How to Join Our Team!

Prior to leaving India, I had a job.  A very good one at that.  My official title was “Office Assistant.”  I was hired barely six months after I graduated high school.  I started out in the Marketing Department and was moved to Loans where I worked for the next four and a half years.  In May I was moved again to the New Accounts department, which I was not happy about.  It isn’t that I don’t like that department (I like the people in that department) but I don’t like the work there.  I grew to love everyone in the Loan department and I didn’t mind the work there.  New Accounts work – because I wasn’t fully trained – was monotonous.  I was never truly really fully trained for anything because I’m a part-time employee and everyone knows I plan on leaving eventually. The President frequently tells me that I will have a full-time job the moment I say I want one.  I just graduated college in May so I think he was hoping I’d choose to commit myself fully, but instead I left for India and started my Master’s program.  He said a position would still be open for me if I decided to come back (I think we both knew it was “when,” not “if”).

I go home in less than a month, and a week ago I wrote to the VP of HR asking about how it looked for me.  She said she’d get back to me when she had a definitive answer about my placement.

I have this job because of my mom.  She has been working there since 2004 and has climbed the ladder to Branch Manager.  At the time I was hired, the Pres. asked my mom what I was doing since I had graduated high school not too long ago.  He asked her this two weeks after I quit my first and worst job without another one lined up.  I applied and interviewed at Macy’s and David’s Bridal.  I didn’t get past an initial interview at Macy’s because I wasn’t willing to miss class for work.  At DB, I made it past the initial group interview and to a second individual one but didn’t make the cut because I didn’t have any commission experience.  So, I had no job and doubted my decision to quit my job even though I hated it with every fiber of my being.  Then one night, my mom said, “How would you like to work with us?  He said you would be put into Marketing as an assistant, working on news letters and things like that.  Just show up every day and do your best, don’t embarrass me!”  I’ve been so thankful for my job ever since.

At first, I was uncomfortable being around 60+ people on a daily basis, especially since they were so much older than me (even now, I believe only one or two people are younger than me).  Since my mom had been working there for eight years at this point, I had met a handful of people on a few occasions but regardless of whether they’d met me prior, I was treated as her daughter and that bothered me.  After about two or three years working, people really started to interact with me forgetting that I was another co-worker’s daughter.  I became my own person there, I suppose.  I really love some of my co-workers.  Real love, the way you love family and friends.  They’re my second family, and I love that everyone at my work place refers to everyone else as family.  I’m particularly close to a handful of people, and before I left, a bunch of my co-workers gave me envelopes with cards and money totaling roughly $250 – $300.  From co-workers!  One hugged me on my last day of work and we looked at each other and both had tears in our eyes.  Another one avoided me the day before I left (I went in to drop off donuts and goodies for my departments) because she was sad and didn’t want to see me and cry (I would have cried if I said bye or hugged her, quite honestly).  I almost cried when I said goodbye to the VP of HR because she sounded like she was going to cry when she told me to have fun but that I needed to come back to them.  I almost cried when my “surrogate dad” (as my mom calls him) hugged me as I got into the elevator.  <- That co-worker is one of my absolute favorites.  He’s extremely sarcastic with a biting wit and is the “house chef.”  He bakes fresh bread on Fridays and often serves it with homemade tapenade or pesto, and others will bring assortments of cold cuts and cheeses  for us to snack on since Fridays we work 8:30am – 6:15pm.  He taught me how to bake no-knead bread and mochi.  Some days I’d get to work and he would have prepared breakfast for me, whether eggs or a full breakfast burrito.  Since I’m a poor college student and often eat sad, small lunches, he’ll often offer to cook lunch for me as he makes his own, or he’ll tell me to sit with him and share whatever he has (he’s a wonderful, wonderful cook).  He told me he’d look forward to seeing me when I come home, unless I meet a “rich, handsome, Indian prince” and decide to stay.  In retrospect, I think we all acted a bit silly since everyone knew I wasn’t quitting, but I guess going from seeing people five days a week to not at all for over four months is a drastic shift.

I’m lucky to work with people that evoke those kinds of emotions.  I’ve never once dreaded going to work because I didn’t want to be there.  There were days I didn’t want to go to work because I had a lot of homework or because I was sick, but never because I didn’t want to be there.  I’ve always been happy at work because I work for a wonderful company.  It isn’t even the gifts or parties we get.  On Christmas and New Year’s Eve we close half-day and everyone from the other branches will come to our branch (the main branch) and we’ll have lunch and play games.  At the end, everyone exchanges drawn-out hugs, wishes safe drives home, and says their goodbyes until the next day of work.  So many people have 20+ years of service.  So many people dedicating that much of their lives to our company is obviously a good sign.  Some have 40+ years.  I honestly cannot wait to go back to them in December, and I’ve thought about my co-workers regularly while in India.  I even brought with me photos from our employee party just days before I left for India.  The country club was serving endless mimosas so my face is red in all of the photos.

I’m thinking about this because this morning, I woke up to a message from my co-worker asking if I’d want to participate in the Loan Department Secret Santa.  I’m technically no longer part of that department, but it made me even more happy that they still want me to participate in their reindeer games (they even threw a potluck for me before I left). Of course I said yes.  I told HR to also put my name into the company-wide Secret Santa too.  The holidays are great at my work place.  HR will go around dressed up as elves and one male co-worker will always dress up as Santa (one year, someone from Sales – a man – dressed up as Mrs. Claus and distributed gifts) and pass out gifts.  It’s that everyone I work with is happy that makes it a good place.  HR and the appropriate managers who conduct interviews and do the hiring really take into consideration both background and their individual personality.  Everyone I work with meshes together so well, and that’s what makes my work place less of a building where we all come to do work, and more of a big, warm house full of laughter and love.  Seriously: my mom works on the first floor and I can hear her laughing from the second floor; the VP of HR and one of the loan officers have laughs so loud that you can hear them from the other end of the building (and they’re always laughing about something, trust me); members in the lobby will often laugh and ask what’s so funny when they can hear everyone laughing from the lunch room.  I’m an extremely lucky girl to have that kind of work environment.  Most days it doesn’t even feel like I’m going to work – I just feel like I’m going to a home away from home.


Roommate Schroommate

I constantly find myself reminding myself – through my teeth – that living with the girl who is my roommate here in Delhi is worth the $5,000 scholarship I got.  Barely.

The house is big, and we rarely see each other but when we do, I want to shoot myself.  She’s very nice and friendly, but I just cannot stand her and the friendlier she is to me and the enthusiasm with which she talks to me about things just makes me more and more irritated and less and less interested in talking to her.  There are some personalities with which I just cannot mix.

She has habits that irritate me.  For one, I buy my own produce here.  I buy bananas every week for shakes and my oatmeal, and I buy at least 2kgs of apples a week for snacks, oatmeal, and shakes.  She eats them.  Today, she reached for my last apple and made a comment about how big the apple was, so I said “Yeah I know, when I bought them I wanted the small ones but he only had those, so I just bought them” and she said, “Yeah I like the smaller ones more.  This one is so big…I only want half.  I just need to force myself to eat the rest of it I guess” and I just sat there thinking, “Okay Jacie well your plan totally back fired and she either doesn’t care that you bought those apples or she has selective hearing.”  That was my last apple and now I don’t have any for my post-gym shake tomorrow or for my morning oatmeal.  I’ve seen her buy produce twice, but even then she’ll only buy a small bunch of bananas or two to three apples for herself.  My friend told me to just hide the produce in my closet.  I’m considering it.

I’m also very protective of my pens (like, irrationally so).  I was doing homework in the living room on our floor and laid my pen down next to my notebooks.  When I came back from dinner, I found my highlighter but not my pen.  I moved everything on the table looking for it and I looked under the table as well.  My roommate looked at me and saw me looking for something, and I glanced at her and noticed she had my pen.  Being Asian and stereotypically soft-spoken, I did not say anything about it.  “Maybe you’re just assuming it’s your pen,” I thought.  This morning when I went back outside, I found that my pen was indeed with her things on the table.  This upset me more because I label all of my pens.  That particular pen had my middle name in it in kanji, and I know she does not know kanji and knew that it was not her pen.  It bothers me because I do not touch or use peoples’ things without their permission, so it bothers me when people use my things.  Especially someone I can already barely stand.

She also doesn’t flush the toilet (“If it’s yellow, let it mellow”).  And she also frequently forgets to turn the water heater off so when it’s my turn to take a shower, there is barely any hot water.

I go home in less than a month now, and I will be glad to never see her again.

Oh, baby!

My ex-boyfriend is going to have a baby.  I didn’t know that he was going to have a baby until my fiancé asked after he saw a picture of his (my ex-boyfriend’s) girlfriend, in which she appeared to be holding a baby bump.  I’ve turned post notifications on for my ex on Instagram but somewhere between school, eating, sleeping, gyming, and now, anime-ing, I missed three photos of his girlfriend getting slightly bigger.  I saw one but thought she was just picking up weight (not in a mean way!  She’s really cute!  I just wouldn’t expect her to be pregnant).

I congratulated him and he said he wanted to talk to me about it when I got home.  For a split second, I thought “that could have been me.”  I don’t know why I even thought that.  I don’t want children soon and in fact, that would be one of the worst things that could happen to me right now.  But in all of his photos, his girlfriend looks so happy holding her stomach and she really has that pregnant glow (she’s six months pregnant).  I’m genuinely happy for them and I can’t wait to see their baby.

