April Book Reviews!

Hello hello! If you’ve been following my blog, it might be evident that I’m trying to revamp it a bit and make some major changes. This includes writing about newer, more interesting, and more diverse topics. Today I wanted to write in detail all about one of my favorite books and that is “Becoming” by Michelle Obama. I’ve mentioned this book in a previous blog post, but never went into much detail about its synopsis, or my detailed opinions on it. So, here it is! Feel free to contact me directly with any questions/comments/suggestions/feedback. I don’t think there is anything more relaxing than sitting down with a good book and some hot chocolate after a long and stressful day. It’s soul-nourishing and can provide some amazing insight into someone else’s world. So, here’s my first in-depth review of one of the best books that I’ve read in the past two years. Enjoy!

“Becoming” by Michelle Obama

“Becoming” by Michelle Obama

This book is essentially a biopic/autobiography. It captures the entirety of Michelle’s life thus far- from her roots in the South Side of Chicago, all the way to becoming First Lady of the United States. But it doesn’t recount the events that lead up to earning one of the most powerful titles in the world- it recounts the emotional turmoil, happiness, and surprises she faces along her journey. The book allows us to embark on Michelle’s world and allows us to understand the perspective of an African-American woman during one of the most eventful periods in the United States. Here is my breakdown of her book and all that it has to offer:

“Becoming Me” describes Michelle’s humble upbringing in the South Side of Chicago, a place that’s still very much near and dear to her heart. She describes her mother, father, and older brother, Craig, all of whom have shaped her character, inspired her to follow her ambitions, and taught her to never forget where she came from/her roots. Her father worked at the city’s water purification plant, while her mother stayed at home to take care of her kids and the house. She grew up taking piano lessons and always strived to succeed academically, as education was a paramount principle in her parents home. She gains admission into Whitney Young, a magnet school, and eventually makes her way to Princeton University, where she majored in sociology. After graduating from one Ivy League, she moved onto the next by going to Harvard Law School. After Harvard, she joins the Chicago-based law firm, Sidley & Austin, and eventually, meets a man with a peculiar name- who would later become President of the United States. “Becoming Me” is a culimination of everything that shaped Michelle Obama since she was just a child. The adversities that her family faced as a working-class family in Chicago (from her dad having multiple sclerosis, to not having much money, etc.), pushed her to become the best version of herself and provided a launchpad for all of the accomplishments she would go onto achieve in the future. I personally loved this section of the book, as it provided so much context for understanding the Michelle Obama that we know today. Many of the details provided in this part were not disclosed to the public before, and they allowed us to understand where Obama’s brilliance and drive to better America came from in the first place.

“Becoming Us” departs the readers on a new journey: the romantic relationship between Michelle and Barack Obama. Michelle was Barack’s mentor at the law firm Sidley & Austin, and after some coffee dates and getting to know each other, they fell in love pretty quickly. She admired Barack’s passion for changing the world. She was awestricken by his wisdom, his political knowledge, and his inquisitive nature (although at times, she felt it was a lot). They soon get married, and before they know it, she’s helping him with his campaign for the Ilinois Senate. Michelle also has a career change as she shifts from corporate law to non-profit work, in order to help take care of her kids and help Barack with his campaign at the same time. Eventually, her husband becomes President of the United States, and suddenly she’s juggling being the First Lady, taking care of her family, her marital commitments, and her own goals and ambitions. I loved this section of the book. She goes into deep detail about her marriage- the positive and the struggles, even describing the sensitive topic of her miscarriages and eventually deciding on IVF to have her children Sasha and Malia. Michelle describes attending marriage counseling with Barack and reveals that they never had a perfect relationship, like what is shown in media and to the outside world. She strikes a chord with the audience about the challenges of marriage- the struggles between blending two lives together and making it work. This section of the book allows us to the intimate details of Michelle and Barack’s relationship and allows us to understand the significant role that she played during his campaign and presidency, while at the same time, understanding her own emotions and feelings throughout both. She makes it a point to share all aspects of their marriage- not just the highlights, but the low points as well, which makes it very relatable for the audience.

Finally, “Becoming More” details Barack Obama’s presidency, as well as all of the initiatives that Michelle Obama undertakes as First Lady of the United States. One of Michelle’s biggest passions is health and nutrition and allowing lower-middle-class children the chance to eat healthily and stay fit. She started the “Let’s Move” campaign, one that strived to end childhood obesity and encourage a healthy lifestyle in children. Some other initiatives that Michelle undertook as FLOTUS include: Joining Forces (supporting veterans through education, wellness & employment opportunities), Reach Higher (inspiring young people to attend higher education), and Let Girls Learn (a government-wide initiative that helps girls around the world to go to and stay in school). She had become a role model for women all around the world- being the first African-American First Lady, and undertaking these four initiatives with the goals of helping to make families healthier, help service members, encourage higher education, and empower girls to go to school. In this section, she also describes being the “mom-in-chief” to her daughters, and how being in the White House required her to put forth the extra effort to raise them like “normal kids” and push them to reach for greater pursuits. This section of the book really allowed us to see all the different facets of who Michelle Obama really was. She’s a mom, a lawyer, a wife, a daughter, a non-profit worker, a philanthropist, and the First Lady of the United States. It is inspiring, it is awe-striking, and it really allows the readers to see the backstory of everything they see about Michelle on T.V.

