Sabai Sabai in Chiang Mai

So, I’m a couple weeks behind on the blog (I’m actually in Udaipur, India at the moment with Aude) but don’t want to forget all of the memories from Thailand, so I’m going to continue to write about those as I attempt to catch up to the present. Here’s a bit more from our trip to Chiang Mai!

Chiang Mai Happenings

Our time in Chiang Mai was unique from all of my previous travels. The laid-back culture, friendly people, and delicious food made me feel extremely relaxed and in no hurry to really do anything aside from enjoy life. Opposed to bouncing around from place to place and attempting to jam in as many experiences and sights in as possible, we felt totally OK with simply staying in our own little soi (street) in Chiang Mai most of the time – and that was exactly what we did.

Despite few planned adventures, there were many distinct memories from the trip to Chiang Mai. I’m still trying to catch up on writing, so in no particular order or flow, I’m writing out a few memorable experiences from the trip.


Baan JaJa

As mentioned before, we found a perfect little guesthouse called Baan Jaja, and the place itself became one of the highlights of our trip. The rooms were clean, extremely cheap (~$5/day), had hot water, was very welcoming, and most importantly had a great common space to hang out and meet fellow travelers.

We met some really great people, and I’m always amazed at the stories and lifestyles I hear about when traveling. One of those interesting people we met was a fellow named Jonathon who we had met at the hostel.



Just 20 years old, Jonathon had already graduated college and was traveling in Thailand for a few months as he figured out his next moves. A fascinating fellow, he had just completed a 12-day silent meditation retreat, was a wood worker, and budding entrepreneur. He also was apparently a former gymnast of sorts.

We all hit it off quickly, and ended up hanging with Jonathon a good bit of our time in town. Jonathon had mentioned that he was able to do backflips, and Jason and I had both been meaning to learn from quite some time.

After a crazy night out, the next morning we decided it would be as good a time as ever to give it a shot. We grabbed some lunch, bought some more elephant pants, and then headed on over to the park.


Walking Meditation and Backflips

After some meandering, we finally made it over to the park. Having had some neck scares in the past while attempting backflips, Jason and I were both rather apprenehensive. To ease our minds, we decided it would be a good idea to meditate to calm our minds before we jumped in.

As Jonathon had just returned from a meditation retreat, he offered to guide us through the meditation session and taught us some new techniques. Since graduating college, I’ve begun meditating rather frequently, but this session was very unique. To start, we began with a 15 minute silent walking meditation, which I had never done before. The goal was to help you ground yourself and clear your mind before entering the sitting portion of the meditation. To do so, you would very slowly and intentionally lift your foot up, move it forward, and plant it in the ground so as to feel the earth underneath you and awaken your senses. Lift, move, plant.

It was a great way to calm the mind, and I felt a great sense of clarity and creativity throughout the walking portion. After 15 minutes, we sat down in the grass, and Jonathon guided us through the rest of the meditation.

More present and with clear minds, we began practicing roundolphs in preparation for our backflips. As we were practicing, this little Thai ninja frog of a man showed up out of nowhere, and began busting out backflips, treeflips, and pretty much every other type of flip you can imagine.

I wasn’t able to get over my mental block on moving backwards, but Jason was able to fully rotate on a couple, and I’m excited to continue learning once we’re back home. After a quick frisbee sesh, we decided to call it a day and headed back towards Baan Jaja.


Womp Womp Wallet

On the walk home, I stopped by a stall to grab some food, and as I looked in my bag for my wallet, and after some searching I couldn’t find it. Poured out everything in my bag and did it once more, and unfortunately, the wallet had disappeared. We circled back to the park, retraced our steps, and even stopped back at the store but the wallet was nowhere to be found.

It didn’t make any sense. I hadn’t taken the wallet out of my bag, we had been 5 ft away from our bags the whole time, and I had intentionally placed the bag in a way that would make it difficult to steal, and my camera was still in the bag too. The fact that I was totally sober and was unsure if it had simply been dropped/misplaced or stolen left a sour taste in my mouth, but se la vie. Fortunately, I didn’t have too much cash in the wallet, had separated a card and some cash, and was with Jason so though definitely a setback, it wasn’t the end of the world. 

Wats are Cool



There were beautiful photos from around the world lining the guesthouse, and we later on found out that the guesthouse owner, Kitty, had been the one to take the photos. She was a very wise and caring person, and after years of traveling, she had decided that she wanted to create a place for travelers to come and call home while out on the road. Really wonderful and inspiring woman, and made me think that it could be fun to one day open a guesthouse myself.



Got some sweet new pants. Like many a thai woman, the girl in the middle fell in love with Jason.

Nights Out

Chiang Mai is fun. Went to a few awesome bars with people we met in the city and had a great time. Internet is super slow over here right now, so I’ll add some pics once I have better connection.

Food, Food, and more Food

Chiang Mai has the best food in the world (that I’ve experienced so far). Yep, it’s amazing.

Incredible flavors, tons of spice, cheap prices, and seemingly unlimited variety. Just on our street alone there were 4 or 5 restaurants that we could not get enough of.

There is a northern dish we tried called Khao Soy, and it has quite possibly been the best dish had since getting to the country.


Lessons Learned

Always separate your cards and keep some spare cash on hand – You never think about it until your wallet is gone, but without it you can be royally screwed for a couple nights. Always keep a backup card, as well as some cash to keep you afloat in case of emergency.

Roll with the punches – Even if shit hits the fan or something goes missing, don’t freak out and do not let it negatively impact your trip. It’s all just part of the adventure, and besides, life wouldn’t be nearly as exciting if everything always went according to plan.

Eat Khao Soy – Seriously, my taste buds had a minor foodgasm.

Say Hi – In my opinion, the people are the best part about traveling. Say hi, make some new friends, and say yes to new adventures.

Travel at your own pace – It’s your trip. Don’t do anything just because you feel like you should. If you want to simply laze around town and eat, go for it – but if you want to explore all day, that is totally awesome too. Just don’t feel like you should or should not do anything while traveling – it’s your trip.


