Author Archives: navtejahuja

Posts by navtejahuja

Influence and Experimentation

The two exhibits we explored in the Metropolitan Museum of Art were the “African Influences in Modern Art” and “Matisse: In Search of True Painitng”.  Each exhibit was interesting in that the African one was small, but provided a plethora of details to analyze in each influenced work, while the Matisse exhibit could be seen as a progression of his life and working techniques.


The “African Influences in Modern Art” exhibit blended modernism with historical technique, which was probably what artists influenced by African art were striving for. One piece in particular that drew my attention was a wood carving of a mask (unknown artist). The many features of this mask allow it to be seen as a modern interpretation of ancient African art. Most ancient African masks were focused on specific portions of the face, and it can be seen in this one that the nose and lips are much larger than those of an average person, and the forehead comes down good amount more. The wood finishing is also a prime example of influence from African masks, with smoothness in certain areas and a grained texture on the sides. This piece is clearly a modern artist’s interpretation of older works of art.


Another piece that caught my attention was Diego Rivera’s “The Café Terrace”. This oil on canvas piece was clearly influenced by African abstract art. The various colors long with sharp but unrecognizable shapes attest to this. Moreover, the color gradients and choices are also reminiscent of Africa works. One can distinguish certain figures, such as a spoon, the bottom of a table, and a woman’s dress, but the rest is open to interpretation, just like older abstract works. Other modern artists such as Picasso were also influenced by these techniques, color schemes, and textures. Rivera’s work, according to the description adjacent to the work, was at one point placed alongside three African works that were woodcarvings. One can see, through the sharp lines and the fact that some aspects are more prominent that there is a certain amount of influence on Rivera’s work.


While Henri Matisse was influenced by African art during a period of his life, he viewed art as a progression and experiment. He would test different effects and then place them side-by-side in order to compare them. It is almost like writing in the sense that there were many rough drafts before the final piece was accepted. Matisse also liked to paint in pairs and trios in order to gauge how different focuses and techniques could alter the perception of a work. One example of this would be his painting of fruit pairs. He changed the colors around, making different parts of the painting brighter, in order to test how that alters the focus of the work. Even though the fruits were the main focus in the first one, as he made the parts around the fruit brighter and higher definition, the perception of the picture changed. Instead of viewing the work from the fruits out, one would see it from the surroundings in. I found this to be fascinating. He also used a similar technique in a trio: “Gulf of St Tropez “Luxe”, “Calme”, and “Et Volupte.” Each painting reflected a different mood, and he conveyed this by creating different textures. Some were smooth strokes, while others were made whole by combining many short strokes (almost presenting a Van Gogh like effect). Each painting, though having the same subject matter, completely changed meaning because of the technique used in it.


Matisse was also able to show progression through color and definition. In his works “Le Luxe” (1, 2, and 3), he depicts three nude women standing on what seems to be a field. However, as one views each picture, they progressively become sharper.  The lines become straighter, and each object in the background can be seen more clearly. However, the one concept that does not escape the eyes is that he takes away color as well. So we go from colored and blurry to sharp and black and white. He almost progresses backwards in order to get to the most basic version of picture, as if to un-cloud the judgment of a viewer, and convey the work as it was supposed to be.


African art has influenced many prominent artists, such as Matisse and Picasso. The sharp lines, bright colors, and abstract shapes are all derived from an ancient culture, modernized by interpretation. People continue to be intrigued by the message African art conveys, and artists have done their best to recreate that sense of inquisitiveness. Matisse was also, through his progressive work, able to incorporate many of these techniques.


Matisse and Africa’s influences provide exhibits worth viewing again and again.

Painting Credit: Diego Rivera
Courtesy of MET

Moving Stillness

Apartheid ended just twenty or so years ago. However, the pictures throughout this time period are extremely powerful, conveying the difficulty, hatred, and struggle experiences by black people. The International Center of Photography (ICP) is currently holding its Rise and Fall of Apartheid: Photography and the Bureaucracy of Everyday Life exhibit. As one walks down the halls, it is noticeable that the exhibit flows chronologically, allowing the viewers to gaze upon policy, attitudinal, and technological changes.  Emotions ranging from violence to depression to jubilation can be seen in any of these photographs. Famous photographers such as Cedric Nunn and Peter Magubane were featured in this masterfully powerful exhibit.

A photograph that stood out and caught a great amount of attention was one by Cedric Nunn. It featured a woman, sitting on a bed, alone. She is facing a wall in a small square room. The description under the photo explains that this mother is mourning the death of her son, who was supposedly a supporter of the UDC (United Democratic Front). The UDC was a powerful anti apartheid organization. This photograph displays the extent to which peoples’ beliefs could lead them to be persecuted. It can be assumed that her son was part of some demonstration that may have turned violent, causing his death. This photograph is extremely effective because it does not show the mother’s face. This shows how this violence did not affect specific people, but anyone who was involved. Then of course, the economic conditions can be determined, as the house looks plain and simple, with nothing elegant. Nunn displays the truth of sadness in this photograph, a very powerful message in this exhibit.

Another powerful image in this exhibit was one by Peter Magubane. Taken in 1976, this photograph shows a small group of black men holding makeshift weapons in their struggle to fight off an unseen enemy. One man can be seen holding a trash can lid while another is seen clutching some sort of a box. Violence was common as many people struggled to end the unfair practice of apartheid. Through this picture, it can be seen that one of these sides was at a huge disadvantage. The background of this black and white picture is a poor rural village, showing the economic struggles of the blacks. In fact, the photo is captioned “Fighting bullets with stones”. Violence was commonplace during the struggle to end apartheid, and it is often this one sided fighting affair that led to casualties and death.

Peter Magubane had another work in this fantastic exhibition that truly displayed the essence of the fight to end apartheid. This is the photograph of the Sharpeville funeral held in 1960. A crowd of well dressed black men can be seen lined to see what seems like an endless line of caskets. The Sharpeville Massacre was an incident in which 69 black protesters were killed by police after an altercation. Though there were many photographs of funerals in this exhibit, this one directly displays the effect of the anti apartheid struggle. It led to many deaths, but in the end was worth it, as equality was accepted. While each casket looks exactly the same, each one held a human being with a family, friends, and others left behind. Realizing this makes one truly appreciate the magnitude of this struggle, and how much people valued their principles over their very own lives.


While many photographs taken tried to focus on the negatives of the situation, one photgrapher, Cedric Nunn, was able to capture the transition of South Africa. Some of his photgraphs in the exhibit were a part of his “Then and Now” collection, in which he examined the change blacks went through during and after apartheid. In the “Then” portion, many of the photographs are displaying some sort of struggle, whether it be protests, poverty, or death. The one that stands out shows a group of black youth carrying a casket, with one leading and carrying a cross. However, he is also able to capture the positives after apartheid ended. His “Now” collection contains a photograph of a black man walking on a sidewalk in Johannesburg in 2000. There are white people in the background, and the fact that everyone is on the same side of the street, walking and barely noticing each other shows the positives changes that have taken place. While many photographers tried to focus on the “struggle” theme, Cedric Nunn successfully showed the transition in South Africa.

The International Center of Photography has done an excellent job in gathering the most powerful and informational photographs from the apartheid era. The “Rise and Fall of Apartheid” exhibit is something that shows the true struggle for equality that took place in South Africa, while displaying some positive rays of hope, leading to an eventual positive outcome. The curator Okwui Enwezor understood how to best present this delicate yet important issue, treating it with care. This exhibit is a must go for anyone interested in historical events or just good photography.

