Abandoning the Work I Hated

Link to “Abandoning the Work I Hated” by Robert Markowitz: http://opinionator.blogs.nytimes.com/2015/08/20/abandoning-the-work-i-hated/?WT.mc_id=2015-SEPTEMBER-FB-MC6-AUD_DEV-0901-0930&WT.mc_ev=click&ad-keywords=AUDDEVREMARK&_r=0

“Abandoning the Work I Hated” is the single most eye-opening personal essay I’ve ever read. Mr. Markowitz describes the intensity of his career as a young criminal lawyer along with the related physical symptoms in his body. He decides to quit his unfulfilling law career and live in Mexico for 2 years, while battling boredom and depression.

In an unexpected twist, after returning to the US, he discovers a love for entertaining children during volunteer work at a Sunday school. While browsing through wanted ads in the newspaper, he sees an ad for clown training and decides to give it a try.  Mr. Markowitz starts entertaining children at parties under the alias of “Bobo the Clown” and LOVES it! Next, a hidden passion for music is unearthed, and Mr. Markowitz starts creating and playing music for children’s events. The fulfillment of his new musical career provides motivation for him to wake up every day, a crucial element which his law career lacked.

The entire essay is inspiring to me, as I see myself in his shoes.  Mr. Markowitz admits feelings of frustration in finding a career outside of law but only being offered law jobs.  Similarly, I have had difficulty finding jobs at non-profit organizations, consulting firms, and health food stores while simultaneously receiving multiple job offers in pathology, a career in medicine I’m trying to leave behind.

I believe discovering one’s passion can be spontaneous. For most people in society, working as a clown for low wages after succeeding as a lawyer can seem bizarre, but for Mr. Markowitz, it was serendipitous. He never imagined he would become a clown; yet the event was life-changing, as it led him to pursue his dream job: children’s musical entertainment.

I am inspired by his courage and the hardships he endured to reach his happiness. He owns his struggle, as I do mine. I hope serendipity strikes me too!


Brief Exchanges between Couples (Overheard at the Airport)

At the gate:

Young Man:  I bought this sweatshirt for only $20 (pointing to the “I Love LA” sweatshirt he was wearing)!

Young Woman:  Why didn’t you buy me a sweatshirt?

On the airplane:

Old Indian Man:  Dear, do you want some? (referring to some sort of ethnic food in aluminum foil)

Old Indian Lady: Nods without speaking. Hands him The New York Times in exchange for the food.

In baggage claim:

Hipster Man:  I’ve written you a couple love letters, but you haven’t written me any!

Hipster Woman:  I wrote you a letter once. But it wasn’t a love letter.

The Introvert’s Message

Susan Cain can give TED talks, write books, and provide interviews over and over again. Yet, the message will never truly be understood by a society run by extroverts. What message am I referring to? The one that every introvert wishes could be broadcasted on every billboard in the country.

The Introvert’s Message to an Extrovert:

Introverts are not anti-social hermits with autism. They are not cold-hearted, depressed, or rude. They are not intellectually inferior to extroverts.

Introverted people like quiet spaces to bring their work to fruition. They prefer having one-on-one conversations instead of interacting with large groups of people. Introverts need alone time to reenergize. They are always prepared! Due to their outstanding observational and listening skills, they excel at problem solving and showing empathy to others.

Introverts may not adjust to new environments as well as extroverts, but it doesn’t mean they are not capable of adapting. Sensitivity and unique creativity are common gifts introverts share. Finally, introverted people love to have fun (if fun is defined as activities in solitude or meaningful interactions with close friends). 

I’ve had many people give me the same unsolicited advice over the years. From childhood to early adulthood, people have told me to change my personality. These important people include my parents, teachers, medical school professors, and colleagues. According to them, I was “too quiet”, “without personality”, “somewhat cold”, “not social enough”, and “not vocal enough to assess my knowledge”.

What they failed to tell me is I am a thoughtful and gentle person who is extremely hard-working and detail-oriented. I always accept my mistakes and learn from them. I have empathy and emotional intelligence that others could never achieve. Once I become used to a new environment, I naturally become an effective behind-the-scenes leader. I never turn down a challenge and always improve my work environment by generating creative solutions. Similar to other introverts, sometimes people don’t notice my accomplishments because I don’t boast about them. And yes, I even have a few close friends who would do anything to help me at a moment’s notice.