Overall, I can say that there is no wonder why this was the highest-selling book of 2018. Everyone knows that Michelle Obama is an awesome person, but this book reveals her life through her OWN perspective and gives us so much more insight than we could have seen otherwise. 10/10 recommend.


Wanderlust Diaries: Sydney (continued)

Hello hello! Here is the continuation of my December 2019 Sydney trip. Enjoy!

(5) Koala Park Sanctuary: Here’s the thing: I’m not the biggest fan of animals being held in captivity, and I normally would not support such kind of institution- however due to the fact that koalas are an endangered species (due to prolonged habitat destruction, bushfires, road accidents, etc.), I figured it was better to support a place that actually cares for and rehabilitates these cute little creatures. So, I figured why not give it a shot and pet some cute koalas. This was about a 45-minute drive from my aunt and uncle’s house and the drive included some nice scenery as well. As soon as we entered the park, we saw signs to see all kinds of animals- koalas, kangaroos, emus, llamas, and a wide variety of birds. The koalas were enclosed in a temperature-controlled environment, where they are able to eat and sleep in absolute comfort (especially since they sleep up to 20 hours a day). They had cool mist spraying all around them to protect them from the brutal Australian heat and smoke from that year’s bushfires. We also got to see a mini aviary and view exotic birds, many of which were much more temperamental than I expected :). We also got to pet-tamed kangaroos and feed them. They weren’t wild kangaroos- the ones you’ve seen on National Geographic which have six-pack abs and kick each other incessantly. These were Eastern kangaroos, and much smaller and quieter- reminding me almost of domestic dogs. Last but not least, we got to see a reptile/amphibian show where a trainer allowed us to pet Australian snakes, lizards, and other reptilian creatures much to my aversion in the very beginning. Overall, it was an amazing trip- I got to learn a lot about Australian animals and even got an unexpected hello from a llama during the reptile show.

Sleepy koala in the koala sanctuary

(6) The Grounds of Alexandria: This was probably the most unique restauarant/coffee shop/garden I’ve ever been to- especially considering that it was a combination of all three things! It has homestyle food, speciality coffee, and a completely organic garden. Every year, they change “themes”, and because it was Christmas time, they made it “Frozen” themed (the Disney movie). There were immaculate decorations, lots of greenery, and a lot of space around the place. I had the pesto mac and cheese, and it was quite delicious. I also had fresh-squeezed lemonade with a hint of rose. They host all kinds of celebrations at the venue- from weddings, to birthdays, to corporate events. They even host “high tea” events where guests can get dressed up and live their classy high tea dreams. I thoroughly enjoyed this place, and HIGHLY recommend if you visit Sydney.

The Grounds of Alexandria
Pesto Mac and Cheese from The Grounds of Alexandria
Eatery at the Grounds of Alexandria
“Frozen II” themed cafe

(7) Kiama: This was a quaint city, about one hour and forty three minutes south of Sydney. Its known for the Kiama Blowhole, which are cliffside caverns that periodically shoot water up in the air. There’s also the Kiama Coast Walk trail which has whale-watching spots along the way, as well as a series of smaller blowholes. There are many scenic spots and photo opportunities, as well as picturesque, high-rise views of the ocean down below. There are multiple stretches of coastal walks, volcanic rock formations, lighthouses, and quaint beaches as well. I will add that the beachside food spots are amazing in ambiance and taste as well. Overall, Kiama is a beautiful seaside town off the NSW (New South Wales) Coast, and I would LOVE to go back.

Ocean views from Kiama
Chicken burger from “The Hungry Monkey” seaside cafe
Kiama Blowhole

(8) Sydney Opera House/Sydney Harbor: This was probably the most “touristy” part of my trip- as the Opera House and the Harbor are pretty much what Sydney in general is known for. The Opera House was a lot bigger than I expected and was an architectural masterpiece. After all, it is one of the world’s most famous and distinctive landmarks. Although we didn’t actually go inside the Opera House, we saw the myriad of restaurants and dining areas from the outside. It’s shaped very uniquely as well. The drive to get to the location was quite fun, as we took the open-roof Jeep and blasted our favorite Telugu songs as we drove across the Sydney Harbour bridge. Highly, highly recommend.

Me overlooking the Sydney Harbour and the sailboats in the water
My cousin, Upamanyu and I in front of the Sydney Harbour Bridge near the Opera House
Me in front of the Sydney Opera House

Overall, Sydney was probably the best trip I’ve made in my entire life. Not just because of my amazing family and the city itself, but the solo element to the entire adventure really boosted my confidence and made me proud in my own ability to navigate the world. Travelling internationally alone is one of the best ways to hype yourself up and it helps you realize how much potential that you truly do have. I am so excited to come back to Sydney, and this time I want to explore other Australian cities- including Melbourne, Brisbane, and the capital, Canberra. Until next time!

