Ananda Mandir 269 Cedar Grove Lane Somerset, NJ 08873 Return Service Requested
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January 2012 A Quarterly Publication of Ananda Mandir, New Jersey
2011 Gayatri Memorial Awards Presented to Gouri Datta and Tathagata Ghosh Reported by Amitabha Bagchi and Debajyoti Chatterji
Ananda Mandir Calendar of Events (Dates are subject to change) Please check our website frequently:
www.anandamandir.org Tel: 732-873-9821
NOTE: If a particular puja time is not listed, please contact temple or visit our website : anandamandir.org
Tathagata Ghosh – Winner of English Literary Award
Gouri Datta – Winner of Bengali Literary Award
On December 3, a large and enthusiastic crowd waited in the East Brunswick Public Library for the arrival of the winners of the first Gayatri GaMarsh Memorial Awards for Literary Excellence. Cameras flashed repeatedly when the winners finally arrived – and they kept going even after the awards ceremony began with an introduction by Pronoy Chatterjee, Chair of Ananda Mandir's Awards and Recognition Committee. Pronoy explained the background behind the awards program and outlined the process that was followed by the Committee to select the winners. He congratulated the winners on their remarkable accomplishments and thanked the judges for their valuable deliberations. Following Pronoy, Debajyoti Chatterji spoke briefly but touchingly about Gayatri GaMarsh and her life and works. He reminded the audience that Gayatri was truly a very special person, gifted with a multitude of interests and talents and with a very warm and loving personality. Jerry GaMarsh then spoke from his heart about Gayatri and her love for literature, for music, art and sculpture. He also explained why he decided to establish the Gayatri Memorial Awards through Ananda Mandir, the organization Gayatri was most involved with in the years immediately preceding her untimely death. The awards were then presented by Dipak Sarkar (President, Ananda Mandir) to Gouri Datta of Massachusetts for excellence in creative writing in Bengali – and to Tathagata Ghosh of New Jersey for excellence in creative writing in English. Each winner received a plaque and a check for $400 for their accomplishments. In accepting the awards, each recipient thanked Jerry GaMarsh and Ananda Mandir for establishing this “first-in-North America” awards program to encourage and recognize creative writing by the South
Asian immigrant community. A “meet-the-winners” break followed, with ample servings of Indian snacks and tea and coffee. The second part of the Gayatri Awards presentation ceremony focused on original works by the local literati. The idea was to let the local literary practitioners and enthusiasts get acquainted with each other through short readings of their own writings. The readings would be alternately in Bengali and English, and a time limit of between 5 and 10 minutes was set for each speaker. Amitabha Bagchi acted as the MC and the time-keeper. Tathagata Ghosh began the session by reading an abridged version of his short story in English titled “Ma.” It was a touching story, set in the upscale Besant Nagar neighborhood of Chennai, of how a small-time thief who knifed his victim to steal an expensive dagger was saved from certain lynching by an enraged mob in hot pursuit through the unexpected collusion of his mother who tended a small shop in a hovel near-by. Next came Gouri Datta, who read two of her poems in Bengali. She was followed by Nupur Lahiri, who narrated a short story on the sudden loss of moorings of an intense young professional woman and her unfortunate lapse into mental breakdown. Sudipta Bhawmik was up next, reading with customary aplomb and a thespian's skill parts of a scene from his drama, “Taconic Parkway.” Subrata Bhaumik followed Sudipta and read a nice poem by Sunil Gangopadhyay, first in the original Bengali and then in his own English translation. Finally, Sushmita Dutt recited a poem she wrote in Bengali about the dislocation and disappointment of an Indian immigrant in America. Turn to page 04
Ananda Mandir Expansion – An update Friends: The Year of 2011 is ending soon. The construction team has been quietly working through many hurdles that are expected for a project of this size. Preparation to start construction was initiated more than 2 years ago with: a) Development of the concept for this expansion b) Hiring an architect to develop the conceptual drawing c) Submission of plan to Franklin Township and its subsequent approval d) Completion of detail site work, structural, mechanical, electrical
Satyanarayan Puja Sunday, January 8, 5:30 pm Ananda Sandhya Friday, January 13, 8:00 pm Sahitya O Alochana Friday, January 20, 8:00 pm Ratanti Kali Puja Saturday, January 21, 5:30 pm Shyama Puja Sunday, January 22, 5:30 pm Saraswati Puja Saturday, January 28, 9:00 am Satyanarayan Puja Sunday, February 5, 5:30 pm Ananda Sandhya Friday, February 10, 8:00 pm Sahitya O Alochana Friday, February 17, 8:00 pm Maha Shiva Ratri Monday, February 20 (Time to be announced later) Shyama Puja Tuesday, February 21, 5:30 pm Satyanarayan Puja Sunday, March 4, 5:30 pm Dol Yatra Thursday, March 8 Ananda Sandhya Friday, March 9, 8:00 pm Sahitya O Alochana Friday, March 16, 8:00 pm Shyama Puja Wednesday, March 21, 5:30 pm Basanti Puja Wednesday, March 28 – Monday, April 2 (Check our website for details) Ram Nabami & Satyanarayan Puja Sunday, April 1 (Time to be announced later) Ananda Sandhya Friday, April 13, 8:00 pm Sahitya O Alochana Friday, April 20, 8:00 pm Special Religious Services:
Reported By Ashok Rakhit
and plumbing design e) Request for contractors' bids f) Selection of contractor g) Identifying potential banks and submission of application for construction loan with a financial budget h) Development and execution of a successful fund raising strategy i) Due diligence with the bank for final loan approval j) Seeking consensus and approval of BOT for loan commitment. Turn to page 04
Upon request, the priest of Ananda Mandir offers services such as in-house Sradhyas, Rituals associated with Cremations (Anthesti Kriya), Death Anniversaries, Pre-weddng rituals (Nundimukh, Ashirwad, etc), Upanayan (Paitey), Annaprasan , Wedding Ceremonies & Wedding Anniversaries, Griha Prabesh (Bhumi Puja), Consecrations of new cars (New Car Pujas) and others.
If you have needs for any of the above or more, please feel free to contact Biswabhai @ 732-873-9821
ANANDA SANGBAD A Periodical Newsletter Published By
ANANDA MANDIR (A Tax-Exempt, Non-Profit Organization)
269 Cedar Grove Lane Somerset, NJ 08873 Ph: 732-873-9821 Website: www.anandamandir.org
Editorial Board: Editor-in-Chief
Pronoy Chatterjee Assistant Editors
Guru Chakravarty Debajyoti Chatterji Co-Editors
Biman Bhatta Subrata Bhaumik Sushmita Dutta Vishnupriya Dutta Pallavi Guha Anil Raychaudhuri All submissions, news and articles, should be directed to the Editorial Board:
Phone/Fax : 732-651-8802, E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org .
E D I T O R I A L Ananda Mandir of Tomorrow:
After a lot of deliberations, scratching heads on planning, scrutinizing architectural designs and intensely negotiating with banks and township officials, Ananda Mandir's Construction Committee headed by its former President, Ashok Rakhit, has announced that we are ready to proceed with a five million dollar expansion project and the Board of Trustees unanimously approved it. Before the approval, some members expressed their concerns about the risk involved in getting into the commitment of such a huge mortgage. The Committee presented an income and expense projection as best as it could be done with a limited data that is available at the present time. It is difficult to know if all the BOT members had fully comprehended the risk benefit assessment in undertaking a bank loan of four million dollars, but they all agreed to proceed with the project. The Board of Trustees unequivocally stood Wish you happy New Year behind the Construction Committee's recommendation. That itself is a big achievement of the group, to come up with a clear Pronoy Chatterjee consensus on such a complex and expensive project.
Editor-in-Chief Now that the project is moving forward, in order to maximize the efficiency, the members of Ananda Mandir, individually and collectively, should get involved and remain critical at each step of the process evaluating it if it is essential and meaningful at this time, or it could be deferred to the future to minimize the risk. We expect that the members would take active interest and express their concerns and opinions, if they find a specific construction and the associated cost would adversely impact on the cost-benefit. We encourage all contributing members to be vocal and expressive if they have any concerns at any stage of the construction. They should take active role while the process is continuing, not just remain silent
President's Message Dipak K. Sarkar - President, Ananda Mandir On behalf of the Board of Trustees of Ananda Mandir, I
For general information, please wish you and your family Happy Holidays and a Prosperous New contact the following Year! I am pleased to give you an update of Ananda Mandir's Executives of Ananda Mandir:
Dipak Sarkar President Krishna Bhattacharya Vice President Jaiprakash Biswas Vice President Chanu Das Treasurer Maumita Bajpai General Secretary
Designed & Printed by NABADIGANTA PRAKASHANI Kolkata, West Bengal, India
observers on blind faith and express discontent at the end, if it does not come out to their satisfaction. After all, Ananda Mandir is their temple and their community center and their hopes and aspiration, so they should remain involved from the start to finish. While we continue to remain concerned, we are also optimistic about the success of the project. For the work done so far, we extend our sincere thanks to the project leader, Ashok Rakhit and his team and many other volunteers who worked on it over the years spending long hours, burning midnight oil in constructing a rational plan which is being finally implemented to develop â€œ Ananda Mandir of Tomorrow.â€? We also thank those who came forward to support financially to meet bank's demand for issuing the mortgage. Nothing would have been possible without their generous financial support.
milestone achievements this year. We have now expanded our property with a few acres of new land by acquiring the 267 Cedar Grove Lane property. We have received Franklin Township's approval of our temple expansion and building a new community center. We are also at the final stage of closing the bank loan for the new construction. I anticipate that the construction work will start in early spring of 2012. We organized a highly successful and enjoyable Groundbreaking and Fundraising event on April 17, attended by more than 200 members. Distinguished NJ assembly member Upendra J. Chivukula and Franklin township deputy mayor Rajib Prasad also attended this event. Mr. Prasad presented a recognition certificate for community service to Ananda Mandir from the Franklin Township Mayor's office. We continued to attract a large number of devotees to our temple during the Pujas. During the Durga Puja ceremony, we had nearly a thousand devotees in one day. During the Kali puja, we had over 600 devotees in one evening. During the year, we held all religious events in accordance with the Bengali panjika. Satyanarayan Pujas and Shyama Pujas are held on a monthly basis. For all these Puja events, we have drawn more devotees than ever. We have continued to bring all the local musical talents for our monthly Ananda Sandhya events. The reputation of Ananda Sandhya has now spread widely, and we are attracting audience from not only New Jersey but also from New York and Philadelphia. Ananda Mandir also presented Gayatri GaMarsh Memorial Award For Literary Excellence on Saturday, December
Acknowledgement The Board of Trustees of Ananda Mandir expresses its appreciation to Santosh and Ambalika Mukherjee for financially sponsoring this publication.
03, 2011. This literary award had attracted a large number of contestants from all over this country and also from Canada. You will learn more about this award ceremony in this issue of Ananda Sangbad. We continue with the monthly literature group discussion Sahitya O Alochana, which features eminent Bengali writers as well as local prominent writers. We have initiated Seniors Forum as an informal group where many senior issues are being discussed (e.g., retirement, life insurance, will, etc.). We arranged various other cultural and religious discussion meetings at our premises. Classes on dance, music and Bengali language are continuing to be held regularly at Ananda Mandir. We continue to provide our literary magazine Anandalipi and our news magazine Ananda Sangbad containing many outstanding literary works by local and international writers to our members free of cost. Additionally, we have undertaken initiative to promote youth talent in community service activities by providing grants. I am very happy to announce that Franklin Township has given us permission to name the entranceway to our temple as Rabindra Nath Tagore Way. This is especially meaningful since this year we celebrated Rabindra Nath Tagore's 150th birth anniversary. As you know, we are undertaking an ambitious project to construct a Community Center and to expand the existing temple. The budget for this expansion project exceeds four million dollars. Please donate generously to help our initiatives. Please consider becoming a life member by paying $1000 or a patron member by paying $5,000. Ananda Mandir depends on our community members to get involved. We desperately need more volunteers. I request that if you have some time to spare, please come to Ananda Mandir and give us an extra hand to keep our organization run smoothly and keep it healthy. Please join me to make Ananda Mandir strong so that this organization continues to provide religious and cultural services to hundreds of Bengalis and their friends in the tri-states area.