There was so much to see, smell, eat, and experience in Chiang Mai that I’ve had a hard time trying to concisely write about it. Looking back, it was an unforgettable trip filled with wonderful people, delicious food, and elephant pants. It’s a charming city, and I cannot wait to get back. If you’re traveling to Thailand, it’s a must see.


Cooking Class w/ Eing!

Eing’s Cooking Class

Our first morning in Chiang Mai, we had stopped by a little restaurant called Eing’s and ordeed some delicious breakfast omelets. It was fantastic, and the next morning we came back for more Thai deliciousness.

Over the course of the couple days, we befriended the owner of the shop – a quick-witted, fiery little Thai woman named Eing.
She spoke great English, and the three of us became fast friends.DSCF2568

After devouring another delicious meal, I half-jokingly asked Eing if she would teach me to make my favorite Thai dish, and favorite dish in general, Kaprao (Basil Chicken). Thinking I was kidding, she sarcastically said something to the extent of “sure, sure”, but after some persistence, I actually convinced her to agree to a lesson the following day!

The next morning, Jason and I headed over to Eing for our daily breakfast routine, along with our new friend Johnathon from the guesthouse. True to her word, Eing began bringing all of the ingredients to make Basil chicken out as we arrived, and the cooking class had begun! Johnathon asked if he could join as well, and Eing kindly agreed to let him cook his meal as well. Photos below!





Finished product!

Since I first tried basil chicken as a kid, I had wanted to learn how to cook the dish – learning from Eing made for an authentic, fun, and simply perfect experience that I will never forget.

Thanks for everything, Eing – I cannot wait until we meet again!




Chiang Mai Chillin’ & The Secret Rock Quarry

Chiang Mai – Day 1

Our flight took to the skies early morning, and we arrived in Chiang Mai before noon. Neither of us had ever been to the city before, but had heard it was a must see. The city lived up to it’s reputation, and then some.

While having no real plans, we figured we’d stay in Chiang Mai for a few days, head north to the hippie town of Pai, and then come back to Chiang Mai before taking off to the islands down south. As we left the aircraft, we realized we had no idea where to go in Chiang Mai, and made friends with an eccentric and memorable character named Ryu in hopes of help. An odd man to describe, he was wearing Google Glasses when we first saw him, and carried multiple smartphones on his person that he spastically switched between as we interacted, his mind raced from one unfinished thought to the next. He gave us a general direction to head in, and bags in hand we attempted to flag down a cab. Instead, we found a Song Tao, which was even better.

Such a tourist.

Jason has spent the past year teaching in a town called Satun, which is a relatively small buddhist and Muslim city located in the South of Thailand. During his time here, he’s picked up an impressive amount of the language, and it has been an invaluable resource so far. He told the driver a general area, and we got dropped off in the city center. With no particular place to stay just yet, we grabbed some street food and began wandering around in search of a spot to sleep for the next few days.

A couple travelers told us about a guesthouse they had just left, and mentioned they loved their experience. It was a TripAdvisor recommended guesthouse called Baan Jaja, and staying there proved to be the best decision we made our entire time in Chiang Mai.

We were greeted by a slightly awkward, yet energetic woman named Ja and she informed us that they had a 2 bed, AC room available for 500 baht, and split two ways, it was 250 baht/night per person. The room was great, and with Thai Baht to USD is roughly 30:1 at the moment, we were paying $8/night. After paying ~1400/month in NYC, you could say it was a welcome change of pace.



Greeted by Ja at Baan Jaja


Our humble abode in Chiang Mai

We tossed our bags in the room, grabbed a dank meal, and lazed around the rest of the day. Exhausted, we grabbed a quick meal, explored the night bazaar, and called it a day.


Glass Blowing at the Night Market


The first of many ridiculously delicious meals in Chiang Mai

The Secret Rock Quarry

After enjoying the previous day lazing around, we woke up the next morning ready to explore.  I had messaged a few friends asking for tips, and my buddy Max mentioned a secret Rock Quarry where we could go cliff jumping that sounded pretty epic, so we decided that was the move for the day. The only issue was that since it was relatively unknown, there were very few listed directions on how to get there, and the street we had to turn on had no name. Fortunately, Jason made an expert map to help us find our way.

(Ok, the back of the napkin map has gone missing for the moment so use your imagination).


Strange play at the temple we stopped at

We rented a scooter, and with our handy dandy map in hand, we took off towards the quarry. To our disbelief, despite following the detailed directions we had some trouble finding the spot. We took a pit stop at a random Wat (temple) we found on the way, and decided to give it one more shot.  We took a guess and turned on one more street, and began driving down a random backstreet. I was close to giving up until we saw an elderly white man walking his dogs down the road. I asked him if he had any idea where this place was, and he said “Keep going straight and you can’t miss it!”

The quarry was beautiful, and totally worth the wandering.


Secret Quarry

It must have been an old mining quarry, and we were the only ones there when we arrived. We walked over to the edge of the highest jumping point, and contemplated the safety/depth of the water below. It must have been at least a 50 foot drop, and aside from an epic bridge jump in Sevilla I had never jumped off anything remotely that high before. We figured it looked safe, but given the distance of the drop and the whole potential of dying thing, we weren’t looking to take any chances.


Awesome British Lads

As we sat contemplating the leap of faith, two jolly British lads Toby and Scott,  appeared at the quarry. Toby waded into the water, gave the thumbs up saying we were all good to go, and so it began. The three other dudes took the leap of faith, and I was the next man up. After a few moments of skepticism, decided I couldn’t think about it any longer and ran off the rock. It was an exhilarating, yet terrifying experience, and despite my ass still being sore from the awkward landing – I couldn’t be happier I did it.


