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New York: A Tribute to the City I Adore

July 14, 2016

With only 2 weeks left in NYC, I decided to create a video that aims to capture the essence of the city and the spirit of its residents.

I wanted to showcase the qualities of this city that I adore; the dynamic energy, colorful diversity and sense of endless possibility and wonder. For me, it is these characteristics that make this city so incredible.

Here is New York from my perspective, condensed into one and a half minutes. Enjoy!

Reflections Uncategorized

Quarter Life Reflections: 24 Things I’ve Learned in my 20s

June 7, 2016

At the age of 22, I moved to New York with a sense of naive idealism and a general lack of life & adult experience. 4 years later, I am still impractically idealistic (though less so) and I still have much to learn, but through the experiences I’ve gained and the people I’ve met in this city, I’ve discovered a couple of things about myself and life.

  1. Take risks and do what you won’t regret (even if it scares you, alot). Take risks and live outside your comfort zone because it’s precisely those scary, uncomfortable experiences that are the greatest source of growth and strength.
  2. Don’t compromise your own happiness in the pursuit of trying to please and make others happy. In my constant desire to make others happy and to avoid “hurting peoples feelings”, I have often made decisions that were not optimal for my own happiness because I prioritized other people’s happiness over mine. At the end of the day, it is your life and ultimately you are responsible for your own happiness and wellbeing.
  3. People are motivated by self-interest (most of the time), and sometimes what someone else wants is not in line with what you want. People don’t always have your best interest at heart (which doesn’t make them bad people, it just makes them human). Just keep in mind that what they want might not be what you want. Be discerning and guard your heart.
  4. Trying to please everyone is a losing battle. You will never make everyone happy, no matter how hard you try (and that’s okay).
  5. Attitude and grit are greater determinants of success than talent and intelligence. Provided you are a fully functioning human being, I believe you will go as far as your drive and hard work takes you.
  6. The only thing certain in life is uncertainty. Things rarely go the way you plan. Regardless of how much you plan, the reality is, alot of things in our life are influenced by factors and events that are beyond our control. The important thing is to quickly adapt to whatever life throws at you.
  7. Trust the timing of your life. Just because things are not working out now as you hoped, things will always get better. Its just a matter of time.
  8. Comparison is the thief of joy. There will always be someone who is more popular than you, who is better looking than you and who has a better job than you. If you constantly compare yourself to others, you will never feel happy.
  9. Most of us are faking it. You do it, I do it, we all do it. Another reason why we shouldn’t compare is that when we do so, we are only comparing someone’s (idealized, crafted) outsides with our insides. There is a lot more going on than how we present ourselves to be on the outside (especially on social media).
  10. Happiness has less to do with circumstance and what you have, and more to do with perspective and gratitude. The permanent kind of happiness is cultivated through habit and a positive mindset, rather than the outcome of events and circumstances.
  11. Your attitude and energy are everything. If you radiate positivity and feel good about yourself, you will attract people and positive experiences. On the contrary, if you are wallowing in misery and negativity, you are more likely to attract negative experiences.
  12. You can’t have it all. Something has to give. The perfect life is a fallacy; you always have to compromise in one area of your life. The pursuit of freedom and independence may be accompanied by loneliness or the pursuit of a successful career may compromise your personal life. Everything comes at a cost, we need to figure out what we value most in our life and prioritize accordingly.
  13. Know when to let go. Sometimes it is better to let go and walk away than try and stick around and change someone.
  14. Invest in and spend time with people who value you as much as you value them.
  15. Basic abilities and traits are fluid not fixed; we can always change and improve our skills, talents and even personalities, if we work on it. By nature, I am painfully shy. Over the years, I have put myself in social situations which initially have made me uncomfortable, but through years of exposure and “faking it”, I’m a lot less shy than I was 10 years ago 🙂
  16. You are not your past. But you are your patterns and habits.
  17. Other people’s (negative) perceptions of you don’t define you and don’t have to be your reality. Sometimes people’s perceptions of you are more of a reflection of them, rather than you.
  18. Showing vulnerability is not weakness, but strength. We live in a society which equates vulnerability with weakness. I think being able to expose the most intimate parts of yourself and putting yourself out there is actually brave, rather than weak. Vulnerability is where the magic happens; only in the presence of vulnerability, can we develop truly meaningful and deep connections.
  19. Having said that, there is a time and place to be vulnerable. Protect your heart and be careful about who you let in and trust.
  20. How you view yourself and your sense of self worth permeates every aspect of your life – from your career, to your social and love life. Life is infinitely better when you love yourself and practice self-compassion.
  21. Noone will respect you if you don’t respect yourself. The way you treat yourself determines the way others will treat you, which leads me to my next point.
  22. Setting boundaries are essential for a positive self-esteem. When you create boundaries, it lets other people know how you expect to be treated and what behavior you are willing to tolerate. You are establishing the consequences for crossing those boundaries.
  23. Self-worth is not something you accumulate, it is inherent. Your sense of self-worth shouldn’t depend on external validation, it should come from within. If you rely externally for your sense of worth, you will never ever feel good enough, regardless of how much you accomplish.
  24. No amount of validation and love from others can replace the need for you to love yourself. Sure, receiving compliments from other people makes you feel good. However, the issue with giving others so much power means that the moment someone starts to criticize you, your world starts to crumble and fall. Your sense of self-worth shouldn’t come externally. It should come from within. It comes from the realization and acceptance that you are deeply flawed, but worthy of love and belonging anyway.

