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Aging Out in Silicon Valley

by Krishnamachar Sreenivasan

Light—First Prize Katha Winner


by Mustafa Abubaker

by Sarita Sarvate

Celebrating 27 Years of Excellence


Years After the Nobel Prize


rr u C a i d n I

oon in s s e h launc ! , D.C. n o t g n Washi

July 2013 • vol. 27, no . 4 • www.

Recently, Rabindranath Tagore’s legacy was re-examined by arbiters of literature. One hundred years after the Nobel Prize, who is this poet/philospher to readers? by Anita Felicelli

Chicken Little Intervention 1885 Lundy Ave, Suite 220, San Jose, CA 95131 Phone: (408) 324-0488 (714) 523-8788 Fax: (408) 324-0477 Email: Publisher & Editor: Vandana Kumar (408) 324-0488 x 225 Advertising Manager: Derek Nunes Northern California: (408) 324-0488 x 222 Southern California: (714) 523-8788 x 222 Marketing Associate: Raj Singh (408) 324-0488 x221 Graphic Designer: Nghia Vuong EDITORIAL BOARD Managing Editor: Jaya Padmanabhan (408) 324-0488 x 226 Events Editor: Mona Shah (408) 324-0488 x 224 COLUMNISTS Dear Doctor: Alzak Amlani Films: Aniruddh Chawda Forum: Rameysh Ramdas On Inglish: Kalpana Mohan The Last Word: Sarita Sarvate A Thousand Words: Ragini Srinivasan Contributors: Mustafa Abubaker, Jasbina Ahluwalia, Tim Charles, Anita Felicelli, Melanie Kumar, P. Mahadevan, Tara Menon, Reema Minawala, Kavya Padmanabhan, Rajee Padmanabhan, Lakshmi Palecanda, Kalpana Mohanty, Mimm Patterson, Gaurav Rastogi, Naresh Rajan, Teed Rockwell, Sandip Roy, Suchi Sargam, Vijitha Shyam, Krishnamachar Sreenivasan, Mani Subramani, Hemlata Vasavada, Vivek Wadhwa Cover Design: Nghia Vuong. INDIA CURRENTS® (ISSN 0896-095X) is published monthly (except Dec/Jan, which is a combined issue) for $19.95 per year by India Currents, 1885 Lundy Ave., Ste 220, San Jose, CA 95131. Periodicals postage paid at San Jose, CA, and at additional mailing offices. POSTMASTER: Send address changes to INDIA CURRENTS, 1885 LUNDY AVE, STE. 220, SAN JOSE, CA 95131 Information provided is accurate as of the date of going to press; India Currents is not responsible for errors or omissions. Opinions expressed are those of individual authors. Advertising copy, logos, and artwork are the sole responsibility of individual advertisers, not of India Currents. Copyright © 2013 by India Currents All rights reserved. Fully indexed by Ethnic Newswatch

Syria is not our problem. Our problem is a President who seems unable to combat rhetoric. In an attempt to buy time and deal with criticism from the voluble President Clinton and relentless warmongering commentary from Charles Krauthammer, the U.S. Administration has decided to supply the Syrian rebels with small arms and ammunitions. This, despite polls indicating that Syria should not be made into a political yardstick for presidential performance. If abstaining from involvement works for the American public (as polls indicate), Obama’s attempt at appeasement pleases no one. With trenchant disdain, The New York Times columnist Maureen Dowd called the announcement a “pittance of a policy.” And with knee jerk reactiveness Krauthammer questioned, “What’s he going to do? Add chicken to the tuna we’re giving them in the food aid?” Clinton, citing examples of Kosovo and Bosnia from his own term to support his Syrian interventionist stance, judiciously refrained from mentioning Rwanda or Somalia where a bad situation became worse after U.S. involvement. History has shown us several dismal results of foreign interference. Consider Afghanistan in the 1980s when U.S. foreign policy revolved on routing the Russians from

Afghanistan with the supply of arms to the rebel Mujahideen faction. Osama bin Laden was part of that faction. During the Sri Lankan Civil War, Prime Minister Indira Gandhi remarked, “We have never interfered with the internal developments of any country in the past and we will not do so now.” Not much later, India did intervene in Sri Lanka, angering the Tamil Tigers who later assassinated Rajiv Gandhi, the son of the same head of state who had vowed not to interfere. Why should the United States intervene in Syria? Are we sure that we will effect a desired outcome? As Hans J. Morgenthau once said, “We have come to overrate enormously what a nation can do for another nation by intervening in affairs—even with the latter’s consent. This overestimation of our power to intervene is a corollary of our ideological commitment, which by its very nature has no limit.” When it comes to dealing with strictures, Obama would do well to heed the Chicken Little moral. The sky is a long way from falling, no matter how many doomsayers predict it.

Jaya Padmanabhan

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July 2013 | | 1

2 | INDIA CURRENTS | July 2013

INDIA CURRENTS july 2013 • vol 27 • no 4

PERSPECTIVES 1 | EDITORIAL Chicken Little Intervention By Jaya Padmanabhan

Northern California Edition


30 | BUSINESS How I Learned that Selling Is a Key to Success By Vivek Wadhwa

Find us on

6 | FORUM Is Surveillance in the Name of Protection Ok? By Rameysh Ramdas, Mani Subramani

34 | BOOKS A Review of The Sweetness of Tears and And Laughter Fell From the Sky By Tara Menon, Hemlata Vasavada

8 | PERSPECTIVE The Power of My 929 By Rajee Padmanabhan

56 | RECIPES A Staple Nourishment By Vijitha Shyam

20 | YOUTH How Paati Learned to Swim By Kavya Padmanabhan, Art by Reema Minawala 28 | DESI VOICE Green For Go By Kalpana Iyer Mohanty 52 | TRAVEL Looking for Calcutta By Melanie Kumar 54 | OPINION Wikipedia’s Sexist Turn By Sandip Roy 70 | IN MEMORIAM Lalgudi G. Jayaraman By P. Mahadevan 102 | REFLECTIONS Identity Crisis By Gaurav Rastogi 110 | Q&A Chronicles of Culture By Suchi Sargam

12 | 100 Years After the Nobel Prize Exploring the legacy of Rabindranath Tagore By Anita Felicelli

144 | THE LASTWORD Tea By Sarita Sarvate

76 | MUSIC: Sliding into Ragasphere By Teed Rockwell 112 | HEALTHY LIFE Yin Yoga By Mimm Patterson

24 | Feature Aging Out in Silicon Valley By Krishnamachar Sreenivasan

125 | DEAR DOCTOR The Complexity of Complexes By Alzak Amlani


38 | Fiction Light By Mustafa Abubaker

132 | BOTTOMLINE The Accursed Couch By Lakshmi Palecanda 135 | ON INGLISH I’ll Have Three Sugars With That, Please By Kalpana Mohan

68 | RELATIONSHIP DIVA Taking Him Back By Jasbina Ahluwalia

KATHA 1st Prize Winner

5 | Voices 40 | Popular Articles 32 | Ask a Lawyer 33 | Visa Dates

137 | Films

126 | Classifieds 138 | Viewfinder

A Review of Yeh Jawaani Hai Deewani


By Aniruddh Chawda

| Cultural Calendar 88 104 | Spiritual Calendar July 2013 | | 3


4 | INDIA CURRENTS | July 2013

voices Why Indian-Americans Flock to the Democratic Party

In the Viewpoint column (How Immigration Reform Could Swing the Indian American Vote, India Currents, June 2013), authors Subramanian and Chougule suggest that Indian-Americans should vote for the Republican Party, in part, because it proactively advocates on behalf of highly-skilled immigrants from India. However, the immigration policies of the GOP and the Democratic Party are a bit more nuanced. The Hart-Celler Immigration Act of 1965 created two major categories of immigrants, namely, skill-based and family-based immigrants. Over the years, the Democratic Party has generally supported family-based immigration to woo minority voters (especially Latinos), and opposed skill-based immigration to appease labor unions. The GOP, on the other hand, has supported skill-based immigration to help large corporations, and opposed family-based immigration to appease traditional opponents of (non-European) immigration. In the 60s and 70s, most Indians immigrated under the skill category, but since then, Indian immigration under the family category has grown quite rapidly. Thus it is not obvious that most Indian-American citizens today would prefer the immigration policies of the GOP over those of the Democratic Party. But what about other hot-button issues like abortion, gun control, gay rights, and income tax rates? I think most Indian-Americans are not too concerned about the relatively small differences between the policies of the two parties on such issues. Moreover, most well-off Indian-Americans seem more interested in growing their income than in lowering their tax rates. Some Indian-Americans do worry about the rising cost of health care. But over the years, the U.S. health care system has been gradually heading towards financial disaster regardless of the party in power. Only a major financial collapse of the system will force some truly radical changes. Until then, occasional tinkering by either party will probably not make much difference. So, given all this, why do Indian-Americans flock to the Democratic Party? I think the principal reason is that it is the party of the underdog. Most Indian-Americans view themselves as underdogs in the American political space. Therefore, they are attracted to a party that truly embraces and celebrates racial, cultural, and religious diversity. It is perhaps no coincidence that the first black President of America was a Democrat. And

it will be no coincidence that the first IndianAmerican Justice of the Supreme Court will be nominated by a Democratic President. Vijay Gupta, Cupertino, CA