Jason Jumps

We spent the rest of the afternoon jumping off rocks and shooting the shit with our new friends, and then headed back to the place as the sun began to set. It was on this drive home that I truly began to value Google Maps and gps systems. We got back to the main city area, but after a few turns we thought were in the right direction, realized we had no idea how to get back to our soi (street). After a few frustrating attempts at reading a map on the back of a scooter, I yelled towards a biker next to us and signaled for help at a red light. I pointed at the map. he and his wife conferred, and then said follow us, and we obliged. Bobbing and weaving through traffic, the kind folks got us back to the right place, and we finally made it back to Baan Jaja.

Lessons Learned

Asia is remarkably cheap – I already knew this, but it’s so awesomely inexpensive that I felt it was worth a mention. The only thing that costs you a considerable amount is the plane ticket, but once you get here, you can live well off $20/day in the right places

You don’t always need a plan – While it can be a bit more stressful, showing up to a place without a plan can also be a lot of fun, and allows you a great deal of flexibility to explore new places, extend or decrease the length of your stay, and so much more. While there are definitely certain trips which need extensive planning, remember that it’s more than OK to figure it out as you go

People are Awesome – If those friendly folks hadn’t led us the right way to get back home, we very well may have still been driving around Chiang Mai looking for our guesthouse. People around the world are incredibly kind and helpful – and though it can be intimidating at times, it never hurts to ask for help

Just Jump – I had been scared shitless when I was standing up on the ledge, debating whether to jump or not. I had always wanted to go cliff jumping, but as I stood on the ledge it felt like the last thing in the world I wanted to do. I decided I had to just go for it, and though it felt risky, it turned out to be a ton of fun, and I would have regretted not doing it later. Though an unusual analogy, it had me thinking about other decisions in my life, and was a neat reminder me that you never know unless you just jump, so why not?

Chiang Mai is the best – That is all.

I’m attempting to catch up on blog posts now – so expect a barrage of stories and mishaps coming soon.

So I shaved my head

Yep, that happened.

I had entered the trip with the intention of growing out a travel beard and letting the flow go, but that didn’t last long. On the second day in Chiang Mai I felt compelled to shave my head, so I decided to go for it. On some level, it was simply curiosity to see what I would look like, but on a deeper level I think it was meant to challenge my perception of looks and their impact on human interactions and my self-confidence. And besides, I figured even if it did look like complete shit, it would have grown back by the time I made it home in December.



Despite rationally knowing better, I often think about how I look before I go places, and it has often impacted my confidence and self-perception in many of those situations. This is dumb. The idea of shaving my head always seemed ridiculous because I had big ears when I was a kid, so figured I would just never do that unless medical reasons forced me to do so. One of my goals for the trip has been to do things that scare me, and this definitely being one, I decided to prove to myself that it really does not matter how I (or others) look, it is more about how I interact with the world around me.

We found a little barber shop around the corner, Jason explained in Thai what I wanted to do, and the woman sat me down and got to work. I immediately began questioning my decision making process as she buzzed off large chunks of hair, and thought I had made the biggest mistake of the week (well, actually, I guess showing up at the wrong airport still might top this), but I was too far in to turn back. I closed my eyes, and in just a few short minutes, it was all over. DSCF2407DSCF2413

I didn’t recognize myself in the mirror for a few moments, but after the initial self-consciousness, I reminded myself to relax and it was all good. 10 days later, I’m happy to say I did it. Here’s to pushing limits and stepping into fear of all forms.



Adventure Thai(me)

Hola amigos,

It’s been a few days since I last wrote, and quickly realizing how easy it can be to simply push writing off for a day or two, until it gets to a point where it feels overwhelming to write anything at all. Here’s a very brief update on my first couple days, with many more posts to come.

Getting to Bangkok

After my memorable flight experience to Chicago, I hopped on a long haul 15 hour flight to Hong Kong. The gate agent I had made friends with upgraded me to Premium Economy on Cathay Pacific, and due to my gold status on US Air, I received passes to the business class lounges at both the Chicago and Hong Kong airports.

The gate in Chicago, while nice, was definitely not worth writing home about. The Hong Kong business class lounge on the other hand was simply phenomenal. After nearly 24 hours of travel, the lounge felt like a gift from above. Delicious food, free wi-fi, outlets, comfy lounge, and a hot rain shower – yes, a rain shower. Asian luxury and design are simply in another league, and while I was embarking on a backpacking trip, it had me thinking I could get used to that lifestyle one day.

After a few hours of lounging around, I boarded the final leg to Bangkok, and after a delay (the tire was deflated, and then the device they used to change the tire got stuck under the airplane – not kidding) we took off to Bangkok, and after all the stress from the first flight, I was so relieved that I was on my way. The fellow from New Zealand sitting next to me was super friendly, and apparently a film producer for many National Geographic and Discovery channel documentaries. I’ll write about this at another point, but such a huge fan of making friends on flights, and I’d encourage anyone to say hello to the person next to ya – you never know where the conversation will take you.

After 30+ hours of travel, the flight touched down in Bangkok and I had finally made it! It was a long journey, but using points to get the trip for practically free was absolutely worth the extra travel time and I had a great experience on Cathay Pacific airlines. Though I was fortunate to have many miles saved up from my days in consulting, it really is not so difficult to rack up miles, and I’d strongly encourage anyone interested in traveling to look into travel hacking to save a few bills.

Briefly in Bangkok

I am traveling in Thailand with my close friend Jason, and upon arriving, he and his friend Tonggy were waiting to pick me up at the airport. It had been over a year since I’d seen him in the flesh, and the trip excitement immediately kicked in. We had talked about this trip nearly a year ago, and was stoked to have actually made it!

We were staying at Tonggy’s apartment, and naturally, the first thing I did was get basil chicken. Basil chicken has been my favorite meal for as long as I can remember, and I have always dreamt of eating it in Thailand, and it was the perfect way to start the trip.

Playing Blog Catch up

A ton has happened since we got to Thailand, and though I enjoy writing lengthier, more detailed posts, I’m going to try and break it up into quick and manageable posts as I catch up. More to come soon!

I Believe in Miracles

Apparently, miracles do happen.

