Ari is an Outlier, a budding linguist, endlessly thrilled by the intricate puzzles of language and coding – among other things! 

Hi Ari! Introduce yourself in three sentences; as you would to a stranger at a party.

Hey! I’m Ari, a language nerd otherwise enthusiastic about books, buildings, music, coffee, cats, pasta, museums, cafés, photos, and…  Well, I hope you don’t hate lists! (Please don’t imagine that I would actually do this at a party, no!) 

 

If we were to visit your city for the first time, what’s the one place we should visit that we wouldn’t find in a guide book? 

I am dying to find out for myself! I moved to Berlin in the depths of the pandemic, and haven’t really had the chance to discover its haunts and happy spaces. For now, what makes it feel like home is how active and bustling the academic community here is, particularly in my field – it feels like I have arrived, like this is exactly where I will blossom. 

Additionally, this is my partner’s hometown – all the stories he has to tell about every little Ecke in Berlin infuse a lot of homeliness into this city that I have yet to plant my own experiences in.

I’m going to name places from where I grew up and from where I’ve lived before the pandemic instead:

In Goa, go get a breakfast of ‘Ross Omelette’ from Saligao Deck in a pretty suburb north of the capital. You might pass some quiet, winding lanes lined with beautiful old Portuguese houses. Then come to Panjim and line up for a Fish Thali at Ritz Classic, like any respectable guidebook should tell you to. For peckish evenings head to the grimy-looking D’Silva’s opposite the Miramar beach and ask for their Cutlet Pao. Please avoid that beach, though! Goa is full of far nicer beaches, this one is where we dump all the tourists. You’re obviously special.

Oh, and visit over Christmas to grab all the amazing ‘Bebinca’. Viva Panjim has some of the best in town! I am sorely missing all the food; it is quite obvious, is it not?

In Tokyo, the colourful and funky neighbourhood of Shimokitazawa hides some of the coolest vintage and second-hand stores, as well as many weird bars and unusual cafés. There was even a little ‘British’ pub that had stand-up comedy evenings, in English – a rare find! 

In Porto, something people might not know is that there’s a cute little colony of cats near the Ponte Dom Luis. It’s an absolute blast to visit.

And in Oxford, go visit Freud, a homey pub housed in an abandoned church – a wonderful site that I didn’t get to haunt nearly as often as I’d have liked to. This isn’t at all unknown, though – I doubt any public space is, in a tiny town like Ox! 

 

Reflecting on your past; what are the key moments or breakthroughs that define your life journey so far.

Moving out of home to go to Japan when I was 19. What followed that leg-cramping flight from Delhi to Tokyo felt like a brand new life. Finding my way and breaking out fresh little wings of independence in a place with so much *newness* to its name was indeed seismic for my confidence and my curiosity about the world. It was also great to break free of the Ari that people had known before, and that was kind of addictive – this was the first of four consecutive yearly moves; Berlin is the first place I’ve moved to that I’m not planning to rush out of very soon! 

In 2019, I went to Oxford for a masters degree and learnt so much more than my subject. It was a banner year in terms of figuring out (just a wee bit) where the divide between my self and my narrative lies, what kind of a person I want to be, how I work best and what environment I thrive in… And that’s where I found the love of my life! That in itself was a catalyst for innumerable positive metamorphoses, as such things tend to be.

 

You are more than your job title… tell us about your side hustles, wildest dreams or vision for the future.

If I’m honest, apart from discovering how humans use language, I have a ‘vision’ of just being able to bathe in leisure often. To read more books that are not for work, to visit galleries, to watch new films… I don’t quite want to go through life without having had much time for these admittedly important things. I’d love to always have the choice to dive deep into my work, but to not *have to* remain in that state of perpetual motion. I have no craving for riches beyond what gives me the ability to do this: to have time for life now and then. And, to go even wilder, I fondly envision a world where everyone has this precious ability to do what they love as well as to have time to smell the flowers :).

Side hustles? I do speak a handful of languages (8) to varying degrees, and I really really want to sneak in the time to polish the ones that are getting rusty and attain a comfortable level in the ones that I’ve just started out with. And *if* my brain manages to handle that, maaaybe I can try to hit 10 within this lifetime? (That’s still a really small number if you think about how many of these there are; and how every one of them is insanely cool and how it’s almost unfair that there exist so unfathomably many intricate worlds of words out there that we have no access to…)

Anyway, an actual side-thing might be that I like taking pictures, mostly of city stuff with pretty structures and people among them (although I haven’t done much of it recently), and I hope to get better at it! I’m also into making pencil sketches of buildings and I have a tiny hope balled up in the corner of my mind that I might one day teach myself something about architecture, simply because building-watching gives me so much joy! Tadao Ando is my favourite architect – he’s making magical, sublime things with concrete and everyone *must* check it out! (I fully recommend a trip to this teensy island called Naoshima in Japan.) Oh, and he used to be a boxer, who taught himself architecture ;).

I’m realising that all of these classify as *extremely* wild dreams, but why not!

 

Give us a peek into your everyday life; what inspires and motivates you to do what you do?

Learning new things is a means and an end all by itself. That curiosity seems to be my biggest fuel. 

That said, it is definitely far from easy for me to get going in the mornings! I’m still trying to find the rituals that help me have a better day – I discovered yoga this year and it’s helping me get my body to feel a little more like it should at my age. And, of course, the joy of brewing some freshly-ground coffee in a pretty cafe never really fades!

 

If you could ask The Sense Network to help you to change one thing in the world for the better, what would you change and why?

My wish happens to be about something that The Sense Network is already lending a hand with. Idea bubbles. Academics in their own silos, businesspeople in their own networks, creatives in their own clouds… we are all so over-specialised and under-connected, our chances to relate and collaborate openly with the wider community seem to diminish by the day. I hope for that to change, and for us to have meaningful conversations with all sorts of humans. You guys are definitely on it!


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Inspiration from you to us

Watch this: Alain de Botton on Emotional Education 

Read this: 

  • For the head: ‘Humankind: A Hopeful History’ by Rutger Bregman; ‘The Tyranny of Merit’ by Michael Sandel. 
  • For the heart: ‘Americanah’ by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie; ‘Kafka on the Shore’ by Haruki Murakami. 
  • … and for everything else: The Myth of Sisyphus, by Albert Camus.

Listen to this:

Planet of New Orleans, IMO the best of Dire Straits’ work. . And Pink Floyd’s ‘Hey You’ (well, and everything else too, but that one wins. Absolute Gods!)  And Funkadelic’s ‘Maggot Brain’. Frusciante’s ‘Before the Beginning’ (or just go for the whole Empyrean album, it’s magical!) Island’s ‘Lyra’. The Barr Brothers’ ‘You would have to lose your mind.’

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