“What are the things that stand between you and complete happiness?”
“It’s mainly outside pressures. Freshman year of Macaulay, we were asked one question: if you could have one job, whatever it is, independent of how much money you’ll earn, what would it be? I answered, I want to be a monk to live a very simple life, but if I gained the self confidence and if i were extraordinarily popular, I would like to be in Congress. But what stands between me and that? We have so much outside pressure. As an Asian-American or any minority, going into government is very hard. To have a truly independent, unique lifestyle in America, that’s shunned upon. In America, we advocate for jobs that make a lot of money. We shun people who go to vocational schools to become plumbers even though you can make a decent amount of money doing that. When you tell everyone that you have to specialize, you create a gap of jobs that people look down upon. That doesn’t create a good environment for children or students who are now just starting college or high school. The fact remains that although being a doctor or a lawyer or a judge is that you can’t have an unlimited amount of them. If everyone was just accepting of what everyone is doing, then that would be more fulfilling.”
“I like biking a lot. It’s very exhilarating. You know that feeling when you’re at the very top of a roller coaster before you drop, and when you finally start going down, you get that adrenaline rush? You feel that way the whole time you’re biking. Especially in New York City, because you have to be on your senses and watch for cars and everything. It just makes you more aware of your surroundings. Makes you more alert. And I just like the feeling of winding through cars, passing through traffic jams, and feeling the wind blowing in my face. It feels like you’re a bird flying in the air.”
“Kind of makes you feel like you’re on top of the world, huh?”
“Yeah, like in Titanic.”
“Many dancers say that they dance to get lost from the real world, where they can just focus on dancing and music. This is why I dance. But I also dance so I can represent my culture, because I have a tremendous passion and that is what brings me the most happiness.
From being in a ranch house and using two gigantic boomboxes to playing Old Hindi Film music with my dad recording my twin and I, to copying Indian actors and their steps for dance songs, to finally registering to my first dance school (BollyArts), I naturally grew up to Bollywood dancing. Whether it’s through my performances or just being on the dance floor, my only goal after dancing is to have every single person in the room smiling and clapping their hands.
As long as I know that they’re happy and that they enjoyed, then I know I did my job. Dancing isn’t just a hobby or a skill—it is something that can be shared to anyone in the world.”
All photos courtesy of Humans of Macaulay.