The Mount Madonna School

I’ve been enjoying, very much, the array of articles and events in India Currents’ June issue. Today I read with interest Ritu Marwah’s article, (Minding the Gap, India Currents, June 2013) about the founding of the India Community Center. Very nice! As I was unfamiliar with some of this background, I appreciated her insights and perspective. I would like to share a clarification with your readers. Ritu Marwah writes “High schools like Castilleja and Crystal Springs have taken students to India as part of their ethics or business curriculum ...” For the record, Mount Madonna School has taken classes of students to India as part of its capstone “Values in World Thought” curriculum since 2007 (in addition, students visit South Africa [we have a group there now], Nigeria, and biannually a behind-the-scenes Washington, D.C. interview tour) It’s worth noting that D.C. initiative has happened for more than two decades! My point? I’m sure many schools have some aspect of a “study abroad” or travel component. However, Mount Madonna School’s respect for Indian culture and connections with the Sri Ram Ashram in Haridwar and the Pardada Pardadi Vocational School in Uttar Pradesh, have long been noted and respected for going more in-depth and developing long-lasting connections— and it would have been nice to have Mount Madonna School noted alongside the other two schools mentioned in the article. Leigh Ann Clifton, Watsonville, CA

Book Lover’s Impulse

Jaya Padmanabhan recalls her mixed emotions, surprise and delight, as a child of eight when her father brought home a hoard of books all at once, in her editorial (My Father and His Sixty Books, India Currents, June

SPEAK YOUR MIND! Have a thought or opinion to share? Send us an original letter of up to 300 words, and include your name, address, and phone number. Letters are edited for clarity and brevity. Write India Currents Letters, 1885 Lundy Ave. Suite 220, San Jose 95131 or email

2013). He was an impulsive collector of “stuff,” in this case books, just as others collect shoes, jewelry, toys, figurines, hats et. al. The editorial reminds me of an incident that occurred a few years ago. The Kerala community in Southern California celebrates Onam every year elaborately in traditional style. During the event in 1998, with Princess Gouri Lakshmi Bayi of the Travancore Royal family as the chief guest, a surprising turn came about as the Princess was about to release for the first time in America, her new book, Sree Padmanabha Swamy Temple. A gentleman stood up and respectfully interrupted her to ask whether she would object if he bought all one hundred copies of the book and distributed them to the assembled families as a free Onam gift. The Princess looked surprised, but agreed. I, too, got a copy. It is a well-bound, hard cover volume, running well over four hundred pages, an excellent reference publication. The donor’s (G.A. Menon) impulsive action probably came from respect to the royal family or to the famous temple or plain simple largesse of the heart. In the correspondence column of the Financial Times, recently, the focus of attention was on a different scenario for book lovers. In the present Google Search era, the Encyclopedia Britannica has become obsolete. Millions of proud owners of the complete set, including me, do not like to get rid of them. In the pre-digital days, the notice, “Out of Print” was all too often seen. Will the eccentrics, aka the “book collectors” disappear altogether as fast as the Out of Print sign? P. Mahadevan, Fullerton, CA

My Apologies

The article by Nicole Marsh (An Untold Story, India Currents, June 2013) is a very touching piece about exploring one’s roots and the tragedy of the Chinese in India. I had no idea about this part of India’s history and feel quite ashamed after reading this “untold story.” Don’t know when the Indian government will apologise, if indeed it ever will, but as an Indian, I would certainly like to say a heartfelt sorry to Yin Marsh and her family for all that they had to go through as also to all the other affected Chinese. Thank you for this piece, Nicole. Mel Jeeves, online

A Genealogy Story

Sandip Roy’s article is a lovely genealogy story (My Granddad, The Bengali Peddler, India Currents, June 2013). I had known about the Central Valley Punjabis but this was a new angle. Jay Shah, online July 2013 | | 5


Is Surveillance in the Name of Protection Ok?


No, any surveillance is an intrusion

Yes, surveillance for protection is ok

By Rameysh Ramdas

By Mani Subramani


hen presidential candidate Barack Obama thundered in 2007 in a fiery speech that the George W. Bush administration was “putting forward a false choice between the liberties we cherish and the security we provide” in opposing the warrantless wire tapping program and promised that he would end the practice as President. Here we are six years later with a President Obama and we now have a National Security Agency (NSA) program called PRISM that allegedly collects, according to the Washington Post, emails, documents, photos, and connection logs for millions of Americans arbitrarily by directly connecting to the servers of service providers such as Microsoft, Yahoo, Google among others. I believe that Candidate Obama was right and now President Obama is wrong. Most rational Americans would, like me, give the government the benefit of doubt to do all it can to keep us safe. But, are such broad intrusions into ordinary American lives wise or necessary to keep our nation safe? While our Constitution itself does not explicitly deal with privacy, our nation’s founders in their infinite wisdom included several such provisions in the Bill of Rights—as the fourth amendment that protects the privacy of a person and possessions against unreasonable searches. How about we adopt the Israeli model? They have kept their citizens safe despite facBut, are such broad in- ing terrorism for decades. Their sophisticated inteltrusions into ordinary ligence gathering targets probable suspects. American lives wise or highly Instead, we have been subjecting a 92 year old, necessary to keep our fourth generation Amerination safe? can lady to the same scrutiny at an airport as foreign tourists from countries that harbor terrorists. The PRISM program arbitrarily encroaches on ordinary law-abiding citizen’s privacy with the purpose of aggregating information and then looking for suspects. That seems to be dangerously similar to China where the public have ceded their privacy to their government. President James Madison was absolutely right in his wise opinion when he said, “The loss of liberty at home is to be charged to the provisions against danger, real or imagined, from abroad,” and then he went on to say that “All men having power ought to be distrusted to a certain degree.” We must be smart to get to those that could hurt us like the Boston Bombers that we never did despite a warning from Russia, instead of summarily encroaching on everyone’s privacy. I believe that the American public should have been informed about this snooping. Without public awareness, a program like PRISM takes away a citizen’s right to privacy. We know that data can be misused by those in power. We absolutely expect and trust the government to defend and protect us—but when it comes to our privacy, let us be prudent and cautious with some healthy skepticism about it falling into the wrong hands—even those of our own elected leaders. n

was listening to the news the other day on my way to work. The lead news story rendered by the anchor in somber tones was about the National Security Agency (NSA) surveillance where major cell phone carriers were required to submit telephone records of clients to the government for security purposes. The next decidedly more cheerful story was about the acquisition of a company that sold information about cell phone users GPS locations to advertisers. The advertisers then would stream advertisements relevant to the location of the user. These stories present an interesting irony. It seems to be okay for private companies to profit from trading personal and private information but it is not okay for the government to use the same information to foil terror plots inside the United States. Complaints about privacy ring hollow when people readily disclose personal information on social media. In a recent opinion column, Thomas Friedman pointed out that the surveillance which is needed to prevent another major attack actually protects our privacy. He argued that the emotional impact of a major attack would cause a vast majority of the citizens to turn over their privacy entirely to the government and result in an end of our free society. Further, there is no evidence that the government has misused the powers granted under the Patriot Act. We live in an age where all kinds of information are easily accessible. The information... the President has for-all genie is out of the bottle. It is time to have a aptly summed it up conversation about how to balance privacy issues by saying that it is not and security concerns in possible to have both this new era. When faced with the 100% privacy and challenge of protecting the country from ter100% security. rorism the President has aptly summed it up by saying that it is not possible to have both 100% privacy and 100% security. It is irrelevant and unproductive for the country to engage in this political debate without taking into account the purpose behind PRISM. To his credit Obama apprised Congress of the details and obtained permission from the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) Court as required by law. Every indication is that the PRISM program has been quite successful. In recent testimony before Congress the director of NSA identified over 50 plots that have been foiled by PRISM. Data shows that the government program is working. This does not mean that people should blindly turn over their privacy to the government. And on the flip side, declaring that PRISM failed because of the Boston bombings is dramatic overreaction. In a recent Washington Post poll, 56% of the respondents were supportive of the PRISM program. This is a fine line that is going to be redrawn many times over in the coming days. Idealistic statements and proclamations from the past are not going to determine future policy. It’s a developing story, so stay tuned! n

Rameysh Ramdas, an S.F. Bay Area professional, writes as a hobby.

