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.