I guess I’m just realizing that we’re really going our separate ways now.  And he’s solidifying it way more than I am with this baby (versus an engagement ring).

His girlfriend likes to do similar things.  One of our favorite things to do was drive around the island.  We used to do that a lot.  One morning, he picked me up at 6:00am and we drove around the island.  We used to drive around the island at night singing our favorite songs.  He posts videos and photos of them driving around the island, passing and stopping at some of my favorite spots on the island.

I’m genuinely happy for him, I really am.  I’m not saying it over and over to try to convince myself, but because I know it doesn’t seem like I am.  I’m sad that I’m losing my confidant and that we’re really, completely leaving each other behind now.  I never once thought I’d leave my fiancé for him, but when I say “leave behind,” what I mean is that we can no longer have the same relationship, I guess.  We can’t randomly meet up and go to a place we used to frequent while we were dating, I can’t call him crying or message him at 1:00am because I’m sad, we can’t tell each other how special we’ll always be to one another even though we’re in serious relationships with people we truly love.  It’s a weird feeling.  This is someone I’ve dealt with since I was 15 years old.  I’m 23 now.  We dated, then didn’t talk for three years (on my part because I was mad) and after we finally started talking again, it was like nothing had changed.  And I’m sad that I’m losing that.  I almost feel like I’m losing part of myself.

But enough of being selfish.  I always tell him I want him to be happy, and I really do.  And I really mean it when I say that I am happy for him.  They’re both good looking people so their baby will be cute.  Japanese-Korean kids are always really cute anyway (but if I remember correctly he’s also Hawaiian, Spanish, and Chinese).

Vegan Superpowers

About a month ago (a few days over a month, to be more precise) I went to Old Delhi with friends for a day out.  We went to Jama Masjid and had lunch at Al Jawahar.  For lunch we ordered naan, chicken saag, and mutton curry.  My friend’s friend’s girlfriend is a vegetarian and didn’t eat anything.  I thought it was a bit rude that her boyfriend didn’t concede and order a vegetarian dish!  I said to take what I wanted off the order (saag) and order a vegetarian dish but they didn’t want to.  So we had the saag, curry, and naan.  Shortly after lunch, we walked around looking for dessert (shahi tukda – so delicious) and had to walk through all of the small, meandering walkways.  This was around Eid so there were a lot of goats around.  As we walked back to the metro, the girl with us was beginning to feel more and more disgusted with all of the goats, all of the meat being handled out in the open.  Right after she made a comment about the smell of meat, we walked past a small store front that had two freshly decapitated goats heads on the table.  Mouths open, eyes open, still bleeding.  We had just eaten mutton about fifteen minutes ago (my host family and friends were telling me that while mutton is sheep, a lot of restaurants use goat; the point is that I possibly ate a goat then saw a dead goat head less than an hour later) and this, of course, made my insides feel all thrown out of whack.

I’m not sure why this bothered me so much.  On New Year’s at my dad’s family’s lunch, we always have a full roast pig (with the head still on) and my uncle will carve it and give me the roasted skin as he cuts away.  I love it and it’s my favorite dish on New Year’s.  I see this every year and never cringe.  At one of my favorite restaurants back home I frequently eat fried baby shrimp and fried baby octopus — bodies still completely in tact — and have no problem seeing the shrimps’ fried eyes as I put it in my mouth.  One of my favorite dishes from an omakase (course picked by the chef) my fiancé and I had back home was “live” lobster sashimi, in which the lobster tail is torn off and the meat taken out and diced up, then put back into the shell to be served.  The lobster isn’t actually still alive at the time of serving, but its nerves are still active so the lobster is still moving as you eat the meat (after the sashimi is eaten, the rest of the lobster is made into a miso soup that’s served at the end of the meal).  But seeing the head, perhaps still bleeding and covered in fur, bothered me most?  It’s also unsettling to see chickens being shoved into cages, wings and necks contorted, trying to make themselves comfortable in a cage they will never find comfort in.

But anyway, since then I’ve eaten meat twice, but because I had no other option for dinner.  It was in Meghalaya – A and his friend made dinner but made chicken, though A knew I was already on this pseudo-vegetarian kick (he was with me in Old Delhi that day).  But other than that, I haven’t eaten meat.  I barely even ate the chicken then, but A kept telling me to eat more which irritated me since he had already fudged our trip and was then making me eat something he knew I was trying to avoid.  I’d say no and he’d put more on my plate anyway.  I’m still upset with him, haha.  Anyway…later throughout our trip any time A would eat meat – even fish – I would just internally cringe.  I don’t know why the flip in my head was so drastic after the goat heads but it was and even watching people eat meat now makes me feel weird.  I was a vegetarian in high school but that was for other reasons, namely to lose weight and because it was trendy and uncommon among students in my high school…it lasted about two years.

I’ve also inevitably considered going vegan when I go home and will have full control over my diet.  Here in India, I take my meals at home with my host family most of the time unless I’m in school (lunch), and though they have chicken maybe once every five or six weeks, they consume a lot of animal products and I don’t want to seem rude and reject food that is freshly prepared every evening.  When I go home, I’ll have the power to choose fully with what I stock my fridge and pantries, so I plan to attempt veganism when I go home.  I love eggs, milk, and yogurt, but consuming the milk of a cow is basically the same as consuming its flesh, considering how cows for meat and dairy are both treated.  I relentlessly make fun of vegans so my fiancé and friends had jokes for me when I said I was considering it, but I make fun of vegans that don’t shut up about being vegans, the ones who talk about vegan pastries, vegan makeup, vegan shampoo, vegan air, vegan water, etc.  You get my point.  The vegans I personally know and am friends with are not like this, and I am thankful for that.

So, does anyone have any tips, I guess, about starting a vegan diet?  I don’t eat a lot of meat to begin with so I know adopting a vegetarian diet won’t be difficult for me; the only real challenge will be sushi and sashimi.  I do, however, consume a lot of eggs, yogurt, and milk, and know that that change will be far more difficult.  I also foresee running out of energy and/or patience checking ingredients to make sure I’m not consuming some animal byproduct…but I’d still like to attempt it.  So please, do give me any tips you have!  Thank you!

Jamie All Over

When I was in high school, I dated a guy, “M.”  I was fifteen and he was nineteen (the age of consent in my state made this okay, okay!)  Being fifteen and in high school (and a naughty, slacker high school student, at that) my parents would not approve of me dating, and never of someone so much older than me (this is funny now because my fiancé is 11 years my senior and my mom loves him probably more than she loves me).  Anyway, we dated “officially” for one month, between January and February of 2009.  We had, however, had feelings for each other since the October prior, the month I turned fifteen.  On my birthday he and his friend took me to Tantalus, a popular late-night spot in town (it’s a neighborhood/area going up a mountain; young people go there to race, drift, etc.).  and sang me happy birthday.  I remember this clearly.  That was my first time there, and it’s somewhere I frequent with my fiancé (because he’s into drifting), friends, and my dogs.

At the time that we met, he had a girlfriend, “L.”  They dated until January.  I’m sure you can piece together what happens.  After he finally broke up with her, her friends would constantly call him and ask, “What does she have that —- doesn’t?” and he would make a face, give some sarcastic remark, and hang up.  She constantly badgered him – and rightfully so, having had her boyfriend stolen by a fifteen-year-old – and this, of course, made me paranoid.  This is where I think my “crazy” girlfriend streak comes from.  I always had it in the back of my mind that he didn’t fully choose me over her, so I would read his private comments on MySpace (you know, URL tricks) and I had found that they were talking when he said they weren’t.  They weren’t speaking romantically, but just simply catching up.  Still, at fifteen, this was terrible to me and I shut him out completely.

Our song was “Jamie All Over” by Mayday Parade.  If you were to ask me how this became our song, I don’t completely remember, but anytime I hear it, I think of him.  I couldn’t listen to Mayday Parade for about two years because it just made me feel off.  I carried this anger around with me for years, having felt betrayed by someone I felt loved me.  We would lie in bed and he would say such sweet things to me, the sweetest being, “You’ve been to a place in my heart that no one else has.”  I remember this very clearly, too.  I remember our first real kiss in the rain under a street lamp, and my fiancé and I run past this street lamp whenever we go running in our neighborhood.

For three years I did not talk to M.  A year after we broke up, I went to Paris on a class trip with my French class.  He didn’t know the exact date of my departure, but he left roses and a letter on my doorstep.  He knew this information because he kept in touch with my aunt (this is how we met, through her).  My mother found these and surprisingly informed me and did not throw them away (she found him in my bedroom once, hidden in my closet; this prompted a huge fight between us and resulted in her kicking me out for two months and making me live with my dad).  I told her I did not care and that she should just toss them.  Even his best friend, who had sung happy birthday to me at Tantalus, would ask why I refused to talk to him.  I ignored these inquiries.  Eventually even my mother would ask why I was being so cold.  She knew that he was my…uh…”first,” so she would always tell me to be a little more forgiving, at least hear what he has to say.  I was always surprised that she was suddenly so understanding, but I would ignore her advice.  After three years, on my eighteenth birthday, I finally thanked him for wishing me a happy birthday.  He continued to wish me a happy birthday every year despite my coldness.

