Archive of ‘Family’ category

How 10 Years Fly. Or Don’t.

When I was young and naive (and if you were catching me in my twenties), probably drunk, I used to roll my eyes when my parents or other people older than 25 said things like, “Holy shit! Time goes by so fast!” or crap like “Carpe Diem.” (Except when Robin Williams says it in Dead Poet’s Society, because then it was profound.)

For me, time stood still for so much of the earlier part of my life. I was so busy trying to escape whatever purgatory I was running from, that I was always yearning to leap ahead to the next chapter. I didn’t want to carpe anything. Nothing. Nada. You can shove your carpe where the sun don’t shine, I would think.

I had places to go, dear friends. And whatever was meant to be seized was always around the corner. Never what I was breathing or living in that moment.

And then I hit my thirties. And I felt like everything sped up like when you fast forward your DVR. Marriage. Selling homes. Buying our house. Having two kids. Managing careers. And I finally GOT how fast time goes by, but I still hadn’t mastered the art of living in the moments that were flying right past me.

I can’t tell you how quickly this past decade has flown by. But you know how I mentioned the whole fast forward button on your DVR earlier? Well, in so many ways, I feel like I was in that mode where I was in such a rush to get past all the commercials that I missed a lot of the main parts of the plot. I didn’t carpe shit, my friends.

I think about this because today is John and my tenth anniversary. Ten years have gone by since we got married in a multi-cultural, multi-ceremony day that we shared with some of our closest friends and family. I look back at pictures of us on our wedding day and I think, “Shit, we looked so young!” But then I also think, “Man, we were totally clueless.”

me and john dancing

 

 

That day went by in a blur of music, family, friends, laughter, TONS of food and lots of dancing. I don’t think I remember much, but I do remember thinking, “Thank God we can finally go on our honeymoon!” See? Always looking for what comes next.

And so the days passed. In 2006, we moved into our new home and a year or so later, we brought our first hellion, I mean, child, into the world.

Shaila came. She saw. She pooped.

And we were in love.

shaila baby

 

And I remember that new love. That overwhelming, all consuming kind of love where you heart might burst. But I also remember the exhaustion. And we stumbled through the days, trying to keep things together at home and at work and we missed more of her smiles than I’d like to imagine.

day nico was born

Before we knew it, Nico decided to join us. And all I remember was wanting him OUT OF MY BELLY. This is me the day we had him. I had an appointment with my OB/GYN and I wore makeup to show them that I had not, in fact spent most of my pregnancy in pajamas and muumuus. (I don’t think they were fooled).

Apparently, Nico and I were on the same wavelength. He came 3 weeks early.

And before I knew it, our peanut was his own little person, equipped with a personality that could make anyone smile (except, our very short lived au pair from Hungary, Agota. She didn’t really smile very much though).

peanut and john

And so there were four. And we were complete.

But a funny thing happened along the way.

You see, life got kind of overwhelming. And for the first time in my life, I couldn’t carry the weight of being overwhelmed.

I buckled. I battled depression. John and I tried to work through some of the cracks that were becoming apparent in our relationship. But there were days where we would both throw our hands up in despair and look at each other, each thinking the same thing.

“Oh no. Don’t go putting this on me. This is ALL you.”

And those kinds of conversations were, as one might expect, extremely constructive and totally made us appreciate each other more.

And I continued to be a Facebook fool, posting idyllic pictures of us, as long as my hair looked nice in them. You couldn’t see any cracks in those pictures.

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But there were cracks. I know, because John and I both bled a little during these years when the shards cut through our skin.

But somehow, despite almost letting those cracks become something much, much greater, we were able to carpe our relationship.

And I am so, so very glad that we did. We seized the shit out of it.

So here we are. Ten years later. And I can’t really explain why or how, but I finally feel like I know how to enjoy what I have and what I know and what I breathe and who I have beside me each step of the way.