Wanderlust Diaries Part 1

Hello friends! Once again I am apologizing for the late post. Life has included all kinds of ups and downs over the past weeks and it’s been genuinely difficult to keep up. Alas, here I am, back and better than ever before! This post is dedicated to all my past and future travels! Just like many other Millenials/Gen Z folks, I have been struck by wanderlust. Wanderlust (as defined by Google) = is the strong desire to travel). But I see it as so much more than just hopping on a plane and landing at a destination. I think when you’re able to travel and explore the world on your own, it’s almost a cathartic feeling- a spiritual awakening perhaps. Experiencing new places, new people, and new cultures will open your eyes to the world and change the way you perceive it. It can even boost your creativity and motivate you to accomplish your goals once you’re settled back at home after an arduous adventure. I love traveling, and even though I haven’t gotten nearly as close to all the places I wanted to go to, I’m SERIOUSLY looking forward to doing so. Because there are just so many places that I want to right in detail about, I decided to break this apart into a series- one destination per post. The first one is Sydney, Australia- a solo trip that I made during December (winter break) of 2019. Enjoy! And feel free to reach back out to me for any questions/comments/suggestions/travel tips!!

Sydney, Australia Part 1

I already knew for a long time that I would end up in Sydney, just based on the fact that my aunt/uncle/cousins have lived there for many years now. But when I went, I decided I would fly all by myself- marking my first ever international solo trip. I hopped on plane to LAX with a dream and (not a cardigan, because I was going during Sydney summer time), and wound up in sunny, beautiful, and laid-back Sydney via Virgin Australia flight. The total flight time was close to 20 hours, making this the longest length of air travel I have been on. Once I landed, I immediately knew what everyone was talking about when they said Australia was laid-back. The people there are just so friendly and relaxed. It’s a very outdoorsy place- with people prioritizing physical/mental health over stress. That’s why it’s known to have one of the best work-life balances in the world. Sydney (and Australia in general) is known for its vibrant food culture, pristine beaches and blue harbor waters, as well as its shopping. And of course, the creatures, including adorable koalas and kangaroos. Here are some of my Sydney favorites:

(1) Bondi Beach, one of Australia’s most iconic beaches and got a glimpse of people surfing, exercising in the outdoor gyms, and swimming in the massive Iceberg pools. My cousin and I took an Uber to Coogee Beach, and took the long walk from Coogee to Bondi. We soaked in the sun and beautiful views of the ocean below. We saw people parasailing, paragliding, and tons of other water sports happening in the ocean beneath us. Along the way, there are many viewpoints and perfect photo opportunities- especially since there were panoramic/360 degree views of the ocean all around. Although I didn’t actually go swimming, Australia’s broken ozone layer caught me way off guard and gave me the biggest/only sunburn I’ve had in my life despite packing on the sunscreen beforehand. So pro tip, whether you’re going to the beach or even just taking a drive in the car, make sure you wear plenty of sunscreen to protect your precious skin!

Bondi Beach

(2) Queen Victoria Building (QVB), iconic and historic shopping centre located in Sydney’s CBD (central business district). It was first opened in 1898 and its colonial-style architecture consists of beautiful domes, with one grand dome accompanied by 20 smaller domes. It shops include Australian-made stores, entertainment/leisure stores, music/books, homeware, food boutiques, and multiple cafes and restaurants with all different cuisines. I loved the unique design of the mall- historic, yet modern at the same time (the interior was designed in a modern fashion). Although I didn’t actually do much shopping itself, I got to absorb the surroundings and soak in all that QVB had to offer.

QVB (Queen Victoria Building)

(3) EY, Ernst & Young Sydney office. Obviously, EY is a big 4 accounting firm and has thousands of locations around the world but the Sydney office stood out to me the most out of any other one that I have visited. EY Sydney is located in the heart of the city, overlooking the world-famous harbor and is next to the famous Four Seasons Hotel. I really liked the building’s modern design, and it was so fascinating to see the views of Sydney harbor from the very top (we were able to see it as there was a large conference that got finished up). Right when we walked in, we saw hundreds of people piling out of the building in blazers and business suits and that made me more excited than ever to start my internship in the summer (I scored an internship in technology risk consulting for financial service clients for the summer of 2020). The hustle and bustle of the people was really motivating to see and getting to explore the office in a completely new country was definitely a memory that’s permanently etched in me.

Interior of the EY building: “building a better working world”

(4) The Blue Mountains. This was about an hour and a half drive from Sydney, and we actually went off-roading in a Jeep to explore the Mountains. This place had neat rock formations, quaint villages, and overall epic wilderness. The views of the forestries were also immaculate. Because we went off-roading (a somewhat risky endeavor), there was always a risk for vehicle malfunctions and we ended up getting our Jeep stuck across a branch after heading down a way-too-steep path. (See picture below lol). We ended up having to call a fellow Jeep owner on Facebook marketplace to help us get out of the pickle that we were stuck in (see picture below). Overall, it was probably the most adventurous I’ve ever been and we had a taste of what it was like to be stuck in the wildnerness for prolonged periods of time. Super super fun, and highly recommend.

Off roading in the mountains and guiding my cousin on where to drive
our jeep getting stuck against a branch after going down a very steep path
getting rescued by two other jeeps

–Sydney, Australia, Part 2, Coming Soon!–

Atlanta 2021

Hello! Long time, no post! Sometimes it can be hard for us writers to create “readable” material because let’s be honest- some of our lives are not interesting enough to be curated into a blog post (i.e mine). But something that I experienced recently WAS quite eventful- and that was my trip to visit family and friends in Atlanta. So, here’s my ATL trip in a nutshell. Enjoy!

