Nashville

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When I left New York City, it felt like home. The city was full of tastemakers and culture rapidly changed and evolved likes the ebb and flow of busy avenue traffic. Comparatively, India- chaotic, wonderful, harsh- had movement but change felt slower.

Now that I’m in Nashville, exploration looks different, but there’s the same eagerness for growth that I found in both NYC and New Delhi. There’s an entourage of start-ups, musicians, and ample supplies of good food and coffee to be found. It just has a Southern twist with a transplant vibe.

In NYC, I took language classes at an independent bookstore with business professionals in the evening; here my neighbor friend comes and sits on my porch (shout out to Ellen!). She works a day job, makes jewelry, and teaches yoga at a studio just a bike ride away.

RunningThere, a lot of my exercise came from walks to and from work, carrying groceries up my 5-flight walk-up, or hustling to meet friends. Here, I’m deliberately training for running events with my family (they’re very convincing- look at that face over there), rock climbing (learning at least), and finding yoga classes where the incense takes me back to India. I have to be more deliberate about action.

Weekend activities look pretty similar, with the occassional barn dance or bike ride (I’m currently sitting at a coffee shop waiting for the rain to stop so I can bike home). Let’s be honest though, I went “southern” dancing (as the infamous Susan Barnes called it) when I was in the city ( a couple of times). It’s all about the people you’re with, right? They’re what make the experience.

One of the things I’ve loved about living here is how accessible travel has been, whether it’s been for work or a quick getaway. Driving brings on a whole new freedom. I was able to make it back to greet my new baby nephew (the first one I’ve made it back for out of 6).

NYC taught me confidence and practical tips for embracing change, India instilled resilience, and Nashville is helping me to tie the two together. It’s brought on a new journey- a journey towards balance.

Saying Goodbye to New York City

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I’m so thankful for my time in New York City and the unexpected friendships and work opportunities. You go through amazing adventures with people you are seemingly so different from…and over the years they become family. Some are your neighbors, or (gasp) a roommate off Craigslist, and others live an hour away in another borough. One (ahem) might have even launched paper clips over your cubicle until you became friends.

You find solidarity because you all are pursuing some passion that brought you so far from home. You are all growing in a world very different from the one you came from. I’ve spent holidays with them, weathered a hurricane with them, celebrated weddings and new births— and we’ve cried and laughed and made goofy faces through it all (even when there was no air conditioning).

Miles have been walked discussing life and faith, hours sat on the fire escape or roof pondering the future– and yes, countless stairs climbed with arms full of groceries. The uniqueness that is New York City is irreplaceable. There are characters that seemed to walk straight out of an Edith Wharton novel or a Woody Allen film (…or just Woody Allen himself). There’s the strange and the bizarre mixed with the elegant and refined. Oh, and there’s that terrifying little mouse that occasionally popped up.

Each day brought something new. You never knew who you might run into on the subway platform, pass on a cross walk, or sit by at brunch. Sometimes it was coworkers, friends from church, classmates or neighbors. On occasion it might even be a celebrity who you would shamelessly stalk/take photos of.

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While I’m also thankful for new doors and being only a five-hour drive  from family, those unforgettable NYC moments have changed me for the better. I’m excited for the millions of others who will find themselves on those magnificent city sidewalks searching for or fulfilling their dreams.

 

From New York to New Delhi

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India is a country of contrast. In Delhi, the air is dense and smells like a giant city-wide barbecue. People are crammed everywhere you look. Traffic is extreme, and colors are vibrant.

I’m volunteer teaching at three schools in the city that are specifically for underprivileged children, and spent the last week with first through fifth grade. They have the most enthusiastic smiles and I’m so impressed with their eagerness to learn! Students call their teachers “mam,” and by the time I get home I can still hear their small voices.

My apartment is in more of a residential area, where women wear mostly saris or burkas. Men are wearing a mixture of western and traditional clothes. There’s donkeys, cows, and dogs walking the streets over piles of trash outside my building’s gate. Yesterday, I even passed a pig being chased by dogs.

And then there’s the traffic…after driving through Delhi, I’m almost tempted to think westerners are too uptight with all of our signs and regulations. Almost. I’ve seen village men running up the freeway in the dark for their morning exercise- there was even a group doing “downward dog” as cars flew by. I don’t think I’ll get used to the site of whole families on motorbikes without helmets though- one woman passed nursing her baby.

On Sunday, two other teachers and myself were invited to a family’s home for Diwali, a Hindu celebration. The family lives in a one bedroom apartment with their three sons who go to the Good Samaritan School. I’ve never felt so honored. They put the red, Hindu dot between our eyes, and gave us each a necklace of flowers. We brought Kaju burfee with us (a cashew Indian dessert bought at a local sweet shop) and they made us chai tea and several other treats. After we ate, we ceremoniously lit candles to place all around, then went outside for firecrackers. It sounded like we were in a war zone! We lit the firecrackers in a narrow corridor downstairs  with other people in the building, and the noises would reverberate. If I tried to go upstairs with the other women, the husband would say “please come” and bring me back down to light them. It was fun…even if I lost partial hearing. The next day the forecast said it was “smokey.” There was a definite smog that settled from that celebration.

