New York City, one story at a time. Currently sharing stories from India. Now a show on Facebook Watch:
"I'm trying to live my life without conflict so I don't say much." (Mumbai, India)
“I was a full time housewife. I kept mostly to myself. I was a very shy person. Then one year a local school asked if I could volunteer to teach art to the children. Just one hour every day. I did such a good job that the next year they asked me to teach full time. My husband didn’t want me to do it. He said: ‘You told me it would just be one hour.” But I told him: ‘I listened to you for twenty-five years, now it’s my turn to take the reins.’ I ended up teaching for fifteen years. I built such a good reputation that children came from other schools to join my class. The whole school threw a party when I retired. The children sang songs and danced. It just made me feel so special. Teaching was the best decision I ever made. Now I feel like I’ve done something positive with my life.” (Mumbai, India)
"I don't know how old I am." (Mumbai, India)
“I resented my mother for the longest time. She was always affectionate. There’s nothing mean-spirited about her. But she has some sort of condition. I used to be embarrassed to bring friends over. She was always fidgeting. She couldn’t sit still. There were a lot of monologues, and often they didn’t make any sense. When I was young I didn’t realize it was mental illness. Especially because the subject is taboo in India. So I’d just get angry with her. I’d victimize myself and blame her for everything. But I’m older now, so I’m trying to be more patient. I’ve met a lot of people who don’t even have mothers. So I’ve stopped fighting it. I don’t nag her. I hug her more. And I listen to her, even if she doesn’t always make sense.” (Mumbai, India)
Hey, Australia! I’ll be visiting next month and am doing two events at the Sydney Opera House on Saturday February 10th. We were originally scheduled to do just one, but it sold out yesterday before I could make an announcement-- so we just added a second. But you maaaay want to hurry. Going to be an awesome experience. Looking forward to seeing everyone. Link in bio.
"My mom made me a birthday dress!"
“When I was a child, it was up to me to feed our family because my father couldn't work. I had a job at a motorcycle repair shop. Everyone would sit at home and wait for me to make money. Once we almost ran out of food. We didn’t have a single rupee and there was nothing to eat. I could handle it, but I couldn’t bear the thought of my baby sister going to sleep hungry. I sat at my shop all day, praying for a customer. But nobody came. Then just as night was falling, a man drove up with a puncture in his tire. The price of the repair was three rupees. But when I was finished, the man handed me twenty rupees and drove away. I was able to buy two kilograms of rice. My entire life turned around that day. My shop became very busy. We were never hungry again. Even today I think about that man. I never saw his face. He changed not just my life, but the lives of my entire family. I wonder who he was. Sometimes I think it was God himself.” (Mumbai, India)
“I have a big book about tiger conservation, and I always knew that the ocean was in trouble. But I didn’t really become an environmentalist until I got to grade one. That’s when I thought of many interesting ways to help. Some things you can do are reduce waste, carpool more often, spread awareness, plant trees, not cut trees, cut carbon emissions, and reduce nuclear disposal. I’m too young to start nuclear disposal because it’s dangerous and I don’t have the proper gloves. But I do recycle and keep plants on my balcony.” (Mumbai, India)
“My mother’s friends say that I’m just like her. She died of breast cancer when I was two years old. I had to grow up fast because my father was always working and seldom around. I was doing my own laundry at the age of seven. I figured the puberty thing out on my own. During high school, I’d leave for entire weekends without my dad even asking where I’d been. Then one year at Thanksgiving, my aunt told me that my mother had left me a letter and a video. She got so angry when I told her I’d never gotten it. I confronted my Dad about it, and he said that he ‘remembered something like that.’ He drove me to a safety deposit box—but the box was empty. He couldn’t remember what happened. He had one job. One thing that would mean more to me than anything else, and he couldn’t do it. My mom’s friends always tell me: ‘She would be so proud of you,’ or ‘She was so in love with you. But that’s not the same. It’s not the same as something directly from her. Something she made especially for me. Just one thing that actually says: ‘This is how much I love you.’”
“I’m pretty sure I’m a sociopath. Or something close to it. My parents were pilots, so I spent most of my early childhood on a small island in Tunisia. The only other kids were the children of a local hotelkeeper. I was so isolated that I even invented my own words. By the time I got to high school, I was a monster. I only cared about being the best. I was a bully. I’d argue just for the sake of arguing. I would destroy any belief, just to be right. My behavior is different now. But I think I’m still a sociopath. I’m not sure I feel empathy. But I do always try to make the empathetic choice. It’s an intellectual thing for me. I’m intellectually convinced of the need for empathy. I choose to help other people. I choose to be a reliable friend. I have a wonderful wife who judges me by my actions, and not my reasons for them. Sometimes I feel like Pinocchio. Was he a real boy? Yes, because that’s what he always strived to be.”
“I was late to the delivery room when she was born. But as soon as I walked in, her eyes started tracking me. Like she knew I was her Dad. Even the nurses were laughing about it. She’s always been my road dog. She never went through a ‘teenage phase.’ She never stopped wanting to spend time with me. We could always talk about the problems she was having at school. Even as she got older, we’d still go to the park on Saturdays or find some exotic place to eat in Brooklyn. It’s a little tough now that she’s away at college. I miss spending time with her. But I trust her completely and I want her to enjoy these years. I just hope that when she falls in love with some dude, I’ll still get to see her.”
All thirteen episodes of Humans Of New York: The Series, featuring hundreds of interviews, are now available on Facebook Watch. Link in bio.