Highlights of Recent Activities at Ananda Mandir Reported by Krishna Dutta Roy and Sushmita Dutta Durga Puja and Kali Puja celebrated in grand majesty… Sharadiya Durgotsav was celebrated at Ananda Mandir from October 2nd through October 6th, 2011 in grand majesty witnessing attendance of record crowd. The long awaited annual festival began with Adhibas and Bodhan (welcoming the Goddess) and ended with Bijoya Dashami. In fact, at Ananda Mandir the festive mood begins with the live show of Mahalaya (Mahisasur Mardini) at the temple premises and the celebration runs through Debipokkho (fortnight of the Goddess) and culminates with “Bisarjan”. All these days pujas were performed following authentic Vedic rituals and chanting of mantras in a spiritually heightened, peaceful environment. Reading of Hindu scripture “Chandi” (Chandi Path) is a ritualistic need of this festival. Ananda Mandir's priest rendered this “path” to everyone's delight. To all attending devotees “Chandi Path” at Ananda Mandir Durgatsav is a special attraction. Each of the five day celebration, puja started in the morning followed by pushpanjali and prasad and bhog (lunch). Dinners were also served all these five days. The food wes prepared at Ananda Mandir premises and by dedicated Ananda Mandir members. This year's evening programs included Debi Stuti, Aarati and musical programs. Additionally, to add to the variety of entertainment, there were stalls selling saris and jewelries. On the whole it was a joyous and memorable celebration. Kojagari Lakshmi Puja: A week after Durga Puja, on October 11th, Ananda Mandir celebrated Kojagari Lakshmi Puja under the glittering sky of the celestially beautiful evening of full moon. Following vedic ritualistic pujas, prayers were offered to Goddess Lakshmi, the Goddess of wealth and prosperity.
Letter To The Editor
Maha Kali Puja: On October 26th Ananda Mandir celebrated Maha Kali Puja. The celebration was attended by more than 600 people. Ananda Mandir's temple deity, Goddess Kali was worshipped following ritualistic pujas and prayers marking it as one of the biggest celebrations at Anada Mandir. 'Shyama Sangeet' (devotional songs) rendered by local artists added to the spirituality of the night of the celebration. Starting from 5:00 p.m. the puja continued until 8:45 p.m. followed by Anjali, Prasad and 'bhog' (dinner). Jagaddhatri Puja: November marked the celebration of Jagaddhatri Puja from November 1st through 5th. Ananda Mandir Temple's Foundation Day: Marking the seventh year of the temple, Ananda Mandir Temple's foundation Day was celebrated on 12th of November with Puja, Havan/ Yagna and devotional songs rendered by local artists. The regular monthly pujas, Satyanarayan Puja and Shyama Puja were also parts of Ananda Mandir activities besides other monthly cultural events like Ananda Sandhya and Sahitya O Alochana. They are covered separately.
Turn to page 16
Beloved Bina Das By Mandira Chattopadhyay
Dear Sir, “The Barber”, one of the stories in your 2011 issue of Anandalipi piqued my curiosity. The story was penned by Pronoy Chatterjee. I resonated with it so much that I went back to re-read it couple of times. I thought it was a real good piece, especially the part that talked about George's (one of the barbers) wide repertoire of discussion topics, his ability to customize his tales according to customers' interests, and his observations around the inter-connections of various forms of creative energy. I had a barber like George that I used go to when I was a student in New York, back in the mid-eighties. Phil was a short and stocky Irishman who always wore dark blue pants with white shirt in suspenders, sported grey French cut beard with thick glasses, and would talk incessantly switching subjects as he changed customers. The topics would range from James Bond to Alexander Solzhenitsyn to mountain climbing. In one of the many haircut sessions I had with him, he brought up my Indian background and gave me a short discourse on the Hindu concept of Maya. Mr. Chatterjee's story reminded me of Phil who I never went back to after we moved out of Manhattan - although I worked in the city for many years following my graduation. Few years ago, when I took a friend of mine from India on a tour of New York City, I went back to the building on 115th and Broadway that housed the hair salon. I discovered, to my utter dismay, that even the tiniest hint of the salon from the eighties or Phil, the barber, had all but disappeared from that neighborhood. The area was still as busy and bustling with university students running around as it was back in the eighties, but the salon was missing. It looked as though a Deli/Coffee shop took its place. There was a tremendous amount of energy in the air, but it definitely lacked the intellectual fervor that Phil's deep voiced chatter exuded. Unrelenting in my pursuit, I waited my turn to talk to the owner of the Deli about Phil. Alas! He knew nothing about the salon nor did he know who Phil was. Driving back home with a sense of disappointing incompleteness that filled my mind, I was reminded of the age old Bengali proverb that loosely translates to “Wherever you see ashes, blow them away, you might find a gem.” We all run into a hidden gem or two in the ordinary walks of lives that enriches our own lives' experience. Yours truly, Subrata Bhaumik New Jersey
We just celebrated sixty four years of independence of India. It is time to reflect the contributions of the freedom fighters. We should always remember them who staked their lives for Mother India. Even some of us still hum to ourselves the great song like “Vande Mataram” and “Sarthako Jonomo Amar.” The footsteps of Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose with his great army force echoes in our minds, “Kadam Kadam Baraye Ja.” The history of Indian struggle will not be complete without the mention of my favorite teacher, Bina Das. I have been blessed in one phase of my life by her profound affection and literary guidance. I didn't realize then that I was in contact with such a powerful woman. Her charismatic personality charmed us, but only later did I realize her stature in Indian history. As a prominent revolutionary and freedom fighter, Binadi began her life as an ardent follower of Mahatma Gandhi. I feel very fortunate to have been a student of a woman who was known as “Joan of Arc” of India. I met her in her later life when she had mellowed and was not involved with any organization. It is refreshing and interesting to think our Binadi at one time used to walk with Mahatma Gandhi and sing: “Jodi tor daak shune keu na aase, tobe ekla cholore,” during the Hindu-Muslim riot in the wake of India's independence. By the time Bina Das came to our lives, she had completely separated herself from politics; she was simply an English teacher, always clad in the red-bordered khaddar sari introduced by Mahatma Gandhi. We all wanted to be her favorite, but those days would not last long: she left our school in a short period of time, leaving all of us as helpless children without having her around for inspiration and guidance. I remember her last day at our school when we all huddled on the floor and cried ceaselessly. We were surprised later to discover how such a peaceful woman could Turn to page 09
Ananda Mandir Expansion â€“ An update Reported By Ashok Rakhit Continued from page 01
Ananda Mandir Expansion
We are at the last stage of closing the bank loan with the help of our attorney and securing a Performance Bond of $1 million to have the final meeting with Franklin Township to get permission to start the construction. We plan to start the ground breaking at the earliest possible date of spring 2012. As you read the Editorial in this publication, Dr. Pronoy Chatterjee requests your active participation in this project as a member of Ananda Mandir. There have been many meetings of members of the BOT and its advisors during last two years. We have made many presentations of construction concept design and needs for capital fund raising and bank loan to our members during last several Annual General Meetings as well as Annual Fund Raising luncheons. We also have been updating status in our quarterly newsletter. Obviously, a project of this size needs goodwill and support of the entire community. While we are excited to see the development of our heritage center, we are also cautious and somewhat worried of the large debt we have to incur to complete this project. Making a final decision to go ahead with the entire project was not easy. BOT discussed options of either expansion (plus beautification) of temple only or construction of only the community hall or build both in two phases. Expansion and beautification of temple was considered most important by some members while others felt that they have been waiting for a fully functional community hall since the inception of Ananda Mandir. Ananda Mandir Mission Statement includes support of both religious and cultural activities and we cannot ignore wishes of either side. We considered construction of one building first using our current capital funds and borrow only 1-2 millions that we would be more comfortable to pay off based on our current revenue. Problem was which one to do
Ananda Sangbad first? If we expand and beautify temple first; it would make one group happy and we were challenged with no reasonable financial plan to start the community center in near future in the second phase. Temple income will increase somewhat but not enough to get the second phase of loan. Moreover, current capacity for 95 people is adequate for 360 days except 5 days of Durga Puja and Kali Puja. Justification for temple expansion to accommodate 200 people for 5 days of the year did not have adequate economic justification. If, however, we first build large community hall and kitchen, we have possibility to generate additional new revenue over and above current temple revenue. There is, however, risk in estimating exact size of additional revenue since we have no data other than indirect data from reservation lists of other commercial Indian restaurants and banquet halls. There was also concern that we will disappoint many supporters of temple, which is running well. So neither option was going to make everyone happy and supportive of the project. We spent days and months arguing back and forth to come to a final decision to go ahead with the total project. Our assumption is that if we can bring our entire community together, we will be able to provide facilities for more religious activities (both private and community) in bigger temple, hold more classes in community hall (mezzanine level), rent hall for private parties in weekends and rent auditorium to sister organizations at subsidized rates. Our goal is to try hard to remain within current budget of ~ $4.0 million to complete the construction with minimum additional overrun contingencies. The budget of $5.0 million projected by bank includes contingencies as well as escrow funds to include mortgage payments during 2 years of construction as well as one additional year after completion of construction. They also included some of the funds we already spent to date in their costing. We may not need to spend much of these escrow funds. Our goal is to contribute $1.0 million from capital funds we raise by next year and borrow $3.0 to $3.2 million for construction. It is still a large loan and there is inherent risk in any project. What are our options? If we stay status quo, we will not be able to sustain our current revenue in long term as other temples are being built with better facilities. We will lose heart of many members of the community if we cannot build facility where large number of members can gather and hold various private and community activities. Vast majority of BOT members believe that if we build a beautiful and functional facility for community and private activities, our community members will be willing to pay to support our community home. If we look around, other Indian communities have built large temples/community centers and are running well. It is time for Bengalis in tristate area to have a home that it can build for generations to enjoy and take pride being part of. We need your help. Let us all join hands and help making our long standing dream come true. May Ma bless us all and give us the strength, courage and wisdom to go forward. Wish you a Happy New Year.
2011 Gayatri Memorial Awards
Reported by Amitabha Bagchi and Debajyoti Chatterji
Continued from page 01
That was the end of the short readings. The proceedings were to be wrapped up by two short commentaries on the pursuit of literature in a foreign land. Speaking first in Bengali, Alolika Mukherjee stressed the challenge faced by litterateurs to find publishers for their output. Then, in an impromptu change of plans, Susmita Chatterjee, who had traveled all the way from Maine to attend the event, was asked to say a few words. She spoke glowingly of the program and her pleasure in attending it, and then read her own translation of the famous Tagore poem, â€œSagarika,â€? which was recently printed in the Kallol Sahitya Patrika. The final speaker was Amitabha Bagchi, who spoke in English and remarked approvingly of the eco system of journals, literary magazines and Internet literary sites that have sprung up over the years to support the literary effort by the first generation immigrant writers. The program on the whole was extremely successful. Every speaker stayed within their allotted time frame, thus ensuring a smooth and well-knit function that stayed on time. Individual presentations were of high quality and the audience listened to them quietly and attentively. The event would not have been successful without the help of many behind-the-scenes volunteers such as Sushmita Dutta, Rita Bhowmik, Sukanta Sengupta, Ashis Bandopadhyay and Anup Mitra. Our sincere thanks to them and the others who worked tirelessly to make this event a success.
Didn't Receive Your Copy of Ananda Sangbad? If you are a Life Member or an Associate Member but didn't receive your copy of Ananda Sangbad, it may be because we do not have correct address on file for you. Please send an email to Guru Chakravarty ( g u r u c h a k r a v a r t y @ y a h o o . co m ) w i t h your correct address, and we will send you another copy.
Eat, Pair, Drink Wine-tasting is a much derided art amongst Indians but I for one am quite convinced that there is a lot of substance (or maybe spirit) in it. I have been to one of these wine-tasting sessions and it was a very subtle and interesting experience. What the sommelier did teach was, when the wrong foods are paired together the foods do taste terrible. It is a little more nuanced when the proper pairing makes the food taste better. I am no expert in these limpid libations but have an open mind as to try to make Indian, Thai and Chinese food taste better by pairing with the right drink; either alcoholic or non-alcoholic. Food and wine pairing when it comes to Indian foods is one of the most complicated and probably as subjective and biased as the person purporting expertise. It is so much easier to pair the food and the wine when dealing with western food. I have found that even experienced wine enthusiasts seem to be stumped when figuring out wine pairings for Indian food. Imagine you are hosting a party and you have a mix of people who have solemnly immersed themselves into the fine art of sipping a Scotch or a beer or a medley of wines and maybe even fruit juice. You serve an appetizer, say small pakodas and then find out that the people imbibing the beer seem to love the appetizer but the people having the Scotch and the wine do not seem to enjoy the appetizer that much. Maybe the way people reacted to the pakodas was due to the spirits being imbibed and the spirit of the party. I for one believe that the drinks being served can quite effectively change the taste of the food. I have found that through experience and experimentation, red wines almost always never go well with Indian food. This is particularly true when it comes to gravy based comestibles. If you are having a goat curry and have a glass of fine red wine, the wine is probably going to taste unappetizing. The goat curry typically has an overpowering flavor and may not be substantially affected in one way or another by the red wine. On the other hand, if somebody was having a sweet Riesling, a white wine, it may serve beautifully to enhance the taste of the curry and the wine. With the delicate flavor of something like dal, a wine may distract from the taste. For fish curries and other stronger flavors a good palate cleanser may come in handy. With spicy Thai food, I have found that an even sweeter white wine like Moscato helps to alleviate the fiery nature of the food.
