Friday, October 10, 2014


Whenever my family throws a party, we set the start time a good hour before we expect people to show up.

But while IST, or Indian Standard Time, is a key part of entertaining back home, it makes for a slightly less entertaining part of my professional life. 

I usually pride myself on being a pretty punctual person, but like my toasty summer tan, my time management skills seem to have faded. Rather than arriving early to meetings allowing for a few minutes to check Facebook or grab a coffee, I found that lately I emerge from the subway with five minutes to get to my destination and no clue as to where I am going. Running ensues. Sweaty panic is the result. 

Like many of my Christmas sweaters, this was an unfortunate pattern. But when i got an interview for my dream job as an associate editor for a niche health magazine, I knew I had to change. I pulled the address off the magazine's website and set out an hour early for my 5pm interview. 

I took the subway and arrived at the station with plenty of time and walked briskly down the street to the pinpointed address on my Google Maps. I arrived with time to spare…in front of a seniors home. 

The Editor-In-Chief had mentioned that their offices were in a converted home but this was not quite what I was expecting. 

I went up and down the street but there was no sign of the magazine's headquarters. Confused, I went into the UPS store next-door and presented them with the address and asked if they knew where I was supposed to be. 

"Oh I know this magazine! This is their mailbox address," said the man behind the counter, smiling. I checked my watch. My interview was in 15 minutes. 

Cue panic-mode.  

I ran out of the UPS store while dialling the magazine to find out where their offices were. After leaving a frazzled message detailing my mistake, I typed the magazine's name into Google Maps and the search results returned an intersection a few kilometres away.

Hopped on the subway. Went one stop. Ran out and sprinted down to the Google Mapped area, hoping for some kind of sign or name plate. When I got to the intersection, all I saw were homes, lawns littered with kids' toys, and my watch that said I now had five minutes to knock on the right door. 

Frantic, I punched the street name and the magazine name into Google, in search of a miracle. And as it always does, Google knew exactly what I was searching for. The results listed a business registered to a small house, two down from where I was standing. 

I ran over and rang the doorbell. No answer. Peered in the window. No movement. I was standing on the driveway pondering what to do next when I heard, "Ishani, is that you?" 

I turned around and saw the Editor-In-Chief standing on the front porch of the house, waving at me. 

It was exactly 5pm. 

I was sweaty, ready to drink a bucket of water, and more stressed than I had been on my first driving test, but I had made it on time. 

Back home, IST may stand for Indian Standard Time, but in my world, it stands for a schedule unlike any other. In my world, I operate on Ishani Standard Time. 

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

WTF: What The Feminism

I used to say that I was not a feminist.

At the time, I was convinced that being a feminist involved burning my bras, letting my underarm hair grow wild, and arguing constantly against men. In my mind, it was a dirty label that I was too ashamed to wear.

Now, I am ashamed that I ever thought that I wasn't a feminist.

While U.N. Women Goodwill Ambassador Hermione Granger Emma Watson boldly made feminism cool with her viral speech to the United Nations for the launch of the HeForShe campaign, it wasn't until I saw my friend's documentary that I truly realized the error of my ways. 

The six minute and 16 seconds of "WTF: What The Feminism," created by Queen's University film students Shivani Srivastava and Annalise Nielsen, finally made feminism make sense to me. Watching this compilation of quotes, reflections and experiences from a variety of people on both sides of the "feminism debate" left me unexpectedly infuriated and inspired. I found myself angered by some people's ancient perception of feminism and agreeing wholeheartedly with others' arguments for equality.

"The whole point of feminism is that there is no such thing as a 'woman's position' in society in the same way that there is no such thing, really, as a 'men's position'," said one interview subject and as another added, "At it's core, feminism is sort of humanism."

I finally realized, this is not about men or women. It's about people.

 Everyone—women, men, gay, straight, old or young—should be a feminist because having a uterus should not determine how you are treated. What's right is equal rights.

I now realize that to be a feminist, it doesn't have to mean hitting the streets and standing up to the man. It can simply means being unapologetically proud of being a woman.

 I used to say I was not a feminist. I was wrong. 

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Finding "The One"

Finding a job is feeling a lot like finding love; more complicated than I anticipated.

No one expects to struggle right out of the gate. I certainly didn't. After taking a year off, I figured I'd hit the job boards hard, wow them with my stellar CV, and get hired on in no time. Corner office, here I come!

And yet, nearly two months after I started the search for the job of my dreams, I have yet to find "The One." I tried a few casual gigs here and there but nothing stuck. I sent out countless emails, networked with professionals in my field, and applied all over the interwebs, and the result was simply a lot of silent rejection. So I was left searching for that one job that would turn my life from a perma-weekend into a productive workweek—one where I could get out of my pjs, put on some work clothes and wow the world with words.

Despite the endless string of applications,  I refuse to give up. If I have learned anything from Romcoms it's that when I least expect it, my life will work itself out.

Until then, in the immortal words of Rick Ross, "Everyday I'm hustlin."

Monday, September 8, 2014

Under construction

Starting over requires two things: a lot of hard work...and Ikea.

After 21 years living on a class schedule, it was time for a free period. So for the past year, I travelled from San Funcisco to Cowgary to my happy place in a year-long avoidance of real life. I wanted to learn things that weren't in the syllabus, visit people that I had never met, and take a break and have a Kit Kat bar.

But after putting my life on pause for a year, it was time to get to work. The first thing on the list: moving out of my parent's place and into a new apartment. And new apartments require Ikea.

Before any of my furniture showed up, my father and I were hard at work piecing together a brand new dresser courtesy of Sweden's finest.

It took four hours to translate Ikea's instructions into proper construction, but the end result was more than just a dresser.

