Bhumi: On Indian Fashion, Cuisine, and New York City

Bhumi: On Indian Fashion, Cuisine, and New York City
September 9, 2016 Daniela K.

Although Bhumi comes from a very traditional Indian background, her wardrobe is fabulous enough to turn even SJP green with envy. Her collection of eccentric accessories and colorful garments screams magazine editor, while her studies at NYU prove that New York women do have it all. Bhumi possesses the millennial trifecta: beauty, brains, and a closet full of Louboutins. 

What brought you to New York City?

I wasn’t entirely sure about what I wanted to do out of high school so I let my dad decide for me. Medical school didn’t work out, mostly because my heart wasn’t into it. But also because I did horrible on my MCAT. After that, I moved to Manhattan for a Master’s program at NYU and currently attend NYU College of Dentistry.

Is it common for Indian parents to push their children into certain professional fields?

School systems in India are different than in the states because parents have to pay a fee every year starting from elementary school. The degree of education is dependent on the financial status of the family. If a family can’t afford to put their children through school than there is less pressure to push those children into certain fields.

In my experience most Indian parents in the US push their children to get some sort of professional degree. I think the reasoning behind this is that generally the higher degree of education you have, the more job stability you have.

Are the standards and expectations the same for sons and daughters?

From what I know, when it comes to smaller villages and towns in India, it’s sad to say, but parents feel some sort of relief when they have a son. Males tend to be the “money makers” therefore, putting a boy through the school system is more of a priority.

Things have changed a lot where I am from in India. There more females graduating high school and attending college, but there’s always room for improvement.

What’s your favorite part of living in New York City?

The fact that it’s a melting pot. I’ve always loved meeting new people, tend to make friends everywhere I go, and somehow manage to keep in touch with most people. It’s kind of amazing that I can meet so many different types of people without having to travel. My least favorite, I know you didn’t ask, but I want you to know, is the cockroaches. Apparently they fly now, isn’t that disgusting? Yes. Yes it is.  

What’s something you miss about India?

The food! I go to India every year and I gain what feels like ten pounds every single time. Unfortunately, my stomach is made of iron so I haven’t had the privilege of experiencing “intestinal distress”. 

In recent years, I like to sit in my apartment and have the food come to me so I can continue to spend time with my real friends. My real friends include the Real Housewives of NY, OC, Beverly Hills, and NJ. When I’m craving Punjabi food I order from Bhatti; it’s amazing. For South Indian food, there’s a restaurant called Kokum that I like. As far as Gujurati food goes, there’s a restaurant called Vatan that’s good – and vegan, if you’re into that sort of thing. Disclaimer: Vatan does not deliver.

India has really great indo-chinese food but I haven’t found a restaurant that’s consistently good in the city. There’s a bunch of vibe-y restaurants I’ve tried but I prefer the more authentic ones I named.

Is there any aspect of Indian culture that you feel America is lacking in and could benefit from adopting?

The thing I love most about India is the culture shock I get every time I go. It brings me down to Earth in the weirdest, most beautiful way. It amazes me that people can truly be content with what I think is “so little” having grown up in the US. It reminds me that life doesn’t always have to be so chaotic and I don’t always have to be on the run. I’m not sure how America can adopt this mentality without experiencing it, because it is much more fast paced, especially NYC.

Let’s talk fashion. How would you describe your personal style?

Effortless chaos. For me, putting an outfit together doesn’t require much effort. The chaos because I psychoanalyze everything I do and the way I choose my outfits makes no sense to me, it all just comes out like vomit. But, like, cute vomit. My goals when it comes to my style is for people to mistaken me for Blake Lively – it hasn’t happened yet, but you never know.

What are some of your fashion tips?

I like to have options so I wait for things go on sale, even things I’ve been “stalking” for a long time and feel like I “need”. If it sells out by the time sale seasons start, then I guess I didn’t need it after all and it wasn’t meant to be. What ends up happening is the reject items end up on sale and that’s what ends up in my closet. To summarize, I shop sales so I can buy more, I don’t get too attached to material possessions even though I do really enjoy them, and I have a lot of reject items in my closet.