By Tathagata Ghosh I would strongly advise anybody serving a fruit or vegetable tray with dips not to serve fruit juice. It will just not jive. Wine and fruit seem to have the same problem. Both come off tasting oddly unappetizing if had in succession. Growing up in South India, with all the strong flavors available at an Udipi restaurant, I always wondered what would go well with South Indian appetizers like idli and dosa. Madras coffee is the most ubiquitous but also may be best taken in little quantities to avoid caffeine shock and loss of appetite. Probably a beer such as a Belgian Wheat Ale may complement a good Mysore Masala Dosa. Definitely need something to wash it down with. What I am suggesting may be heresy in South India but I think there is definitely a world of possibilities with dedicated experimentation. It is probable that good wine will be wasted when paired with South Indian dishes. Does Coke, Pepsi and their kin go well with Indian Food? The high sugar content in some of these drinks immediately impact ones palate. In my opinion, they actually go fairly well with Indian food and helps wash down the strong flavors and thus may serve to cleanse the palate. If you are in restaurant with non-alcoholic drinks, what should you order? For those who also have to deal with acidity issues the following may make sense. In a Thai restaurant, I have found that a life-saver is Thai Iced Tea. It is loaded with cream and helps to douse the flames when you have been overambitious on ordering the spice number. In an Indian restaurant which is non-alcoholic by statute, the only reasonable choices may be a lassi. Lassi and Iced Tea still do not enhance the flavor of food as a glass of wine would. Decreasing the spooned in sugar would be a good way to prevent all flavors doing a rumba. The pairing of Indian food with appropriate drinks is a fledgling field of study. But given the charms of food and drinks in discussion, I think this may turn out to be a most pleasurable endeavor. References: http://www.matchingfoodandwine.com/articles/20071116 http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/c/a/2007/06/08/WIGOOQ59H11.DTL
Ananda Sandhya--A Monthly Evening Soiree Among Puja and many other socio-cultural activities of Ananda Mandir, Ananda Sandhya aims at catering to the entertainment need of music-loving members of the community, generally focused on classical vocal and instrumental music. Usually, on the second Friday of each month, this musical program features not only the local musical talents, but also from time to time, visiting musicians from India. Below is a narrative of various Ananda Sandhya programs during the September-November period. On September 9th, we had a “Children Program” where the children who learn Tabla presented a 2 hour program. It was really nice to see a bunch of talented young musicians highly dedicated to learn this art form. The show was directed by Arun Bhowmik. Before the show, Arun Bhowmik as the Cultural Chairperson, presented a plaque on behalf of Ananda Mandir to a number of local well known musicians to express gratitude for their support and participation in the Ananda Sandhya events. The musicians who received the plaques are: Arundhati Mallik, Suranjan Bhanja Chowdhury, Arindam Chakrabarti, Madhu Vora, Shyam Moan, Amod Dandawate, Zafar Billah, Partha Sarathi Mukhopadhyay Ananda Mandir Cultural wing presented our most coveted program “LIVE MAHALAYA” on September 25th. This show was attended by over 170 people in the wee hours of the morning. The usual participants (Arundhati Mallik, Mitali Bhawmik, Malini Ghosh, Renee Dutta, Vaswati Mallik, Kakali Sinha, Sucharita Das, Simita Brahma, Zafar Billah, Arun Bhowmik, Suranjan Bhanja Chowdhury, Partha Sarathi Mukhopadhyay) were all there, presenting this truly wonderful show for the community. The narrations and chantings were performed by our Biswa bhai. The talented musicians were Malika Bhowmik on violin, Shyamal Sen on Sarod, and a new member, a professional cello player Egil Rostad joined the team this year. We celebrated October's Ananda Sandhya in the form of “Bijoya Sammelani” on October 15th. Friends and family of Ananda Mandir gathered for just “Adda”,
By Arun Bhowmik
Tabla Presentation by Young Musicians
exchange greetings, had dinner, and enjoyed a wonderful musical performance by Sri Soumyen Adhikari from Kolkata. Sri Adhikari delighted the attendees with the old unforgettable 'Bangla' songs. He was accompanied on Tabla by our own Arindam Chakrabarti. At the Kali Puja cultural program on October 26, we had a very enjoyable program with talented singer Rajyasree Ghosh of Kolkata, accompanied by Anirban Roy Chowdhury, a highly accomplished tabla player. She sang various forms of Bengali devotional songs. For November, a north Indian classical vocal presentation featured by Sri Rajesh Paranjape was organized. He was accompanied by Sri Suryaksha Deshpande on Tabla, and Sri Madhu Vora on the Harmonium. Sri Paranjape, a Sangeet Visharad from Gandharva Mahavidyalaya, presented classical music as well as devotional songs at the temple.
South Asian Theater Festival (SATF)
By Amitabha Bagchi
(Editor's Note: This is a review of the history of SATF with special attention to this year's program at NJPAC. Please read separately a “Foreword” by Dipan Ray on the play “Bisarjan” which was a part of the SATF this year at NJPAC.)
translation. It was directed by Professor Farley Richmond of the University of Georgia and was novel in the use of Balinese masks by the actors. Amal Allana, Chairperson of the National School of Drama in New Delhi, was the invited guest from India in 2010.
The annual South Asian Theater Festival (SATF) – the sixth edition of which was held November 12-13, 2011 at the New Jersey Performing Arts Center (NJPAC) in Newark, NJ -- is the brainchild of Dr. Dipan Ray, a Life Member of Ananda Mandir. Dipan is a pharmacist by profession, but his real passion is drama, and he participates in all aspects of it with gusto – from acting to stage management and production. The idea of SATF came to Dipan from his association with the New York International Fringe Festival (Fringe NYC) in the late 1990s. The Fringe Festival attracts and showcases dramas from some 70 countries in different languages over two weeks -- using supertitles when necessary. Dipan was active in the Fringe Festival between 1997 and 2000. His credits there included the Badal Sarkar play, “Ballavpurer Rupkatha” (in Bengali), Ashwathama, and the Breast Chronicle by Mahasweta Devi. Dipan found the Fringe Festival an ideal place for exchanging ideas and forming friendship with drama lovers from all over the world. He was excited, and a thought began to crystallize in his mind. Why not reach out to the various Indian and South Asian drama groups in the United States and organize a Fringe-like festival in New Jersey? Dipan went to work on his idea quickly. He began contacting other South Asian organizations – in the New York/New Jersey area and beyond – to find out if they staged dramas and would be willing to participate in a theater festival if he organized one. The founding of SATF was the upshot of that effort. The first South Asian Theater Festival was held over three days in July 2006 at the George Street Playhouse in New Brunswick, NJ. It featured dramas in Hindi (Jajati), Marathi, Bengali (Balod, Rakta Karabi) and mixed Bengali and English (Ron). Participating groups came from North Carolina and Washington, DC as well as New York and New Jersey. The guest of honor was the famed Indian actor of stage and screen, Amol Palekar, who was invited from India. The 2007 edition of SATF was also held at the George Street Playhouse. Invited from India were the noted playwright, Vijay Tendulkar, and actress/director, Usha Ganguli. Usha Ganguli in fact directed the play, Rudali, in Hindi. The festival moved to NJPAC in 2008 but was held in the fall -- again over a 3day period. Amol Palekar returned, this time to direct Badal Sarkar's Pagla Ghora produced by Dipan Ray's own drama group, EPIC Actors Workshop. Other participants of note included an Afghan drama group and the Aparna Sindoor troupe from Massachusetts that specializes in combining dancing with calisthenics. Special mention should also go to the children's program directed by Sharmila Ghoshal. The 2009 edition of SATF saw the return of Usha Ganguli to direct the drama Chehre in Hindi. Another attraction was the performance of Tagore's Rakta Karabi in English translation (as Red Oleander) by the young adults of the Bengali immigrant community. The highlight of last year's (2010) program was EPIC's production of Mrichchhakatika (Little Clay Cart) – the acclaimed Sanskrit drama in English
This year's (2011) SATF was held at NJPAC over two days. It featured one main event each day at the Victoria Theater, followed by an informal get-together. The program on Saturday, November 12, was “Rabi Thakur: A Ballet on the Life of Tagore.” It was presented by the Chhandayan Center for Indian Music of New York City. The ballet featured talented dancers and had an appealing choreography. The musical score, played by an orchestra with mostly western instruments but also including a section with sitar and tabla, was really delightful. It tastefully blended western music with assorted Tagore compositions that drew on a variety of sources: Bengali folk (baul), European folk, and Indian classical (i.e., raga-based). The only difficulty was that the connection of the ballet to Tagore's life was tenuous at best and hard to fathom. It might have benefited from more narration, which was unfortunately kept to a minimum and often drowned out by music. The score had seven movements but no clear story-line. You had to be familiar with Tagore's life to spot sequences with Kadambari Devi or catch snatches of “Crisis in Civilization,” but the rest of it was a blur as far as the poet's life is concerned. Sunday's main event was the Tagore drama Sacrifice (Bisarjan), done in English with actors in dazzling costumes and wearing intricate half-masks. The drama is a powerful indictment of the excesses of Brahminical Hinduism and its insistence on mindless animal sacrifice to propitiate deities. The power struggle between the kind-hearted King (Govinda) and the hard-edged Priest (Raghupati) catches the Queen (Gunabati) and the Priest's Acolyte (Jaisingh) in its vise, with ultimately tragic results. The play was performed quite competently by members of the EPIC Actors Workshop, with notably good performances by the King, Queen and especially the little girl (Aparna) who represented nobility in nature. One difficulty with the acting was that the enunciation and voice throw was weak for some of the performers – English not being their mother tongue – and not all lines were delivered with the right articulation and clarity to have the proper impact. The other trouble was with the drama itself, where right after the climactic scene of Jaisingh's self-sacrifice and Raghupati's destruction of the idol of Kali, there are anti-climactic dialogues where the Queen refers to the King as her god and the Priest turns to the little girl as divinity. This led to unfortunate tittering in the audience, and a scene of deep pathos was in danger of descending into bathos. Sunday's program was followed by a discussion session with interested members of the audience. The panelists included eminent critics and theater personalities of South Asia who came as invited guests of SATF: Sunil Pokharel from Nepal; Samik Bandyopadhyay, Sudipto Chatterjee and Manav Kaul from India; and Dr. Ghulam Murshid from Bangladesh. Unfortunately, I could not attend the session owing to other commitments. I did, however, attend and enjoy the informal gettogether that followed the program on Saturday and included finger food, beverage and dancing.
