I have Indian Friends

As a thirty year old I can finally admit this without feeling embarrassed: I have mostly Indian friends. Phew. That felt good to get off my chest.

So why do I have mainly Indian friends? I grew up in Fremont, California which is not nicknamed Little India for nothing. I had essentially what are “Indian” interests, so I attended Kathak classes and participated in Bollywood dance groups, garba teams, and culture shows in college. I was also pretty seriously part of an Indian community group for the first 20 years of my life. So yeah, a combination of all that and you can see how a majority of my closest friends are Indian like me.

(I feel like I need to add a disclaimer that yes, I do have (token) non-Indian friends!)

When I give a brief synopsis of my upbringing to those that I have just met, I can see them picturing me as “that stereotypical Indian girl”. You know who I mean: the girl who choreographs all the dances for her college’s Indian club, a bit of a drama queen, and very insular/cliquey.

Honestly, I don’t think that was ever me (aside from the loving to choreograph part) and I most certainly don’t think that is me now. I also don’t think I ever knew anyone like that in college either. And if they were dramatic or insular, I don’t think it had to do with their ethnicity or gender. Like, most people of other ethnic groups probably thought the same of their ethnic group.

It is funny: we are 10 years out of college and yet these assumptions are still being made. Many times I can just see it on their faces and a few even vocalize it. A few years ago an Indian guy, after hearing about my upbringing/Indian friend group, asked me if I was “one of those Indian girls”. What does that even mean?  Is this an appropriate time to quote Mindy Kaling and say “there are literally billions of us”? Or does being able to quote The Mindy Project just add to my Indian girl stereotype?


Identity is such a personal thing and how one relates to their background/ancestry is entirely up to the individual. I do have to wonder why the judgement is okay one way, but not the other.

Most recently someone told me they don’t speak their mother tongue, felt like they were a “bad Indian”, and opened up about their insecurity regarding all of this. I listened and told them that they weren’t a bad Indian because there is no such thing and that there’s no one way to be Indian. A few days later I brought up that I had started a Meetup group based on South Asian literature and the person asked, “Do you mainly hang out with Indian people?”

Oh boy, here we go, I thought.

“Yee-sss?” I replied, unsure about how this conversation was going to go.

“Oh, well, I like to hang out with all different kinds of people,” they said. Well, I thought, that wasn’t the reaction I was hoping for but I guess this is the conversation we are having now. And so with a sigh, I began listing the reasons I shared above.

Later that night, I thought about that judgmental comment. I would never dream of making someone feel like they are a “bad Indian” nor would I make assumptions or call them “white washed”. I would never say “Oh, well, I think it is important to know your mother tongue” or essentially ask them to justify why they have the friends they have.  And yet that person can make assumptions  or comments about me? It’s ironic that someone who is insecure about their own identity felt secure enough to call me out on mine. Who named you the identity police?

Sure I know that statement says a lot about the other person than it does me. I’m no psychologist but they were probably projecting their insecurities onto me. But it still doesn’t make hearing comments like that any easier. It’s frustrating to feel like you’re being pigeon-holed and stereotyped at the age of 30. Haven’t we interacted with enough people at this point to know there is no stereotypical anything? We’re all special snowflakes in our own right.

Yes, my close friends are all Indian but they are also all kind, empathetic, friendly, welcoming, witty, independent, passionate, and extremely giving people. They’ve all done well for themselves in their careers in law, IT, tech, non-profit, and health fields. If someone were to judge me by my friends I would be worried they would assume I am as amazing and accomplished as they all are. They set the bar really high and I can only hope to have half the good qualities they do. This is why I keep them around. They help me learn and grow as a person. This is what good friends do.

In doing this mental check of all my friends, I thought about whether they would call themselves a “good Indian” or not. Actually I just texted a few of them and none said yes outright. Since they are all so brilliant and thoughtful, it led to a few text discussions about what does good mean anyway? Isn’t it all just subjective? Who sets the standard for good or bad? Society? The individual?  I don’t have any answers but it is interesting to think about.

Am I a good Indian? I’d venture to say probably not or that I am decent at best. At this point the most Indian thing about me is my insistence in making sure my one year old nephew can say foi (aka dad’s sister).