We do not live a picture perfect life. But I’m beginning to realize that the beauty in our pictures lies in our imperfections and how we embrace each other’s as a family.

kissing

It’s been ten amazing, tumultuous, passionate, crazy, hectic, magical, disruptive, serendipitous years since John and I married. And I can’t hit rewind on any of those moments, but I am finally learning to love them all.

So, without further ado…

Happy Anniversary, John!

I have no idea what the next ten years brings us, but I can’t wait to find out. And just FYI, John, if you’re up for a little less drama, I’m totally on board with that.

All my love,

Kiran

P.S. All the really pretty pictures that are professionally done on this site are courtesy of our friends at Tell Chronicles.








Can You Picture This?

I look at the picture, disappointed. Wait … it is just the angle, or am I starting to get a double chin? When did the circles under my eyes get so pronounced? Shit. Are my arms really that big? Well, at least my hair looks good, I think, until… I notice that the single strands of grey have multiplied and my decision of what to do with my roots is becoming something I have to address.

Sooner rather than later.

“Can you take another one?” I ask. “And can you make my face look less, um, round this time?” Asking for small miracles is something I am good at. I know though that photographers can only do so much with the raw materials they are working with.

As the years go by, I have become exceedingly critical of the way I look in photographs. As someone who always used to feel comfortable in front of a camera and even went so far as to dabble in some light commercial modeling in my youth, it’s strange feeling completely uncomfortable in front of the lens. I no longer know how to present that carefree smile. My mouth almost trembles as it tries to mimic what used to be my natural expression. The pictures that result seem forced somehow. Unnatural.

And in my mind, altogether unflattering.

So I shy away from the camera. I shy away from the flash. If it’s not captured on a digital medium, maybe everyone can ignore those extra pounds that have seemed to creep up on me. They can act as if the lines around my mouth are not there.

Perhaps if I don’t take any pictures, I can remain the glossy image from my past, where Photoshop wasn’t a word that needed to be part of my vocabulary.

I think about the many times I make myself absent when there is a camera around. Pictures of my children and my husband abound, but in my mind, there was always a reason to justify my absence.

I can’t take a picture with my hair looking like this!

I didn’t have time to do my makeup.

Talk to me after I lose some weight. Then snap away.

I toy with the idea that the image I can’t confront of myself is that of me aging. I think there is some truth to this. But at the crux of it is also something deeper. It’s the fact that I never give myself any lenience to be less than perfect. Commemorating my imperfection by capturing it on camera is something I can’t easily do.

My kids will look back at the way I have documented our lives and they will know that special attention was taken to capture them at every age. They will see pictures of themselves where their hair was rumpled, their outfits were mismatched, they were covered in chocolate. And what they will see reflected in these pictures is the love we held for them as we stood on the other side of the lens, capturing these moments.

My kids will not see the mother they are most familiar with in the regular pictures of our lives. They will see the pictures that at some point I deemed acceptable enough to share on Facebook. The shiny, polished images where I look remotely like the former me I don’t want to let go of from my past.

The image they won’t see years from now is the mom I am most days. It’s not the mommy in the yoga pants with her hair swept up in a messy ponytail with the traces of exhaustion in her eyes. It’s not the mommy who is vulnerable, less than perfect, less than anything that has been deemed acceptable to share on social media.

And I think to myself, how can I let their memories of me and what I capture be so different, so separate? How can I let myself not allow the reality of who I truly am to them merge with the recordings of me that they will have, long after I am gone, to confirm the memories they hold of me?

And I also think to myself, “Crap!” The mommy I am memorializing for them isn’t human. She’s spent time on her makeup, her hair shines and she’s coiffed to perfection. She’s not real. She’s NOT the me that they are used to seeing.

Perfect Mommy versus Real Mommy. Perfect Mommy may be a lot prettier, but ultimately she seems a whole lot more flat than the mother they have become accustomed to. While she may shine in her glossiness, well, she also kind of sucks. Because here are some of the things that the imaginary Perfect Mommy I allow to be revealed on anyone’s news feed would NEVER do.

