I was born in November 1996 in Flushing, NY, which is a small and diverse ethnic enclave in the borough of Queens in New York City. I grew up there for a little while. I don’t think I will ever forget the beautiful parks. Flushing is home to around 70,000 people, of which about 70% are of Asian heritage like myself, at least according to the 2010 census.
I attended middle school and high school in Kendall Park, NJ—a relatively quiet neighborhood in suburbia. This part of New Jersey is downright beautiful (Note: only Ithaca is gorges). There is so much greenery and it feels really nice to be surrounded by so much forestry in the Garden State. There are many areas that are designated as “preserved open space”, so a lot of the greenery is pretty much legally required to be there. You can even get in trouble if you cut down trees! They don’t take “The Garden State” lightly…
People often ask what my heritage is after learning my name.
The ethnic origins of my name are from Greater South Asia. In particular, «Chirag» is etymologically derived from the Parsi word
چراغ (Chérāgh), which means “light” or “to enlighten”. «Bharadwaj» is a family name—after Bharadwaja, a great ancient sage who lived in the years following the collapse of the Indus Valley Civilization. Supposedly, I am part of a family that can trace their lineage back to him across many generations. My parents gave me the first name that I have because I was born soon after Diwali, which is a festival of lights. Of course, in Asian cultures, the family name comes first, so historically my name would have been written
भारद्वाज चिराग in Hindustani script.