What caste are you?

Despite being born and raised in the US, I know a great deal about the Indian culture. I can speak Gujarati. I know the story of the Ramayana and Mahabharat. I have some shloks (prayers) memorized. I’ve read a lot about Indian history and have done kathak (Indian classical dance) for 12 years.

I was getting my make-up done for my brother’s garba-raas event (an Indian folk dance). The girl was an Indian-American (like me), just a few years older. While putting on my foundation she asks, “What caste are you?” I honestly replied, “I don’t know.”

I was taken aback by the question. I don’t think I’ve ever been asked that before from someone in my own generation. What does it matter, especially here in America?

She then said “Oh you are so cute”, which annoyed me. I could tell she thought I was a naive little girl, but caste has never been a big factor in my life. I know I’ve asked my parents what our caste is on numerous occasions, but they themselves are not concerned with it. Therefore it was never anything important enough that I felt the need to remember.

It has never been a restriction for me. I’ve never been told I only have to marry only within my caste..in fact, my parents themselves didn’t.

It makes me wonder why this girl who was born and raised in the States was so interested in knowing my caste. Perhaps she just meant it to be small talk or maybe she was genuinely interested. If these are the questions she asks during small talk, well then…that’s a whole other blog post.

Does it make me a bad Indian for not knowing my caste? I don’t think so! It’s an outdated practice that has no place in the US and now has no relevance in big cities in India.

Has caste played a big part in your life? Why or why not? I’d love to hear your thoughts!

Courage

After having read Half the Sky by Nicholas Kristof, I’ve become an avid reader of his posts in the New York Times. Just yesterday, he posted an article entitled One Girl’s Courage. 

It is a sad and angering story, laced with hope. Despite having gone through something as horrible as rape, I admire Fulamatu’s steadfast courage. It made me think about how I could be more courageous and bold when dealing with my problems, which aren’t even half as bad as hers.

What would you do if you had Fulamatu’s courage?

Change of Scene

Since I work from home it can get very easy to go stir-crazy and lose all sense of the outside world. So I thought a change of scene would do me good, especially considering the Indian summer we are experiencing.

I went to a coffee shop to get some work done. (Libraries are too quiet for me.) I sipped on an iced chai, ate a marble cookie, listening to my favorite songs and powered through my tasks/emails for the day.

My current favorite songs I’m listening to on repeat and get me in the zone:

1. You Make Me Feel Like – Cobra Starship ft. Sabi

2. Moves Like Jagger – Maroon 5

3. Stereo Hearts – Gym Class Heros ft. Adam Levine

4. Mein Toh Margaya Oye (Hindi) – Mausum soundtrack

Stay hungry, stay foolish

Last week, when news of Steve Jobs’ resignation hit the internet, it was safe to say everyone was in a state of disbelief. It certainly felt that way here in the heart of Silicon Valley.

As an owner of two Apple products, an iPhone and a Macbook Pro, I was saddened to hear the news. But what first came to mind was his Commencement Speech given at Stanford University in 2005.

It was a little bittersweet to hear the speech again, especially since it looks like his cancer has worsened.

Here are my favorite parts. They hit close to home when I first heard the speech and even now, months later:

You can’t connect the dots looking forward; you can only connect them looking backwards. So you have to trust that the dots will somehow connect in your future. You have to trust in something — your gut, destiny, life, karma, whatever.

You’ve got to find what you love. And that is as true for your work as it is for your lovers. Your work is going to fill a large part of your life, and the only way to be truly satisfied is to do what you believe is great work. And the only way to do great work is to love what you do. If you haven’t found it yet, keep looking. Don’t settle. As with all matters of the heart, you’ll know when you find it. And, like any great relationship, it just gets better and better as the years roll on. So keep looking until you find it. Don’t settle.

Here is a full transcription of the speech.

I hope you enjoyed it as much as I did. Have a great day!

The Power of Positive Thinking

I’ve always been an optimist (hence the name of the blog), but this Ted Talk struck a cord with me.

To get through a tough situation, perspective and a positive attitude is key.  This 17 minute long video will leave you feeling happy and never wanting to be anything other than that!

Also check out the website Neil Pasricha started, 1000 Awesome Things a great way to find happiness in everyday things that we often overlook.

A little bit of everything

Well, this past month has certainly been a whirlwind! As I mentioned in my last post, we had family coming over for the holidays. What I didn’t mention was that my brother was planning to propose to his girlfriend as well!

He had planned for both of them to see each of their families immediately following the proposal. So needless to say, it was a very memorable Christmas for my family and I.

Once our guests left, we went out of town to visit my soon to be sister-in-law and her family for New Years Eve. Following that trip, we went for a family vacation to Hawaii. It was relaxing and it felt so nice to be in tropical weather.

This picture pretty much sums up my vacation.

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So now that I am all caught up on the last month, here is what is going on currently.

Engagement/wedding planning

I absolutely LOVE having a reason to scour wedding blogs and websites. It’s not that I am one of those girls that has their wedding day planned down to the last detail, I just enjoy looking and reading about them; they give you such great ideas. Also, I love planning events, as is evidenced here.

I have already thrown a few ideas out to the couple/my family, which have been very well received. I can’t wait to show you all the final product!

What are some of your favorite wedding websites?