Mani Subramani works in the semi-conductor industry in Silicon Valley.

6 | INDIA CURRENTS | July 2013

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The Power of my 929 Beware of salesmen with wide, toothy grins By Rajee Padmanabhan The author’s maroon Mazda 929


o sooner than he learned that I would be heading to Dayton, Ohio, for my first work assignment abroad, my father wasted no time in procuring a world map pronto, in trying to zero in on this unbeknownst, unsung place in the Mideast of the American Midwest. To his disappointment, Dayton was nowhere to be found; not even qualifying as the smallest of the small dots on the cartographer’s chart. But he tried reading out other cities in Ohio (Oh-Hy-Oh as he called it)—Columbus and Cleveland rolled off his tongue with nary a pause; Cincinatti stumped him. For someone like him—sounding out “cincin” wasn’t quite a cinch—it could have been Kinkinatti, Cinkinatti or Kincinatti. Those were the mid-90s, pre-WWW days; no handy Google Dictionary to sound out the word in American English. He barely concealed his dashed hopes of telling all and sundry of his darling daughter’s upcoming sojourn to a U.S. city of his dreams—a Chicago if not New York City or San Francisco. But Dayton? It was in such information-de-saturated times that I landed in Dayton, on a balmy summer day. The first month after you land in the United States, your life is a compressed version of the first six years of a child’s existence—you must learn a whole bunch of new skills. You acquire fine and gross motor skills—driving in Dayton and Detroit; language skills—last-name mnemonics that become an incantation of sorts–‘P’ as in Paul, ‘A’ as in Adam, ‘D’ as in David and so on; superior cognitive skills like the pricing plans of all phone carriers on international calls. The moment I exited the airport it dawned on me that I would need to equip myself with a four-wheeled personal companion to explore the endless prairie land all around me. So began the quest of acquiring a car. I did the most logical thing—quizzed everyone I knew about all they knew about buying a car. The curious thing about Indian expats is that the freshest off-the-boats (FOBs) have the most gyan (knowledge) to share with the just off-the-boats (JOBs). So I took the suggestion of a couple of my FOB friends and visited a bank to secure a car loan. Opening a checking account at the bank with a princely sum of two hundred dollars was a very reassuring experience, for I 8 | INDIA CURRENTS | July 2013

was gifted an umbrella and a coffee mug in return. I was now a credit-worthy resident of the United States of America, or so I assumed. The plan was to request a four thousand dollar loan so I could buy myself a used car that would serve me for the short term. I was told by the bank officer that for that kind of loan, I would need cosigners. One of my FOB friends readily agreed to cosign as he thought it was akin to signing as a witness at a marriage registration, no financial liability whatsoever. Little did we know that in addition to the injury of a rejected loan, the insult would be a permanent black mark tattooed on our credit histories. Chastised by the loan faux pas, I consulted my cousin in Chicago who generously offered to loan me the necessary funds. Now the onus was on me to go find myself a car. Out I went one weekend on a used-cardealer reconnaissance mission, with another FOB friend. We were to scout a few places before making the final decision. There was a car dealer not too far from where I lived. A middle-aged salesman greeted us with a wide toothy grin as soon as we entered the showroom—he must have smelt the prey from a mile away. In all my naiveté, I informed him that I had four thousand dollars to buy a car. His grin now wider, he asked us to follow him to the car lot. He stopped in front of a car. It was a Mazda 929, 1988 model which cost five thousand but for me he was willing to come down to four grand, he explained. The maroon beauty stopped me in my tracks. I took one look and I fell in love, instantly, irrevocably. It had the most velvety maroon

seats that had an incredible sheen when the evening sun cast its light. It was complete and utter infatuation—I wanted it then and there, all four wheels and six cylinders of it. It was a done deal. Poorer by four thousand dollars, I drove off in style and considered myself the happiest twenty-two year old in the whole world. The next day, as I was leaving for work I tried lowering the power windows. They wouldn’t budge. I went to the navigator’s seat and tried lowering the window there— similar issue. Then I tried opening the trunk. With great difficulty it finally did. All said and done, the only feature that was “powered” which actually worked in that car was the seat warmer! The car had more problems than I could count. The car and I became the butt of many a joke among my Indian friends during our weekly dinners. My ignorance of luxury vs. economy models, quoting the budget upfront, not bargaining at all, not getting an inspection etc. were all analyzed threadbare but the toughest criticism was reserved for not recognizing a snake-oil-salesman, especially coming from India. My parents came to visit me a few months later and the first order of business was the only Indian thing to do—trade in my first love, my maroon Mazda and get myself a brand new Honda Civic! n Rajee Padmanabhan is a perennial wannabe— wannabe writer, wannabe musician, wannabe technologist. She lives with her iPad and iPod in Exton, PA, occasionally bumping into her husband and son while either of her i-Pals is out of charge.

July 2013 | | 9

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100 Years After the Nobel Prize The legacy of Rabindranath Tagore By Anita Felicelli

“I sit and write, A little juice collecting in my pen-nib this free morning Like a slit made in the bole of a date palm” —Rabindranath Tagore, Mayrer Drishti (In the Eyes of a Peacock) No writer living today is more praised by the Bengali community than Rabindranath Tagore, who won a Nobel Prize one hundred years ago in 1913. He was the first non-European to win the Nobel Prize for Literature. Who is this Bengali polymath to readers 100 years after his win?

12 | INDIA CURRENTS | July 2013


ike many Indian parents, my parents introduced a few of Tagore’s poems as an example of great poetry. I vaguely recall that the poems I read were about nature; there was a reference to a moon and perhaps trees or flowers. They were beautiful poems, which registered in a spiritual way. To a palate accustomed to contemporary American poetry, the verses might seem overly religious, abstract and sentimental, but as a child I wasn’t yet absorbed into the skein of irony with which literature today concerns itself. In his introduction to Gitanjali, the poet W.B. Yeats wrote, “Rabindranath Tagore, like Chaucer’s forerunners, writes music for his words, and one understands at every moment that he is so abundant, so spontaneous, so daring in his passion, so full of surprise, because he is doing something which has never seemed strange, unnatural, or in need of defense.” In the first flush of excitement after he won the Nobel, Tagore attracted much attention in the West, particularly the attention of those who were eager to cast him as a mystical Eastern sage. Later on Yeats changed his mind about Tagore’s genius and uttered less kind words, as did numerous other Westerners who smarted under Tagore’s critique of Western aggression and relied on poor translations of his work for their judgment. Today, nonIndian writers are largely unfamiliar with Tagore. Tagore’s writing touched Pablo Neruda, Andre Gide, Yasanuri Kawabata, Robert Frost and Octavio Paz and the poet Hart Crane. I have read and loved some of the poets Tagore has influenced, like Hart Crane and Pablo Neruda. Tagore’s influence over the last century has been far-reaching and global, though the emotion and beauty of his work may be lost on some members of a contemporary Western reading public. Last year, I discovered that most of Tagore’s writings are actually available for free as Kindle ebooks. I downloaded Tagore’s Gitanjali (as it was originally translated by Yeats—a mistake), for a plane flight. It took a few minutes to push past the archaic pronouns and the strong emotions and I found myself thinking that the culture that produced Tagore is far more than a continent away from the culture in which I find myself. There were moments in Gitanjali where I was blown away, but I could tell the musicality that Bengalis rave about was lost in that translation. Gitanjali is a collection of 157 poems or “Song Offerings,” many of which are spiritual in tone or rapturous about the natural world. These poems were far more mystical than any of his other plays, essays, or songs written to that point. When Tagore met Yeats