Just made it to Hong Kong, and after 25 hours of travel, I’m still trying to process the utter madness of the start to my trip.

Yesterday morning I woke up, packed my bags, said goodbye to Aude, and took off to JFK airport for my 7:40pm flight to Chicago (which would then take me to Thailand via Hong Kong). The trains were off (as per usual on the weekend) and after 4 transfers and 2 hours, I had finally arrived to JFK around 6:30ish. I was a bit stressed as I was cutting it pretty close for an international flight, but I got to the kiosk to check-in and figured it would still be OK. I entered my info in the machine, and for some reason it told me that it could not process my request and to go see a gate agent.

My overly sensitive mind immediately took this as a racial profile based on my last name (Rahman is one of the more common Muslim last names in the world, and my family and I have had issues in the past), so I headed over to the desk to try and check-in once more. Irritated, I impatiently waited as the line trudged along at a snail’s pace. As I finally arrived at the desk, I explained the machine wouldn’t let me check in to my flight for some reason.

I told the agent I was headed to Chicago on the 7:40pm flight, and should looked at me with a curious expression. She then proceeded to say

 “We don’t have any flights to Chicago this evening. Do you mean the 7:40pm flight leaving from LaGuardia?”

It was at this point I realized that for the second time in my life, I had showed up for a flight at the wrong airport. Unfortunately, this time it was for a trip to Thailand instead of Texas.

The panic set in immediately. I frantically ran around the airport looking for someone to help, and after a few insufficient answers, a woman told me that I would need to head to LGA in order to find another flight to Chicago. The time was around 6:55pm, and the drive to LGA generally ranges from 25-40 minutes – the odds of making the flight were slim to none.

I ran to the cab stand, hopped in a car, and said get me to LGA as fast as possible. The cab driver, and everyone person I spoke with at the airport had told me there was no way it was going to happen, but he was a kind man and agreed to try and get me there as fast as possible.

Aside from missing my connecting flights to HK and Bangkok and the inherent hassle of re-booking a flight, the bigger issue was that I would likely not get in to Thailand until the next day, on which we had already scheduled another flight from Bangkok to Chiang Mai. So, in essence, by missing this one flight, I would be missing 4 flights, spending additional money, and just generally throw off the beginning of the trip.

Feeling hopeless and frustrated, I repeatedly attempted to contact US Airways to no avail on the cab ride. I had resigned to the assumed fact that I was going to miss the flight, when the driver to my surprise told me we were about 10 minutes out from the airport at 7:10pm. With this estimate, I would have roughly 20 minutes total to check-in, get through security, and board the flight by the time we got there. Despite all of this, the optimistic (see:irrational) side of me began thinking I might, just maybe, have a sliver of a shot at making this flight.

I jumped out of the cab at 7:20pm, and hustled to the American Airlines check-in computer kiosks. I tried to check-in, but seeing my obvious panic an associate came to help, and informed me that unfortunately, you can not check-in using the machine with less than 30 minutes to your flight, and I would need to go see an agent. There were two people in line in front of me at the counters, and as I waited for what felt like forever, the feeling of inevitable failure began to grow.

In reality, 5 minutes had passed, and the time was now 7:25pm. I got to the counter, shared my situation, and the agent calmly grabbed my passport, walked me over to another register, and began pushing buttons on the keyboard. Whatever she did worked, and as she handed me my boarding pass, she looked up at me and said “You’re at gate D3. Good Luck, and RUN!”

I sprinted towards the security gates and bolted past the initial guards towards the agent who scans your passport before security. That plan did not work. The flustered guards screamed at me and asked me to come back. They wanted to check the size of my backpacking bag, and said I had to take off my bag to make sure it would fit. I pleaded and told them I had mere minutes to catch my flight, but they would have none of it.

I threw off my 65L pack, and as I put it down, it would not fit in the dimensions of the stupid little bag sizing chart. It felt like a cruel ending – I  was so close to pulling this off, I could taste it, and I was about to be foiled by this stubborn lady because my bag was about 4 inches too long. She said I had to go check-in my bag, and in desperation I gave it one last ditch effort. Using all my energy, I squeezed and contorted the bag until it somehow fit the listed measurements, and after some deep contemplation, satisfied, the stringent bag lady said I could continue on.

Fortunately, there were no lines and I was able to run straight to the first security agent. As I handed him my passport, I heard them calling my name over the intercom – “Passenger Sahil Rahman, this is the last call for flight 363 to Chicago” – so close but so far.

The security line was empty, and as I got to the machine I literally threw my bags inside and jumped into the machine. Slightly amused by my manic movements, the TSA agents kindly reminded me I had to take off my shoes. It was one thing after another, I thought. I tossed my shoes off, shoved them into the machine, and headed through as the clock ticked away.

I came out on the other end, threw my bags on, and with my shoes in one hand and passport in the other, I took off sprinting full-speed barefoot through LaGuardia Airport towards D3. Bobbing and weaving through the crowds in the airport, I saw the gate, and began screaming “I’m here, I’m here!” as I ran towards the agents.

The woman scanning tickets warmly smiled and said “I’m glad you’re here, we didn’t think you were going to make it!” and the other two agents looked at me, laughed, and said “put your shoes on, you’re here!”

Against all odds, I had managed to miraculously make my flight and was in seat 16F by 7:31pm. From check-in to my seat took a total of 11 minutes. It was unbelievable, and I was filled with an remarkable sense of gratitude, elation, and joy – I was going to Thailand.


A few quick thoughts & lessons learned from my eventful evening:

Check your itinerary.

Check it once. Check it again. And then check it one more time just to be safe.

People are friendly and helpful by nature

No shot I make the flight without the help of multiple friendly folks this evening. They had no reason to help outside of wanting to help me out of a jam.

Making the same mistake twice is really frustrating

Incredibly, this was not the first time I’ve showed up at the wrong airport for a flight. Learn from your mistakes, and adjust behavior to make sure you don’t do it again.

