What’s your favorite memory from CPS?
“Freshman year, spirit week, I think. I remember the whole thing with the freshman dodgeball team, us coming in. We didn’t really know each other going into spirit week and I think that it was a great opportunity for us to bond over our dodgeball team doing so well. I remember vividly having so much fun with my friends. We were all in the gym, we were all dressed in purple–I think that was the start of us finding ourselves as a grade and building community. Spirit week has been a highlight for our grade for almost the whole four years. So I think that was a great way to realize, like, this is the place I want to be. I think that’s when I kind of realized I really love College Prep, and I had a lot of fun, too.”
Who’s the most influential person in your life?
“Influential person in my life… probably….” (laughs) “my sister’s pointing at herself right now! I’m going to talk about my sister, and not just because she’s pointing at herself! I think… not just because she gives me music references and stuff, and, like, keeps me up to date in pop culture, but especially now during quarantine we spend a lot of time together. She’s a big influence on how I act around the house and how much fun I have and all of that. So I think having her as one of my best friends is really cool, especially in these times.”
Do you have any pets?
Have you ever had any pets?
“No. I’ve never had a pet, it’s just me and my sister.”
What are you most proud of?
“I guess… being able to find my people at CPS. Coming to CPS, I was really unsure about how I was going to fit in. I came from overseas and it was really nerve-wracking to start at a new high school but also be in a new country. So I’m just proud of the fact that I was able to find my group of people and now, at least in this last semester, I feel really close with the people I talk to the most, the people I hang out with a lot. So I’m proud of finding a tight group of friends and finding people I love being around.”
What is something you want to leave behind at CPS?
“Can I come back to that?” (later) “So the one thing I’d leave behind is… maybe just… my one message would just be ‘be you.’ I’m really tall and I’ve had this whole thing throughout my life of, like, playing basketball or not. I enjoy it but I don’t really enjoy it as much as I love tennis. I’ve kind of struggled with that throughout all of high school. I really wanted to play on the team at times, just because I didn’t want to let my friends down, but then at the same time I didn’t really enjoy it as much as tennis. So I guess just staying true to yourself and really being okay with being different.”
What’s a story you tell that no one believes?
“Okay, I’m gonna go back to the ‘one thing I’ll leave behind’ and then I’ll come back to this one.” (later) “Now, back to the story! I’m trying to think if I’ve had an encounter with a famous person, or something, or if something funny has happened… oh! Okay. So, Kabir, his dad, my dad and me–so it was the four of us–we went to England last summer. We were planning to watch the cricket world cup in England. We were driving to the hotel where we were staying and we looked out the window and [we saw] the captain of the Indian national cricket team–he’s the equivalent to the prime minister in India, he’s one of the most famous people out there. We saw him standing on a field with his girlfriend, like, on a golf course, just walking. Me and Kabir were in the car and then we turned and I’m like “Is that–” and he’s like “That is!” and then we just start yelling and the car jumps and then he starts laughing at us, so we actually see him. And then we’re yelling at our dads to stop the car so we can go say hello, but then he walked away so then we end up sticking around in the area. He’s on a walk with his girlfriend so he ends up walking back and then there was this whole debate that we had, like ‘do we go up to him, but then he might call the security guards,’ but we really wanted to talk to him. We just stayed patient and where we were and we really wanted to get a photo with him. And then he started coming toward us and we got super excited and we were both really nervous and then we started talking to him. It was this surreal moment because he looked exactly like he did on TV. And then we started talking, like, ‘Can we get an autograph, can we have a picture with you? We’re really big fans!’ He was like, ‘Oh, no pictures near the hotel,’ so we were gutted. But we got a chance to see one of the most famous people in India, so that was really cool. It was just such a coincidence that he came back. I don’t think he expected us to still be standing there, but we wanted that picture! We still got to meet him though, which was pretty epic.”
What’s your favorite place in the world?
“A tennis court. Like, regardless of where it is, I’d pick a tennis court. I don’t know, I just love playing tennis, so, regardless of where I am, being on a tennis court is just calming for me. I just feel really free. It’s an individual sport, so it’s time for me to think and be by myself, but at the same time you’re playing with other people… I have a lot of memories growing up of making friends that way–through tennis camps and stuff. Yeah, it’s also just a place for me to decompress and relax and just not let my mind do a lot of work and just be in my body. And maybe like in terms of physical city places… My family got to take a trip to New Zealand which was super cool. That’s for sure one of my favorite places. It’s just super beautiful there. We went to Queensland in New Zealand, which is the most beautiful city that I’ve visited when traveling. That was awesome.”
