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@humansofny / Humans of New York

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“Marriage is about two things: sexual satisfaction and building generations. Nothing more. Only useless people are thinking about love. The result of a love marriage is never satisfactory. Divorce, arguments, affairs. These things don’t happen in arranged marriage. Arranged marriage is always successful. Love is for useless people. But if you’re going to feel love, at the very least, make sure it’s someone of a similar income level.” (Jaipur, India)
“We have to keep our relationship secret. Our parents would not approve and we’re not courageous enough to tell them yet. So we meet in secret three or four times per month. Since the beginning of our relationship, we’ve shared a diary. We take turns keeping it. Whoever has it will write down our memories. They’ll also write down what they want from the other person, and how they feel misunderstood. Then every time we meet—we hand it off.” (Calcutta, India)
“I used to drink beer every once in awhile. That was all. But several members of my family died in a few years time. The worst was my brother. He was younger than me. And after his death I lost all control. Now I can’t stop drinking. I’ll quit for a few weeks at a time, but then I’ll get this feeling: ‘Let me have a little bit today.’ Then I’ll drink continuously for five or six days until the shivers kick in. It’s ruining my health. It’s causing me to neglect my work. My family is ashamed. And I live with a constant feeling of doing wrong. But I can’t stop. And even if I did, I feel like I’m too old and it’s too late.” (Jaipur, India)
“I came to the city when I was twenty and became a fruit seller. It’s allowed me to build a house in my village. I feel healthy. I get to eat. A lot of people don’t get to eat on time. So I’ve gotten everything I wanted. The minute you think: ‘I have a lot’—that’s the moment your spirit is at rest. My spirit is at rest.” (Jaipur, India)
“One night there was a huge storm and he didn’t come home from work. I had told him to sleep at the shop, but he wouldn’t listen to me. And by nighttime he still hadn’t arrived. The trains shut down. The phones stopped working. I sat by the window all night with my children. I asked everyone who walked by if they’d seen him. The next morning I went to the temple and said so many prayers. Then at 11 AM, I heard the bell ring. And there he was. He was soaking wet and completely covered in mud. He smelled awful. I started crying so hard. I made him some hot tea and a little food, and he went straight to bed. When he finally woke up, I informed him that he would be moving his shop next to the house.” (Mumbai, India)
“I sell grain for people to feed the pigeons and cows. It’s a way to get good karma. This has been our family’s business for eighty years. It began with my grandfather, then my father, and now it’s mine. I have about 250 or 300 clients that I see every day. Things were going very well. We had two houses. A car. Lots of gold. But a few years ago my brother-in-law got kidney disease. Our family spent everything to save him. We travelled all over India. People said: ‘go here, go there,’ and we always went. And we always paid whatever they asked. My mother even donated her kidney. But nothing worked. He died seven months ago. My parents passed away soon after because of the stress. Now I’m all alone. I own nothing but a scooter. I still believe in karma. Without it I have nothing left. But only God knows what I did to deserve this. If I knew, I wouldn’t have done it.” (Jaipur, India)
“I don’t want her to depend on anyone when she grows up. From the very beginning, I’ve been dependent. I barely left my home until the age of eighteen. I'd only walk from school to home, and even then I’d be accompanied by my brother. I had no idea how to face the world outside. I never even learned to ride a bike. It’s going to be different for her. I told my husband: ‘Whatever she wants to do, I’m going to support her.’ And I’ve already gotten a bike for her. The moment she is old enough, I’m teaching her to ride a bike.” (Jaipur, India)
"We let her pick the kite." (Udaipur, India)
“We moved to the city thirty years ago when I was a small child. We hardly had a penny at the time. My father sacrificed everything for us. If I needed new clothes, he’d wear old clothes. And he never complained. If business wasn’t good, he’d keep it to himself so we wouldn’t have to worry. Once when I was twelve years old, I really wanted a bicycle. So he bought one for me. Shortly after that, I noticed that he wasn’t wearing his favorite ring. He told me that he was getting it fixed. When I became an adult, I asked him again: ‘Where is that ring? I want to make one just like it.’ Finally he told me: ‘I sold that ring to get your bicycle.’” (Jaipur, India)
Today in microfashion... (Mumbai, India)
“The only time they’re peaceful is when they’re watching cartoons. They argue over everything. They fight over toys. They call each other names. But as much as they fight, they also can’t live without each other. Anytime I try to separate them, two minutes later they’re talking again.” (Jaipur, India)