Actually, before I get started, let me just start by saying, I think Atlanta is a VERY underrated city. Aside from the sometimes-horrendous traffic, I think Atlanta just has so many things to do- whether it’s the abundance of nature trails and hiking areas or the ultra-urban lifestyle downtown. It has a myriad of Fortune 500 companies and accompanying fancy, glass skyscrapers. Prices are also quite reasonable, and it has so much history to explore throughout the entire city. I would definitely live there given the chance.

Day 1: We landed in Atlanta and got picked up by our family friends! These are people who I’ve known my entire life and every time we meet, it’s like a wave of nostalgia overcomes me and makes me feel comforted. Sometimes I feel like I can just spend hours reminiscing about all of our childhood memories and laugh with them.

Day 2: My friend and I visited the waterfalls at Roswell Mills at Vickery Creek Trail. This was a beautiful, short hike to see small cascading waterfalls over a rocky cliff. I would say it’s one of the best hikes in the Chattahoochee River area. There is something just so serene and tranquil about waterfalls. It’s almost like they symbolize the flowing of negative energies. This area is also very historic and holds remnants of an old textile mill. We even saw a pelican at standstill, waiting for its next catch of fish. After our hike, we feasted at Moxie Burger, ordering a delicious meal of chicken sandwiches and zucchini fries.

me at Roswell Mill Waterfalls

Day 3: I interviewed and got accepted for a job at a Big 4 firm! This was definitely a surreal experience, as I had been in process of applying to full-time roles and scrambling to find a career that I thought would be the ultimate culmination of both my previous internship experiences and my academia. It was almost a cathartic feeling to get the call saying I got the offer and I was filled with excitement for the rest of the day. My friend and I went to an outdoor shopping/eatery complex called “The Battery”, which also happened to be adjacent to the Atlanta Braves baseball stadium. We walked around, soaking in the Atlanta sun, and eating gelato from Antico pizza while doing so. I highly recommend an afternoon at the Battery for a weekend day trip, work happy hour, or any other occasion.

Day 4: We met up with my cousins/aunt/uncle and explored the Atlanta Botanical Gardens! This is a 30-acre botanical garden that houses a myriad of plants- flowers, vegetables, and all kinds of succulents. There was a rose garden, orchid garden, and a gargantuan conservatory that had tall bamboo shoots, and even housed poisonous dart frogs. It felt like I was in the midst of an actual rainforest. We even saw an Indian wedding happening in the center and enjoyed the tunes of familiar Bollywood music playing.

me at the Atlanta Botanical Gardens

Day 5: On my last day in Atlanta, we visited North Point Mall, and got boba tea with my little cousin. We also went shopping and enjoyed the wide selection in stores like H&M and Forever 21. As we left in the evening, we saw a beautiful, pink sky. Sometimes it’s the little things in life like a colorful sky to demonstrate the beauty of the Earth and all that it has to offer.

Throughout the trip, I made sure I logged everything I did so that I could recount all that I did. That’s something I want to do with all of my memories- jot them down so that I could relive them, and cherish them. Atlanta has a very, very special place in my heart. It’s where I had my very first job back in 2019. It’s where I was able to experience life as a real adult, making real money, for the very first time. Having that first internship at Macy’s Technology gave me the kind of confidence and sense of fulfillment that I never had before in my life. I can’t wait to visit my home-away-from-home once again when the time comes. If anyone wants any recommendations for places to visit in ATL, feel free to contact me! Thanks again for reading my blog and joining me in my journey through life and its unexpected twists and turns, I love having you here.

My Year of “Firsts”

2021 was a new chapter for me. I did so many things and achieved much more than I ever knew was even possible for me back in 2020. So, here’s my list of “firsts” that I’ve done in 2021. Enjoy!