If Tagore’s genius lies not in the translation of Gitanjali that led to the Nobel, does it exist at all? through a mutual friend in England in 1912, Yeats was enthusiastic about Gitanjali. It was through Yeats that Tagore met the poet Ezra Pound. Pound engaged with Gitanjali, too, though he believed readers might find it too “pious.” Anyone who has read Pound might find it amusing that a poet that wrote in such an obscure and esoteric manner would give consideration to what readers’ opinions of another person’s poetry might be. Of Gitanjali, the Times Literary Supplement wrote, “As a poet should be, [Tagore] is so simple that anyone can understand him; yet this does not mean that there is little to understand.” Those who appreciate the verse saw in Tagore’s work a clear and earnest mysticism and spirituality that was not common in British, Continental or American literature of the same time. When presenting the Nobel to Tagore, the Chairman of the Nobel Committee of the Swedish Academy, Harald Hjarne, explained the motivation for bestowing the Nobel and it was not the reason the Nobel for Literature is given today. He said: “In awarding the Nobel prize in Literature to the Anglo-Indian [sic] poet, Rabindranath Tagore, the academy has found itself in the happy position of being able to accord this recognition to an author who in conformity with the express wording of Alfred Nobel’s last will and testament, had during the current year, written the finest poems “of an idealistic tendency.” Most people have assumed that Tagore’s receiving the Nobel was a sign that

the Nobel Committee saw it as a work of great literary genius. But in the first half of the 20th century, the Nobel Prize for Literature was not given so much on the basis of literary merit, as it was on the basis of a strict interpretation of Nobel’s wishes: that idealistic literature be rewarded. Accordingly, canonical authors like James Joyce or Leo Tolstoy were never awarded a Nobel. Nowadays the prize is awarded for literary merit as well as idealism with a political, rather than spiritual agenda. If Tagore’s genius lies not in the translation of Gitanjali that led to the Nobel, does it exist at all? While there are those readers who might disagree, I think Tagore’s genius lies in the cross-genre application of talent for which he received no award, for which almost nobody receives applause nowadays. Tagore was a formidable polymath: a poet, playwright, essayist, composer, and painter who spoke about certain subjects long before it became fashionable to do so. He was among the earliest Indian thinkers to see that Western science should be applied to “Third World development.” And his writings about violence and nationalism, death, nature, and many more topics that at first blush seem unrelated are brilliant.

Before the Nobel Prize

He was born on May 7, 1861 in a mansion in Calcutta, the youngest Tagore son. The poet grew up mostly within the walls of his house, later claiming he was not allowed to leave except for school. However he loved the outdoors and was invigorated by physical pursuits: he could walk 25 miles at a stretch

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ested in him. If you look at photographs you can see the source of the attraction: he looks like a sensitive, dreamy man before that kind of man became popular to admire. He was even more critical of his fellow countrymen who he believed were overly deferential to Englishmen. He enrolled at University College in London and studied there until 1880 when he decided to return to India. Tagore’s diverse creative work started with renewed energy after his return. He penned poems, musical dramas, songs, and a novel. He resumed his friendship with Kadambari, his brother’s wife, and wrote poems dedicated to her, one of which was called “The Love of Rahu” about a demon or planet in love with the moon. When Tagore was twenty-two, he married a ten-year-old girl his father chose. Two months after “The Love of Rahu” was published, Kadambari committed suicide. It was a shattering moTwo elder brothers of Rabindranath and their wives: Jnanadanandini and Satyendranath, Jyotirindranath ment for Tagore. His writing on grief then (seated) and Kadambari and subsequently is unusual and powerful stuff: and years after a childhood spent wrestling, “Emptiness is a thing man canintroduced judo to India. not bring himself to believe in: that Although the Tagore family was Brahmo which is not, is untrue, that which is and Tagore would at one point refer to an ofuntrue is not. So our efforts to find fice clerk’s clothes drenched by a monsoon as something where we see nothing are “oozing and lachrymose” like “the thoughts unceasing … Yet amid unbearable of a pious Vaishnava,” he was clearly influgrief, flashes of joy sparkled in my enced by the intense imagery and musicality mind on and off in a way which quite of Vaishnava poetry, which was at its peak in surprised me. The idea that life is not Tagore’s early life. a fixture came as tidings that helped Tagore was close to his brother Jyotirto lighten my mind. That we are not indranath’s wife, Kadambari, who he later forever prisoners behind a wall of described in his novella Nashtanirh. The stony-hearted facts was the thought acclaimed director Satyajit Ray adapted the that kept unconsciously rising uppernovella into Charulatha, a profound film most in rushes of gladness.” that explores the passionate, but nonsexual Around 1886, after his first child was relationship between a younger brother and born, Tagore wrote some powerful essays his brother’s wife. Readers who live in the that included criticism of the Indian educaSan Francisco Bay Area can view Charulatha tion system and attacks against the arrogance at the Stanford Theater in Palo Alto; the of the British. He faced harsh criticism from theater’s owner, David Packard, screens it pehis own Bengali community. riodically. On occasion it is screened by uniYears later Tagore sent his son, not to versity theaters in the Los Angeles area, too. England as so many did, but to the United Around the age of eight, Tagore started States to study agricultural science. And writing poetry in Bengali. His first poem when Tagore visited him in Urbana, Illinois, was published anonymously. English was he became a popular lecturer there. A festival Tagore’s least favorite subject in school. He in his honor is still held in Illinois every year. wrote in it infrequently (until he translated Gitanjali in 1912). Tagore left his fourth Winning the Nobel school in 1975, finding school “a hideously Neither the Nobel Committee nor other cruel combination of hospital and jail.” non-Indians could know just how polemiHe had started publishing several pieces cal and unorthodox Tagore’s brilliant essays of literary criticism when his father shipped were. The West would later buy into other him off to England to study law. Tagore arsacred and profane ideas, siphoning from rived in England in the fall of 1878. He was Indian culture yoga, bindis, and Slumdog critical of the young women who were interMillionaire. In this same spirit, they bought

“It is the first time that this prize has been given to anybody but a white person.”— The New York Times into Tagore solely as a mystic. Tagore’s much less mystical essays arguably stand the test of time better than the translation of the Gitanjali has. Tagore learned that he’d won the Nobel Prize by cable from Calcutta. He won it over the novelist Thomas Hardy, who was nominated by the Royal Society of Literature in London. The Bengalis who had insulted and criticized him earlier showed up to hail him once the West placed its stamp of approval. His speech in response was understandably contemptuous: “The calumnies and insult from the hands of countrymen which have fallen to my lot have not been trifling … Today Europe has placed its garland of honour on me. If that has any value it lies only in the artistic discrimination of the arbiters of taste there. There is no genuine link between that and our country.” Public response to Tagore after the Nobel was not all good. One popular rumor floated that Yeats had rewritten Gitanjali. This rumor was rebutted in the memoirs of the friend who had introduced Tagore and Yeats. Tagore’s win was described in the New York Times with “It is the first time that this prize has been given to anybody but a white person.” And the next day, the New York Times published this odd, relieved explanation: “Babindranath [sic] Tagore if not exactly one of us, is, as an Aryan, a distant relation of all white folk.” Tagore died at age 80 frustrated with India, particularly the violence between Hindus and Muslims. Throughout his life he wondered how he would be read in the future, who he would be to future readers. When he was 35 he wrote, “A hundred years from now/Who are you reading this poem of mine?” And an excerpt from his second to last poem decades later reads, “The last sun of the last day Uttered the question on the shore of the western sea, In the hush of the evening— Who are you! No answer came.”

Tagore Today

In 2011 Adam Kirsch wrote a somewhat intellectually muddled piece in The New Yorker called “Modern Magus: What Did July 2013 | | 15

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the West See in Rabindranath Tagore?” The essay tries to present a fair case until about three-quarters of the way through when it not only dismisses a new translation of Tagore’s work, but also seems to dismiss Tagore as a writer. Kirsch acknowledged the West’s orientalism, noting that for writers outside India Tagore merely stood for the idea that there was saintliness in the world. He explains that Yeats never made any effort to know Tagore as a real person, but Tagore knew very well that he was misrepresenting himself to the Anglo world, so Yeats’ (and other poets’) lack of inquiry did not matter. Kirsch reasons at the end of the piece, “The fall in Tagore’s English reputation is not hard to explain. The margin of difference between sublime poetry and sentimental “rubbish” has to do entirely with the power and subtlety of the language, and this, of course, is what is hardest to convey in translation.” While there are significant difficulties with translation, Kirsch’s criticism is simultaneously unable to probe his own biases and pompously certain that what he wants from poetry is what it should offer. With Tagore, Kirsch started at the wrong place. He assumed that the West was right to forget him and therefore proceeded to prove his point with only one close reading of a couple of lines from a volume that is 864 pages long. The subtext is that if East and West meet, as Tagore had hoped, the West gets to have the last word. Tagore’s influence on so many writers, inside and outside Indian culture, surely called for more nuance and depth than Kirsch brought. To the extent The New Yorker represents America’s literary establishment, Kirsch’s review represents some of the worst aspects of America’s obliviousness about Eastern cultures and artists. When asked his opinion about Tagore, the author Amit Majmudar (The Abundance, 2013) said, “You would have to go back to Victor Hugo in French and Johann Wolfgang von Goethe in German—and William Shakespeare in English—to get a sense of what Tagore represents. We know him, now, through his writings, but his contemporaries—including the Nobel Committee— recognized him as a figure greater than the sum of his writings. They recognized him as someone who transcended national and linguistic boundaries by being, so comprehensively, of one nation and one language: Ours.” Majmudar seemed to see Tagore’s worth today more in what he represents than the literary merit of any particular piece of writing. In a similar, but more critical comment,