Credit: Peter Magubane


House (And Opinions)/ Divided

The stage was set. The economy was booming, propelled by the housing market. Juxtaposed throughout the performance was the famous Steinbeck work Grapes of Wrath. Home owners and stock traders shared good fortune. But as the music portrayed, there was something churning and developing under the surface of this commentary on the economic decline, House/ Divided.

The theater piece starts off with the hustle and bustle of an average day of the New York Stock Exchange. As traders inquire to the profitability of purchasing new stocks, and others try to convince them that they are “as safe as houses”, the ironic turn of events begins to take place.

This performance takes place on one stage, with a house as the centerpiece. This house revolved, rotated, broke apart, and did much else to supplement a wonderful performance by the actors.  On the wall behind the house, stock prices could be seen moving from right to left, showing a lot of green to indicate beneficial stock markets.  Throughout the performance, music depicted the mood of the characters. In the beginning, the fast paced music almost made it seem as if the audience was in a jungle (and why not? The stock market is one of the darkest, densest jungles there are).  The music (mostly automated but some live) changed as the scene transitioned from that of a busy trading floor to that of the prairie, where Steinbeck’s characters are accompanied by much older, non- machine made music. However, director Marianne Weems and writer Moe Angelos did a great job in preserving the theme of displaced people.

This performance also mixes in many interviews of actual home owners in Columbus, Ohio (chosen because Ohio is a swing state and was effected deeply by the housing crisis) who had lost their homes due to the economic meltdown. This was a great addition and gave a deep insight into the magnitude and reality of the situation. Another aspect of the performance that conveyed reality was the crude language used by the two stockbrokers. Their words were filled with sarcasm, disdain, and a lack of emotion or empathy. This is the image that stockbrokers of today that is widely accepted by both the media and the public.

As soon as the economic downturn hit, the music changed to the type one would see in a movie when someone is breaking out of jail. The house, an image of the American Dream, begins to be disassembled, as chaos ensues in the finance offices. The president of Bear Sterns comes on to the main screen, reassuring investors that everything will be fine, and the recovery will occur promptly. To an audience in 2012, this is almost comical, as it is clear that what was predicted did not happen and these business leaders took completely wrong steps in trying to turn the direction of their companies. This performance was a commentary not only on the tragedy for homeowners, but also the ineptness of loan officers, giving loans to people that clearly could not afford to pay any of them back. As the stock market plummeted, the setting changed to the farms of Oklahoma, in which the families have been kicked off their farms, having to move to California in order to pick fruit. The juxtaposition of these two problems is also quite interesting because in the old days, people would simply move to places where there were better opportunities, but now there is such a high demand for jobs that at some points, there are just not enough jobs to sustain economic growth. Another interesting comparison between the two time periods is that in Steinbeck’s time, there was no such thing as a big bank who’s failure could set off a chain reaction to effect the national economy. However, economies today have become so complex and inter- connected that one fallout can cause a much greater reaction.

The play’s strongest message was sent in the end, as an actor portraying Alan Greenspan, former Chairman of the Federal Reserve accused of over deregulating the market to the point where it was taken advantage of and the decline began. With Greenspan’s refusal to admit his mistakes and eventual acceptance, the stock strip in the back of the stage began to flicker green, signaling recovery. Once again, Steinbeck’s characters were brought back to signal a similar emotion of hope and resilience. Both stories will hopefully have a positive end.


“You Blew It”

Lucky enough to stay after for the question and answer session, something I heard blew my mind. “You blew it.” An elderly woman got up to ask a question, but instead went on to destroy the performance. She said that “the music was abominable” and she was not “emotionally stirred”. Everyone was shocked by this sudden rudeness, and the director was no exception. “You go write your own play,” said Marianne Weems angrily. This woman, though entitled to her opinions, needed to do a better job of conveying her criticism, and this part of the night was the only subpar one for me.


Credit: Jay LaPrete

A Self Created Photographer

Max Flatow, originally from Brooklyn, has had an extremely interesting climb to success. Coming from a high school with a great photography program, he indulged in this art. However, college was a completely different experience. According to him, while the Southern Vermont College (a small private school of 450 students) had a darkroom, it was barely used, and there were not many classes pertaining to this area either. However, he was able to make the most out of what the school had to offer and spent countless hours in the college’s darkroom, teaching himself and experimenting with different techniques. He also studied abroad in Spain to expand his knowledge.

Max Flatow is an epitome of the modern photographer. He appreciates Instagram and uses social networking to advertise himself. He calls Photoshop a “digital darkroom” and prefers digital cameras to film because they let him take a thousand shots instead of twenty five, and goes on to describe the growing importance of technology, referring to the fact that the famous Captain Sully plane shot was taken on an iPhone. Ever since he sold his works for the first time at a café, he knew he wanted to be a photographer. As an entrepreneur, Max Flatow appreciates the importance of networking. In high school and college, he worked under the supervision of Mary Howard, who taught him how to run a business and how essential face to face networking is.

“People are gonna get married no matter what.” This is the explanation Mr. Flatow gives for why he started his career mainly as a wedding photographer. However, he has expanded into many other fields, including food. All of his photographed food is natural, and he always tries to include photographs of the chefs, as they are integral in the production of this food. Flatow has been involved in many famous shoots, such as those of Brady Lowe’s pigs.

One thing that could be seen right off the bat was Max Flatow’s appreciation of technique in photography. As he went through the slideshow of his various pictures, he described his mindset and the technique he was trying to use in each photograph. He began by talking about “depth of field,” in which everything but the subject is a blur. With lighting techniques, there are endless possibilities according to him. He described the silhouette shot he took of a couple, and how, the right shutter speed combined with the proper amount of light gave him the perfect shot.  There is also the rule of thirds, in which the subject is not in the center of photograph, but towards one side. However, the one thing that must be kept in mind and he made this very clear, was that “even though a lot of techniques are cool, do not overuse them”.  One technique that stood out to me was the tilt. I had no idea simply tilting the camera could have such a large impact on the dynamics of the picture.

Efficient, modern, and elegant: three words that describe Max Flatow’s photographic career and style. His ability to appreciate the natural is what makes his work that much more appreciable.

Here is a link to one of my personal favorite photographs groups by Mr. Flatow:


Beautiful Words Create Beautiful Images

As the 29th Harman writer, Katherine Vaz, stepped on to the stage, she was greeted with polite applause. She began with an introduction of herself, what brought her to Baruch on that rainy evening, and a short description of her works. It could be clearly seen that she was very comfortable in this type of a situation, and was rather enjoying herself. The audience, now full of food, was ready to hear this reading.

This was the first reading I have attended, and I felt intrigued by the anticipation in the room, as it seemed that everyone else knew what was to be expected.

It looked as if a spotlight had been placed on Ms, Vaz, with her yellow dress illuminating her surroundings. She spoke clearly yet casually about her newest work, Below the Salt to be released in January. This is her fifth work in her collection of publications, which also includes Our Lady of the Artichokes, a collection of short stories.

Her most recent work has some striking similarities with the ones that preceded it. For example, there is religious aspect that is prevalent in many of her short stories in Our Lady of the Artichokes as well. Below the Salt, in which she read excerpts from important sections, tells the story of a mother and a child during the time of the Civil War, banished from their homeland due to the fact that they did not wish to convert to Presbyterianism.  The main character is the child, John Olves, and the story tracks his progression through life’s stages.

Ms. Vaz used her powerful voice to provide the audience with images of what was happening in the story.  As I looked around, I saw many people with eyes closed and brows furrowed, trying to picture the beautiful words she spoke. Describing the mother and John’s time in captivity, she read the phrase “He ate nothing but the music of birds” before explaining that his mom taught him how to sing. She also went on to speak about the religious significance. The guards in the prison were using John to “break her”. The mother’s response to this behavior was “I’ll go hungry but feed my baby”. This speaks to the religious backdrop of the story and the moral lessons that most religions provide, such as respecting other human beings and taking care of children.

