I’m Indian-born and Dubai-raised with a combination of an English education and American television, so I’m a bit of a cultural nomad. My total time spent in India adds up to about three years, over the course of regular summers spent there as a kid and a few short trips taken as an adult; for me, it’s pretty much a foreign country. Dubai is my home, even though I’m not a citizen (getting citizenship here is next to impossible), and in spite of the many changes, not all good, that have taken place over the past decade. For a brief period, the U.S. was a second home, but it’s now faded into history as more of a pleasant dream that I was rudely awoken from.
A few months after I was born, my family moved to Kuwait, where we had a pretty cozy life until I was six. In 1990, Iraq began its invasion of Kuwait and my family got the hell out of there, landing up back in India for a short while. My dad found a job in the United Arab Emirates and moved to Abu Dhabi, the capital city. A few months later, we joined him. A few months after that, we moved to the neighboring city of Dubai and finally settled down.
My brother and I were enrolled in international schools as our parents wanted us to broaden our educational horizons. Interestingly, we weren’t in the same school. I don’t know why, and it’s not something I ever really wondered about, but it’s probably for the best. I could go through my academic life without big brother’s shadow looming over me.
English had always been one my favorite subjects at school, and it was one I excelled at (I’ll allow myself some immodesty here). Writing, especially creative writing, was a particular favorite of mine, and I loved it whenever we were given free rein to just write a story, no matter how bizarre or fantastical.
It was around 6th grade that the story train came to a screeching halt. English class from that point on was more focused on technical writing. We would write reports, essays, arguments, but no fiction. Even our reading material became more dry, more focused on teaching us the minutiae of literary theory than allowing us to enjoy a good story.
During high school, I’d made up my mind to pursue an engineering degree (mainly because I wanted to follow in my dad’s footsteps), so my writing lost even more of its whimsy, being confined mainly to lab reports and analyses. I was tempted to take a freshman-level creative writing course, but there was no way to comfortable fit that into my schedule. But the old storytelling spirit wasn’t completely dead.
In my mind, I’d conjure up alien worlds, sprawling cities and the many unusual characters that inhabited them. I also had an interest in drawing and cartooning (an interest that perhaps exceeded my love for writing), and would sometimes sketch them out or try to compose a scene. There were a few attempts at writing a story, but they wouldn’t progress beyond a paragraph or two. And so it continued for a long time.
I moved to the US for college, studying Electrical Engineering at Penn State. With a Bachelor’s and a Master’s Degree under my belt, I figured it was time to embrace my calling as an engineer. However, with somewhat dim job prospects in a tanking economy and a visa that was fast running out, I found myself in a scramble to try and stay in the US. In the end, I ended up back in Dubai. And that’s where I’ve been, re-discovering a city that’s changed so much from the one I grew up in, and re-discovering myself and my connection to my old home.
At some point in the past two or three years, I had the idea of starting a blog. What led me down that path, I’m not really sure. Maybe it was the isolation that I felt in the big city, leaving me with a desire to reach across the oceans to find people worth talking to, people with whom I could share my story. Maybe it was just a crazy whim. In any case, a long-dormant desire to write had been re-awakened and needed to stretch its wings.
I got a job as a writer last year, typing up proposals, sales pitches and press releases. It was fun for a while, but I got tired of hyping up marbles to make them sound like diamonds, so to speak, and went off to find something better suited to me. I also decided to make writing more of a full-time hobby, focusing on my favorite form: short stories.
Currently, I’m a food blogger at VeggieBuzz. Feel free to check out my work.
I also have a short story blog called Tales of Unusual Strangeness, where I occasionally post short stories and fiction of an unusually strange nature.
And then there’s my personal blog right here, where I share what it’s like to be a stranger in a strange mind.