Thursday, November 21, 2013

Is Life Good?

Assess and reassess.

(Photo by Gustavo Vieira Dias, creative director of DDB Tribal Vienna)

Tuesday, November 12, 2013


Sometimes, all it takes is a little pull in the right direction to get back into the routine of things. I haven't written anything in a long while, but for the past few hours I've been overwhelmed with how much I want to accomplish during college and, how I'm also the type of person who needs ten hours of sleep at night.

But some nights, that's okay. I have to remind myself that achievement takes time - that, I'll have to work in steps over time and not care for immediate gratification at all. And on some nights, it's okay to sleep.

(GIF via Tumblr

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

On Writing

"There is nothing to writing. All you do is sit down at a typewriter and bleed."
- Ernest Hemingway

This is the first sentence I've written all week.

I've always considered writing to be a sort of free therapy - something I would do at three in the morning when my thoughts are kaleidoscopic and I simply need clarity. It has always been a way for me to break down my thoughts and wrap my head around diverging perspectives, resulting in empathy at the very least.

I write in sprints, not marathons. I've noticed that most of what I do compares: if I start a painting/novel/project, it'll consume me until I finish, or I'll fall asleep and start something new when I wake. Obviously, there are exceptions, but this is how I seem to operate.

I know people who disagree with my methods, those who write regularly: those who have, through time, developed the strength to persist through dull days and frustrating writer's blocks. Hemingway's own endurance was tested in his first few years as an aspiring writer, as noted by Paula McLain in The Paris Wife. His struggling character states: "If I can write one sentence, simple and true every day, I'll be satisfied."

Thus, I felt it was necessary to question my methods.

When reading On Writing Well, I immediately found that clarity (literally, on the second page). William Zinsser recounted the differences between his views of writing, and the views of a surgeon/recent story-writer, Dr. Brock. While he argued for the necessity to write and rewrite, Dr. Brock believed in allowing a writer's words to come out naturally, and not be toyed with thereafter. When asked what one should do on days without much inspiration, Zinsser stated that writing is a craft, and a serious writer should stick to a daily schedule, like any other job. Dr. Brock, on the other hand, expressed that writing is an art, and if your uninspired mood affects your writing, simply put it down and come back to it later (what I generally do).

There isn't any "right" way to do such personal work. There are all kinds of writers and all kinds of methods, and the method that helps you say what you want to say is the right method for you... Out of it come the two most important qualities that this book will go in search of: humanity and warmth. Good writing has an aliveness that keeps the reader reading from one paragraph to the next, and it's not a question of gimmicks to "personalize" the author. It's a question of using the English language in a way that will achieve the greatest clarity and strength. Can such principles be taught? Maybe not. But most of them can be learned. 
- William Zinsser, On Writing Well

When approaching creative works such as writing/art/music/photography/design/etc., the most important asset you have is your own character. It can never be the same as anyone else's, and you can't have it "fixed" with plastic surgery. Your methods, whatever they may be, must serve to reflect you in all of your human-ness, so that whomever is put in front of your work, may also be touched by it. I don't question my methods anymore.

(Top photo by weheartit)

Sunday, August 11, 2013

Friday, August 9, 2013

Have a glamorous weekend.

Oh, this makes me wish the world was in black & white. 

(Photo of Edie Sedgwick by Andy Warhol) 

Thursday, August 8, 2013

My new backpack is a chameleon.

Over the past few days, I've had the most insignificant dilemma of my college career - on whether I should buy the backpack that appeases my kiddish love for color, or a clone of my current black backpack (aka partner in crime). I feel like we're at the age where we're slowly outgrowing silly kiddish desires, whether they be of backpack colors or simple pleasures like running outside for ice cream when the truck's around the corner. Lately, I've been catching myself saying, "oh, this is more practical" or "I want to, but work/school/tired/blah."

For me, this is just not okay. Can we just think for a second... about whether we're getting that second back? Can we ask ourselves whether in the future, we'll get to be rash and irresponsible and have fun through it all, the way we so delightfully can right now? It's possible that we will, but it's probable that we won't.

There are too many aspects of life that are just mediocre, and I can feel that list growing by the day. My new goal, inspired by some friends on Twitter, is to take something different each day that I ordinarily find unexceptional, and step it up a notch in excitement.

So, it starts with my most unpleasant item - the sack that has carried all of my burdens over the past few years. If you want to experiment this new mentality with me, I want to hear about it! Shoot me a text/email/whatever. I think I've made it pretty clear how reachable I am. :)

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

This just might be my favorite picture ever...