By my eighteenth birthday, I had already been dating my now-fiancé.  At eighteen, I finally found it in my heart to forgive him.  We reconnected and have been in touch regularly since my eighteenth birthday.  Shortly before my birthday, he had begun dating someone with whom I was acquainted.  I did not particularly care for her (though I did not dislike her) and I didn’t know how she would influence or affect M.  M’s father was an alcoholic and occasional drug user, and after witnessing his father’s behavior as a child, he swore he would never touch drugs or alcohol.  I treasured that about M.  Shortly after we began talking again, I found out that he not only drank and did drugs (ecstasy, weed, small stuff), but he also began selling ecstasy.  I was upset and asked him why he had done a complete 180.  He didn’t have an answer for me, but I knew it was because his girlfriend was into raves and did drugs and drank a lot.  I’ve always resented her a bit for this, though we are on friendly terms.

There were very low points in both of our relationships.  We used each other in bad ways.  When I was upset with my boyfriend, I would find solace in M, and him in me when he and his girlfriend would hit very rough patches.  We never cheated on our significant others with each other, but our exchanges would have stung them.  M and his girlfriend both confided in me; I’m not sure why she confided in me to begin with, knowing well that we had dated before.  She always made him out to be the villain, but I knew he never was.  When they would fight, he would pour his heart out to me about how different she and I were and how he loved her but something just wasn’t the same.  I never really had anything constructive to say – I was just there to listen.  Once when I had probably the biggest fight with my boyfriend over his behavior with another woman, I called M sobbing from work, hiding in a stairwell, asking him if I was ugly, if I was stupid, if I was crazy.  He was on his way to pick his girlfriend up but stopped what he was doing to talk to me and said she could wait, that I was important.  Later that week he took me to another one of my favorite spots on the island and later to Bubbies for dessert.  A few weeks later, I called him for cocaine because that’s just how absolutely shitty I was feeling.  At first he was adamant about not selling me any because he didn’t want me to get caught up in it and be responsible for ruining my life.  I assured him I’d be fine, and it took a lot of convincing.  I did it that once and never again, as it wasn’t as amazing as everyone had made it out to be.  The way that I had resented his girlfriend for getting him involved with drugs, he resented my boyfriend for making me feel so low that I felt I needed drugs.  M always had a job on top of selling drugs, but did it just to earn extra money.  Shortly after this episode he stopped selling altogether, which made me extremely happy.

There were times M would apologize profusely for what he did to me, but over the years I had obviously grown and began to realize that I had overreacted and hurt him with my silence.  We talked about this many times and have never been able to agree upon whose fault it was.  Once at a rave, my boyfriend and I bumped into M and his girlfriend, and my boyfriend’s best friend greeted M warmly, and we both looked at the both of them asking how they knew each other.  They had known each other since high school, through video games.  M and my fiancé get along well to this day.

There were times that we admitted to each other that we would always deeply care for one another.  Once, one of my professors said that when you truly love someone, you never stop loving them.  You may not love them romantically, but there is a love that you harbor even after the relationship is completely dead.  I understood exactly what she meant because that’s how I felt about M then, and that’s how I feel now.  Even my fiancé has said the same thing.  Prior to me, he had two other long-term girlfriends, one for about six years and the other for almost five.  He said that although he no longer romantically loves them and although he cannot stand his most recent ex-girlfriend, there is still a part of him that cares about them.  That has never upset me, because I still hold that type of love for M in my heart.  At fifteen I never said I loved him because I didn’t know what love was.  The older I got, however, and the more I realized that my feelings for M resembled the feelings I cultivated for my fiancé, the more I accepted that he was my first love at the tender age of fifteen, though I did not realize it then.

He congratulated me on my engagement even though he doesn’t think my fiancé “deserves” me after all of the things my fiancé and I have had to endure.  He has a new girlfriend now, and today, I finally remembered to ask one of my best friends about his new girlfriend since they had worked together.  I asked her if she’s nice, and I mean, genuinely good-hearted and nice.  She said that she is, and that she’s very hard-working and will not take advantage of M the way I always fear women will because he’s kind and quite the hopeless romantic.  I don’t think he’d imagine that I’d prod a friend about his new girlfriend, but there is a part of me that feels very protective of him even though he is in no way mine anymore.  Even if my friend had come back with a negative answer about his new girlfriend, what would I have done with that information anyway?  I just wanted to know that she was as nice as she seems.

I do think that my fiancé and professor are correct.  If you truly love someone, I do not think the love fades.  The romantic, passionate love may fade, but there will always be a remnant of warmth and kindness left behind if the love was real.  I no longer hear “Jamie All Over” and get butterflies in my stomach, but I am reminded of the times M sang it for me, the time we spent together in my bed talking about nothing, the time he picked me up and spun me under the bright Mokuleia stars, and that he loved me when I was fifteen, exceedingly “emo,” chubby, and had braces.  There were times I had sent him provocative photos of myself recently (maybe about two years ago or so), twenty pounds lighter, better hair, no braces, bigger hipster glasses.  I did it just to tease him (and because this was a time I was extremely upset with my boyfriend over his behavior with another woman), but in the back of my head I still remembered that he loved me when I was awkward and fifteen and that the new and improved me didn’t mean much to him – he always saw me as sarcastic and funny with  biting wit, kind when I wanted to be.

I saw Mayday Parade in concert once in 2013, with my fiancé.  M wasn’t able to attend because he was working, but he made one request: “When they play our song, record it for me.”  I did that, and he thanked me for the video.  We no longer have those uncomfortably deep conversations because we are happy where we are.  He’s actually engaged to his new girlfriend – well, fiancée – and they live together and have a cat, just as my fiancé and I live together with our cat and two dogs.

Why am I thinking about this?  Earlier today he sent me a Snapchat in which “Jamie All Over” was blaring in the background.  In my usual Internet speak, I simply replied “All the feels.  Doushite?”  “Doushite” means “why” in Japanese.  He said it came up when he put his phone on shuffle, and that it’s still our “anthem.”  I’m an emotional bulldozer and I’m reckless, and I like to prod at deep memories and feelings that people keep tucked away.  I did this with him on and off for years while we were both in serious relationships, well knowing that had his girlfriend looked through his phone, it would have erupted and been very bad for all of us.  A part of me, the rotten part, kind of hoped she would find them and see how unhappy she had been making him.  To me knowledge, that never happened.  When he mentioned “Jamie All Over” still being our “anthem” after over seven years, the jolt in the wicked part of my brain wanted to keep prodding, knowing that he still cares about me and would talk if I asked or said the right things.  But as I had asked about his girlfriend earlier in the day, feeling that I needed to protect him, I also need to protect him from the person I know I can be when I want to be.  I’m sure she doesn’t know I exist, but I don’t want her to know I exist.  I think that’s what also made our relationship so odd the last time — his girlfriend then knew me, we had many mutual friends, and we saw each other regularly.  I was “the other woman” sometimes during his relationship, if you want to put it in the most vile terms, and I don’t want to be like that at all this time.  I am happy, and I want everything to work for him because he deserves it.  I suppose it’s just nice to know he still keeps some of us tucked away in the back of his head, too.

Dussehra Travels

My whirlwind tour of the Northeast has come to an end and I am back in Delhi.

How was the trip?  Overall, I would not relive the experience, but I would gladly go back to Meghalaya and Sikkim (definitely Sikkim).  Assam produced two bad experiences so I have no desire to go back there.  I will explain.

Initially I was fine going to just Sikkim because that is where I wanted to go because 1) It is really cold there; and 2) I wanted to look for specific bangles there for my mom (which I found).  A — my friend that took me to the Valley of Flowers — threw Meghalaya and Assam into the mix.  When I asked him about the plans, he sent me a cheeky photo that said “the best travels are not planned” or something to that effect.  I thought that’s what it was — that he was being cheeky.  He wasn’t.  Aside from Kaziranga on the first day, we had no plans.  And even that didn’t go through — as soon as we arrived in Guwahati, his friend in Shillong called and said to do Shillong and Cherapunji first because of one reason or another, so we headed for Shillong as soon as we landed.  Did we have plans there?  No.  A kept asking me, “So what do you want to do?” and I kept saying “I don’t know, I’m not the one who planned this part of the trip.”  I just wanted to see the root bridges.  The first day, we took his friend’s motorcycle and went out to Cherapunji with no plans.  We passed Elephant Falls which I wanted to go to, but he said his friend said we could do that on the way back.  “Okay,” I said. We didn’t make it to Elephant Falls because we didn’t head back to Shillong until about 5:00pm after aimlessly driving around trying to find things to do.  We eventually saw Arwah caves (which was a 4/10 at best) and Nohkalikai Falls (which was probably a 3/10).  Needless to say, I was already in a sour mood.  On the second day, we got a cab and did the root bridge (though not the one in Cherapunji), a village, and Dawki Lake.  Dawki was nice but since it had rained, the water wasn’t translucent which is why A picked the lake to begin with.  Later that night upon returning to Shillong, his friend took us to his friend’s house where we danced and sang — that was probably the best part.  But A was the only one who sat out.