Despite my introversion and other people’s doubts in my abilities, I became a board-certified physician specialized in pathology! So for all the disbelieving extroverts, the message is clear: introverts have and will continue to succeed in their own special ways. Get used to it!

By the way, Susan Cain created a wonderful resource to empower introverts at http://www.quietrev.com. Please take time to read personal challenges and successes shared by introverts in the Quiet Revolutionaries section (http://www.quietrev.com/quiet-revolutionaries/)


Paint the Town Yellow: The Tale of Turmeric

I grew up with turmeric, we are old friends. Old yellow buddies. Besties with benefits.

Turmeric (Curcumina longa) is a bright yellow plant rhizome that grows underground and is related to ginger. Obviously ginger is the less successful of the cousins.

The face behind tumeric’s success is curcumin, an anti-inflammatory compound. In Indian cuisine, turmeric dates back thousands of years as does its use in traditional Ayurvedic medicine.

I became introduced to turmeric by my astute mother, a new-age renegade who ate quinoa a decade before anyone else did. She used turmeric regularly in her daily Indian cooking: a spoonful in every shak (Indian vegetable dish) she made.

Most importantly, I have become bosom buddies with turmeric through anecdotal stories and clinical trials boasting the benefits of this yellow powder which has potent anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, and anti-cancer properties.  I am here to share the news!

Long-term ingestion of curcumin (from turmeric) has been associated with….

decreased cholesterol

improvement in inflammatory bowel disease

healing of eczema and psoriasis affecting skin

reduced risk of cancer (colon, prostate, etc)

relief for rheumatoid arthritis and other inflammatory conditions

relief of pain associated with osteoarthritis

protection against neurodegenerative conditions such as Alzheimer’s disease

a healthy liver

fighting infections through anti-bacterial and anti-viral properties

possible prevention of type II diabetes

Please be aware that bioavailability of turmeric (proportion of turmeric that stays in your body) is enhanced when you simultaneously ingest piperine (a component of black pepper). So always cook turmeric with black pepper!

Paint the town yellow with turmeric!

Thank You Note

This past year has been the most devastating of my life, but when I see you in this picture, I can’t help but smile. I miss you. I miss your goofy laugh. I miss your patience and unconditional kindness. I miss the joy on your face from the simple things in life. I miss the calming effect of your hugs and the depth of your knowledge. Although you were clearly an extraordinary person, you never recognized the hidden gems within yourself. (Who else can spin a basketball on the tip of his finger, whistle the tune of a song, and fix any type of computer/tech issue, all at the same time?!)

For so many years, I tried to influence you with my narrow and uptight view of what life should be. Now you have convinced me to live freely and creatively, liberated from societal expectations. Your morality and quest for authenticity have taught me to search for meaning in my life, and your inner struggles have taught me to accept support from loved ones. You have given me the courage to quit my job as a pathologist and take time off to change careers. Most importantly, you have inspired me to live with purpose and happiness. My dear brother Neil, for this final gift, I thank you.

In Loving Memory of Neil Patel (August 5th, 1987 – July 16th, 2014)



Aura, rise

Aura, go

Swing your starry scarf

into the night

Leap ahead

Dance in waves but

leave your patience


You may wander off

and lose control

but your grit will remain


Your eyes may close

Your smile may cement

but your love will remain


Aura, see

Aura, go

Be wild in the streets


When your soul hurts

follow the crumbs

and you will find

your home

in the light.

Circus Indian Weddings

This is prime wedding season for Indian-American couples. The calendar from Memorial Day to Labor Day is packed with extravagant weddings, not to mention those scheduled for Thanksgiving and Christmas holidays. As unlucky guests, we are asked to sacrifice three-day weekends to attend weddings of people we barely know, suffering through forgettable events we can barely tolerate.

Traditionally, Gujarati people in India had arranged marriages with people from neighboring villages and didn’t have to travel too far for weddings. Today, most Indian couples in America meet online or are introduced by friends/family. Through technology and increased air travel, geographic distance no longer limits a couple from having a courtship. In parallel with long-distance relationships, guests are asked to travel far distances to attend these weddings (Chicago, Los Angeles, Cancun, and South Africa). Yep, there go my life savings and all my reward miles!