All we can do is try to live the life that we want to live. How I identify with my background may be different than how you identify with yours. That is completely okay. Let us put an end to judgments and assumptions of any kind. We’d all be better for it.

Do you feel like you are judged on how you identify with your Indian-ness? How do you react?







Book Review: Milk and Honey

I first discovered Rupi Kaur and her poetry through Instagram (#millennial). Her words and aesthetic stuck out to me and I found myself double tapping her posts pretty consistently.

While Rupi was gaining popularity via social media, she became headline news when she posted a photo series based on menstruation which Instagram then censored. Naturally this caused quite a bit of a controversy. I can understand how it made some people uncomfortable but I thought it was nice to see the stigma around periods challenged. But that’s another blog post for another day.

Shortly after, Rupi published her first book of poems titled Milk and Honey. I’m almost embarrassed to admit this might be the first book of poems I’ve read since I graduated college and studied English lit. So I was a bit nervous. Would I like it?

Rupi’s book is divided into four parts – the hurting, the loving, the breaking, the healing. There is a bit of a trigger warning as Rupi discusses issues that are raw and intense like sexual assault.

I really liked the progression of the book. Rupi pours her heart out into her poems. It is really refreshing and inspiring to read something so vulnerable and best of all, to see yourself reflected in it as well.

My favorite section was the last one, of healing and of ultimately overcoming. The poems are empowering and bound to make you feel like you can do anything. It was the best thing to read after a rough day or while taking the bus into work in the morning.

As I mentioned it is so rare to see myself and the themes of my life reflected well.. anywhere, that it took some getting used to. This book was made for women like myself who don’t see accurate representations of their lives and their struggles in the media anywhere, so I loved that.

I definitely recommend Milk and Honey to anyone, but particularly young women of color. If you’re interested in feminism, gender roles, growing up in an immigrant household, then you will enjoy these poems. The poems are short (generally page long) and they are sometimes accompanied with all too apt illustrations.

Have you read Milk and Honey? What are your thoughts? If you have any recommendations of books similar, I’d love to hear!

A few of my favorite poems:

if you were born with

the weakness to fall

you were born with

the strength to rise


you tell me

i am not like most girls

and learn to kiss me with your eyes closed

something about the phrase – something about

how i have to unlike the women

i call sisters in order to be wanted

makes me want to spit your tongue out

like i am supposed to be proud you picked me

as if i should be relieved you think

i am better than them


our backs

tell stories

no books have

the spine to



Book review: I am Malala

Better late than never, I finally read I am Malala and I am finally blogging about it!

I am Malala

Malala Yousafzai is a Pakistani teenager who was shot in the head by the Taliban on her way to school in 2012. The Taliban did not approve of Malala encouraging girls to go to school to get an education. Thankfully she survived and now resides in the UK. She still campaigns for women’s rights and girls’ education. Her work earned her a Nobel Prize in 2014.

Reading Malala’s own words was fascinating to me. I was surprised to realize that Malala has not been back to her hometown of Swat Valley and her house since the day she got shot. Logically it was something I assumed happened but only by reading her words did I realize the magnitude of how her life changed on that fateful day. Even now, 4 years later, it is not safe for her to return to her country, her home. I can’t imagine what that must feel like.

I don’t know if others are like this, but if you are let me know! When I get into something, I must learn everything about it. Once I finished I am Malala I was on Wikipedia researching Swat Valley, the Taliban’s invasion of Swat, watching videos of Malala, reading articles of hers, and so on. I was fascinated and needed to know everything there was to know. Do any of you guys do this too?

Autobiographies aren’t usually my favorite things to read, but I really enjoyed I am Malala. The cause of women’s rights and education is something that I am passionate about. It was eye-opening to read in Malala’s words the things she went through just to be able to go to school. It makes me very thankful for the opportunities I’ve been given. There’s so much in my life I’ve just been given and didn’t even have to ask for that I realize how much of a blessing that is. Growing up education always felt like a chore, but now I realize that to many it is a privilege. It shouldn’t be that way. Everyone should have the opportunity to go to school regardless of their gender, where they live, their skin color, etc.

