“So What Do They Call You in School?”

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Saraswati, Lakshmi, Parvati, Satyanarayan. These are beautiful traditional Hindu  Indian names that, admittedly, are very difficult to say. As a result, a lot of us have English nicknames like Sunny, Sid, Fred, and Mo, even when these nicknames are no where near our actual names (trust me, there’s no Indian name that remotely sounds like Fred, and yet, that’s my father’s American name. Seriously.).

If you are someone who can’t say our names, don’t worry, we don’t fault you for this. We fully recognize a lot of these syllables are not in your vernacular. But we do fault those of you who don’t try or care that you are saying it wrong. These names may seem like crazy names with random letters that don’t belong next to each other, but they are beautiful names  that represent our religion, culture, heritage, and most of all, our identities.

Take my name for example, Avanti (English pronunciation: uh-van-tea. Actual pronunciation: Uh-Vun-Thee). I can’t tell you how many times an extra uh-van-TAY was added to my name, or Avani, not minding the T. Or the worst, E-VON-TAY. And that’s ok, trust me, I’m so used to it. I, like many other Indian people, have come to accept my English pronunciation and now introduce myself using this name to everyone except other Indian people. Why not just help people say my Indian pronunciation? Because it takes forever and it’s still said wrong. It’s just easier to accept defeat sometimes. And a lot of times I will get “oh wow, can you repeat that, that’s beautiful,” or “Ok. I’m just going to call you Avi.”

But what bothers me is when people just don’t care to say it correctly. No question, just assumptions. It puts me in a tough spot because while I want to be called my name correctly (at least in part), I almost feel bad inconveniencing someone into saying a name that is so complicated.

So, about a month ago I had decided I had had it. Every time someone said my name wrong, I corrected them. Seems like no big deal right? You’d think so. People actually minded. Someone actually said to me, “oh yeah, I can’t say that. It’s not in my vernacular.” I thought of saying to her that it was her vernacular that renamed me this heinous name to begin with.

This may not seem like such a big deal, but this brings us to the underlying issue that has swept the nation.

Ignorance.

Recently I saw a video on Food Network where Carla Hall dressed up as an Indian person for Halloween and it really upset me.

Indian is not a costume. It is who I am. I know if I dressed up as her race it would be politically incorrect, so why is there a double standard here?

It’s absolutely inexcusable. My parents came here in the 70’s because they knew America had become the melting pot of opportunities. It’s been over 40 years since they’ve arrived and the amount that people have learned about Indian culture is probably about the same. It seems like no body cares that we are here and what we stand for, even though almost everyone knows of at least one Indian person. Knowledge about our heritage and culture is learned from watching Bollywood movies on Netflix and Slumdog Millionaire instead of from actual Indian people. Because it’s so much easier to be ignorant and pretend all you know about us is what you see on t.v. and then think it’s ok to come up to us and ask if we eat curry and break out into song and dance every 10 minutes. (I know this isn’t everyone, as I have many wonderful friends who take a great interest in my heritage, but the frequency with which I am asked ignorant questions like these is astounding.)

We are not aliens! We have been in this country for generations now. We are as American as you are; which is why we all have incredibly good English, (so, please, stop acting surprised).

Because you know what’s on the other side of this ignorance? Completely innocent people, like Srinivas Kuchibhotla, being gunned down by a 51 year old man telling him to “get out of his country.” Little did he know, this was Srinvas’ country. It’s time for us all to open our eyes and our minds and learn a little something about our different neighbors before it’s too late.

This country’s not just black and white anymore. We are brown, yellow, green, purple, turquoise, and all of the above at the same time. America is a beautiful melting pot but ignorance is poisoning it, and now it’s just spoiled soup. There is still time to fix it though. A soup that’s too salty can always be fixed by diluting it. Dilute this world with understanding and love instead of indifference and we can have the beautiful America my parents came for 40 years ago.

Pay it Forward: Love All

 

Have you ever met someone and right off the cuff they were jerks for absolute no reason at all? Or someone you have never spoken to in your life walk by and say something completely rude.

If so, you’re not alone. The bad attitudes seem to be everywhere. Yesterday during school, a student (whom I do not teach, know, or even spoken to) called me fat and kept moving along. Later on that day, I watched an episode of Chopped that featured an awful, nasty chef that rolled her eyes and was so cold to her opponent for no reason. Sure, the sheer competition can bring out catiness in anyone, but she kept saying this chef “was so annoying” when she barely spoke two words to her. Later on she jumped down her throat when this girl said there’s no reason why they can’t have a friendly competition. Luckily this evil chef got Chopped in the next round, didn’t see it coming one bit, but of course didn’t leave without a snide comment about how awful her opponents food was (…that she never tasted).