Katherine Vaz was able to seamlessly transition between reading her story and anecdotes from the time she wrote the novel. As she read about John going to fight in the Civil War, there was a very powerful line which caught my attention. “’We are all condemned to this world,’ John said.” She continued on to describe some of the horrors at which point she started to explain how she acquired the knowledge to some for the details she used, such as the starving at Vicksburg. She studied letters of soldiers from the Library of Congress. After sharing a quirky story about Lincoln and a librarian, she continued to read her story as if she had never stopped. This allowed the reading to be smooth, and easy to follow.

Overall, I was not only impressed by Katherine Vaz’s ability to read to an audience, but also with her writing technique. Her description of a love scene involving spoke to me greatly. The setting was described as “The sun flattens on to the river. Red meets blue”. The sun and water converging is not only symbolic of the two lovers meeting, but is, simply put, beautiful. As she said herself, she believed that she should not “hang a tassel off every sentence”  but let the words speak to the reader.  Both her words and personality were a joy to be around, and I look forward to the release of Below the Salt.

Credit: Christopher Cerf

What Was Your Name Again?

I intern at a finance office near the UN. Usually when I am going up or down in the elevator, I am alone. However, last Wednesday was different. I had just left for the day after running a couple of errands (picking up the mail, getting coffee, all interns know this drill). A man with a sweet little bowler hat and a scarf very politely asked me about what I was wearing on my head. The conversation went something like this.

Man: Hi, would you mind if I asked you a question? (Without waiting for a yes or a no), Why is it that you wear that turban? I know it is a part of Sikhism, but what is the reasoning behind it?

Me: (Sighing because I have answered this question what feels like a million times) Well this turban symbolizes uniqueness. My religion requires that we wear it as a symbol of respect to God.


Man: You’re from India, correct?

Me: Yes.

Man: OOOOHHHH I LOVE INDIA! I go there for two to three months at a time for work and I absolutely love it. It’s just so much more organic, don’t you agree?

Me: Well, organic is one word for garbage on the streets haha.

Man: I guess we just have different views on it then…

Me: Well don’t get me wrong, I love it there, I was born there, and all my family lives there, but I see the negatives along with the positives.

Man: Makes sense, oh well I better be on my way.

Me: Nice meeting you, see you around.

Man: You too.


At this point, I looked around to see where I was. I had walked in a completely wrong direction, and needed to run in order to get to class on time. As I got on the subway, huffing and panting, I couldn’t help but laugh. Only in New York would you have a twenty minute conversation with a complete stranger about your faith, walk in the opposite direction of where you are supposed to go, and not even ask the man his name.


Credit: Olivier Perrin

So Common that We Don’t Notice it

For the collage project, I chose to photograph the different types of headwear in New York City. People wear things on their head for many reasons, whether it is to stay warm, religion, or some sort of sports affiliation. In my experience, a large amount of New Yorkers sport some sort of headwear. The different reasons why New Yorkers wear headwear are interesting though.

All of these photographs were taken at night, some indoors or outdoors. I tried to gather a wide range of photographs, capturing many different types of headwear. Some photographs were taken in Central Park, some on the subways, and others in the more suburban areas of New York City, such as Lefferts Boulevard in Queens.

The inspiration for this collage comes from within. My religion requires me to wear a turban, and thus I tend to notice different types of headwear people are wearing wherever I am. I like to think of different reasons why people wear the headwear they do, and why what they chose is the best for them. For example, if I see someone wearing a beanie, I think it serves them the purpose of keeping warm and making a fashion statement.  If someone is wearing a simple cap, I think t symbolizes one of his or her favorite teams or organizations. I am not right all the time in my assumptions, but it is still fun to think of the different possible reasons.

This collage is organized in a very simple manner. All the photographs that have the same “reason” for why the person in them is wearing that specific head covering are grouped together. Going counter clockwise from the top left, the reasons go from warmth, religion, support for an organization, and jus plain old fun. These are the most prevalent reasons for people to wear headwear that I have found.


Headwear is something that many people own and wear on a daily basis. However, because it is so common, it is not noticed that often, and my goal was to simply point out the ordinary in order to show exactly how extraordinary and unique it is.



We Look, But Do We See?

During this project, I performed some activities that I never thought I would. I never thought I would be taking pictures of people without them having knowledge about what was going on. The idea for this concept was inspired by the in class presentation we had on the photographer Walker Evans. During the presentation, we learned about how he discreetly took pictures on NYC Subways, without letting people know what he was doing. I decided that for my project I would “go underground” just like Mr. Evans, both literally and figuratively. I wanted to capture the typical people we see everyday on subway rides. These are the people we have seen so often that we do not give them a second thought, such as the businessmen in suits listening to music, or the people heaving suitcases to get to their vacation destinations.

As Walker Evans wanted to show the true sadness of the Great Depression through his photography, I wanted to capture average New Yorkers going about their daily activities. My goal was not to expose anything sinister but rather to show many types of people that are always in our sights but often overlooked. The feeling of realism is very important to me, which is why all photos except for one are completely natural and not staged. Consequentially, there was not much professional technique in my photographs, as demonstrated by many other photographers we studied. My goal became to make each photograph as natural as possible.

What someone does during a subway ride can tell a lot about them. There are those who close their eyes and listen to music, wanting to relax and drown out the rest of the world (this is the category I belong to). Then there are those who like to read or study to make the most of their time, or the ones who simply stare into space, deep in their own thoughts. No matter what people are doing, there are certain activities that are going on in nearly every subway car.

This was the first time I would be photographing people without their consent or knowledge. I found it to be extremely awkward at first. I had to maneuver my phone so that no one would see that I was taking the picture, but expose it just enough so that there would still be a chance of me getting a decent shot. The week before Thanksgiving basically consisted of me riding the 6 train up and down for an hour, then walking across central park to get some fresh air, and trying the 1, 2, or 3. I even ventured onto the LIRR between Penn Station and Jamaica Station to get a broader perspective.  In the beginning of these adventures, many awkward situations arose as a result of my attempts to photograph people. At one point I was trying to take a photo of a man reading a Korean newspaper heading downtown on the 1 train. Standing in front of the doors, I pulled out my weapon of choice (the mighty iPhone) and started the camera. The lady standing to my right noticed this and stared relentlessly, as if daring me to take the shot. Petrified and not wanting to attract any more attention, I got off at the next stop and waited for the following train. The one lesson I took away from this venture was that in order to get what one wants, one needs to be relentless. If one person catches you, you stay calm and wait for the next train.  Hopping trains has its thrills, and I can now say I have been deep into all boroughs but Staten Island.

I took nearly forty photographs, and it was difficult deciding which ones to keep.  In the end, it was not the perfect photographs that stayed, but the perfect moments. In most of the photographs kept, my brown jacket is seen in the corner. The downside of using this technique when photographing is that one is not always in control of the quality of the end product. However, I tried to find the right balance of aesthetics and realism.

Throughout this project, I was in awkward situations, frustrated by blurry photographs, and angry about missed opportunities. However, I believe that I was able to capture the images of typical New Yorkers that are overlooked by the hustle and bustle of the busiest city in the world.

You Must be New Here

I have become a New Yorker. Certain changes in mentality occur, not noticeable at   first. For example, it irks me a little too much when people take their own sweet time walking on the sidewalks, because let’s face it, some of us have places to get to, and a slow moving obstruction is the last thing any of us need.


Another thing that has changed is now I can immediately point out tourists. For example, one morning my friend and I were taking the 6 train down to Baruch, and a family of four entered at 68th street. First thing I noticed was the fact that it was a family.  I thought about it, and realized just how uncommon it is to see a family travelling together on a New York City Subway. Usually bustling with crowds, it’s hard enough taking care of a wallet, let alone an entire family.  When this family came on, he following conversation ensued.