Getting in Shape

There are quite a few weddings coming up this year (not including my own brother’s), so a few family friends have decided to get in shape through P90X. Last night, my brother wanted me to try Ab Ripper X and this morning I did the plyo video. It is intense! I am so sore, it hurts to even sneeze. Here’s hoping I am sari-ready in a few months. 🙂

Hope you all are having a fantastic start to 2011! 🙂

Happy holidays!

I love the holidays. It makes me feel so warm and fuzzy inside, like I’ve just drank a gingerbread latte (my holiday drink of choice!).

I’m so excited to spend this Christmas at home. We have family coming in tomorrow from Seattle and Vancouver and they are staying for a week. We have no real plans except to eat and spend time with each other..and I cannot wait.

I love holiday baking, so I probably have make sugar cookies with my 4 year old niece. Also, we will go see Christmas lights and decorations in San Francisco.

We don’t really do gifts, but we got something for my niece and family that are coming over.

Do you have any holidays traditions or customs? Is there something you are excited to do during this holiday season?

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The arrival of my first paycheck coincided nicely with the holiday season. I made my first BIG purchase and bought the latest Kindle as a Christmas present! I’ve always been a bit hesitant, because I love the feel of books, but after playing around with the Kindle for only a few minutes I fell in love. It is so light and sleek. Plus, I love that I don’t have to wait forever to buy a paperback version of a book now.

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More importantly, this holiday season I am very grateful for all that I have: a roof over my head, never having to worry about when my next meal will be, good health, and supportive family and friends.

I hope that you have a wonderful holiday season, however you are planning to celebrate!

Black and Blue: A Bridal Bash

About a month ago, my friend and I put together a bridal shower for one of our best friends who is getting married. Having a lot of family friends that are older than me, I have been to quite a few bridal showers, but never really put one on.

So my friend and I got together one afternoon to plan the location, the food, and the games. The location: my house, the food: Mexican, and the games: toilet paper bride, the paper clip game (where you can’t say certain wedding-related words), and how well the bride and groom know each other.

Then, we took the bride-to-be shopping for her dress, so we can decide on a color scheme. She ended up finding a cute black dress, so we settled on black, blue (with the rest of the guests wearing blue), and silver.  Next up came numerous trips to Party City for decorations..lucky for us we found the perfect paper products to complement our theme!

Here are some pictures of the day itself: The spread entailed: seven layer dip, Mexican rice, guacamole, salsa, chips, Mexican salad, and burrito rolls. Delicious and all homemade! The paper products are in the left corner..aren’t they cute?! Here is a closer look.

This was probably my favorite part: the candy bar. We found as many blue/black/silver candies as we could and placed them into martini glasses/glass bowls. It was a creative and easy way to add to the decor of the party.

Our decorations.

More decorations.

For dessert we had a hot chocolate bar..the toppings included cinnamon, sprinkles, whipped cream, chocolate chips, and pieces of Andes mints. It ended up being perfect because the weather that day was very rainy and cold.

And of course we had cupcakes (along with cheesecake – which is not pictured). Yum yum.

All in all, it was a fun experience- from the planning (I love party planning) to the actual party itself. Now I feel pretty confident about planning a bridal shower. Just in time, since I know I have a few to plan next year! 🙂

Reviving the Blog

I am finally updating my blog after almost 8 months. I stepped away from it for a while because I wanted to have a clear theme. And yet here I am, 8 months later, with no theme/topic in mind. But I felt that I should just get myself to write, no matter what it was about and eventually (hopefully) a theme will emerge!

So what have I been up to these last 8 months? I honestly have no idea..I went on a family vacation to Peru (Lima and Machu Picchu) and Seattle. I landed an awesome internship which has now turned into a job. All in all, things are pretty good!

I had a random urge to write in here tonight. I thought I would take the advice of my good friend, Pari, and write about three good moments from my day.

1) We have been getting the house ready for family that is coming to visit next week. So today, I pulled out my old kitchen I used to play with, along with my Polly Pockets and Barbies for my niece. I’m so excited for the holidays! Loads of family coming over, good food, and holiday baking! 🙂 What could be more perfect?

2) Over the weekend, our AT&T Uverse went out which meant no TV, internet, or phone. I occupied myself during the daytime (by shopping :)) but at night I was so bored. Then I remembered that I have my Gilmore Girls DVDs. Gilmore Girls was my absolute favorite show during high school/the beginning of college. I know a lot of people were put off by the way the main characters spoke, but I loved it. It was so quirky and witty.  I always used to wish I could live in Stars Hollow! Since this weekend, I have been watching a few episodes a night..it’s a great way to end my day!

3) My parents brought me home falafel and hummus/pita from The Falafel Drive In. We have been going there for years and they have the best food. I didn’t even know until recently that it was featured on the Food Network. Pretty cool!

Anyway, that is all I have for today.. It definitely won’t be 8 months until I write in here again! 🙂

I love to dance.

I’ve always loved to dance. Ever since I was little, I’ve been doing some sort of dance. At first it was ballet/tap, and then it was kathak, garba/raas, and Hindi film.  I haven’t been doing many dances post-college (besides engagements/weddings) and I miss it. I’m thinking of taking a Bollywood dance class just so I can be dancing again, on a regular basis.

Here is the video of a dance a group of friends and myself did at a wedding just last week.

Hope you like it!