It was really nice to see interviews of Malala where she comes across like a normal teenager who makes fun of her brothers, get stressed about school, and what not. It made me respect her even more, to read what she has gone through and how she doesn’t let it change her in a negative way.

If anyone is interested, The Malala Fund is doing great work and is a worthy cause to donate to.

Have you read I am Malala? What did you think?

The Mindy Project and Authenticity

My love for Mindy Kaling is pretty obvious to those that know me. My brother, a recent parent, emailed me this article which discusses how The Mindy Project has been handling parenthood this season. While it was a good read, I did not find myself agreeing with the author. It made me think about the way women and parenthood are depicted on television.

Though there has been a recent trend of authentic shows, The Mindy Project strives to be anything but real. Mindy Lahiri has always been a little bit ridiculous and just out there. If Mindy and TMP wanted to portray parenthood accurately, it wouldn’t be authentic to the show itself. For a real take on parenthood, the author should be looking at dramas like Parenthood. Don’t look to a comedy show about a woman who is trying to find the Kanye to her Kim to be authentic about a lot.

Personally I found TMP’s take on parenthood to be refreshing. As someone who isn’t a mother, it was quite nice to see a woman become a parent but not let it change or consume her. Mindy is still the same person she was before she had Leo, just that she has a little human she is responsible for.

Ultimately at the end of the day people turn to television as form of escapism. I know I don’t want to watch a show about a woman that goes to work and watches Netflix at night. That is the life I live so when I turn to TV, I want something that takes me to another world.

This season of The Mindy Project has been my favorite by far. I’ve loved to see the way Mindy, who wants nothing more than to find her happily ever after, is handling her new role as a single parent. Her life has taken turns she has never imagined and while she is struggling and hurting, she is learning to overcome and come to terms with her new life. It’s still a comedy show, but there have been a few heavier moments which the show has handled impeccably.

Have you been watching The Mindy Project? What do you think about TMP’s take on parenthood?





Book Review: The Taliban Cricket Club

My good friend, Pari, and I have been wanting to start a book club for ages. We made an honest attempt to start one a few months ago and so far we’ve both read I am Malala and The Taliban Cricket Club. We haven’t had a chance to meet solely to discuss the books, but we have talked about what we thought about them over text or gchat..better than nothing I guess, right?


So the most recent book we read was The Taliban Cricket Club by Timeri N. Murai. The book takes place in Kabul, Afghanistan, a city which is being ruled by the Taliban. In an effort to come across as more personable and well-liked with other nations, the Taliban wants to start an Afghan Cricket Club. The main protagonist, Rukhsana agrees to teach her brother and cousins cricket so that they may try out for the team. The team would be sent to Pakistan for training which was a perfect way to escape the Taliban.

While Rukshana teaches the boys cricket, we learn a lot about her family, such as how she returned to Kabul from Delhi to take care of her dying mother. There are flashbacks to her time in Delhi, the people that she had met, and how her life had changed once she returned home to Kabul and the Taliban.

Historical fiction is one of my favorite genres and so I liked this book quite a bit. The book talks about what Kabul used to be like pre-Taliban (Rukhsana’s grandmother never wore a niqab before the Taliban came into rule — she had quite the collection of gowns and dresses). We also witness, through the eyes of Rukshana, a public beheading. It shows the viewers just how much the Taliban changed the life of Afghans to the point where they are living in constant fear.

Rukshana was a great main character. She was strong, caring, thoughtful, and brave. She was an aspiring journalist and wrote articles about the Taliban (under a pseudonym) and continued despite the Taliban threatening her to stop.

I was happy the book ended the way that it did, but I wish the events leading up to the end were handled differently. So vague, I know..but I don’t want to spoil anything!

One of the cool things about our pseudo book club is hearing about the different ways we all take in the same information. I pictured Rukshana to be looking like this, while Pari was thinking something like this.  That’s one of the things I like about books —  a lot of it is open to our interpretation or imagination. By discussing our thoughts with others we get to broaden our initial insights on the book and learn something we may never thought of in the first place.

It’s inspired me to start my own book club on Meetup.com..my book club will be South Asian focused – from authors, characters, to where the story is based.