Dad: “You better grab a seat squirt, these trains get crowded I hear.”

Son: “Sounds good dad.”

Mom (to dad): “Now you keep an eye on him you hear”

Dad: “Eh, don’t worry, he’s gotta see the big city world someday”


Then the conversation went on for a couple more stops. I, being the New Yorker I am, was reading the Washington Post on my phone during this  exchange, not caring about anything but my destination.


The most interesting thing about this entire exchange had to be the fact that up until some time ago, I would have been the boy from a suburban town, seeing the city by myself for the first time., not understanding streets and avenues, befuddled by the obscenely complicated subway system, and awed by the enormity of it all. Now I am a part of the biggest city in the world. I have become a New Yorker.


A Blur of a Crowd, the Life of a New Yorker

A blur of a crowd, the life of a New Yorker

Credit: SVLUMA

Just Another Day in Washington Square Parl

I Don’t Know What He’s Doing

Life in The Stone Age

When I moved to America from India, I could not have been more amazed. The people were polite, the streets were not as crowded, and people actually stopped at red lights! Most of these perceptions have changed over this last week in the wake of Hurricane Sandy. I have been back home on Long Island for this week, and everything has become super competitive. The prime example of this, of course is gasoline. I waited two hours in line the other day to get some gas for my mom’s car. The funny thing about it all is that in India, the electricity goes out all the time, sometimes twice a day for an hour, or for two days straight.

People over there, however, have learned to deal with it. Now that I live here though, I could not bear to spend more than a couple of hours away from my phone or computer. Half the people I know back in India can’t even work a computer! This truly puts a spotlight on one aspect of society. The more advanced a society becomes, the harder it becomes for it to return to the “basics”. If there is no electricity, w cannot charge cell phones, we cannot check Facebook or twitter, and we cannot watch TV. Technology has become the centerpiece of our society, with electricity as the obvious backbone. However, the more emphasis we place on technology, the harder it will become for us to cope in times that it is not available to us.

Hurricane Sandy has really put into perspective the different approaches societies take in response to technological problems. In India, the phrase “Oh, the light has been out for two hours” is common, but in America, the fact that the power even goes out is considered to be rare event.

Trees Bent Against Their Will

Carmen: The Highs and Lows

A vibrant and energetic orchestra playing familiar Bizet compositions carries the audience through the roller coaster ride that was Carmen at the famous Metropolitan Opera in New York City. The stage is set in 19th century Seville, and starts off outside a cigarette factory in which a slender woman named Micaela seeks her love, Don Jose. She is shown to be wearing a plain dress, painting an image of innocence. She was one of the standout performers of the night. Katie Royal (soprano) provided a much needed balance between singing quality, emotion, and dancing ability. Royal was able to maintain her voice and fully convey her emotions through body language at the same time. Whether she was trying to wrestle herself away from an overly touchy army officer or having a moment of intimacy with Don Jose (Yonghoon Lee), the audience knew exactly how she was feeling, and the language barrier became unimportant.

Another bright spot was the formidable tenor Yonghoon Lee. His booming, yet smooth voice rang through the hall, and boy did the audience respond with some well-deserved applause near the end. Mr. Lee was the ideal Don Jose. His demeanor was one of strength when it had to be, but he was effortlessly able to transfer into the body and mindset of a lover, desperate for reciprocation from Carmen. A prime example of this was the last portion in which he kills Carmen. He is able to regress from bitter disappointment to hopelessness in a matter of seconds, all noticeable from his body language. He kneels, and his head hangs loose, devoid of any self-control. At the end of this opera, the audience was able to feel the same anguish that Don Jose was feeling, which is an essential task to any performer. The fact that the audience was able to relate to his emotions was a great addition to the successful performance of Yonghoon Lee.

The same, unfortunately, cannot be said for soprano Anita Rachvelishvili, playing the title role. While there is not much to complain about, she did not provide the same “oomph” and enthusiasm as Lee and Royal.  There come certain points in every performance where someone’s voice may waver, or come out louder than expected. In addition to some expected vocal issues, however, this portrayal of Carmen seemed a little too wild and powerful, not providing enough of the elegance and soft beauty that is expected from the role. An audience expects anyone portraying Carmen to have two sides: one wild and one soft and loving. While there were certain instances in which she seemed full of loving emotion, rage and clever antics were the staple characteristics of this specific performance.

The ups and downs of individuals did not take away from the grandeur of it all. The curtains open, revealing a glowing red light and passionate ballet dance follows. This occasional interjection of ballet is an insight to the sentiments being felt by Carmen and Don Jose. The performance started with a passionate ballet dance, and ended with the dead bull symbolizing the end of Carmen’s life at the end of Don Jose. The bull provided perspective, and placed the life of Carmen parallel to that of a bull. She was pulled in many different directions, primarily between her love interests Don Jose and Escamillo (baritone Tahu Rhodes).

Choreographer Chris Wheeldon does an exceptional job of utilizing the entire rotating edifice that is the cigarette factory. With kids weaving in and out of small corridors and good spacing, the depth of the stage was used very well.

Richard Eyre’s vision of Carmen was one of passion and symbolism. He was able to keep to the original meaning and maintain the original integrity of the play while adding small variations that added to the overall experience.

Before the Performance Began

 Credit: Navtej S. Ahuja

How Much More Real Can it Get Than a Hurricane?

As I sit down to respond to the article regarding Berenice Abbott’s take of photography, Hurricane Sandy is knocking on my windows, breezing by. I think of the many aspects of photography described by Ms Abbott, and her explanation of what she thinks photography is. “It is or should be a significant document, a penetrating statement, which can be described in a very simple term – selectivity.” Rather than something that you have to envision and then put on a canvas, photography puts what you can see into a vision or a point of view. This is what truly separates photography from other forms of art. Photography puts a message that an artist may have, and shows that message captured in an exact moment, validating the point of view.


Another thing that stood out to me in this piece was the mindset with which photographers needed. For example, she explains how the “eye is no better than the philosophy behind it”. These words really spoke to me, as they are not true just of photography, but of basic human nature. Without developing an opinion or arriving to a judgment based on something we observe, we are simply absorbing everything, and it is not truly allowing us to discover how we perceive certain things.


Photography has changed a great amount since it became a popular form of art. With new technologies available, emphasis is placed on certain aspects rather than others. For example, with the ascendance of digital photography, there can be more focus on the creativity and technique rather than the actual processing of the photos. Photographers will focus more on “selectivity”; using what they deem appropriate to their respective motives and points of view.


Berenice Abbott focuses a lot on the realism of photography and why it is so different from other forms of art. Reading this inspired me to go outside and show everyone the realism of this hurricane from my point of view.

Trees bending against their will



5 Terms:


1)    Slavish: (adj) Showing no attempt at originality, constructive interpretation, or development

2)    Aperture: (n) A space through which light passes in an optical or photographic instrument

3)    Pictorialism: (n) style in which the photographer has somehow manipulated what would otherwise be a straightforward photograph as a means of “creating” an image rather than simply recording it

4)    Moorings: (n) The ropes, chains, or anchors by which something is held in place

5)    Medium: (n) An agent or means of doing something

Many Small Messages, One Giant Success

Whether it was the elegance of the ballet in the first act, the comedic realism of High Heel Blues, or the methodical yet aggressive stop and go portrayal of “Luminous” by the Hong Kong Ballet, this year’s Fall for Dance was technically sound and emotionally powerful.


Each dance was representative of very specific emotions and attitudes, which ranged from cultured and dignified to loose and fun.


