India's premier luxury lifestyle women's magazine
Verve People
September 12, 2019

Where The Heart Is

Text by Ojas Kolvankar. Illustration by Vishnu M Nair. Model Courtesy: Anima Creative Management

Six creative nomads — who, between them, can call home the global, multicultural communities of New Delhi, Mumbai and Goa — all share a meaningful New York connection. They discuss city swapping and street smarts as Verve asks them about belonging, identity and home…

Kai Schultz, Journalist
New York —> New Delhi

“New York and New Delhi are both tough cities. People are often aggressive — they will run you over! That being said, some of my closest friends are true New Yorkers and Delhiites. Once you break through the hard exterior, you find loyal and generous people.”

“I miss New York’s energy — I haven’t lived in another city with a similar pace. It’s a kaleidoscope of quirky characters and subcultures. I miss taking the bus to Fort Tilden, an old army installation in Queens, and wandering through the graffitied bunkers on the beach; losing myself in Chinatown’s fish markets; and the super lively rooftop parties.”

“For me, home is not so much a place as it is a state of mind. Growing up in a small town in Arizona, I shifted to New York for college. I never considered New York home, but I appreciated what it offered me — a new pace of life, rigorous education, the chance to meet people from all over. When I moved abroad, I was looking for adventure, but I was also searching for my own little corner on this crowded planet. But even after almost four years abroad, I don’t know how to answer the question ‘When are you going home?’ Does it have to mean my country of origin? We live in an increasingly globalised world, and that’s largely a good thing, but it challenges my idea of ‘home’.”

Karla Bookman, Founder-Editor at The Swaddle
New York —> Mumbai

“Living in different places teaches you to be adaptable, it has a downside too. It makes staying still for a long duration very difficult — I have this perpetual urge to go somewhere else.”

“There’s the constant excitement of knowing that anything can happen at anytime. It’s that feeling of perpetual anticipation that makes New York so electric.”

“My first time eating at the iconic Irani cafe Britannia & Co. at Ballard Estate was a revelation — I never liked potato chips until I tried sali boti for the first time. The same goes for the caramel custard. I could eat there every day.”

“Home is wherever you feel safe and understood.”

Prateek Bakhtiani, Pastry Chef
New York—> Mumbai

“I’ve never found home to be a physical place. More than identifying what it is, for me, it’s about finding home wherever I am. Everywhere I go, I discover home in the people that I meet and the food that I eat. When in Rome, do as the Romans do.”

“I miss how late everything is open till in New York. Mumbai is supposed to be the city that never sleeps, but most places close by 1. 30 a.m. One of my fondest memories of New York is when I stumbled upon one of the best ramen bowls I’ve ever had, at 3 a.m., at this hole in the wall that I’ve never been able to locate after that visit – although I think it was in a basement on 55th Street in Manhattan. There were no tables, so I grabbed a seat with a group of girls and we ended up discussing actor Sara Canning’s popular TV shows!”

“I love making regular trips to the fruit market in Matunga. I also visit the bigger markets in South Mumbai to check out the fruits available during a particular season or note down the best times to find good produce like fresh lychees and mangoes. In places like New York, fruits are perennially available, but they are never as fresh and vibrant as the local fruits in Mumbai.”

Floyd Cardoz, Chef
Goa —> New York

“New York is about embracing new cultures. It’s a city where you can try your hand at whatever you want. Here, you can bump into a celebrity while walking on the street. I walked into Paul McCartney outside my restaurant one night. Where else on earth would you find McCartney roaming the streets? I’ve also run into Will Smith and Madonna.”

“I love that I’m able to call two cities my home, both of which are fun and vibrant. I try not to lose out on anything and live in the moment. When I’m in Goa, I enjoy going to the market and finding mangoes, coconuts and chillies whereas when I’m in New York, I visit the farmers’ markets and shop for strawberries, asparagus and tomatoes. If I’m thinking of the mangoes and jackfruits in Goa while in New York, then I would be missing out on what the Big Apple has to offer — and I try not to do that as it would dilute the experience.”

“My first day in New York, my brother and I ate a hot dog from a street cart in Manhattan, which was a first for me since I grew up in India. Being able to eat that on my first day, surrounded by men in suits and ties, was pretty memorable… When I arrived in New York, I distinctly remember being moved by the way that food is celebrated here — it could be from a local street food joint or a fine-dining restaurant. That convinced me that anything is possible in this city.”

Kanika Karvinkop, Fashion Stylist and Founder of the No Borders shop
Mumbai —> New York —> Mumbai

“I like visiting the flower market in Dadar. The chaos, the vibrant colours of the flowers, women sellers draped in beautiful saris in varied patterns; all of these have inspired me, and you see that reflected in my work. It has also served as a backdrop for many of my shoots.”

“As a kid, my father worked in the Indian Air Force, so we had to travel a lot and move homes frequently. For me, home is where my family is and that can be anywhere.”

“In Mumbai, my first tryst with vintage fashion has to be the pop-up I had done in 2017, at James Ferreira’s bungalow, which is in the quaint Khotachiwadi neighbourhood. That was my first real learning of how people respond to vintage clothing. In New York, it was an underground vintage pop-up which had over 200 odd curators and boutiques. I remember spending hours just going through the pieces. Also, I got a chance to meet many curators in the business who had insights to share from their experiences with vintage clothing. It didn’t take long for me to decide that repurposed fashion is something I wanted to bring back with me to Mumbai.”

Rasika Navare, Model
Mumbai —> New York

“New York is unbiased, no matter where you come from, and it constantly tests you by forcing you to step out of your comfort zone; all the while shaping you into the best version of yourself. Now, no matter where I go, I’ll always have that undying New York spirit.”

“New York can be a difficult place to live in, but it is also very welcoming and — one can feel like a New Yorker in no time. For me, that moment came when I was in the East Village and heard someone running behind me, calling out my name. But thinking that it couldn’t be someone I know, I ignored it and continued walking. The person finally ran up to me, and I realised that it was an old colleague; he was at a restaurant I had passed by, saw me and came up to me to say hello. That was the sweetest moment. It’s small gestures such as this that give me a sense of belonging, and when you travel and live in so many different places, you look forward to them. It reminds me of being back home in Mumbai and makes me wonder if I can call myself a New Yorker now.”

“The work environments are so different yet so similar. I remember my first week in New York. It felt so much like Mumbai, just a more Westernised version of it. I have to say that international brands offer so much more inclusivity, and it’s exciting to witness it from the front row while also being a small part of it somehow. But I still have a long way to go.”

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