Stay Positive

Every single person I talked to told me I had a 0% chance of making the flight. If you think you’ve got a chance at making something happen, don’t give up when people discourage you and give it your best shot – you’ve got nothing to lose.

 The universe has my back

That was lucky as fuck. I feel like the cricket from Mulan. But more seriously, I genuinely believe the universe had my back on this one. As the wise man Paolo Coelho says, ‘And, when you want something, all the universe conspires in helping you to achieve it.’

Send out good vibes and watch them come back

Was in a super great mood once I finally got to Chicago, and went to check-in for my flight to Cathay Pacific. As I was checking in, I made friends with the gate agent, Keith. We hit it off, and he kindly gave me a pass to sit in the Cathay Pacific business lounges in both Chicago and Hong Kong. He was super friendly, and extremely satisfied with the excellent customer experience, I made a point to mention it to his manager. As I was sitting here writing this post in the lounge, Keith shows up out of the blue and tells me that they had decided to bump my seat on the flight by 30 rows. Turns out his manager was so grateful I mentioned something that he wanted to thank me by providing my with an upgrade on my first Cathay flight. Just got off the the 15 hr 35 minute flight, and it’s safe to say I’m pretty excited about the extra leg room.

If the start of the trip is any indication, this is going to be one hell of an adventure.

Much love,


A Year in Review

So in my last post, I talked a big game about aiming to update the blog more frequently and record memories from my move to NYC. 13 months and zero posts later, it’s safe to say that was a grand ol’ fail.

That said, I downloaded a great journaling app called DayOne a few months back and began writing again on a regular basis privately to record my thoughts, and it’s helped remind me how much I enjoy the act of writing and just how vital it is in my life. Writing provides a seemingly cathartic release, and really forces me to reflect on and grow from my experiences. And let me tell you, I’ve had a lot of experiences this year.

I just moved out of my apartment in Brooklyn, and am about to embark on another international adventure and new career journey, so figured there was no better time then now to get started sharing stories once more. A bunch happened this year, so if you don’t feel like reading the whole thing, just check out the tl;dr (too long, didn’t read) summary at the bottom.

My Year in New York

Even calling it my year in New York feels odd for a couple reasons. For one, I am still coming to terms with the fact that I am leaving this incredible city. More importantly, I have bounced around so often since moving to the city last October that I have not actually been in New York for the entire year. Instead, let’s call it a year in review.

A Year in Review

So in my last post, I talked a big game about aiming to update the blog more frequently and record memories from my move to NYC. 13 months and zero posts later, it’s safe to say that was a grand ol’ fail.

That said, I downloaded a great journaling app called DayOne a few months back and began writing again on a regular basis privately to record my thoughts, and it’s helped remind me how much I enjoy the act of writing and just how vital it is in my life. Writing provides a seemingly cathartic release, and really forces me to reflect on and grow from my experiences.

I just moved out of my apartment in Brooklyn, and am about to embark on another international adventure and new career journey, so figured there was no better time then now to get started sharing stories once more. A bunch happened this year, so if you don’t feel like reading the whole thing, just check out the tl;dr (too long, didn’t read) summary at the bottom.

My Year in New York

Even calling it my year in New York feels odd for a couple reasons. For one, I am still coming to terms with the fact that I am leaving this incredible city. More importantly, I have bounced around so often since moving to the city last October that I have not actually been in New York for the entire year. Instead, let’s call it a year in review.

A Year in Review

The past 12 months were a total rollercoaster, and I couldn’t be more grateful. It’s truly amazing how quickly things can change for better or worse, and looking back, it’s humbling to realize how much I’ve grown in such a relatively short period of time. Most everything tangible about my life today is so very different than just one short year ago.  I’ve changed careers/industries twice, lived in two major US cities, experienced new relationships (and emotions), and evolved my perception of what is possible.

This post accidentally turned into a mini novel. Sorry.

September / October

In the middle of September, I had taken a bus up to NYC to sign my lease, and look back on the ride fondly. I had decided to move to NYC on a whim, and in fact, still had a job based in Washington, DC. It was a travel job, and the company never knew until we parted ways. I couldn’t put my finger on it at the time, but there was something about New York which had been calling my name, and I felt compelled to chase the voice. The city that made me feel so alive – the energy, the ambition, diversity, and opportunity – it all felt surreal, and I could not wait to be a part of it. We signed the lease, and at the end of September, I packed my bags and took off for Brooklyn. I took a u-haul up from Gaithersburg, and we arrived at my new home in Williamsburg – 28 Scholes – right in the heart of hipster Brooklyn.

I had big plans when I moved to the city. At the time, I had been working intensely on Globe Year (, an international education program for recent college graduates. Early on in 2013, I very quickly realized that I did not want to go to graduate school. I knew that I learned more from travel and experiential learning than anything else, and began designing my own master’s program. After sharing this idea with a few friends, I realized I was not the only one who felt this way, and I decided to begin developing a program for others like me.

I became increasingly involved in the worlds of education and social enterprise, and became enamored with the space, and it is to date a true passion of mine. Upon moving to the city, I heard that the Social Good Summit (hosted by Mashable) was coming to NYC just a few days after I arrived and I decided to pick up a ticket. It was one of the better decisions I’ve made, as I saw one of my idols, Sir Richard Branson, speak on stage along with many other inspirational folks such as Al Gore, Melinda Gates, and our most recent nobel peace prize winner, Malala Yousafzai. I left recharged and ready to take on the world.

The unfortunate side effect of this enhanced motivation towards Globe Year and the social enterprise space was that I still had a more than full-time job, which became less and less of a priority by the day. My plan had been to leave the firm upon moving to NYC, but alas, seeing as rent was roughly $1400/month, I didn’t have the balls to take the leap and decided to hang on for a bit longer. This general sentiment of ambivalence, boredom, and disdain towards the job led to interesting outcomes a few months down the road.

A long, lonely winter

October came and went, and in early November the longest, coldest, and most challenging winter of my life began. I had been dating my girlfriend at the time for roughly 10 months, and one weekend in early November, I made the decision that it would be best to go our separate ways. It was by far the most difficult thing I have ever done, but I felt it was the right thing to do – and that fateful decision sent me into a downward spiral for months to come.