Adam Sklute provided the audience with an absolutely outstanding ballet performance, Grand Pas from Paquita. The stage was reminiscient of a bright sunny day, where one might hear birds chirping along with a cool breeze that swayed the dancers.The organization of the performance, with the rotation of attention placed on each dancer, allowed the audience to enjoy the natural talents of each of the performers. Because each of the dancers, fluttering in their pink tutus and shimmering tiaras, had the stage all to themselves for a brief minute or so, the pressure was on for one to be better than the last. These solo routines left the audience in awe. One dancer who stood out far above the others was Sayaka Ohtaki. Near the end of the line full of talented performers, Ohtaki provided the routine with just the spark it needed at that time. Her form was unwavering yet fluid, and the smile on her face seemed to reflect off of the equally jovial audience. The audience held it’s collective breath as she soared diagonally across the stage during her grande jetés, moving seamlessly with the music. She received a fully deserved roaring applause as she bowed at the end.


High Heel Blues exemplifies the truth of human nature in a quick five or so minutes, contrasting the proper and formal ballet of the act before. When people are torn between whether or not they want something, they tend to rely on advice from others. Ms. Sorzano constantly repeats how she wants those high heel shoes, but her inner conflict is “resolved” by the very convincing shoe salesman, who exploits her desire to his advantage. The effortless transitions in the dance directly opposed the tense, difficult mindset of the woman, and her emotions were literally and figuratively put in the spotlight, as she and the salesman were the only people or objects visible on stage. Both the dancers moved flawlessly, providing a visual parallel to the smooth sound of the blues. Received with much humor and enthusiasm, this performance provided a great transition into the intermission, ending the first half of the show on a light note.


Nan Jombang takes the audience across the world in a dance inspired by the earthquake that shook Southeast Asia in 2009 with his Tarian Malan (Night Dances).  This was made clear right in the beginning, as a woman wailed, her cries piercing through the air. The slow moving steps along with deep resonating sounds of the percussion shook the audience, just as they must have shaken the victims of Indonesia. Though it may have seemed a little too slow, it is important for viewers to realize the meaning behind it and the graveness of the situation. The beating of their stomachs provided a base beat resembling the rumbling of the earth, as it occurred right in the middle of the performance. This element seemed to heighten the intensity of an already serious dance tenfold. Certain dance steps such as the female dancers jerking their heads back and forth portrayed an image of the actual reverberations felt from the earthquake. This dance, though a little more difficult to interpret for the audience, was still executed to perfection and received a reaction it deserved.


Moiseyev’s Classics became an instant hit with the crown. With four different dances, all depicting Russian folk culture of the mid- twentieth century, the upbeat tempo and athleticism of the performers was the perfect way to end this showcase of talent. Every performer was emitting a full blast of energy and some of the audience could be seen dancing along with the music, especially during Kalmyk Dance, performed by three very talented of the Moiseyev Dance Company. The one aspect of this performance that separated it from the others was the costumes of the dancers. They wore customary Russian clothing: the women with plain blouses with scarfs on their heads and dark colorful skirts, and the men wearing mostly dark long tops with black pants. Judging by how this dance invigorated the audience after the rather mournful sentiment of Tarian Malan, it offered an exciting finish to Fall For Dance.


Fall For Dance proved to be a noteworthy collection of four very different dances, each conveying a different message, did not fall short of expectations one bit. It is definitely worth a watch, and with the price of $15, maybe multiple watches!

Practice Makes Perfect: A Snapshot of a Rehearsal for Kalmyk Dance

Practice Makes Perfect

Credit: Eugene Masalkov

Fluid Passion

As Ms Jody Sperling began her presentation to the group of thirty or so freshman, there was certain inquisitiveness as to what she would be describing and how she would “show” the audience what was being described.

Of course, there was the initial introduction. She described her educational background (BA from Wesleyan ‘92 and MA from NYU ’96. She described her interest in dance, choreography, and art history. There was the description of the dances she has been a part of, choreographed, and studied. However, it was shocking to see that the main point of her discussion was not her career or her awards, but rather her interest in one of the greats in dance history, Loie Fuller.

When it came to Fuller, the audience could observe the passion and the knowledge Jody Sperling spoke. The knowledge was expected. The passion however was above and beyond what was expected. She provided a full biography of Loie Fuller, along with a slideshow of her life. To show the audience the prominence of dancers such as Loie Fuller, Ms Sperling asked a question that definitely sparked some interest. She asked whether or anyone watched Friends, the popular sitcom. After most of the class raised its hands, she went on to explain how one of the rooms in the show had a poster of Loie Fuller in it. This shows how artistic culture has permeated today’s pop culture,

At one point, there was a picture which showed Fuller dressed as a man, during her childhood. According to Ms Sperling, Loie Fuller had to constantly contend with gender discrimination and performance houses not meeting her requests as a performer. The discovery of the serpentine dance was “revolutionary”. She commented on how different this performance type was than what Fuller did later in her career and spoke about Fuller with extreme reverence, at one point calling her a “fearless innovator” and revealing performing the serpentine dance was a great moment for her, professionally and personally. Here is one of her renditions of the dance. (Courtesy Joyce Theater)

Ms Sperling went into great detail into the time transcending “Serpentine Dance” originally performed by Fuller. She described the dance as “vibrant” and “multi-layered”. Some of the (what seemed like) ancient images she showed were mesmerizing, as the movements, even when still, had a certain fluidity not seen in many other dance forms. The Serpentine Dance, as described, is performed with many layers of skirt clothing and constant movement. A fact that definitely captured attention was when she mentioned the amount of upper body strength needed to perform this dance. She spoke of how the elbows never come below the shoulders, and how people need to be pretty strong to do this.This proved how much talent and strength this beautiful form of dance really requires.

It must be ensured that these types of arts have to be preserved. In a shocking statement, Ms Sperling stated that Believe it or not, the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs actually gives out millions more than the National Endowment for the Arts. She said the NYFA provides at times millions more than the NEA. Even though New York City is one of the most culturally and artistically prominent places in the world, there is no reason it should be outdoing the government of a country that stands for diversity and acceptance of different cultures. Companies such as Time Lapse Dance Company, founded by Sperling in 2000, have trouble competing with others for these funds. Even though it may not be economically feasible at this time for the government at this time, it must go higher on the priority list. Sure, science and technology are extremely important in their own regards, but this type of dance can be considered both an art and a science, making it that much more advantageous for today’s youth to learn about. Loie Fuller clearly influenced many talented dancers and choreographers such as Jody Sperling, and they need support from people like us and required funding in order to continue past traditions of cultural advancement.

A Still From Sperling's Own Serpentine Dance

Credit: Time Lapse Dance Company and Julie Lemberger

What Do You Mean You Don’t Know Perfect English?

My family usually travels to India every year to year and a half. Every time we go, it is amazing to see how much the country changes in terms of development. There are new malls, an ever expanding metro line, and of course, the most traffic you’ll see anywhere (for those of you who think driving in NYC is bad). The biggest reason for us going so often is to see our family. My grandparents from my mother’s side and my dad’s brother’s family live there. Seeing my cousins and how they are growing up compared to my sister and I have been very interesting to me over the last couple of visits. Every time I think about our differences in growing up, the concept of language always comes up.


When I was 12, we went for one of our annual summer visits. Before heading to a family dinner out one night, my dad asked my cousin to call the restaurant in advance to make sure that they would have space for a large party of ten people. My cousin called while I was in the same room watching TV. The conversation was only a few seconds in length.


Cousin: “Hello, yes, I have a party of 10, will there be room for us tonight?”

Waiter: (I assume this is what he said) When will you be arriving?

Cousin: We will probably RETCH in 20-25 minutes.