Tagore's play “Sacrifice” at NJPAC (Editor's Note: This is a “Foreword” by the creator/ producer of the play at NJPAC in November, 2011. Please read separately a review of the history of South Asia Theater Festival with special attention to this year's program.) If you went to see this play at NJPAC on Sunday Nov 13, entered a few minutes late and found the show in progress, then walked right back out because it seemed like a different play that was going on… well, that would be understandable. Because this production did not look anything like what you would expect of an evening of Gurudeb's most famous play “Bisarjan” written in 1890. Epic Actors Workshop of New Jersey performed this play in English, having it translated afresh from Bengali by Dr Sudipto Chatterjee, combining it with the earlier translation published in 1917. If you had stayed and listened, you would have seen enough drama in the actors' search for Tagore in the language of the translation. But first, you would need to settle down in your seats and get used to the setting of the production. The set is bare, except for a pair of small black blocks that actors can sometimes sit on, and suspended at the back is a large tantric yantra (a symbolic Vedic design) representing the Goddess Kali. Light is used to create textures as scenes change, using the empty stage and backdrop as a blank canvas that can do everything. As the characters are introduced, we can't see the actors, almost, because their faces are partly hidden by colorful masks, and their bodies swathed in exotic fabrics that don't give us a geographical fix on the location of the action. All we see are the characters. The Raj Purohit looks like the Pope. The Raja could be Henry the Eighth. The Rani must have walked straight off the catwalk in a designer show of evening wear that nobody actually wears. The soldiers might be on lam from the film set of a swords and sandals epic. Other characters defy even such fanciful associations. Costume Designer Cathy Parrot, who designs for theater in New York and films, says she deliberately stayed away from an Indian reference, or for that
By Dipan Ray
matter from any specific time or place. After sketching the designs here in USA, she and her team traveled to Kolkata to select fabrics from the bazaars there, and had them stitched there by local darzis. Dr Farley Richmond, director of the play, says that the masks elevate the story and its characters to a higher level, where the play is no longer about the specific people involved in a particular event in history. Indeed, Rabindranath's inspiration was an actual 17th century attempt by Tripura's King Gobindamanikya to stop animal sacrifice in the temples of Kali. However, Tagore takes the story where he wants to, turning it into a dramatization of the eternal conflicts between state and religion, faith and conscience, superstition and rationalism, love and duty, and how religious disputes get used as ammunition in a tussle for power. Dr Richmond has had the script edited to remove most details that are specific to the time and place, and the play becomes a timeless and universal story. Having taken a few minutes to get used to the idiom of this production, you relax back in your seat and let the story unfold before you. Now it is the power of Tagore's play, the forward thrust of its plot, the skills of the actors as they interpret the characters' compulsions, and the effectiveness of the director's design of the action that determine how it works for you. It works well. After rehearsing and preparing the play here in NJ with a locally based cast, the cast and crew traveled to India to stage it this August in Kolkata at Rabindrasadan, as part of Purba Paschim's theater festival. Then they took coal to Newcastle, invited by Vishwa Bharati to perform at Shantiniketan in front of an appreciative full house. The group rounded up their tour of India with a performance in Delhi arranged by the Indian Council of Cultural Relations. Having concluded for now with the show at NJPAC, they may stage it again in the New Jersey area next summer, giving us another opportunity to see this unusual treatment of a Tagore text.
Oktoberfest of Bengalees By Guru Chakravarty We just went through a period of festivals that truly qualifies October as the Month of Festivals. For the New Jersey Bengalees, it starts with Mahalaya. Mahalaya these days has become a big attraction on its own, with live performances this year at Ananda Mandir on September 25 and at Bharat Sevashram Sangha in the following weekend. And, in the spirit of our nostalgic radio listening from the olden days, the famous Birendra Krishna Bhadra version of Mahalaya was played in the EBC Radio. In each case, the performance and the broadcast happened at wee hours in the morning, just like back home, keeping that tradition alive. The most favorite puja celebration for Bengalees is clearly the Durga Puja. And the Bengali organizations have responded to meet that need of the community magnificently. During the Navaratri days there were continuous celebrations starting with Durga Puja on September 24 weekend at ICC, to following weekend at Kallol and GSCA, followed by puja on actual tithis at Ananda Mandir, Bharat Sevashram and Adyapeath. Bengali organizations all over USA celebrated Durga Puja as their most important event of the year. Lakshmi Puja follows in a week, which many families celebrate in their own homes. A big public celebration happens again on the occasion of Kali Puja. This festival is particularly popular at Ananda Mandir where the main deity is Mother Kali. But this is even more important for Adyapeath where Kali Puja is observed as
their largest celebration of the year. The Puja season ended with Jagaddhatri Puja on November 4. Why are these events so popular in an ever increasing trend? The overwhelming answer lies in the adage “Baaro Maase Tero Parbon” that is so true for the Bengalees. Although that adage is much more applicable in the village setting of West Bengal where many more than thirteen festivals are celebrated over the year, all Bengalees at heart look forward to fun and enjoyment in a mela (carnival) atmosphere. The main spirit that brings them together is just that – getting together for fun. True, you can get that in someone's house in a Saturday evening gathering which is still quite popular, but with old age and lack of free time, it sometimes becomes a drag because of obligation to attend it. In a public fair like setting there is no obligation. You just come there, have fun, leave any time you want, and open your heart to whoever you like. It is also nice to see the growth of a trend – the family getting together. The adult children of a family who moved away and now have their own families, come home to participate in the Durga puja with the parents. People need a community to live, to thrive, and to pass the time of day. When I grew up at Jamshedpur, the neighborhood was the community. We played with the children of our age in the local club, went to school together, sat down on the culverts to gossip together. As we grew up and went to college in Kolkata, our horizons
Heritage Day -2011 Reported by Vishnupriya Ananda Mandir celebrated the Indian Independence Day on August 14th at the temple premises. Although nagging rain could have been a spoil sport, it could not dampen the patriotic fervor of all the young and old alike who had gathered for the Heritage Day celebrations. There were umbrellas and rain jackets galore for the outdoor activities especially during the flag hoisting and the President-Dipak Sarkar's speech. Young participants with the Indian tricolor in hand braved the rain to join a procession pledging support to the Indian homeland shared both by their parents and themselves. Many a tear-drenched eye surcharged with emotion sang along with the singers to express their feeling for the land they were now separated from. Soon after, the program venue shifted inside the temple. A medley of interesting programs were organized before lunch. Sayan ghosh Dastidar recited a poem by Joy Goswami, and he was followed by the Mrittika Bangla School which presented Amra Sabai Raja and Dhono Dhanye Pushpe Bhora. Next was a fascinating performance by dancers of Kala Mandir. Baandh Bhenge Dao, Amra Notun Joubaneri Doot and Khoro Bayoo Boye Bege took a new meaning, inspiring the viewers with its extremely fluid steps and the wonderful blend of rhythm, music and dance. Brinda Guha was extremely good in choreography and performance as usual. Shreya Choudhuri and Nikita Roy were particularly good in their singing rendition. Arpita Mukherjee's recitation of Where the Mind is without fear was a specially relevant and deserves mention. In the post-lunch session, Amitabha Bagchi and Arundhati Mallik presented a unique program. It was a combination of interesting anecdotes and nuggets of information about the deities that graced the altar of Ananda Mandir, accompanied by Ganesh Vandana, Shyama Sangeet, Bhajan and the like. There was patriotic music by Suranjan Choudhuri, Sushmita Dutta, Ipshita Mukherjee and Arun Bhowmik. A young artiste Nikhil Kundu gave an enjoyable performance, along with his older peers Partho Sengupta and Aparajita Mukherjee. There were vendors showcasing their sarees and jewellery, and so the women did have a great time. There was also a food court in the basement. Krishna Dutta Roy, Dhriti Bagchi and Rita Bhowmik did a splendid job in organizing the celebrations successfully.
changed along with the people, but the new group was still close-knit with college and hostel friends that we studied with, played with and lived with. Things were still the same when I worked at Telco; it was a community of people that we lived with and worked with. In America, we are searching for a community. We cannot find it in our neighborhood or at our workplace. Here we have to make an appointment if we need to see someone. So, how do we satisfy our need to be a part of a community – where can we find it? We can find it at a place like Ananda Mandir. It is not just a temple, it is the place to gather, to talk, to create friendship, to let off the pressure that builds up inside. Yes, Ananda Mandir is just one such place; there are innumerable other organizations, small and large, where people flock together to make a community. But Ananda Mandir, Bharat Sevashram and other temples provide an unique opportunity for people to gather any time, hold meetings, or just sit in front of the deities to meditate peacefully. This is how we create our own community that gives us a sense of belonging which we seek so desperately. That is why we like to have more and more celebrations where we can be with the community. It so happens that October stands out with maximum number of festivals according to our puja calendar and so we welcome October as the Month of Festivals. This is our Oktoberfest in the Bengalee way with endless consumption of (no, not that bitter stuff) delicious sweets.
Far Away: In A New World By Pallavi Guha Meet Jule Lang, a graduate student of Social Work at Rutgers University, starting this fall. Jule has come all the way from Berlin to be a part of the Scarlet Knights. Missing her home, parents, the walking streets of Berlin, Jule is still trying to get adjusted to the American culture. It is much the same for Jie Qin from Beijing, a graduate student of Human Resource Management. Jie is trying to make new friends, not just with students who belong to her country, but also with other international students. Like Jie and Jule, there are Diti Bhadra from Kolkata and Neha Kagal from Pune; they are all international graduate students at Rutgers University. International students, form a wide spectrum of culture from 40 different countries, come to Rutgers University, NJ as graduate students, speaking hundreds of different languages. Many are looking forward to their 'Firsts'-- their first trip outside their home country, their first dorm experience, their first Broadway show, their first car and the list goes on. Wide eyed, anxious and eager students line up at the International Students Orientation at the Student Center of Rutgers University. Passion for academics in an unknown country holds most of them together. It doesn't take much time for the students to chat up to the next student, though they may not be from the same country. They huddle in groups moving from one room to another, attending seminars on legal status, social and academic lives in the US. The Graduate Student Association (GSA) gives a much needed relief to the international students by talking to them on the recreations they have to offer. For most students, a common question was, “Do you only study? Or you have fun?” And that's when the GSA representatives step in and assure the students that there's much fun for students, they can enroll in recreation classes like swimming, fitness or they can just relax at the state of the art GSA lounge, watch movies and go for night outs. Ziyi Yu is a graduate student of Communication from China, who came to US in mid August and is excited to know the culture and fulfill her shopping desires before the Fall semester began. She was asking around directions to the nearest Macy's! And then there's Laura Mingers from UK, who wants to check out the Broadway musicals and see the difference between London Musicals and Broadway Musicals. The intercultural mix in Rutgers University offers a wide range experiences. It is visible even in the web page of the university library—the web page is offered in eight other languages apart from English; Hindi is also one of them. With trepidation and high expectation, these students step into a new life, venturing outside their country alone, making their own decisions, choosing what's best for them. In a new world, these students are far away from home trying to achieve success.