Parents of the couple often invite hundreds of their friends and family to their children’s weddings. 1st cousins, 2nd cousins, great uncles, nieces, and more. The bride and groom (being gregarious, social butterflies of course) also invite a gaggle of friends. Everyone is pressured to attend the wedding, through an invisible yet powerful peer pressure system.  It doesn’t matter if you use up all your vacation and sick days at work, the wedding of your 3rd cousin (once removed) is paramount.

Indian weddings don’t last hours, they last days. On average three days! Multiple events, such as the “welcome dinner”, mehndi/sangeet night, garba night, puja/vidhi ceremony, wedding ceremony, and reception, are what uninterested guests have the pleasure of looking forward to. Yes ladies, get ready to pack five different Indian outfits into your carry-on suitcase! From Google Earth, an Indian wedding looks like hundreds and hundreds of brown ants being weighed down by gaudy Indian outfits.  Summer beach weddings are the worst. Why don’t you try being fried alive by the sun while wearing a blanket-like sari?

Tragically, Indian-Americans have come to see the wedding reception as a way to boast their status is society. The bride is covered with gold and diamonds; the decorations are elaborate; there is always a chocolate fountain.  The latest trend in California is to hire belly dancers and acrobats to entertain guests at the reception.  Along with the traditional elephant or horse at the wedding baraat, the entire wedding starts to resemble a circus show (sans the peanuts)!

Yes, the open bar and dancing are fun! But what else is? Guests don’t even get a chance to speak to the bride and groom (they are sitting on a plush sofa on a stage, for cryin’ out loud!) Most guests don’t understand the Sanskrit verses the pundit chants during the Hindu wedding ceremony. Heck, I can’t even understand the long, drawn-out speeches at the reception, which are in English!

Indian-American couples, it’s time for you to stop being selfish and make a drastic change.  Indian weddings are overly expensive, waste precious resources, and put a financial burden on guests who aren’t millionaires. The average price of a large Indian wedding weekend is $90,000 to $100,000. Imagine what you can do with that money! You can build a school in India; you can buy a house; you can donate the money to support any cause in the world. Causes like vaccinations for children, basic education for young girls, mosquito nets for malaria-stricken areas, and financial assistance after devastating earthquakes. The list goes on and on.

Wake up and smell the air pollution. This world is not being improved by a wasteful wedding. In 10 years, the guests will never remember the exact flowers, food, fireworks, or party favors from your wedding. They will remember if you made a difference.

Be the change.



Crude oil, coal mafia

corrupt dirty money in Congress

Money interested in only money

Lives are useless things

Water. dirty water.

Ocean. Slick ocean.

Tears are pure commodities

untouched by corporate America

Let the tears drown those in power

Drown in our suffering

Interconnected, we all are

Eventually your money

will be worthless.

We will illuminate

through our salty tears

illuminate a future

which belongs to everyone

The Murder Ballad (1938) by Poor Dog Group

I went to see a theater performance at REDCAT last night!  Previously, I had seen a performance art and poetry installation at the gallery, but this was my first time inside the cozy theater.

When the doors opened, my boyfriend and I sat down and took in the view: a sterile white stage and nothing else.  The main performer/dancer creeped in slowly from one side.  She was steady and in control of every muscle in her body.  A recording of the Murder Ballad (a song recorded by Jelly Roll Morton for the Library of Congress) started playing.  It told a story of a woman who kills her lover’s mistress in a fit of rage.  As the rolling Southern tune and witty lyrics played in the background, the performer’s body became more fluid, leading up to the shocking release of sexual, angry energy.  In addition to her outstanding talent in modern dance and captivating performance, her piercing eyes left a lasting impression.

At one point, she poured bottles of water in her mouth and over her body.  The floor became wet and slippery but her steadiness remained.  A male performer entered the stage and wavered between masculine and feminine energy.  His rapid footwork on the wet stage in complete darkness left haunting knocks in the minds of the audience.

The entire experience was entertaining and has made me a life-long fan of Poor Dog Group!  I am so pleased that Los Angeles is home to such an avant-garde theater group.  Cheers to their success!