I remember I just started laughing at this. For me, English had become second nature, and I could catch minor mistakes quite easily.


“Don’t you mean “reaching”? I remember saying.

“Yes, I made a mistake, so what’s the problem? I’m sure you had difficulty learning the language as well.”


I never thought hat my cousin would, at this point in MY life, be learning English. I had been under the foolish assumption that because I knew English it was obvious that the rest of the world would know it as well.


Now when I think back to that conversation, I relate it back to my current situation. I live in the most diverse city in the world. Surely not everyone can speak English perfectly. We have to realize that even though we may have understood a certain culture, culture is something that is constantly being adapted by people everywhere.
Credit: Martorell

Eating in a Different Style

Sometimes what is old news to you may be the strangest thing to someone very close to you. This can range from speaking habits, cultures, or even food. Food is treated differently in different parts of the world. Not only is it prepared differently, it may even be eaten differently, which my friend found out as I decided to take him to an Indian Restaurant. We took the 6 train down to 33rd street and started exploring. We found a neat little plce near 40th and 2nd called the Indigo Indian Bistro. I handled the ordering, and we ended up ordering chicken makhani (chicken in a butter tomato sauce, one of my personal favorites) and naan (Indian bread heated and made crispy in a clay oven). However, it was not the food that surprised my friend, but the method to the eating. I immediately started putting chicken on both our plates and took a piece of naan.


He started staring at me.


Me: What’s wrong? I asked.

Tom: Well… why are you eating like that?

Me: Whadyumean? (With a mouth full of food).

Tom: Why are you eating with your hands? Use the damn fork and knife!

Me: Hahahaha man that’s how we eat Indian food, I mean it’s ok to use forks and knives but traditionally most of us use our hands.

Tom: Dude I’ve never seen anyone eat like that… not gonna lie it’s kinda weird.

Me: Look around…


And sure enough, there were people eating with their hands, knives and forks left unused and sparkling on the side. Of course there were a few people using knives and forks, but where’s the fun in that?


And without another word, Tom started eating… with a knife and fork however.


I had not even thought that my friend would find my eating habits odd, but I guess that’s just one of those things you don’t think about until they happen. This was a cultural encounter for both my friend and I, as he learned something about Indian eating culture, and I learned that I needed to consider other people more if I am introducing them to something that they may not be familiar with.  Even though Tom learned about Indian eating habits, he still used his preference. I didn’t mind that, because I could tell that at least now he understood why I was eating the way I was.


Credit: (

A Flawless Performance

From the entry of Simon with his beautiful song to the unnecessary profanities of the train driver (Roelf Visagie, played by Ritchie Coster), The Train Driver appeals to many emotions that convey to the viewer the dynamics of a rather depressing situation. Simon (played by Leon Addison Brown), unable to get a decent job due to the color of his skin, digs graves for black people near the railroad; the ones who are named in one pile and the unknown ones in another. Conversational exchanges between Coster and Brown show the delicate balance of racial relationships in South African society. The way the train driver treats Simon in the beginning, with the pushy dialogue and the subtle race related remarks, is also proof of this. Both actors demonstrated to an excellent extent the authenticity of apartheid and how it affected interracial interactions. Fugard’s experience with plays relating to racial tensions can be perceived effectively through the way Simon is protecting the train driver from the groups of black people that raid some nights, hiding him in his shed, even giving him his food. Even after they become friends, there is still a hesitance between them that is due to the difference in their complexions. The two characters each have their own little quirks, providing uniqueness to otherwise basic Caucasian and black males. For example, Simon’s laugh is enough to cause an audience to smirk a little itself, while the off color swearing by the train driver depicts his anger and confused state of mind. These characters fit the general role of black and white males in apartheid filled South Africa, but these interesting characteristics are what set them apart from the expected caricatures. From the authentic accents and the genuine conditions of a poverty stricken black South African man to the train driver’s rain jacket and Simon’s large, uncomfortable overcoat, one can clearly see that South Africa’s apartheid culture was well represented in this performance.


Technically very sound, the performance’s sound effects of trains, people, and even dogs were used to great results in order to create a sense of fear and anticipation when the two main characters could not provide the spark. Even the lighting of the fire in Simon’s shed had an ominous feel to it, sending a dreary shudder through the audience. Dimly lit with a dark backdrop, there was actual gravel on the stage floor. The morose atmosphere of the stage was extremely somber, well suited to the play’s needs. With every description of the scene in which the lady and her baby were killed, an image forms of a struggle of a man trying to stop a train and then a sudden thud. The train driver’s agony is reflected through these memories and flashbacks. Many questions arise in the audience’s mind.  Who was this lady? What was going through her mind? Was it an accident? Suicide? Why the baby as well? The ending of the play is the complex unraveling of the racial tension between Simon and the train driver along with the self- deprecating attitude of the train driver reaching a breaking point. The train driver’s search for personal peace is what guides him to do what he does, but attaining this peace proves to be rather difficult.



This play deals with an inner struggle of a man who has experienced a life-changing event. However, the underlying theme of the prominence of racial differences is felt in every swear, every song, and every gesture made by the two men. The one complaint about this play, if anything would be that Fugard may have not necessarily taken the knowledge level of all audiences into account. It can be clearly be seen that there are racial undertones to the plot, but it would have been better if there was some more direct racial conflict. The audience should definitely do their research before viewing any performance of The Train Driver.


Why would a man care so deeply for a woman he didn’t know? What causes benevolence even in times of prejudice and hatred between two completely opposite men? Hope, and therefore the lack of hope inspire and plague the characters of this play, as internal and external struggles shape their lives and decisions. One of the smoothest, most well rehearsed performances in recent memory, this is a must watch for any theater lover.


Credit: Navtej S. Ahuja (Photographer), James Houghton and Erika Mallin (Directors), and The Perishing Square Signature Center (SignatureTheater)

Collage Proposal (Hitting the Nail on the Head)

The theme I have chosen for my collage is different headwear in New York City. Headwear speaks volumes about a person, whether it represents religious beliefs, or even a sports team they like. I feel that since NYC is such a diverse place, it is important to think about the various beliefs and preferences that exist.

Looking at headwear is an interesting way to study beliefs, as I believe that it is not paid enough attention to, and the subtle differences that exist between religious headwear is often not recognized by an average New Yorker with an extremely fast paced lifestyle. The people who we see as a blur offer us clues as to their past and background simply by what they wear on their head, and this is what I intend to explore through this collage.

Oh NYC Subways…

More often than not, people have interesting encounters on the subway. I am no exception. Let’s start at the beginning though. I was waiting for the LIRR train from Deer Park in order to come back to the dorms after the Rosh Hashanah weekend. On the platform, someone I met a week ago in one of the dorm kitchens who was also heading back, so naturally we both stuck together. I was happy because I had a travel buddy. We talker for a while, I got some work done for one of my classes, and everything was very normal until we stopped at 86th street on the 6 train. A man walked in, balding, with a magnificent mustache. I could tell that he was Indian as well, so I said hello, as it is considered polite in my culture. However, after the brief conversation, he started speaking to me in Punjabi… It could be roughly translated as the following:


Man: Good job man! Your girlfriend is gorgeous!

Me: No, no (laughing awkwardly now), she’s just a friend.

Man: Oh come on! No way!


By now, I had realized the man was drunk, so I made to end the conversation, but he wasn’t quite in the mood to end it so quickly, so he turned to me friend.


Man: (in English) You’re very pretty, an without makeup too. Impressive!

Friend: Thank you (nervously glancing at me), that’s very nice of you to say.

Man: So is he (gesturing at me) really your friend? Or your boyfriend (winking).

