Gilmore Girls and the Nostalgia of Getting Older

You know how every time your parents say “back in my day” your eyes immediately start rolling? I think I kind of get it why they say that now.

There are a lot of things you don’t expect about getting older. Like how it takes literal days to recover from a night out (aka when you are awake beyond 12 AM), how you can’t solely rely on your metabolism to keep you fit, or how everything reminds you of something else. The nostalgia is all too real.

It makes sense though. The more years you have under your belt the more experiences or stories are packed in those years. Life events like having a nephew welcome nostalgia, from looking through baby pictures to see who he looks like to re-learning nursery rhymes to appease the little guy (my animal noises could use some work).

Some nostalgia is a little more subtle, like listening to a song or visiting a restaurant which includes an uninvited guest of memories from the past.

And yet, nothing gives me greater nostalgia of my adolescence than Gilmore Girls. Despite the fact that I watched a lot of TV growing up (unfortunately I don’t watch as much these days, another thing they don’t tell you about getting older), Gilmore Girls will always remind me of ages fourteen to twenty. I think because this show came out during such a formative time in my life and I saw my life paralleled to Rory’s, it held a close place in my heart.

So when I heard two years ago that Netflix would be posting all of the episodes, I was so excited to Netflix and chill with the Gilmores..and then, the best news of 2016 (not exaggerating), Netflix was going to revive the series!

I watched all four episodes, six hours worth of television, in a thirteen hour span (6 of those hours included sleeping).

Cue the nostalgia! It was so great to be back in the quirky small town of Stars Hollow that I loved so much. I loved seeing what Lorelai and Rory had been up to. Growing older with a fictional character like Rory was a bit strange, but it was nice to know that if overachiever Rory Gilmore doesn’t have her life together then maybe all hope isn’t lost for me.

The episodes brought me right back to my high school days: eating Burger King every Monday night, promptly doing my homework after school, and stressing about college.

Nostalgia is funny like that. It can make you look at moments from your life with sadness or it can make you look back at a point in your life and make you realize how much you’ve grown since then. I miss being able to eat Burger King every week, but I don’t miss stressing about college. I miss the stability and routine that came with being a kid, but I don’t miss the lack of self confidence or sense of self.

As someone who like to write/feels a lot of feels/enjoys analyzing, nostalgia is exactly all that wrapped up into one (sometimes messy) emotion.

All this to say…I can definitely see myself saying “back in my day” once I have kids. So don’t judge me please.

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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?

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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

carry

 

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?

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?

TCC

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?

Return of the Blog

I’ve been telling my friends and family for a long time now how I want to blog again and I’ve been telling myself the same thing for even longer. It’s been a little less than two years since my last post, so please bare with me as I get back into the groove of things.

Last week I read an article in which the Pepsi CEO Indra Nooyi says that women can’t have it all. As we enter our late twenties (gulp) this topic has come up amongst my group of friends a few times. And yet, none of us are married and we definitely don’t have kids. I think this goes to show just how much “having it all” is something that is on every young woman’s mind, no matter what stage they are in life.

While I do respect Nooyi’s candor, women are so often told that they can’t pursue certain careers, hold positions of power, or even worse, they grow up internalizing these same beliefs, that for her (especially as a South Asian woman) to state women can’t have it all does nothing to contribute to the conversation. Instead it makes us women believe that this is our fate and that nothing we can do will change that. I wouldn’t want Nooyi to lie and say that having it all is easy, but she should keep in mind that she is a role model for many and that her words have an impact.

It is also worth noting that these kinds of questions are asked to women only. You never hear of a male CEO getting asked how he balances his career and family life. It’s a shame that it’s 2014 and yet these same questions are being asked. The way that we portray gender and gender roles in the media is something that desperately needs fixing.

What do you think of Nooyi’s interview?

The Christmas Spirit

I know I’ve been neglecting the blog this week, but I’ve been consumed with work and getting things ready for the holidays. I read this news story earlier in the week, which made me so happy. “Secret Santas” all across the country are going to the layaway counters at stores and paying off other peoples’ bills. This has also motivated others to give back in the same manner. It truly shows that kindness has a ripple effect. 🙂

On a lighter note, here is a funny video courtesy of Jimmy Kimmel Live. Kimmel asked parents to videotape them giving their children a really awful gift. Some of the reactions are hilarious!