Picasso once said, "All children are artists. The problem is how to remain an artist once we grow up." Could schooling be the cause?

P.S. Check out this Picasso Head Morph Notepad among other quirky things.

(Photo of Picasso and his son Claude via A Cup of Jo, by Robert Capa)

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

What are you juggling?

Bryant Park in the summer is so lively, and being able to witness New York's diverse crowds coming together to play always leaves me feeling enchanted in a sense. I captured this shot of a group of people learning to juggle from each other today, because I took it as a statement of the magnitude to which we rely on each other to help develop our skills, whether it be in juggling or organic chemistry. I watched as people dropped things, picked themselves back up, noticed others succeeding, and tried to imitate behavior.

So what are you juggling today? Is it work, or family, or friends, or school, or something else you want to get off your chest? I'm juggling a few things: 1) finding the time to write/read each day to better articulate my thoughts, 2) spending time with my family, knowing that I'll have to leave for school soon, 3) learning to actually ACT on my ideas/thoughts rather than having them accumulate and lose value, and 4) remembering to enjoy the summer before it flies by before my eyes.

I'm sharing all of this specifically to point out one of my major intentions with this blog: to create an open exchange of ideas that either agree with, challenge, or assist in my own thought process. With that said, I'd love to hear your thoughts - on anything I've written thus far, via any mode of communication. I'm doing all that I can to become a better person, and I need your help. 

P.S. the idea can always be reversed. If you have an issue, or even just something you would like to improve upon, talk it out, and learn from people. If you think I can help, contact me via FacebookTwitter, or email me at I can't stress how often I, among others, have been too proud to ask for direction, when it could have saved me a boatload of time and frustration. Let's be better about this. 

Monday, August 5, 2013

The Best Career Advice I've Gotten

University of Michigan Law Library
A few days ago, I ran into an old friend who shared with me her two cents for undergrads starting (or hoping to start) a career in law. However, her words proved to be a statement (in my mind) towards starting any career. Here's what she told me:

1) Compete with yourself (only). 
Sometimes in college, we are surrounded by overachievers (or underachievers, for that matter) and lose a grip of ourselves among all of the competition (or lack thereof). Her advice was to work hard, but compete with yourself, instead of anyone else. Don't stress yourself out worrying about what other people are working on, and don't take it easy when you know you should be focused. Solid advice, and something most of us know (but often forget).

2) Do study what you love. 
I'll admit, over the past year, I have been guilty of thinking: "Which major would sound the smartest/look the best on my résumé?" I know I'm not the only one who has had this thought, because it's natural to be judgmental of ourselves in the light of others. This piece of advice was unique because it answered why we should do this, from the eyes of a job recruiter/interviewer. We should follow our passions specifically because we should have an urge to always talk about what we're doing. We should be excited about everything. What sets you apart from other people interviewing is the spark in your eyes that invites open conversation, or that fascinating thing you learned that changed your life.

3) Do try new things.
It doesn't have to be something related to your area of study, or even academic at all. She urged me to join something random and fun, like a culinary club (if you like food - but who doesn't?), a cultural team... even ballroom dancing! Preferably something through which you can meet awesome people or travel. Treat your life like a story, and be the best story you can be. Despite whatever career path you are pursuing, knowing people - and more importantly having them retain their interest in you - is key towards opening doors to opportunity. When interviewing, creating relationships, or networking with new people, be the best story you can possibly be.

In college, it's normal to change majors or ponder career paths before settling your heart on something, and all of this is important for self-discovery/betterment. I took these three points to heart, not only as advice on how to look like a good applicant in the eyes of a recruiter/interviewer, but also advice on how to do the best for myself by discovering the best about myself, each and every day.

Sunday, August 4, 2013

Happy Friendship Day.

Have you heard of Friendship Day? It's a big holiday in India (among other countries), and I remember buying bracelets or ribbons to tie on my friends' wrists as a kid visiting India during the summers. I think we could all benefit from a day like this - especially when times get busy and we forget the people who have touched our lives so greatly. Be sure to hug someone you care about today. 

(Photo via Tumblr)

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Calling Childhood

Are lemonade stands a thing of the past? As a kid, I remember baking cookies with my friends and our moms, and putting together perfect concoctions of sour lemons, sugar, and water to sell during the summer (in which my mother always tried to sneak in some of her Indian spices). It was refreshing to see this little girl's lemonade stand in Fire Island a few weekends ago. Also just as refreshing, we drank loads of cups of it for just 50 cents each!

