First, Ravi lost his father in 2008. Then, he lost his best friend in 2010. By 2012, Ravi’s mother was sick and Ravi had a decision to make: either continue down his “toxic” path of partying or make a change to be there for his loved ones.
“I thought my mom might have had cancer. She wasn’t diagnosed yet. So I made a promise at the end of 2012 that if my mom was alright, that I would change my lifestyle,” Ravi said.
After his mom recovered, Ravi set out to visit a friend in California who was eating an organic, plant-based diet. Ravi said he fasted and meditated for months after his trip to California. That trip marked Ravi’s turning point: from a detached father to devoted community member, parent, and founder of a cultural collective called SOLWAVE. Ravi’s story of turning his life around by connecting with culture proves that if one is feeling lost, one can look to where they came from for the strength to move forward.
“Eating plant-based vegan food put me on another vibration where I started getting in touch with my roots. My father was from India and my mom was from the Philippines. So the diet was more aligned, and I started getting into yoga — it was the beginning of getting reconnected,” Ravi said.
When Ravi returned home to Queens, he moved into a new apartment, continued eating plant-based, and practiced yoga and meditation often. “That [trip] woke something up in me. Something clicked and I realized certain truths around me,” Ravi said. “After that, I kind of went on a mission for a couple of years where I didn’t watch TV. I just read a lot of books and watched a lot of documentaries. I was doing a lot of yoga. It was a quest to get in tune with myself and my spirit.”
Ravi said that he was unpacking certain ways of doing things. He began to wonder, “Why do I drink liquor? Why do I eat the way I eat?” amongst other thoughts.
Some of his questions connected back to his identity: “Because I’m half Indian and half Filipino, I’ve always been kind of in the middle of things. Because of that, my path leads me to question the norms.”
Yoga has helped Ravi recenter himself and strengthen his connection to his father’s culture. Another large part of Ravi’s journey has been strengthening his relationships with his children. “I’m a parent of four, you know. My son is 15, and my daughters are 13, 11, and five,” Ravi said.
Ravi began to take his daughters to the beach often, and started to teach them how to surf. He and his son now run marathons together. “Last week we did a 5k [run] and two weeks before that we did a five mile run,” he said.
Ravi can even get his kids to do yoga with him on a good day. He encourages them to connect with their culture to recenter themselves just as he has.
Now, Ravi is building community through SOLWAVE, a collective he co-founded that promotes healing, food, and art in New York. “It’s a play on duality as far as sol being the sun and wave being the water. They are two opposing forces. But they’re one in the same — and you’ve got to appreciate the light in the dark.”
As Ravi’s journey continues on, he faces challenges like parenting during the pandemic and in the age of social media. But just as he had hope at the end of 2012, he has the same pervasive hope to build a stronger, well-rooted community for his children.