a character in Jeet Thayil’s novel Narcopolis says, “The point about Tagore is that the whole was far greater than the sum of the parts. It is the composite figure that matters. But Tagore the mystic and poet? Tagore the painter? Tagore the composer? Not one of those Tagores is worth very much.” But poetry is an intensely subjective enterprise. My husband, a non-Indian writer with a Masters in Literature and poetry, loves Tagore’s poetry. So have numerous poets from many different cultures who were comfortable thinking about life and death as two halves of one whole. It seems then, that the disagreements exist only when we look at Tagore’s work with the expectation that it meets today’s literary tastes as set forth by New York’s contemporary publishing scene. When we look at Tagore’s work through the lens of American culture, perhaps we lose an understanding of how profoundly original he was for the time and place in which he wrote. Literature of any language should grapple with the bigger questions of life and death. Not all or even most of the books published in New York today do this. Tagore does this in spades. Kirsch acknowledged that the East held the promise of ancient wisdom for the West back in 1913. But he didn’t make enough of the reality that Tagore’s style of idealism remains rare in the West outside of academia to this day. The decline in interest in Tagore in the West was representative of the United States’ rising interest in efficiency (automation and computerization and specialization), and its drift away from the natural world. The decline in interest could be attributed to mainstream America’s mistrust of an intellectual

life that has no immediate practical value, that spreads itself too thin, that thinks about death as a part of life. While some have suggested that the early Nobel Prize ruined Tagore’s literary work by giving him too much quick recognition, Indians were more inclined to take Tagore’s idealism seriously as a result of this award. The award bestowed upon him the kind of credibility that was necessary to create change in India. Arguably India’s attempts to make progress in certain areas are partly the result of its veneration of Tagore, who acted as a galvanizing force on the whole country. It is hard to imagine an American poet today who could have as much influence on America (or the world) today as Tagore had on India. In March 1994, India Currents ran a feature on Tagore by Gautam Sengupta that discussed Tagore’s relationship to the United States in reverential terms. According to the feature, Tagore saw the United States as the only nation engaged in solving the problems of race intimacy. Tagore’s basic question of how significantly different kinds of people can live in harmony within a nation or the world does continue to be important to America. There has been incredible progress in this area. But it’s not clear how Tagore would have perceived American’s continuing challenges in the areas of racial and cultural equality and tolerance. While the sixties in America were a time of great idealism and reform, the decades since have shown how challenging this project really is. Martin Luther King, Jr. may be the closest America has come to producing a thinker with the same level of influence over a nation that Tagore had in India. In a consumer culture where idealism outside of universities is often met with a dispassion akin to Kirsch’s (or else outright scorn), I wonder if we would even recognize a Tagore today in our literary arts if we saw him or her. As Amartya Sen outlines in his brilliant essay in The Argumentative Indian, Tagore valued objectivity and skepticism as much as anyone. But he was never willing to abandon his zest for the world, his humanity. n Resources: Rabindranath Tagore, The Myriad-Minded Man by Krishna Dutta and Andrew Robinson Rabindranath Tagore, An Interpretation by Sabyasachi Bhattacharya Tagore and his India, Amartya Sen (essay) Anita Felicelli is a writer and attorney who lives in the Bay Area. She is the author of the novel “Sparks Off You” and other books. July 2013 | | 17

Tagore’s Influence on Other Writers

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agore has influenced me both as a writer and a human being. His understanding of his women characters and his compassion for the challenges faced by them and his masterful delineation of the domestic space have left a distinct mark on books I have written, such as Sister of My Heart and Arranged Marriage. Tagore was a great visionary, well ahead of his times in his insistence that women be treated with dignity and allowed personal fulfillment. Chitra Divakruni

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A Bow to the Bearded Genius


his is how it goes, one of my earliest memories. Perched on my grandfather’s lap, I listened to him read a chapter from a Tagore novel titled Gora in original Bengali, the rest of my extended family sitting in a circle around us. Although I was too young to be able to take part in the discussion that would follow, the music of the words stayed with me. In my youth, I devoured Tagore’s work, which gave rise to a dream of being a writer some day. Once finished with my studies in the United States, I pursued a career in the software industry. Finally, one day I decided to make a career switch and try my hand at writing. I attribute the courage to make that big leap to Tagore. It is his influence on my early years that ultimately enabled me to fulfill my dream. Bharti Kirchner

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or American, is to his or her country what the newly established India. Tagore is, above all, Initials figure: heDate a comprehensive comprehended his EARL REGIST Y RA DISCOU TION people, from the highest to the lowest classes; NT Ad is Correct he comprehended Bengali in all its literary UNITED STATES MEDICAL LICENSING Needs Changesforms, the poem, the play, the novel, the short (USMLE) story—even the song lyric; and he compreDEREK NUNES Step 1, Step 2 CK, Step 2 CS hended subjects and themes both earthly and 1885 LUNDY and Step 3 Exams divine. No other AVE., writer SUITE in the 220 20th century GOAL: To give medical students a powerful and SAN JOSE, CA 95131 held this kind of comprehensive role for his reliable High Yield Review, One-on-One TUTORING (408) 324-0488 / (714) 523-8788 and Monitoring Students Progress. people and language. FAX: (408) 324-0477 7 KEYS TO SYNERGY REVIEW SUCCESS: Amit Majmudar Study for exam with PURPOSE - COMMITMENT Tagore Fax: was (408) to Bengal and, eventually, India Currents 324-0477


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How Paati Learned to Swim Winner • Growing Up Asian in America

By Kavya Padmanabhan; Art by Reema Minawala


dress where he spoke about immigration, y grandmother, Paati, rebuilt her encouraging young immigrants to approach life seven years ago. After living our borders and join our workforce and keep in India her whole life, she moved the American dream alive. Our senior citizen to California to live with my family. In one immigrants are rarely mentioned, since they move, she lost her country, her house, her don’t directly help the economy. friends, her language, and her identity. She If I were President, I would ensure that had to construct her new world with few the process of becoming a citizen would take familiar tools to rely on. into account the applicant’s age as well as Instead of drowning in this new life, their desire to succeed. Paati, as an immiPaati began to learn to swim. She started to grant, has knit our family together and made read newspapers in English. She began to exit stronger. Deserving candidates, those who periment with incomplete phrases, like “eat work hard and show dedication and passion dinner,” or “are you leaving?” She made new should become citizens easily, regardless of friends, she took care of us, and she became their age. the central force in our lives. As a child of immigrant parents, imMany share Paati’s story. In fact, she migration reform affects me personally. Alis like a tiny patch on a one thousand mile fabric made up of immigrants and their By Reema Minawala Title: The American Dream hopes and dreams. She and other senior citizens (65 years or older) like her make up 12 percent of the whole immigrant population. Paati embodies the spirit of perseverance and endurance that the old and young have founded this country with. Our ideal immigrant shows a desire to succeed, is a hard worker and respects our great nation. Paati unveiled all these qualities when she was studying for her citizenship test. Every day she would study from the list of 100 questions that my mother printed for her. Although Paati failed her first test, her determination to succeed made her study even harder the second time. I remember the day she became a citizen. It was a day we celebrated. In February, President Obama gave a State of the Union Ad-

20 | INDIA CURRENTS | July 2013

though we accept immigrants from all over the world, we should find a way to attract the smart, kind, accepting people of the world—the people who we aspire to be. We have to show them that the United States is a place where perseverance is rewarded and opportunities abound. Seeing Paati fail but not give up hope reached out to me. She taught me that I could change the world by embracing both my cultures, just like other immigrants do. By restricting some of these immigrants from entering our country, we are limiting ourselves from new ideas. Our “city on a hill” can become a reality if we treat immigrants—legal and illegal—with generosity and kindness. n Kavya Padmanabhan is from Los Altos Hills and is a rising Senior. She is a 1st Place essay contest winner in the grade category of 9-12. Reema Minawala is in the 8th Grade. She attends Thornton Jr. High in Fremont. She is a 1st Place Art contest winner in the grade category of 6-8. President Obama has made history as our first African American and mixed-race president. As he embarks on his second term in office this year, Growing Up Asian in America contestants were asked to imagine they have become our very first Asian or Pacific Islander American president. Growing Up Asian in America is a signature program of the Asian Pacific Fund, a Bay Area community foundation established to strengthen the Asian and Pacific Islander community in the Bay Area by increasing philanthropy and supporting the organizations that serve our most vulnerable community members. You can also view the winning entries online at www.asianpacificfund. org.