I grew in more ways than I knew possible and opened up parts of myself that had been closed off for a long, long time.  She was a catch by all standards, and many a friend called me a fool for letting her go. She had been my first real girlfriend, and my best friend post-college – and then she was gone.  As it was my first real relationship, this too was my first breakup, and I really wish someone had provided me with a relationship manual when I entered to let me know just how painful it would be to exit. Breakups suck!

Professionally, my clouded mind, split between constant agony over the relationship decision and trying to figure out how to start a company had no space left for anything work related, and my performance suffered as a result. While disappointing, I wasn’t overly concerned as I had planned on leaving in the near future anyhow. Finished with my last project, I found my self in the odd limboland in between projects, kindly referred to as “The Beach” at the beginning of November.

The beach (not an actual beach) is a strange place to be, as you ‘work’ remotely, but do not have any real project work or tasks to complete. At the time, I thought this would be brilliant, as ‘working’ from home would allow me time to work on Globe Year without having the constant distraction of real work. Ideally, an employee is incentivized to be on the beach for as little time as possible, as one of the key metrics for year end performance evaluations is utilization (amount of billable client hours) so you theoretically would actively look for new projects as you would not want to be on the beach for long if you wanted to score well. As I had planned on leaving the firm in the near future (a vague and undefined term) I figured I would ‘hide’ on the beach for as long as possible, get paid while working on Globe Year, and then leave the firm before year end in March. This ambitious plan proved flawed, however, as I had not accounted for the unexpected variables of human emotion, heartache, and analytics.

Following the breakup, remote work was one of the worst things that could have happened to me.  I became a hermit, staying inside, rarely leaving the house due to the frigid weather, and worst of all had minimal human interaction and structure at a time when I needed it the most. Lost in my mind, I passed the months of November and December staring at the ceiling, unable to accomplish anything productive or noteworthy.


As my 23rd birthday approached on the 24th of December, I knew I needed to do something to shake things up and try to get myself back on track. Travel had always been an escape, and I thought getting a bit lost abroad might help me find whatever it was I was looking for. On Christmas day, my little sister and I took off on a trip to Peru to visit our close childhood friend, Naomi, along with two other friends, Vikram and Leo.

It was my first time traveling with my little sister, and I was to have some much needed fun again. We were set to have a 17-day excursion, and the trip was off to a great start as we went to visit Machu Picchu and climbed Machu Picchu mountain a few days after landing. Unfortunately, we received some unexpected news that resulted in a rather drastic change of plans.

On New Years Eve, as we were preparing to go out and celebrate the start of 2014, I received a phone call from Naomi. My parents had been trying to get in touch, and she passed along the news that my nanu (grandfather), at the wise age of 94, had passed away. We had never been extremely close, but had lived in the same house together for many years, and he was an incredibly kind and intelligent man who meant a great deal to me. Despite his age, the news was unexpected, and resulted in a mad scramble to adjust flights on NYE to find a way back home in time for his services. Thank goodness for Allianz travel insurance – seriously, always buy it if you are traveling abroad, you never know when it will come in handy.

After celebrating his life that night, Saba and I showed up ticketless and flustered to the airport on the 1st morning, and miraculously managed to secure the last couple seats on the flight back, landing in the states just hours before the procession. Talk about a strange start to the year.

It was a tough couple weeks back at home, and it was about to get tougher. Mid-January, I received a message from Deloitte, asking me to come into the office. I had never received a message like this in the past, and immediately did not have a good feeling about it. I figured it would be related to the fact that I was on the beach for so long. I was correct.

Letting Go

I was up for promotion that year, and to be promoted one needed around 90% utilization. My utilization was significantly lower than this number, and I was indifferent about this fact as I figured I would be gone before the year end evaluations in March. About this much I was correct, but I had not anticipated just how rapidly my exit from the firm would be approaching.

I entered the room, and sat across from the partner who had actually interviewed me before I joined the firm. He very matter of factly stated that the firm was overstaffed at the time, and looking at my low utilization, they realized that even if I joined a billable project from that date until year-end, I would still not be close to the required 90% for promotion. It is an up or out system, and as I would not be able to go up because of my low utilization, it was time for me to make my exit. The conversation lasted all of 3 minutes until he handed me off to the HR woman on the phone who would provide me with next steps. The partner said “just remember to hand in your laptop and computer by 5pm,” and that was that.

I knew that this was inevitable, and my actions had clearly set this scenario in motion, but it still felt like a punch in the gut. Financially, it actually turned out rather well for me as I did not have to pay back my signing bonus and Deloitte was kind enough to offer me a generous severance package, however that did not remove the sting of being let go. More than anything, I felt a great deal of shame and struggled to understand how to explain the situation to family, friends, and anyone who asked about my work situation.

My relationship with Deloitte was rocky from the start, and I was never a good fit. Ironically, the partner mentioned previously had asked me an interesting question during my initial interview with Deloitte. He said “You clearly have lots of exciting entrepreneurial and creative experience in the past. Do you think you can function in a corporate environment?” Taken aback by the question, I confidently came up with a response that seemed to satisfy him, but the truth was I had no idea. A year and a half later, I knew the answer to that question.

Since a young age, I never wanted to work in a desk job or a large corporation,  but convinced by the support and celebrations of friends and family after receiving the offer, I was unsure how I could turn down the opportunity and salary with nothing else in sight, and I reluctantly accepted the job and decided to give it a shot. As I imagined, to me, much of the work felt like pulling teeth, and brought back memories of boring homework assignments I often struggled to complete. Now, don’t get me wrong – much of it was valuable learning, but given my curious nature, it was extremely difficult for me to sit down and focus on menial analyst tasks as they did not stimulate my mind or require any real thinking or problem solving.

I learned a million and one lessons from my time at the firm, but the main one was to never do anything unless you are excited about it.