After Meghalaya, we passed through Assam again and wasted a day trying to find things to do around Guwahati.  The taxi driver said he would take us to a waterfall and ended up taking us to a waterpark.  Did we have swimming attire?  No.  So we had him take us out of the parking lot.  We went to a Balaji Temple, then stopped by a small dock to take a boat out to a small island to see another temple.  I think that afternoon we took an overnight bus to Darjeeling.

We arrived in Darjeeling at about 6am — after a three-hour ride from Siliguri — and wandered around looking for a hotel.  Another thing I love, just love about A (can you hear the sarcasm?) is that he doesn’t book hotels ahead of time — he’ll wait until we’re there and then look for one.  Not smart.  We finally found one, and it was a crappy room for 1,700.  It smelled like wet cloth and mold.  The only plus was that I was able to get hot water for my shower.  A doesn’t get why I need to take a shower every day “even in the mountains” because it’s “so cold” up there.  I’ll complain more about this thought process later.  After a short nap, we woke up at 12:00pm and again, A said “What do you want to do?” and I said, “I don’t know, because you picked Darjeeling too.  I said we could have bypassed it but you wanted to come here.”  He was a bit taken aback by this statement since I was so soft-spoken the two other times we had spent time together (each about four days in length) but this is what happens when someone irritates me.  Anyway, we wandered around outside and first ate.  After, he asked again: “What do you want to do?” to which I said, “I already said I don’t know.  You choose since you picked Darjeeling.”  We eventually got a taxi and went to the zoo.  After the zoo, we went to a tea estate where I bought eight bags of green tea for people back home.  After that, since he had seen a rock climbing set up on the way to the tea estate, and since he is into mountaineering and such, A wanted to stop there.  He paid Rs. 100 (I think) to scale a rock in about thirty seconds, take photos of the view, and come back down.  When he arrived at the bottom, he said “I thought it would have been more fun” and I said, “It’s a tourist set up, of course it won’t be intense.”  We left Darjeeling for Sikkim that evening.

By some miracle, A had a friend book a hotel in Gangtok so we were set up that evening.  The next day we had planned Tsomgo and another lake but right as we were leaving, we were informed that in order for a foreigner to go to Tsomgo, they needed to be with at least another foreigner.  That didn’t (and doesn’t) make sense to me because I’m not sure why you would want more foreigners in a border area.  Since that plan was shot, the taxi driver that brought us to Sikkim ended up taking us to small waterfall (Lhasa) and Rumtek monastery.  The second day in Sikkim, we again had no plans.  A kept dogging me about it, asking “What do you want to do?” and I said, “You know, I told you to plan and you didn’t.  And now we have no plans.  I’m honestly fine staying in the hotel and reading my book and relaxing.  I wanted to come to Sikkim for the bangles and to relax, and I’m fine doing that.”  And he retorted, in some astonishment, “All day?” and I said, “Yes.  All day.  I’m fine doing that all day.  Sikkim is the place I actually wanted to go to.  I wanted to come here — Sikkim was my main destination.  You picked Darjeeling, Meghalaya, and Assam without plans, not me.  I’m in Sikkim to relax.”  After walking around Gangtok a bit more and finally finding the bangle for my mom (a bangle of various metals roped together, with silver dragon heads at the end – my host mom told me it’s a Sikkim speciality) he asked me again, “What do you want to do now that you have the bangle?” and I said “I’m fine relaxing, I said that already” and I just stood there staring off.  He went off to a tourist office to find things to do, and just then a man crept around my shoulder (not creepy like I’m making it sound) and said, “Kahan ja rahi hai?” and I said, “Uh…” and right then, A came back and decided we’d go to South Sikkim.  They (the man who approached me, and his two companions – a man and woman) were going to West Sikkim and offered to take us for only Rs. 500.  We ended up going all the way to West Sikkim with them, and on the way stopped at another tea estate.  They were all Nepali and ended up being my favorite people we had encountered.  The woman was particularly sweet and we ended up exchanging numbers and taking countless selfies (I’m surprised that the selfie culture is bigger here than in the US!).  We made one stop in South Sikkim and it happened to be the place I wanted to visit: Tathagata Tsal.  We reached Pelling at about 7:30pm or so and had dinner near the hotel.  A drinks regularly and had a bottle of whisky in his jacket which he needed to drink outside of the main restaurant and at the bar on the deck; to this, the woman (N), said “Do you drink?” and I said “Very rarely, usually only on special occasions” and she said, “Drinking is very bad!  No?  I think A is drinking outside” and I found that very cute and endearing for some reason.

Pelling was my favorite part of the trip.  It wasn’t A’s cup of tea since it was mine — relaxing.  The night we arrived, I asked a hotel employee, “Garami pani hai?  Shower ke liye?”  He smiled a lot and said yes, and I thought it was because he and N were talking about how surprising it was that I knew Hindi, considering I was from America and not Nagaland as they had both thought upon meeting me.  Later that night, I had issues with my tv so the same guy came up (“B,” from now on).  As he fixed my tv,  he asked how I was liking Sikkim and I said I absolutely loved it (I did and do).  He eventually said, “You should stay.  You should marry someone in Sikkim in stay!” and I was like “I wish I could!”  The next morning, I went looking for breakfast and B walked me to a restaurant where I gorged on four slices of toast, a masala omelette, and chai.  After that, A asked if I wanted to eat and I spitefully said I had already eaten.  He wanted to see the monastery and Rabdanste nearby, so we did that.  He went to have lunch and I went off on my own to explore Pelling.  When I returned later in the day, I went straight into my room and watched tv, doodled in my notebook, and just lied in bed eating apples I had purchased earlier in the day.  It was amazing.  To be polite, I asked A if he wanted to grab dinner with me and I eventually knocked on his door when he didn’t answer my message.  He was sleeping.  I had thentuk (delicious) and Tibetan bread.  The bread was a breakfast item but since I had asked about it anyway, the server said “We aren’t serving it anymore, but I’ll have them make it for you.”  I apologetically (truly, and multiple times) kept saying no and that it was okay, and that I could do without the bread but in the end, I had a feast of egg thenthuk, Tibetan bread, and ginger honey lemon tea on a cold, rainy Sikkim evening.  Of course A got back to me midway through my meal.  I walked back to the hotel in the rain, bought more apples, and spent my night eating apples, watching more tv, and doodling.  Lovely!  Absolutely lovely.  Pelling was my favorite.

The next day I went looking for breakfast again and B was smiling at me from the counter.  I didn’t think anything of him until he asked me about Facebook and then for my phone number.  That’s why he was all smiles!  But I’m a foreigner, so I’m not sure why he asked anyway.  Since I’m a foreigner and will never see him again, I did give him my Facebook information (showing I’m engaged, vomiting photos of me and my fiancé and our small family of two dogs and a kitten) and number (Delhi number).  A and I barely talked all morning and we sat across each other, me eating my aloo parathas and him drinking his chai, not saying anything.  He knew I was and had been upset, and I did not care.  To this, my fiancé said I should have been more forgiving, but I’m convinced he only said this because as my fiancé, he knows how b*tchy I can be when I get into my moods, but I’m not sure why A wouldn’t think I was serious when I said I wanted plans.  He runs a company that’s basically that — he takes people (locals and foreigners) on day- or week-long treks that include extensive planning, sometimes going on planes, etc., and so I expected him to be good about this.  He was not, and I did not and do not feel bad about my cold demeanor, especially since this mess of a trip ended up costing me about Rs. 20,000.  Anyway, then we left for Siliguri — or so we thought.  It was impossible to get a taxi from Jorenthang to Siliguri so we ended up taking a private cab.  We were supposed to have arrived in Guwahati at about 6:00pm.  Due to multiple jams, we only arrived in Siliguri at 8:30pm and needed to pay (well me, since A ran out of money) Rs. 14,500 for a private cab to Guwahati since our flight was the next day (today).  We reached Guwahati at 6:00am and that was that, and now I’m finally back in Delhi.

When we got the hotel in Guwahati this morning, I asked if we were getting separate rooms.  In an irritated manner, A said “Why?  Why do you insist on two rooms only for a few hours?” and I sighed and said “Whatever just one then.”  Why did I insist on two different rooms the entire trip?  Let my ranting begin:

A is a pig.  When he hung out in my rooms the time we were together for VoF, he basically trashed my rooms.  He would smoke and get his ashes everywhere and not clean them up, and then he would leave the butts everywhere.  The time I went down to his room to use the washroom right before we left Ghangaria, there were cigarette butts and ashes all over his room and cigarette butts floating in his toilet.  And this is at the hotel of someone he knows.  He knew the owners of all the hotels we stayed at and still disrespected their rooms.  I also don’t smoke, so his smoking in general was irritating to me.  Secondly, he likes to talk a lot.  I don’t.  I like to relax by myself, especially at night.  So obviously, the separate room was good for this.  Lastly, as I had mentioned before, he doesn’t see the need to take a shower in the mountains since it’s cold.  I do not think he took a shower at all since we left Shillong — that’s about six days of no showers.  By the time we reached Pelling he had a smell resembling wet clothes and sweat (plus his cigarette smoke).  I do not want to share an enclosed space with someone who smells.  Today, the smell was even stronger and even as we sat on opposite ends of the room, I could smell him in our Guwahati hotel room.  I am not even joking.  I am a very clean person and I need to shower every day, no matter what.  If I go to the gym in the morning, I’ll take a full shower then — soap, shampoo, conditioner — and I’ll take another full shower in the evening before bed.  I don’t care if it’s cold — a daily shower is a minimum for me.  Any time he walked by, I would hold my breath because I could not handle the smell.  Needless to say, sitting together on the plane ride back was near torturous and anytime he made any slight movement, the smell grew stronger.  Again my fiancé said I needed to be more forgiving, but again I said, “No, you do not understand.  It’s been nine days of this.”  A is also a bad listener.  In Gangtok, our cab driver dropped us off at Lal Market and said that for us to get back to our hotel, we needed to walk “upar aur uske baad, right” meaning, on to MG Marg and right.  When we went up, A kept asking me where to go.  I said, “He said up and right.  We went up, so now we need to go right.”  He kept asking, “Are you sure?  Do you know where we’re going?” and again I said, “He said ‘up and after that, go right’ and that’s what I’m doing.”  Again he asked, and I finally said “Were you listening to him as he spoke or not?  What did he say?  He said ‘up and right,’ didn’t he?” and he said “Oh yes, yes, I guess, yes…” and even after that, he called the hotel and asked for directions and said “Yes, we are going the right way” and I rolled my eyes so hard I thought they were going to fall out of my head.  A bunch of things like this just boiled over nine days and I don’t think I’ll be seeing A again before I leave.

