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Finding Community Over Coffee

Coffeehouse, a semester-ly talent show put on by the Arts and Culture Club, opened my eyes to just how baller my friends are in and out of the classroom.

David Goodchild, one of my classmates in Gold cohort, is a world-class bass player. My roommate Vivi Vasudevan is one of the best nerdy lyrics writers I know. One of my close girlfriends, Laura Fletcher, is a beautiful poetry reader. Graham Browne, last year’s Gold cohort rep and karaoke extraordinaire, is a masterful singer and piano player. And Jess Gallegos, another good friend, is such a good salsa dancer that my face literally stays frozen in awe long after she’s done putting on the moves. And that was just a third of the lineup.

My connection to Coffeehouse started about a month ago. My friend Tanvee stopped me in the hallway and said, “Hey, want to do Coffeehouse?” In typical Divya fashion, I said, “Yeah, sure! Sounds awesome! ... Wait… what is it?” Her response: “I’ve heard it’s the most awesome thing ever. Basically you see how cool all your SOM friends are outside the classroom. You sing, right?” I nodded, and before I could say anything more, she had signed us up for Coffeehouse. Four of us Indian women calling ourselves “Brown Sugar” (our unofficial but purely factual stage name) sat down the next Saturday and brainstormed all our favorite Hindi and classical Indian songs to sing. I don’t know any other way to describe that first practice session than to say it felt like home. As we trilled, improvised, and at times shrieked when the pitch got too high, I realized just how much my classmates, like myself, enjoy doing things other than calculating WACCs and understanding Cournot games. In that moment, recruiting emails, problem sets, and cases weren’t as important as spending time with each other and doing what we loved to do outside the classroom. We practiced a few more times leading up to the big day and told our friends to come watch us sing the songs of our childhood.

It’s a testament to the SOM community that the Beinecke Terrace Room was completely filled that Tuesday night, despite an overwhelming number of final case assignments post-Thanksgiving break and resume drops. The show opened up with SOM’s very own a cappella group singing a few of their choice selections, including an original take on Meghan Trainor’s “All about that Bass”. The lineup then showcased salsa dancing, poetry readings, comedy, a variety of singing acts including our Bollywood medley, and, last but certainly not least, an original rap as well as slam poem by Molly Zeff and a few songs by the SOM band. We laughed, we enjoyed, we sat in awe, we immersed ourselves in different cultures, we sang along, and most of all, we bonded together as a community.

I’ll leave you with selected parts of Molly’s slam poem, It’s Just Dinner, which captures what a wonderfully integrated and diverse community SOM is. As we look to 2015, I hope we can all find love and kindness in our friendships with each other. 

So I hear our communities want to talk about interfaith relations

establish space for dialogue that leads to the creation

of “safe space” forums to share more frustrations, and

find a common bond decrying pol-i-tical manipulation

vent about centuries of psychological castration

and through hours and days of painful conversation

we’ll build world peace

1 safe space at a time

in and between nations

And I might come

because as a Jew

I guess I feel I’m obligated to


No. (shrug shoulders) No!

I’m not coming

I, I’m busy that day

and that week

I’ll be out of town

I have to work that Sunday (look away, embarrassed).....sorry.

What I really mean is,

(take a breath, slow down) Well, what I really want is...tell you what

Let’s just start...with dinner.

Yeah. What I’d really like to do is

have you over for dinner

Play you in soccer and gloat (wry smile, change tone)

when I’m the winner


No, there was nothing accidental, but incidental

an incidental friendship,

like an incidental discovery over dinner

that we both like soccer

so we play

and incidental like having friends over for a game of Taboo

and we laugh so much

that you stay

until 3 - a - m.

and through our jokes and another game night

and parties and tears,

I’m learning I can easily care about you

and it’s gentleness,

not hate or fear

that I feel

it’s incidental like discovering that the Taboo topics are easier

when you discuss them

with a friend!

So that when we finally meet up in dialogue several months in

with a group of your friends and their friends

it doesn’t feel “political”

Because unless we’re all us

(pause) unless we all make time for friendship

and the work it takes

(pause) we’ll just keep hating on the other

(pause) unless we learn what it means to

deeply love

one another

through the mundane moments we create

then nobody

is a winner

and I smile,

and we cry,

when you remind me

it all started

with DINNER.