New Yorkers appear to be happier in the spring

Photographer: Tarishi Gupta (


As the temperature goes up, Brooklyn Bridge spreads its warmth in welcoming the locals and the tourists. After all, what better place can one think of, to escape the hustle and bustle of the city and glare at the sunset over the magnificent skyline?
The weekend marked the beginning of spring, whether the weather agrees or not, and even though New Yorkers might not have their jackets off, they do wear one thing they are infamous for – a wider smile.
And Patricia Dos Santos cannot agree more. Hanging out with her girlfriends at the bridge, she admits that she gets more excited as spring sets is, “As soon as spring arrives, I am down for everything; I am as happy as happy can be. You can spot guys with shirts off- on their bikes- with their bellies hanging out and that is so exciting and funny.”
Santos confirms that she becomes bubblier as the temperature rises and quite the contrary as fall begins to set in, “In the winter, people are just trying to get things done more quickly. They just want to stay in.”
So what makes you happier in the spring than in the winter? What is this phenomenon, if not SAD (quite literally)?
According to the National Institute of Mental Health, the winter does bring with itself a series of problems that could lead to a type of depression and bipolarity. The disorder called Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) comes and goes with the seasons, typically starting in the late fall and early winter and going away during the spring and summer. The report suggests that people who suffer with this disorder are incapable of regulating their serotonin (hormone affecting emotions) and melatonin (hormone affecting sleep) levels, leaving them more lethargic and depressed with lower levels of energy during the fall and winter seasons.
“I definitely feel lazier in the fall,” says Yenssy Bernasdez while walking down the bridge and sharing a hearty laugh with her friends. “In the spring, people get out to get in shape and everything feels a lot more cheerful. I definitely hang out more with my friends. In the winters we stay in and watch movies and drink beer, but in the spring we like to get out and explore.”
A study recorded with the National Center of Biotechnology Information suggests that the mean prevalence of SAD is two times higher in North America compared to Europe. This makes New Yorkers more prone to seasonal affective mood changes resulting in crankier moods in the fall.
Pritpal Singh, a student at Pace University, agrees that everything to him seems fresher in the spring, “In the winters, it just feel like people are more in a rush, like they are running to catch something. Yes, I am happier in the spring, except Mondays obviously when I have early morning class.”
But Pritpal may or may not agree with how happy New Yorkers really are, “There could be a difference, it may be better in the spring if I think about it now, but New Yorkers are generally neither happy nor friendly,” he says while turning his back towards the bridge, and rejecting all that it has to offer.

Hundreds of students gather to fight back Trump

It is difficult not to let out a tear of joy when you see people all around the world joining hands to support a community that they may not even be a part of. It is even more difficult to not raise your head with pride and in high sprits when you witness tiny fingers holding placards that read, “No hate. No fear. Refugees are welcome here.”
But are Refugees really welcome here?
A report released on February 17 by the PRI suggests that a number of refugees are being smuggled to Canada because “the United States is now a changed nation.” The numbers mostly consists of women and children travelling on foot or in trucks with their bare bodies displaying blue fingers and frostbites. But Canada’s liberal immigration policy is hardly a justification or a relief from President Trump’s regular threats to tighten the immigration policies even further.
In the light of these events, the public has not backed down to show immense support for the immigrant and refugee community.
After the success of the Women’s March and the Immigrant protests worldwide, student organizers came upfront earlier this month to challenge the controversial executive decision preventing immigrants from seven countries to enter the United States.
Donald Trump’s presidency may have generated fear and concern but it has also given birth to fighters who stand against “bigotry, hatred and prejudice.”
This is exactly what Hebh Jamal, 17, a dynamic activist preaches and practices. Through her tireless effort and persistence, Jamal, along with Carlene Pinto, campaign manager NY Immigration Coalition, successfully pulled out a walkout with hundreds of New York City students. Jamal’s school, Beacon High School, witnessed the largest turnout of over 200 students.
“Obviously my school is not going to support students walking out, but at the same time we as students don’t necessarily need to care with whether or not the school agrees,” Jamal said. “We have to think about the risk factor. We have to think about how we can thrive and win.”
Pinto agreed, as she mentioned that this was the first time that students were being pulled out of school. She first became an activist about 10 years ago when she was called a “stic” in college, a derogatory term used for Latinos. Her active participation and encouragement added to the Protest’s huge turnout.
The protest held on February 7th at Foley Square was also co-sponsored by the New York Immigration Coalition, the Arab American Association of New York, and MPower Change. Around 25 schools and colleges with a count of more than five students each participated in the event.
“Protests become more important when NYC students do this. What happens here catches fire everywhere. We need to keep the pressure up,” Pinto said.
Unmoved by rain or cold, the students at the rally chanted, “Donald Trump go away! Racist. Sexist. Anti-Gay,” and “Show me what democracy looks like. This is what democracy looks like.”
A student present at the rally, Aaron Boockvar-Klein, 17, from Bard High School Early College in Queens explained how the President would be affected by these protests. “Trump personally gets riled by any shot at his popularity and these protests are in direct opposition to how he wants to be seen by others and himself,” he said.
Another student, Rehnuma Kabir, 17, also from Bard, talked about appreciating differences and moving past it. “Sometimes people say that they are color blind and they don’t see color but that is just brushing it under the carpet. Recognizing differences and celebrating it should be the right way.”
Jamal singing a chant by the Peace Poets commenced the move from Foley Square. The crowd merrily sang along the lines “Oye mi gente, traemos la fuerza. La libertad es mi única bandera. Rise up my people. My condors, my eagles. No human being will ever be illegal.”
It has never been more important to participate in these protests and to be aware of what’s happening around the city. For the same reason and more, two NYU students, Arsh Harjani (Tisch ’18) and Sara Nason (Gallatin ’18), co created an app called ResistX which is an SMS and email service designed to update New Yorkers with ongoing protests everyday.
Your participation is important. Our participation is important. Saving the refugees is important and keeping the immigration community from dissolving is important. They need to hear this one line more than anything, “No human being will ever be illegal.”