Perfect Mommy will never:

Show any signs of the stress of being a full time working mom while attempting to be an engaged parent and spouse.

Embrace the extra pounds and padding that come from living a life more fully, with my priorities on my children and not on the hours logged at the gym.

Be caught DEAD without mascara.

Wear yoga pants. All day and every day.

Have boogers on the shoulder of her shirt, the kind which were wiped there while she was holding her kids tightly to let them have a good cry.

And most importantly.

She’ll never exist. Not really.

I try to stress so much to my children that they are perfect, unique and wonderful so they can grow up to be balanced, self- actualized individuals. But the messages I send them are conflicted and hypocritical. Sure, they love me just as I am. Yet, I seem to want to wash away the existence of the mom they carry in their heart. Replace her with a two dimensional facade.

In my harshness in the way I look at myself, the biggest disservice I am doing is to my children. The life I am documenting for them is one where I shine for them in a way that simply does not align to reality. It won’t tell them years from now that mommy wasn’t always 100% pulled together, that mommy put more time and attention into things other than her appearance and that mommy sometimes struggled with depression so heavy that she didn’t have the energy to pull on more than, well, yoga pants. That mommy exists too and while she may not be as pretty, she should not be edited out of their lives.

I have come to the realization, however delayed, that our best memories are not the ones that always capture us in our best light, they are the ones that are grounded in the true lives we lead. They have not been Photoshopped to make them more appealing, their very authenticity is what makes them so special to us.

This mother is making a promise that I will make myself more present in the memories I have the power to craft for my children.  Their reality and the mementos I leave them need to be rooted in the truth, not in a fantasy. Perhaps they will learn then that true beauty is rooted in accepting and embracing our realities.

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Straight to Voice Mail

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My parents like to talk on the phone. A lot. I am not particularly a phone person. I keep my calls short and I prefer being with people face to face. My friends know I am not the best at returning messages. I mean, I DO. It’s just a question of when that might happen. Text me, and you’ll have your answer right away. Call me and you might be waiting till your pre-schooler enters middle school.

So I’m not a phone talker. Which means, I’m not the best phone caller. This really bugs the shit out of my folks. When my parents don’t hear from me for a few days, they will undoubtedly call me in Virginia all the way from New Jersey. They would call every day if they could, and sometimes they do, but they try to temper themselves a little bit and play it cool.

As if I’m not on to them.

I don’t know what my parents think is going to happen to me or my family if we don’t talk for a few days. They try to be smooth about it. Let’s say it’s a Saturday morning and our family is out of the house at a soccer game for one of the kids. Let’s say that during this time, they try to call us at home. Nobody answers.

So what comes next? Well, naturally something terrible must have happened to us at 9 AM on a Saturday morning if we are not answering our phone. These suburbs we live in can be a cesspool of violence and turmoil when you look past all the shiny SUVs and minivans. I may have even chipped a nail. So my parents panic and call me on my iPhone. I don’t hear it because I am a running around like a crazy person, watching my 6 year old play soccer, yelling inappropriate things at the 15 year old referee and generally acting like I am watching Arsenal play and not a bunch of little girls who still don’t know what a semi-colon is.

Imagining the worst now. “Vhat if she is in a ditch? Or vhat if she had accident?” Now they start to panic. So they call John’s phone. He doesn’t hear because he is the team coach and is trying to cordon 6 year olds into some semblance of order on the soccer field, no matter that one of them would much rather play Duck, Duck Goose.

My father’s call goes unanswered.

The day passes and we finally realize that we have three messages from my parents, ranging from cool, “Oh, vee just vant to make sure you are gud!” to “Nobody is answering phone. I have called both of you… Ok, call ven you can…” The message sounds dejected and morose, as if John and I were sitting around plotting ways to ignore my parents.

