What’s on your desk: Aliz Toth

A desk can reveal a lot about its owner. For sophomore Aliz Toth, the trinkets scattered on her desk shed light on her interests, hinting at plans for ...

Nov 9, 2013

A desk can reveal a lot about its owner. For sophomore Aliz Toth, the trinkets scattered on her desk shed light on her interests, hinting at plans for her future and memories from her past.
Souvenirs from around the world, given to her by friends, rest next to an old Polaroid camera. A pile of plastic red bracelets sits in a corner of her desk, left over from a Global Issues Network event that Toth was leading. She kept her pass to the F1 races from last week as a memory of a great day. The coffee cup she bought from Nepal is a regular fixture on her desk, Toth said with a laugh.
A rainbow of Post-it notes with to-do reminders is stuck to Toth’s bulletin board alongside a guide to writing a thesis statement and a course selection list for next semester. The class names are a mixture of French and English words; “Paris” is underlined, revealing her study-abroad plans for next semester. Slightly hidden behind the course selection is another list, torn from a yellow legal pad of paper.
“I have a restaurant bucket list,” said Toth, reading out a selection of the names, which range from Lebanese to Chinese to Ethiopian. “When I go out with my friends, I like to look at the bucket list and choose a restaurant where we haven’t been yet.”
She has pinned two tickets to her board — one is for NYU Abu Dhabi’s Diwali celebration, which Toth helped organize. She is involved in the Student Interest Group TASHAN, the Association for South Asian Cultural Understanding, and participated in the event’s dances and set-up. The second ticket is for the upcoming United States of America and Canada Night, which Toth said she looks forward to attending.
“A lot of people think that American and Canadian Night is not really something that new … Because [the culture is] so globalized and everywhere, as opposed to Indian cultural events or African cultural events,” said Toth. “Actually, if I start thinking about what I know about American cultural or Canadian culture — especially Canadian culture — I don’t think I know a lot about it. So it will be interesting to see things you don’t really expect.”
Toth’s bookshelf holds a selection of political science textbooks and a couple of novels from her core classes. The one book that stands out, well-used and placed in front of all the others, is an Indian cookbook.
“I really love cooking,” said Toth. “Last semester, I got really interested in Indian food, and when I went to India, I got a cookbook from there. So I make a lot of Indian dishes now.”
Toth regularly cooks meals for her friends and roommates to enjoy. She is teaching a Linajma cooking course this semester based on the recipe book on her shelf. A certificate pinned to her bulletin board, awarding her first place in last week’s Sama Cup cooking competition, highlights her skills in the kitchen. For the competition, Toth explained, she prepared an Indonesian chicken dish and butter paneer. The paneer is her favourite dish to cook and the one she makes the most often; a family she visited in Delhi gave her the recipe when she was in India last February.
“I got interested in South Asia largely because of my friends and then I really like cooking and I really like Indian food,” said Toth. “So I just connected all these things.”
Clare Hennig is features editor. Email her at
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