Mantri to Manhattan

Believe in love. Believe in magic. Hell, believe in Santa Claus. Believe in others. Believe in yourself. Believe in your dreams. If you don’t, who will?
– Jon Bon Jovi 

I remember the first time I watched Bon Jovi’s song ‘It’s my life’ on the television. I was about 6 years old, and I had no clue about what the lyrics meant or why the guy was shouting out random words. But what I did know was there was a guy who wanted to be some place that really mattered to him, and come what may he was going to get there.  I wanted to be that guy; running, climbing over fences, being bold enough to face ten dogs, crossing every hurdle that came my way to reach a destination so worthwhile (Reminder: this post is about dreams, so do not question my ability to over imagine at six)

Here’s a link to reminisce the beauty that is Bon Jovi:

When the song came out, we used to live in a place called Mantri Housing in Pune, India. This house has quite a lot of significance, but here are the top three reasons:

  1. It was the first house that was purchased by my father and his brother
  2. My mother was married into this house
  3. I was born here

Living as a joint family, this home thrived on unconditional love, abundance of laughter, and the freedom to dream big! 

No matter how eccentric or impossible my dreams sounded, my parents would react with the most enthusiastic ‘Can do it!’ attitude. Whether it was getting the barbie doll from Crossword or landing on the moon, my parents never differentiated between which of the two could be achieved, because they both had the same probability. If it weren’t for their immense belief in me and my dreams, I wouldn’t be here typing about how I achieved my biggest one yet.

Let’s fast forward to 2014, when I was pursuing a Bachelor’s in Bangalore. My friends and I used to live in a hostel in an area called Kormangala.  The balcony of our room had quite the view of the city, but also the tip of a building called UB City which is a famous spot for indulging in luxury.

UB City

I am not sure if you see the very acute resemblance that I do, but every time I would see UB City from the comfort of my balcony, I would tell myself that one day, I will be looking at the Empire State.  And ladies and gentlemen, the very same year, this happened:

I was right there, next to this beautiful beast that deserves all the attention that it gets on a daily basis. A lot of people had a role to play in making this possible. My parents, my best friend Sneha and her family, and the Immigration officer. I was here, in the City of Dreams, seeing every rom com come to life, walking in between hustlers and dreamers. I had gotten a taste of New York. It was no more a city for me, it was an emotion. Having explored the city with two of my best friends Sneha and Prerana, my love for the city grew by the minute. If there was one thing I knew by the end of the trip, it was that I would come back for this city, and I would come back to live and not just stay, because the latter would never be enough.

NYC Dreams
Cheers to the Dreamers, Doer’s and Believers. This world is yours to conquer!

After I returned to India, anywhere I lived would always have a piece of New York in it. I would place it in such a way that it would be the first thing I saw when I woke up. Everyone who knows me, knew about my unhealthy obsession with the city. So in 2017, when it was time to apply to colleges for my masters, NYU was on the top of my list. I had believed in it so strongly, for so long that I just knew there was nothing that could stop me.

Except: NYU never processing my application because I had only 15 years of education as opposed to the 16 that I needed. I had been so confident about getting in, that I never realized what the alternative would feel like. There was a lot more to this story, but to give you an idea, it felt like I would never be able to fulfill the dream. As always, my mom came into my room with all her wisdom and said, “you just wait and watch, you won’t be studying there, but you will work there.” I brushed it off thinking ‘Mom, not with the current political situations.’

In November 2018, I had the opportunity to interview with a Boutique Hotel in New York. My close friend from Les Roches had been working there for 6 months already. She is someone that gave me so much to look up to, and the thought of getting a chance to work with her meant a bonus to my big dream!

Héléne was my Pin Buddy at Les Roches (kind of like a mentor) and she has stuck by it ever since she handed me down her pin, guiding me and protecting me!

When I finally interviewed at the Roger Smith Hotel, Helene was more thrilled than I was. She was constantly giving me updates about what was happening and whether I stood a chance, she also played a crucial role in moving my application ahead. Her energy was a major boost for me and I started to believe in my dream again. New York, would it really be possible? So soon? Manifestation works?

But I didn’t want to get too excited about in the fear of jinxing it. But then on December 1st, I was with my Les Roches friends devouring some fondue, when I got the email saying I had been accepted as a Management Trainee at the Roger Smith, the little New York Hotel!


Was this real? 

Till the time I sat on the fight to New York, I refused to believe that it was truly happening. That I was going to be fulfilling my biggest dream.

22nd February 2019, I was welcomed by my new family, full of warmth and happiness (and maybe some tequila) in New York City.

As a group of seven trainees from different parts of the world, we have the opportunity of training at the Roger Smith Hotel for a year, where we learn from industry experts while rotating across different departments to understand the nuances of working in a hotel.

Screen Shot 2019-04-05 at 1.55.26 PM
Mantri to Manhattan, First day of School V. First day of Work. Bag Upgrades, Consistent with the shoes.

Here’s to dreaming, believing and doing!

(And listening to your mom!)






6 thoughts on “Mantri to Manhattan

Add yours

  1. Well written Rachna. You have proved where a combination of determination and dream could take one to. You worked hard and made it. Hats off. Wish you only the very best always. Jk

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks so much Jk Chittappa! As I said, growing up in the environment that you all created for us, allowed us to always dream big! Thank you so much for your encouraging words!


    1. Thank you so much Adu! Lots to learn from you in terms of determination! Thanks for the support, always ❤


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