I know I sound like a bit of an asshole when I say this, but these calls stress the shit out of me. Not because I don’t love talking to my parents but because if I am not available when they expect me to be, they assume that I am dead in a ditch somewhere or potentially ignoring their calls.

It brings back to mind the summer that my parents sent me away to camp. Hindu Heritage Summer Camp, to be exact, somewhere in the middle of nowhere the summer between 4th and 5th grade. I wasn’t particularly pumped to be leaving home for that long and I didn’t really know that I wanted to learn all that much about my Hindu heritage because, well, I was 10 years old. Most 10 year old American Hindu kids don’t want to learn about Lord Krishna. I could wax lyrical on Madonna, but not so much on Lord Ganesh, if you know what I mean.

So my parents sent me away to camp, which turned out to be pretty cool. I think they burst into tears when they dropped me off but I was alright. I was ok. I was with my older cousin, Shivam, and we were convinced that we could keep our shit together for the few months we were there. Besides, there were a TON of other Indian American kids just like us there and we already could tell that most of them hadn’t come to train to be yogis. I breathed a sigh of ten year old relief, ate some Skittles and moved on.

Imagine every camp song that you know and make it Hindu. Well as Hindu as you can to a bunch of American kids whose parents are all Indian immigrants. So well, that’s what they did. I remember singing along to the melody of John Denver’s “Take me Home, Country Roads” but in our own special Hindu way,

I hear the conch in the morning as it wakes me up

My counselor reminds me of my Hatha Yoga class

And stumbling out of bed I get the feeling that I should

Have stayed in bed today, but no way!

Seriously, I wasn’t missing no dang Hatha Yoga class. Not even at 6:30 in the morning.

So things went well. Friendships were made. It was like any other camp I guess, except for the fact that the people who ran the camp were all wizened Swamis in long orange robes. No matter, my camp counselors still dressed like Madonna and would sing Whitney Houston songs with us, so there was some balance.

The thing was, somewhere along the lines, I forgot to send letters home to my parents. This was a very egregious offense. The worst kind. I don’t know what bad fortune they felt had befallen me at Hindu Heritage Summer Camp, but apparently the wheels in their heads were turning and I am pretty sure they started regretting sending me to a camp that was five hours away.

And so one morning in the mess hall, Swami Dev got up and gave a long speech to all the young citizens of the camp and told us how important it was to keep in touch with our families while we were away. He then went on to read a letter from a very concerned parent who felt that their daughter had forgotten them and who couldn’t understand why she couldn’t find the time to write a letter.

Of course, Swami Dev was not one for subterfuge, so he looked directly at me in the mess hall as he read the letter, making me want to curl under one of the hatha yoga mats.

So, OF COURSE, I went and wrote the letter. And I DID miss my parents. But you know, people. 10. I was 10.

I look back at those memories now and think about how my parents feel about needing to connect and I realize that no matter how much I complain or bemoan their need, I need it just as much. And I think about how fortunate I am to have the gift of parents who care (especially after watching Breaking Bad. I mean, can you even believe Jessie Pinkman’s parents?) And while I have never been a meth dealer like Jessie, a part of me knows that those calls and those letters and the not giving up on me would not stop.

One day, I’m not going to have this. One day, the phone won’t ring in my house and move to my cell and then John’s phone as my parents try to locate me. I won’t get to feign annoyance as I tell my Dad, “YES, Papa. I’m OK.” I don’t know when, but I know that like most things that we are blessed with in life, this cannot last forever. One day, they will be gone and my phones will still be there.

And God, I will miss that incessant ringing.

There may be days when I am tired. There may be days when I am stressed. But I hope that my parents realize that every time I hear their voices, I understand it’s a gift. Unless they are being annoying… Well, even then.

As I write this I realize how much more I need to make an effort to run to the phone to catch it when it rings. While I still can.