LEWA Safaricom Marathon in Kenya: Pleasure and Pains on the African Plains
Let Food be thy Medicine By Jerry GaMarsh
By Sam Adhikari To satisfy my crazy idea of running marathons on 7-Continents at this ripe age of 69 years, I chose to run in Africa - Kenya's Safaricom Marathon for my 3rd continent - a real pleasure, accompanied with pains on the African vast plains in Lewa Wild Life Conservancy in the foothills of Mt. Kenya. The race was on June 25, 2011 exactly one year after running on the Great Wall of China Marathon on top of the mountains. The joy of running wild in the sweltering heat with wild animals for company and occasionally Kenyan international Marathon Stars wheezing past effortlessly makes the Safaricom marathon a one-of-a-kind of experience. The unique and peerless experience has earned the Safaricom marathon the accolade of being listed as “one of the top 10 things to do” in your life. It is the only marathon and half-marathon in the world held in wildlife game park. The history of this marathon (now in its 12th year) and Lewa Black Rhino Conservancy is quite alluring and telling. I just had to find out more about it after I found out that LEWA (Swahill word 'lewa” means “drink”) was derived from when guys drink non-stop for three days, participate in the marathon and then their intoxicating sweat smells of alcohol. But that was just a joke. The reality is that the marathon was introduced to generate funds for the conservation of the endangered African Black Rhino species. Nowadays its aim includes funding of conservation and community projects around Samburu, Isiolo, Laikpia and Meru areas. Being principally a charity event, the Safaricom Marathon combines the novelty of a unique backdrop with man's unending quest to do good. Over the years, millions of dollars have been raised, making a positive difference in the lives of surrounding communities and increasingly in the rest of Kenya. Lewa wildlife conservancy is a 60,000 acres of protected game reserve of vast plains of dry and burned savannah grasslands located at an altitude of 6500 ft in Lewa / Ngwesi area in North Central Kenya about four hours drive or a 45 minutes flight from Nairobi. Lewa, known worldwide for its conservation efforts with the endangered Black Rhino and Grevy's Zebra, is also home to Elephants, Lions, Giraffes, Antelopes, Leopards and Cheetahs. Forty adventurous Americans and myself arrived in Nairobi in the evening of 19 June, 2011 to participate in this Marathon. After spending a night in Nairobi, next day we were driven to the “ARK” near Aberdare Country Club in Aberdare. The Ark is a most unusual looking lodge made completely in fine wood resembling and named after Noah's ARK. The Ark and the Aberdare country Club is 6800 ft above sea level and perched on the top of a hill overlooking a valley and a floodlit waterhole with saltlick which attracts a host of awesome wildlife such as elephants, rhinos, leopards, buffalos etc. The Ark is comprised of three decks from which numerous balconies and lounges extend that provide excellent views of the wildlife and allow great photo opportunities. There is also a grand level where you will literally come face to face with the animals. The Aberdare Country Club is also no less great a place. Very richly decorated in the old British sense, the club nestles on the slopes of Mweiga hill overlooking a huge expanse of the plain. It is very well landscaped with beautiful flowers and tropical plants. The club's 1300 acre wildlife sanctuary abounds with gazelles, zebras,
WHEN first the fiery-mantled Sun His heavenly race began to run, Round the earth and ocean blue His children four, the Seasons, flew. – from "Ode to Winter " by Thomas Campbell (1777 – 1844)
giraffes and the more reclusive leopards. It is a haven of unhurried charm set in a garden bursting with profusion of color with peacocks stalking the green lush lawns. You can walk or ride through this unspoiled paradise, play a round of golf watched by a family of warthog, play tennis or just relax in the beautiful gardens. This area is also famous for another reason. It is in this region British Queen Elizabeth came on a tour as a princess and woke up as a queen in 1952 when her father King George VI died. We spent three nights here to acclimate to the high altitude. Here, we had several training runs closely watched by curious giraffes. Our practice runs were on the soft natural dirt trails made by the footprints of the roaming animals. It was uneven and sometimes full of rocks. After three days of living in a paradise like resort, we arrived in our final destination Lewa Wildlife Conservancy. Our accommodation was provided in the Mardadi Camp which was temporarily set up inside the conservancy as basically large walk-in tents with a verandah. They were fully equipped with beds, linens, tables, towels, hurricane lantern, wash basin, mirror and chairs. There was a manual, hot water “bag” shower and short drop outhouse attached in the rear between the two tents. Meals were served in a spacious open mess tent with dining and buffet area. Lanterns were placed to illuminate the paths leading to the mess tent from our tents. There was a night watchman with rifles to protect us from the animals. We were instructed to close the zippers on our tents at both front and back. As soon as we settled in our respective tents, we set out in a group of eight for the game drive in 4x4 Land Rover and also to see the marathon route. The days leading up to pre race meeting was filled with anxiety and nervousness. Have you ever heard that the start of an international track event was delayed due to a lioness with her cubs sun bathing on the part of the marathon track? The security had to use a helicopter to evacuate the queen of the jungle. Yes, it happened here in Lewa Safaricom marathon in 2008. Pre-race meeting on Friday, a day before the race, the race officials completely lightened the mood and replaced my nervousness with overwhelming excitement. The joke around the camp was that “you don't have to outrun the lions during the race, just the runner behind you”. With race morning tasks that included shooing away three elephants, the race organizers are no stranger to the unique challenges of coordinating a marathon amongst some of the most magnificent and dangerous beasts on earth. “We have learned from previous years to place the directional markers and the water stations on the course at the last possible moment” explained the Race director. In the past, herds of elephants played havoc with course markers, rubbing and crushing them the night before the race. Same goes for the water stations. The huge pachyderms' attraction to water prevents any early water station set-up. Fortunately, minimal havoc occurred at the 12th Safaricom Marathon and Half-marathon which was held on 25 June, 2011. The race day morning was still a little perky and cool when I started walking to the start line from my tent but the savannah started steaming as the sun came
“Let food be thy medicine” was spoken more than 2,400 years ago by Hippocrates, the father of modern medicine. How he came to this conclusion is a mystery that will never have a resolution but modern scientific studies have concluded that he was indeed correct. Not all Greek physicians were as insightful or correct. Pedanius Dioscorides, for instance, recommended growing carrots saying that the carrot was a medical panacea for a number of problems such as cancer and urinary tract infections. The reasons for the per tinence of Hippocrates' statement are manifold and I would like to go over a few of these reasons with some observations. Because nutrition today has become such a hot topic, many nutrition and diet minded people know most of the basics. A balanced diet plate should contain roughly a quarter plate each of protein, fruit, vegetables and grains with a bit of dairy on the side. Unsaturated fats should take precedents over saturated fats. Sodium and Potassium levels should be a zero-sum game with a higher potassium level compensating for with a lower sodium level. What many do not understand is the importance of phytochemicals in their diets. Food scientists and nutritionists know that fruits, vegetables, spices and herbs contain many of these bioactive compounds which impart health benefits to those who include them in their diet. Vegetarians in particular have much lower incidences of atherosclerosis and eye diseases not to mention some forms of cancer. During the millennia of plant evolution, plants developed phytochemicals to protect themselves against predators, insects and sunlight. Yes, sunlight. Plants require only the red and blue spectra and do not do well in the full spectrum of direct sunlight. As a protective mechanism, plants produce pigments in their skin or peel which accounts for their vibrant colors such as the deep purple of eggplants and the bright red of strawberries. It seems that birds have learned about phytochemicals too. Before they fly south for the winter, they switch their diet from insects to berries eating three to four times their body weight in berries. Not only do they consume berries but they also choose the darkest berries (which have the highest concentration in phytochemicals) over the lighter colored ones and this appears to protect them from the stresses of migration. Phytochemicals are broken down into many categories of possible health benefits with respect to human consumption. Genistein and Daidzein are found in soy beans and tofu reducing blood pressure and increasing blood vessel dilation. Dietary fiber found in wheat bran and oats may reduce the risk of colon as well as breast cancer while the beta-glucans associated with these fibers binds dietary cholesterol in the gut preventing it from being absorbed into the bloodstream thereby lowering blood cholesterol levels. Sulforaphanes found in cruciferous plants such
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Beloved Bina Das By Mandira Chattopadhyay Continued from page 03
be pressed to join an underground revolutionary group to stand against the British. Little did we know she had such a fire in her that she was known as Agni-Kanya (Daughter of Fire). We kept in touch with her years later after we finished school. We used to save our money to visit her; she would be overwhelmed with joy to see her former students. She was always surrounded with her chosen pupils and left her door open for us. She never wanted anyone to sing her glory. But at the end of her life she wrote her memoir at the insistence of some of her admirers. It is unbelievable that when she was only twenty-one years old she had fired five shots at the governor of Bengal, Stanley Jackson, at her Calcutta University graduation convocation in 1932. None of the shots hit their mark. At a young age, Bina Das had secretly joined the underground movement. Her parents were initially unaware of their daughter's political passion, but soon they realized she was ready to give every drop of her blood for her motherland. Her political idols were Gandhiji and Netaji, both of whom she held in high esteem. Nataji Bose at the time was a young, handsome revolutionary hero. In her young age she was inspired by the fiery speeches of the young revolutionary leader, Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose who was a favorite student of her father, Benimadhab Das who was a well known Brahmo Samaj leader. As a follower of Netaji, Bina Das said; “How wonderful it would be if we had real weapons…Just imagine Subhas as a GOC – we would march as armed soldiers to fight a real battle against the British army.” She became an active participant in the historical armory raid of Chittagong. She admitted that she disappointed her parents by the shooting. But her parents also accepted the fact that to bring freedom for the country she would do anything. After the shooting incident her life was spared, but she was sent to prison immediately. Through many hard experiences in prison, the stream of her captive days flowed on. She stated, “We spent seven long years behind prison walls – seven summers, seven winters, seven springs.” But Bina Das with her magnanimity looked at the positive side of the cell life. She commented in her memoir that perhaps she learned to introspect into 'self' in course of her prolonged stay in prison. “Prison life has its compensation too. There is no better place to help a person turn inward…. “In jail, we have to face the ultimate test of knowing oneself…Gradually we started losing contact with the outside world and confined ourselves to inside the four walls of prison. Again, life became for us an 'idle' pursuit in solitude where day and night had ears only for thought.” Knowing all this later in life, we could realize why she never criticized or scolded us in school; instead, she tried to put us in a situation where we would realize our own mistakes. She used to put us in one corner and made us think what wrong we had done. She referred to this realization of 'self in her memoir. In her memoir about her life in prison, she wrote how everything was denied, even the fragrance of flowers. Once she and her fellow prisoners gathered some Belful and Rajanigandha flowers from the prison
garden and kept them in their cells. When the jailor came to close the prison door, he yelled at her upon seeing the flowers adorning her cell. In another instance, even the simple pleasure of wearing a sari was taken away and replaced with rugged kurtas, but the women prisoners made blouses out of those kurtas and held on to one or two saris. The prison guard eventually confiscated them as violating the prison dress code. At one point, all the women prisoners thought they would never see the light again. To their utter surprise, after seven years of prison they came to know that Mahatma Gandhi was pleading for their release. The following year, these caged prisoners again saw the boundless sky. If Rabindranath Tagore at that critical time would not have stopped the government from sending women prisoners from Calcutta jail to the Andaman Islands, our beloved Binadi would have been lost and we would not have been enriched by her in our young age. After her release from prison, she did not stop; she continued her efforts as a freedom-fighter. She remembered always the task they had to finish, the tasks that the dead prisoners left behind. After seven years of prison, she went back to jail a number of times for attending rallies and protesting against the British army. Once during their imprisonment they used to sit near the windows of the jail and watch the cars pass by. But one day the jail guard came and sealed the window. While she was out of jail, she tried different means to inspire young women including writing for the now defunct magazine “Mandira.” This magazine was run by women with the intention of spreading political ideas through literature. “I felt elated at the idea of participating in literary work…From our early years we were interested in creative writing. As little girls, my sisters and I brought out a hand-written magazine. Just to encourage me, my sisters made me the editor. All the contents of the magazine, stories, essays, poems and pictures were contributed by the members of our family…. As a child I did not play with friends of my age. I loved to spend time on my mother's lap listening to her stories or relating my own tales. I continued doing this even after I grew up.” When we had her as a teacher, she used to tell us stories by different authors and we felt as if we were listening to fairy tales. Binadi always appreciated the abundance of love she received at home. Though she did not have a child of her own, she passed this abundance to all her students. She wanted to tap the silent talents in her students through writing, reciting and performing. The day she left our school, she told each of us to take a piece of paper and express ourselves in writing. As a freshman when I went to college as an English honors student, I visited her again in her humble apartment, and asked her advice what book I should write for my college essay; she immediately answered: “Write what your heart desires, don't try to impress anybody.” I told her that my favorite book was 'Alice in Wonderland;' I liked the way Alice tries to get out of mazes.” She probably liked such an idea because she herself had been threading various mazes through all her youth. As a young woman, she was torn between her decision to take the path of violence and non-
violence. After seven years in jail, she became an ardent follower of non-violence of Mahatma Gandhi. It was very painful for her not to support Netaji's army. In her memoir, she expressed her guilt and also Netaji's stubbornness and their admiration towards each other. She probably felt that she could have stopped his disappearance, if she had spent more time with him: “In the month of January 1941 I met Subhas Babu for the last time. He was confined to his home because of his illness. One day he sent a message that he wished to see me. I had not seen him since my release from jail, but I believed he had kept track of my political moves, so I was surprised when he sent for me… We conversed for almost an hour. Four or five days later, I read in the newspaper of his disappearance. I often wonder why he sent for me. . . . So many questions passed through my mind.” Years later I met her again at a memorial for a young English major student, Bhudev Sen who tried to be a revolutionary poet, and was senselessly shot to death by the police on the college campus. I glimpsed her there, but by then she was just a silent observer. We, her students, whenever we talk about our Binadi, our icon, sometimes wonder was it the disappearance of Netaji that always bothered her. After the death of her husband, she also disappeared and her dead body was found on a green hillside. The rumor goes that she went to Rishikesh to search for Netaji. However, we thought she went off to be one with the Omnipotent. We sang quietly what she told us when she left: “I take the dust of this beautiful world and bring it into my heart.”