Trump’s immigration policy brings reactions of all types

Social media has now become a breeding ground for voicing public opinions and a platform to callout for support. What started as a ripple on Facebook soon sent tremendous currents throughout New York, and throughout the country. On February 17th protestors observed what they called “A day without immigrants,” by skipping work and missing school to display their aggravation of President Trump’s crack down on immigration, both legal and illegal.
The protest gained momentum in various cities across the United States where immigrants with and without legal identities participated in the mass boycott.
Philadelphia’s Italian Market shut its doors on Thursday while Halal Carts, food trucks and coffee shops in Boston; Chicago, Los Angeles and Texas hosted no customers. Fine dining restaurants in San Francisco and the New York Region remained closed for the day. Restaurants Chains such as Blue Ribbons and Frankies 457 Spuntino were closed throughout New York City. While the number of protesters quickly escalated a definite figure could not be obtained.
A New York City Immigration Lawyer, Aygul Charles believes that the President’s arguments can have long lasting implications.
“I think that our President’s words are very harmful to the immigrant community. I think it’s harmful to the world order,” she said.
Charles who is an immigrant herself notes that people are more terrified now and are running into anxiety, when she says, “People are going up to Canada and seeking asylum there. They are travelling from the United States to Canada because they are deciding that given their faith and their nationality, they are not welcome here.”
According to Office of New York State Controller, Immigrants make up more than half of all New Yorkers serving as nursing, psychiatric and home health aides; maids and housekeeping cleaners; and taxi drivers and chauffeurs. They also account for thirty percent of the State’s accountants and auditors; construction laborers; childcare workers; cooks; waiters and waitresses; and janitors and building cleaners.
One such immigrant, Georgia Lale, a Greek visual artist who came to the city two years ago chose not to participate in the protest because as a social activist she shows her support in different ways.
“Immigrants pretty much fall under the same category as refugees because they come here seeking a better quality of life too: to educate themselves, to fend for their family, to fend for their kids. For me its part of human rights,” Lale comments.
Lale’s latest project is a video she posted on the day of the Presidential inauguration where she is wearing a heat blanket she designed, in the form of a hijab, taking the people’s oath and swearing to protect Muslim rights.
But while the protest attracted hundreds of immigrants who thought that their rights were being denied others did not shy away from ridiculing the cause.
Scot Nesbihal, 56, from New Jersey said he did not believe these protests could have any implications and said, “I’m all for the wall and ban on immigrants from certain countries. We live in a very dangerous world and there are people who will cut your head off as soon as they look at you.”
No matter what side of this conflict you reside on, heat is definitely rising and people are ready to fight for what they believe in.


Photographer: Tarishi Gupta (

Falling in love with oneself isn’t easy. You know your own flaws and imperfections and to give a damaged human being that kind of unconditional love requires a lot of patience and dedication; it requires trust.

