The hard part about making new year’s resolutions is actually remembering what they are by the time Valentine’s day comes around. They seem noble and doable at the time of preparation of the much thought out list, but reality kicks in and the list gets lost among last season’s shopping bills. Last year, I didn’t make any. I was too tired from a (crazy) busy 2009 and a trip to India, not to mention a bad breakup I had to deal with soon after. But, I recovered and thrived. Without any clear goals in sight, I set some things in motion that eventually led me to getting published and growing up as an individual and as a writer in the months that followed. I can’t say I didn’t envision this life change before (after all I did manifest everything that happened in 2010), but I didn’t set out to accomplishing all these “big” things by the end of the year, and thus risk not following through and getting disappointed. So, this year, instead of aiming super high, I’ve come up with a few simple changes to make that I am pretty sure are achievable (well, assuming the Sun continues to show up). Maybe sometimes all it takes for a major change is a small step.

1) Buy more plants for my office space. I am a bad excuse for a nature lover ’cause I managed to kill a bamboo plant on my desk this year. Reasons are still undetermined, but I am determined to change my work environment by adding some green. Perhaps it will make me love my legal job even more… hmmm.

2) Take my dog to the park more often. The poor thing only interacts with friends who come to our house and those she meets on our walks. I must have taken her to play twice in the past two years. I am ashamed. I need to start being a good mommy.

3) Get back to yoga (and lose up to 5lbs hopefully by summer). Friends, I need your help with this!

4) Do a voluntour. Thanks to my fabulous Fordham young alumni group, we will be traveling to Diné Navajo for an immersion/service trip in March. It will a dream come true for me to visit the American Southwest. I simply cannot wait!

5) Eat more greens and take proper supplements. For a vegetarian, I consume waay less veggies than I should. So, broccoli, how you doing?

6) Be the best bridesmaid I can be for my dear friend Abby. This one should be easy (let’s hope) because I now have experience (thanks to Maria), and given that the wedding will be in Montezuma, Costa Rica, it couldn’t be more special.

7) Talk to my grandpa more often. We have unlimited call time to India, I really have no excuse.

8) Actually make some money from my freelance writing. My dad would love that.

9) Help my mom with cooking. This one will be hard, but I shall try.

10) Get published in the New York Times (ok, that’s HUGE, but I have to manifest, right?)

So, what are some of your goals? I’d love to hear them.

Lately, I’ve taken to watching films before going to sleep most nights. Working two jobs (technically) is fun, but leaves me exhausted and my mind racing. So I escape through films, thanks to Netflix. Last night, I saw “Mixed Doubles,” a bollywood film from 2006 that deals with swinging couples. That’s right, you read it correctly. India is changing after all. As much as I enjoy Karan Johar’ish fancy shmancy escapist films starring hot bollywood heroes, I do like movies that depict real life every now and then.

In the film, the main characters, Sunil and Malti, have been married for ten years, have a child and live a somewhat normal middle class life in Mumbai. They have a two job income, nice apartment, good friends, a washing machine and a car. All seems well on the surface, but the spark is gone between the two. The guy gets restless and upon a suggestion of a NRI friend, decides to explore swinging. He manipulates his wife into agreeing with him, and the two make an appointment to meet another swinging couple. What happens next is something you will have to see for yourself, but the movie, despite its realistic approach and skilled directing, left me feeling odd. The concept maybe fine with some, but I can never accept it. I recently read an article on Slate about Russian women in Moscow somehow accepting (and expecting) their husbands to cheat. When I shared it with a friend who left her unfaithful husband after nineteen years, she said, “this is nothing new – just people enjoy reading it written differently.” Sadly, what she said is true. Granted, in the movie, the couples all consent to taking part in the swinging, but it’s still strange for me to stomach it. Marriage is sacred and if people cannot honor it, then they should never get into it.  

Perhaps I am too idealistic, but for now, I am happy that the only thing keeping me up at night are my projects, and not having to deal with someone with mixed feelings. Hey, it’s all about perspective, right? :)

In all my 30 years on this planet, I’ve never eaten beef or pork, and I have no intention of ever doing so. As a Hindu, I grew up considering all beings holy, especially the cows. I’ve eaten chicken and lamb before I turned vegetarian in my early 20s (and I am trying hard to give up the  fish I eat occasionally), so I am no preacher. But anyone who has met these beings in person would think twice about eating their meat. Hopefully.

During a recent trip to the Woodstock Farm Animal Sanctuary, I got a chance to mingle with these wonderful animals. It was not only an amazing experience but a spiritual one on so many levels. The Sanctuary, which rescues farm animals from cruel slaughter houses and factory farms is located in Willow, NY and ensures that the chickens, turkeys, pigs, cows, goats and the ducks all live the rest of their lives in harmony. They’ve been saved from spending their short lives in cramped cages awaiting their excruciatingly painful death. At the farm, they roam around free, eating grass, soaking up the sun and enjoying the company of four and two legged friends. The turkeys even get a special meal around Thanksgiving in the farm’s annual ThanksLiving event.  And the pigs just love getting their bellies rubbed.

