Good Indian Girl, Sort Of: Aarti Virani
BORN & BRED IN JAPAN, ACCIDENTALLY AMERICAN, HINDUSTANI AT HEART
I currently reside in: Hoboken, NJ
What’s your favorite hangout in Hoboken: The Elysian Cafe. It’s my city’s oldest bar and rumored to have survived prohibition by morphing into an ice cream parlor. They boast a sinfully indulgent macaroni gratin, the fizziest champagne cocktails and live acoustic guitar on weekends. What’s not to love?
I currently work as: A freelance arts, culture and entertainment writer, contributing to a range of publications including Vogue India, The Wall Street Journal and Travel + Leisure.
I do this because I: To quote the writer Douglas Adams, “I love deadlines. I love the whooshing noise they make as they go by.” In all honesty, though, I’ve been writing since I was 10 years old: my first piece was a personal account of The Great Hanshin Earthquake, a disaster my family and I experienced while living in Kobe, Japan. It was the only way I knew to make sense of the tragedy. I haven’t stopped writing since!
What are some Indian traditions you still follow? I’m a committed herbivore, something I trace back to my Gujarati roots.
Bollywood or Hollywood, and why? It entirely depends on the day. My current Netflix cue is a frenetic mix of Yash Chopra blockbusters, geeky food documentaries and Friday Night Lights episodes.
Favorite movie? Lost in Translation
What’s your favorite thing about Indian culture? Its ability to absorb international forces and transform them into phenomena that are distinctly Desi, from paneer on thin-crust pizza to the creation of an unofficial Hinglish dictionary. As a culture, its global appeal lies in its constant quest to adapt, evolve and innovate.
What’s one piece of advice your parents have given you that should probably be or are abiding by? The concept of I.S.T. (Indian Standard Time) was virtually non-existent in our family – my parents are the most punctual folks I know. As someone who now interviews people for a living, I’m super grateful they instilled that seemingly small trait in me, it goes a long way.
So, are you a Good Indian Girl? All my solo attempts at draping a sari have ended in multiple safety-pin injuries, though I do brew a killer cup of mint and lemongrass chai – I’d say that puts me squarely between Sort Of and Maybe!