Questions for My Parents

Read time: 3 minutes

The first generation American experience does not include knowing your parents. Although my parents and I are close, I don’t have a complete picture of who they were in Bangladesh. Our parents’ stories begin at the chapter when they moved, to first provide a better life for their children, and only second to a better life for themselves. I’m not sure what causes this unintentional secrecy but I can imagine the strength required to make this immense sacrifice came at the price of leaving behind your first life.

Last year, we went to Hasan Minhaj’s Homecoming King show and a part of his segment about flying before a stand up performance to see his dad in the hospital stuck with me. He got to know his dad at a point where it could’ve potentally been too late. Thinking on it, I didn’t know a lot of basic things about my mom and dad either. What are all those questions I would regret not asking my parents? 

What were they like in highschool?

What's a strong belief they compromised once they moved to America? 

During the holiday break, I had some time to ask. My sisters and I created a list of questions for my parents and sat them down without letting them in on too much. My parents and I are close but there is no way my three sisters and I all know the same information. We weren’t really sure what to expect but the four of us sat across from our parents and had a camera recording their answers. It was the most productive hour long conversation I’ve had with my parents. They told us their stories and I was instantly glad this opportunity was provided to us.

This experience was similar to falling in love. Time slowed down and I was completely fixated on knowing everything about them. There were laughs, sadness, reflection, and walks down narrow nostalgia. My mom described this exercise as cathartic and my dad wondered why this didn't happen more often/casually. The days following, we had more questions here and there and our parents were happy to share. My parents felt they walked away with more from this.

We never know something will happen to either us or our parents. If you have a parent (s) or grandparent (s), I encourage you to ask them simple, interesting, and tough questions. Doing this with my parents and parents-in-law has allowed me to start the new year a lasting inner peace.

Because you can’t ask Why are you like this??, here are a few of the questions but I would tailor it to your own family:

  1. Why did you move to America?
  2. What was your favorite hobby growing up?
  3. Which sibling are you most close with?
  4. We never really got to experience our grandparents, what were they like?
  5. Who was your first friend in America and where are they now?
  6. What was your major in college? What did you want to become?
  7. What is something that surprises you both in a good or bad way about American society?
  8. What’s the biggest parenting advice you’d like to pass down to us?
  9. How would your parents describe you?
  10. Were you scared when you first found out you were going to be a Mom/Dad?
  11. What did you like about your parents?
  12. Tell us something about your parents we don’t know
  13. What was the biggest problem you had growing up?
  14. What’s your greatest fear in life or with your kids?
  15. What’s a belief you compromised on once you moved here?
  16. How would your friends describe you in high school?
Thank you.

Thank you.

I Tried Spin Class for the First Time

Read time: 3 minutes

I went to a spin class for the first time last week. Most of the 45 minutes in the class was me wanting to yell out that this was my first time doing spin, IS EVERYONE IN THIS ROOM AWARE THAT THIS IS MY FIRST TIME? I need everyone to know this.

I went to an establishment strictly dedicated to spinning because this is somehow a viable business model now. The place looked like a high end yogurt shop with its white walls, neon signs, and fully spirited employees but the smelled like a beverly hills candle boutique masking the stench of wet poodle.

For anyone who doesn't know: spin classes are where you pay whats ultimately a lot of money to get into a room full of 20-40 stationary bikes that require special shoes that latch on to the pedals. Then for anywhere between 45-90 minutes, you undergo a spiritual awakening of self, complete with a pit stop in hell but an ultimate end in nirvana. 

A few yelp review photos helped gauge the level of pretense beforehand so when I walked in, I had an air of confidence like I hadn’t eaten bread in seven weeks. This facade didn't last very long. Clipping the bike shoes onto the pedal was so painfully difficult to perform gracefully that I may pretend it's my first time, ever time.

Probably the redeeming aspect of a spin class - that part raises its rank above other trendy classes like yoga or high intensity interval training (HIIT) - is that they include colorful lights and electronic dance or rap music. This is my ideal scene because it makes me think I’m having a fun night out when reality, I’m sweating at a rate faster than what the gym towel can withstand. The instructor knew that I could pedal through the hardest when the drop occurred in the song. There's no reason to increase your bike's resistance until the *untz untz untz* happens. At this point, the instructor understands me at a deep and personal level.

After class was over, I wondered why I had waited so long to try this out. I had a good run with working out once upon a time. There was a two-year period when I worked out 4-6 days a week and felt amazing. I had that glow, sought out that high, and waddled around the gym a special kind of way after each great session. I’m not asking for an applause right now, I just want to establish the glory days before I talk about my failures. Like an old, ex-highschool football star with a receding hairline, I need this moment.

It took a while for me to figure out why I ever stopped consistently working out. The gym in my building is actually only 10 feet away from my door -  this is a literal measurement. Convenience was never an issue so even though this gym is right by me, I never go. It took me a while (a year while) to figure out that I’m someone that thrives on having a lot of people around me struggling the same way to stay motivated.

This week, I went back to class. The domino effect of one health kick leading to another and then another is already happening. I’m suddenly inclined to replace meals with smoothies and think about probiotics all day. Maybe next week, I’ll figure out how people purposelessly wake up at 6 am..