Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Living in New York

I should be studying for my Contracts final. It’s in less than two days.
But I can’t bring myself to study.

Instead I’m staring at a brick wall.

(This is not a metaphor. There is an actual brick wall in my apartment, and my bed is facing it.)

I’ve never really noticed how beautiful this wall is before.
Probably because I’ve been so consumed with the intensity of my life since I’ve moved into this place.

I love NY. I really do. I wouldn’t rather be anywhere in the world. But there’s two ways that NY can make you feel.

You can either feel like the entire universe it at your fingertips,
like every experience, every feeling, every thing, everything you could ever want is right there, waiting for you to grasp it,
like you never know what could happen, or who you could meet the second you step onto the street,
like your every dream could come true because the energy around you is just so exhilarating,

….or you can feel lost
because sometimes this great big city will swallow you up
and make you feel really, really tiny.

And right now I feel tiny.

I miss really being in the city, like actually experiencing it.
I hate that I live here but all I do is commute to and from class.

I feel like there’s so much potential, so much to be taken advantage of
…but I’m just sitting here avoiding contracts and staring at a brick wall.

I have no time.
I feel like a lot of us New Yorkers are like that.
We never stop on the street to just take it all in. We’re always pacing, trying to get where we need to go as fast as we can.

(Also, if we did stop, people would angrily push past us, thinking we were tourists.) (Confession: I’ve be one of those angry New Yorkers more times than I’d like to admit.)

But I mean, what’s the rush?
Sometimes I feel like this city just has some kind of living intense pulse to it that everyone in it seems to adjust to.

And sometimes I love it, but right now, I just want to make it slow down.

So maybe I can have time to stare at beautiful things, like this brick wall.

But unfortunately, I must re-adjust my pulse back to NY time.
I really need to study.

Monday, November 18, 2013


I want you to know

I’m a mess
coffee stain on my dress lipstick smeared tripping over my heels
kind of a mess

I talk a lot
especially when I’m nervously trying to fill awkward silences

and I’m loud, like really loud
like you’d probably be embarrassed to be seen with me in public
kind of loud

I scrunch my nose when I laugh
and I bite my bottom lip when I’m nervous

if you tickle me
I will go into survival mode

I can’t watch horror movies
but my favorite genre is mystery

I have an abnormally large assortment of nail polish
and I collect jewelry from around the world

I have self-diagnosed slight OCD
and I love to lose myself in inspiration

I can’t cook without blasting music
and dancing around in the kitchen

I rarely leave the house without makeup
because I’m afraid people will see my acne scars

I may seem like I’m a strong woman
but I’m more fragile than you’ll ever know

I’m terrified to let anyone in
because I’m scared they’ll break me

I have dreams bigger than you could ever imagine
bigger than my own life could ever hold
and I hope you want my dreams
because I want to want your dreams too

I want you to know

Wednesday, October 30, 2013


In the morning
she would dream
of a princess
a kirpan
a horse in a battlefield
the beautiful turban
wrapped around her head
radiating from her silhouette

At night
he would beat her

And though her heart
would fill with disgust,
she could not deny
that God was in him too.

Ik Onkar Sat Naam

Her days became a blur
covered by shawls
drops of her blood
staining shattered glass
from empty bottles
heaved at her
he would drown himself
in a river of whisky and gin,
cursing her in slurred speech
as he did to her
whatever he pleased
her body, his canvas

Her nights were thoughts
of ways to end
the torture
but they would remain thoughts
because this life
was not hers to give or take

Karta Purakh

And every morning
she would try to embody the spirit
of the princess
a kirpan
a horse in a battlefield
so that one day
she could rise above


Wednesday, August 21, 2013

I'll find you with the moon

We watched the diamonds in the night
laid there till after noon
you said you'd reach into the morning sky
and bring me back the moon

I laughed because it sounded odd
you smiled, said you would
I shrugged it off with just a nod
but I knew I was yours for good

you brought joy into my life
the kind I'd never known
when you asked if I would be your wife
I thought I’d never be alone

then one day, you kissed my cheek
said have a lovely day
and that's the last I'd hear you speak
before you went away

I fell apart, I couldn't breathe
I drowned in misery
and sinking in the depths of grief
I found you living in my poetry

and so here I sit, day and night
paper, pen in hand
and try to find you as I write
in the promised land

I fear the day I run out of words
or catch a writer's block
every day, I pray to the Lord
to speed up my ticking clock

we'll meet again when I die
on my last lonely afternoon
I’ll reach into the morning sky
and find you with the moon

Sunday, August 18, 2013

Through her blindfold

The old men sat around a table

until the day she was born

a beautiful goddess
her gushing golden curls
resting on the pure white robes
draped around her pale body

she was a masterpiece

she asked all of the questions
and knew all of the answers
as she kept the world in balance

and oh,
was she grand
as she held the scale of the universe
in her fingertips

armed with a double-edged sword
she was the demise
of every evil she encountered

but in all her glory
the old men knew
she was imperfect
flawed by preconception

so after much deliberation
they wrapped a cloth around her eyes
exchanged smug looks
and finally walked away
setting her free into the world

that Lady Justice could see
through her blindfold

Sunday, June 2, 2013

It’s Time for a Revolution.

As a little girl, I remember climbing up onto mama’s lap and listening with wonder, as she would tell me saakhis of Guru Nanak, and the Chote Sahibzade, and Mai Bhago. I remember being in awe of them, but they always felt like distant characters that were super-human in some way – characters that I could admire but not relate to.

As I grew older, however, I realized that the reason I felt disconnected to them wasn’t because they were not relatable, but rather because my community was not, as it should be, mirroring their values.

In its essence, Sikhi destroyed all social and cultural norms. Guru Nanak created a revolution: a revolution of thought where we are connected to the divine, Waheguru, from within, as is everyone around us. Guru Nanak saw a society where everyone was equal because they realized that Waheguru was in everyone. Caste, sex, social status, sexual preference, and race – none of these mattered. This was Guru Nanak’s social vision, and it was so incredibly revolutionary for that time and place; in the early 1500s, India was plagued by a caste system, economic divisions, and sexual inequality.

Guru Gobind Singh took Guru Nanak’s vision and made it a reality: any person of any caste, faith, sex, economic background, location, and so forth, could become a part of the Khalsa – and all Khalsa was equal.

This was our Gurus’ legacy.

Today, I’m ashamed to say that instead of taking that vision and building from it, we have fallen so far behind it that it’s barely visible anymore. Instead of taking our Gurus’ message and helping create a more equal society, we have let a destructive culture seep into our lives.

Our Gurus took revolutionary strides in women’s empowerment.
Today, in Punjab, there are 850 girls for every 1000 boys.
Across India, 10 million women were murdered in 1 decade just because of their gender.
Violence against women is a terrifyingly common occurrence in our community.
The transaction of dowries is still part of our culture.
And the attitude towards women in general is problematic: women are seen as temporary members of the family, ones that don’t need to be invested in.

Our Gurus abolished the caste system with institutions like langar.
Today, caste-based Gurdwaras are growing at an alarming rate.
Sikhism is one of the two religions with the most so-called “honor killings.” Sikh men and women are being murdered by their families in the name of honor due to inter-caste marriages.

This is only the tip of the iceberg. I could go on and on.
It pains me to see that our Sikhi is slowly being drowned out by the very cultural and social norms that Sikhi was established to end.

I believe it’s time we pause and take a look at our community and ourselves.

It’s time we go back to Guru Nanak’s vision of humanity – one in which there is only love.

It’s time for another revolution.