XO,

Kiran








Letters to Myself: When I Have a Teenage Kid

When I was a kid, I used to write “Letters to Myself.” This may seem odd and no, I don’t have multiple personalities. I just wanted to make sure that as an adult, I didn’t forget about all the “horrible” things my parents did to to embarrass me while I lived under their roof. I figured if I could warn myself in the future and help prevent my children from suffering the same kind of embarrassment that I had been through, we could potentially break the cycle. Thus leading to less money spent on counseling sessions, which would be a win-win from any perspective, because even my parents would agree that we shouldn’t waste money. I didn’t start the letters until I was in middle school, but I think I covered my bases pretty well.

So without further ado, let me present you with the teenage Masala Chica’s list of parental “Dos” and “Don’ts.”

1)   Don’t wear saris when I pick my kids up from school. Try to be cool like the other moms and wear jeans.

Not wearing mom jeans = uncool!

Under the Bleachers and Far Away

“When I grow up I want to be a slut,” said no girl. EVER.

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The other night I was talking to an old friend about nothing and everything. We somehow ended up talking about a reality show, since everything in my life has about two degrees of separation from the Bravo Network. The subject moved to the storyline of one of the the women that appears on this show. I don’t know her, but she seems like a really sweet woman with an amazing personality, which says a lot for anyone represented on reality television. I think it’s fair to say that 80% of them DON’T seem like real “quality” people. Quite the opposite, even.

Anyway, I would guess that this woman is about 40 years old. I can’t say for sure, but she seems so nice, like she would give you the shirt off her own back.

Apparently, however, she has a reputation for not having a shirt on her back.

“Yeah, I heard she used to be a real slut in high school,” my friend mentioned casually. “My friend Rich went to high school with her. Apparently she used to have a reputation and used to go down on guys under the bleachers.”

Hmmm.

I thought about the woman in question. For the past few years, she has lived her life on television and allowed people to see her as a mother, a friend and a wife. This is reality television so take it for what it’s worth, but she seems kind, she seems loving and she seems like she works hard to have a good life.

But for whatever reason, to some people, she will be known always as the “girl who used to go down on guys under the bleachers.”

Over twenty years ago.

The whole conversation made me sad. I don’t know, nor do I care to know what choices this woman made about her sexuality when she was younger. I doubt they define her and I highly, HIGHLY  doubt that any male who participated in the activity is still remembered by anyone for whatever it was that he did under the bleachers with her.

Which takes me back to how I started this post. When I was a little kid and played dolls with my female friends, we talked about our dreams.

“When I grow up, I want to be a doctor.”

“When I grow up, I want to be an astronaut.”

“When I grow up, I want to get married and have two kids named Chanel and Coco.” (Ok, ok. Only once).

You know what I didn’t hear?

“When I grow up, I want to be a whore.”

“When I grow up, I want to be known as the girl who gives guys a good time.”

“Maybe if I work really hard I can become a pole dancer one day.”

No, these are not things that I hoped for as a young woman. I don’t remember any of my friends having those aspirations either.

The names that women are called for choices they make around their sexuality are brutal and meant to debase. We might not live in the day and age of a Scarlet Letter, but society shows a woman a huge double standard when it comes to her sexuality. It’s no wonder that the names women get called who are deemed as “too sexual”  carry such a stigma. They are meant to cause shame. They are meant to devalue her.

Which is why, as a woman, I make a conscious effort not to look at another woman as “a slut”, as “a whore”, or any of these other terms that get thrown around a little too comfortably and reduce a woman’s identity to the lowest common denominator. Society might be telling me to call her such a name.

I choose not to.

We’re playing on the same team here, sisters.

When I look back at high school and I look at the girls with a “reputation”, I see things a little differently now. They weren’t professional hookers at 16. They were lost and they were confused and they could have done with some light in their life.

To any girl I may have judged in high school because perhaps I’d “heard things about you,” I’d like to apologize. I look back at the young women you were and while we may not have always run in the same circles, I certainly judged you. I regret that and wish that instead, I had extended a hand in friendship and supported you.

