It's 3:35 p.m. on a Friday and the school bell rings. My three best friends and I walk happily out the gate, ready for some relaxation after another stressful week as high school seniors.
White some students wait for their rides home to pull up, we hop in one of the green and yellow auto-rickshaws that are ubiquitous in New Delhi, India's capital. We pile in and head to The Big Chill, a popular teen hangout that reminds me of Central Perk on Friends.
The streets of New Delhi go by in a blur as we talk about the math test we've just taken, Obama's Nobel Peace Prize, and the new Black Eyed Peas album. The traffic tight turns red as a Mercedes convertible pulls up, and we break out into laughter when a cow ambles alongside, waiting to cross the road.
Delhi is a place where all sorts of opposites live side by side: Beautiful homes with manicured lawns line broken roads, and the back doors of five-star restaurants read into slums. Teenage girls holding toddlers approach cars to beg for money, white girls the same age in the backseats are too occupied with their cellphones to notice.
OLD INDIA & NEW
I was born in New York City and lived there until I was five. After my brother was born, my parents decided they wanted us to grow up knowing our fatuity and culture, so we moved back to India. But every summer, we return to New York to visit friends, so I feel that I have two homes instead of one.
Growing up in India can be surreal because it always seems to be in a state of transition.
My grandparents are always telling me how different the "old India" used to be--no imported food or clothes, no foreigners moving here to work, no "Western" music or TV, no Internet. The India I know--the "new India"--has all of this and a booming economy as well.
The signs of India's transformation are everywhere. Shopping has migrated from outdoor markets to trendy air-conditioned marts, full of stores like Apple, Esprit, and Calvin Klein.
A lot of my American friends think of teens in the new India only as hardworking, book-smart students--and to some...