Human relationships and dating are very similar to work relationships with companies, and I had experienced my second break-up in a 3 month span. In hindsight, I’m grateful Deloitte took steps to end an unhealthy relationship for both sides.  At the time however, the short-term ramifications were more mindless meandering for me during January and February.

I had uprooted three core pillars of my life since September (Relationship, Career, and Location), and I quickly became a ship without an anchor, floating whichever direction the wind blew.

I had been continuing to work on Globe Year, and had pulled my friend Anna from HS onto the team to help out with the project. While we were making solid progress, my confidence had taken quite a hit post-Deloitte and still recovering from the break-up, I was still not entirely certain what in the world I was doing with my life, and I realized that this lack of conviction would not get me anywhere fast.

As the snow begins to melt, the sun starts to peek through the clouds (March)

I had enough finances to last me a few more months, and resolved that over the next couple months, whatever it took I was going to invest in myself good again and figure out what I wanted to do next, Globe Year or otherwise. It was the beginning of March, and the first stop on my journey was to Austin, Tx. Multiple friends had recommended I attend a conference called Starting Bloc for social leaders and entrepreneurs out in Los Angeles, with many calling it a life changing experience. After enough people I respected mentioned it, I figured it was worth a shot, so I booked my tickets for the LA convention from March 6th – 10th. As I looked at the calendar, I realized that SXSW EDU, an event I’ve been hoping to attend was taking place in the days leading up to Starting Bloc. Tickets were expensive to enter, so I found a way to volunteer, and my Globe Year partner Anna and I headed to Austin!

While I only caught a couple days of the conference, I was in Austin for nearly 6 days, and had an absolute blast. Super cool city, and the people I met at the conference were incredibly inspiring, and opened many new possibilities with Globe Year. We stayed with my good friends from HS, Devon and Steph and they were wonderful hosts. On the 5th evening, I said adios to many new friends from the conference and boarded a flight to Los Angeles for Starting Bloc.

Entering the event, I had no idea what to expect or what I had signed up for. It was a fascinating few days that focused heavily on introspection, understanding your why, and empathizing with those around you. I found a remarkable tribe of people who wanted to make an impact in their little corners of the world, pushed one another to be better, and held each other accountable. Though the experience was only 5 days, it almost felt as though we had studied abroad together.

Looking back, I realize that Starting Bloc served as a pivotal turning point for me in the year, and I’m very grateful to those kind folks who introduced me to the community. I returned to New York rejuvenated, and while I still had a long way to go – for the first time in a while, I was beginning to feel good again.

April Adventures

The trip had been amazing and I had thought long and hard, but I still hadn’t quite sorted out what I was doing professionally, and as my pool of money turned into a puddle, I turned my attention that direction. While researching the education space, I had discovered a company called Experience Institute that was doing very similar work in the field of experiential education. I had spoken with the founder, and was very impressed by his story and his mission, but hadn’t reached out in quite some time. As I thought more and more about it, I realized that our visions were extremely aligned, and I saw potential partnership opportunities. They were already up and running with their first class of students in town, and instead of re-creating the wheel, I thought it would make sense to join forces with them.

I got on the phone with VIctor (founder), and pitched the idea of creating a role for me. I piqued his interest, created a potential role/job description and sent it on over. As these conversations were happening in April, I received an e-mail from a good friend I met at Starting Bloc, Alex Haas. She and another friend, Sam, had started an adventure travel company called MBAdventures, that focused on allowing individuals to recharge and refresh in nature while being surrounded by a supportive, spiritual, and inspirational community. They were running a pilot program to Moab in Utah, and they were hand picking friends to be a part of the first group. It sounded badass, so I said why not and signed on board for the experience in the middle of April.

Also, April was awesome because my cousin Wasim crashed on our couch for over a month, and he and I would just hang out and kick it during the days and check out different restaurants with lunch specials. We even started a thriving lunch special blog!

In the days after deciding to go on the trip, I attended an event hosted by the HIgher Purpose Project, and met an awesome dude named Mike Hrostoski. I told him I was in a place of transition, and he mentioned that he was hosting an event out in San Diego called the Conference for Men that I might be interested in. Despite the somewhat cheesy title, it seemed like it would be a unique experience, and looking up the dates realized that I would be able to tack it on at the end of my trip to Boulder for the Moab adventure. It was the first year they were running the event, so I figured it was going to be super lame or really freakin’ awesome, so I decided to roll the dice. I convinced my friend Rahul to come with, and we bought tickets to the conference and San Diego.

Before taking off on the trip, we had planned a party in the backyard in the middle of April. Our good friends from college, Sean and Tim, started a band called Sunbathers (They kick ass, check em’ out), so we decided it would be sweet to make the party a show and have them play in the backyard. It turned out to be one of the best weekends of the year. Twenty-five, yes, twenty-five friends from out of town came and crashed at our 3BR apartment, and the party was epic. The band absolutely killed it, we somehow managed to fit 100+ people in between our backyard and the apartment. It may well have been the best party I’ve ever been a part of.

West Coast Wanderlust

Following the party, I took off for my 15+ day trip out west. I landed in Boulder, and after a night staying in a beautiful house overlooking the mountains, met up with the MBAdventures crew and took off for Moab. The desert was beyond beautiful, and the stars at night were simply breathtaking. There was a chef cooking us healthy meals, inspirational speakers, sunrise yoga and sunset meditation, and most importantly the people were just super awesome. It was perfect.

Upon returning to Boulder, I heard back from the Experience Institute team, and they agreed that it was a good idea for me to come on board for a 4-month contract, and I was to start as soon as I returned from my travels! It was exactly what I had hoped for, and I was ecstatic to learn with Victor and the team.

After a night in Denver, I took off for San Diego where I met up with Rahul for the Conference for Men. Entirely unsure what to expect from yet another conference, we both left pleasantly surprised. The conference was phenomenal, and pushed the men there to be more holistic individuals by attacking many of our limiting beliefs and deep rooted insecurities. It was the first time I’ve seen such a safe space created for males, and allowed many people, myself included, to be truly vulnerable and open for the first time.