Anyway…I’m glad to be back in Delhi (e.g., familiarity).  I really, truly loved Sikkim, though.  When I come back to India, I’m definitely spending a fair amount of time there.


Initially I started this Word Press as a way to talk about very personal things, like the anxiety, depression, and eating disorder I had been dealing with.  I tried to avoid using names of places or people, or showing my face, in order to avoid being identified should any of my friends – by some miracle – stumble upon this.

For the most part, I am doing a lot better.  My anxiety and depression are minimal now because: 1) my stressor is gone and 2) two and a half years of psychotherapy has really helped me.  I was taking Lexapro for about a year and a half (off and on, mostly because I’d forget).  There were times I did the bad thing that patients shouldn’t do and I’d take myself off because I thought I was doing better.  I’ve started taking it again just as a precaution by my therapist because I was really struggling here in India. A major stressor for me is lack of control, which, obviously, was something I needed to deal with here upon my arrival.  He and my fiance coordinated with each other to send my Lexapro and Xanax here.

I used to shut off completely sometimes because I couldn’t stop thinking.  It’s so tiring.  It nearly ruined my relationship on countless occasions.  I thought I was crazy and a terrible significant other but my therapist would tell me that because I recognized that what I was doing was wrong and felt remorse and shame (dumb things like going through my SO’s phone and computer, though for good reason, which I will not discuss here…), I wasn’t a bad person.  I was just trapped.  There were times I would need to bring myself back from the brink of crying at my desk at work.  At the time I was a receptionist at my work place so if I cried, someone would notice.  The worst time was probably 2014 – 2015 when I went through a really bad cutting phase.  Not all of them scarred, but there are 17 on my legs alone and three more on my arm.  One of the cuts on my arm, near my shoulder, badly keloided and I’ve just people that I cut my arm on a fence (somewhat believable since Hawaii has a lot of chainlink fences).  One episode was particularly bad that I called my therapist on the phone crying.  He said to come in and I said, “No I can’t today – I have to go to work in an hour.  I can’t call in now” and I went the next day.  My anxiety and depression kept me from going to India when I first decided I wanted to – and look, now I’m here, near thriving.

My fiance deserves a lot of praise for sticking with me.  I was very difficult to be with.  I was either really sweet or really terrible.  I accused him left and right of things and whenever I did propose that we end our relationship (whether I was sad, upset, or just apathetic) he would say, “Why?  Because you think you’re crazy?  Because you go through my things?  I don’t care.  I know how much you love me, I just know you get scared.  I don’t know how to fix it and I don’t know how to make you happy, but I’ll keep trying until you’re happy.”  On some occasions he’d sprinkle in, “I don’t understand your anxiety or depression and I don’t know how to make it better, but I’ll keep trying.  I know you think you’re making life harder for me but you aren’t, and I don’t want you to be alone during this.”  Every time we fought, even if it was my fault and even if he would muster up some sharp retorts for me, in the end, he would always motion for me to snuggle into his chest and he would say those kinds of things to me.  He’s the crazy one for wanting to marry me after all of that.

I look at old pictures of us sometimes (we’ve been together for 5+ years) and the photos that I like the most of myself are from the times I was the sickest, roughly 2012 – 2014.  During that time I was probably purging about 3 – 5 times a day no matter what I had eaten.  Pizza, doughnuts, chips, etc are the obvious ones.  But then I’d even purge salad, cereal, and yogurt.  But I was so thin and even now, it makes me sad that I don’t look like that anymore.  I’m not much heavier, but I just looked very different.  But I constantly remind myself that I wasn’t happy during that time and I could barely eat without feeling the need to throw up shortly after, and that is no way to live.  My mother had asked me about it once and I lied profusely.  She said I was too skinny and that my arms and shoulders looked like bones; I had dark circles under my eyes.  My biggest slip up was that I wouldn’t wait long enough before running to the restroom after eating.  She doesn’t think that I’d be weak enough for an eating disorder so she took my word.  My mom is a strong person, as are her sisters and my cousins, so she even had a hard time coming to grips with the fact that I am seeing a shrink.  But to be fair, I hid it from her for almost a year and a half and she only found out because she was nice and paid one of my bills, but under treatment was listed “psychotherapy.”  Of course she had questions.  My mother does not know I had an eating disorder for 5+ years.  My boyfriend knows, but I told him I was better in 2012 (only a year after it started).  The only other people who know are my therapist and best friend.

Before coming to India, I of course needed to submit paperwork for my health.  My records indicated that I had been seeing a psychiatrist, and I was a bit unnerved about that because my advisor would see those records and I hadn’t divulged to him that I had any mental health issues, despite how close we were.  One question asked, “Has the patient ever suffered from an eating disorder?”  The thing is, my general practitioner filled out these forms because he was the one who had to conduct the physical.  He didn’t know I had been seeking treatment for an eating disorder in addition to the anxiety and depression, so he just quickly checked “No.”  Up until the day of my physical, I had been thinking really hard about what I would do with that box.  I knew the eating disorder would challenge me here.  I don’t run to the bathroom to purge after every meal anymore and I haven’t since about May or June, but it’s so difficult.  I’m terrified of gaining weight.  I joined a gym near my home but this isn’t helping much either because although it is off-setting the desire to purge, I work out a lot more than I used to.  I go at least four times a week and stay for at least two hours each time, and for the rest of the day try to eat very little.  This obviously has repercussions the next day because I am tired during my workout and need to work harder.  I tell myself, “if you work out now you can eat whatever you want” but once I’m done, I don’t want to un-do the work I did so I try to stick only to eggs, fruits, and vegetables.  At dinner I always only allot myself one roti, maybe a tablespoon of rice, and the rest, I fill up on some dal but mostly veggies.  I recognize what is happening, because it happened before.  When I was my thinnest, between 2013 – 2014, it was because I was exercising a lot (I’d be on the verge of tears if I missed a run or work out) and on a very strict diet (i.e., barely eating and still purging).  But I miss that body so much, and I have to constantly remind myself that I was not happy.  I was thinner, but I was not happy.

I feel my body getting stronger, though.  Like I said, I’m barely heavier than I was at my thinnest, but it’s showing in different ways.  My arms aren’t as skinny, but they’re more toned.  The same goes for my legs.  Before, I just used to run and do some strength training.  Now I mostly do strength training with anywhere from 20 – 40 minutes of running.

My point is, despite all the trials I needed to go through to get here, I am happy where I am.  I try to avoid looking at old pictures of myself.  I’m usually able to make jokes about myself gaining weight.  I gained a lot of weight last semester — 10lbs! — because it was my last semester of undergraduate study and I was writing my senior thesis (27 pages on wartime Japan, “ultra-nationalism,” censorship, and oral histories from World War II) and applying for scholarships for India.  It was a fair trade though – I traded a lot of my workout time for my first ever 4.0 (it had always eluded me, and I usually ended semesters with a 3.7 or 3.8 or so).

Anyway…I doubt anyone reading this is also dealing with similar issues but if you are, don’t be afraid to seek help.  I put it off for five years.  And even a year into therapy, I would often lie to my therapist or stop talking just because I no longer felt like talking.  That’s obviously quite detrimental to psychotherapy.  It’s nothing to be embarrassed about and if people around you make you feel bad about it, those aren’t people you should be around.


Little Things (reprise)

When I first arrived in Delhi I was horribly homesick.  I wasn’t experiencing the traumatic, volatile “culture shock” that we were warned about at various Study Abroad meetings but I just really missed my family.

