Archive of ‘Friendship’ category

Adventures With My Racist Bus Driver

mean bus driverI was nervous. I didn’t know what to expect. I looked down at the somewhat less than stylish clothes I was able to pick up from T.J. Maxx with the small budget my parents had set us aside for “back to school”, knowing that whatever I had just wasn’t going to cut it. I had watched “Pretty in Pink.” I knew what I was in for.

It was the early nineties and it was my first day of school at Rutgers Prep, a stark departure from the public high school most of my friends would be attending. I had applied for an academic scholarship and after multiple rounds of tests and behavioral interviews – wonder of all wonders – I won a spot at the school. My parents wouldn’t have to pay any tuition for my time there, as long as I maintained my grades, but they would have to carry the burden of buying all my textbooks and buying me a whole new prep school ready wardrobe.

They kept their first half of the bargain, I’ll give them that. The wardrobe idea never really gelled with them. Let’s just say that I was not prepared for the J.Crew and Land’s End clad wardrobes of my classmates. This girl was no longer in Kansas.

I knew that one of the biggest changes for me was that I was going to get picked up every day at my house on a bus that would ultimately deliver me to school which was roughly an hour away. I waited for the bus to arrive at my house, wondering what kinds of new friends I would be making.

As the short bus made it’s way up my driveway, I waited eagerly with a bright smile for the door to open, ready to greet my new friends. The door swung open and I took my first step onto that bus, not knowing exactly what I was in for.

A bleached blonde with a heavy fake tan sat in the driver’s seat smacking her large wad of gum. She looked me over a few times, up and down, taking in my inventory of my not so classy skirt I got on the clearance rack at K-Mart. I bet she was wondering if she had one too.

I tried to maintain eye contact with her throughout her intense scrutiny of me, but it was a little discombobulating with all of her shiny layers of teal blue eyeliner and matching mascara.

She pulled out her pad, “Ok, so, which one are you?” Her accent bled Jersey. I don’t know what that means, but I imagined it involved spaghetti sauce.

“I’m Kiran.”

“Kir-WHAT?!” She asked/yelled in what I would later learn was just her way.

“Kiran. Like the Japanese beer.” She looked at me blankly. Yeah she probably didn’t like too many international brews was my guess. But I tried anyway, “Oh, it’s Kirin, Kirin, Kirin, when you’re beerin’, beerin’, beerin’.”

She looked blankly at me and I felt a little deflated that she did not know this song, after all something about her blue eyeliner and the raspiness of that voice made me sure that she liked her beer.

I turned around to take my seat. Since the school went from K – 12, there were kids of all ages on the bus. I found a single two seater and was about to breathe a sigh of relief as if I had passed some test, when she turned back to me and said, “Honey, my name is Sheryl. And don’t you forget it.” With a flash of what smelled like Charlie perfume, she spun her head back to front position.

I was unsure why I would forget it, but I had a feeling that Sheryl had a whole lexicon of language that I would become familiar with.

There was a boy on the bus named Jeremy who had been going to Rutgers Prep for a long time. He was quite wealthy and came from a different social strata than I did which he liked to point out whenever he could. Jeremy was one of those guys who was just a natural asshole when he was younger. The kind of guy who always knew who felt weak and how to demoralize that person. I am sure (ish?) that he is a lovely person now. But back then he was kind of a douchebag.

Sheryl of the bleached blonde hair and Jeremy struck up a relationship almost immediately. They may have been separated by all sorts of socio-economic boundaries, but they had one thing in common. They were jackasses. They could smell and abuse fear in a way that only the most alpha bullies can.

I recall one day, Sheryl having a really loud conversation with Jeremy. She sounded drunk, but I don’t think she ever was. She just said such stupid shit sometimes that you just kinda hoped she might be drunk? At least for her own sake, if not for all the children she was driving all over Central Jersey.

“You know what I like about you Jeremy?” Sheryl asked. “Even though you’re Jewish…”

I cringed inwardly. In my limited experience, I knew that usually when one starts out a sentence this way, it does not end well.

“…well, you’re just different. I mean, you’re a Jew and all. But you’re not like a really, Jewy-Jew. I can’t freaking stand Jewey Jews. They’re almost bad as the Hindis and the Goddamn Islamicists.”

Since I was pretty sure from pictures that Sheryl had shown us of her husband, that he could have been a Skinhead, I kept my own thoughts to myself on that matter.

Sheryl could run hot. She could run cold. She could pick you up with the biggest smile on her face or she could pick you up and tell you to shut up, “because I’m on the rag and I’m hemorrhaging out a Cabbage Patch doll here.”

The younger kids tried not to look too scared.

One day, Sheryl was feeling nostalgic and wanted to play us some of her favorite songs on the long ride to Rutgers Prep. I think the playlist that day went something like this:

1. Stroke Me – Billy Squire

2. Stroke Me – Billy Squire

3. Stroke Me – Billy Squire

4. Hot for Teacher – Van Halen

5. Stroke Me – Billy Squire

6. Paradise by the Dashboard Lights – Meatloaf

The only reason we were even able to get a little Meatloaf was because one of us pointed out that it was really weird that one of the kindergarteners seemed to know all the words to “Stroke Me.”

Sheryl wasn’t always all bad. She’d smile so wide with her bubble gum pink glossed lips and remind you that there was warmth in her. Like the time when I was feeling bad about a recent haircut I got and Sheryl tried to cheer me up.

“Look, I mean, I ain’t gonna fuckin’ lie to ya. It looks like shit. But it will grow back. And besides! You’re pretty for an Indian. Most Indians I know are butt ugly! But, you got it going on girl!”

“I mean, look at you,” She expanded. “You don’t wear no dot on your head. And I mean, what is that? Is that dot surgically implanted on your mom’s head or something? Damn, fuck, I bet that hurts!”