I can’t help but feel like this world would be a much happier place if people dropped the attitude. Not just because we would clearly have less attitude without these people, but when you’re unnecessarily rude to someone, it puts that person in a bad mood for the rest of the day, who will then in turn be rude to the next person unintentionally. It’s the awful domino effect of nastiness.

 

For whatever reason it’s human nature that we remember negatives more than the positives. I’m sure at least 5 incredible things happened to me yesterday, but by the end of the day, I only remembered that one nasty comment some random girl said to me. Or worse, what about when we’re already having a bad day/week/month/year and someone says something nasty to you then. Heck, I remember when I was in 6th grade I was so upset that a girl was rude to me after I brought back a pencil she had forgotten. She never said thank you but proceeded to make fun of my shoes instead. It wasn’t just a bad month or year I was having then, it was my entire awkward years and those awful girls never made it better for me.  Back then I thought the attitude was something that could be outgrown, but I have since learned it only gets worse with age. The random person at the grocery store, the nasty comment on a blog you worked hard on, your quiet neighbor who won’t make eye contact with you; complete strangers who feel the need to be hate everyone around them. It is this groundless hatred that will inevitably destroy us.

We need to stop. Because I’ll tell you what, this domino effect seems to have made its way around the world and it will only get worse. You’ll be rude to your neighbor, who will take their now awful mood and take it out on the next 5 people she sees on that day, who will then do the same. Guess what? Pretty soon that’s going to come back around and then effect you and an entirely new group of people.

I recognize people have bad days all the time so we can’t always be spewing rainbows out of our ears, but just because you are upset about one thing or another is absolute no reason to ruin someone else’s day. On the upside, it’s also important not to let someone else’s negative comments effect your happy mood. Easier said than done, trust me I know, I work with high schoolers and it’s hard not to. But as my coworker said, “make sure you’re wearing your armor.”

Unless we as a population make the conscious decision to stop with the bad attitudes, rude comments, and negative energy, this world will never be a happy place.

Be kind to one another, for everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle.

Lots of love,
Avi

I Don’t Want to be Skinny Anymore.

In January 2013 I was overweight. I had gone to the doctor’s for my regular physical exam and she told me I was almost 140 pounds, had high cholesterol, and was on the path for a slew of medical problems.

The worst part was, I wasn’t even a bit surprised.

I had just finished my college career where my nights were filled with late night Taco Bell/Wendy’s/McDonalds/Thai Food runs to fuel me for those all-nighters. As a senior, pre-med, math major, I had no time to hit the gym and stay active. Throughout college I had come to several crossroads where I realized how desperately I needed to change my lifestyle, not just because of the reflection that I saw in the mirror, but because of my relationship.

I felt unwanted, unattractive, and worst of all, unloved, not just by my significant other, but by myself. I wasn’t happy. As a result, I became a yo-yo dieter. I tried to motivate myself by trying to look beautiful for my boyfriend so he would love me more and not leave me. I convinced myself I was doing it for me, but deep down I knew that wasn’t true. Eventually, he did leave me, and, after graduating, I moved back home for a couple of months while I applied to medical school.

I left the doctor’s office knowing something needed to change. So I made it happen.

Moving home for 6 months after college was the best thing I have ever done for my health. I joined my parents’ gym and went there nearly every day. I became a Zumba addict. My mother became my “personal chef,” turning every nasty healthy recipie into another work of art. I subscribed to the mantra “no carbs after lunch.” I drank so much water, quit my Diet Coke addiction cold turkey, stopped eating fast food, and my only indulgences were healthy sweet treats I found on Pinterest. I never weighed myself, only gauged my weight loss based on how my work out clothes fit me.

By spring, I saw my doctor again for a sinus infection. She was amazed that in a matter of a couple of months I had lost 10 pounds. By August 2012, my sister’s wedding, I was 20 pounds down, weighed 118 pounds, and felt better than ever, but most of all, I was happier than I had been in a very long time.

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What was so different this time? What motivated me to lose so much weight that was different than the 10 times I had tried while I was in college? This time, losing weight and getting in shape wasn’t motivated by an loveless relationship, looking hot, looking great in a bikini; it was motivated by being healthy and becoming happy.

The next couple of months were amazing for me. Not only did I love my body and love my life, I met the most incredible man who showed me love I never knew was possible. I started living and loving life more than before. I went from being the happiest I had been in a long time to being the happiest I have been ever before.