I still obviously miss my family, but now I just sit around thinking about the little things I never appreciated at home:

  1. My university.  I’m thinking about this only because an article popped up on my News Feed about my university (Hawaii’s flagship university) being one of the most beautiful campuses in the country (I really don’t think so – it’s nice, but I think it’s on the list just because it’s in Hawaii).  My university in Delhi is extremely small, not even a quarter of the size of my university.  My university at home is very green while Delhi is a concrete jungle.  One of my favorite study spots at my university in Hawaii is on the second floor of Holmes Hall.  It’s the engineering building and for some reason, not too many people hang out there.  It’s always quiet, the tables are large so I can comfortably with with my laptop, Hydroflask, home-packed lunched, and notebook all sprawled out before me without cramping anyone else’s style.  The building is rectangular, broken into two sections.  In the middle of either side of the rectangle there is an opening through the middle of the building which houses a small patch of plants on the ground floor (my descriptions are so bad – I don’t think I’m getting the point across…I could never write novels!).  The area in which I always sit has tall bamboo that sway in the wind as I study.  It’s always breezy there, too.
  2. Food.  I love Indian food.  I’m not sick of it like people expected (and for some reason many people didn’t know that I like Indian food?) but I miss food from home.  I miss poke (chili pepper ahi from Tamura’s is my favorite).  For those who do not know, poke is raw fish, usually ahi (I think this is bluefin tuna?  I don’t know the English names!), diced and mixed with oils, green onions, onions, some salt, and some mystery ingredients for flavor (I’ve never made poke at home so I honestly don’t know, haha).  That’s usually the base, but there are many variations including, but not limited to: shoyu ahi (with shoyu, or soy sauce), shoyu limu (shoyu with limu, a type of crunchy seaweed, also my favorite), oyster sauce, spicy ahi (ahi with a spicy mayo mixture and tobiko – small fish eggs), etc.  The list goes on.  It can also be made from other fish like salmon, or other sea creatures like scallops, tako (octopus), or crab, or other things altogether like pipikaula (cured meat, essentially), kamaboko (fried or steamed fish cake), cucumber, etc.  That’s just one thing!  I also miss laulau (steamed fish and pork wrapped in leaves), poi (taro grounded to a paste), kalua pig (slow roasted pork, often with cabbage), and okazuya food from Sekiya’s…oh how I miss Sekiya’s!  Okazuya food is generally quick bites in the form of Japanese food, but “local” Japanese food like fried noodles, inari (cone sushi), tempura, hamburger, shoyu chicken, etc. Sekiya’s is a small restaurant in Kapahulu.  My mom and her sisters grew up there, so I also grew up eating at Sekiya’s.  We often drive all the way from Mililani just to eat at Sekiya’s (my mom also makes the trip out there for Rainbow’s, where my grandmother worked until she passed away in 1996).  Sekiya’s serves really feel-good Japanese food.  They’re a little pricey but I love the food there, but maybe (actually, I am) I’m a bit biased because I have an emotional connection to the place.  I’ve never been there without my family, never.  The last time my aunty and cousin from Washington visited in May, we went there about four times in one week.  We usually get the same things.  My mom will get fried saimin with teri beef sticks, my brother always has saimin, french fries, and an orange freeze, my cousin has fried saimin with french fries, my aunty Cin usually has fried or regular saimin, and lately I’ve been stuck on the sukiyaki.  Sukiyaki is a dish containing broth, ito konnyaku noodles (clear, chewy noodles), an array of veggies, tofu, and usually some kind of meat.  The day before I left for India, I had dinner here with my family and I had pork sukiyaki.  Also, the same day, my boyfriend and I had lunch at Pho My Lein in Aiea.  Pho My Lien is a small Vietnamese restaurant run by two cute people we affectionately call Uncle Tommy and aunty Lien (they recognize us because we’ve dined there regularly for the entire five years we’ve been together).  We always order the same thing: one regular pho with thinly sliced beef and boiled shrimp summer rolls.  My boyfriend will usually eat 1/4 of the summer rolls and I’ll eat whatever he doesn’t eat of his pho.  I’ve spent a lot of time talking about food, I know…I could go on forever.  And OH!  How can I forget about my beloved Yanagi Sushi?!  I go even more now that a few of my friends work there.  Yanagi Sushi is located on Kapiolani Boulevard and is popular among people my age who want good sushi and Japanese food for a low price, but the catch is that we’re normally there only after 10:30pm for their late night specials.  For $7 I can get a plate full of salmon sashimi (at least 12 pieces) which would normally cost $20 – $30 anywhere else.  It’s served with sweet Maui onions and tobiko.  My boyfriend will usually get the K Combo (I think this is correct!) which includes miso soup, a mini udon, and assorted nigiri (tamago, sake, maguro, and I think tako, plus kappa maki).  I’ve also taken a liking to the fried baby octopus (exactly what it sounds like).  If I’m particularly hungry I’ll also order extra fried baby shrimp in addition to my salmon.  My mouth is watering!  Since we usually arrive at about 10:00pm, we don’t often leave Yanagi until about midnight or 1:00am, as we usually also have drinks (pitchers are cheap too but since I don’t drink, I don’t pay attention to the price).  I think I should zip it on food for now.  I’ll make myself even more homesick!
  3. My car.  I have a pretty typical college-kid Honda Civic.  It’s a 2002 model and according to my boyfriend (he was a mechanic for a bit) and his friend who works at Pfleuger, my particular model just happens to be the worst one ever made.  It’s given me problems over the last five years but my boyfriend has always been able to fix it.  I miss my car just because it was…mine.  It was a small space that said a lot about me.  I have a Mamegoma sticker on my gas cover, my backseat is full of books (Korean, Japanese, Okinawan, and Indian history), the back windows have been so heavily smeared by my dogs’ noses, and I also have dog leashes and balls on the ground.  I also have a 2015 HNL Marathon sticker on my back window (bragging rights, baby).
  4. Driving.  I drive a lot.  I drive every day.  I don’t usually mind traffic because I like spending time in my car singing to myself, or if I’m with my boyfriend, I like sitting in my car talking to him about nothing, or arguing with him and telling him that if he was going to complain, he should have driven, and that if he doesn’t plan on stopping his squawking, he better be ready to walk home or to wherever we were going.  He only ever complains about me getting into the right lane too early when I know I need to take an exit eventually.  But still…ugh.  Driving gave me the freedom to do whatever I wanted and go wherever I needed to go.  If I needed to get to school faster because I left the house late, I’d just drive faster (I know this isn’t good logic).  Here, I cannot make the metro go faster, and the metro always runs late or hangs out at stations almost as if it knew I needed to be somewhere in less than ten minutes.  It’s just weird having to plan my day around the metro.
  5. The ocean.  I don’t like going to the beach because I don’t like sand and I don’t like being wet.  I miss running along side the ocean during my runs from Kapioalni park to Kahala and back (about 10 miles).  I come home caked in sweat and salt and I love it.  There’s also a spot that my best friend and I love, Spitting Caves.  It’s near Portlock in Hawaii Kai and it’s just a ledge of lava rocks on which one can sit down and look at and listen to the ocean.  It’s beautiful.  He took my college graduation photos there for me.  He first took me there in high school and I think we were seniors, so I was just about to turn seventeen.  We go there at least once every time he comes home to visit (he lives in Vegas now) and we just sit and talk.  Below is a photo he took of me in May (I’ve lost almost 10lbs since then, okay!)  Despite my lack of affection for being in the water (I only actually swim when I take my dogs), just being able to look at the sea whenever I so desired was nice.13177943_1124511507572392_4618686981781479468_n
  6. Grocery shopping.  I don’t do too much of that here since I don’t cook for myself here.  Grocery shopping is something I do at home every Sunday because that’s when sales start at Don Quijote.  However, I always make sure to go in the evening around 6:00pm or so because if I go in the morning, I find myself battling old people for $1.99 natto (oh how I miss this as well!).  My boyfriend always comes with me even if there isn’t anything in particular that he needs to buy.  It’s just something we do together that I enjoy.  I suppose this could extend to our random trips to Walmart (how American!).  There’s a Walmart about a five-minute drive from our home and we usually go there anytime after 9:00pm (it’s too crowded any earlier).  We usually end up buying a bunch of snacks we don’t need.  We always, always stop in the snack aisle even if we have a substantial amount of snacks at home.  He usually leaves with another bag of kakimochi (I have no idea how to explain this, honestly – rice crackers coated in shoyu?) and I usually leave with chocolate or li-hing sour belts.  I’m getting tired of trying to explain local food/snacks…li-hing is a red powder that is sour in taste and it put on things like candy, shave ice (not at all like snow cones – shave ice is 100 times better), margaritas, etc.  From experience, people don’t tend to like it unless they’re from Hawaii.  My family in Washington no longer likes it because they’ve effectively become katonks (Asians raised on the mainland).  Or as my mom and I more affectionately say about them, “haolefied.” “Haole” generally means “foreigner,” but it is colloquially used to describe a person of Caucasian descent.  Most times it is used in a playful manner, but it can be used maliciously.
  7. Pidgin.  I hate pidgin when I’m at home.  To me, it is worse than nails on a chalkboard.  My family speaks pidgin but for some reason, my cousin and I, despite being brought up around it, do not.  But here, so far away in Delhi, watching WeAreHawaii and Tuntadun Films videos on YouTube, I really miss it.  “Tuntadun” is also another slang, but I can’t quite articulate its meaning.  One can “be all tuntadun,” and it is usually a bad thing.  My boyfriend, friends, and I often speak pidgin just as a joke because we all actually hate it but it’s just fun to do at times.  Some of our most frequently used phrases include:
    1. “Ho, howz you?  Who you tink you is?”
    2. “Brah, I sed -“
    3. “Make (mah-keh) die ded.  D-e-d, ‘ded.'”
    4. “Brah, no ack” / “Ho, how you goin’ ack?”
    5. “Howzit?  Waianae, brah.”

