Once you have met and befriended people of various nationalities, race, faiths, sects, political beliefs, ethnicities, and sexual orientation…it becomes really hard to keep believing that your background is the right/true/best. It feels like intellectual cheating and arrogance to continue to pick and choose based on convenience/selective ignorance to support your side. And for this, I am indebted to New York City, and to the United States in general for the global melting pot that it is. Seriously, I have friends from Chile to China, Morocco to Malaysia, and every major religion you can think of. I am fond of Arab and Mexican cuisine, German and Belgian beers, and Eastern and Western philosophies. And I have spent more time in the last 10 yrs reading up on Abrahamic faiths, especially Islam, than I have on biology (my career) or astronomy (my passion). So when some of my friends, especially South Asian females, try to put a label on me -Indian/Brown/Hindu/Brahmin/Oriya or anything else – I just say I am a human. Every other label makes me susceptible to be biased towards my background. And after knowing every different kinds of people, I cannot afford to be biased to any side for emotional or sentimental reasons. Who or what I am today is immensely shaped by the diverse groups of people around me. So yay for diversity and melting pots!

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