A Beautiful Stain published in Wanderlust and Lipstick


I'm excited to share that my essay, "A Beautiful Stain," was published in Wanderlust and Lipstick

For the full essay, please visit Wanderlust and Lipstick online.

Here's a brief preview:

The first expensive purse I purchased was a Marc by Marc Jacobs cream-colored satchel. It was spacious and practical inside—lots of zippers and compartments to organize my crap into—and gorgeous and luxurious on the outside, made of supple, delicate leather like I’d never before owned. For the first few weeks after I purchased it, I rarely took it out of the garment bag. I’m a hoarder in this way, overly precious about breaking in new items and consequently, stuck with a closet full of things I’ve purchased and have yet to use. Always, I’m waiting for the right time—a special occasion.

Later that year, in December 2005, my family traveled to India. Despite having extended family still living there, I hadn’t been in over ten years. It was this way for many first-generation Indian-American children, who, after high school began, could less easily get away due to more grueling academic demands. After college, it was feasible once again, especially since we were willing to give up celebrating Christmas and New Year’s at home.

My parents left two weeks before my brother and I, as they had much more vacation time to spare. Ahead of our departure, my brother and I spoke to them on the phone. They emphasized how much we were going to love it, how much India had changed since we’d last been.

My memories of India were characterized by reluctant enjoyment and selective acceptance. The best part of each visit was the time I got to spend with family. I had over a dozen cousins, and some of them had kids as well. Unfortunately, it was always awkward, especially during the first few days, when we were just getting to know each other again. The long gap between visits undercut our ability to be close on a consistent basis. My brother was better at remembering everyone’s names and being affable, while I would play favorites. I was especially enamored with three sisters, who were the daughters of my oldest aunt and the most fun and fashionable. They would take me shopping, through the colorful bazaars and into the sari shops, where sales people would lay out dozens of choices, layered upon each other, while serving refreshments like Thumbs Up and Limca and hot chai.

But it was dirty and congested and backwards. Things didn’t run smoothly. Poverty was not only prevalent, but uncomfortably pervasive. I remember one summer, when I was eight. My mom, brother and I stayed on for an extra month while my father went back to work in New Jersey. On the day we were leaving, the monsoons began and I prayed, “Please let our plane take off.” The prospect of lingering for one more day, despite the tears I had shed in saying goodbye, conjured the doom of being quarantined. I wanted to go back to where things were clean and easy. Where I was comfortable.