July 2013 | | 21

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July 2013 | | 23


Aging Out in Silicon Valley By Krishnamachar Sreenivasan


rowing old is not as glorious as it is made out to be. Personal life, professional life, family life, and social life are indexed by age. Corporations have clever ways of fending off old people without the slightest hint of discourtesy. Once you approach sixty signals are given, red flags raised and you make the dreaded list. Take the case of my friend Ravi Pillai. On a Friday evening, as he was about to leave work, Pillai was told by his boss, rather offhandedly, to brush up on his resume. Pillai replayed this startling conversation over and over again as he drove home along U.S. 280 to his house in Belmont Hills. Usually on the Friday drive home all Pillai could think about was Sunday golf at the Palo Alto Golf Club and maybe watch the Sunday night NFL game with his wife and possibly chat with his son Rakshat and daughter Ranjani both under-graduates at Penn. Not this day. The message from Bill, his boss was disturbing. He had worked for Bill for five years and he could have told him clearly what he had meant, without resorting to subtle messages. That message was a foreshadowing of his layoff notice that he received very soon after. Pillai was told that it was nothing personal, just a business decision.

Merely a Business Decision

Desis like me find it hard to stomach these “business decisions.” Traditionally it doesn’t quite make sense to a diaspora that comes from a culture that has a favorable bias towards older people. In India, one enters a professional world where the rules are well known before the game begins; a school teacher retires at 57! One year extension and goodbye! An Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) professor retires at age 60, its Director at 65, an Army Major at 40, and so on. Not so in the Silicon Valley. Desis who graduate at the top of their class come to the United States, get a nice job, put their nose to the wheel and plug away. Down the road, very often these days, this peaceful journey is jolted by what is euphemistically called business trends, market forces, or just naseeb (fate). Life in the Silicon Valley marches to one drum beat: an amorphous amalgam of return on investment, market forces, business cycles, and accessibility of company leaders.

24 | INDIA CURRENTS | July 2013

Quick Change

There are probably industries where experience is rewarded and people respect the insight gathered over many years of toiling. Not so in the Silicon Valley, in my opinion, where change occurs at a revolutionary pace. In 1989, the Loma Prieta year, a 440 MB disk drive was the size of a washing machine. Today my grandson has a 15 GB flash drive smaller than his pinkie! His thumbnail is the size of a processor these days, that holds 20 million transistors hooked up in 28 layers of copper and silicon! The young enter the Silicon Valley’s glitzy offices starry eyed. Blessed are those with stock options. Armed with skills and wizardry they quickly learn the ropes, and stay ahead of change. In my youth after graduation there were limited options in India. Either go to the United States, or join Atomic Energy Commission, or steel plants in Bokaro, Rourkela or Durgapur. Many of my buddies joined Atomic Energy Commission in the Big Shahar in Bombay. On arrival they were surprised to discover that an argon welder (stainless steel welding had just arrived in India in the 1950s) made more money than they did. In many cases, the argon welders did not graduate from college. But it was the skill of the day. That is what the Silicon Valley is all about. It is how skilled you are at Java, Mocha, Teakettle, Lemon-pot, Banana-peel or whatever. Growing old is similar to jogging up an escalator when you trained all your life to walking up the stairs. You have to learn new skills for no apparent reason and new jargon to boot. “Pencil and paper” have given way to “email-ing, text-ing, sms-ing.” As eyes become weak, screens become small. Free markets and individuality frequently reach absurd levels preventing standardization. No two chargers (cell phone, laptop ...) are interchangeable. Is it Big Endian, Little Endian, count from the left or count from the right? Every software version is replaced by another version with different interfaces. The “log off ” button is hidden like the exit sign in a Las Vegas casino. You are constantly badgered by younger guys who mock you, “You have a Ph.D?” You comfort yourself by recalling an old Ananda Vikatan “Humour Without Words” cartoon. The first frame is that of an old man

Growing old is similar to jogging up an escalator when you trained all your life to walking up the stairs. You have to learn new skills for no apparent reason ... fumbling to open a door. The second frame shows a brash kid smirking at the geezer and triumphantly opening the door and holding it open to let the old man pass. The third frame shows the geezer smiling quietly as he turns around to watch the smart bachcha wait for the door to close behind him and embarrassingly reads the sign “Wet Paint!” Nice story but leaves your young boss unimpressed!

Learning to Think

My professor taught me during my school days that education was not about mastering facts but the ability to think and above all retain a life-long enthusiasm to learn. He told us the tale about Bohr, Rutherford, and Dirac. Rutherford writes to Bohr to inquire how his star pupil Dirac was performing. (Rutherford had sent Dirac to Copenhagen to train under Bohr). Bohr replies, “He has not said a word in the last six months.” Rutherford narrates a story to Bohr, “A shopper goes to a pet shop looking for a parrot. He sees one he likes and asks the shop owner, ‘How much for that?’ ‘$100.’ ‘How many languages does it speak?’ ‘One.’ ‘Ha! I like that one! How much for this?’ ‘$200.’ ‘How many languages does it speak?’ ‘Two.’ ‘Ha! I like that one! And this?’ ‘$10000.’ ‘How many languages does it speak?’ ‘None.’ ‘What? You want $10000 for a parrot that speaks no languages?’ ‘Young man that is the only parrot I have that can think!’” So my mates and I tried to learn to think but ultimately we were judged only by our most recent contributions, our most recent gadgets, our most recent memos ...

Fixing Bugs and Swatting Flies

In the Valley moving up the corporate ladder requires special, intangible, elbowing skills—a mixture of brains, technical ability, quick thinking, and most importantly the gift of the gab. You begin the career as a stone cutter mastering your trade but hate to remain one forever; you want to become a cathedral builder. Faltering economies reduce funds for new cathedrals. So that leaves you back in the fox hole cutting stones with tired hands, scarred knuckles and deeply bruised egos. Frequently your weak eyes can’t pick a chip off the stone. Or fix a bug but can only swat flies and step on fleas. You are expensive and not given tasks to match your skills; you keep pumping the same old stuff by changing fonts and colors. So you become expendable. A newly minted Stanford graduate can do the same thing with more enthusiasm, for a lot less. Or a new product is announced and a new team is formed that has the oldies and guess what the project is canceled paving the way to let go all its members. All these are defended as sound business decisions. Engineers are sent to Cunningham Road from Cupertino. It is the Valley equivalent of the Siberian chill. Reentry to Cupertino is not easy. So you move back to Cupertino to dust off your resume and call all your col-

leagues who you now facebook. Spread the word around that you are looking. Your mind wanders as you go through the day with those brain-numbing tasks that you are forced to perform so that you can pay for those “arangetrams” and private school tuitions—always on the rise. You cannot remember how to change the font inside a Microsoft equation editor. The Berkeley kid knows how to but you cannot go on asking him—he will say “Heh! Read the manual it is so intuitive.” You dread that word “intuitive.” You have gone through so many seemingly intuitive steps. Forward slashes, backward slashes, &&==(**/), cntrl-shiftdelete, grave accents, escaping characters, single quotation and double quotation, and now slide to unlock from left to right.

Swimming Upstream

There is no one way of coping with it—it comes with the territory, the joy of growing old a privilege denied to many. Take a deep breath and look around and see that you are not alone. Learn to like the new technology. Connect with old friends; listen to songs that made you happy when young. Take your friends to coffee, temple, church, or gurdwara. Remember we desis like to chat, argue, and exchange opinions on almost everything. Don’t stop; keep at it but only with other gee-

zers like you. It is just the Mathsya (salmon) in all of us. Age makes us grow fonder of what we loved when we were young. Salmon travel up stream to where they were born, in order to die. Remember you are alive if you get up with your joints creaking. But don’t grow old listening to your arteries harden. Learn a new language, a new musical instrument, work on your backhand; whatever it is, do it with youthful passion. Remember what Einstein said, “Life is like bicycling; the moment you stop you lose your balance.” Never throw in the towel. Just use it to wipe your brow and move forward. My paati always used to crow, “Kaad va enrudu veedu po enrudu, inda kattaiakku thairana enna moranna yenna, thaire kuduthidungo.” Its impact is lost when translated across culture and language but a weak translation is “I have simple tastes; I am easily satisfied with the best!” n Krishnamachar Sreenivasan does not write for a living; he is a Visiting Professor of Computer Science and Engineering at Indian Institute of Technology, Ropar, India. He hosted a Public Service Program, “Thathas ’R Us” that connected Bay Area Senior Citizens, mostly of Indian origin, who needed help, with volunteers who were eager to help. He is originally from Bangalore and has lived in the United States since 1960, mostly in the Bay area with his wife, children and grandchildren.