We often don’t trust ourselves with a lot of things. I don’t trust that I can ever get an A in my statistics class. I think I am incapable of achieving that score. And if I think I am incapable, I will never be capable. I don’t necessarily trust myself to be the most satisfied human being and hence I will simply never be one.

There is no hard learned formula for falling in love, sometimes you might not even realize but you may have fallen head over heels with someone already. But falling in love with yourself requires a guidebook; a guidebook with one simple rule that quite bluntly states, “In order to love yourself, you must behave in ways that you admire (Irving Yalom).”

Everyone visualises an ideal self and the closer you are to your ideal self, the more likely you are to appreciate yourself. My ideal self is an extremely selfless human being: a 10 on a scale of 1 to 10 but I might only be 7 as of yet. And in order for me to love myself in the purest form, I have to strive to be the 10.

Everywhere everyone around you is searching for this ideal self, not in themselves but in others. Often when we don’t love ourselves enough, we go looking for someone else to love us and show us our best selves. Often we come across people hoping they would fill up the void in our lives. And this very void that we are so desperate to fill, makes us feel vulnerable and naked.

Love for me is beyond any measure of lust or beauty. Love is what comforts you just by the thought of it. There is love in friendship and there is love in honesty. However, the brutality of love is that it ruins you. But philautia (self love) unlike any other kind of love, always uplifts you.

I have loved and lost. And I feel so scared that I’m never going to feel that way again. I am relentlessly looking for love while I’m also subconsciously waiting for it to knock on my door as a surprise.

But instead of waiting in distress, it is time I provide myself with what I am desperately searching for.

As college students we almost always fall prey to conversations that involve friends almost always talking about the people they are dating. You suddenly become the “other” when you feel alienated. You suddenly become the “other” when everyone around you is either falling in or out of love. The college environment exerts a certain pressure on you where you feel compelled to give in to what everyone else seems to be doing. If anything, you resort to Tinder or Bumble.

So stop dating that guy who abused you. Stop looking for love on websites where commitment phobics look for hook up buddies. Stop hanging around with someone who makes you his side chick.

Identify the things you love about him. List it on a sticky note. Hang it on your mirror. This will remind you that these are the qualities you adore. These are the things that you should train yourself to excel in.

When you stop looking for them in others, you will start looking for them inside you. There is no harm in being old school and waiting for love to come to you instead of trying to find it at a bar or club. Halt. Don’t rush.

We have a long way to go, many paths of life are yet to be discovered so live on with the hope of every path taking you to a better destination each time. We have big dreams, big enough to scare us. But only with belief and trust, will these dreams become realities.

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Photographer: Tarishi Gupta (

“I prayed for the city to be cleared of people, for the gift of being alone,  a-l-o-n-e: which is the one New Yorker prayer that rarely gets lost or delayed in channels, and in no time at all, everything I touched turned to solid loneliness.” J.D. Salinger

New York can be though on you but NYU could be a lot tougher. If you come from anywhere around Asia or the countryside, you would know that nosy neighbors are bats that gained bad reputation arising from the folklore that ties them to vampires and Dracula. In terms of usefulness, bats are prime agents of pollination and seed dispersal. Often devalued, most bats are not blood sucking creatures but a friend to the mankind: killing insects those of whom are threats.

Nosy neighbours are skilled at dispersing gossip. But drifting away from the reputation of gossipy housewives in their mid-forties, neighbors drop your kids, bring you food, help you when you are locked out or when you run out of sugar.

In New York, you don’t speak to your neighbors, it’s an unspoken ground rule that everyone seems to abide by. You don’t greet them. You don’t know them. It isn’t uncommon to live in your dorm room without speaking to your suite mates for days.

Elevators give you stress and phones without signals are awkward getaways. More than anywhere in the world, New York is where you most need a friend.

My classmate, Aerin Reed comes from a small town known as Eastern Connecticut where the only revolutionary thing that has happened in the last few years is the renovation of the Eastern Village Store. Moms and gossips and hitting deer accidentally are as much a part of her childhood vicinity as are bagels, frowns and subway horrors in New York.

“My town has a thousand people more than NYU’s graduating class,” Reed said while describing her transition from a traditional small town to the city that is overly crowded even on Sundays.