Well, recently I have noticed that the 118 pound bombshell is no more. I started gaining weight again and don’t look nearly as good in a bikini as I had before, and in a nutshell, I freaked out.

What changed? Well, with my wonderful new relationship came new adventures, experiences, and indulgences. I wasn’t exercising as much anymore and my no carbs after lunch policy went out the window. We love dessert and we love bacon. I still eat healthy and the thought of greasy fast food makes me feel sick. My lifestyle changes have stuck with me for the most part, but once in a while I indulge and with it comes more weight. Back then, my only focuses were losing weight and studying for my MCATs. Now, my focus is my happiness and living and loving life and him.

And even though I’m not the skinny lady he first met, he still loves me. But most of all, I love myself and think I’m beautiful. It has been a long, rough path to accept that fact.

Today I got the results of my physical exam from last Friday and my cholesterol is down from 184 to 77.

So, no longer do I want to be skinny. I want to be happy, healthy, and love myself for it.

And the best part is, I am and I do.

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10 Things to Never Settle For in Love

I never agreed with this concept of “settling” to begin with. Why do all women have an incessant need to feel like there are things we need to put up with in relationships instead of realizing the man we’re with simply does not deserve to be with us?

Every woman has been there. We want to settle for second rate and put up with red flags because we think we have to, want it to work, or have been in a situation so long that we feel like we’re trapped. Or sometimes because we think it’s our last shot at love and if we lose this one then when will another one come along?

Well, this is me saying get out. Don’t put up with anything you think you shouldn’t have to. Because if you find yourself putting up with things or doing any of the following, it’s not meant to be. Have faith that the real thing will come along.

1. Someone who makes you feel like you have to change. Any man that makes you feel like if you lost weight, exercised more, ate different, acted more maturely, dressed differently, or do anything else that is just not inherently you, you would be loved more is absolutely 100% not worth your time. Because a man who thinks you need to change one way or another will never accept you for who you really are and will therefore never truly love you inside and out. The reality is a man who wants you to be someone else is looking for someone else.  It is so easy for us to make men like this question our self worth and make ourselves not feel good enough, and who wants to live like that?

2. Someone who makes you question whether or not they love you. If a man makes you question if they truly love you, then they do not love you enough. Plain and simple.

3. Someone who does not accentuate the true you. No one deserves to take away the true you away from you. If you feel like the man you’re with dims your sparkle even the slightest, you are with the wrong man. Someone you are meant to be with will only make your sparkle shine brighter and make you feel like the amazing woman you are.

4. Someone who places conditions on your relationship. Whether that means waiting a certain amount of time for you to be together or a certain life event to take place. If it’s not meant to be right now, chances are it’s not meant to be ever. You deserve better than that.

5. Someone who doesn’t make you feel safe. Listen to me carefully: If he ever does something to make you feel unsafe, even if it’s just one time, get away. It doesn’t get better, only worse. And every woman deserves to feel safe in the arms of her man.

6. Someone who doesn’t treat you differently regardless of who you are around. Whether you are out with your friends, his friends, his family, or at home, you should still feel the same love, affection, and vibes from him. Now I’m not saying he should be as PDA as you are during private time, but he should still be sending you those warm vibes and he should make you feel like you belong to him. If he is giving you the cold shoulder, not reaching for your hand as you are him, and treating you like you’re not even together, you should question how can someone who truly cares about you is even be capable of that. And if people are unsure if you’re dating, that’s not a good sign either.

7. Someone who tries to convince you out of your beliefs. Our beliefs and morals are what we live by. No one has the right to take them away from us. Whether it’s religion, political affiliation, even music choice, someone who actively tries to convince you to align your beliefs with theirs or consistently tells you you’re beliefs are wrong, is not someone worth being with. And note there is a distinction between a good healthy discussion and actively convincing and manipulating.

8. Someone who tries to separate you from your friends, family, and loved ones. It is normal when we’re in a relationship to become more distant from our loved ones, but what is not normal is your significant other actively trying to distance you from them. These people have been with you through thick and thin and love you unconditionally. They don’t deserve to lose you because of someone else. This includes your man telling you not to hang out with your guy friends (ones that you legitimately have no history with and he doesn’t want you hanging out with them purely because he is a dude). This means he doesn’t trust you and trust is everything in a relationship.

9. Someone who tries to use tangible objects to manipulate your emotions. No, presents do not buy love. They do not make up for arguments. And no one should be able to buy themselves out of an argument or try to make you love them more through gifts.

10. Someone who talks down to you and makes you feel like any less of a woman. You are great. You are amazing. You are incredible. Anyone who makes you feel anything less does not deserve you.

