of me once I get accepted into 1 of the 15 masters programs I had applied for.

Everyday I would tell someone that “hey I might be going to grad school for speech pathology”. Yet, every night I couldn’t sleep because I was so stressed about my future. If everything was planned to the T why was I so worried? Why was I still so restless?

Every morning I would login to my email waiting for an email that would read congratulations. Sadly, everything read we are sorry to inform you. I had been rejected from all 15 schools nobody even put me on the wait list. At this point I became over dramatic and realized “I will have no future”. I was depressed and embarrassed because in my mind I had let down my parents.

With depression came many sleepless nights and one of these particular nights I remember doing a lot of thinking. I realized my 22 years of life had been shaped to make others happy. I hated my major, I hated the masters program and yet I was still going for it. It was so stupid of me because I would have went on with doing things that “sound successful” or will make others happy.

Every individual is born with a certain skill and after enough polishing that skill makes him or her successful. I decided to write down my skills and see where I could take these skills. My list included dancing, writing and men’s fashion. My interests were photography and media design. For some people these are stupid side things people have but for me it makes me who I am. Im no longer ashamed of that because I cant sit in a cubicle, I cant be told to be what society accepts as a profession. Ever since that night I have never been this happy and this comfortable in my own skin. I am happy with my skills and future goals to become a writer, fashion blogger, website designer, photographer and dream about all of my goals.

For any parent reading this blog please stop having your child live out your dreams. Stop expecting your child to live up to your expectations because we are all born a certain way and we all have different dreams. Im sure for the sake of your happiness your kids will do it but they will not be internally happy. Happiness will only exist when the child has passion and a drive for what they want to do.

Next week I walk across the stage to get my bachelors of Arts in Psychology. I couldn’t be more proud of myself and I couldn’t be more excited to say I found myself. Even with a degree I had a chance to unlearn everything I was taught. Success is not about a degree, money or what society says but rather it is discovering who are and being unapologetic.

 

Enjoy the ride?

I clicked submit and I leaned my back against the chair. I was happy but I was also sad. I was excited but I was scared. Then I started thinking if I rushed this entire process or did I not enjoy the ride. After much thought I realized that I did not enjoy my ride. I was rushing to reach my goals that I forgot to live my life. I forgot to enjoy the small things that this ride brings.

I submitted my application for graduation. I was happy because I am about to get my degree. I was sad because I’m leaving the college life. I was excited because it seemed forever. Yet I was scared because its time to enter the real world. I was so scared because I did not enjoy my years in college. I was so set on reaching my goals I didn’t enjoy what I had. People like me are known as the foreseers because all we focus is on the future and what is ahead. We are unable to live in the moment because the fear of failure, not being enough and not reaching goals is stressful.

I’ve lost countless friends, missed parties, and didn’t break through from my shell up until now. I think college was more of a lesson instead of a painful memory because it was not all so bad. I made some lifelong friends and learned lifelong lessons.

I picked up my cap and gown today with nothing but a smile because these 5 years were all about college. I put my all into this but the moment I walk off that stage a new chapter will start with a new approach to life.

For my fellow “foreseers” follows these simple rules and you will not be in my situation.

1)   Enjoy where you are while you work on your future goals

2)   If you ever stop living life because you are trying to reach a goal, refer to rule #1.

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My own reality.

Growing up in a very sheltered family, I was always told I couldn’t do many

things. Part of the reason was I had asthma, allergies, and many other health

problems which kept me sick. No matter how sick I was and no matter what any

person said to me I always had one quality within me. I am a dreamer and always

try to be different but according to my family it’s silly because the chances of my

dreams to become reality are slim to none. I never agree with them though because

my mind works differently than most people. I am creative, I understand people

from the inside out, and I just can’t live a robotic way of life. I need something more

because I have this longing for my dreams to be a reality.

