The 10 Things You (probably) Don’t Know About Me

Right off the bat, I’m telling y’all, this is a lengthy essay. Get yourself a big mug of coffee or a cup of tea or a tall drink or a glass of red wine. Sit back, enjoy more details that you will not find in any of my creative writing.

I have been privately tagged by Stephen M. Tomic, because I think he thought that’s what I wanted when I asked him about this meme game…so who am I to disappoint him and say no. Also, it’s the next day from when I began!!

An enumerated list, although it’s been stuffed to bursting with anecdotes.

One: Who’s the pet here?

My 2 dogs, the first animals who I have ever been a human to, found their way to me. The story of how my first.ever.animal.companion found me is here in Ms. Bunni’s own words. The second, Ms. Peeku (short for Peek-a-Boo, look at those eyebrows!) came a year later the week she was scheduled to be put down. I don’t know why I went to the shelter that day, or why the pup I had gone to pick up had already been taken, but Peeku walked right up to the edge of the chain link fence of her enclosure and licked my hand, which she continues to do to this day. Did she know she was about to be sent to the big shelter in the sky? I don’t know. They get cooked buttered vegemables with their kibble, and a big dollop of yogurt after dinner. We had a perfectly wonderful routine that has been severely affected by my writing on Medium. They are not happy about this turn of events.

Two: Education

I went from an all girls Convent School in Delhi to a public junior high school in the USofA during the Vietnam era 60s. My life was so sheltered that i did not learn about all that was happening around me then until I returned to the US after my marriage, ten years later. I finished 5 years of schooling in 3–1/2 years (8–12 grade), attending every summer for 3 years both sessions of summer school in DC. Then I spent an entire year finishing the last 2 months of my unfinished high school diploma by a correspondence course from the University of Nebraska… via snail mail from India! I was…are you ready for this?…in the International Club, the Science Club, the Stamp & Coin Club, the Choir (even though I couldn’t read music!), worked at the schools store as well as the counselor’s office, ran track. But never went to a school dance, didn’t even know about proms until years after my kids were in school!

I have a Bachelors degree in British Literature (from G. Chaucer to G.B. Shaw). And I have passed with flying colors the AP classes of Life 101.

Three: Work

My first work in the US in the late 70s was selling Avon cosmetics. I must not have done well: I had no car, no neighbors, and no experience in wearing makeup. Even now, it’s a big day when I wear lipstick. Next I worked as the receptionist in a Senior Residents home which, being from India, was a completely foreign concept to me. Then as an office manager for a single owner company. Don’t even ask. Then as an accounting drone in a gold and silver brokerage. Then I took the easy way out by having 3 children and raising them.

In the 1980s I was a trainer for teachers of ESL (English as a Second Language). I would do the morning session in a saree, then change into a dress after lunch. Consistently, my students said they understood me better in the afternoon. So deeply is ingrained in the subconscious the concept of other that they had trouble believing I spoke with the same accent during both sessions.

For 2 years in the 1990s I taught vegetarian cooking at the local Community College in the Midwest town I lived in. It began as a project to help oncology patients tolerate chemotherapy more easily but ended with introducing actual vegetables into the diets of strictly meat and potato eaters.

In 2000 I became a certified Doula, as well as a nationally accredited massage therapist after a year of massage school with 500 hours of class time and 100 hours of practicum. None of this 10 hours of training over a day or a weekend bs! When my childhood memories emerged in 2007, I stopped doing all body work so that my energy would not affect my clients.

For the last 2 years I have facilitated writing workshops at the public library in the community I live in currently. For the past 1+1/2 years I have been teaching trauma informed cooking to survivors of childhood abuse and SouthAsian patriarchy. This work is very rewarding, and for those surveilling me and reading me here unbeknownst to me, not monetarily rewarding.

Four: Music

The first records I ever saw were 78s I found in the basement of our rented duplex in DC in 1966. These were the first albums I heard, and how I became adept at singing all the 50s ballads: Bing Crosby, Frank Sinatra, Ed Ames, Andy Williams. My first album was Herb Alpert & the Tijuana Brass, I’m sure I took the consequences for this cover! Then all 3 of Leonard Nimoy’s albums (of which I remember all the lyrics to all the songs). I played music for my children before they were born, and it just made sense to continue singing for them when they had left the womb with a view. But it was these very same progeny who introduced my to classical music, latin music, chamber music as they learned to play multiple instruments and I learned to recognize the sound of each piece of woodwind and brass in their school concerts.

