Nashville

Nashville pic

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.

Goodbye NYU, Hello Summer Travels

The Publishing Institute is officially over. Ceremonies were held, projects judged and goodbyes said. During the first half, I worked as web editor for the prototype magazine Going, a travel publication. I couldn’t have been happier with the subject matter or my group. The next half of the program, I used the left side of my brain as sales manager for a graphic novel imprint. Numbers, numbers and MORE numbers. Way to whip my brain into shape!

 The day after it finished, I plane hopped to Savannah and spent a week in South Carolina. I rode my bike to the pastry shop for breakfast and spent my afternoons on the beach with my sweet, little nephews. There were morning walks on the beach, wave-wipe outs (where sand gets everywhere) and late afternoon swims in the pool. After my week on Hilton Head Island, I was relaxed, sun-kissed and totally stuffed from all of the wonderful calabash seafood and family cuisine! Did I mention my mom and sister are amazing cooks? Exactly what one needs when wearing a bathing suit every day.

From there, my plane took a nose dive further south to Joanna in Nicaragua. She’s been living there for the past two years while in the Peace Corps. We spent 10 days back-packing from one city to the next. We hiked a few volcanoes, went swimming in a natural spring and met some of the gracious people Joanna has built relationships with over the past two years in her town called La Fuente. While the pace of the South and Nicaragua are similar, the cultures could not have been more different. 

 

In Nicaragua, the workday begins around 5 am and ends by 11 that morning. No one wants to risk darkening their skin in the sun. Marriage doesn’t necessarily mean monogamy. Catcalls are frequent. There are even horns with the infamous whistle for drivers to blow at women. And when beggars ask for money, people usually give it regardless of their own income. I met so many generous, kind-hearted people. Catching a ride with a passerby was easier than hailing a cab in this city.

All of this was a bit of a shock after working a full-time job, then diving into six weeks of intense lectures and project sessions. I left NYC to the land of fried chicken and “hey ya’ll,” then arrived in a country where my only communication skills included asking where the nearest bathroom was and counting to eleven. Random Italian words even flared up in my attempts at conversation. I am proud to say I was able to entertain with my numerical counting though – at least for about 20 minutes until Joanna returned.

 

My own job hunt was put into perspective when I learned that about 50% of Nicaraguans are either unemployed or underemployed. There was evident poverty and yet beauty everywhere – a place of true extremes.

When I got off my flight at JFK and trekked back to my Harlem abode, I was shocked at the cleanliness of the subway. Yes, shocked! Two years ago, I was appalled at the trash and stench when visiting NYC after London. Perspectives change, and for that I am humbled and grateful.