I haven't really seen many kids around our neighborhood do this lately, and I'd hate to see a future of kids sitting inside with their tablets/iPads/video games all day. What did you do for fun as a kid? Any other young lemonade entrepreneurs out there?

Monday, July 8, 2013

How to be Happy and Great

Lately, I've been thinking about this article that I read, on whether value lies in pursuing happiness, or greatness. Like the author, my father has always been a strong proponent of doing the best you can to be happy, whereas my mother has always urged me to put all of my effort into being someone great. I felt that I could relate, and his conclusion was something that I had always sought after: a balance between happiness and greatness. Let's rewind.

9/2012. Freshman year college motto: Work hard, play hard (and sleep hard- health matters). I started off the semester right, able to balance all that came with enjoying college: making new friends, trying new activities, etc. with the intense workload that came with going to a competitive school like Michigan. I loved it. I noticed a different attitude towards the school in a friend of mine. She, being the incredible hardworker that she is, worked her butt off for an impeccable GPA that semester, but took a hit on her health/happiness. It was hard to see someone just as happy-go-lucky face such stressful times.

1/2013. Second semester rolls around. The balance wasn't working for me. My grades were slipping, and I was sleeping less. Classes were harder, I felt the pressure to make up for my slip from the previous semester. I started worrying that I wasn't good enough to do what I wanted to do. I started rethinking just what it was that I supposedly wanted to do. Was I in these classes because I loved them, or did I just feel like I needed to prove myself of some status among every overachiever around me (Honors College, *eye-roll*)? Was it also because of the pressure to conform to a certain "path" already laid out for me? I noticed this flaw in the system: If you want to become, then you must do. If you want to become a doctor, you must be pre-med. If you want to do business in life, you must get into Ross. Etc. Etc. I noticed that most people I talked to didn't know why they wanted to do what they were trying to pursue. They thought they "liked business," but why? What in business exactly? No clue! I was the same. I noticed that until I took a step back, I had just as narrow of a mindset as everyone around me.

To be great, you need to know what it is that makes you happy. They go hand-in-hand, and you can't achieve one without the other. To be happy, you need to have a set (and achievable) target of what it will mean for you to be great. If you're an athlete, you know that nothing beats the sweet sweet feeling of scoring for your team. Similarly, if happiness is so derived from achievement, setting personal goals is the key to fulfillment. What's interesting is that greatness is incredibly subjective, so it's important to worry only about goals through your own eyes, and put aside anyone else's judgements. Struggles come and go to help you realize what happiness is, and what you should avoid. Career paths are made by people for people who need guidance, but no one should ever feel like they are not good enough to achieve what they want. Hard work is a necessity, but hard work is only worthwhile if the process and end result BOTH are something you can thrive from. When greatness and happiness intertwine, a passion is born.

It's also important to be intrusive to the point where you question your own intentions. If you want to become a doctor, and the reason is that you want to help people, start by helping yourself and practicing day-to-day kindness. If you want to become a great artist, start by being curious and appreciative of the beauty that surrounds you. If you want to study law, start by using your judgement to solve issues around you. If you want to teach, start by disseminating knowledge wherever you go. If you want to be a good person, start today.

I noticed that some people have it easier than others. Some have more focus; others are quicker. Some find their passion early on, whereas others (myself included) are still searching. All I'm proposing is that it's a search worth investing time and thought into. Life moves too fast sometimes, let's take a step back. At work, I like to ask my coworkers a simple question: "Is this the career you've always dreamed of, or if not, does it at least make you happy?" Most have answered with a "No, but the hours are flexible and the pay is great." The best answer I've gotten has been, "I've worked at every dream job of mine. Disney, Sony, Tommy Hilfiger, even as an event planner. I just like managing projects, and now I'm here." She never had it figured out, but I guess that's what helped her figure it out.

What I'm trying to say is that when you find that either your happiness or greatness will be sacrificed by whatever you're doing (or plan on doing), then something's off. It's as simple as "do what you love, and love what you do." Everyone is meant to be happy, and everyone is meant to be great. Some people are just luckier than others.

I'm still searching.

P.S. If you're interested, 9 College Majors, and What They Say About the Bros Who "Study" Them- made me laugh. 

Thursday, June 27, 2013

Can a five-year-old paint this?

T-shirt design courtesy of

I've always been a fan of abstract art (to view or paint), because to me, it has the capacity to reflect imagination in a way that is unique to each individual. I love it especially because it lets me visualize a person's sense of design, style, and perspective unlike any other form of art. But the question always pops up: How do "they" determine which abstract paintings are worth what?

And couldn't a five-year-old paint this?