Have your parents packed everything for their visit to the US?


ummer is the most popular season for parents to travel to the US to visit their kids and relatives. The warm

weather across most of the US permits them to enjoy themselves and create good memories. But the memories can probably be made for wrong reasons if they decide to travel without one important piece of luggage-travel insurance.

People tend not to buy travel insurance if they feel they are not at risk. Decision to buy travel insurance probably should not be based on instincts. Usually, visitors end up paying more instead of saving, by not investing in travel insurance. Travel insurance allows you to insure against incidents like trip interruptions, trip cancelations, stolen or lost baggage, and emergency evacuations. It is better to be prepared for all the contingencies, and where parents are concerned, you should also be prepared for any medical emergency. In such a case, having good travel medical insurance becomes

essential. The main argument in favor of buying medical insurance is that healthcare expenses in US are very high. If your parents suddenly fall ill during the trip, and if they are covered under a plan, then insurance will take care of most of the expenses associated with the treatment, doctor's fee, hospital visit, and prescription drugs. Whereas, in the absence of any medical coverage, you, or your parents, are financially liable for the bills, which can run up to thousands of dollars. You can buy the travel insurance either from your home country or the US. It is generally recommended that the beneficiaries buy their travel medical insurance from a reputed company in the US that offers an insurance plan best-suited to their needs. Travel medical insurance purchased from USA has many advantages: These plans are widely accepted in USA with some plans having Preferred Provider Organization (PPO) network coverage; the claims process is much faster as the plans are US-based; and

you do not have to pay the medical bills upfront. Besides, if you have any questions or doubts, you can avail the 24-hour customer service in the same time zone. As recommended earlier, visitors should buy travel insurance from a reputed and reliable company in the US. The company should allow you to compare various plans based on individual factors like medical history, age of the beneficiaries, and length of their stay. The companies should also provide the liberty to buy and renew the plans online. One such company provides an online platform to get quotes, compare various plans, buy travel insurance that best suits your needs, and help you save money. In conclusion, buying travel insurance plans from USA should be an essential part of your parent's itinerary. They decided to visit the US to relax and enjoy with you instead of fretting over health and costs. You can help them achieve the purpose behind their visit by investing in good medical travel insurance. July 2013 | | 25

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Green for Go By Kalpana Iyer Mohanty


fter reading the timeless 1925 novel The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald in the ninth grade, and waiting through the tantalizing advertisements and trailers, I saw the movie The Great Gatsby on opening night in Delhi last weekend. The theatre was full. The audience was largely well-educated, well-traveled, well-heeled expats and Indians, who knew of the book, the author, and the message. This quintessential American story of excess, idealism and the American Dream, has now been globally released for a new and varied audience to analyze from their own perspective. The plot has Nick Carraway (Toby Maguire) coming to New York in the spring of 1922 to take up residence next door to Jay Gatsby (Leonardo DiCaprio), a partying playboy millionaire, and close to his cousin, Daisy (Carey Mulligan), and her aristocratic philandering husband, Tom Buchanan (Joel Edgerton). Carraway is witness to the excesses and the lack of morals of the jet-setting upper crust. How might the average Indian audience interpret the movie? Some may view it as just another opulent Bollywood movie: beautiful, rich, welldressed people, palatial homes, and good music. What’s not to love? The only thing missing is a group dance sequence. Some things may not be understandable—like Bollywood superstar Amitabh Bachchan not playing the lead role and the movie having a sad ending. Surely with his money and good looks, Gatsby’s mama could have found him a nice wife from a good family. On the other hand, some other things may be so understandable as to be unremarkable: such as the vast economic inequality and steep social class hierarchy; such as Tom’s racist comments and poor treatment of his servants; such as the gender inequality expressed in Daisy’s statement when her baby girl is born —“That the best thing a girl can be in this world, a beautiful little fool.” This can be as easily said of contemporary India as 20s America. For others, it may support what they’ve long believed to be true: the United States is a land of excess and depravity, with no spirituality and no family values to ground their youth. As Fitzgerald says of Tom and Daisy, “They had spent a year in France for 28 | INDIA CURRENTS | July 2013

But Fitzgerald is not depicting the American Dream. He is revealing an American Nightmare—rudderless materialism without roots, ethics or philosophies. no particular reason, and then drifted here and there unrestfully wherever people played polo and were rich together.” Some people, particularly some Americans, could interpret the movie to mean that the American Dream did not really exist then and doesn’t exist now. With growing inequality within the country, the continuing economic slump, and a rival for superpower status, the good life seems to be over. But Fitzgerald is not depicting the American Dream. He is revealing an American Nightmare—rudderless materialism without roots, ethics or philosophies. But while some no longer believe in the American Dream, many still do—or at least want to. The American Dream is much more than just material wealth. It supports the concept of freedom in a land where traditions don’t hang heavy around your neck. It promises a vast number, breadth and depth of opportunities. It speaks to equality, selfreliance, and accepting failure as one step along the route to success. If you try hard enough, you can forge your own destiny and succeed—unless, like Jay Gatsby, you get lost along the way. The Dream maybe of American origin,

but it also applies to other parts of the New World—like Canada and Australia—that may be less quick to name or claim the concept. And it’s not that discrimination and inequality don’t exist in these nations, but they aren’t an integral and accepted part of the system. Some renditions of the American Dream are not perfect and some, taken to an extreme like Fitzgerald’s, can lead to tragic endings— but that doesn’t make the dream irrelevant or passé. Fact or fiction, the American Dream is based on hope, and Gatsby is one of the most hopeful characters found in any story. When his friend Nick Carraway tells him that he can’t repeat the past, Gatsby denies it vehemently: “Can’t repeat the past?” Gatsby cries out. “Why of course you can!” All mistakes are recoverable and happiness lies just around the corner. No matter the reality, hope continues to exist. After I graduate from high school I, and many of my friends, would like to savor this American Dream during our university years. It’s not for the material things, which are now available in many countries and often in greater abundance. Rather, it is to experience life in a place that strives for equality, promotes independence, and encourages new thinking—that allows us the freedom to be who we want to be and the opportunities to be the best that we can be. Moreover, it’s the chance to have teachers and classmates who also believe in what we believe. For many of us, we look towards the green light and it says “Go.” n Kalpana Iyer Mohanty is a 11th grade student and a Fitzgerald aficionado, currently living in New Delhi.

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How I Learned That Selling Is A Key To Success By Vivek Wadhwa


he one skill that everyone needs is something that college doesn’t teach: selling. Yes, I know that “selling” conjures up negative images of used-car salesmen peddling clunkers. But the ability to persuade people to believe in you is a necessity. That’s because selling is not just about exchanging things for money; selling is about life. Convincing the perfect soulmate to go out on a date is a sales job. Enticing your children to eat their vegetables is a sales job. Negotiating a raise with your boss is a sales job. And, yes, selling your company to Google is definitely a sales job. Each of these is a sales job in that you are listening to others, finding out what they want or need, and giving it to them in a form that they appreciate. And guess who the best salespeople in tech companies are? Your developers. I didn’t always believe this. I started my career as a geek. I ended up as Chief Technology Officer of Seer Technologies, a software startup that we grew from zero to $120 million in annual revenue and took public in a short five years. And then I became CEO of my own very successful startup, Relativity Technologies (until I burned myself out and needed to shift gears). A number of skills helped me through this ascent. I learned a lot about motivating and managing people some of whom were smarter than I was; about understanding markets and communicating effectively; and also a few really boring things like accounting, finance, and law. But if I had not learned how to sell, then my company would never have made it past three guys in a room with a phone and some laptops. I didn’t appreciate this in my youth. I thought that coding was the exact opposite of selling. I always associated “sales” with hustling and sleazy ways to convince customers to spend money on things they didn’t need—and having to work fast to get that check before the dupes backed away. One day I was promoted to project manager. After thrashing through a few 30 | INDIA CURRENTS | July 2013