What’s your favorite book of all time?
“I’m probably going to have to go with Harry Potter. I don’t know, I read it first in elementary school and then I got super hooked on it. I read all the movies and everything and I’ve been a super big fan throughout. I’ve read lots of books but whenever I’m in English class and I have to come up with an analogy it always goes back to Harry Potter. In that series, my favorite book was the Goblet of Fire, when they had the whole competition with the other schools. That book was really… I remember reading that in a day or two because it was just so good. Back then I was more of a plot junky, so I really enjoyed fast-moving plots. So that’s what it was, I think. I think in terms of movies, I think the climax to the story… I like the Deathly Hallows movies, too. But I think the Goblet of Fire movie didn’t do justice to how good the book was.”
If I asked you at age 5 what you wanted to be when you grew up, what would you say?
“Pro tennis player, I guess? But that’s changed! Now, I think it’s a teacher. I just have been really inspired by CPS and teachers I’ve had. I like just being in the classroom in general. Being in physical school is one of the most fun things I do in my life so I just want to stay in that environment. [I’d teach] maybe math. But I guess that’s TBD. I’m just more excited about teaching in general.”
What’s something you want to do before you graduate college?
“Oh! Climb a mountain! Just a mountain that’s, like, not in the US. I’m really inspired by a lot of climbing books of people who do these really crazy things, like that guy who free-soloed that cliff in Yosemite without any harness or anything. I would definitely want to do some adventure like that with my friends. I feel like that’d be really fun and inspiring.”
What’s your biggest regret from your time at CPS?
“Not spending enough time outside. I think I spent more and more time outside as I progressed through high school but in the first couple of years I used to spend a lot of time relaxing inside but I also realized you can relax outside really well and it’s often more relaxing than, watching a movie or a TV show or scrolling through Instagram. I wish I had spent more time outside. At the current moment [being outside] is just a break from the screen and everything. My intraterm was hiking at Mount Tam and I just started to really enjoy hiking. I’ve always liked being outside; I just need to push myself to get out and then I enjoy it more. I’m more relaxed outside after I’ve exercised than I am after watching an episode of TV.”
Who’s your favorite musical artist?
“I mean, as a group, Imagine Dragons. As a musical artist… Drake, I don’t know! But Imagine Dragons for sure. [My sister] was just looking at me when I said Drake because we both listen to a lot of Drake.”
What’s a skill you wish you could have?
“Being able to speak lots and lots and lots of languages. I just feel like I’d be able to… like when I travel sometimes, if I were able to go to a new country I would want to be able to speak to the people of that country in their language, you know? I feel like, if we’re speaking in their language you can get a better feeling of where you are and you feel more connected to the place. It also just means you can talk to more people in the world and be able to make more friends with more people. That’s just appealing to me, I guess. Right now [I speak] English and then I speak Chinese, so those two. But I want to learn my mother tongue, Hindi. Maybe Spanish after that? I don’t know. Colleges have really big language departments so apparently there are these courses where you can learn a language in a year. So four years could mean four languages. Who knows!”
If there is one thing that you think everyone should know about you, what would it be?
“Maybe like, school is one of my favorite places to be. Like, if someone were to give me the option on a given day to either like do whatever I want or go to school I’d rather go to school. So I guess that’s something that summarizes me.”
Bonus topic about Om’s transition from his school in Singapore to CPS:
“I lived in Singapore from fifth grade to eighth grade. Then, after the spring semester of eighth grade, I left Singapore with my family and came here. So I was born in the US, I was born in Berkeley, and I went to Doris-Eaton before I went to Singapore. So I already lived here… the house we’re in [now] is the house we were in before. What I found different… I guess maybe… everything is so spread out here compared to Asia. Or, I guess in Singapore it’s so much harder to go places. That was frustrating at first because I didn’t know how to drive, so it did take a lot of time to go from home to school but anywhere else I wanted to go… my friends were living so far away from me, and I wasn’t used to that. [Both CPS and my school in Singapore] were really awesome schools. They both had really strong communities and everyone was super nice and welcoming. I guess [the one in Singapore] was a K-12 school, so it was really big, it had like 3,000 kids. Our school has like 300, so that was an adjustment, I guess. Being in a big, big school and then coming to a smaller school–I guess you get to know more people and you get to get a better sense of the community. But, at the bigger school, I didn’t know as many people and it felt really disorienting at times, especially as a younger kid. But now, I think being at a smaller school has a lot of advantages in terms of being able to meet with your teachers and being able to meet more people in your grade and all of that.”