Those are just a few random ones.  I can’t say exactly when they come up, but they come up a lot.  I work in Kalihi so I also make a lot of Kalihi jokes, but I actually really like Kalihi.  Kalihi has a reputation for being a rougher part of the island, but it houses a lot of good eateries (like Richie’s, right next to my work place) and Kam Bakery, known for its poi donuts.

Lastly…I really miss my boyfriend.  Sorry, “fiance.”  I just miss doing nothing with someone.  Grocery shopping, running, cooking, cleaning the house, etc.  Falling asleep and waking up without someone by my side wasn’t quite jarring, but it doesn’t feel right, either.  I usually sleep with him to my left, and our dog, Logan, either between us or lying on my legs.  Myron doesn’t like sleeping on the bed and has his own mini sofa next to the bed.  We usually wake up at the same time (5:00am) and if I’m still sleeping, he’ll wake me up to say goodbye and to give me a goodbye kiss.  Here I just wake up and get my day started.  It’s weird not having three fur babies to feed before leaving the house.  I say “three” because he also have a cat, I just don’t talk about him much because he irritates me.  But I miss him a lot, too.  His name is Marco and he’s an orange tabby.  We got him last October when our friend found him and three other kittens in his garage.  One of our other friends took the other girl, and the last two went together to live with another one of his friends.

When I’m at home, I’m always excited to leave it.  When I was in high school, I always used to tell my aunty that I’d move as soon as I graduated and live with her in Washington.  I didn’t move because my brother was born when I was a sophomore and since I had wanted a sibling my entire life, it didn’t make sense to me to move right after I got one.  But now, even though things about Hawaii irritate me to no end (traffic, pidgin, high cost of living, etc.) I can’t quite imagine myself living anywhere else now.  I’ve been thinking about this the last two or three years, and I think I’m really anchored there.  I’ve said this before, but something about Hawaii is extremely special and I would want my children to grow up around it.  My cousins say the same, but say a huge fault is that people from Hawaii are too timid and soft-spoken.  They’re correct, but there’s also a sense of warmth that comes with it, and with calling anyone older than you “aunty” or “uncle.”  Hawaii’s truly a wonderful place, and not only for the beaches and weather.  The people there are very special, and I cannot imagine living away from my dozens of non-blood aunties and uncles, women coming into my workplace and calling me “tita,” little children calling me “aunty” (I’m an aunty sometimes!), or hearing the vernacular with which I have a heated love-hate relationship: pidgin.  I think I may just kiss the ground when I get home.


Little Things

There are some days that I cannot, and I stress, cannot wait to go back home.  Today was one of them.

I can’t stand how hot Delhi is.  I can just be standing at the metro station for three minutes waiting for my metro and I will sweat.  I will wipe my face, neck, and forehead with my cloth and in another minute, will be sweating again.  Even if I catch a rickshaw to me metro station (I do this when I’m leaving the house after it starts to get even hotter), I still sweat.  The only time I’m not sweating is probably when it’s pouring rain, and I am already soaking wet.

When I arrived in Delhi – and before leaving Hawaii, actually – I was told by everyone who had been to Delhi or who was from India to always use the women’s compartment on the metro because it is safer.  It is not.  In the two months I have been here, I have only been pushed once by a man, and it wasn’t even a man – it was a punky kid whom I shot a really nasty stink eye for deliberately pushing me when I literally could not move anyway because there were so many people in front of me trying to get into the metro compartment.  Other than that kid, I’ve only been pushed by women.  There have been times when we clearly are not moving, but some woman will push me anyway, thinking shoving me will somehow get everyone else in front of me to move so she can get wherever she is going.  The women’s compartment also drives me crazy because everyone has a large bag and will hit everyone else with it, and I’ve learned from experience that women do not care how full the metro is — if they need to get somewhere and CANNOT wait another to minutes – because they’ll absolutely die if they need to wait for the next metro! – they will squeeze themselves in even at the protest of the other people in the metro.  Three weeks ago when I was coming home from around Hauz Khas (it was about 6:30p/7:00p), the metro got so crowded that my arm went numb because it was stretched out and smashed between so many people.  This happened at the Yamuna Bank metro station because a group of girls forced their way in even despite people in the metro saying it was full and to wait.  They just needed to leave right then and there and the metro, like everyone had said, was too full and we sat there for about five minutes (not exaggerating) because the door wouldn’t close, precisely because the compartment was so full that a girl could not fit and the door kept closing on her.  Everyone was telling her to get off but she refused, delaying a metro full of hundreds of people for a time longer than it would have taken another metro to get there.  Oh, and last week, a woman grabbed my ponytail to brace herself so she wouldn’t fall.  I was standing next to a pole so she could have grabbed that, but instead she yanked on my ponytail.  Have you ever had a woman, a grown woman, weighing probably 150lbs, grab your hair to support her body weight so she would not fall down?  Then when I looked at her, she looked at me with a look saying, “Well don’t have hair for me to pull, then.”

And then there is the men’s compartments, which generally smell better anyway because the men wear cologne.  They do not have large purses that hit me in the face, and they do not shove me when they clearly see that I have stopped moving for a reason.  Instead of blatantly cutting in front of me while waiting to board the metro, more often than not, they will ask, “ma’am, are you getting on?” and when I say yes, they stand behind me.  Wow – manners!  Consideration!  They also don’t force themselves into a compartment that clearly cannot accommodate more people, because they are smart and probably considerate and do not want to make the people in the metro more uncomfortable than they already are, standing shoulder-to-shoulder with another stranger.  A few days after the woman in the women’s compartment pulled my hair, a man somehow grabbed my neck (again, I was standing next to a pole so I think he was trying to grab that and just missed).  This obviously startled me so I looked up and not even five seconds after his hand landed on my neck, the two men standing between us yelled at him and one of them grabbed his arm and yanked it away from me.  Shortly after, another group of men boarded the metro and since it was crowded, my face ended up buried in a guy’s shirt and I was trying to move my head away as to not drown in his dress shirt but also so I wouldn’t be rubbing my hair (again in a ponytail, but my hair is short so it’s very small) wouldn’t be in the face of the guy behind me.  Noticing this, the guy (who had yelled at the one who grabbed my neck), nudged the guy in front of me and motioned for him to move.  Lastly, at Yamuna Bank (I’ve grown to hate this station), another flood of people came in and the same guy was still in front of me, and when people came pouring in, he essentially held himself up against the pole and made a small barrier around me so I wouldn’t be uncomfortably pressed up against everyone coming in.  I did not ask for these things, yet he was nice the entire ride from Rajiv Chowk to my station.  Yet, people have been telling me to never use the men’s compartment because it is dangerous.  I get odd looks at times, but that’s less irritating to me than someone pulling my hair, elbowing me in the face and looking at me like it’s my fault, talking on the phone and yelling their conversation in my ear, or pushing me because doing so will obviously make the metro a more peaceful experience for everyone else.

Couples here also like to do asinine things like sit on the staircase at busy metro stations to make kissy faces at one another, effectively making hundreds of people walk around them.  But we get it, your private time in this very public place is more important than people going where they need to go.

Everyone laughed when I said I would be going to India because everyone who knows me knows that I generally hate people.  I have very few friends, but they are good friends.  I have a short fuse when it comes to people, and it is not difficult to get on my bad side.  I also very obviously to not like crowded places, because like any normal person, I do not like to go to places filled with things that I hate.  So, naturally, my family and friends said, “You realize you’re going to a place that is full of people?  Billions of them?”  I can handle it most days, but some days I just cannot.  Especially not when one of them pulls my hair (I really cannot get over this).

Delhi is charming in its own way.  I like it most days, but so far I really, truly, deeply favor Dehradun over Delhi, and I honestly do not really see myself coming back to Delhi for vacation…I’ll probably just spend a day or two here, then leave and spend weeks in other places that are less crowded, less hot, and devoid of incessant horn-honking.

I also really don’t like monkeys, and my university houses many of them.  About a month ago one of them looked me in the eyes as I tried to run past it (I’m afraid of monkeys, stemming from a childhood experience at the zoo) and grabbed my hand.  Then a few weeks later, as I was walking to class with a cup of coffee and unopened bag of cookies, another one ran circles around me and eventually started jumping at me, trying to steal my cookies.  Neither of these experiences has made me any more warmly receptive to monkeys.

An Atheist Goes to a Liangmai Baptist Church; I Suffer Through My First Ever Ride Service and am Reunited with a Big Dog

Yesterday was an eventful day!  I woke up a little late (around 9:00a) and just spent the early morning and afternoon doing homework and reading River of Smoke by Amitav Ghosh.