So, Is the World Flat Then? By Jayeeta Banerjee Ganguly When Christopher Columbus set sail, he assumed that the earth was round and that he could get to India by going west. However, he had underestimated the distance and had not anticipated running into a landmass before he reached the East Indies. Nevertheless, he called the aboriginals of the new world “Indians”. On returning home, he was able to tell his patrons, King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella that the world was indeed round. When Thomas L.Friedman, an award-winning journalist who has written for the New York Times since 1981, 'set sail' on Lufthansa for India with a small crew from the Discovery Times Channel, he also assumed that the world was round. Unlike Columbus, he actually found India but thought the place and many of the people to be Americans. Like Columbus, he did return home to share his discovery, but could do so only with his wife and that too in a whisper. Friedman confided- “The world is flat”. Columbus was attracted by the magical riches of the East- the spices, gold, pearls, gems, and silk. Friedman's motive was to understand why India had become such an important tool for the outsourcing of service and information technology work from America and other industrialized counties. So how does he come to the conclusion instead that the world is flat? Friedman says that it actually happened at Nandan Nilekani's (the CEO of Infosys) office in Bangalore. Even though one might have to snake through streets of motorized rickshaws, sacred cows, and horse-drawn carts on their way, the scene changes dramatically once one enters the gates of Infosys. “It's a different world”, Turn to page 13
LEWA Safaricom Marathon in Kenya: Pleasure and Pains on the African Plains By Sam Adhikari Continued from page 08
up. Behind me was the stunning peaks of Mt. Kenya and Lolokwe whilst above me choppers started frightening the wits out of any man-threatening mammals. It was a liberating experience. Where else can you run through stunning African bush teeming with game and alongside some of the finest long distance runners that ever lived? It is also one of grueling marathons in the world. There's the altitude (6500 ft), stifling heat as it is near the equator (around 85 deg F), remorseless rolling hills of the bush and a psychologically murderous two laps for those who choose the marathon over the half. And, of course that's not to mention that, despite all the top notch security, you are always slightly wondering whether a lion might leap out from behind a bush and eat you alive on the course washing down with Lucozade (a local energy drink provided at the water stations). Security was tight throughout the race. Wildlife living within the reserve has the right of way on the hilly dirt roads but not at the cost of human lives. A spotter plane and helicopters continuously monitored the 1250 runners from 23 different countries to prevent any inter-species interactions. Over 50 game Park rangers armed with high-powered rifles were stationed on the course to assure no one was eaten by a lion or trampled by an elephant. As I stated before, Lewa Safaricom Marathon is run entirely on dirt roads covering 26.2 miles (13.1 miles for the half) through some of the world's most beautiful scenery. Its picturesque setting makes the run all the more worthwhile. With a chopper hovering overhead, the race started with the bang of a gun. 1250 runners from 23 countries of all abilities from walkers to fun runners, amateurs to Kenya's world famous professionals took off with a fast sprinting pace as everybody funnel into a bottleneck creating a cloud of dust from the thumping footprints on the dusty track for the first few kilometers. But we soon thinned out on the dusty track and I fell into good slow pace for the first 6 km concentrating on picking my path around the other runners – not to get tripped and fall flat on my nose and monitoring my breathing in the high altitude. Water stations appeared every 2.5 km serving spring water, Lucozade and the most satisfying of all … cool wet sponges. After 15 minutes of running, the cool pink dawn was but a distant memory as my skin began to bake under the sun. Ahead of me, an antlike procession of runners already stretched far into the distance. The first 6 km was fairly easy – then the series of tortuous long ascents began. Rather than panic as my lungs burned in their fight for oxygen, I slowed my pace further and sometimes I definitely walked. I have no shame in admitting that. The slow pace and the walk made for a nice view of the beautiful surrounding panorama. The picturesque fire red ball of sun was sliding behind the cloud cover engulfing Mt. Kenya, creating scenery over the African landscape like I had never seen before. The umbrella Acacia trees speckled the hay colored savannah grasses with a spot of forest sprouting up around a stream. In the distance the jagged
peaks of Mt. Kenya and Lolokwe cast a shadow across the vast plains where I noticed groups of carefree Impalas bask in the realization that the big cats had moved on for now. It was absolutely a stunning scenery with fresh air in my face . Now I realized why the future king of England, Prince William and Kate Middleton chose this region for their engagement in 2010. As I trudged across the Sirikoi Valley I encountered a Zebra on my right and slowed down as the muscular black and white hides assumed the right of way, their hooves kicking up a cloud of dust. The Zebra hadn't noticed me yet and I had no idea what it might do when it did. Zebras are notoriously ill-tempered and known to panic under stress. “Keep it going” shouted one of the volunteers manning the nearby water station as I grabbed desperately for a cool sponge. Fortunately, I won the contest that really mattered. Once my zebra challenger finally caught sight of me on the trail, he conceded defeat, pulling up short with a snort and a shake of his mane. I thanked him as I jogged past. My body began to wilt as the ground continued its inexorable rise. Gritting my teeth, I fixed my eyes on the sweat-soaked T-shirt of the man in front of me. The words were already familiar but it momentarily took my mind off the task in hand: “Every morning in Africa, a gazelle wakes up and it knows that it must outrun the fastest lion or it will be killed. Every morning in Africa, a lion wakes up and it knows that it must run faster than the slowest gazelle or it will starve. It doesn't matter whether you're a lion or a gazelle, when the sun comes up you'd better be running.” And I started running. As I was nearing 16 km marker, suddenly I heard something like suppressed hissing sound of very short duration in quick succession coming from behind. Before I could turn my head entirely to see what it was, three lean Kenyans wheezed past me with their majestic strides battling each other for the first prize that equaled three years Kenyan wages. It was them making warning sounds to move away from their path. They sailed past by me with the fluid grace of a gazelle with their tall, lanky feet (their strides were almost twice the length of mine). Their strides were long, gaits were smooth and their feet seemed to strike with the fleeting impact of a gentle kiss on the rubble strewn paths while I was slipping and sliding on the awkward camber of the dusty rocky road. Why are Kenyans so good in their long distance running? This is my observation. Whatever I have seen in my short journey is that everybody from kids to the grown-ups walk/run almost two to five miles or more one way to their schools or to the main roads to catch the public transportation to their business/work places. They all walk/run on the dirt narrow path through the bushes from their homes. Even in Nairobi city, the majority of the people were walking to their destination despite the presence of public buses. I have seen very few Kenyans using bicycle or scooter as a mode of transport. Not only they walk, they all carry some loads with them – backpack, grocery, goods etc. which makes their legs much stronger. I had seen how
early their commitments start in the Kids 5 km race. Here running is a mode of transport, an expression and a way of life. Some say their success also comes from the importance of cattle raiding in tribal culture. Many cattle raiders were night runners who might cover 60 km overnight to target cattle at the break of the day. Cattle raiding was very dangerous and a means of tribal war. The fastest runners always held immense importance within Kenyan tribes. In the early 20th century the British authorities sought to reduce the tribal tension of cattle raiding by replacing it with athletics. The Kenyans have since had unprecedented success running world wide and have dominated the distance events from marathon to cross country championships. Back in the land of minnows, I just had to focus on the last 5 km to finish the half-marathon race. Now even some of Kenya's more sturdily built women were passing me. A helicopter flew overhead and waved at me. I mustered a wave and a smile. As I passed 16 km marker on the crest of a hill, I realized that it was all downhill or flat from here and I started to relax. Just ahead of me, I saw a family of baboons with their pink rear ends bouncing down the dirt roads creating obstacles. They ran around to pick up and sip whatever was left in the energy drink bottles thrown away by the runners as they came near the finish. I also threw my bottle to the side of the road to distract them and my path was clear. Towards the end it was a constant fight between the body and the mind. My body wanted to quit the race but the mind would not allow it. I assured my body that this would be my last race and asked it to please let me finish. I was elated to see the marker on the road indicating the way to the 2nd lap for the marathon and another arrow pointing to the finish for the half marathon and I gladly turned left for the halfmarathon finish. The final stretch passed surprisingly quickly. As the crowds thickened near the finish, I picked my leaden feet and crossed the finish line in 2 hour 56 minutes to complete my 3rd continent (North America, Asia and Africa) half-marathon race towards my eligibility for prestigious 7-Continent Club membership. The same body which was a rebel sometime earlier and wanted to quit the race now indicated “what's the next race.” Yes, my mind has already been set up for the next one. It is in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil on 17th July for my 4th continent (South America). When you run a marathon, particularly some of these difficult ones, you get out there and you think “why in the world am I doing this to sign up for this selfinduced torture? I must be nuts and of course I am. But then you finish and it's such a high that the thrill of victory makes you forget all the agony, aches and pains. The thing about doing these adventure marathons is that you don't run for time. You can run a marathon to have a good “time” or to have a “good” time meaning you can run a fast time or have fun. These adventure marathons are usually pretty severe (conditions) and I found I like the adventure marathons better than stereo typed big city marathons on the paved road. I could go on a safari and take a lot of pictures and it would be great. But to do a marathon along with it is quite a different adventure and memorable experience. My next run is in South America continent in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil on 17 July, 2011 and in Iceland, Europe on 18 August, 2011
The Phantom of the Indian Jungles – Royal Bengal Tiger By Nirmalya Chakraborty (Editor's Note: Nirmalya Chakraborty of Jersey City, NJ is the Founder President and Editor of Jungle Rhythms) The Royal Bengal Tiger is the most magnificent animal that walks the face of this earth. His charisma binds most of his visitors - to his thick jungle home or his artificial zoological park 'prison'. His manly looks inflict a sense of utmost royalty which proclaims his kingship. 'The more we read about him, the more he comes in our dreams' was rightly said by hunter converted naturalist Jim Corbett. A look into the secret life of the tiger reveals much more emotional traits that remove completely all the devilish misconceptions attached to this beautiful creation. Tiger - Our Life: Tiger has always been deeply connected with our rich culture. Historians have found coins with tiger emblem, potteries with tiger paintings used during the early Mohenjo-Daro Harappan civilization. They have also explored some pre-historic cave paintings which had tiger-hunting scenes of men armed with spears and arrows. Many other paintings also been later recovered that had man-eating tigers attacking colonial hunters. Other old photographs showed the Maharaja's royal style of tiger hunting as a sport. Tiger is also depicted in many dance forms, films & poems- 'Bagh Mama' of Satyajit Ray's film 'Gupi Gayen Bagha Bayen' to the rich & rhythmic dances of the many tribal communities of central India who dance the movements of the tiger in style as a sign of prosperity. Tiger also has a rich poetic coverage. “Tiger! Tiger! Burning bright; In the forests of the Night!' This famous poem by the great poet - William Blake has made the Royal Bengal Tiger a character immortal in time. He is 'God' for the people of famous heritage swampland biosphere – 'Sundarban Tiger Reserve in Bengal where the name - Royal Bengal Tiger originated. In Sundarbans, the tiger is worshipped as 'Bonbibi' and 'Lakhindar' and every member who visit the forest to harness forest products like wood, honey, fish etc pays homage to the God before venturing out. Also some other tribal people like Gondi actively worship the tiger. He is respected as the 'bahan' (vehicle) for 'Santoshi Ma' – a deity of power for the Hindu culture. Tiger Speaks: Tiger by nature is a very secretive and human-shy animal. Tiger never hunts when he is not hungry. A tiger will also never attack unless it is provoked or his comfort zone is overshot. A tigress is a very caring mother who fiercely guards her 3-5 cubs till first 3 years of their lives. But the male tiger shares little responsibilities to raise the family unlike traditional beliefs. His presence vibrates with activity as all other animals like deer, monkey, peacocks all remain alert of his presence and raise 'alarm calls' to protect themselves from being converted to his meals. He is truly the soul of the forest who walks the forest floor very silently like 'the spirit of the jungle'.Tiger is so sensitive that its prosperity depends directly on the health of the entire ecosystem he lives in. A tiger's needs are pretty basic ingredients of life but they are all too complex to the core. Tigers need space- space to set up their ranges (kingdom), and regularly mark them to proclaim supremacy. Every male tiger needs around 10 sq km area which is shared among multiple tigresses. The protected tiger habitats are shrinking rapidly and tigers outside these areas are many and are very unsafe. Tigers of the buffer zones (outside protected areas) frequently conflict with human by picking their cattle as easy prey in absence of natural prey species and die a death of poisoning or mob-beatings. Tigers need prey species like deer, wild boar, antelope and other denizens that help them to survive. Tigers need water & shade i.e. thick woodland with a good perennially flowing stream. The demand for more power, endless industrialization, greed for mineral wealth and blind trust in non-scientific traditional Chinese medicine has dragged the majestic cat near extinction. His habitats are shrinking as his kingdom is being cleaned to make dams over rivers for hydro-power generation; his mountains are blasted and forests cleaned to make roads, town-ships. Mafias also intrude into his forest to dig for precious minerals like coal etc.
Poaching is the main death trap for the tiger. Every part of the tiger is considered precious and fetches a very high international value in the black market. Poachers are generally poor tribal people having a deep cultural hunting background or opportunistic hunters of the same tiger-land who lay snares and bleed a tiger to death who accidently trips over it. The tiger is then secretly skinned, then its canines and claws are removed, and bones collected and bagged to be exported through underworld connections to China to be grinded into traditional medicines with no scientific Royal Bengal Tiger value. Their canines are believed to provide courage and man-hood. National Parks like Sariska & Panna had been wiped off its tigers by poachers. Recently tigers from other parks had to be relocated with radio-collars fitted to track and monitor them. It is believed that Panna Tiger Reserve still has poacher activity, as recently a leopard (panther) was found caught in a snare trap which was later treated and released. It is really a concern that tiger populations have really declined rapidly from 5000 during 1980s to odd 1700 counted in the last census. Wildlife laws have started to strengthen and trials in courts have recently convicted major culprits. InterPOL also have pledged to fight the illegal trade in tiger products and hope to catch major heads of the crime organizations in the trade. It has also being decided that every major park will have a tiger force that will monitor and protect the tiger in the park's protected zones. Tiger Research is also on full swing where tiger populations are analyzed and habitat health is examined using high-tech DNA analysis and other tools. The Last Word: Not only is tiger a beautiful animal but it is also the indicator of the forest's health where he freely lives. Saving the tiger is saving the entire forest ecology, since tiger cannot live in places where trees have vanished, which in turn secures food and water for all. If we make sure tigers live, we have to make sure that deer, antelope and all other animals that the tiger eats (its prey base) live happily. To make sure that these herbivores live, we must make sure that all the trees, grass and other plants that these animals need for food are protected. In this way, the whole forest along with ants, spiders, frogs & fishes all gets saved! Saving the tiger is saving its entire forest kingdom with all the other animals in it. Also forests catch and help store rainwater and protect soils. In this way we protect our rivers and recharge groundwater sources. Areas with less trees lead to floods, killing people and destroying homes. It takes away the precious soil, leaving behind a wasteland. The soil jams up our lakes and dams, reducing their ability to store water. By destroying the tiger's home, we not only harm tigers, but also ourselves. The tiger thus becomes the symbol for the protection of all species on our earth since it is at the top of the food chain. This is why we sometimes call the tiger, an apex predator, an indicator of our ecosystem's health. Please, help us save the Tiger.