One day she saw my older brother, who was temporarily living with us at the time, running. “Damn, Kiran. You’re brother is pretty cute. I don’t see many Indian guys I would do. But your brother – um hmm.”

I tried not to puke in my mouth as Jeremy, the not so Jew-ey Jew laughed along with Sheryl.

Meanwhile, back at home, my parents started wondering why I had started cursing like a sailor. The word “fuck” seemed to enter my language without any prompting, as in, “Would you pass me the fucking mayonnaise?” This seemed odd to them since this new behavior seemed to coincide exactly with when I started going to private school. After all, wasn’t private school supposed to create a safer environment for me?

Over the year, Sheryl would come up with some real gems on her thoughts on race in America.

Like, when the one hit wonder, Gerardo, came out with the song “Rico Suave.”

“He is so fucking hot. I mean, he’s a Puerto Rican but he’s not too, ‘Spick-y’ if you know what I mean.”

Like when she saw my mom wearing a sari.

“Yeah, that’s cool. That’s cool. I’m down with that shit. I could be down with wearing one of those rags wrapped around me as long as nobody made me tie a turban to my head.”

One might wonder why nobody complained to their parents or to the school. After all, we were late to school every day. Sheryl would sometimes drive around in circles if a song she liked came on as we got closer to school.

“You all are cool with this, right?” she would bark at us, giving us the blue eye-lined stink eye.

“Oh, we’re fine.” We would nod along.

The truth was, we were all scared shitless of Sheryl. Not only was she our chain smoking, shit talking, bullying, racist bus driver, but she knew where we all lived. The combination somehow seemed lethal.

I had started dreading the thought of going to school every day. My adjustment at Rutgers Prep was going a lot better than I thought it would. I stumbled every once in a while since Jeremy wasn’t the only entitled asshole in the place. But for the most part, I had started making friends and loved my teachers.

The school was fine. It was great, actually. It was sitting on that bus for two hours every day that scared the living daylights out of me.

And unbeknownst to me, the ride with Sheryl was only just beginning.

More on this adventure in my next blog post.








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.

Screen shot 2013-05-28 at 4.44.41 PM

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








How honest are your friends?

“And this wasn’t lying, not really. It was leaving out.” – Stephen King, Hearts in Atlantis


A few years ago, I wrote a post about how good friends know what to say to each other in tough situations. They know the difference between being painfully truthful and kindly, gently delivering a message. Other times, they might even tell little white lies to help you get the message. Well, I called it lies, but I realize now what I meant was not necessarily lies… more like, omission?

On Loyalty

This post is a departure from my normal shit. Sometimes I need to get serious. Curses have been kept to a minimum (don’t worry, I will still find a way to insert them). Oh and hoo hoo = vagina. Enjoy.

When our son, Nico, was born, John’s best friend, Craig, and his family bought Nico several gifts the day we returned home from the hospital. One of those gifts was a beautiful, plush blue dog blanket that looked so lush I wanted to rub it against my own cheek and fall asleep. What can I say? I was tired. Pushing a baby out of your hoo hoo can be exhausting.

I thought it would be bad form to steal one of Nico’s first gifts, especially since he was only three days old. Let him develop his motor skills first, I reasoned, so he at least has a fighting chance of defending his belongings.

The truth is, we were incredibly touched by the gift. Craig’s own son had the same blanket since he was a baby. He and that blanket were inseparable. In a moment of creative inspiration, his son called the blanket “Blue Dog.” Craig’s son and Blue Dog went everywhere together. Blue Dog slowly became worn down and in a cruel twist of fate, was decapitated. Realizing that a headless Dog might be somewhat disturbing to their child, his parents quickly bought a new Blue Dog to replace the old one.

But as you probably know, nothing could replace the original Blue Dog.

Nico quickly became attached to his blanket. So inspired by the name our friends had used, we decided to keep the tradition alive and dubbed him Blue Dog as well. At night we would hear Nico gurgling to the dog nonsensically, chattering away about the things that are generally on a child’s mind. When we would check on him, we would find the blanket nestled in his arms. If we ever tried to take it away, Nico would hold onto it, not letting it go even in his sleep.

Nico and Blue Dog in happier times

Knocking, but Nobody Answers

This is a hard post to write. It’s about something that has bothered me for a while. It’s been in my head, but I haven’t unlocked the door on my thoughts to fully get the words out here until now. I get upset every time I go there. My heart hurts, I get a little achy, my throat gets choked up and the tears well up in my eyes. OH. FUCK. I’m losing it already. See what you made me do? Now I have boogers all over me. I never cry pretty. Where are the damn tissues?

Moving on Up? Or Laterally?

Oh – you don’t think I can? Oh because I never have matching socks? hmm. You are right. But can i STILL have a cape? I would really like a cape? Bueller? Mmmm, Bueller?

Not quite sure yet. What I do know is that if you “follow” Masala Chica through the wordpress.com “Follow” functionality, the nifty button that I used to look at with nary a glance and you still want to follow? Well – if you want to continue to follow the blog – can you manually add http://masalachica.com to your reader or subscribe through the feeds.

They say you don’t know what you’ve got till it’s gone. Hells, yeah. I miss you guys. Come back! I got this snazzy new site – seriously pimped it out hardcore – and nobody is showing up. It’s like having a party and sitting around and eating all the cake by yourself because nobody came. Then you go home and drink more because you feel fat which makes you feel fatter.

Nothing good comes of it except swollen ankles and a hangover in the morning.

Sad visual, right? Yeah, no shit.

Don’t make me have fat ankles. That’s just cruel.

Remember. YOU can change the world. Or just give me an ego boost. Which one is easier?

That’s what I thought.

Have a great weekend, peeps.

Kiran, OUT.








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