Snapshots of Irresistible Food // Part 1

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Jump. Twist. Relax. Breathe.

My name, Abhinaya, is translated as dance expressions in Sanskrit; indeed, it is in dance that I find my fullest identity.

Jump. Twist. Relax. Breathe. The art of dance for me represents the intersection of these most elementary of movements with incredible elegance and sophistication. Back straight. Head held high. Smiling. It is at once the most complex, yet the simplest and most expressive activities I perform in any day; it is poetry in motion. As my body adjusts to the challenges of specific movements and gestures, my mind is free to drift, to sift through whatever needs organizing—the next day’s tasks, discord with a friend, or stress. As my arm and calf muscles loosen and my labored breathing relaxes, I am able to release that stress, forget that argument, and set my mind in order. In the middle of my routine, I stop and stare at myself in the mirror to admire my Bharathanatyam posture. I pause to feel my own strong heartbeat. Then, I dance again.

Sixteen years ago, my amma (as I call my sweet mother) dragged me to a dance class to introduce me to Bharathanatyam. I recall that day with a smile, for my first impression was – shall we say – less than positive. I confess my condescending glances at the Indian classical dancers, who looked so different, sitting in half-squats with their arms extended. But yielding to amma’s enthusiasm, I committed to give it a try. I couldn’t have imagined then how this beautiful ancient art would shape the way I experience the world and nurture my appreciation for expressions of love and beauty. Originating from South India, Bharathanatyam is one of the most cherished and popular classical Indian dance forms. This epitome of Indian cultural expression has been a bridge between my American and Indian lifestyles.

Over the years, I have gained much more from Bharathanatyam than just a dance education. While the study focuses on physical techniques, I have also learned the essence of diligence, patience, and perseverance. The strict discipline of Bharathanatyam has taught me to work very diligently, a trait that has served me well in all my pursuits.

I smile now remembering my little five-year-old self choosing to dance on a whim. What began as an activity I had to do every Sunday has become something that is a part of me. My name, Abhinaya, is translated as dance expressions in Sanskrit; indeed, it is in dance that I find my fullest identity. Bharathanatyam has given me the courage, confidence, and unique charisma to become the person I am today.

3 Life Lessons Being At College Has Taught Me

Thank you for all the lessons you’ve taught me both inside and outside the classroom, college.

“The difference between school and life? In school, you’re taught a lesson and then given a test. In life, you’re given a test that teaches you a lesson.”

I am a firm believer of this saying. While I may not have graduated from college yet, these past three years have taught me innumerable lessons on life – all of which I will take forward in life. Not everything can be taught in a classroom. I remember in high school how it was a simple routine. Early morning dance practices. Classes. Extracurriculars. Homework. Sleep. That was my life five days of the week. I was used to this routine. I mean why wouldn’t I be? I was getting good grades and doing things I love – service, dance, and music. I was in this protected bubble and at my comfort zone. Little did I know how much this was going to change after stepping onto campus in the fall of 2013. Now after three years of being in college, while some of the routine has remained the same, the new independence, friends, lifestyle, and workload have taught me a lot more lessons. I have highlighted three of the many lessons that I believe has made me a better person.

1. Discovering Who I Really Am

Ralph Waldo Emerson once said, “To be yourself in a world that is trying to make you something else is a great accomplishment.” So a question such as “who am I?” really gives me the opportunity to differentiate and express who I really am and who I can be. While I seemed to know who I am for all those college applications senior year of high school, these past three years of self-discovery, the “fun course a semester idea,” spontaneous decisions, and new adventures have brought a new dimension to how I’d answer this question today. Through all of my successes, failures, and moving slowly, but surely out of my comfort zone, I’ve begun to recognize who I am and who I want to be. What I can really say is that I am progressing to make a brighter future for myself.

2. Discovering Who My Real Friends Are

Before coming to college, all I wanted was to get to meet everyone my year. Pretty ambitious, I know. But, to some extent, I made a lot of new friends freshmen year. Making friends for a lot of us comes naturally, but maintaining these friendships can become somewhat difficult.Little did I know that quality is so much more important than quantity — even in friendships. The simple truth is friends will come and go. And, that’s completely normal.

I’ve learned how to build trust within myself. I’ve learned how to let go of negativity, let go of the fake friends, and to stop worrying over people who aren’t doing you any good in life. It’s just not worth it.

I’ve quickly learned that true friendships are one of the most important things you can get out of life. At a place like my college, you need true friends to keep you sane, to keep you grounded, and to keep you motivated to chase your dreams. I have friends who are like family today. Without them, I can’t even imagine life to be the same. Without college, I would have never learned the value of true friendship and would have never gotten the courage to let go of those who aren’t true.

3. Discovering A Balance in Life

Achieving life balance was and is one of the largest challenges that we as college students face. After all, we have to juggle a wide variety of activities — from coursework to social life to extracurriculars — in addition to monitoring our mental and physical well-being. When I was a freshmen myself, I struggled to find that balance. There were many days I would go to class and then just chill with my friends. I’d start homework at 2AM and oftentimes, if lucky, get 3-4 hours of sleep. A couple days before midterms, I was frantically cramming for them. Sure, the classes were somewhat easier then, so it didn’t totally ruin my academic record. But, I knew I had to change my ways to balance sleep, academics, and friendship if I had to survive the rigor of the Biomedical Engineering curriculum.

Learning to say “no” was how I fixed this issue. You live for yourself. You can’t live your life doing what other people want you to do. It was hard at first, but keeping my goals and that balance in mind, it eventually worked out. College has given me a little glimpse into how to be better organized, balance fun and work, and put my priorities in order.