Are you a part of any book clubs? What is your favorite part about them?

JoJo Moyes

This year was the year I discovered JoJo Moyes. Moyes is a British author who has penned countless romance novels.

In the span of a few months, i’ve read three of her books and I’ve enjoyed each one more than the last. I like to describe her books as “chick lit with depth”.  Her books are the perfect summer reads – you know the kind of book that you pull up on your kindle while you’re poolside sipping on a pina colada. There’s quirky characters, engaging plots, and underlying deeper message that stays with you long after you finish the book.

Me Before You tells the story of a young sheltered girl who goes to work as a nurse for a man in a wheelchair. The man, Will, is now living a semblance of the life he used to live – one that used to be life will adventure, determination, and spontaneity. Together Lou and Will teach each other about life and love. While sometimes light-hearted and comedic, the book also touches on a darker medical issue which I won’t go into because of spoilers. The book became so popular that there is now a movie in the works set to be released in 2016.


Moyes also published the sequel, After You, in September of this year. I devoured both books, but I must admit Me Before You was my favorite.

While waiting for the sequel, I read One Plus One, another Moyes book. One Plus One tells the story of a single mom living a busy, chaotic life trying to make ends meet. When her daughter becomes eligible for a scholarship at a prestigious university, the family embarks on a road trip where they meet a strange man who helps them out. What follows next is a comedic yet touching romance and look at what family really means.

If you’re looking for an easy read that still stimulates the mind, stars a strong female lead, and makes you feel the warm fuzzies, then JoJo Moyes is your go-to author.

Have you read any of Moyes’  novels? Who is your go-to author for a good read?

Book Review: Modern Romance

I figured I would reviwe another book by an Indian American author – Aziz Ansari’s, Modern Romance. I picked up the book when I was in Portland earlier this summer on a visit to the amazing Powell Books. I was excited to read it as I like Aziz and the topic is very relatable.


When I think about how much technology has changed the way we do, well everything, in just the last five years I get a little taken aback. So much has changed in such a short amount of time! Dating has essentially been the same since the beginning of time, so these last few years have basically changed the game. People are still trying to understand the “rules” (spoiler: there are none) so Aziz’s book is very timely.

Modern Romance focuses on the dilemma facing millennials everywhere: with so many apps and websites that make it easier to meet others, why are people still struggling to find a partner? It’s never been easier to meet people than it is now, so why are people settling down later or not at all? There are lots of reasons for this, such as the changing role and expectation of women in recent years. Now it is considered normal for women to live alone and work outside the home, focusing on their career, whereas just twenty years ago that would have been unheard of.

Aziz also focuses on the illusion of choice and how maybe having too many options isn’t the best thing. He uses the example of an average looking guy who stumbles across the dating profile of a good looking girl, who is smart, funny, basically the whole package yet he decides not to message her. When Aziz’s questions the guy, he responds that the girl is a Red Sox fan whereas he isn’t.

Knowing so much information about a person is nice because you can make sure you’re looking for the same things, but it is also a double edged sword. We place a lot of emphasis on little details that essentially have little to no value in determining compatibility. This is interesting to me — people are layered individuals with many different qualities and characteristics. And yet we place so much value on what people say online. We read a person’s Facebook or OkCupid profile and think we know them when we are probably just scratching the surface.

I was actually very impressed with the way Aziz wrote Modern Romance. It’s a leap for a comedian to write such a book, but he did it very well. In true Aziz fashion there are some jokes sprinkled here and there throughout the book. The thing I loved the most was how well researched it was. Aziz enlisted the help of Eric Klinenberg, a sociologist who teaches at NYU. It’s rich with data and stats if you like that sort of thing (I do) as well as personal anecdotes from people around the world.

So, if you’ve ever wondered why he hasn’t texted you back in 2 days or why she just texted you a pizza emoji, then this book is definitely for you. Don’t expect Aziz to solve your problems, but rather find comfort in the fact that you’re not alone!

If you like reading about how people meet and communicate with each other, then you should pick this book up as well! I don’t do audio books, but if you enjoy them you listen to this book since it’s voiced by Aziz himself.

Have you read Modern Romance? What did you think?