 I’m still working on executing alot of the things I’ve learnt, but atleast I am armed with self-awareness. 🙂

Neighborhoods new york Photography Reflections travel Uncategorized

Greenwich Village: Where my Love Affair for New York Began

February 10, 2016

I used to stay awake at night dreaming about living in New York. In my idealistic, adolescent mind, it was a city of dreams; it represented freedom, opportunity and celebrated cultural diversity and artistic expression. I imagined a colorful city that was constantly on the go and full of energy and life; filled with interesting people who were driven, smart, talented and different from me.

This daydream was brought to life 4 years ago upon receiving my acceptance letter from NYU (thank you NYU and thank you parents!). And so, my New York chapter began at Greenwich Village, home to NYU, in 2012.

I vividly recall the mixture of emotions I felt when I arrived in New York for the first time during the summer of 2012; I was overwhelmed, anxious, scared (moving to a new city alone yikes), but most of all, incredibly excited. Excited for the new chapter ahead and all the colorful possibilities new beginnings bring.

I remember the first time I walked through Washington Square Park with my parents on a hot summers day. Despite the scorching heat, the park was pulsating with life and buzzing with energy. Music filled the air; there were jazz musicians and artists on every corner and the park was packed with NYU students, locals and tourists. I looked around with wide-eyed wonder.


A Quaint Neighborhood with a Metropolitan Edge

Greenwich Village, often referred to as “the Village”, is the neighborhood on the west side of Lower Manhattan. Greenwich Village is regarded as an artists’ haven, the Bohemian capital, the center of the modern LGBT movement, and the East Coast birthplace of ’60s counterculture movements.

Despite its popularity, Greenwich Village exudes an intimate, neighborhood charm. It’s packed with 24-hour dining, shopping and nightlife, yet remains personable, with ample greenery, low-rise brownstones and a plethora of boutique shops and specialty stores.


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Summer of 2012: My first walk at Washington Square Park 🙂

Neighborhood Gems

Having been acquainted with the neighborhood over the past few years, I’ve developed a list of my favorite spots and places worth checking out. Here are a few I recommend:

  • La Lanterna: This neighborhood gem was recommended to me by my friend Elly. The atmosphere is warm and intimate and the food is always delicious. This iconic Greenwich Village restaurant serves thin crust pizza, Italian pastries, a selection of wine and liquor, and boasts a charming garden area, fireplaces and live jazz.

La Lanterna

  • Kati Roll: A kati roll is a mixture of meat and vegetables rolled in Indian flatbread. I used to come here all the time with my friends after a study session at Bobst library. My favorite items on the menu are the chicken kati roll and chai masala tea.
  • Think Coffee: Steps away from Washington Square Park, this spacious yet cosy neighborhood coffeeshop is great for meetings, NYU hangouts, and studying.

Think Coffee

  • Caffe Reggio: Come here to sip an “Original Cappuccino” and enjoy the beautiful collection of artwork, some of which dates back to the Italian Renaissance period.

Caffe Reggio

  • Kungfu Tea: Conveniently located next to Washington Square park, this chain store serves my favorite bubble tea in the city.
  • Artichoke Pizza: Famous for its warm, buttery, cheesy Artichoke base and crispy crust, the unique Arthichoke pizza has become a signature dish in New York. 
  • Saigon Shack: Stop by for a delicious bowl of classic beef pho to soothe your soul. There is always a wait, but its always worth it.
  • Blue Note Jazz Club: If you’re a jazz lover, Blue Note is a must. Legendary jazz musicians take the stage at this intimate club that also serves American cuisine. 
  • Comedy Clubs: If you want to see stand-up comedy, look no further than Macdougal street. This street is home to several comedy clubs, including the infamous Comedy Cellar, as well as Greenwich Village Comedy Club, Comedy Village and more.
  • Washington Square Park: Aside from Central Park, Washington Square Park is my favorite park in the city. This vibrant park, famous for the Washington Square Arch, has a tradition of celebrating nonconformity and buzzes with talent and creativity. This park has long been a hub for politics and culture in New York City. Today, you’ll find chess players in the southwest corner of the park, and a diverse array of entertaining performances delivered by talented musicians – from jazz to classical, dancers and artists. 
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Washington Square Park