I want to become a famous writer but often people say my writing sucks or

tell me its impossible. I am a South Asian writer and I know it’s hard, but nothing is

impossible. I actually never tell anyone “I am a struggling writer” because in no way

am I struggling. In order for others to believe in me I have to sell myself through

believing in my craft. Writing is just one of many dreams. I also strive to open up my

own dance studio to teach kids how to dance. I want to be successful in a manner

where I can touch someone’s life and have them believe in their own craft. The sad

part is I have been enamored with stories regarding failure and how my window of

opportunity is gone because I do not have the right connections. I had an individual

tell me I am stuck in the dream world and I will not get to where I want to. My

response to remarks as such is let me fail, let fall, and once I fall I will get stronger

and eventually reach my dreams when the time is right.

Most people go to sleep at night and then have amazing dreams but I dream

during the day. Its silly, it may not be realistic but this is my reality and I don’t want

to see someone else’s view on reality. I have no doubt in my mind, I know I will

reach my goals but right now it is farfetched, the chips are down and god knows

they are down. I just have to perfect my art so others believe in it as much as I do

and I recommend everyone else to do that. Never let failure determine or define

who you are. I have been through two blogs, I have quit before for months on end

but when you dream of something don’t quit. Everything in life takes time and

determination but if you don’t believe me look at the history of all the great athletes,

artists and historical leaders. Just keep dreaming, believing and eventually

everything will click into place.

Relationship Goals?

My generation has wrongful and strange perceptions on many things, but one

phenomenon that surprises me is the phrase “relationship goals”. If you are on any

social media outlet you will often see hashtags or pictures referring to a certain

relationship aspect. These pictures show very cliché things such as a couple kissing,

holding hands, or watching the sunset. On the bottom of these pictures usually

include a cliché quote, which talks about honesty, compassion, trust, and genuinely

being in love with your partner. Call me silly but shouldn’t these things be the

foundation of any relationship? How can the foundation of something that should

already exist be a goal? We should not be applauding things that should already be

present within a relationship.

My generation (including me) should look at the generations before us and

take notes. My parents have been married for 35 years and still counting. My

grandmother held my grandfathers hand as he took his last breath. I also know not

everyone has been in the same situation as me because break ups and divorce

happen. Yet one thing to note is even if the generations before us have dealt with

divorce or break ups, these couples have one thing in common: they fought until the

very end, and divorce was never the first option.

Now a days the dating scene is really annoying because we have so many

different labels. Such as single, in a relationship, it’s complicated, friends with

benefits, casually dating, and so on. The labels are not the problem, its following the

guidelines of these labels is where the problems start. If we all just cut the crap and

just be honest, our dating scene can be something really amazing.

Journey of ŁŌVĒ

The average man notices a woman at a higher frequency than a woman notices a man. I don’t have the facts to prove this statement, but through observations around my friends I have come to this conclusion. Now here is what I do know for a fact. Every so often we find that one person we click with. No bullshit, no acting, all honesty, and with our pure emotions we eventually fall for them. That’s where love comes into play and takes us on a journey. This journey can ride off into a sunset or crash into the sea. BOY oh BOY does that crash hurt like hell because you are vulnerable, hurt, you feel empty, and just want to cry. You probably end up doing that weird thing where you walk up to a mirror and watch yourself cry, the rush of emotions makes you cry harder with snot dripping and tears flowing down your cheek. It’s not pretty at all but we all experience that moment of mixed emotions and misery.

The reality is that real love happens maybe once or twice in life. I mean like REAL love. Love as in, through all the challenges you face as a couple, no matter what, you want to put a ring on that finger and not think twice about it. Now here is where the problems begin. You might be thinking “what could possibly be wrong with wanting or giving a ring?” Well sorry to break it to you but yes, a problem does exist but we all fail to notice it. Are you actually in love, or are you in love with the idea of love? It’s a crazy thought, but we all need someone to love and we all want to be loved. Yet often we stay with people and we deal with nonsense that we shouldn’t have to. These things include but are not limited to cheating, lying, excessive farting, or simply being a boring person. As a side note everyone farts so don’t end a relationship over that.

Love is an amazing feeling when it’s good and hurts when its bad but don’t be scared of putting yourself out there to meet new people. Trust me, you might have more rejections, or failed relationships, but when it does work and you give/get that ring, all the moments before will make sense. Everything in life after you meet the one will be brighter but until then be patient and don’t cry too much.