Unlike her friends and classmates, Reed never dreamed of studying in a traditional campus setting, which made NYU one of her first choices. “I remember walking down the road after welcome week and thinking I do not know anyone on the street,” quite unlike the million recognizable faces she would encounter while driving a car in the part of the world which she calls “home.”

At this exact moment what she would have missed is a friend. At this exact moment she needed the kind of love Greeks call “philia.”

Philia was first used by the Greek philosopher Aristotle, who defined it as brotherly love or love shared by friends. The English language does not have a separate word for what Aristotle believed to be unconditional and pure i.e. “with good reason,” so we shall do what we always do: follow the path lead by Greeks.

New York Times columnist Frank Bruni recently wrote a column titled, “The Real Campus Scourge,” which discusses the overwhelming theme of loneliness in a campus setting. “In a survey of nearly 28,000 students on 51 campuses by the American College Health Association last year, more than 60 percent said that they had “felt very lonely” in the previous 12 months. Nearly 30 percent said that they had felt that way in the previous two weeks,” he wrote. All these folks deprived of Philia.

In New York, everything is always on the extreme as is this feeling of loneliness. No amount of Rainbow themed Starbucks or insta worthy cookie doughs can fill the void that only friendship can fill. But my dearest, you are not alone in this. New York has that power over you but you have something that the city lacks: the option to halt, start over and rebuild.

Text your freshman year roommate.

Don’t let Netflix govern your life.

Talk to the person sitting right next to you, chances are she feels the same way.

Log off Instagram.

Remember, loneliness is a feeling that is temporary; It is not a lifestyle.

Don’t just make acquaintances. Get to know them. Turn them into your friends.

Most of all, remember to let go of whatever is holding you back: fear, shyness, insecurity, rationale, over possessive boyfriend and then you will learn to live. You need a friend and so does the person next to you. All you need is that one wide smile.

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New York, I love you

The View of the Manhattan Skyline from the Staten Island Ferry


“I know my New York City by heart,” she screamed over the phone; sliding her fingers between her black curls with a force that lead me to believe, she could at any moment, rip them apart. Rest assured, she didn’t hurt herself at any point but stood up, took deep breaths and walked towards the observation deck. I wouldn’t have done otherwise.

She may be gazing at the ripples or rejoicing at the sight of Staten Island from afar, breathing in the silence of the chaos. Whatever she may have chosen, wherever she was headed, her sudden declaration of authority, self-declaration of possession of the city, made me wonder how much of it was mine if all of it weren’t hers.

And then I remembered that each person makes her own New York. The 70,000 passengers that the Staten Island Ferry carries everyday make their own New York. The 60 million tourists that come flocking into the city live and relive the fantasy that is New York. And no matter how different your New York is from mine, we are all united, in the exact moment when someone utters the word, “New Yorker.”

I have been living in Manhattan for about three years now but had never been able to get myself to take the Staten Island ferry – the only form of free transportation in New York that runs around the clock – or explore even a little bit of Staten Island, the “forgotten borough.” But when I did, there was nothing like coming back home, to my Manhattan.

I am quite a frequent traveller and the same annoying economy class passenger you might encounter every now and then, who continues to fight for her right to occupy the window seat, even before standing in line for the check-in counter.

Yet, I had never gotten weary of staring out of the window, waiting for New York to approach me, or maybe reject me. With New York, you never know, you can never be sure. But today the sight I witnessed, I had never seen before.

Traveling in an airplane or in a subway is quite unlike traveling in the Staten Island Ferry: the struggle, the wars, the history, you see all of it looming over the sea. And then you see the Liberty. “It is gorgeous,” says the middle aged-woman from Texas.


The Commuter’s free pass


It indeed is, for her and for thousands of tourists like her who visit everyday quite easily seduced and compelled by the city’s charisma. For immigrants like me, it is what New York is: a symbol of hope: an open invitation that reminds me that I can mold it, make it my own.

I have never had a bad narrative to offer after moving to New York. I have been catcalled, yes. I have had mice problem in my house, yes. I have waited for the subway for more than 20 minutes, yes. I avoid Times Square, yes. I think I should move to LA, get a car and a big house, yes. But does that ever make me love New York any less? NO. “It’s a bitter sweet love affair,” my classmate had said.

And the fact that she called it an affair instead of a melancholy one-sided love story, tells me she knew the city loved her back. Just like I do and just like the millions of others who come to the city and engage in an ever lasting love affair.

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How Georgia Lale Is Confronting Xenophobia With Art

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An NYC-based Greek visual artist is using the human body to convey exactly what human beings lack today: empathy.