  1. First time trying kimchi fries at Chi-lantro (Korean Mexican fusion cuisine)
  2. First time in an actual club (not really an accomplishment but it was fun lol
  3. First time visiting the boardwalk in Austin (a long pathway over Lady Bird Lake, where you can get a breathtaking view of the Austin skyline)
  4. First legal drink that I purchased after turning 21 (at Chuy’s which was Day 2 of my birthday weekend)
  5. First time ordering drinks at a BAR after turning 21 at Buckshots (ok maybe these aren’t really accomplishments but I’m including them because they were fun times)
  6. And I have a whole list of new food places that I’ve tried here they are:
    1. Mandola’s Italian Kitchen (pretty solid Italian food, I ordered the Eggplant Parmigiana)
    2. Jeni’s Ice Cream at the Domain (one of the best ice cream places that I’ve tried, has a bunch of unique flavors too!)
    3. Joi Asian Bistro at the Domain (get the tofu steamed buns, reminded me of the Disney short film “Bao”)
    4. Tumble 22 (Nashville Hot Chicken- I highly recommend the lil hot sandwich with a side of dirty mac and cheese)
    5. Snooze AM Eatery (the BEST breakfast place, I got the OMG French Toast)
    6. CAVA (the Mediterranean equivalent of Chipotle, very healthy and lots of options- I usually get a bowl with half lentils and half rice!)
    7. Blue Corn Harvest Grill (a friend introduced me to this, it’s all organic and farm fresh Mexican food! very healthy and delicious, lots of vegetarian options as well)
    8. Andy’s Frozen Custard (it’s like ice cream, but way creamier- I like the butter pecan concrete a lot!)
    9. Scoope & Score Ice Cream (I got the birthday cake flavor, solid ice cream place would rate it an 8/10)
    10. Manoli’s dessert bar (a cute little dessert truck in Downtown ATX, has items like mango ice cream, tiramisu cake, popsicles, and more!)
    11. Rainey street food trucks (I don’t remember the exact names but we had momo’s, crepes, and ice cream, and they were 10/10)
    12. North Italia at the Domain (9/10 Italian food, I usually get the chicken pesto pasta)
    13. Voodoo Doughnut (finally tried this iconic place, has lots of interestingly themed donuts, I got the Voodoo doll doughnut, which has rasberry jelly filling, 10/10)
    14. Mozart’s Coffee Roasters (I’m not sure why it took me this long to try this place but finally went! amazing views and solid coffee)
    15. Veracruz Tacos at the Line Hotel (the most delicious tacos that I’ve ever had- definitely beat Velvet Taco, Torchy’s Tacos, and Tacodeli)
  7. ^^ k that was an exceedingly lost list, as you can probably tell, this year I ate GOOD. anyways, back to my list
  8. First time KAYAKING. This was another one of those things that made me wonder how it took me this long to try an activity that was an Austinite essential. You can rent a kayak for $20/hour and get a good arm/leg workout in Lady Bird Lake. If you go around evening time you can catch breathtaking sunset views and make you realize how beautiful the Earth really is. Check out my Instagram @audheya6 for a visual https://www.instagram.com/audheya6/?hl=en
  9. First time exploring Las Vegas as an adult!! We went inside all of the hotels, casinos, the Stratosphere, and the largest ferris wheel in the world!!
  10. First time watching Eminem’s 8 mile- very inspirational movie with a great soundtrack
  11. First time recording my own music in an ACTUAL recording studio- one of the nicest friends I have surprised me on Day 4 of my birthday weekend where I got to sing in a mic and have professional music done (private message me and I can send them to you if you’re interested)
  12. First time going to MIAMI. I’ve been to Florida many times before- Orlando and Panama City Beach but Miami was something else. The nightlife, the diversity, the culture, the food, the beaches were nothing like no other. We tried Cuban food at Calle Ocho, had Italian at Espanola Way, went to Everglades National Park and rode an airboat in the swamp, drove to Key West and swam in the clearest ocean water, went on a tour of millionaire’s homes in downtown Miami, went to Miami design district, rented bikes and rode around all of South Beach!
  13. First internship at Salesforce! (great company with great company culture and work-life balance)
  14. First time re-visiting Westwood High School with my best friend (it’s a pretty surreal experience to visit your old high school for the first time you graduated, the doors were unlocked for some reason and so we just explored around the building reminiscing about all of the fun times that we had there)
  15. First time trying different rooftop restaurants in Austin (P6 at the Line Hotel, The Edge Rooftop in JW Marriot)
  16. First time buying Chanel perfume (this was little bit of a splurge but 10/10 worth it, I think perfume is a great investment and this thing will you make feel FRESH)
  17. First time getting a second ear piercing! (pretty self-explanatory)
  18. First time having a social media job! (two actually- I worked for Riddle & Bloom doing marketing for Amazon, as well as GIST, a San-Francisco-based startup)
  19. First time seeing the Grand Canyon (I was going to include this in the Vegas line since it was during the same trip but I figured this needed a line of it’s own). We went to the skywalk in Grand Canyon West and it was just full of the most beautiful views that you can possibly imagine. 10/10 recommend going if you haven’t already.
  20. First time at City Line in Dallas (nice shopping/eating place that’s not that far from UTD)
  21. First time at Laguna Gloria Contemporary Art Museum (beautiful outdoor sculptures and Italian-themed architecture with GREAT photo-ops)
  22. And probably one of the biggest acccomplishments for me, but I graduate undergrad in 3 years!!!

It’s only October, and I plan on doing so much more this coming fall/winter- travelling, job interviews, preparing for grad school, and more. I can’t wait for the journey ahead.

2020-2021 Diaries

Hello hello! It has been quite a while since I’ve posted on my blog, and since the semester ended (and I’ve graduated-finally!), I thought it would be the perfect time to finally get back to one of the things I love doing the most, which is of course, writing. Needless to say, the past year and a half were probably the strangest, most unexpected, and challenging time in many of our lifetimes. The COVID-19 pandemic has flipped the entire world upside down and has changed so many functionalities of our daily lives, and will continue to push our boundaries for the next few years to come. I’ve learned so much about myself, the people around me, and the world in such a short span of time and thought that I could share some insight + stories with you all. I’m sure many of you can relate to many of these and if you, feel free to share your thoughts with me directly, because I’d love to hear them!

