10 block radius

One of the first lessons a writer learns is to write what she sees. But, I’ve been feeling for quite some time now that I’ve exhausted that approach. See, I am a real Queens (New York) girl. I was born and raised within a 10 block radius. The farthest I’ve gone is my high school, in the Bronx (I used to be somewhat smart and got into one of the specialized high schools). I even attended college in Queens.

Growing up in such a diverse city, one would think that I’d constantly have fresh material. But, my eyesight is sore. Sore of seeing the same streets my entire life. My weekends aren’t filled with exciting NYC events. This is mostly because I have no one to hop around with. My friends are all busy with their own lives. I can barely find anyone to have dinner with! Finding myself newly single after 5 years, I no longer know what to do with my time. Oh, there are plenty of things to do, but I’m simply not inspired.

And there’s the other small matter of living with my parents. It’s a cultural thing; you just don’t leave your parents’ house until your married. I mean, no one can really stop me from getting my own apartment, but I’d too feel too guilty. The Bengali community would never let them hear the end of it.

So my weekdays consist of going to my fun yet humdrum copywriting/web production job and weekends run the gamet of various birthday dinners with the same old people. No offense to my friends, but all we seem to do is eat, watch movies and gossip. I wouldn’t exactly call most my friends artsy. I’ve yet to be invited to be anything different or off the grid.

No, I don’t need new friends. I love them just the way they are. But I do need a change of scenery. First, I thought grad school in a different city would take care of that. But why do I need to pay an institution thousands of dollars to get that? So, I started thinking broader until my itinieary reached Bangladesh. It seemed safe yet exotic. I have family there, my parents own a home, I speak the language and understand the culture and I can easily get a job at a publication there through nepotism. Heck, life would be easier there than here! But then I realized, how is that truly living my life?

So I started thinking broader. Paris? I love the city and am mesmerised by it, but what could I uncover about that culture that hasn’t already been done? England? Too expensive and too much like the journalism in America. My thoughts rested on India.

Think about it. I am thoroughly immersed in the culture. I keep up with it’s politics. I speak Hindi. And oh yeah, my slight obsession with Bollywood might come in handy as well.

India as we all know, is huge. Everything there is limitless. The culture, languages, religions. Yet it’s also thoroughly modern. I realize that I truly live in a bubble. I get surprised at things like my cousins in Bangladesh knowing what prom is (and trying to create their own version of it). Bangladesh and India is the land of arranged marriages to me. Hypocritical because I’m always touting to others how progressive these two nations are.

Well, I’d like to explore firsthand how modern these societies are so I’m going to take the plunge. I plan to quit my 9-5 salaried job sometime next year and just travel. Do the cliched writer thing of traveling, selling compelling stories to my dream publications and become a full-fledged writer. Test these “so-called” skills I supposedly have.

I can barely sleep at night, conjuring ip my plans. Dhaka, Sylhet, Chittagong, New Delhi, Bihar, Madras, Gujrat, Mumbai.


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