  • NYU: Last but not least, your visit to Greenwich village won’t be complete until you check out NYU. Although NYU’s schools are scattered across the city and New York city itself is a seamless extension of the campus, Greenwich Village serves as its main campus. Prominent schools including Tisch, Stern and the law school as well as the Bobst library are located in this neighborhood.


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Graduation photo at Washington Square Park: NYU class of 2014


Happy NYU graduates 🙂

This quaint yet dynamic neighborhood celebrates culture, diversity and music. It’s filled with plenty of dining options, boasts a vibrant nightlife and exudes an idyllic and artistic charm. These reasons alone make it one of my favorite neighborhoods in the city. But what really makes a place special is the meaning and memories you attach to it. Greenwich village will always hold a special place in my heart because it is home to NYU, making it the birthplace of my dream of living in this city. I will look back at my days spent in this neighborhood with great fondness.


Neighborhoods new york Photography Reflections travel Uncategorized

Falling in Love with East Village

February 3, 2016
east village

I’ve decided to start a photo series and commentary centered around the neighborhoods and cities I’ve visited. To kick off this passion project, I’ll begin with one of my favorite neighborhoods in New York – East Village.


A Cultural Melting Pot of Art, History and Good Food

I moved to the East Village last September. Over the past 6 months, I’ve enjoyed exploring all this eclectic neighborhood has to offer. The more I discover, the deeper my fascination.

The East Village — the blocks east of the Bowery between Houston and 14th Streets, was once considered to be part of the Lower East Side, but began to develop its own unique identity and culture in the late 1960s, when a flurry of artists, musicians, students and hippies began to move into the area.

The neighborhood has since emerged as a center of the counterculture in New York, and is regarded as the birthplace of several artistic movements, including punk rock and the Nuyorican literary movement. It has also been the site of protests and riots. Although in recent decades it has been argued that gentrification has transformed the character of the neighborhoodEast Village is still known for its diverse community, vibrant nightlife (boasting the highest concentration of bars in the city) and artistic charm. Recent years have seen an influx of trendy bars, street art, boutique shops while an abundance of affordable eateries has made the East Village, the mecca for budget-minded foodies.


Neighborhood Gems

Here is a list of my favorite spots in the neighborhood:

  1. Cafe Orlin: Cafe Orlin is a charming cafe serving American & Middle Eastern food. I recommend the hummus with mushrooms and avocado toast (pictured below). These mouthwatering appetizers will leave you craving for more.


    Cafe Orlin: Orlin burger, hummus with mushrooms and avocado toast

  2. Kenka: Located on the lively St. Marks strip, Kenka serves tasty Japanese street-style food and beer at a reasonable price. It’s quirky and risqué décor make for an interesting culinary and cultural experience. Don’t forget the cotton candy machine on your way out. Upon receiving your check, you’ll be given a small cup of pink sugar that you can spin into your very own cotton candy (pictured below).

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    Kenka: Enjoying cotton candy after the meal

  3. Spot Dessert Bar: Spot is an innovative dessert parlor that serves delectable Asian-inspired desserts. The line is usually long but it’s always worth the wait! My personal favorites are the honey toast and green tea lava cake.
  4. Jules Bistro: Jules Bistro is a charming, intimate French restaurant located on 8th street, between 1st and 2nd avenue. The warm cosy ambience, live jazz music and delicious food make for a great date spot or a fun night out with friends.
  5. Bean Cafe: The Bean is the quintessential East Village coffee shop. The staff, décor, food and beverages as well as music are inspired by the vibe and personality of East Village. It’s a popular spot for students, entrepreneurs, creatives and neighborhood residents who want to get some work done while enjoying a nice cup of coffee.
  6. Box Kite: This cosy little coffee shop is a neighborhood favorite for East Village residents. Come here to enjoy a cup of quality coffee and soak up the low-key ambience. House, hip hop and experimental music is often blasted through the speakers, giving this neighborhood coffee shop an edgy and modern feel.
  7. Tompkins Square Park: This popular park in the middle of the East Village is a perfect centerpiece for the eclectic neighborhood (pictured below). It is where the lives of artists, musicians, families, students and old neighborhood residents intersect.
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Tompkins Square Park during Storm Jonas 2016


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Despite its grit and grime, East Village is a fascinating, lively and trendy neighborhood with a cult following. It’s culturally diverse community, plethora of food options, dynamic nightlife and artistic allure make it one of my favorite neighborhoods in New York, and quite possibly, the entire world.