Earlier in the week as my friend was dropping me off at the Hauz Khas metro after he took me hungry shopping in Vasant Vihar (I love Modern Bazaar), we had a short talk about my atheism.  He asked me what I think will happen to me when I die, and surprisingly, I didn’t have a truly definite answer.  And surprisingly, and very un-atheist, I said I would like to think that I would be reborn in some way.  I do not think I will go to a Heaven or Hell, but I would like to keep bouncing around from life to life.  He had asked me to attend his church service before but I had declined because churches kind of make me nervous.  But he’s so kind to me and always runs random errands with me after school, so attending a service was the least I could do.  I wasn’t looking for answer to his life-after-death question – and I didn’t find it there – but I enjoyed the service a lot.  I met him and Dhaula Kuan metro and squeezed into the backset of his car with his “cousin-brother” (I’m still not sure how relationships work in India, to be honest) and his two older sisters (his other cousin-brother was in the passenger seat).  The service was about two-and-a-half hours but it went by quickly.  I always find services to be moving even though I am not a subscriber to that particular faith (this Baptist service; another Greek Orthodox service I attended for school; the ISKCON temple near my university).  This was no different, and I left happy and with no sense that I could have been doing something better with my time that day.  The only thing that made me cringe was when his sister went up for final announcements and introduced me to the entire congregation as “Sister.”  I just don’t like attention.  English services are done every last Sunday of the month, so I can attend at least two more services before I go home in December.  After the service, he took me back to the Hauz Khas station so I could make my way to Gurgaon.  Before I could get out of the car, however, his cousin-brothers bought three large plates of fried noodles from a stand outside of the station and I was force-fed half a plate of those noodles.  They were so delicious I wanted to and could have eaten a full plate by myself, but I generally don’t eat noodles because I’m a girl and carbs are my enemy (usually).  His sister is a twig but ate 3/4 of a plate by herself and kept trying to feed me more, saying “You have a long trip to Gurgaon!  You may get hungry.”  I eventually escaped and got on the metro, half asleep after all those noodles.

I reached Gurgaon a little after 7:30pm.  My original plan was to swing by my friend’s place and go back to Delhi since I had class this morning (which I did not attend – whoops).  He lives pretty close to the HUDA metro and just told me to book an Ola.  Now, I do not even use Uber of Lyft at home because: 1) I have a car and drive myself everywhere; 2) in the case I get super drunk (which is rare) I always have someone else to drive; 3) I am uncomfortable getting in a car with a total stranger, trusting that they will safely delivery me to where I need to go.  Everyone — my host family, my friends, my classmates, etc — said that Ola is completely safe.  I figured, “okay, his house is close, just book the Ola – you’re just paranoid and you’ll be fine.”  First problem: the driver’s English was worse than my Hindi.  He couldn’t understand where I was telling him I was relative to the metro, so I heard him yell “Bhaiya!  Bhaiya!  Bolo, Angrezi mein, Angrezi mein!” so this kind stranger had to coordinate a place for us to meet.  After I got into his car, I realized how difficult this ride would be just in terms of language.  Shortly after we left the station, the Ola driver turned to look at me and asked where I am from.  I said “US se” and he said “Oh…bahut khusha ki apne cab mein” and I was like “….kya?” uneasily.  He said I was his first American customer; okay, great.  He followed that with, “You have a very pretty, very pretty smile” and I was like “Thanks…so when we get to Boom Plaza my friend needs to speak with you to give you further directions to his flat.”  Then the Ola drive started asking me for directions, which confused me because I knew I had input the location.  I gave him directions, and he then proceeded to pull over on the side of the road and in all of my paranoia and getting caught up in all the scary and terrible things my family, friends, and co-workers were trying to scare me about, I caught myself thinking “You’re fatigued from three hours at the gym earlier but you could kick his ass, he’s really skinny.”  Shortly after that confusing episode, he continued to drive and continued to ask me for directions.  After a wrong turn and me having to give him directions in Hindi, we eventually got back onto the road and his questions continued…”Is this your first time in Gurgaon?”  In my paranoia — again — I figured it would be best to lie and say that no, it was not, so I could at least feign that I might know where we might be so he wouldn’t know I totally didn’t know where we were or where we were going.  Then he asked, “Aap ka dost…voh boyfriend hai?” and I sharply answered no, but because I felt it was an inappropriate question.  We finally reached the Plaza and my friend needed to meet us because the driver couldn’t follow his directions to the flat.  I arrived at his flat irritated but relieved to finally be out of the car.  My friend said I could stay the night since it was now a little after 8:00pm and that the metro would take about two hours back to Delhi, and another Ola would be about an hour-and-a-half.  The thought of another Ola shook me, and I said “um yeah I’ll stay the night if that’s okay with you.”

This friend was my Hindi TA back in Hawaii.  I didn’t think he liked me until pretty much last month when he took my roommate and I to Nehru Place so she could buy a phone.  I just didn’t think he cared for me too much but I figured he must like me to some degree if he offered to host me at his home in Aurangabad and take me to see the caves and invited me to hang out at his flat (we were initially supposed to do an evening at JNU – he went there and occasionally teaches workshops there).  His roommate wasn’t home so it was just us, their house keeper (a live-in one), and his roommate’s ten-month-old golden retriever puppy, Charlie.  Charlie reminds me a lot of my own dog, Logan, so I was extremely happy to be in a home with a dog.  We sat around and watched tv, I tried to help him with brainstorming for training exercises for a client, we had a delicious dinner (albeit around midnight; rice, roti, dal, mushroom masala, and dahi for dessert), smoked a blunt, watched more tv, and eventually slept at about 3:00am.  I slept in his room and I insisted on sleeping in his sleeping bag since I’m smaller, but he insisted I sleep on his bed, and so I did.  I got to sleep with Charlie cuddled up next to me, and since I sleep with my boyfriend and dog every night at home (our other dog doesn’t like the bed and sleeps on his own mini sofa next to our bed), I felt very at peace sleeping with a dog again.  Since I showed up on short notice (i.e., with no clothes), my friend gave me some of his clothes to wear to sleep (I looked ridiculous; he’s easily six feet tall while I’m a tiny 4’11”).  I took a quick shower the next morning and my some miracle, he had extra toothbrushes and toothpaste (I assume single men don’t have these things lying around, okay).  The housekeeper (I don’t know the correct/more polite title for this) made us scrambled eggs and roti for breakfast.

My friend is very down-to-earth, and it’s one of my favorite things about him.  My host family, as nice as they are (especially my host mom) is a little more concerned with material things, success, etc. and constantly brags about her family and their accomplishments.  Being proud is fine, but she talks about it a lot.  Their housekeeper, whose name I do not know because they only call him “Bhaiya,” works 9:00am/10:00am – 9:00pm every day and needs to use a separate restroom on the top floor of the home.  On a few occasions my host mom has made comments about him being “uneducated,” which is why my exchanges with him must always be done in Hindi since my Hindi is better than his English.  He’s sweet and I always try to avoid asking him for things unless I really need something (like chai, since I don’t know how to make it).  I feel that Bhaiya is just there to do his job.  My friend’s housekeeper lives with them and generally hangs out with him and his roommate.  On his down time around our house, Bhaiya sits in the kitchen or in the hallway and watched videos on his phone.  My friend’s housekeeper (N, from now on) will sit in the living room and watch whatever he pleases because my friend doesn’t care too much for television.  I asked my friend if he wanted to watch anything, and he said “No, but N might.  He likes singing and dancing programs and the Kapil Sharma Show.  I hate it but he likes it so I just watch it.”  He always refers to N by his name.  When we were eating dinner, I asked him if I could take more food and if N had eaten already.  He said, “just take, he said he’s going to eat the chicken he made earlier.  But hold on, I’ll double check.  I asked him earlier but maybe he changed his mind, who knows.”  After, he came back and said “He’ll eat his chicken so you can eat the rest of the dal, but save some of the mushroom masala for him.  It was our first time making it so he wants to try.”  My friend and N winged the mushroom masala and cooked it together.  In my host home, Bhaiya cooks everything and my host family rarely cooks or helps him with things.  And when I asked for more chai this morning, N nodded and made his way to the kitchen but my frind called after him and told him to do it only after he had finished eating his breakfast and doing whatever he needed to do.  I’m not completely sure how the dynamic works, or if there is a correct way for it to work, but I prefer the relationship between my friend and N than the one between my host family and Bhaiya.  It feels warmer.  N is from Jharkhand so my friend was forcing us to speak in Hindi to each other since we’re both learning.  N told me he understands English, too, so to speak in English and that he would answer in Hindi.  I don’t often see Bhaiya’s personality because he’s very reserved.

Anyway, after breakfast we eventually left the house around 1:00pm.  I totally skipped my class today because I would have had to have left the flat around 6:30am to get to class on time, which was not quite worth it to me when I have a friend from whom I can obtain notes.  My birthday is in about two weeks so we’re going to have dinner at Ama Thakali.  My professor was hesitant about me seeing this particular friend because he knew I was feeling homesick and he knew I would want to hang on to anyone that reminded me of Hawaii (except my roommate since we only met right before leaving for Delhi).  At first that was the issue for me, but now I just want to get out of my house and hang out with people away from the East Delhi neighborhood I’m in.  My friend told me to feel free to stay at his place whenever I feel like it, and I’ll take the offer especially if it means I get to hang out with Charlie more.  There’s a tattoo shop he recommended to me in Gurgaon so I’ll be spending a few nights at his flat again after I get my tattoo so I don’t need to spend two-ish hours on the metro back to Delhi with a fresh tattoo.

Below is a photo of the ever-charming and handsome Charlie of Gurgaon Sector 57.