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A Very Finnish Christmas

I just came back from my first visit to Finland after officially moving back to the States. The trip was important for many personal reasons (I miss Finland, I miss hearing Finnish, I miss Fazer chocolates, you get the idea) but the most important reason for going back was to finally experience a Finnish Christmas.
I have my boyfriend’s mother and sister to thank for giving me that experience. They planned the day down to a T and, while it was very different from what I had expected, it was still wonderful experiencing a holiday that has had little meaning for my own family through the eyes of a family who cares deeply about it.
First, let me say what I was expecting. Holidays in India are a chance for families to all come together. Unlike people in the US, for whom families coming together is associated with a great deal of stress and angst, for Indians the family together means a happy state of constant happy chaos, eating and usually some religious activities. So I, despite everyt…
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Working Identities

It’s been a while since my last post. To be honest, I haven’t done much besides school work, to the point that the I no longer know what to tell people when they ask me what my hobbies are. Which also means I feel a constant looming pressure of knowing I live in a big city with a reputation for never sleeping yet I spend my weekends holed up in my room or in the library (and the occasional coffee shop).
This is not to say that I spend all of my time doing doctoral work. I have found two outlets in the form of jobs that have enriched this semester in ways that I didn’t expect. One is at a preschool, the other is working at the Graduate Writing Center consulting students working on academic writing projects.
After not working for two years, I had forgotten what it feels like to be part of something that allows for change that you can actually see. Teaching is always rewarding as you watch children grow and marvel at the world before you (the most joy I have ever witnessed was when the…

The Lifeblood of NYC

As you walk along the sidewalk of New York City, you’ll notice that periodically, the cement gives way to a metal grate. Sometimes, the reverberating rumbling echoes through these grates, telling you that a train is passing beneath your feet. Every time I hear that sound, my heart skips a beat.
I’ve always loved the sound of trains. My aunt’s house is in the heart of Mumbai, right next to the railway tracks used by passing local trains. As a child, trapped inside with nothing to do while the adults slept or were busy in the kitchen, I would stand in my aunt’s balcony overlooking the tracks and watch the trains go by, lulled into a peaceful reverie as I listened to them.
But watching trains in Mumbai is very different from riding the dark and dirty metros of New York. Metro stations are gloomy from the lack of natural light and filthy from the many people rushing past, spilling their drinks, spitting, spreading dirt from the streets. The metro in New York has an equally repulsing repu…

The Simple Joys

My answer to people when they ask me how I like New York is to say something diplomatic like “I’m glad it’s only for five years” or “I’ll get used to it” or “It’s the complete opposite of Turku.”
This last answer is my favorite to think about. Turku was quiet, peaceful, homogeneous, clean, easy-going. New York is loud, aggressive, diverse, dirty and rushed. I felt at home in Turku, I do not feel at home here. (Though diversity is one thing that New York has going for it over Turku)


But there are small pleasures I have discovered and so I will devote this post to those small moments of joy in my new, temporary home.




1.Coffee. This is not unique to New York— in fact, I actually make it at home so I could make it anywhere—but I have found that nothing compares to making a cup of Indian style cappuccino (hand whipped instant coffee with lots of sugar and only milk) while I read articles for class.
    2.The Teacher’s College Campus. Teacher’s College is the graduate school for education at Co…

New Beginnings

Today while I sat in the very comfortable blue chairs that sit in the prized location of our living room, I decided to put on some music. This was despite my better judgement since I was working on reading a rather dense book for one of my PhD classes starting in September and needed full concentration capacity. Having recently acquired Spotify thanks to my bf, I decided to peruse the vast database to find a new playlist to try. I found one called #vainsuomihitit, or “only Finnish hits.” Feeling adventurous, I decided to give it a whirl.


I had never heard any of the songs on the list and, when I listened to them, I knew that they were not songs I would actively choose to listen to. Yet, hearing the words—only a portion of which I could understand—made emotions well up. They reminded me of Finland, where walking down the street I would hear this beautiful language being spoken and see it written all around me.


Now in a Finnish mindset, even looking into my parents’ back yard made me thi…

A Perfect Day

A favorite activity of mine to do with people I don’t know very well has been the 36 Questions that lead to Love. The title is misleading because, while the questions are ostensibly meant for romantic relationships, they really can be used with anyone you want to get closer to. One of the questions on this list asks you to describe your perfect day. I have always described this more or less the same way: a day mixed with down time and some work, with no stress of commitments to make or deadlines but still with some purpose, and spent with people around me who I love. I’ve always described this day as an ideal that I will probably not achieve but one that I can dream about anyway. But the thing is, in Finland, especially in the past month, I have had more than a few days that fit the bill. I have a few things to thank for that. Chief among them is my boyfriend and his love of the summer cottage. We have spent almost every weekend this month at his cottage. The second is my courses for n…

Finding Joy

I went to Barcelona this week on a holiday from what has already felt like a holiday ever since I finished my thesis. Since I had two months in Finland before I go back to the US, I thought that some traveling was in order to take advantage of being in Europe where you can hop from country to country without (sometimes) even having to show any form of identification. And so I decided to finally go to a place in Europe that I have wanted to visit for years: Barcelona. The week leading to the trip was a flurry of activity. I was looking up transportation, walking tours, the many sights in the city, possible day trips to take. At one point I had at least seven tabs open to pages related to Barcelona. All of the research made me excited for my three days to explore a little bit of Spain.
The first day was a flurry of activity. Having arrived late the previous night, I wanted to devote this day to getting a feel for the city in the day light. I ate an early breakfast at one of the cafes …