  1. There’s a lot to be grateful for (extremely cheesy, but hear me out). When I came back home from university to live with my family at home, I didn’t realize that for the next year we would pretty much be stuck at home and locked away from the outside world. It became scary to go outside, to even see friends, in fear that we would be spreading the virus and getting ourselves and others sick. Seeing the news was petrifying, and only exacerbated the need to stay at home and stay isolated. Even though it was difficult to miss out on formerly essential daily outdoor activities, I sooner or later found solace and serenity in staying at home and spending time with the people I care the most about it. I learned how to find “fun” and happiness from within. I picked up on the classic quarantine pasttimes such as yoga, meditation, reading, journaling, and baking. There’s so much that you can do at home, and being at home really amplified how spending time alone and working on bettering yourself is just as crucial as going out and exploring the world.
  2. WTF is technology. Obviously, before the pandemic, the world was already becoming globalized and technologically advanced at a rapid pace, but at the onset of COVID, it became evident that technology was not only a means to communicate but a FRIEND. Whether it was Teams, Discord, Google Meet, Zoom, Facetime, or whatever: we needed these to function for our social life, work life, and literally everything else. The good thing is, we’ve clearly all become experts at how to use them, and will continue to use them for years to come.
  3. More ambitious, driven people. Myself included, I’ve seen and heard from many people that because they’ve seen all the horrible things going on all around the world, and have had time to reflect on worldy issues, they’ve become more motivated to get involved in altruistic activities and passions. I’ve seen more premeds, people deciding go to law school, more social media presence, and volunteering. Even though I’m still trying to figure out how exactly I want to get involved, I’ve become more motivated as ever to give back to the world and play a role in bettering our society.

That’s all for now, but lots more blog posts to come your way! I have tons more passion projects that I’m working on that I can’t wait to share with y’all. As always, thanks for joining me on this (tumultuous), but very gratifying, journey.

A Summer in Georgia

Summer 2019 was spent in a brand new place- a state I’ve never visited before, Georgia! On the weekends, I took the time to soak in everything Atlanta and its surrounding areas had to offer. Here, I’ve compiled a list of some of the places I’ve explored. Maybe you can visit some of these if you ever visit GA! Here’s to the good old south. “Just an old sweet song…keeps Georgia on my Mind,” –Ray Charles

  1. MLK Jr. National Historical Park: The entire essence of one of U.S history’s most prominent and inspiring leaders in one place. Here you can visit MLK Jr’s childhood home, as well as the same exact church where he used to preach. The museum chronologies his entire life, from his early days growing up in Atlanta, to challenging segregation and leading the Civil Rights movement. Such an inspiring place.
  2. Centennial Olympic Park: A beautiful and expansive park in the heart of Atlanta. It was built by the Atlanta Olympic Committee, and hosts live music, a large fountain show (which takes the shape of the olympic rings) and a giant ferris wheel overlooking the entire city. It’s in the center of many of Atlanta’s popular visiting sites, including the World of Coca Cola.
  3. CNN Headquarters: The world HQ of one of the country’s largest and oldest news broadcasting platforms. Inside are the main newsrooms and studios for many of the news channels. You can take a studio tour to get a glimpse of how it all happens.
  4. Stone Mountain: Literally a huge mountain/hike where you can climb to get a 360 degree view of the Atlanta skyline. The view really cannot be described in words or through a picture. It also has a sky lift that can take you up and down the mountain, and even a food court at the very top of the mountain. The popsicles really came in handy in the 90 degree weather.
  5. A TON of hiking trails: It seemed like every street corner had a walking trail here in GA. There are so many trees, so many places to just go to when you want to escape in nature (complete opposite to Dallas). It’s great exercise and perfect for finding your “zen”.
  6. Shopping: I love the malls here. Sugarloaf Mills and North Point mall have a huge selection of stores. Gwinnett Place Mall is an older mall where the third season of Stranger Things was filmed!

19 Things I Learned at 19

Hello Friends! I’m so sorry I have not posted in so long! I haven’t been the best at keeping up on my blog, but I’ve made it a goal to post at least once a week now. Today, I turned 19 years old, the last year of being a teenager. I decided to take some time to reflect on this past year, and write a list of 19 things that I learned at 19. Sorry in advance if some of these sound cliche or cheesy. But everything I wrote comes from my heart, and I hope you find something worthwhile in it. Thank you so much for sticking around, and feel free to subscribe to this blog so you can get notifications whenever I post.

