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How Bhangra Ruined My Life, Part 3 of 3 March 3, 2009

Posted by sikhsubculture in Bhangra.

Real Life Stories

I went back to Ohio for Fall Break. I spent every night talking to Preeti on the phone and working on my routine. If we wanted to be competitive for Bhangra Blast, I needed to be ready. My parents were a bit puzzled by my sudden interest in competitive dancing, but I assured them it was a hobby and my grades were up to par. I knew I wasn’t doing that well, but I still had the rest of the semester to improve.

Binni was eager to get ahead of our competition so he asked that we all come back a day early from break. When I got back on campus, I was excited to see everyone again and quickly made my way to Devlin for practice. After catching up with the rest of the team, Binni gathered us to the center. There was another Sardar with him and I wondered who he was. He was tall, muscular and dare I say pretty darn handsome. “Everyone, this is my cousin Ramnik, he just transferred here and I think he would be a great addition to our team” shouted Binni. “Great,” I thought to myself, he seems like he knows his stuff. “If everyone is cool with it, Ramnik is going to practice with us today and if you think he is up to speed, he can join us.”

Saying Ramnik was awesome was an understatement. He was the Tiger Woods of Bhangra. He did things with his body that an Olympic gymnast would be jealous of and all with a smile. Everyone was in awe of his talents and I knew we would win the competition now. After practice I went back to my room, I had some work to do, but I was beat and I could take care of it some other time…

It was now the morning of the competition and I was psyched to go up to Boston. I even started packing my bag early, so that I could go straight from class. When I was about done I got a call from Binni:

“Hey Binni, what’s goin on man?! Ready for tomorrow?”

“Ya, hey yaar I need to talk to you about something.”

“Sure, what’s up?”

“Well I just talked to the other members of the board about Ramnik and they really want him to join the team.”

“That’s great, he is a phenomenal dancer, I’m glad we have him.”

“Ya, well unfortunately if we add someone on the team, we have to take someone out as well. Anyway, we had a vote and well… Ramnik is going to take your spot.”

My heart sank in my chest. He was kicking me off the team!? Already? I had just gotten started, this must be a mistake. Maybe it’s just temporary? I don’t mind riding the bench for a while as long as I have a shot at playing again.

“I’m still on the team though, right?” I replied

“Well, according to the university rules we aren’t allowed to have more than 20 members. Sorry, no hard feelings, ok? You can still come to the competitions!”

“Ya, sure, bye” I muttered out.

I couldn’t believe it , not that I had been kicked off the team (I really wasn’t that good), but that I cared so much. I felt angry, betrayed, sad and a little hopeless. Well, at least I had Preeti I thought to myself, and I’m sure she will protest. She will cheer me up and I can finally put some more effort into my studies. Who wants to be on a dance team anyway? It’s not exactly the coolest thing to tell my buddies back home. I unpacked my bags and went to see if I could catch Preeti before she left. For some reason though she wasn’t picking up her phone and I couldn’t get in touch with her the whole weekend. She must have left her cell phone back at school when she went to Boston, I thought… no big deal. It wasn’t until Monday afternoon when I finally caught up with her as she was coming out of class.

“Preeti, what’s up? Long time no, see!”

“Hey…how are you.”

“I’m ok, so how was Blast? Miss me? Can you believe this Ramnik guy taking my spot like that. Crazy right!”

“Umm… well we did get first place and he is a great dancer. You know competitive bhangra isn’t for everyone.”

“Ahh, ok. Don’t you miss me being on the team?”

“Well, I guess there are only a certain number of spots. You understand, right?”

“Umm, ya, ok. Anyway, let’s get lunch today. I need to get my mind off bhangra.”

“Sorry, we are having a victory lunch at Bombay Palace today, I can’t.”

“Dinner then?”

“I gotta go, I’ll talk to you later though” said Preeti, as she left abruptly.

Preeti and I become more and more distant from then on and it all came to a crashing end when she changed her facebook status to single. I knew it was officially over then. I didn’t bother trying to change things, I knew she would never look at me the same, since I wasn’t on the team. I didn’t really have much else to offer anymore.

I was pretty down at that point and I knew I needed to focus on school now (finals were two weeks way). I had slacked off most of the semester because of my obsession with bhangra. It was the second week of December and I decided to talk to my professor after my organic chemistry lab. I told him that I was angry with myself for not paying enough attention and asked him how well I needed to do on the final to get a decent grade in the class. “Well”, he said, “at this point I think you should drop it and take it again next year or maybe consider another major if you’re not getting this.” Wow, I didn’t expect that at all. I was the best chemistry student back in Ohio. If only Mr. Howard could see me now… he would be so ashamed. Not only was my social life a mess, but my grades were in shambles as well.