Let Food be thy Medicine Continued from page 08
as broccoli and cauliflower neutralizes free radicals which reduces the risk of some types of cancers. Free radicals are errant oxygen atoms which have lost one of the electrons in their outer shells in response to ultraviolet light in sunshine which is why people who spend too much time in the sun are more likely to get skin cancer and cataracts. Toxins of all sorts such as: tobacco smoke, the natural chemicals found in our food, the poisonous wastes of our own metabolism and man-made toxins like air pollution and pesticides also produce free radicals. The carotinoids in carrots and tomatoes also neutralize free radicals which cause cell damage. Sulfides and thiols that provide the bite in onions and garlic help decrease LDL (low density “bad” lipoprotein) cholesterol. Anthocyanins found in highly colored foods such as strawberries, dark colored grape juice and blackberries improve vision, inhibit oxidative stress, decrease platelet aggregation and have neuroprotective effects. Proanthocyanidins in red wine, grape extracts and cocoa inhibit proinflammatory responses in the arterial walls. The bottom line here is to eat more plant based food having every color of the rainbow. But wait! I forgot one. Actually it is not a color in the rainbow. Technically it is not even a color—BLACK! The polyphenols found in black tea and black (dark) chocolate possess substantial anti-oxidant and antiinflammatory properties. In fact, the black seed coating on soybeans has one of the highest levels of polyphenols, isoflavones and total antioxidant capacity seen in studies recently conducted by the University of Maryland. And as an added plus, the black seed coating contains cyanidin-3-glucoside—a potent anthocyanin which may turn out to be one of the most important anthocyanins. Potent polyphenols of course are not limited to these “black” foodstuffs. A recent study of fruit found that of the twenty four fruits tested, strawberries and lichees ranked numbers one and two in the plant world of the heart healthy polyphenols. According to findings by microbiologists in Bangladesh, another fruit, guava can protect against the food borne pathogens Listeria and Staphylococcus. Guava when ranked against the nutritional information of 50 popular fruits by The Center for Science in the Public Interest ranked number one overall in fiber, vitamin C, potassium, folate, iron, calcium, and antioxidant-packed carotinoids per serving. A word for those who like an occasional drink: Wine and beer have for millennia been considered part of the food galaxy. From the start of Meade making in Africa some 20,000 years ago to the wine making starting 6000 years ago by the ancient civilizations of the middle east, alcohol based beverages have attained an almost mythical reputation for enhancing ones health. Modern day science has refuted (or at the very least clarified) most of those claims. There are, however, some benefits to certain alcoholic beverages. A case in point is the latest supplement craze for resveratrol, a substance found naturally in the skins of red grapes, mulberries and other plants such as Japanese knotweed and in wine, particularly red wine. The beginnings of the socalled 'French paradox' started in 1819 when the opinion was put forth that the French may experience a relatively low incidence of coronary heart disease despite having a diet relatively rich in saturated fats because of their intake of red wine. That resveratrol is the sole factor considered in this hypothesis is tenuous since it is only one of a family of related, naturally occurring substances that are formed in grape skins. It may well be that resveratrol exerts its putative beneficial effect through its own action or maybe it does so through a combined effect with these other similar molecules. Studies to date have not yet verified or dismissed this claim. Much of the resveratrol on the market today is produced from knotweed. Irrespective of what one thinks, I'm sure that red wine drinkers will extol the benefits of red wine to all who will listen. Another and more interesting beverage is one with which very few will be familiar (unless of course you are Korean). In Korea, there is a traditional rice wine named makgeolli. What makes this rice wine unique is that it contains a biochemical ingredient called farnesol, a compound which has demonstrated anti-tumor, chemo preventative and anti-microbial characteristics. Tests have shown that even small amounts of farnesol inhaled as an aerosol are effective in fighting lung cancer and other cancerous growths. Testing of many samples of makgeolli detected 150 to 500 parts per billion of farnesol compared to 15-20 ppb found in wine and beer. I recently saw a Korean cooking show where a recipe was given for making makgeolli ice cream!? Whatever its use, I think you will be hearing more in the future about makgeolli.
By Jerry GaMarsh
Now on to some gardening newsMason bees and the case of the missing bees: Bees are a critical component of both gardening and crop production. In fact, they are essential and of primary importance for the production of more than 90 food crops. Starting in the fall of 2006, bee colonies around the world began to lose large numbers of bees. By the winter of 2006, 30 to 90 percent of the hives were lost. Many factors have been blamed for the resultant “Colony Collapse Disorder” but to date the precise cause is still a mystery. Enter the Mason Bee. Unlike the honeybee which was primarily affected by the “Colony Collapse Disorder”, the native American Mason Bee has evolved here over millions of years. The European honeybee was brought here by European settlers 400 years ago. Being quite different from the honeybee, the Mason bee has many people friendly qualities. Since it doesn't produce honey, it has no need for stingers to protect its “hives”. I place the word hives in parenthesis because technically it doesn't build a hive. Moreover, they are able to work in lower temperature ranges than honeybees and their hairy bodies carry more pollen to fertilize your blossoms. What does this have to do with the average gardener? Plenty! Because they work with mud to seal their nests in cracks and crevices (some call them mud daubers), the home gardener can set up “nest kits” available through various garden supply stores. These consist of kraft paper tubes 6” long and 5/16” in diameter. Placed in an area out of the reach of rainfall and direct sunlight, these friendly, docile little bees will work at their tasks while one watches in close proximity. I placed mine in my gazebo this spring and by early fall, all of the tubes had been filled. Just remember to replace the used tubes as the bees hatch during the next spring. Special plants: I have been cutting down plantings of late to decrease the summer workload but one thing I always do is to look for some interesting new and different plants to work with for the current season. This summer I found two which might be of interest to you. The first is a species of an old friend which I wrote about years ago in “My Garden of Memories”: the Datura, favored by Lord Shiva. I had grown what I thought to be a Datura for several years only to find that the plant I was growing in a container was actually the closely related Genus Brugmansia. The Brugmansia differs from the Datura in two ways. It is a woody shrub which can grow to a rather large tree and the flowers it produces are pendulous, hanging down so that one cannot see into the flower. Because of its rapid growth, the size and sheer weight make it difficult to handle. This year, I finally found a true Datura and the difference was striking. To begin with, the plant never exceeded three feet in height and was light enough at the end of the season to easily bring indoors. The flowers produced were strikingly beautiful with their bells of white with brilliant purple patterns pointing straight up so one can look into the flower. And as an added feature, when the flower withers, it leaves in its place a beautiful rather large, rounded seed pod looking somewhat like a gourd. The second plant is a peculiar bird named the Mexican Popcorn plant (Cassia didymobotry). It is definitely a traveler having originated in tropical East Africa. While in the wild it can be a shrub or small tree, it is contained nicely in a pot at two and a half to three feet in height. The leaves are feather like and remind me of the mimosa tree but the characteristics that make this plant unique refer to its name. The flower pods start as small dark brown rounded clusters (looking like the seeds one heats to produce popcorn). These pods in time burst into rounded, thumb nailed sized yellowish flowers looking like popcorn. But the best is yet to come. Grasping the leaves of the plant and rubbing them produces the overwhelming aroma of fresh, buttered popcorn! This little gem is certainly a conversation piece and should provide many pleasurable moments for those with small children. As an added plus, it attracts bees, butterflies and birds. Now that it is January, there are still a few things to do: Look at the seed and plant catalogs you've been receiving over the past month and start planning your 2012 garden. Cut back perennial ground cover plants (such as lirope) and ornamental grasses (as weather permits). If you have planted pansies (which are quite cold tolerant) and you want them to survive, when the temperature is falling below freezing, cover the plants with newspaper or old sheets at night and uncover in the morning. And until the spring, have thoughts of happy gardening.
First Indian win I C Cto C o rRs. n e 5r Crores (USD 1 million) over TV Game Show Reported by Sushmita Dutta
By Prabir Sarkar
Sushil Kumar, a 27 year Previously at this game old ordinary man from the state of show, Rahat Taslim, a house wife Bihar, won Rs 5 Crores (approx. from another small town in India USD1 million) over November 2, had won Rupees 1 crore making 2011, “Kaun Banega Crorepati” her husband proud who (KBC), India's most popular TV confessed on public television game show well-liked by kids, that he never encouraged his wife young adults and senior members pursue higher studies for lack of of Indian homes watching money. A similar story of an participating contestants win big impoverished Indian youth bucks answering simple to tough winning big money over a TV questions on various topics over a game show is the backdrop of Monday through Thursday 90 Oscar winning Indian film minute show on Sony TV, India “Slumdog Millionaire” that took Hosted by India's most the world by storm. I guess rising popular film actor, Amitabh from 'rags to riches' has a Bachchan,”Kaun Banega Crorepati” universal appeal like fairy tales. runs in Hindi with English sub-titles. The economics behind It is interesting to see non-Hindi such heavy monetary rewards: speaking contestants from various “Kaun Banega Crorpati” is parts of India participating in this primarily sponsored by India's Sushil Kumar & Amitabh Bachchan in Kaun Banega Crorpati show retaining their individual giant mobile phone network cultural identity. For example, in one recent show, a Bengali female participant was company “Idea” having major chunk of customers residing in small towns (India lives requested by Amitabh Bachchan to sing a Tagore song and she sang well applauded in villages:72.2% of the total population) which justifies their marketing approach in Tagore's composition - “Tomar holo shuru, Amar holo shara…” encouraging small town, ordinary people participating in the game show. An Aditya The program's first 5 crore prize winner Sushil Kumar from Motihari, a small Birla Group company, Idea has in excess of a billion minutes of wireless phone traffic a town in Bihar, is a computer operator living with his wife and family on a monthly day. Over the game show, “Kaun Banega Crorepati”, millions of TV viewers across the salary of Rs. 6,000. On winning 5 crores said, "I never thought in my wildest of dreams country are requested to respond to a quiz via SMS (Short Messaging Service over that I could do this. I am speechless. I am not able to think or react now. This is surely a telephones) to win Rs.1 to 3 lakhs from their homes. With 865,708,379 million dream come true but it is something that is yet to sink in me. I hope my victory will mobile phone users, India is the second largest mobile phone market in the world inspire people living in small towns of my state Bihar." Amitabh Bachchan replied, (China being the largest 952,310,000 and USA third on the list with 327,577,529 "You have created history. Your grit and determination have made you come so far in million users). Over a million viewers respond to the quiz program on “Kaun Banega this show.” All present at the television set in Mumbai were visibly moved and Crorepati” spending Rs.3 to 5 per user SMS summing-up to an estimated revenue of overjoyed for this small town millionaire. However, Sushil Kumar even after this big Rs. 3 to 5 million generated from each show which clearly justifies the large monetary time win is determined to pursue his dream job. He plans to get enrolled in a coaching rewards. Prior to the mobile SMS era, this show was sponsored by corporate giants institute in Delhi for preparations in civil service entrance exams which, he said, he and the highest reward was Rs.1 core. Even today, corporate giant “Cadbury” cocould not afford with his Rs.6, 000 salaried job. sponsors a part of the game show to promote the company's chocolates.