Maybe if you been given a little more light and less judgement in your own life, you might not have mistaken love as one night of the quarterback’s affections.

I made my own mistakes later in life, I will admit. My college years were fueled by insecurity, pain and alcohol. I don’t really want to know what names I might have been called. I do know that my sorority named me “Most Likely to Hook up at a Mixer” which wasn’t even fair because I didn’t even go to mixers.

I don’t think that those years define me, but they certainly play a role in shaping who I am today. The sum of my parts are not comprised by my best days alone. They include my mistakes and my weaknesses, which I believe I continue to learn from.

I hope one day I can watch my Bravo television in peace, with my glass of wine in my hand, the kids tucked into bed and the dishes miraculously done. Where I can watch a woman act like a moron on national television while she drinks too much chardonnay, flips over a table and pulls her friend’s hair weave in a cat fight.

Just doing what they do on any given Tuesday.

Just don’t tell me what she did under the bleachers 20 years ago. I don’t care.

And neither should you.

XO.

Kiran








Why Don’t We Just Chill?

I don’t have many friends who are models or on television. I do have a handful of friends who I sometimes get a get the opportunity to see unexpectedly, like when I’m waiting for a route canal and open a magazine at the Dentist’s office. This never becomes dull – I get excited every time. I still think it’s cool when we see our friend Craig peddle pretzels in commercials on television or notice my friend Sang’s cousin, Gene, on the Tempur-pedic brochure at the mattress store. In fact, I am pretty sure the reason we bought a Temper-pedic bed was because Cousin Gene looked like he was having so much fun on it. In a PG kind of way, of course.

The other person I see from time to time is my friend, Jennifer.

THIS is Jennifer.

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Every once in a while I’ll open a magazine and see that beautiful face smiling back. Every time, it’s a wonderful surprise.

Jennifer and I met almost 12 years ago when were being whored out for charity.

Ok, well, not exactly. We were in a “Buy a Date” auction to raise money for Multiple Sclerosis. So, not “technically” whored out, but yeah. Pretty much.

Jennifer moved out to Los Angeles about 7 years ago. We’ve stayed in touch, mainly so I can tell her how excited I am every time I see her in a magazine or on T.V. (“Hey, that’s my friend Jenni! I KNOW her!”). I love her perspective on racial identity, feminism and just, you know.

Being awesome.

I wanted Jennifer to share something with you today. She is on an amazing journey – one that she is documenting to share with women everyone.

Check it out.

I don’t remember exactly how Kiran and I got roped into the “Buy a Date” auction.  I do remember that some blonde chick convinced us it was for a good cause so we agreed to do it.   Now that really I think about it, I agreed to do a lot of crazy things in my mid-twenties.

Wearing a red strapless gown and a “Hello My Name Is” sticky badge with a number instead of my name, I watched as The Ballroom filled with people. I was seriously regretting my charitable contribution.

“What the hell was I thinking?  I can’t do this.”

Thank goodness for Kiran. Looking completely amazing in her black slinky dress, she oozed the confidence I longed for.  She gave a quick pep talk and I was almost convinced I’d survive the evening. We made a pit stop at the bar for a couple shots.  Now, I’m ready.

“Let’s do this.”

As I watched Kiran sashay her way across the stage, I admired her fearlessness; it gave me the courage to attempt to do the same for my turn on stage.

Honestly, after the MC announced my name, I don’t remember one second of my time on stage.  The only reason I know I came out from behind the curtain, didn’t trip over the hem of my dress and fall flat on my face is because someone gave me a picture a couple weeks later.  Yes, an actual Kodak piece of paper.  The photo showed me, with a real smile not the terrified one I imagined, standing tall center stage.

