Baristanet Profile: Pooja Bakri

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Name: Pooja Bakri

Where do you live? I live in Montclair

When did you move there? My husband and I moved to Montclair in 2013 from Prospect Heights in Brooklyn when my son was about 3 weeks old.

Where did you grow up? I grew up in Fayetteville, North Carolina but left when I was 16 to attend art school. I moved to Baltimore and then lived in NYC before moving here. Sometimes my southern accent will make an appearance, which always makes me smile.

How do you make a living? OR What is your everyday passion? I am really fortunate that my passion and what I do for a living are one in the same. I am a licensed creative arts therapist with a private practice here in Montclair. Art therapy integrates psychotherapeutic techniques with the creative process – which I’ve found is such a powerful tool in mental health treatment. For as long as I can remember, art has provided me with an outlet to express myself and relay my experiences. I feel very lucky to be able to offer this empowering form of therapy to our community as a way for individuals to overcome challenges and grow.

Coffee, tea or … ? Both. I love a cup of coffee in the morning – but stick to tea the rest of the day. I still have a small tin of my mother’s chai masala, which I mix in now and then. It reminds of my culture, and of home.

What’s your idea of a perfect weekend day? A perfect weekend is just about any that involves exploring and having new experiences with my family. We love to travel, especially little day trips that are an hour or so from home.

What’s your favorite local restaurant? So many choices! I can list a few but I really have so many that I love. Bloom in Verona is excellent, Le Salbuen and Samba are some favorites. I also love the lobster bisque at Jack’s Seafood Shack.

What’s on your nightstand? My nightstand holds a variety of things to help me unplug from the day – which is not always easy! Cooking magazines, Chamomile tea, and aromatherapy oils are usually around. I also keep a journal, pen and pencils so that I can write or sketch at the end of the day. I’ve been reading The Snow Leopard, by Peter Matthiessen and 10% Happier by Dan Harris. I usually have two or three books that I’m reading at the same time.

What are you listening to? I have two young children, so most of my days are filled with the sounds of them singing variations on the likes of Baby Shark and Wheels on the Bus. My 6-year-old has graduated to some Tom Petty, which is a very refreshing change. My husband Rudresh Mahanthappa is a jazz musician, so I always love listening to his music – the old, the new, and the works in progress.

What are your current indulgences? Dark chocolate covered cherries and any kind of sour candy.

What talent you would most like to have? I would really love to be skilled at gardening. I love plants, and although I’m not terrible at it -I’m always in awe of people who can make anything grow. I have a curry tree at home that I’m really proud of, and I’m learning how to take care of orchids…so maybe I’m on my way.

What’s the worst-kept (or best-kept!) secret about Montclair? The many beautiful areas to hike surrounding Montclair. I live close to Mills Reservation, so that’s a favorite. My son and I like to visit the South Mountain Fairy Trail in Millburn. We’ve even built a few fairy houses of our own and added them to the trail. It’s a really magical experience!

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