Oh! I almost forgot — I do this thing when it comes to luxury items that I “need” where I tell myself what price it has to be under in order for me to buy it. If it’s over that price, then I pretend like it doesn’t exist in the universe anymore. If it’s under that price, we’re golden.

Describe some of your most eccentric pieces in your wardrobe.

I have a pair of shoes with a totem pole face on them. They were over my price so I waited for them go on sale. Apparently they’re reject shoes and so they eventually went on sale for 50% off. I got them 4 years ago and I still really love my reject shoes.

I have a pair of t-strap sandals. They have a notebook paper pattern background and a little number 2 pencil as the vertical line in the “T”. I haven’t done this yet, but I got a handbag shaped like a milk carton that says “Chocolate Milk” as a gift (chocolate because I’m Indian and apparently my friend caught onto that), I think that will be a great foundation to a good reject outfit. Can you imagine Blake Lively reading this? I basically said she was my style guru and then went on to use the words vomit and reject to describe my style.

Do you have any tips to scoring these great designer deals?

There are two major sales every year. One begins after Memorial Day. That’s in May for people who don’t know and you’d be shocked how many people don’t know. The other begins December 26th. I’m not sure why but that December date is the same every year.

Another thing I used to do, when I had the time, was window shop and socialize with people who work at high-end department stores like Bergdorf on weekdays when things are slow. Once you build a relationship with some of the employees, they’ll text you if there are certain private events or sales.

It’s important to find the perfect brutally honest employee that you vibe with so that they will be sure to tell you when something looks hideous on you. Sometimes, when girls shop we get restless. When this happens, we get confused and think things are cute on us just because they’re cute on the person next to us. That’s when José from Bergdorf is there for me; to remind me that I am 5 feet tall with a size 8.5 foot and that it’s not ok for me to wear shoes that make my feet look even bigger. And that it’s not ok to convince myself shoes are cute just because they are 60% off. Thank you, José.

How do you like to consume fashion online?

I do the regular celebrity stalking. I follow the ones I love extra on Instagram and other places on the internet I can’t think of. These include Olivia Palermo, Nicole Richie, Rachel Zoe, Jessica Alba, and Blake Lively. I’m sure I’m missing a bunch of others I like to stare at. Any way, as I’m doing my stalking I’m sure my brain is passively keeping track of the things it likes. When I shop, I’m sure some of the items they’re wearing are items I gravitate towards.

What are your thoughts on Indian fashion?

That it’s beautiful, colorful, the detail is insane, and that I can stare at Indian clothes for hours and I do. Perniaspopupshop.com is a good place to stare at them.

Also, a good tailor is key. A lot of delicate fabrics are used. The patterns can get really complicated to figure out how to cut so that the outfit fits you but is still equally as aesthetically pleasing. It’s hard to find a tailor that has an eye for that sort of thing when it comes to more complicated pieces. I think I’ve gone through at least six tailors and I can’t imagine how many Bhumis those tailors have gone through.

Do you find yourself wearing Indian clothes in the states?

I wear Indian clothes during Navratri and Diwali, which are religious holidays in November. I also wear them to Indian weddings, baby showers, and engagement parties.

Do you ever see yourself abandoning your traditional career in medicine for something in fashion, say Indian fashion?

I absolutely love fashion and I always thought I would end up doing something in fashion. I’ve learned along the way that a successful career in fashion is a lot more complicated than it seems. I don’t feel like I have the time to get into something that requires that much commitment right now.

Do you know of any Indian clothing stores in the New York area?

I know one in Manhattan called The FashionEdit. The only other store I like in the area is in Edison, New Jersey called Oak Tree Mall. There are others but those two are the only two I’ve purchased from in the past. I think there’s a lack of good Indian clothing stores in the states where you can actually go in and feel the material and try on what you are going to buy. Maybe that’s what I’ll do in the future, hint hint…

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