To sum up, at the end of my first semester, I had dropped my organic chemistry class and ended up with a whopping 2.1 GPA. Hardly the grades I needed to get into med school, let alone appease my parents. On top of all this, it was time to put my name in for the housing lottery and I didn’t know anyone outside of the Bhangra team (they have all but excommunicated me at this point). I went next door to talk to Adam. We had had a few conversations before; maybe he would want to live with me.

“Hey Adam, what’s up?”

“Hey… how’s it going?”

“Not bad, just getting some work done. What’s going on?”

“Just wanted to say hi and see if you wanted to grab dinner or something”

“Ah, no thanks, I’m fine”

“Oh ok. Well I was wondering if you had any plans for housing next year too?”

“You want to live with me?” said Adam trying to hide the goofy grin on his face, “I don’t even know you!”

I went back to my room with my head down. Had things really gotten this bad? Had a dance form really done this to me? I guess it had. That was when I realized bhangra had officially ruined my life. I was pretty down for a while, and I was not excited about telling my parents just how bad I had done this semester, but at least it was over. I felt like I had been used and abused by the bhangra machine; it picked me up and spit me back out.

Thinking back on my experiences, I can’t say that I didn’t enjoy the attention, the parties and the indescribable feeling of dancing in front of thousands of adoring fans. For a few months, I felt like I was on top of the world. I also don’t regret meeting Preeti, even if she is dating Ramnik now. I’m also grateful that I got out of the game early; not everyone is that lucky. I can still rebuild, there is still hope for me. I will focus on what is important now. I need a respectable GPA, a good group of friends with varied interests and maybe even an internship for the summer. Baby steps though. I think I’ll bring my bicycle up form Ohio after Christmas break…I hear the Bicycling Team needs another person.

Did bhangra ruin your life? Tell us about it at sikhsubculture@gmail.com



1. Punjabi09 - September 13, 2011

Really…? You have got to be kidding me…? YOU let a group of people ruin your own life. NOT bhangra. If you wanted to make a difference, show them that YOU wanted to dance and you had the passion, you should have made an effort to show them that. As far as school goes, you can’t lay blame on bhangra for your failing grades. Thats your responsibility to manage time, school and bhangra. Get your shit together and quit writing these emo/sappy blogs about your life being in shambles… Head up and move on.

2. Wannabe Punjabi - college bhangra dancer - September 13, 2011

You guys, this is a story A LOT of people share. Props to you for sharing your story yo. Where in Ohio are you from? Did you graduate college yet? Good luck on applying to med school and all!

3. R Kaur - January 7, 2010

I agree with Singh, this post seems drenched in self pity and Bhangra is not an excuse for getting bad grades. This character procrastinated when he should have been studying. It was his own fault of not organizing his time correctly and he is blaming BHANGRA? I felt ashamed reading this because this boy cannot even take responsibility for his own actions.

4. 57 - January 5, 2010

You’re an idiot for not being able to handle bhangra and school at the same time. Hundreds of other kids do it 🙂 Try TIME MANAGEMENT

What happened with your team is horrible, but that’s between you and your team–not bhangra itself. Using bhangra as a scapegoat for your pathetic freshman year experience is pretty lame.

5. Seems - May 23, 2009

Singh – you need to chill out. This website is about the LIGHTER side of being a Sikh – i.e. you shouldn’t take anything posted here seriously. It’s all about the humor. Anyone who takes a Bhangra post this seriously needs to get a life. And please stop praising yourself – no one cares if you have an honors GPA.

6. avtar - May 21, 2009

Singh – I am in complete disagreement. I’m an alumnus of a top 10 undergrad institution and I think this article has nothing to do with people being accepted outside the community. I’m not even sure how you got that idea. It’s simply a story of one man’s journey through the bhangra world. His initial hesitancy, obsession and then the process of waking up to reality. I thought it was well written and a great idea for a short story on a blog.

Moreover, the blog clearly states that this is a joke type website. Taking serious inferences from it is clearly the wrong move. There are way too many serious sikh sites out there….this one is actually kind of refreshing…..keep of the good work sikhsubculture.wordpress.com

7. Singh - May 14, 2009

This is the most ridiculous thing I have ever read. Though I don’t discount the experiences of this Singh, the article as a whole constantly makes it seem as if those who are in the bhangra community who are not the author are not committed to school, are not accepting of people outside the community, and egotistical beyond imagination.

Coming from a person who is at a top twenty-ranked undergrad institution who is Sikh, whose team has placed at numerous competitions across north america with an honors GPA, all I see this article as an exercise in self-pity.

8. Kaur - March 20, 2009

I couldn’t have said it better myself.

9. Suresh - March 13, 2009

Kya baat, not everyday is a Sun-day!

10. vejie kaur - March 6, 2009

this vas a very insightful and emotional story. i really connected with the character and this story really moved me. thank you for writing this.

11. Seems - March 5, 2009

i feel so bad for him 😦

12. pradeep junjunwalla - March 5, 2009

i want more!

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