Courtesy of
Or this?
Courtesy of

If you haven't heard about Aelita Andre, she's an avid eater, sleeper, and pooper. But she's also a five-year-old abstract expressionist prodigy. Are you artsier than a 5-year-old? (Or did school kill your creativity?)

If you're curious at all, watch her in action. I'm still fascinated.
What I think the greatest thing about her art is that she's entirely fearless with the whole process. When you're a kid, you don't care about whether or not your painting is going to be appreciated by others or if you'll gain anything out of it. You do something because it's fun, and you do it with a sense of freedom too.

I remember doing a whole bunch of that Jackson Pollock style painting at Fun Craft parties when I was five, but all that's left of my "R-O-B-I-N" collection are these:

When I try painting sometimes, this is what goes through my head:
- I hope I make something good
- I better not ruin this $15 canvas
- I can't waste so much paint!
- I shouldn't be wasting so much time with this
- I'm making a mess!

Greatness comes when we stop worrying, and start doing what we love.

Saturday, June 15, 2013

Treat Dad.

Just a reminder that Father's Day is tomorrow, June 16th. How are you giving back?

Last year, I found my dad eyeing this Yoshimoto Cube at the MoMA's gift shop. To treat his inner quirkiness, I found a (fairly quick) video tutorial to help me make it, and saved him (and myself) $65. Plus, the paint added a personalized touch! Here's how it turned out:

I'm still toying with some ideas for tomorrow, and meanwhile made reservations to this amazing Mediterranean restaurant I recently tried called Ilili (found near Madison Square Park on 5th Ave). If you do ever go, be sure to try their Semolina Gnocchi, Brussel Sprouts, and Cucumber Lemonade. Definitely surprised my taste buds there!

Photos courtesy of

Some other ideas to treat your old man!

If you have time and no money:

A Hovercraft

Artsy Maps

Patterned Necktie Pillows

Music-Themed Coasters

Vintage Magazine Art

If you have money and no time: 

For Dads Who Love to Relax

Cheese & Wine Tasting

A Day Out Sailing

Beer-Making Classes

Make him Fly

Gelato-Making Classes

Race with Him

A Morning in a Hot Air Balloon

If you have no money and no time but still love your dad very much:

Hand-wash his car

Fix something in the house

Watch his favorite movie together

Watch/play his favorite sport

Spend the day at a park

Hug him.

Thank him.

Show him that you're a better person because of him. xo

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Magic is Everywhere.

"Drop the the. Just Facebook. It's cleaner."
- The Social Network

A friend of mine texted me last night, addressing the title of this blog, adding that JT had some good advice for me. I find it funny that the movie's name isn't just "Social Network." 

But I do want to address this blog's title, "The Forever Tourist." Or "Forever Tourist," whatever. 

I chose it for two reasons:

1) To create a fun environment in which I can document and share new things I try, and inspire feedback/people to tell me about new things I should try (if not directly by comments, then by simply reaching out to me personally, doesn't matter). Essentially, to promote the importance of stepping outside of your comfort zone and trying new things

2) To never stop doing this. To never become satisfied with familiarity, and to always put yourself in a tourist's shoes. Because the minute you look down from those skyscrapers, the magic stops. There are always new places to go, new faces to meet, and new things to be discovered. It's simply infinite. The reason I'm writing is so that we don't all become old farts who forget the magic. It's always going to be there, and I don't ever want to stop looking!

Monday, May 20, 2013

Something New

The past year has been chock-full of new experiences for me. Some of my favorites include trapezing, trying Pasta di Cacao, singing "Hail to the Victors" at a Michigan football game, and reuniting with a long lost cousin at college.

In my fall semester at the University of Michigan, I took an intro course in Political Theory, and one concept by John Stuart Mill struck me in that we should all be trying something new every day, like this guy.

Ted Talk by Matt Cutts prompted me to revisit this ideology recently, leading me to...

....begin teaching myself HTML (which actually helped me figure out a few tricky things in this blog itself). 

Like Matt Cutts, I had to try writing a novel:

...but got stuck when I had to name my characters. 

So instead, I painted what's now the background for this blog. Cool right? 

Lastly, I had a friend start teaching me some guitar!
Hopefully someday I'll be good as John Mayer, because he's sexy. 

The cool thing about each of these attempts is that even if you don't go through with them, they stir up a massive amount of inspiration, which instantly makes you feel good about yourself.

So, I'm proposing a new challenge to go out, and do something new every day
It could be as simple as trying the new Caramel Ribbon Crunch Frappuccino

Let's do it!