19 Things I Learned at 19 

  1. College can be CRAZY. In so many different ways. College is fun, stressful, emotional, and a time where you can learn a lot about yourself and life all in the span of one year (as cheesy as that sounds). I met some of the most amazing people and I’m so grateful to have made friends that have literally become my family. Also, leaving home can be HARD. Get ready for some tears, on both sides. 
  2. Life can be really confusing. You might not have clarity in your professional life, personal life, or family life, and that’s ok. I feel like everyone holds such a high expectations for people our age, and people feel a lot of pressure to succeed in the eyes of their parents. But take your own time to figure out how you want to go about your own life, because you don’t want to look back and regret that you didn’t accomplish what you wanted to do. 
  3. Give back! Volunteer, donate, make a fundraiser, make your voice loud and clear, get politically active, raise awareness in a cause that you believe in. Do anything you can to give back to your community and make your mark on the world. At 18, I finally got the chance to vote in the midterm election and support the causes that I passionately believe in. The world can be a dark place, and sometimes it seems like no matter what you do, you can never fix anything. But it’s important to contribute, because if everyone contributed, there can be profound change done. 
  4. Get some hobbies! This sounds really simple, but I’ve met so many people close to me have always said things like “man, I wish I sang, or I wish I could play tennis, or I wish I did this.” I used to say these things ALL THE TIME, but now I realized that I could just do them. It’s never too late to join a sport, or an a cappella group, or learn the ukulele (YouTube is a great place for that). Whatever you want to do, don’t let yourself hold you back. 
  5. Read more books for fun! I’ve honestly been so bad at reading nowadays, not because I lack the time for them, but the motivation. But sitting down with a good book in the library with a hot cup of coffee on a Sunday morning- one of the best feelings ever. Some of my favorite books- A Thousand Splendid Suns, Becoming, and Unbroken (you can read more about these in my previous blog post). 
  6. Learn about finances! This is something that is just not taught in public school (I have no idea why), but this could quite possibly be one of the most important lessons a young person going into the real world needs to have. Before college, I had no idea what the difference between a savings and checking account was. I had barely an idea of how stocks worked and was just clueless on budgeting, financial planning, or 401ks. Read up on this stuff, do your research, learn about taxes, so that when it comes time to do this stuff on your own, you won’t be clueless as I was. 
  7. Read about Bitcoin! Following up with number 7, I recently started reading into Bitcoin and cryptocurrencies. The timing was fitting, as I’m working as a cybersecurity intern, and I’m getting more and more interested in Blockchain and cryptography. After watching a podcast by two of my favorite YouTubers (Michelle Phan and Ryan Higa), I finally got to understand what Bitcoin was, and why it’s such a valued asset.  It’s digital gold y’all!
  8. Catch up with childhood friends! There’s nothing like meeting with your old friends and catching up on life. You know they’re your best friends when you haven’t seen them in years, but it feels like nothing has changed. 
  9. Practice self-care! Everyone always says this, and I know it’s hard to actually do, but trust me, it works! My go-to method is meditation. Check out my meditation playlist on Spotify at audi9000. 
  10. Talk to your grandparents! I haven’t been really good with this, but the more I talk to them, the more I’m in absolute fascination with their life stories. My grandparents are all from India, and it’s so interesting hearing about the experiences they’ve had growing up. My grandpa used to be an English professor and tells me all sorts of stories about his time as a lecturer in India. And he knows everything about everything, literally. He can give a summary of any literature book in existence, or give you a breakdown of the history of any country on Earth.
  11. Be informed! Read the news, know what is going on in the world around you. We are all citizens of this planet, and it’s our responsibility to be aware. 
  12. Reduce social media consumption! This was probably one of the biggest changes I made in my life this year. I would literally waste so many hours of my life surfing on Instagram, watching YouTube videos, and going on Snapchat. There’s nothing inherently wrong with these things, but I truly feel that are generation has a collective addiction to social media and it is becoming somewhat of a disease. What is the point of living through other people’s experiences, when you can create your own? Instagram was rated the worst social media for your mental health, and it’s clear to see why (you can read more on this in one of my other blog posts). 
  13. Health is wealth! Mental health and physical health. Take care of yourself. 
  14. Love yourself. This has something I have admittedly struggled with for a long, long time. It’s so easy to fall into the hole of self-deprecation and self-loathing. It’s also easier said than done to actually be content with yourself. It’s useless to compare yourself to other people or put yourself down constantly. There’s little room for progression and success for people that aren’t confident in themselves or their abilities.But take it one day at a time, and be appreciative of who you are as a human being. 
  15. Be respectful! This is definitely something I’m still working on. You might not agree with everyone and anyone, and this is totally fine. Just be respectful, and move on. If things aren’t working out between another person and yourself, wish them well, and move on with your life. Life is wayyy too short to keep toxic people in your circle and cause you stress. 
  16. Don’t be afraid to branch out! Change is hard, but inevitable. Reach out to people, smile and say hello to the person who is sitting alone at lunch. Or be friendly to the person who decides to sit with you at lunch. College is the perfect time to meet all sorts of people, and make best friends for life. 
  17. Party culture is complicated. America’s party culture is a bit overwhelming, to say the least. And it makes sense, because partying is fun (especially in college). But after going to a few, you might realize that it’s not your scene. Maybe your scene is going on summer night drives with your best friends, with your windows rolled down and music blasting. Maybe your scene is talking about your big dreams and your plans to take over the world. Maybe your scene is playing board games with your family and cooking your favorite food. The point is, it’s OK if you don’t like to party. Don’t shame other people for partying or not partying, the choice is theirs. 
  18. Listen to music! Music has literally been therapy for me, my entire life. There’s hundreds of thousands of songs out there. Pop music, rock music, Spanish music, bollywood music, K-pop, the choices are endless. Follow my playlists on Spotify at audi9000!
  19. Enjoy your life! Do stupid things, and learn from them. Work hard and set goals for yourself. Be kind to other people. Spend time with your parents, who will literally be there for you no matter what. Follow your passions. Keep learning. Travel the world. The world has endless possibilities for you, and it’s up to you to create the life that you want for yourself. Be brave, and enjoy the ride that life takes you on. 

May Favorites: Book Edition

Just like many other little kids, I read books all the time. And when I mean all the time, I meant ALL the time. Reading at the dinner table, reading during recess, reading after playing outside with my friends was not uncommon for me when I was younger. Even though I lost this interest with reading somewhere along the lines, I became inspired to read again after Michelle Obama came out with her memoir, Becoming. Here is a list of three books that I highly recommend. If you lost touch with reading like I did, you might find it hard to sit down and concentrate on whatever you are reading. The best thing to do is create an atmosphere for yourself in which you can lose yourself in your book. Eliminate all distractions (no cell phones, laptops, etc.), relax, and immerse yourself in reading. Enjoy.