I’m so thankful to have a friend like Kiran. Her beautiful spirit has inspired me in more ways than she probably knows.  She’s a thoughtful, supportive friend and a loving, hard working mother who dares to share her authentic self, which is one of the boldest things anyone can do.

I am honored by her invitation to contribute on Masala Chica.  Here goes nothing:

After ending yet another relationship, shortly before my 35th birthday, I had a serious freak-out moment.  Actually it was more than a moment.  It was like a panic month…or three.

Talking to my therapist about marriage, babies and all the grown up stuff people do, I felt behind, like time was running out.

You know that scene in When Harry Met Sally where Sally is in her bathrobe crying and saying, “And I’m gonna be 40…Someday.”  Well, that blubbering chick might as well have been me.  Forty was five years away, but looming.

The cold hard truth:  My biological clock was ticking, ticking so loud that everyone around me could hear it.  I had to figure out a way to slow it down.

After weeks of research and soul-searching, I decided to freeze my eggs.

Recently having its “experimental” label lifted, egg freezing is technically known as oocyte cryopreservation.  It’s a break-through technology where a woman’s eggs are extracted, stored and frozen indefinitely.

Unlike men, a woman’s fertility begins to decrease significantly after the age of 35.  In other words, as a woman ages so do her eggs.  Women over 40 have a two out of five chance for a successful pregnancy.

You know what I find the most fascinating about this information?  I didn’t learn it until I was 35!

Women spend the majority of their lives practicing pregnancy prevention.  It’s just what we’re taught.  No one talks about FERTILITY until they’re the position where it has drastically diminished.  So the question becomes – how do we get women to start the fertility conversation sooner?

To get and keep the conversation going, I decided to share my egg freezing journey in a documentary film titled Chill. The goal of the film is to empower and inform women about the reproductive options science and technology have made available today.  Unlike our mothers and grandmothers, we are no longer strictly limited by the time frames of nature.

I know egg freezing isn’t for everyone, but it’s important for women to know it’s an option.  I chose to do it because I didn’t want to feel pressured to find a partner just so I could have a family. I also wanted to preserve my chance to have biological children.  By freezing my eggs, I’ve extended that possibility.

There have been some notable changes since my eggos went into the freezer.  First, I learned more about fertility in the last year and a half than I have in my entire life…Did you know our ovaries have follicles?  Yeah, well, I didn’t until about a year ago.

Seriously, most of the changes I’ve noticed are emotional.  I no longer feel rushed to choose a partner.  Most of all, I have less anxiety about what the future holds for me when it comes to family.  I’m so grateful to have taken this journey and I look forward to sharing it with you through Chill.

To read more about my egg freezing experience, check out the Chill blog at http://www.chillthedocumentary.com.  If you’re interested in spreading the word and supporting the film, check out our Indiegogo Campaign. Thank you!

I am glad I got to bring you Jenni today. I think it’s amazing that she is documenting her experience to help other women who might be going through this as well. Help her voice get a little louder and the documentary get more support by sharing this.

Love,

Kiran








Finding Myself on the Map

A lot of people ask me the question, “Where are you from?” I know most people ask because they are curious about my ethnicity, not because they want to know which state of the Union I identify myself with. But I am never really sure, so often ask, “What do you mean?” I will respond without hesitation once they clarify. In some cases, people are actually asking about the state I am from, after they catch the subtlest hint of what remains of my Jersey accent.

When the question is about my ethnicity, the responses I get range in nature from slight head nods to outward enthusiasm to the highly offensive. Here are a few examples:

I love Indian food! I love Indian culture. That’s so cool.” An enthusiastic response.

Wow, you’re pretty for an Indian!” Yeah, that’s a very informed thing to say. No, it’s not.

You don’t look Indian. Are you sure there’s no white mixed in? Somewhere?”

DOT, not feather, right?” Yes, I have seen “Good Will Hunting.” You’re hysterical.

I have a friend who is Indian. Do you know him? His name is Sunny Patel.” Um, no. Oh wait, you’re Italian? Do you know Bob Russo? Yeah, didn’t think so.