Five: Books

I read. A lot. When I had to leave my home in the last decade, I donated my 2000+plus collection of books to the Loyola Marymount library. I kept only 10 books — the Harry series, Trauma and Recovery by Judith Herman, An Invitation to Indian Cooking by Madhur Jaffrey who some of you may know from her film and television work. Even though I never cooked from her recipes (they are very close to my own style of cooking) 1982 maybe (when there were only landlines and phone books) I had called her in NYC to ask about publishing my poetry and she had said “Do you cook? Write a cook book. Indian food is going to sweep this country.” Sadly, I did not follow her advice, or I could be sitting on all the coin I would have made since then. Don’t cry for me Argentina…I still have enormous boxes of books from my children’s lives sitting in my garage, you know…just in case I run out of something to read. Been reading sci-fi since the 60s, starting with Asimov and Bradbury and Roddenberry and Phillip Dick. Now I’m completely devoted to Octavia Butler — my S/Hero! Ann Leckie, N.K. Jemisen, Becky Chambers. Too many more to list.

Six: Media

I came to the US in the fall of the start of the original Star Trek, and I left 3 years later in the spring of the last season. I am an original Trekkie. Do not mess with me about the Star Trek franchise, and please keep your Star Wars references to yourself. Okay, I know those, too. My favorite movie of.all.time is Shawshank Redemption, followed closely by Hedwig & the Angry Inch and The Rocky Horror Picture Show. I saw this last just a few years after its original release in a theater, twice, and lost my mind! Immediately after my wedding on the flight from Delhi to NY, I saw my first American movie: John Travolta in his tighty whiteys in Saturday Night Fever. Hmm…how far we’ve come… My favorite genre of movies is con/artist ones that began with The Sting, and continues to today with all the Oceans’. I do not watch the news, instead preferring to get it filtered through the writers at The Late Show with Stephen Colbert and Late Night with Seth Meyers. I adore Trevor Noah on the Daily Show, but miss Jon Stewart so badly my teeth hurt. It’s like missing the Obamas. :(

Seven: Social Media

FaceBook was the first social media platform I joined. No Friendster, no MySpace. I only joined Instagram and Twitter this year, don’t post much on the first, don’t know how to navigate the second yet. I got my first smart phone 4 years ago, after the coma. Seemed like a good prize for choosing to live. The people who we are friends with on any social media platform, no matter how many times they like, love, heart our posts are not the ones who will come stand by our sides when we are dying. This is how I know who my friend tribe and family are. I prefer memories created in my mind to the ones created on an App. I have Rubbermaid boxes filled with pictures to disprove this notion.

Eight: Real World

Most of the folx in my small community of loved ones are qpoc. If you don’t know what this means, you’re prolly not one yourself. I have amazing people in my life: artists and creatives, academics and healers who make a difference in the world through their art and through their dedicated activism.

This is my fierce, sweet, and trauma informed friend and trainer Pat “Cacahuate” Manuel who is about to make history with his upcoming pro debut in the male boxing division as the first trans man certified by the Boxing Commission. I’m writing a piece about him, and his journey from the Olympic trials as a female boxer to as he is today. Pat has recommended that perhaps I need to take regular breaks from keyboarding to ease the strain and pain I have begun to have in the last month of transcribing old work and writing new words 6–8 hours a day. What’s that you say Pat? Can’t hear you. I can count on the fingers of one hand those who share my life with me, and I hold in my palm the love my children shower me with. No consent, no pictures.

Nine: Writing

When I say I’m working on a piece, it’s almost always in my head. I don’t do drafts, I don’t sit staring in front of a blank screen or a blank page, I seldom if ever edit anything except typos or punctuation. Don’t envy me, my friends…this ability has been paid for with a mighty price.

Ten: Gratitude

I am humbled by the Universe, the enormity of knowledge I don’t have, the information available to the human mind that I may never learn. I am grateful daily, sometimes hourly, at my own recovery and the acceptance of death, and the joy of being alive and whole. And for the abilities the world and my own past have gifted to me. Lastly, grateful for tea and ginger cookies. And Love.

In conclusion, I am also the baby whisperer.

If I have tagged you and you do not wish to continue this game, no worries. If I have tagged you and someone already tagged you, no worries. Don’t let it end on my oversharing. And how does this differ from your writing Juhi, you ask? Hardly at all, except I don’t write poetry or prose about most of this schtuffs.

Bonnie Flach Farida Haque Jake Rosenberg Julia Kantic Ecem Yucel Annie Caldwell DiAmaya Dawn Nicholas Petrone Harper Thorpe Roy Mike Range

©JkMansi Juhi Kalra 2018. All rights reserved.



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Jk Mansi

Jk Mansi


To know where you're going find out where you've been. I strive to be joyful. I read. I write. I’m grateful.