  1. Becoming, by Michelle Obama: The entire life story of Michelle Obama told to us through her own words. She brings us along in her journey from her humble childhood in the Southside of Chicago, all the way to her time as First Lady of the United States. Her story is incredibly inspiring, hilarious, and emotional all at the same time. It’s not surprising that her memoir was the best-selling book of 2018.
  2. A Thousand Splendid Suns, by Khaled Hosseini: Quite easily the best book I ever read. A chronicle of 30 years of Afghan history told through the experiences of two brave women, Mariam and Laila. It’s an incredibly moving story of friendship, faith, and family, teaching us that hope and love can be found even in the most unfathomable situations. *warning: many tears may be shed whilst reading
  3. Unbroken, by Laura Hillenbrand: An extensive biography illustrating the astonishing journey of World War II veteran Louis Zamperini. His experiences were harrowing, intense, and arduous to say the least. But his story teaches everyone that the human spirit is extraordinarily strong and that strength can be obtained through hope. Louis, we learn, is completely unbreakable.

Why I Deleted Instagram

While this article is definitely about one of the biggest first world problems there is, I just wanted to share my experience with one of the most popular social media sites that exist today. Even though deleting Instagram may not sound like the most rejuvenating, soul-awakening experience, to me, it actually was, and I’ll explain why. Here is a breakdown of my timeline with Insta – from when I got it, to when I had it, to when I decided to let it go.

Disclaimer: I don’t mean to shade the app itself or anyone that uses Instagram. I think social media can be a great tool and is an effective way with connecting with others. The purpose of this is to share my personal experience with Instagram as well as provoke the thought, how much of our lives has social media consumed? Take everything I say with a grain of salt.

December 2014: I made my first Instagram with two of my friends. This was when the app really started to gain traction among people my age (high school freshman). Many people in my age group started their Instagrams during early middle school, but high school was when everyone’s pages started to get “serious”. Posting “artsy” pictures of food at fancy restaurants, taking candid pictures with friends in gardens or some other beautiful place, and documenting exquisite travels to Italy and Costa Rica were becoming the norm. And don’t forget, with every beautiful-looking photo comes a brilliant quote, pun, or funny phrase for the caption. To top it off, the people involved in the masterpiece post would be tagged, and the location was put on display. This, we learned, was the concoction to the “perfect” Instagram post.

December 2015: My sophomore year of high school was when I really started getting absorbed into this alternate, digital form of the universe. Going to places with my friends was not complete if we didn’t have an entire photoshoot afterward dedicated to our Instagrams. All of our followers just HAD to see what we were eating for dinner, how nice we dressed up, and just how close and happy we all were. After all, what was the point of even going out if we didn’t show it off to random people that we don’t really care much about? Receiving likes and comments on my posts gave me a kind of satisfaction I never really got from anything else. I was getting validation from hundreds of people, all of them indicating that they liked whatever I posted. I felt important, felt acknowledged, and felt like I belonged. As I gained new followers, I got more and more likes on my photos and it made me feel more accomplished. This obsession with numbers escalated, as I was seeking for the numbers of followers and likes to grow. I felt like Instagram was one of the only ways that I could have control over my life, and I wanted my feed to be just like what everyone else wanted- a perfectly curated highlight reel of the happiest moments in life.

December 2016: This was when Instagram stories was introduced. Just like Snapchat stories, now, we were able to display where we were and what were doing in real time. It was absolutely essential for people to show what they were eating for breakfast, show themselves getting ready for school, and documenting more private information in real time. At this point, I found myself truly missing out on life’s greatest moments all because I wanted to get a good Instagram story. I would stop enjoying watching fireworks through my own eyes, and instead I would watch them through my phone screen as I videotaped for my Instagram. I would take boomerang videos left and right, all of them capturing how much fun I was having. I would check who viewed my story instead of spending quality, personal time with the people I was with in the first place. And this happened almost all the time.

May 2019: Fast forward a couple of years, I decided that after all this time, maybe Instagram just wasn’t for me anymore. I was so absorbed into this digital space that whenever I wanted to take a photo, I started planning captions in my mind. I started to post at times when I knew I would get the most likes. But at the end of the day, why does any of that even matter? I want moments for myself. I want memories and experiences and good times, not likes and comments from people that I barely even know. I want to travel the world and experience life through my own eyes, not behind a screen where a few hundred people are watching. I don’t need to keep seeing heavily edited, filtered, PhotoShopped, and Facetuned images of celebrities with their chiseled abs and perfect faces. It’s great that people enjoy their lives with their beautiful friends at beautiful beaches in Mykonos or Ibiza, but it’s not something that I want to see. I want to experience these things for myself, and I want to keep these experiences for myself, not broadcast it to the entire world.

So, I finally went ahead and deleted my account. Needless to say, I feel so refreshed and it feels like a weight has been off of my shoulders. I started having more personal conversations with everyone I spent time with, instead of pretending like I didn’t know what they were up to already. Going to new places felt real again. There wasn’t any pressure to broadcast what I was doing to the world anymore. Life just started feeling like what it should be. I encourage anyone with a social media addiction, or anyone who finds themselves unhappy with Instagram to take the brave step in deleting it altogether. You might find yourself finding the things in life that truly matter to you.