I C C C o r nSo, e rIs the World Flat Then? By Prabir Sarkar Continued from page 09
By Jayeeta Banerjee Ganguly
is different from the previous eras in not only how rapidly it is shrinking and flattening the world, but also in how it is empowering individuals. And Fareed Zakaria in “The Rise of the Rest” echoes these thoughts. He advocates that a very crucial element of globalization has been the recent power shift. Economic power and growth are no more monopolies of the West. Over the past few decades, countries all over the world have been experiencing rates of economic growth that were once unthinkable. Antoine van Agtmael, the fund manager who coined the term “emerging markets,” has identified the 25 companies most likely to be the world's next great multinationals. His list includes four countries each from Brazil, Mexico, South Korea, and Taiwan; three from India; two from China; and one each from Argentina, Chile, Malaysia, and South Africa. And it is not hard to believe this as when we look around, the tallest building in the world is now in Taipei (soon to be overtaken by the one in Dubai), the world's richest man is Mexican, and its largest publicly traded corporation is Chinese. The largest Ferris wheel is in Singapore. The number one casino is in Macao. The list may be arbitrary, but it cannot be denied that change is occurring. Globalization is indeed shrinking and flattening the world. All said and done, you may choose to call the world flat or an oblate spheroid, or simply round like Columbus did, but one thing is certain; it will never cease to interest us with its supersonic flux and the unpredictable changes. So let's just fasten our seat-belts tight and enjoy the ride while we can.
says the bowled-over Friedman, “[where] massive resort-size swimming pool nestles amid boulders and manicured lawns, adjacent to a huge putting green”. Strewn around are multiple restaurants and a fabulous health club. Glass and steel buildings sprout like weeds! Friedman is further mesmerized by the humongous flat screen (40 digital screens put together) that can hold a virtual meeting of the key members from its entire global supply chain for any project at any time. Security is tight inside, cameras monitoring the doors, and frenzied employees walk briskly dangling their badges - they seem like they could, like a child's play, do your taxes, take your computer apart, or even design it. Nilekani explained to Friedman that outsourcing is just one dimension of a much more fundamental thing happening in world today. Over the past few years, there had been a major investment in technology when hundreds of millions were invested in putting broadband connectivity around the world. At the same time, Nilekani adds, there was an explosion of software- email, search engines like Google, and proprietary software that can chop up any piece of work, and send one part to Boston, one to Bangalore, and the other to Beijing, making it easy for anyone to do remote development. When all these things came together, Nilekani explains, they “created a platform where intellectual work, intellectual capital could be delivered from anywhere…….and what you see in Bangalore today is really the culmination of all these things coming together.” Long story short, the playing field has been leveled, Reference: or flattened. Friedman, Thomas L. “While I Was Sleeping” Globalization has taken a whole different meaning in the current context. It Zakaria, Fareed, “The Rise of the Rest”
ICC Corner By Prabir Sarkar The biggest event of 2011 was the celebration of Durga Puja. This year Durga puja was held at Mt Olive High School, NJ. Durga puja is the biggest festival in many parts of India but particularly in eastern India. It is a celebration that provides an insight to the rich cultural heritage of Bengalis and their close bond with Mother Durga. All those Bengalis and Indians who have migrated to America and those who are born here still cling to this festival very much and celebrate the puja with all the grandeur and pomp. This year the Durga puja was celebrated by ICC here in a homely atmosphere complete with 'prasad' and 'pushpanjali'. There was special Bengali community dinner both days of the Puja. Vendors were ready with their stalls of Sarees, Jewelry, Books, and CD/DVDs. The biggest attraction was the cultural program with an exciting line-up featuring famous artists from Kolkata. This year ICC presented the concert by Nirmalya Roy on Saturday and talented Bengali singer Mr. Soumyen Adhikari on Sunday. On Saturday the cultural program started with "Opening Songs" by our ICC members followed by a dance solo by Soma Das. Another attraction on Saturday was the Banga comedy Natok "Hotaat Jodi" by Toronto Bengali Natok Group. However, the best part of the evening was the concert by Nirmalya Roy and the Resonance Band. They mesmerized the audience by presenting a concert of semi classical music. The selection of songs and music by Nirmalya Roy accompanied by Sitar, Guitar, Tabla and Octopad were just outstanding. Floated on melody, rhythm, fusion of semi classicals and thumri were just too good. The rich variance of the band's music spread the flavor of life, with the speed of sitar and equally astounding tabla. Sunday's program started with ICC Children and guest dancers performing through Mitradi's “Rhythms of Dance Music” produced an excellent show for our audience. Sunday's main artist was Mr. Soumyen Adhikari, the man with the voice of Hemanta Mukhopadhyay. He presented all the oldies from Bengali films and won the hearts of the crowd. Through out the ICC Durga Puja celebration the children of ICC members presented their talents. The highlights were the children's dance "Nrityarpan" under Mitradi's supervision and Kids Natok "Obak Jolpaan" wholly presented by the kids from ICC under the direction of Baruna Haldar. ICC of Garden State is a non-profit community organization that has served the Bengali Diasporas here in NJ since its inception in 1981. For many years
it is our tradition to organize the biggest event of the year, The Durga Puja. As you may know ICC-GS also organizes other functions like Saraswati Puja, Baisakhi, Annual Picnic, Laxmi Puja and Holiday Party. By doing so it brings the community together, creates opportunity to celebrate socio religious festivals in America and provides platform to the community members to showcase their cultural talents. We also take this opportunity to bridge the cultural gap between Bengal and America by bringing in various cultural troupes from Bengal and present them to you. I thank all the executive committee members, puja committee members, founding members, patrons, advertisers, ICC members and our guests who have all have helped to make this joyous festival of Durga Puja and this grand event a great success. Also, on December 4, 2011 we had our Annual General Body Meeting in the Union Hill Presbyterian Church in Denville. This being a non election year the focus was on the financial health of ICC. Our General Secretary welcomed all the members and attendees. After that our President presented the operational details of ICC while the treasurer detailed out the financial accounts and funds. The health of ICC is found to be pretty sound with fund positions improving and with no debt. Overall budgets are balanced with positive cash in hand. Many members expressed their satisfaction in the way ICC is functioning and few members also came forward with very constructive suggestions. The AGM was concluded with a complimentary lunch. The current EC is committed to serve the organization and our community with new spirit and heightened sense of responsibility. As we pass through "Happy Dussera" and "Happy Diwali" into Holiday Season here in America, I remain here by saying “Happy Holidays”.
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N J PA C o r n e r
Kallol Corner By Biman Bhatta Since the picnic outing in August, the two first-rate events that Kallol's executives have staged this year are the Durga Puja and the Lakshmi Puja. Durga Puja, the biggest happening of the year, was held on September 30 thru October 2, 2011 at the Ukrainian Cultural Center in Somerset, New Jersey. In its entirety, the event ultimately did turn out to be a significant achievement which demonstrated how hard the Puja sub-committee members had to work volunteering their time, vigor, and know-how. This occasion happens to be the most eagerly awaited by our community members because it delivers the highest level of gratification to all of our friends and families. During the daytime hours all through the event days our revered priests performed the Puja services with very high dedication, and then adroitly guided us in our prayers to the Mata-Durga. After the conclusion of the Puja ceremonies, arrangements were made each day for serving a delectable dinner to all of our visitors. The food items served were kept wide-ranging and abundant so as to provide a complete satisfaction for everyone. The evening programs of performing arts were ordered to exhibit dance recitals, dramas, and musical concerts that integrated both classical and contemporary compositions. Gifted performers from our community, both young and adult, and some celebrated entertainers from India adeptly presented their shows that were not only pleasurable but also contained diversity as well as excellence. On the following Saturday, October 8, we celebrated the Lakshmi Puja at the John E. Toolan Kiddie Keep Well Camp, Roosevelt Park, Edison, New Jersey. And after the Puja ceremonies were over, Puja-prasad was served to everyone. In addition to the Puja merriment, there was staging of a nice and compact musical line up in the evening that included recitalists solely from our community. To conclude it all, an enjoyable dinner, exclusively cooked by our own people, was served which got admired by all. It was the experience of a very pleasant evening – as if being in a total family circle environment. Our last event of 2011, the New Year's Eve Party, will be held on December 31, Saturday at the Shezan Restaurant, Oak Tree Road, Edison, New Jersey. It will be the pinnacle of excitement for everyone as we get to relax, listen to DJ's presentations, enjoy the food, drink up the beverages, and eventually usher in the New Year. So please make your best attempt to join us at this event. All updates on Kallol's future activities are regularly posted on the website www.kallol.com. So please visit this link occasionally to keep yourself informed. Thank you and stay well.
By Kankana Sengupta As a freak nor'easter snowstorm blanketed New Jersey causing traffic delays, widespread power outages and felled trees throughout the region, NJPA celebrated its Kalipuja amongst much fanfare. The storm didn't dampen the spirits of those who were able to make it. Though the snow didn't bring out loads of fans for the puja on Saturday, October 29th, there were the diehards. Those who braved the storm were there to take part in the festivities. The event turned out to be a success thanks to all guests, volunteers and sponsors. It was amazing to see that not even the weather could stop devotees big and small and old and young from coming. NJPA always has an exciting cultural program to present. Songs and dances by local talents create a perfect backdrop. Their intensity, hard work and practice pay off to the fullest each time they perform in spite of their busy and hectic schedules. The function at this Kalipuja showed the same trend. Soumen Adhikari mesmerized the audience with his chock full of energy, excitement and poignancy by taking all to the days when the legendary Hemanta Mukherjee reigned supreme with his melodious songs. Akashdeep, a budding singer from NY, rendered his superb tunes with expressivity, perfect singing skills, and flawless styles. NJPA also held its popular Members Only program on November 28th. This is a unique event of the members, for the members and by the members. No talent is too big or too small for our stage. Over the years, this program has grown to be immensely popular. NJPA will be celebrating Saraswati puja in January 2012. Please stay tuned for venue and date. For this and any other upcoming events, please check our website at http://njpa.net.
The Bengali Affair—Across The Globe
Ananda Mandir Membership Recognition
By Pallavi Guha (Editor's Note: This is a third in series of a continuing column by the author) Somber winters, drizzles, late sunrise and early sunset, yes we are talking about the European winter. This will be a European affair in this first issue of 2012. We are featuring the Bengali community of Stockholm, Sweden. Sweden is the fourth largest country in Europe with a low population density. Surprisingly immigration has been a major source of population growth. According to
Ananda Mandir welcomes the following new Benefactors, Silver Grand Patrons and Patron:
the International Religious Freedom Report 2005, the Bengali population was estimated at 1500. The number is small but the Bengali community has made its presence felt over the years. Way back in 1988, Bangya Sanatan Samaj (BSS) was formed by the Bengali diaspora of Stockholm on Bijoya Dashami . For the last 23 years, the organization is keeping alive the Bengali traditions in the Scandinavian region by organizing cultural and religious activities. After Durga Puja and Kali Puja, the community members are now gearing up for the next big event, Saraswati Puja. Bengalis across the region participate whole heartedly. Like Mitali and Krishnendu, from Kolkata have made Malmu, Sweden their home since 2004. Says Mitali, “There are hardly many people from the community in Malmu. But it's much better in Stockholm. We make it a point to participate in all the events. We have a small child and it's very important to inculcate our values and culture in her. We are far away from home and this is the best way to keep ourselves connected to our heritage.” Keep watching out for this space, we are traveling across the globe to bring together the Bengali diaspora and its activities. Data Source: International Religious Freedom Report 2005 http://www.state.gov/g/drl/rls/irf/2005/51583.htm
NEWS YOU MAY HAVE MISSED Focus on the Notable Accomplishments of a Young Member of the local Bengali-American Community Editor's Note: The purpose of The Paul & Daisy Soros Fellowships for New Americans is to provide opportunities for continuing generations of able and accomplished New Americans to achieve leadership in their chosen fields. Each fellow receives tuition and living expenses that can total as much as $90,000 over two academic years. Fellows are selected on the basis of merit – the specific criteria emphasize creativity, originality, initiative and sustained accomplishment -- in annual national competitions. Featured below is one local Bengali among thirty Spring 2011 Fellows. Visit www.pdsoros.org SHAYAK SARKAR
SHAYAK SARKAR, 25, was born in Morristown, NJ to Bengali parents. His family has lived in nine cities scattered across five states. He attended Harvard, where he earned AB and AM degrees in applied mathematics and statistics and won election to Phi Beta Kappa. Then as a Rhodes Scholar, he earned MSc degrees with distinction at Oxford in evidence-based social work and development economics. Shayak is currently pursuing both a PhD in economics from Harvard and a law degree from Yale. In college, he directed the Harvard Square Homeless Shelter, worked with LGBT youth living on the streets, and taught a baking-based, service learning ESL curriculum to refugees. He also served as treasurer of the Phillips Brooks House Association (PBHA), Harvard's largest student organization and center for social action. In India, he has worked as a researcher on educational census, gender empowerment, and anti-sex trafficking projects with local NGOs. Shayak will use his Paul & Daisy Soros Fellowship to support his continuing studies at Yale and Harvard.
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