It wasn’t until #orangevest went viral that Georgia Lale’s work received recognition. The 28-year-old Greek artist swam through New York City streets wearing an orange vest with black clothes underneath it: the vest symbolized hope for refugees trying to reach European borders and the black clothes honored the lives lost to the Aegean Sea.

Her first solo intervention took place at the Metropolitan Museum of the Art. Wearing the orange life vest, Lale walked from the museum’s Syrian-Arab galleries to the Greek galleries. The second performance was at Times Square where people mostly ignored her presence on the streets.

But it is normal to ignore what makes one feel uncomfortable, and every sensation generates attention and, later on, reflection.

Lale, who had come to the city in 2014, pursued her master’s degree at the School of Visual Arts and documents Refugee crises ever since. One of her recent projects is called “Emergence” and is a statement on the uprising of xenophobia and racism against Muslim refugees, immigrants, and USA citizens.

What influenced your decision to move away from Greece?

It was my dream to come to NYC and establish a career here. I decided to leave Greece even though I was doing pretty well with my career but the community was too small; I couldn’t expand and I wanted to speak out louder to a bigger audience. I needed more like a multi-cultural audience and that wasn’t so easy to find in Greece. After the financial crisis, things were getting more and more difficult not just for visual artists but also for everybody. My projects only really gained a status after I shifted to NYC.

How did #orangevest come about?

Initially, these performances were solo and I had no support. But it soon gained momentum when other artists came forward to join the cause. The performance was based on the usage of public spaces in the city and attempted to create an aesthetic balance between a protest and work of art.

The performers did not disturb everyday public routines: they were simply present and quiet. They spoke to the people around them only if they were questioned about the nature of the performance.

I think social media really played an important role in the popularity the performance gained. The outreach was great since #orangevest was performed in New York City, Washington D.C, Philidelphia, and Brussels. I was later invited as guest speaker at a panel discussion in Yale where I spoke about the role of an artist in the changing era.

How has your personal life influenced your artwork?

My great grandmother had to flee from Turkey with her six kids during the war that broke out between Turkey and Greece. She gave birth to the youngest one on the boat itself! Her husband had to dress as an old lady in order to avoid labor camps the men were forced into. Two of the youngest kids died due to lack of aid and austerity.

My grandfather came with his mother and the rest of the siblings at the age of five, and after he died, we figured that he was actually circumcised, so he was probably an adopted child of a Muslim family. We also found some adoption papers later on. I have the feeling sometimes that I might have some lost roots here and this makes me feel closer to the Muslim and the refugee community. There are a lot of misconceptions about what being a Muslim is and I want to familiarize myself with their culture.

How would you describe the daily routine of an artist?

As an artist, I don’t have free time. I’m always thinking about my art. I consider everything that I do as work. If I need a break, I would go shopping or go out for dinner. My ideal day consists of: work at the studio, reading, watching the news, spending time with my husband and going to an art show or at the movies. I love being by myself at the studio but I also enjoy socializing. I spend most of my time with people that are not directly related with the art world and I’m speaking with strangers all the time. I like to hear what the have to say and learn from them and their experience of life.

So how does Europe and America go hand-in-hand in your artworks?

Americans don’t really understand how privileged they are. As a Greek artist based in NYC, I am always trying to find a balance between Europe and America and create a cultural mix or establish some kind of intersection. Europe is going through a financial and a refugee crisis. We also have a Neo-nazi party in Greece and they are protesting outside schools were refugee kids are going to learn Greek and participate in other programs. I am really sad to see this and this is not just happening in Greece but all over.

At the conference in Yale, politicians and policy makers were advising upcoming politicians in Europe to base their campaigns not on facts but on emotions after the presidential election results in America. You see everything is changing and everything is connected.

What is your next project about?

My last piece is called Emergence and is a statement on the uprising of xenophobia and racism against Muslim refugees, immigrants and USA citizens. I’m very sensitive when it comes to cultural identities and the human rights of freedom of speech and of expression of beliefs. No one must ever feel that they need to hide his/her cultural identity or religion beliefs in order to be accepted by the society.

Where do you see yourself in five years from now?

I can’t tell you where I see myself in five years. What I can tell you for sure is what I will be expressing through my art: our times. Art can be more effective at conveying a message than a news report since we have become desensitized to images and statistics of tragedy. And that is why I would never stop producing art.

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