Friend: Oh no haha… we’re just friends…

Man: Well that’s too-




And without saying goodbye, we both sped off the train, heaving our bags over the gap, as the man smiled and creepily watched. As we got back to the dorms, I naturally apologized to her for the awkwardness, and we ended up exchanging other (and in some cases, even weirder) subway experiences.


And that’s why, looking back, I love travelling on the New York City Subways.


What I do.

Judging others is human nature, but when it comes to analyzing oneself, it becomes a mission that is nearly impossible. Everyone has a crazy side, a serious side, a funny side, and a side that no one can describe. As Ambrose Bierce once said, “All are lunatics, but he who can analyze his delusions is called a philosopher.” With every action I take, my aim is to become one of these so-called philosophers. As I lay in bed most nights, I reflect on the day that has passed, what I did, what I could have accomplished, and what I would have done differently. There are of course many moments that I would want to take back, or hit myself for saying something stupid. But isn’t that what makes us all human?


This constant self-analysis is at some points very helpful because it helps me evaluate myself, along with my interactions with different people. I know what I have done wrong, how to remedy it, and what not to do ever again. Then again, this self-analysis also drives me crazy. There are moments when I don’t understand why something I did was wrong, or why others perceived it as so.


Speaking of moments after which I want to hit myself, one of them occurred right after Baruch convocation. I was walking with my friends after the ceremony, and we were discussing what we were planning to do later that night. “I’m just going to try and get some rest,” I remember saying. My friends were all planning on going exploring that night. It didn’t seem like there would be any argument, but for some reason when they all tried to force me to go exploring with them repeatedly, I got very annoyed. Some heated words were exchanged, and we all walked away in anger. As soon as I walked back to my dorm, I realized that I had over reacted. Disappointed with myself, I decided to give my friends a surprise and met up with them near Times Square. I had to put my pride aside, but after thinking and just trying to remember where exactly the conversation had gone sour, I realized I was wrong. I should not have yelled just because they were trying to convince me to hang out, but instead maybe I could have tried a little harder to explain how tired I was. We’ve all lost our temper at one point or another, and this was one of those times it was clearly not justified. Even though I was wrong, coming to that realization and knowing how to remedy it was satisfying in an interesting way.

It’s not that what others think about me runs my life, it’s just that I cannot help but always think about was to “improve” myself as a more genuine person. Personally, I believe that people aren’t true to themselves, which in turn causes them to not be as true to others around them. This is due to the scrutiny that society places on everyone. Everyone needs to have some people who they can go to without the constant fear of being judged or gossiped about. Even more important, however, is that people need to be more true to themselves, and self evaluate in order to discover what truly makes them feel comfortable and drives them.


Without truly knowing what you stand for, it is impossible to, as the Dove commercials so wisely put it; “feel comfortable in your own skin.” This is what I strive for, to be comfortable with my own personality, my own likes, dislikes, and opinions. “Fitting in” with certain societies is difficult enough, but having self- knowledge gives you the motivation and confidence to deal with others, and gain respect.


I know this may sound like a lot of philosophical mumbo jumbo, but this mindset is truly what I try to live my life by. I strive to gather knowledge, not only of the outside world, but also of my own mind.


As I look at myself instead of the rest of the world for a moment, I see many traits, such as someone who tries to be friendly, has corny humor, and can get on peoples’ nerves rather quickly. But one trait that stands out to me in this mirror of self-evaluation is my ability to know who I am. I can proudly say I am someone who knows what he wants (loyal friends, to be a genuine person, and to understand the true meaning of a successful life), but is still in the process of figuring out how to achieve those things. When I do an about face, I don’t see anything that is perfect, but I don’t see anything that is too shabby either.



Critical Terms

Interrogative: (adj) of, pertaining to, or conveying a question
Interplay: (n) reciprocal relationship, action, or influence
Perception: (n) immediate or intuitive recognition or appreciation, as of moral, psychological, or aesthetic qualities
Unruly: (adj) not submissive or conforming to rule; ungovernable; turbulent; intractable; refractory
Resurrection: (n)  the bringing back into use, practice

Musical Preferences

Until I was in the eleventh grade, I only listened to Indian music. However, as I got to know more people, I began to talk to them about what type of music they liked, who their favorite artists were, what their all time favorite songs were. As I had more and more of these conversations however, I began to realize that I really did not know much about American music. Therefore, I made some of my friends write down some artists that they listened to, and that they knew I was likely to appreciate. It took a few weeks, but I finally began to consistently listen to American music. My favorite artists ended up being Drake and the Foo Fighters. Even when I speak to friends about musical preferences today, I don’t know who they are talking about half of the time. However, now at least I have the knowledge to be able to describe my tastes.  However, this was a 2 way street, as my friends were interested in hearing Indian music, and thus I showed them many of the songs I liked at the time. I learned a lot from this cultural encounter, the most important aspect being that expanding one’s tastes is always a good way to acquire knowledge.

Coming to a New Country

Often, a culture shock is the result of a cultural encounter.My situation was no different. At the age of six, I was on a plane, headed to the United States to live with my father, who had left my mother, sister, and I in India in order to work and form a better future of us. It was April, and the first thing I saw in this country was the vast corridors of JFK International airport. Signs in English that I did not know how to read, along with the occasional soothing voice over the P.A system confused me to no end. I just followed my mom and sister because they seemed to know what they were doing. It took us around half an hour to clear customs and gather our bags, and all I remember thinking was when I’d get to see my dad again. Well, eventually we met up with him, and boy was it a happy moment. The four of us were in a hug for what seemed like forever. People stared, but we didn’t care. All of a sudden, the fact that I didn’t understand English didn’t matter to me, because, to put it simply, I was happy. This was first of man cultural encounters for me in this country, and taught me how to appreciate differences and keep your individuality intact.