I got back to NYC, and for the first time in far too long, it felt like things were starting to fall into place. I had started working, the weather was warm, and I was having fun again.

I decided to go back down to DC to visit my mom on Mother’s day, and little did I know what I was getting myself into that weekend. I hadn’t seen my ex in 4 months at that point, and seeing her again finally provided me with a sense of closure on the relationship. Generally speaking, that would have been more than enough for one weekend, but I was to receive some tragic news the very next day. Our family dog, and my best friend, Romeo, had been acting funny so my dad took him to doctor to make sure everything was ok. Unfortunately, it was not – he apparently had a cancerous tumor and the vet recommended putting him down that day. I was at our restaurant, Bombay Bistro, when I heard the news and for the first time in my life, I broke down in the bathroom and began uncontrollably crying. It was really rough. We literally grew up together, and saying goodbye to him was the hardest pill I’ve ever had to swallow.

Fortunately, we got a second opinion and had a few more days with our boy Romes, but his diagnosis sparked a rather fundamental change in me. I had taken Romeo for a walk that morning, and he seemed totally fine. It made me think that something like his situation could happen to any of us, and had me questioning what if it had been me. I had spent the last 6 months moping around trying to ‘find myself’ and life had been passing me by. I decided it was time to become more present, fully experience life, and enjoy the fleeting moments I have left on this planet.

(Enter Romeo Picture)

I came back from the emotionally charged weekend happier than ever before, and excited to embrace all of the wonderful things in my life.  Coincidentally (or not), I met my current girlfriend a few days later.


A friend from college put me in touch with a girl who was interested in the education and social enterprise world, and a few days after getting back from DC we met up. What I thought was going to be a simple coffee meeting ended up changing everything. Her name was Aude, and the first night we met, we ended up talking for over 6 hours.

We started hanging out a bunch, time was flying by, and the month was easily one of the most fun I can remember. Highlights included a trip to Fire Island with her friends, Gov Ball Music Festival, countless concerts, and lots of late night pizza runs. We’ve been dating ever since, and there are still many late night pizza runs.

As this was happening, I had spoken with the folks at Experience Institute, and a business development opportunity arose in Chicago, and they wanted me to come work there for the summertime. It was totally unexpected, but it was a neat opportunity to work under the Chief Talent Officer at a large advertising agency called Leo Burnett, so on June 15th, I packed my bags and took off for Chicago.

Chicago Summer

Summer in Chicago was an awesome experience. Beautiful city, fascinating architecture, friendly people, and great weather in the summer. It was really interesting to simply up and relocate on a moments notice. I found a random roommate on craigslist, and lived with a 30-something gay brazilian man and his dog, Bebel. I hadn’t seen the place in person before agreeing to move in, and we were in the ‘garden’ unit, which I learned is actually a euphemism for basement unit, but it was cool because I felt like I was living in a hobbit hole.

Work at Leo Burnett was great, and I was focused on designing new experiential learning programs for Leo Burnett employees. I dove headfirst into the worlds of experiential education and advertising, and interviewed people up, down, and across the organization. I was also working on the HR floor, which was a trip as there were 23 women and 3 men, so it kind of felt like I was working at a sorority house.

I had an awesome base of friends in Chicago, and it was really cool building and having that community upon getting to the city. It really allowed me to focus on myself and building healthy habits, and was a great experience.

Rasa Rising

Before I had left for Chicago, my close friend Rahul and I began talking about starting an Indian fast casual restaurant. It’s an idea I’ve been kicking around for years now, and after seeing a couple in NYC, I realized that if we were ever going to do this project, the time is now. 23 years previously, our dads had started a restaurant together, and so out entire lives people have asked us about it, but we had never seriously put thought towards making it happen until that initial conversation.

We stayed in touch over the summer, and in July, decided we wanted to make it happen. After a great 8 years, we decided to close down one of our family restaurants, Indique Heights, so Rahul and I both headed back home to help out that weekend. While sitting down with our families, we told them what we wanted to do, and were extremely grateful to receive the support and blessing of our parents.

My contract with Experience Institute ended in September, and so I said goodbye to the team and the city and headed back to NYC in early September.

A fast and casual September

I had planned my trip to Thailand and India from Mid-October to early December, meaning that I had slightly over a month in NYC before taking off. To make the most of my time in the city, I decided to get a job at a local fast casual restaurant to learn from them. I ended up with two. One at an established company called Roti, and another with a start-up restaurant called Fields Good Chicken.

It was a humbling, exciting, and memorable learning opportunity, and I believe the learnings from this month will prove to be invaluable as we work on launching our own concept. All in all, it was an wonderful month, and allowed me to reach closure on leaving the city I love so much.


As I write this, I’m on a ridiculously long, but comfortable, flight to Hong Kong and my adventure to Thailand and India has begun! I’ll be traveling around Thailand for 3 weeks with my good buddy Jason from HS, and then will head off to India to meet up with Aude, and we will travel around the country together for roughly a month. It’s been a while since I’ve traveled internationally like this, and could not be more excited for the next few months.

The Future

I’ll be gone until early December, and when I get back I’ll move back to good ol’ Gaithersburg and dive fully into the restaurant concept. It’s going to be a hell of an adventure, and I’m really excited to get started.

In Summary

Damnnn that was a long post. I would be shocked if anyone made it this far down, but if you did, I appreciate you reading along! As you can tell, it’s been a pretty wild ride this year, with many ups and downs along the way. As I write this, I’m feeling an immense sense of gratitude towards all of the wonderful people in my life and could not be more grateful for all of the experiences that have pushed me to grow and led to this moment.

Excited to see what the next year has in store – and I’ll aim to update the blog a bit more frequently so the next blog post doesn’t read like a novel.

Until next time, friends. Over and out!


PS. I’m in the Hong Kong airport and I don’t have great internet right now, so I’ll add some photos to this later on.