Just Another Bollywood Love Story – But This One Is Real!

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February 11th, 2020 (remember that time before we heard the five-letter word COVID)? For most, it was probably just another typical Tuesday. BUT for me, it was all about reigning in my nervousness of public speaking in front of over 900 people.

I was going to be part of the Storytellers Project (AZ Central/The Arizona Republic) – which is a nationwide series of live storytelling nights where you get to step on stage and share a true, first-person story. Journalists from USA TODAY Network newsrooms produce and host these nights. They combine journalism and oral storytelling to present a broadly appealing evening of entertainment and at the same time building connections and empathy within the community.

Just before the show started, I couldn’t even catch a breath as I was so nervous. As the auditorium of over 900 started to fill up, I felt my heartbeat was directly connected to every additional person that entered the room.

I knew I needed to calm my nerves by taking a few breaths, so I pretended to go to the bathroom and left the other speakers. As luck(or coincidence) would have it, my cheerleader, I bumped into Vivek as he also was nervous for me and was headed to the bathroom. Getting a hug and hearing the words “You got this girl”one last time before I went on from Vivek helped for sure.

I wasn’t worried about forgetting the story as I was speaking from the heart but had told it to friends hundreds of times. The challenge was to make it sound flawless/natural and hopefully without the uums and aaa’s…. and oh also without crying 😢

Other Speakers: Dr. Mathew Sandoval, Me, Angelica Lindsey-Ali, and Amanda Morris

I survived and lived to post about it. It felt amazing to walk off that stage having just conquered my fear of speaking in front of such a huge audience. It felt great to get out of my comfort zone. I know this post is months late but somehow with the pandemic, it just didn’t seem the right time, so here it is 8 months later.

USA Today Storytellers Project
My Cheerleaders That Night…

My words fall short in expressing thanks to all my amazing cheerleaders that came out to support and encourage me that night. They were honestly the wind beneath my wings. I truly felt such a comfort with all of them being there. When you have friends that are just as nervous as you .. now that’s special!

Bro & Sister-In-Law

Also, thank you to my coaches Lorraine Longhi, Jessica Ann, and Elizabeth Montgomery at AZ Republic/AZ Central for all their help. And a shoutout to the other speakers Dr. Mathew Sandoval, Amanda Morris, Angelica Lindsey-Ali, and Julia King Kohn who did such an amazing job!

Mom & Dad

I dedicate this post to my brother, and sister-in-law who are the true heroes in this Bollywood Love Story of mine as without them this would not have been a reality. And the other heroes are of course my parents- my mom who has been one of my biggest supporters and my dad who always loved me unconditionally and is my forever angel in heaven.

Sharing parts of a letter I wrote to Vivek on Dec 24th, 1994 (the day after my parents said YES!). The letter had the excitement of disbelief and also a quote from Goethe that I have always loved with my very own ending – “We Have Begun”! The writing is a little faded and hope it is not too hard to read.

~~Two worlds collided and become one with a journey of a lifetime to be had together. A world of friendship, trust, emotions, love & life lies within us to be experienced~~RGK

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