Those who eat meat justify it in any way that makes them feel good about their choices- God put them here for us, we need to eat them to be healthy, killing them after raising them organically is okay- are some of the excuses. The meat and dairy industries try very hard to sustain themselves by feeding us a load of garbage through media (in some cases literally- did you know that your cheese burger could have bits of shit in it?) Anyway, there may never be a time on human dominated Earth where animals are not killed for food, fur, experiments and for hunting pleasure. It’s a sad reality. But I am happy that there are places like the Woodstock Farm Sanctuary and the Farm Sanctuary in Watkins Glen and California, and good souls who are taking care of rescued animals and advocating for their rights.

Right before we left the farm, we visited the goats, including the three legged Albie that was featured in the NY Times Metro Section. They all gathered around us, wanting us to pet them. Two young pearly white goats, named Jacob and Edward by a Twilight fan, caught my attention. As I rubbed their backs and chatted (a habit I formed thanks to my dog), their golden eyes glimmered and I could just tell they were basking in the attention. As I sat next to them, one of them raised his front leg and put it on my thigh a few times, as if trying to communicate with me his gratitude. It was such a simple act, yet so endearing. For a moment, Jacob felt like my own pet. He was happy I was there, and so was I.

Recommended Reading:

Skinny Bitch: A No-Nonsense, Tough-Love Guide For Savvy Girls Who Want To Stop Eating Crap And Start Looking Fabulous! by Rory Freedman and Kim Barnouin

Eating Animals by Jonathan Safran Foer

Why We Love Dogs Eat Pigs And Wear Cows by Melanie Joy

Farm Sanctuary: Changing Hearts and Minds About Animals and Food by founder of Farm Sanctuary Gene Baur.

Donations and sponsorships are always welcome at these farms.

Thank you for reading.

My (very) personal essay “On Skirts and Chopped Noses” is now for public viewing at Voices from the Garage. My writing professor always says to write about humiliating experiences. I wrote this essay after going through one of the most embarrassing moments in my life, but what I went through doesn’t even compare to the story of the woman that I write about.

Right before my plane to Costa Rica took off, I checked my email messages on my phone. I wasn’t really expecting any important emails, but you never know these days. :) Of course to my surprise, the senior editor of Yourtango.com, who had published my very first essay, Zodiac Hijack: Astrology Ended My Relationship, asked me to read it at the 2nd annual NYC LitCrawl. I couldn’t believe it! As I had only minutes before the flight attendant reminded all passengers to put away our devices, I shot a quick email back telling her an enthusiastic YES.

On the day itself, which fell on September 11th, I was calm and didn’t think anything about the reading. That didn’t last long. Soon after I got on the LIRR to go into the city, my heart started racing and my fingers trembled. At this point, I hadn’t even practiced reading my piece loudly. Now I was about to recite it to a room full of eager listeners! To calm myself down, I walked 40 blocks, listened to Shakira (for some confidence) and arrived before everyone else. My lovely friends showed up to support (thank you, guys!!) I was third to go.

While I was nervous earlier, calmness set in once again. I knew this was a big deal. It was my very first reading after all. But I blocked everyone else out, got in the zone and just READ my essay with all my heart. It was A M A Z I N G. What’s even better was that the place was packed and not one single person made fun of me. But then again, who could? :) The best part of it all was seeing my writing professor Susan Shapiro in the audience. She specifically made the trip to see me read. That made the event all that much more special. I made sure I gave her a shout out, because if it weren’t for her, I wouldn’t even be up there.

Afterwards, I attended other readings, chatted with fellow writers and laughed with my friends.  I had one of the best nights of my life. For once, I had forgotten all the pain that preceded the essay. Then again, pain and happiness are very real parts of life.  They have to be experienced fully. There is no way around it. :)

I had so much fun writing my latest NY Resident article on Wilderness Luxury in America’s Great National Parks. My most memorible travel experiences are from my visits to some of these gorgeous parks. My new goal is to visit all the major parklands in this country in the next few years. I think I will start with the Grand Teton National Park….and hopefully stay at Amangani to double the joy! I can’t wait!

On a side note, I am thrilled that my article is featured in the same issue as Matt Czuchry from one of my ALL TIME favorite TV shows The Good Wife. That makes this issue all that much more special.

I hope you enjoy and get to visit one of the parks I talk about. Trust me, you will truly have the best time. :)

I wanted to go to Costa Rica for about ten years now, and I finally made it to this beautiful country recently. At first, it reminded me of my motherland, with its palm trees, rolling hills, and lush vegetation everywhere but the longer I spent the more I’ve come to appreciate it for it’s uniqueness, especially its wildlife and honk free winding roads hugging cloud and rain forests and the spice free meals consisting of rice and beans.

I fell in love with the sloths at Manuel Antonio National Park, sipped pina coladas on the beach, balanced myself on the hanging bridges at the Rainmaker Conservation Project, soaked in the hot springs by Arenal volcano at Tabacon and best of all hiked in pouring rain in a pristine rainforest where the melody created by the streams and jungle critters was so sweet I can feel relaxed just by thinking about it. Here’s a slide show of some of my favorite shots… enjoy!

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