Comments by navtejahuja

"I feel like this has not only had an impact on children, but adults as well. Who would've thought that we would need to tweet about every minute of our lives, or instagram everything on our plate? Technology should be used in order to simplify some tasks, but there is no greater knowledge than that of the world around us, and I am starting to think that less and less people are sharing this sentiment."
--( posted on Dec 19, 2012, commenting on the post Is Technology Destroying our Culture? )
"The type of conversation you had is similar to one I once had with a man in an Indian grocery store. He questioned my knowledge of Punjabi, and I promptly dismissed him. I don't like it when people assume we don't know anything of our cultures because we have assimilated too much, because it's simply not true. I really enjoyed reading this piece, and can really relate to it."
--( posted on Dec 19, 2012, commenting on the post A Dried Herring, Please )
"I feel like this analysis can be compared to that of Baruch as well. Some of my friends believe that Baruch has perhaps "too many" immigrants. I don't really care because I enjoy the different cultures (they add different flavors to a boring day) but it is interesting nevertheless that some people would rather there be less diversity."
--( posted on Dec 19, 2012, commenting on the post Too Much Diversity )
"Your dad and my dad have a similar story of the American Dream and entrepreneurship. Both were able to do relatively well with a simple education, and I think we both, as their sons, appreciate this."
--( posted on Dec 19, 2012, commenting on the post Who He Was/Is: John Scanlon )
"The way you're able to talk about things and joke about things with your father is pretty cool, and I like the way he described everything in great detail for you. His story is truly inspiring for those who want to lose weight, and proof that it is possible."
--( posted on Dec 19, 2012, commenting on the post A Losing Bet )
"Board games and video games are two things I will have a lot of trouble growing out of. I think most people will agree with me that the N64 was the greatest thing to ever be invented. I like the way you were able to relate the time you had playing this game to how it would have felt as a kid. This comparison is very important, and allows us to put ourselves in perspective."
--( posted on Dec 3, 2012, commenting on the post Revival of Board Games )
"I usually have to play board games with my younger cousins in order to keep them occupied. However, the best is when we play video games, as I love playing my youngest cousin in NBA Live 2003. He has beat me once though, and boy I haven't been able to live it down. He talks about it every time I see him. Even though it gets annoying, it's worth it to see him smile as if he's actually accomplished something great."
--( posted on Dec 3, 2012, commenting on the post Practice Makes Perfect )
"I like the way you took such a simple concept and related it to a worldwide phenomena. The internet has really expanded cultural boundaries and integrated areas. This is the beauty of the modern world. The way you gave examples of what other nationalities say is very good, as it provides perspective. "Say Cheese" is common concept, and the world has adapted it to make it fit in their own ways."
--( posted on Dec 3, 2012, commenting on the post Say Cheese. )
"I like the way you presented the storm from your point of view. You're lucky that you didn't lose power, and it was nice of you to help your friend. My experience was not nearly as good, but I'm glad it wasn't bad for everyone."
--( posted on Nov 13, 2012, commenting on the post Sandy Experience )
"I know exactly what you mean. I did not expect Sandy to be as bad as it was. Before it hit, I went for a drive because I thought it would just be a thunderstorm and afterwards I'd go to play some basketball with my friends. Instead, I was stuck in my house for a week, unable to go anywhere due to blocked streets and non- working trains."
--( posted on Nov 13, 2012, commenting on the post Never Saw it Coming )
"Great story John, I totally feel your pain when it comes to speaking Spanish to native Spanish speaking people. I took Spanish for five years through middle school and high school, but I still have trouble speaking to native speakers. But hey, at least you tried. If you think about it, you managed to make some people laugh while they were probably going through a very tough time."
--( posted on Nov 13, 2012, commenting on the post Mi Español esta malo )
"Back when I used to live in India, kids who tried to write with their left hands were often hit on that hand with a ruler. Writing with your left hand was considered a weakness, according to my first grade teacher. My friends and I (who are all righties) used to laugh at the kids getting made fun of for being lefty, but now when I think back to it, it just doesn't make sense. Why should someone write with a certain hand, if what they are writing is just as good, if not better than what you are writing?"
--( posted on Oct 29, 2012, commenting on the post Culture of the Southpaws )
"I agree with the comment above. Our race is what makes it easy for people to identify us, while it is our culture which truly shapes who we are. I am brown so must like curry right? Weel, if you eat something at home five times a week you better like it! We need to realize that because there are some common mannerisms instilled in the daily lives of the cultures we are raised in, people coming from similar areas will always have similar characteristics as us."
--( posted on Oct 29, 2012, commenting on the post What is race anyway? )
"All the emotions you conveyed formed a very vivid image in my mind. I could imagine you sitting in that circle, just nervously looking at the person speaking, wondering what the heck you'd gotten yourself into. The story teling method you used, along with leading the reader to believe the african american man could not speak korea was very clever indeed, and made for a light hearted, relief filled ending."
--( posted on Oct 29, 2012, commenting on the post Annyeonghaseyo , je ileum-eun Nancy ibnida )
"I believe that NYC is one of those places that becomes what you make of it. If you're having a bad day and want to be left alone, not many people will go out of their way to make you feel better. Moreover, if you're feeling extremely giddy for some reason, you are more likely to smile and therefore attract a positive reaction from other people. This really is a no nonsense city, and you get what you put into it. If you put more effort into getting to know people, they will respond (most times) with equal enthusiasm, and if you decide to be alone for some time, then that too will be easy to accomplish."
--( posted on Oct 15, 2012, commenting on the post The One Who Waved Back )
"The Occupy Movement reminds me of the Anna Hazare movement currently going on in India. It is to remove corruption in the government and help the common man (called the 99% in the Occupy Movement). The fact that these somewhat similar movements are happening in two completely different areas of the world shows how there are certain ideas that transcend culture and are universal. People are beginning to demand what they desire from government and this is now becoming a global phenomenon."
--( posted on Oct 15, 2012, commenting on the post Occupy Wall Street )
"I completely understand the feeling of excitement that you must have felt as he started performing. Over the summer, a couple of friends and I went to a Drake concert. I had been looking forward to it for months, as he is one of my favorite artists. The feeling of unity through music (even bad music like Wacka Flacka) was to a great magnitude. I remember just giving high fives to random people as Drake made his appearance and as J Cole played one of his more famous songs ("In the Morning"). Regardless of race or any other characteristic, people were simply enjoying music, forgetting their problems for a while, and that is a cultural encounter everyone must experience."
--( posted on Oct 15, 2012, commenting on the post “Nobody is built like you” )
"This is a very interesting story, and unfortunately, an experience that many minorities go through. I have had a similar experience on the subway. For example, when an old lady told me to "get out of the country and stop taking jobs," I laughed at her stupidity when I think back to it, but like yours, it is indeed a very bitter laugh. I think what drives people to do this is their own personal frustration, that they take out on a stranger. Even though they might not mean harm, people really need to take into account the power and effect of hateful language."
--( posted on Oct 1, 2012, commenting on the post What Just Happened? )
"I used to feel the same way as you; the fascination by times square, and how it seemed like the center and heart of New York City. I often pass by it, but for me, unlike you, it has kind of lost it's appeal. Now that I'm a dorming "New Yorker" (haha), I feel as if the way to find the true beauty of the city is not only in it's crowds and diversity but also in it's more quiet and serene places, the ones I often refer to as my "happy places". For example, one place that I found to be very calming but somewhat crowded at the same time was Washington Square Park, smack in the center. It's a strange calming effect, and occasionally you get sprayed by the fountain depending on the wind. Definitely check it out!"
--( posted on Oct 1, 2012, commenting on the post Times Square )
"I always found it interesting how most people our age take the theory of evolution as reality, and accept the fact that humans slowly but surely developed into what they are today. I know that whenever I meet someone who questions evolution, I always question their sanity secretly. I don't know why, but your casual acceptance of evolution was something I could really relate to. This has really inspired me to go and used my Macaulay Cultural Passport; not just to learn about the world, but more about myself!"
--( posted on Oct 1, 2012, commenting on the post Ancient Cultural Encounter )
"Diwali is one of the biggest holidays in India, comparable to Christmas here. All Hindus and Sikhs celebrate it across the world. Before I moved to America, that would be the one day where during the course of the year when everyone would visit one another, exchange gifts, and have A LOT of good food. Your descriptions of the more subtle cultural aspects are not only accurate, but very well detailed. It actually reminded me of celebrating with my family back in India. Much appreciated!"
--( posted on Sep 17, 2012, commenting on the post Diwali: The Festival of Lights )
"This post was an example of very efficient writing that got a lot across in a short amount of time. This type of situation has occurred with me many ties before, but usually with other Indian people. For example, there are some words in the English language that mean totally different things in Hindi and Punjabi. One time, when I was nine years old, one of my Indian friends and I were at an ice cream shop. This was my first experience with the ice cream flavor "tutti fruity". My friend and I could not hold back our laughter, as the word "tutti" also means feces in Punjabi. These situations happen very often, but that does not make them any less entertaining!"
--( posted on Sep 17, 2012, commenting on the post THE Word )
"Personally, I have trouble breathing near the smell of smoke. I have never been to a place where it is considered a part of a formal culture, but find it interesting how it could be rude to ask someone to stop, especially if it is making you feel uncomfortable. It makes me appreciate where we live that much more, as we can simply leave the situation without it seeming rude. Every time I leave the Baruch Vertical Campus, I have to hold my breath for a couple of minutes, due to the smokey fog that is there. I am sure that is how you must have felt at that dinner, although I'm sure you couldn't hold your breath for that long!"
--( posted on Sep 17, 2012, commenting on the post Private: Cultural Encounter )