If you are putting up with any of these, you don’t have to. Remember that you are incredible and don’t deserve to be treated this way. Instead of wasting your time and energy in this relationship, spend it in faith knowing the real thing is out there and the longer you waste your time in this relationship, the more opportunities you are wasting out there looking for the right one.

xoxo
Avi

Why Juan Pablo is Easily the Smartest Bachelor Ever

Ah, Juan Pablo, easily the most hated Bachelor in Bachelor history. The one who made totally superficial comments and let every woman know “it’s ok” to “trust him.” We fell in love with him when he was on Desiree’s season so much that they brought him back for our viewing pleasure for an entire season. And boy were we pleased. In fact, up until the overnight dates, we were all pretty happy with how things were going, even though we were pretty sure he was going fall in line with his predecessors and pick the nastiest woman of the season, Clare.

So what happened?

We gained so much trust in Andi, which is exactly what the producers wanted since they knew she was going to be the next Bachelorette, that we lost sight of our trust in Juan Pablo and reality t.v., and with it, our sense of reality.

But putting Andi’s experience aside, Juan Pablo is the smartest bachelor to ever grace the Bachelor mansion. Here are 3 reasons.

1. He didn’t pick Clare

Which, let’s be honest, is exactly what we all expected. Bachelors have a hideous track record of picking the worst choice of the season, all the way from Alex Michel and the non-Trista Amanda Marsh to Jake Pavelka and the awful Vienna Giradi. All of Bachelor Nation sat and cringed the second we realized how much Juan Pablo favored Clare over everyone else, including perfect Pediatric Nurse, Niki. We couldn’t help but visualized what a wicked step mother Clare would be to sweet Camilla. When ABC took us to meet her family, we watched in shock that her family could somehow be even worse than her and no wonder she’s the way she is. But then something magical happened; as soon as we realized it was in fact Clare that was first off the boat walking to her break up, we all collectively jumped for joy and realized, it really is ok!

2. He told Clare like it is

Yes, maybe it was an inappropriate thing to say to someone. But the only reason Clare made such a big deal about it was because she was trying to get Juan Pablo to say he loves her off camera and he didn’t, which in my opinion is even more inappropriate. A man will tell you he loves you when he’s ready, not when the cameras are turned off. Moreover, Clare was only getting what she put out. Don’t go to someone’s hotel room at 3 o’clock in the morning saying let’s go “swim” in the ocean even though we’ve only hung out 4 times and then get upset when he says something like that to you. What else do you expect? Sorry sister, he’s not in love with you and that’s your own fault.

3. He took his opportunity on reality t.v. as reality

I get why everyone is upset. I too followed Juan Pablo’s journey for love for 3 months and was a little disappointed that there was no proposal and not even an I love you at the end of it. But Juan Pablo was given the opportunity of a lifetime and he took advantage of every moment, ensuring that his relationship could continue after the show was over. You all may have seen someone dodging the question of whether or not he loves Nicki, but I saw a man that was being berated about whether or not he’s in love, having to justify why he wasn’t, and couldn’t wait for the entire experience to be over so he could really get to know his girlfriend and fall in love with her on his own time. The Bachelor is not very conducive to falling in love and anyone that is “in love” by the end of the show is most likely just making good t.v. Juan Pablo isn’t “slapping the hand that fed him,” he was simply treating his reality t.v. show as reality itself, something, if more Bachelor couples did, that would drastically increase the success of love on this show.

Sure Juan Pablo had his ups and downs and upset Andi and Sharleen enough they wanted to leave. But no Bachelor is perfect. And let’s be honest, what Andi thought was him being self centered and self absorbed may have just been a dude trying to get into her pants. Think about it.

I say people should stop hating Juan Pablo so much and instead focus on how ABC ripped us off and picked Andi as Bachelorette next season. FREE SPIRIT FOR BACHELORETTE 2014!

xoxo
Avi

Dance your Dreams Out

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http://dailypost.wordpress.com/2014/02/27/prompt-dance/

Daily Prompt: Let’s Dance

What are your earliest and fondest memories of dance?

 

Dance has always been a major part of my life. Even as I am sitting here writing his post I am dancing to Shake Senora Pitbull Ft. Sean Paul & T-Pain.

All of my toddler home videos are filled with me dancing in my pajamas, dancing around the carpet, and walking up to my dad dragging him into the living room to dance with me. I like to say that I’ve been dancing since before I was able to walk, which I attribute as the reason why I walk funny and don’t pick up my feet when I walk.