In May 2017, not only will I remember my college as four years of bliss, a symbol of complete freedom, and self discovery, it has also helped me develop essential life skills such as these three. Like Einstein’s words go, “the only source of knowledge is experience.” Thank you for all the lessons you’ve taught me both inside and outside the classroom, college.

© AвнιAятѕ 2016

The Trip to Paradise

We were expecting a typical hotel room with two double beds waiting for us, but this resort surpassed all our expectations.

And, almost a month after my 8-day trip to Hawaii, I will be finally making my travel journey posts. This was the very first scenic picture I took after I landed in Maui — the first island of this family trip. We stayed in a resort where each family basically gets a one floor condominium during their stay. It comprised of a multiple bathrooms, bedrooms, a huge balcony from where this picture was taken, and of course a living room. Some things I particularly found memorable were this amazing library collection consisting of travel books full of history and fiction novels; original oil paintings from Hawaiian artists; and several televisions with free movies and games access. We were expecting a typical hotel room with two double beds waiting for us, but this resort surpassed all our expectations. It was such a pleasant surprise. It had this great homely feeling, and we loved coming back to it after our adventure during the day. It had a great view with the beach right across the street. We drove through the entirety of the island, so I have plenty of great adventures to share — of course, with pictures! 🙂

© AвнιAятѕ 2016

 

Corruption

The angle I took this picture from makes this building look condescending and mysterious.

Not sure what it is about this image, but the first thing I thought of was corruption. Nothing against the actual company and to be honest, I don’t even know who owns this building. But the angle I took this picture from makes this building look condescending and mysterious. We’ve all heard the phrase: “The rich get richer. And poor get poorer.” But, why is the inequality gap only increasing? Why is it that non-profit companies have leaders who makes millions annually? Why is it that no one has been discussing distribution of wealth at the Presidential Race debates? Maybe because they’re part of that low percentage of rich people in the nation — in fact, world. Maybe because whatever they say (if they decide to say or do something), people (rich and poor) argue about it extensively and no conclusion is ever made. Just some Tuesday afternoon thoughts. 🙂

© AвнιAятѕ 2016

 

The Importance of a Name

There would be no significance of each person; a person cannot live without a name.

One’s name is crucial in the representation of reputation. A name is one of the most valuable gifts a person is given by his or her parents. A name can only be given once, and a person just as not getting another name in life cannot have another life. People all have one chance, and their name is the basis of the genesis of life. The names of people are like the star ratings for a restaurant or hotel. It could be good or bad, and the way that people distinguish each hotel is by the name and if it is 3-star or 5-star. On day to day basis in this society, names are the only way each individual human being on earth is recognized.

The Crucible, written by Arthur Miller, is heavily name based. For example, at the end of this play John Proctor, a local farmer who lives just outside of town, is accused along with several women of witchcraft. The irony here indeed however is the fact that people who are corrupt are not hung, and the people who are not corrupt are hung. John Proctor hates hypocrisy. He did not want to lie to anyone about being a witch even though he knew it would save his life and more importantly his reputation. He was worried that if he committed to witchcraft, then his innocent name in the community will be ruined. He doesn’t want his name on the church door and consequently to ruin his entire family reputation. He hesitates in front of Judge Danforth to give the false confession and crumples the paper he had and welcomes his own death. He considered his reputation and his name in society was more important than his life. Arthur Miller was unequivocally critical in writing this play. Moreover, he felt sympathetic towards some characters, such as Rebeca Nurse and John. The latter preferred to speak honestly so he wouldn’t have to live with a horrible reputation, which to him is equivalent of a death itself, in the community. The name of John Proctor was a noble one. It was an innocent one. And most importantly, his name was an honest one. He couldn’t bear ruining it further.

Likewise to the chaotic nature of the Salem witch trials in The Crucible was the Red Scare. The Red Scare was when people were unnecessarily being accused of being communists. In Majestic, a movie about the Red Scare, John Appleton was accused of being a communist. The most important evidence the court had in possession was his name signed on a document relating to communism. It was concluded that all the names in that specific document were linked with communism in general. Sadly, the court wanted the false truth from Appleton. Appleton had a statement ready to read in front of the court, but he hesitated and stopped at the last minute. He crumbled the paper and told the audience that he couldn’t lie anymore just to avoid going to the jail and that he indeed was a not communist. He wanted to save his nice reputation and name in the community. He did not want everyone going around society staying away from him because he himself said he was a communist. Like previously stated, he didn’t want to be living while dying; his life was in a limbo. He could tell a lie, save his life, and have a bad reputation tagged onto his name or he could tell the truth, save his reputation, and be put into jail. If he had lied, it’s true that he would still be living outside jail, but he wouldn’t have received any job opportunities or means to start a new life. No one would want him because his name is labeled as a “Communist”.

Generally speaking, getting honored and getting recognized in front of a big audience is a treasurable moment. A person is given a name to be recognized and to be unique. I have experienced such moments where my special name was celebrated for winning first place in the State Science and Engineering Fair. The moment they announced my name, the entire audience applauded and cheered for me. That one special moment changed my life and my reputation in society dramatically.  Now whenever I go out into that audience, most of them recognize me by the name and as the girl who won the grand prize at the competition. In this scenario, my reputation was as an intelligent and young girl. This positive reputation and the intelligence tagged onto my name motivates me to pursue greater heights to maintain my reputation. Moreover, this makes my family proud to have a child that is reputed to being “famous” at least in a state platform.

Names are the most prestigious aspect of one’s reputation. Names are the definition of people. A name belongs to one specific person and cannot have another. It attaches to the reputation of one self and it is crucial in the representation of reputation. Without names and without a certain identification of who each individual is, everyone would be like particles of dust. There would be no significance of each person; a person cannot live without a name. Names give the soul of a person and leave the audience with a mark of how and why the person is significant.