My life is under construction but if I can conquer Ikea, I can do anything. And now that I've got an apartment, complete with fancy drawers, I can finally start piecing things together.

Thursday, August 14, 2014

My happy place

With Pharell's "Happy" commandeering the airwaves, it seemed like any place could become a happy place.

But regardless how frequently that song wormed its way into my ear and got stuck in my head, I never truly found my happy place until I reached the beaches of Mallorca. Away from the ever-updating feeds of social media, the constant distraction of the internet and on a schedule that included nothing but eating and beaching, I found a new level of contentment. It felt as though the Spanish island had literally distanced me from all of my worldly concerns and left me free to squish my toes in the sand, drink a few cervezas, and scan the Ocean horizon for signs of reality.

For one week, I got to leave real life and live oh-so-happily in this place. 

Friday, August 1, 2014

An Indian Abroad

The conversation is always the same.

"Where are you from?"
"No. Where are you really from?"

This not-so-subtle way of asking why I am brown is a component of most introductions and typically occurs after people stumble over my name and before they ask whether I know any good Indian restaurants in the city. It's taken a lot of convincing, but my dark skin, love of saag-paneer, and occasional Bollywood dance breaks, do not make me any less Canadian.

And this concept is not exclusive to the Great White North. In Germany, the stereotypical poster-child might be a french-braid wearing, beer-loving, lederhosen-sporting damen but not everyone in Deutschland fits that mould.

Though the country is made up primarily of native-Germans, according to a Eurostat poll from 2010, Germany has the highest number of foreign citizens in Europe—including Lovely and Monty, two cab drivers from Hamburg and my new favourite YouTube celebrities. 

I am currently at a Punjabi-German wedding that is bringing together brown people from England, Canada, the US, and other areas of Europe in addition to the motherland. The hosts switch effortlessly from fast-paced Punjabi to forceful German to giddy English and laugh all in the same language.

In this gathering of global citizens, it seems like no matter what your skin tone, accent, or preferred cuisine, home is where the heart is. 

Sunday, July 27, 2014

One small advantage

Being under five feet is not always the height of enjoyment. Standing in crowds becomes an awkward dance to find a window in a wall of backs,  clothes literally do not come in my size, and the upper shelves of the grocery store remain unexplored territory.

While I'm a little person trying to fit into a big world, there is one place that I am exactly the right size: the sky.

From what the family elders tell me, flying was once luxurious. From pillows to food to smiles, everything came included with your ticket to the clouds. The sky was the limit. Fast forward a few years and things certainly have changed. Replace dressed-up passengers with disgruntled crowds in stretch pants, swap free food for overpriced in-flight menus, and bring everyone just a little closer together with tight cabin seating.

Some airlines try and dress up their seats with headrests or faux-leather, but behind all that, the reality is a very small chair that serves as your room, bed, and sofa for the duration of the flight. And unlike many of the "normal sized" passengers, I was made for small seats.

Curled up and catching some ZZZZZs on a flight home from California to Calgary .
I've never been the most flexible person, but on airplanes I put my few years of gymnastic training and additional eight total yoga classes to work and contort into sleeping positions on par with Cirque du Soleil. It's cirque of the skies. My legs bend like wet noodles, folding and tucking into all corners of my designated area, my head manages to use anything from my knees to the back of the chair as a pillow, and my arms act as additional seat belts, holding everything in place for a comfortable journey anywhere from Calgary to Cologne.

So while some refer to me as vertically challenged, I like to think of myself as "travel sized."

Monday, July 21, 2014


I’m in a bad relationship.

Things were good at first, but recently, things have changed. I’m just not getting what I need anymore. So I think it’s time for me to break up with my alarm clock.

When I was a kid, my dad and I had a routine. He would yell for me to get up in the morning, I would grunt that I was awake and that was his cue that he could head into the shower. I be back asleep before the water even turned on. Twenty minutes later, he would yell for me to actually get up and I would hurl some kind of teenage-fuelled rage at him while trudging towards the bathroom with the grace and poise of a caveman. And with that, we'd start the day. It was not an ideal system.

It wasn’t until university that I discovered that mornings didn’t have to be hostile. Since my dad was no longer available to be a human rooster, I had to find some other way to rouse myself each day. That was when I found my alarm clock. 

It wasn’t a revolutionary concept, but it changed my life.

It was the perfect combination. I was now in control of when and how I woke up, setting the mood of the morning with the appropriate song to get me up with a smile rather than a grimaceJames Brown’s “Get up off of that thing” was a particular favourite. 

But a few weeks ago, my long-term love for my alarm clock hit a snag. It was set to wake me in time to get business-ready for a meeting, but it reset itself in the middle of the night. Instead of waking up to Estelle’s “American Boy,” that morning I bolted upright in hurried panic and rushed out the door in a mismatched outfit and makeup resembling a child’s finger painting.

Thankfully, my meeting got cancelled just as I boarded the bus so I quickly hopped off and returned home to fix things with my morning companion, try and get us back to the way things used to be.  

My punishment was almost sleeping through my flight to California the following morning.

It’s hard to admit when things are over, but by all indications, I think it might be time for a change. Tomorrow is the dawn of a new day and I want to be able to wake up and see it.

Sunday, July 13, 2014


In Toronto, cowboy hats and boots are usually reserved for Halloween. But months before October and only a few provinces over, cowboy hats, boots, big buckles and belts become the unofficial uniform for the city of Calgary.

The Stampede has been held for more than 100 years and it brings together people from every corner of the country to eat a famed selection of fair foodwhich this year, included scorpion pizza and deep-fried piecheer on the Rodeos and cheers under the great skyline of Calgary.

I may have been born and brought up as a city girl, but there's something about donning a hat, putting on some boots, and yelling a few "Yeehaws!" that can make any girl feel like a cowgirl.