The other two teachers, Kelly and Lisa, are here for another week. We’ve settled in to a routine of tea, lesson planning, and yoga after school. Lisa, who’s originally from Australia, has taught Kelly and I how to make a mean bowl of porridge with banana and cinnamon. This morning my batch looked a bit like paste, so perhaps I’ll try my hand at a biryani dish next. When in India…

Take Me Out to the Ball Game

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Last night, the sky was slate black, the city lights dimming out the stars overhead. A full moon hung over Yankee Stadium though, and despite the cool spring evening I knew summer was on its way to the city.

Summer brings outdoor concerts & movies, picnics, and light-weight dresses. Here, the heavy humidity and lack of central air is balanced by friends and activities. In other words, you strive to find as many fun things to do as possible to remind yourself why living on a concrete island is worthwhile June through August. When those activities begin and there are still spring temperatures outside though, it’s a double whammy of happiness!

As I sat in the bleachers watching home run after home run (thank you Robinson Cano), I absorbed as much as the atmosphere as possible. Hotdogs, cracker jacks, and cheering – plus a jacket to stay warm! Every game I’ve been to at Yankee Stadium has been rained out, which made last night a sort of a triumph. I got to make it all the way through the 9th inning without a cloud in-sight. I think that’s a sign – a sign of all the great things to come over the next few months.

As Robert Orben the comedian/prankster said, “Spring is God’s way of saying, ‘One more time!’” Here’s to another round of life, my friends!

A Blizzard in NYC and Vermont

Playing in clean snow is a luxury in Manhattan. Soon after a pristine covering, the color changes to slate grey as the white is mixed with dirt and unknown grime. There’s a momentary sigh as New York City stretches and rests.

After snow coming down Friday evening and throughout the night, I woke up Saturday morning to near silence. My roommate made pancakes and we sipped our coffee on the couch, listening to a few birds out the window while watching How to Steal a Million.

My plans to go to Vermont with a group of friends had been changed to late Saturday morning because of Mayor Bloomberg’s warnings to stay off the roads if possible on Friday, so I had to quickly pack and head out before we finished watching Audrey Hepburn and Peter O’Toole steal their million.

Vermont was worth the rush though. We rented a home in Ludlow, and as soon as we arrived we all jumped in the hot tub. That night there was a town Zombie parade, a chowder cook-off, bonfires, and fireworks. Everyone was so friendly!

 The next day we went into town to peruse the shops and drink hot chocolate, and then afterwards we went snowshoeing. There was a winding river, frozen on the sides, and mounds of snow.

A weekend like this makes a blizzard welcome! If I can eat pancakes, drink coffee, and play in the snow, I can survive almost any winter the Northeast throws at this Southern gal.

Digital Book World 2013

HiltonI was extremely lucky and got to attend Digital Book World last week. It focused on where publishing was headed as leading executives discussed market conditions and the Penguin-Random House consolidation, the decline of the physical bookstore like Borders, and the continuing power of technology as it continues to transform how publishers do business.

One thing that continues to shift is social media. Many of us have used Google to discover our next read, but what about these other online sites and social media platforms? Here’s the list that has the highest book buyer reach/influence (from highest reach to lowest):

1.    Google
2.    Amazon
3.    Facebook
4.    YouTube
5.    Pinterest
6.    Twitter
7.    Goodreads
8.    Author sites

There was some great information shared. To find out more, here are some solid articles with related information or resources:

Publishers Focus on a Complex Future at Digital Book World 2013 (Publishers Weekly)

3 Key Ideas from Digital Book World 2013 (Publishing Perspectives)

The Book Consumer in 2012 (Bowker)

Digital Book World Resources (Digital Book World)

Ice Skating in NYC

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Ice skating is so much fun, especially outdoor ice-skating. I grew up in the south and that doesn’t necessarily make outdoor ice-skating easy (which makes me treasure it that much more)! Now that I live only a few blocks away from a rink I have no excuse not to go…and so, last week I went to Wollman Rink with some friends and remembered why I love it:

1.) When I swirl around the rink my inner child channels Nancy Kerrigan or Michelle Kwan and I pretend (delusional of course) to be just as graceful.

2.) You get to go fast. Really fast.

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2.) I wear all of my winter gear at once in the pretense of staying warm. I adore hats, scarfs, gloves, and extra layers of any kind. You feel so cozy!

4.) Hot chocolate (no day is complete without chocolate).

5.) It’s a workout without feeling like it. You know?

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