Interview 11: Trishya

One of my New Year’s resolutions was to post a new interview once a month. Obviously…it is not going that well. I find that people are much more open about discussing religion in the South—it’s so deeply integrated into daily life that the topic comes up very organically. Now that I live in Denver, I find that religion—especially personal religious beliefs—is rarely brought up. I feel the same kind of nervousness asking someone if I can interview them that I imagine one feels when asking another person out on a date. Luckily, I have some great friends who have agreed to let me interview them!

Trishya is one of those wonderful friends. We met when she started working on my team—I’d been on the team for about six months, so I was basically an old-timer at that point. The first thing that struck me about Trishya was her wide bright smile. She’s deeply intelligent and dedicated to her work, and that is quickly apparent, but the thing I love most about her is the ease with which a smile breaks across her face. She finds joy in the smallest things—her positivity and effervescence brighten even my worst days. Encouragement comes naturally to her—if anyone is having a rough day, she knows exactly what to say to put the pep back in their step. And it’s not crafted—it’s genuine and comes straight from her heart. She makes me want to be the person she sees in me. I don’t believe it’s possible to not be delighted by her presence.

She’s also my yoga buddy—I wouldn’t go to yoga most days without her holding me accountable—so after one lovely Saturday morning yoga class, she agreed to sit down with me in a coffee shop so we could discuss religion. The discussion was fascinating and her philosophical depth is apparent—I could have asked many more questions, and I hope to in the future.

Without further ado, my first interview of 2016…Trishya!

Interview 11: Trishya

“I totally subscribe to the belief that your physical being is completely temporary, and the essence of who you are–which I don’t even think I’ve scraped the surface of–is eternal.”

Me: I’m going to start out by asking you to go through how you were raised and how that brought you to what you believe today.

Trishya: I was born and raised in Indianapolis, Indiana. My entire family is from India, my parents moved to the United States in the early 80’s, they lived in Chicago for a while. I come from a huge extended family ….and so I grew up Hindu. And I think that’s such a strange word to me, because Hinduism—as I grew older, as I had more discussions about the religion and the faith and the philosophy with my friends—I came to realize, the “-ism” of Hinduism is a very Western concept. If you go to the middle of India, the backwaters of India, and you ask someone, “Do you practice Hinduism?”, they’ll be like, “What? What do you mean? What’s Hinduism?” Discovering that philosophy, discovering that faith and applying it to a different context than the context that my parents were raised in has been a huge road to self-discovery and understanding my identity as a Hindu Indian-American.

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Interview 7: Neiloy

My freshman year of college, I lived in the Honors Dorm and took several Honors classes. One such class was Honors Calc II, or, one of the worst mistakes I have ever made (okay, that’s a slight overstatement). While I was woefully unprepared for the class, I am still grateful that I took it, because it gave me some of the best friends that I had in college: my Breakfast Club. After class or recitation, a group of us of would head to the dining hall, grab some of the “food” that they served there and talk about whatever we wanted. It was more often than not an incredibly nerdy conversation, but come on, we were taking Honors Calc II at Georgia Tech, I don’t know what you expected. After that first semester, most of Breakfast Club disbanded, but Neiloy, our friend George, and I kept meeting for breakfast (along with various others) for the rest of college. Sometimes I would feel completely alone and down in the dumps, but with Breakfast Club I always managed to forget whatever was keeping me down and laugh until I cried. I knew I could always count on them.

Neiloy is one of the best people out there. He actually helped me move once–and you know you have a true friend if they help you move (seriously, I have no idea how we would have gotten my bed out of my apartment without him). He is probably one of the (if not the) smartest people I know, but he is not arrogant. He is kind and thoughtful and when he moved away for work, I missed him very much! A couple weeks ago I found out he was back in town temporarily for a project, so Breakfast Club reconvened–and I realized I had never known his religious beliefs, so I asked if I could interview him. Of course, being the kind of friend he is, Neiloy had been reading my blog, even though I didn’t know it–and he even had a bone to pick with something specific I had said, so he was reading closely (Neiloy disagrees with my assertion that Georgia Tech was intellectually un-stimulating, so now, public, you have another opinion). I thoroughly enjoyed interviewing him and found that, despite our differences in culture, I very much agree with much of his core belief system. I hope that y’all enjoy reading it as much as I enjoyed listening.

Interview 7: Neiloy

“We are all intertwined in a single divine nature.”

Me: So, Neiloy, first off, I’d like for you to actually tell me what you believe because I realized that I have no idea, and I’ve been friends with you for quite some time, so I’m kind of shocked we haven’t talked about this! If you wouldn’t mind, give me a basic description of your beliefs as they stand today.

Neiloy: Okay, so first I’m going to comment that it’s not exactly surprising that we haven’t talked about it actually. There are two things that kind of inform a lot of discussions about my beliefs. One is that when you’re talking about religion here, most conversations that I’ve been in, in the US, that talk about religion, you’re talking about Christianity; and if you’re not talking about Christianity you’re talking about Judaism; and if you’re not talking about Judaism you’re asking me why I don’t wear a turban; and then you get to talking about, for example, Hinduism, which is the belief system that I most closely subscribe to. The other thing that informs discussions about my beliefs is the way I was raised. I was born to two immigrant parents from India, where it’s difficult to separate religion from culture, which means that religion is just something that permeates. So as a result of that, when they came to the US and I was born and they raised me, one of the things that wasn’t really consciously on their mind was religion, so I grew up in not quite an agnostic household, but in a household where those questions just didn’t arise often. And when you’re three and four years old you’re not necessarily asking those big questions unless someone is telling you to. But yes, I subscribe to Hinduism.

Neiloy

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