Do Indians really eat monkey brains?” Thanks for starting that rumor, Indiana Jones. No, as a matter of fact, a good portion of India is vegetarian.

Oh, you’re name is Kiran (pronounced kee-rin)! Do you mind if I call you Karen instead? Kiran is too complicated.” No. I’d prefer you call me nothing at all.

You just don’t look Indian,” said with a head tilt, skepticism laced in the answer. This obviously from an expert on physical traits of Indian people.

Wow. Your English is really good. I can’t even hear an accent.” The only accent I am guilty of having is the slight Jersey one, courtesy of the state I spent my childhood in.

I don’t get upset any more. In the past, I was a little firecracker about a few of the comments above. I would get angry or defensive and rail at the ignorance of the comments. Sometimes I would express how pissed off I was directly to the person, but oftentimes afterwards, where I would think of all the witty ways I should have replied.

There were times in my life when I wasn’t so comfortable being different from my friends, different enough to be receiving this question. I am sad to admit this to you now, but there were times when I was  actually happy when someone told me that I “don’t look Indian.” It seemed safer to be identified as something else. Something less, I don’t know…

Foreign.

Last weekend, we packed up the kids and drove up from Northern Virginia  to visit family in NJ and NY. Our Au Pair, Heather, came with us. She isn’t very familiar with Indian culture (she’s from Wales) and so I spent a lot of time explaining small things to her along the way to help her navigate a little easier. There was a lot to tell her, but I still don’t think I prepared her nearly enough.

While I am American, I genuinely do consider myself to be blended in my identity – sort of a citizen of both worlds. Walking into my parents home is a reminder of how influenced I am by the culture.

Let me walk you through a normal scene.

Imagine opening the door and immediately being embraced by your parents who have been calling you since you left home to find out where you are in the journey (usual answer “We’re stuck in Delaware”). They mostly do this so they can time when the food should be ready, because they want it to be just perfect when you get there. You can smell the aroma of the chicken curry and the lingering hints of the masala (spices) my mother used (Turmeric? Garam masala?) and immediately head into the kitchen to see what other goodies Ma made. Through the corner of your eye you can see the colorful pictures of the Hindu gods which grace the wall. Some put up thoughtfully, others placed on other walls haphazardly. Your mom asks you to eat some prasad that she brought home from the temple. To eat it is like receiving a blessing from God. You pick an almond out – usually part of the mix. Prasad is considered sacred, so once it has been presented to the Gods and a prayer ceremony (puja) is performed, to decline an offering is frowned upon. Most importantly, none of the prasad can be thrown away or wasted. As you enter the family room, you  can detect the smell of the sandalwood incense my mother had burned earlier.

There are so many other things which assault my senses, bringing me back to the world I was raised in. And it’s comfortable to me. None of it seems foreign because it’s what I know. We usually settle on the couch, ignoring the buzz of the Bollywood videos playing on ZEE-TV (THE Indian channel for most Indian-Americans) which is pretty much on all the time when I go home. My mom asks me if I want her intoxicating chai. I decline and ask for a coffeee instead.

It’s odd straddling two culture like this sometimes. Marrying a non-Indian also accentuates the differences within cultures. However – this is what the immigrant experience entails. Usually the children of the first and second generation will be raised the way I was.

While most people who know me realize I am Indian in ethnicity, I think seeing me in my home surroundings is always a bit of a shock to them. It’s an eye opener, that’s for sure. It’s like I gain some kind of unspoken street cred. New Delhi style.

Here are some pictures of my grandparents, which both hang prominently in my parent’s family room, slightly crooked and much higher than eye level. These are decorating guidelines my parents do not care to know or abide by. I only saw my now deceased grandparents once every few years. They were my largest tie to India, and once they were gone, some part of my connection to India loosened a bit.

My maternal grandparents, Nana and Nani.

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