Perhaps my earliest memory of dance was doing Indian classical dance, Bharatanatyam, when I was 7 years old. Since I was 21 days old, I would be in the back of my sister’s classroom, watching her grace the dance floor with her beautiful moves. I knew at a very early age that all I ever wanted to do was dance. I would beg her guru every chance I got to take me as her student, but I was always too young.

Until the magic day that I wasn’t. I was 7 years old and finally had something in common with my sister. I remember performing on stage to what looked to the little me an audience of 10,000 people. I wasn’t nervous at all. I had been practicing for a year for this and I couldn’t wait to show off my dance moves. I remember being in the front row and loving the spotlight. I felt that I had found my calling, dance was from then on my everything.

I moved quickly through Bharatanatyam, moving ahead into classes of age groups that were older than me. I was always significantly younger than those in my class. I made many best friends as I moved along, and leaving most of them behind. I had moved so quickly and was sure to finish at a young age. Many even said the youngest person to finish that they’d known.

I didn’t grow up in the richest family. I had overheard my parents talk a lot about pulling me out of dance class. At such a young age, I didn’t understand our financial situation or even the concept of earning and spending money. I begged my parents year after year to keep me in classes I now know they couldn’t afford. They obliged and I should have been more grateful.

Then came the day when I turned 13 and we had to move to another state, which meant dance class was now an hour away. I had to leave my guru behind, and with it, Bharatanatyam. That was one of the saddest days of my life.

6 years later, once I was old enough to drive, I wanted to go back to dance. It had then become a competitive program, but my guru believed in me, so she gave me private dance lessons. That meant waking up at 6am and driving over an hour away, but I didn’t care. I was excited to go back to dance again.

I danced my heart out, practicing every single day. I quickly remembered everything I had learned before, learning more advanced dances. My guru put me back into group classes again. I was the shining student always asked to set an example for all of the other students.

But this was short lived. I eventually moved far away to go to college. I wanted to find another guru around me, but it was no use. Al bharatanatyam gurus were different and I would never be happy with another one.

I hope that one day I can find dance again, learn from my guru again, and rekindle my passion for Bharanatyam.

Until that day, I’ll just have to settle for Pitbull and dancing around my living room with my dad.

Cheers to never letting go of your dreams.
xoxo
Avi

You Make me Feel Like I’m Living a Teenage Dream

http://dailypost.wordpress.com/2014/02/14/daily-prompt-its-friday-im-in-love/

Daily Prompt: It’s Friday, I’m in Love

by Krista on February 14, 2014

Remember your first crush? Think about that very first object of your affection. Oh, the sweaty palms. The swoony feeling in your stomach. Tell us the story of your first crush. What was it about this person that made your heart pound? Was the love requited? Change the names to protect the guilty or innocent if you must! No judgement here. Happy Valentine’s Day!

It’s so funny to think back to that very first person you ever laid eyes on and had all these crazy fantasies. You take one look at them and see your life in fast forward. You picture coming home to them every day after work, cooking in the kitchen as they wrap their arms around you, surprising you with flowers, kissing them goodnight, snuggling on the couch watching t.v., midnight walks along the river. All those wonderful fantasies that clearly only live in your dreams.

Then you snap back to reality and realize you’ve never talked to this guy in your life, he doesn’t know your name or your existence, and will probably never see him again. But that doesn’t stop your 12 year old mind from picturing you with him for the rest of your life.

Creepy!

That happened to me many, many moons ago. But I’m not sure if I would call it a crush. That’s nothing more than an object of your affection, someone to input into pre-existing fantasies that have been swirling in your teenage hormonal mind already.

A true crush is someone who can make those fantasies come true. Every last one of them. Seems totally unrealistic right? Those are things you only think about as you fall asleep or while you’re dreaming, not things that would actually happen in real life. That’s what I thought too. Until I met my first real crush.

Which wasn’t until about 3 months ago. I waited 24 years, but he finally arrived. When I first laid eyes on him, I think it was written all over my face just how incredibly hot I thought he was. I knew absolutely nothing about him but the teenage fantasies already started to flow. Sweaty palms and all, but he was just glad I didn’t smell like curry.

We talked for an hour and half but what felt like only 5 minutes. And then we danced while my stomach was still churning and my heart was beating to the bass of the salsa music. By the end of the night, oh I was definitely infatuated.

And then a week later, I was in serious daytime-drama-teenage-fantasy-crush-mode.

And over the course of the next 3 months, he made every one of those teenage fantasies come true.

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I know it’s Valentine’s Day, but this is what every day feels like with him.

xoxo
Avi