What it really means to have an accent

16 08 2012

I haven’t written here in a while, mostly because I was consumed with my internship at The Blush but also because I tried to get the final piece for Quigley’s class — the very class all of the below was written for, published. I think after three months of trying I can give it a proper rest.

The following is a feature I wrote about foreigners and their accents and how those play a role in their lives when they try to make it in America. I discovered that an accent means different things to different people, both to the speakers and to the listeners, but that at the end of the day — it’s another keepsake from home, and a precious one at that.


Photo: futurity.org


“Kol kopy”


“Cold coffee”

“Oh. What size?”

Ameya Gangamwar, 25, was the only person in line at the Washington Square Starbucks asked to repeat his order, but it didn’t seem to bother him. Compared to other people from India, he says, his accent is neutral, and most people understand most of what he’s saying. It’s because he’s from western India, Mumbai to be exact, and he has grown up with a strong Western influence. The default language is English, he explains, in education and in business. In fact, he continues, his mother-tongue, Marathi, became second language once he enrolled in school. Be that as it may, when the barista asked Gangamwar what drink he was waiting for, he again had to repeat himself. Twice. Read the rest of this entry »

Ew, cooties

19 04 2012

I promised I’ll help get a roof over your head, and I am not one to break my word. Next up is: boy and girl residences. No no, not co-ed. Separate. As in ‘your father has to stay in the lobby if he’s visiting you and you’re a girl’ kind of separate. It’s usually religiously motivated, if that appeals to you.


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Multicultural living

15 04 2012

Yet another housing option for us foreigners (see previous post about home-stays) is the International house, or I-House for short.

Over 65 thousand residents passed through the doors of the I-House in the nearly 90 years that it has been around, located at 500 Riverside Drive, right above Morningside Heights and Columbia University (west of Harlem, closest subway line — the 1).

View from Riverside Church with I_House on the right and Grant's Tomb on the left; ihouse-nyc.org

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Alternative housing options

12 04 2012

Renting an apartment in the city can be an excruciating process, and an expensive one at that. Rents are sky high and it’s beginning to translate to the outer boroughs (Williamsburg in Brooklyn, for instance, has paid the price of being trendy.) For internationals arriving to New York there’s also the problem of zilch credit history, no social security number, and quite frequently no born-and-raised red, white, and blue to act as guarantor (let alone one who’s in the Tri-State area.) So what’s the alternative, given you really need a roof over your head?

This new section, which I will update every so often, will display the different options available.

Just your standard, non-affordable, nyc apt; http://hdgnyc.com

First off: home-stays Read the rest of this entry »

Desi in Queens

10 04 2012

A spectacular writer, Haroon Shah is a classmate of mine whose beat is South Asians who live in Queens, NY.


Haroon has an insightful and clever outlook on this topic, as a man who grew up in Kashmir himself. His writing is colorful and gives a peep into this world for those who are not familiar with it, and a taste of home for those who are. I highly recommend you check his blog out.

My personal favorite post: the spiritual guru trend, found here. I also had the privilege of reading his amazing personal essay, the incredible journey he made — more than just physically so — from Kashmir to New York. Remember the name, you’re sure to see his byline soon.

Should see sushi

6 04 2012

I visited Japan once. My dad took my younger sister and I, I was 14 at the time, for a week in the Land of the Rising Sun. We made it through five cities in seven days, visited the Peace Memorial at Hiroshima, tried on traditional kimonos, and ate sushi. Or rather, they did. Me? It made me queasy.

Then I grew up.

I love sushi now, though after seeing this deliciously charming movie — Jiro Dreams of Sushi, I don’t think I’m allowed to call the $8 convenient-store-bought rolls “sushi” anymore.

What I can do, and am trying to right now, is to encourage each and every one of you to go see this movie.

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