Complete state of happiness*

 

Every individual and generation in our society for has been involved in an

ongoing topic of discussion with the term, happiness. The one question still

remaining is simple. What is happiness? Is it your significant other? Is it your family,

friends, a certain hobby? Some may say happiness is obtained through the

possession of materialistic objects, but others may have a hard time experiencing

happiness because of chemical imbalances. Depending on who you ask, you will

receive a different answer. According to the dictionary, happiness is simply defined

as the state of being happy. So how does one achieve this state of being happy, and

how long will this last?

My state of happiness did not come walking to me. I had to discover it and

make it a part of my life and who I am. The way my personality is, I mold to people,

places, and my surroundings to make it more comfortable for others. Some say it’s

fake or I’m not being myself but I have a mask or two depending on whom I am

around. Meaning I’m one way with my family and another way around my friends.

I lacked complete happiness for years, rooting from self-image issues and not

being in a comfortable position academically. Whenever somebody said something

negative about me, I went on this chase to prove them wrong. A simple example

came about 4 years ago when this girl said I had a bad smile and no sense of style.

Was she right, maybe? Did it sting, oh yeah! After that comment, my self- esteem

dropped and I took drastic measures to change my appearance in hopes to achieve

my internal state of happiness. I got braces put on to fix my teeth, which by the way

took 3 painful years. I also started looking into men’s fashion to change the way I

dressed and worked on my image in various ways. This was all in hopes to appear as

a new and improved person. It sounds like a cliché Hollywood movie, but it was far

from that. I was so worried about proving her wrong, I became very self-centered

and self-absorbed, and that was not who I was deep down inside. I became a little

distant from family and friends because my only worry was to never hear that

comment again. The irony in this entire situation was my lack of happiness. At this

point in my life I had very few friends left and I was an individual with no substance.

About two years ago, something happened to me which turned my life

around. I met someone who pulled down my cocky mask and created a confident

man. I still remember, she would take pictures from across the table and I would not

smile. Instead, I would make a pouty or ugly face because I was that insecure about

my smile. This amazing soul would not take any picture unless I smiled. As time

passed she taught me how to smile and be confident with myself. She introduced me

to some amazing stores to shop at and create the look I always wanted. Through all

of the challenges we faced, she was there to guide me in ways that made me

understand the beauty of life, and that acquiring internal happiness was not difficult.

In return, the self-centered Kay started to disappear. I became a person that wanted

to help others find their internal happiness through finding their own self-worth.

Long story short, we both helped each other in so many ways. Things ended, but she

left an unimaginable impact on my life and I cannot thank her enough for it. I found a

best friend in her who will always be there for me.

My happiness, my smile, my confidence, and who I am today is because of

her. Even though we are just friends, she is the reason for my complete state of

happiness. Through my time with her I learned to love myself, ignore negativity, and

promote love. Sometimes we get so lost in wordily things we forgot to invest a little

love into us. As she would always tell me, “F#$& what people think, just do what

makes you happy.” She left her mark on me forever. All I ask now is, who will you

make happy today?

Dear South Asian Parents.

Dear South Asian Parents,

We love you immensely and respect all you have done for us. There are times we sit back and think how we would be unable to do the things you do every day, there is something you should know about us. Times have changed and compared to how you grew up, we are living in a different world. Males and females can be friends, women can get the same jobs as men. We want you guys to understand this about us. We do not want our actions to be overshadowed by what society will say or what people around us have accomplished. We have become a household of order and structure that we often forget that we are a family. We want you to ask about things besides school and work. Ask us about our day, what new movies are out, or what we have planned for the weekend. We want you to be our friends and take interest in our lives so we don’t make mistakes like Anjali. Often we pass by each other but do not have much to say which is starting to create a wall between our relationship. We all make mistakes but in this time and age some unfortunate mistakes in your eyes may be drinking, smoking, and dating. We want to have a frank relationship with you but if we feel like you are going to react and get upset with us, chances are we will back off and not say anything even when we need you. Maybe our major in college is not what you want or maybe we are in love but can’t tell you. We really do love you but we as kids are stuck in a parallel with our modern lives while trying to relate to your customs. The fact of the matter is the only consistent thing about life is change. Now we as kids have to be calmer and really understand that we are from two different worlds, and we want you to do this as well. Now that you know our side we want to know yours.