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Reflections Uncategorized

You are enough

January 22, 2016

I used to think that self-worth was something that you had to earn; as if you had to prove yourself to acquire value and qualify as a worthy human being. I thought that self-worth was rooted in the external; dependent on personal and professional outward “success”. Over the last year or so, I’ve come to realize that this ideology is deeply flawed. I had it wrong all along.

Self-worth is not something you accumulate, it is inherent.

Your sense of worth shouldn’t depend on external validation, it should come from within. If you don’t accept yourself and recognize your inherent value, you will never feel good enough, regardless of how hard you try and how much “success” you achieve. Ultimately, you will never be truly happy.

Sure, external accomplishments might make you feel good about yourself momentarily, but relying solely on accomplishments to fuel your self esteem is problematic. If you equate personal success with self worth, then you may equate failure with not being good enough. If you subscribe to this type of mindset, it is harder to recover from failure or a setback. When you “fail”, you may assume it’s due to your lack of abilities, when in reality its not. Everyone experiences some form of failure in life, it is important not to let the setback damage your self confidence and realize that failure and struggle is part of being human.

Moreover, no amount of validation and love from others can replace the need for you to love yourself. Yes, it feels great to receive compliments from your friends and family and sure, being loved for who you are feels wonderful. However, when you give others the power to determine how you feel about yourself, the moment someone starts to criticize you and the moment someone dislikes you or rejects you, your world starts to crumble. This mentality results in a fluctuating self-esteem; one moment you feel great about yourself, the next you’re wallowing in self-loathing. Such a mindset is unsustainable and does not guarantee long-term happiness.

Ultimately, our self-worth shouldn’t be determined by things beyond our control. We can’t control what others think and we can’t control what happens to us, we can only control how we feel about ourselves. The truth is, we are all deeply flawed, but worthy of (self) love anyway.

you are enough

Photography Reflections Uncategorized

Exploring East Village

November 18, 2015



Reflections Uncategorized


November 17, 2015

“Later that night
i held an atlas in my lap
ran my fingers across the whole world
and whispered
where does it hurt?

it answered

― Warsan Shire


Action isn’t just the consequence of motivation, but also the source of it.

October 27, 2015

Oftentimes, we only do something if we are motivated to do it. And we only feel motivated when we feel that spark of inspiration.

The problem with relying on motivation to propel us into action is that motivation is fleeting. It comes and goes, sometimes arbitrarily. I might feel motivated to do something one day, but the next day the motivation could be gone.

Moreover, motivation is situational. It is based on how you feel at a given time. If you feel like doing something, you’ll do it. But if you’re not in the mood, you won’t.

I’ll be the first to admit that I am very guilty of succumbing to this mindset. I allow my emotions to determine my actions. Too many times, fear, the desire to make something “perfect” (the antagonist of my productivity), or simply, my propensity to put things off (procrastination…) has inevitably led me to inertia; to not do that thing at all.

The thing is, motivation alone is not enough. Far from it. The most successful people in the world seem to possess an endless supply of motivation and energy. The reality is, we are all human; we all lack motivation from time to time. What separates the extraordinary from the ordinary is really discipline. Successful people; individuals who excel at what they do and are masters of their craft are disciplined and commit to action, regardless of how they feel.

Today I came across a great article by Mark Manson (he’s awesome btw) about the “Do Something Principle”. In this article he posits that:

“Action isn’t just the effect of motivation, but also the cause of it.”

The theory proposes that if you feel stuck with a lack of motivation, if you are waiting for that stroke of inspiration to drive you to action, then just do something. Do anything. It doesn’t have to be perfect, it doesn’t even have to be good. This simple theory holds a lot of truth. Manson goes on to say that even the smallest of actions will soon provide the inspiration and motivation to do something else. When we start doing something, we are sending a signal to ourself “OK, I did it. It wasn’t so bad. I guess I can do more”. He provides an example of a novelist who had written over 70 novels. When asked how he was able to write so consistently and remain motivated everyday, the novelist replied: “200 crappy words per day, that’s it.” The idea is that if he forced himself to write 200 crappy words, the simple act of writing would inspire him and before long, he’d have thousands down on the page.

The thing is, success has less to do with intelligence and talent, but more to do with action, discipline and persistence. In the words of Manson “You can become successful at something without having much particular talent at it. But you can never become successful at anything without taking action. Ever.” I personally have a lot more “doing” to do.

do something today

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