“My wife passed away last month. She started shivering when she came out of the bath, and then she fainted. I took her to the hospital but she had a heart attack before I could admit her. I’m trying to stay busy. I’m OK when I’m at work, but the minute I enter my home, I begin to think about her. Her photographs are still by my bedside. Thankfully my ten-year-old grandson has been sleeping with me. He watches my shows with me. And he talks constantly. He goes on about his school and his class and his teachers. A lot of what he says is nonsense, but I enjoy it. And when he falls asleep, I fall asleep.” (Jaipur, India)
“I came to the city when I was twenty-one because I wanted to meet my favorite actor. I thought that I’d wait outside his apartment, and he’d appear shirtless on his balcony just like in the Bollywood movies. But he never came out. I didn’t want to go home without meeting him because all my friends would laugh at me. So I slept on the streets. I had no money to survive. I began working at a bookstall just so I could eat. And every day after work I’d return to his house to see if I could find him. I finally got my chance when there was a big movie premiere. I knew he’d be there. I waited along the rope line and met all of the other actors. But when my favorite arrived, he walked past without greeting anyone. He didn’t even make eye contact. I was heartbroken. He didn’t even acknowledge his fans. At least now I have a bookshop. I can thank him for that.” (Mumbai, India)
"I love that she loves love." (Jaipur, India)
“My sons used to protect me from my husband. He’s an alcoholic and he becomes violent when he drinks. He beat me so bad once that it injured my spine. My sons used to stand beside me. They’d try to stop it. They’d scream at him not to hit me. Then afterward they’d comfort me. But they’re teenagers now and they’re starting to go down the same path. They stay out drinking until 3 AM. I can’t get them to wake up in the morning. Today they got in a fight and one of them punched his fist through a window. There was blood everywhere. I came out here to calm down but my hands are still shivering. I don’t know what to do. I ask them to stop drinking but they won’t listen. There’s nothing left for me. I gave them life, I guess that’s all I can do.” (Mumbai, India)
“I didn’t get accepted into any of the universities that I wanted, and I ended up going to a lesser quality school. I hated being there. On the first day, I thought about buying a plane ticket and going home. I felt like I had nothing in common with the people around me. I felt like they belonged and I didn’t. My plan was just to survive-- get through six lectures a day, keep to myself, and get back to my dorm room as soon as possible. I didn’t even talk to my own roommate. I’m ashamed of it now. I was so rude and self-centered, and it ended up making me lonely and miserable. I felt depressed. I was barely sleeping. Then one night I overheard my roommate talking on the phone with her mother. And I could tell she was having family problems. After she hung up, we stayed up all night talking. I told her that I was having a hard time too. She became my best friend after that night. We’d have dinner together. Whenever I left the room, she’d ask me where I was going. It felt so good to have someone worry about me. It’s been an important six months for me. I’ve realized how much I need other people. By not valuing the people around me, I was only hurting myself.” (Mumbai, India)
"I'm trying to live my life without conflict so I don't say much." (Mumbai, India)
“I was a full time housewife. I kept mostly to myself. I was a very shy person. Then one year a local school asked if I could volunteer to teach art to the children. Just one hour every day. I did such a good job that the next year they asked me to teach full time. My husband didn’t want me to do it. He said: ‘You told me it would just be one hour.” But I told him: ‘I listened to you for twenty-five years, now it’s my turn to take the reins.’ I ended up teaching for fifteen years. I built such a good reputation that children came from other schools to join my class. The whole school threw a party when I retired. The children sang songs and danced. It just made me feel so special. Teaching was the best decision I ever made. Now I feel like I’ve done something positive with my life.” (Mumbai, India)
"I don't know how old I am." (Mumbai, India)
“I resented my mother for the longest time. She was always affectionate. There’s nothing mean-spirited about her. But she has some sort of condition. I used to be embarrassed to bring friends over. She was always fidgeting. She couldn’t sit still. There were a lot of monologues, and often they didn’t make any sense. When I was young I didn’t realize it was mental illness. Especially because the subject is taboo in India. So I’d just get angry with her. I’d victimize myself and blame her for everything. But I’m older now, so I’m trying to be more patient. I’ve met a lot of people who don’t even have mothers. So I’ve stopped fighting it. I don’t nag her. I hug her more. And I listen to her, even if she doesn’t always make sense.” (Mumbai, India)
Hey, Australia! I’ll be visiting next month and am doing two events at the Sydney Opera House on Saturday February 10th. We were originally scheduled to do just one, but it sold out yesterday before I could make an announcement-- so we just added a second. But you maaaay want to hurry. Going to be an awesome experience. Looking forward to seeing everyone. Link in bio.