The smartest technology entrepreneurs realize that everyone in the company is in sales; the sooner they embrace that reality, the easier it will be for that startup to grow and prosper. uncomfortable meetings, I understood that running a good project required a form of selling to my peers and managers. I also realized that perhaps sales was not so simple. In fact, convincing my staff that my ideas made sense was far more difficult than writing clean code. And persuading the company’s managers to supply sufficient staff and funding to implement my ideas was harder still. Being a successful project manager meant learning to listen closely to what others thought, to make them feel included, and to give them what they wanted and needed in

order to succeed. It meant constant communication that was honest yet finely nuanced. It was hard work, but ultimately very rewarding. I could listen and focus on helping others in achieving their goals and at the same time advance myself quite easily. When I was able to focus on a global view of helping my company succeed, I found it much easier to avoid destructive departmental politics. I rose through the ranks to become a vice-president of technology at Credit Suisse First Boston—one of the world’s five largest investment banks. Then I got the chance to become Chief Technology Officer (CTO) of a startup that would market software that my team had built. Selling became an even more important skill. With limited funding from investors, we were all living on borrowed time, and the only thing that would give us more time was sales to put money into company coffers. We had a truly amazing product, much better than that of our competitors. But the stark reality was that unless we could really sell well, our competitors had a big advantage. They were a known quantity. They were not going out of business tomorrow. They took our prospective customers out for golf, beers, and lunch. My guru and mentor was my boss, Gene Bedell. One of the first things Gene did when we launched our company was to put everyone through a sales-training boot camp. Gene had run billion-dollar businesses and reached the executive levels in investment banking. He had even convinced IBM to seed-finance our company, a software spinoff from Credit Suisse First Boston. At first my technology team protested at being taught to learn about qualifying prospects and closing sales rather than the latest version-tracking software tools. Within months, we were closing multimillion dollar sales with blue-chip customers across the globe. We did this with only two experienced sales reps and part-time sales support from our development staff. That’s

because developers with sales training are incredibly valuable as a part of the sales process. They have two essential ingredients that make people persuasive—credibility and trustworthiness (for the most part). So, although prospective customers may not really believe a salesperson when, for example, he says a system is reliable, they’re likely to believe a developer they respect. This is a very powerful ingredient in the sales process, and one we used regularly. We competed with some of the largest software companies in the world—and won the sale almost every time. As CTO, I also took it upon myself to sell strategic partners. My biggest catch was a deal with IBM Japan worth $8.6 million. With a culture that put customer support and sales above everything else, we grew into a profitable $120-million-a-year revenue machine. Our developers formed long-term bonds and friendships with our customers. They went to great pains to understand customer requirements and to build products that would sell. More often than not, new development projects would be funded directly by customers. Whenever there was a customer-service problem, our top engineers would voluntarily work around the clock and fly all over the globe to personally provide support. So how do you learn sales? It’s easy. There are literally hundreds of books on selling. My personal favorite book (and I am a little biased here) is one by Gene Bedell himself, titled Three Steps to Yes: The Gentle Art of Getting Your Way. The methods vary, but in essence all of them teach you the basics of understanding customer needs and honing your message. There are also hundreds of “selling seminars” conducted all over the world. Be wary of any that teach you to sell things a customer doesn’t want. It is one thing to persuade people to buy something that they need, and another thing to con people. This is really important, and you would figure that, at the least, entrepreneurs in Silicon Valley would get it. Yet a quick conversation at any networking event in the Valley yields the simple observation that most technology workers don’t think that selling is part of their job description. The smartest technology entrepreneurs realize that everyone in the company is in sales; the sooner they embrace that reality, the easier it will be for that startup to grow and prosper. Coder; biz dev; PR; QA—nope. You’re all in sales. It’s all about selling for survival. n Vivek Wadhwa is an entrepreneur turned academic. You can follow him on Twitter at @ vwadhwa and find his research at www.wadhwa. com. First published on LinkedIn. July 2013 | | 31

ask a lawyer

Fifth Amendment Revisited By Naresh Rajan


Can my case be dismissed if the police do not read me my Miranda rights?

In my practice, new clients often tell me that their cases must be dismissed because the police did not read them their Miranda rights. I often sigh inwardly and surmise that the client has been watching too much television. The right against self-incrimination as stated in the Bill of Rights is that no one “shall be compelled in any criminal case to be a witness against himself.” The right typically manifests in two scenarios. First, in a criminal trial. At trial, the defendant has the absolute right not to testify. The jury may not consider or speculate about the defendant’s reasons not to testify. The prosecutor may not comment upon the defendant’s silence either. Second, the police must advise a person of their Fifth Amendment rights if that person is in government custody and the

32 | INDIA CURRENTS | July 2013

police are going to ask questions that seek to discover information showing the person’s guilt. The second scenario is difficult to understand for many of my clients because they forget the two criteria that must be met before the law requires the police to inform arrestees of their rights. The first is custody. That means formal arrest, or a state in which no reasonable person would feel free to leave. And the second is that the police must be asking incriminating questions. Without these events, there is no obligation to advise arrestees of their rights. Police often ask incriminating questions before they place a person under arrest. This happens often when the police ask someone to come down to the station to give a statement about a recent incident. They tell the person that he or she is free to leave any time and leave the door open or unlocked while interviewing him or her. Recent developments in the law make it

more problematic for a person to go to the station and have this type of conversation with the police. The U.S. Supreme Court recently held that silences during these conversations may be used against the person in court. So, if you are not in custody and are silent without invoking your right to remain silent when the police ask you questions, that silence can be used to prove your guilt. The point is that if you want to preserve your Constitutional rights, you really must say that you want to exercise your rights. If you just sit there and say nothing, you may not be protected. If you ever find yourself sitting across from a police officer in a police station interview room being asked a question that you cannot safely answer, just say that you want to talk to a lawyer. Better yet, take the lawyer with you or don’t give a statement. n Naresh Rajan is an attorney in San Mateo County. Email

legal visa dates Important Note: U.S. travelers seeking visas to India will now need to obtain them through Travisa Outsourcing. Call (415) 644-0149 or visit for more information.

July 2013


his column carries priority dates and other transitional information as taken from the U.S. State Depart­ment’s Visa Bulletin. The information below is from the Visa Bulletin for July 2013. In the tables below, the listing of a date for any class indicates that the class is oversubscribed. “Current” means that numbers are available for all qualified applicants. “Unavailable” means no numbers are available.

Verma LAW FIRM Arjun Verma, Attorney at Law (408) 436-1010


Preference Dates for India 1st 2A 2B 3rd 4th

Jun 01, 2006 Oct 08, 2011 Nov 01, 2005 Oct 01, 2002 May 22, 2001

Note: For July, F2A numbers EXEMPT from per-country limit are available to applicants from all countries with priority dates earlier than Sept 01, 2011. F2A numbers SUBJECT to per-country limit are available to applicants with priority dates beginning Sept 01, 2011 and earlier than Oct 08, 2011.


Preference Dates for India

The Department of State has a recorded message with visa availability information at (202)663-1541, which is updated in the middle of each month. Source: http://www. html

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July 2013 | | 33


Love in the Generation that Follows By Hemlata Vasavada AND LAUGHTER FELL FROM THE SKY by Jyotsna Sreenivasan. William Morrow. 2012. $14.99. 322 pages. Available in hard cover.


irst generation immigrants remember the trials and triumphs of trying to maintain ties to their native culture and adjusting to their adoptive land. While they struggle to establish their careers and social lives in America, they often worry about their parents in India. From their perspective, their children born in this country are immune to such conflicts. Jyotsna Sreenivasan’s novel, And Laughter Fell from the Sky, addresses the pressures of the second generation IndianAmericans as they try to find a balance between the expectations of their families, and their desires to follow their vision. According to the author, her debut novel was inspired by Edith Wharton’s House of Mirth. Sreenivasan’s characters Rasika and Abhay are in some ways parallel to Wharton’s Lily Bart and Lawrence Selden. Many young Indian-Americans feel a similar schism between finding and marrying the “right” person who will please their parents, and striving toward their own dreams. In her novel Sreenivasan reveals a keen insight into the minds of her characters. Rasika, the heroine, is a well-educated, career woman who lives at home and appears to be an exemplary daughter. She wants to please her parents and hides her “active social life” from them. Abhay, the hero, on the other hand, defies the expectations of his (and most IndianAmerican) families. He has lived in a commune, and in spite of a college degree, hasn’t pursued further studies, or a career. Rasika sees him often, but thinks he is not up to her standards. She won’t entertain the thought of marrying him because she wants a handsome man with a good career. She agrees to go along with her parents’ wishes to marry a person who appears to be a perfect match for her. Yet, she continues to see Abhay. Just as Sreenivasan finds Lily Bart’s character “fascinating and frustrating,” the readers are fascinated, but more often frustrated with Rasika’s attitude. She seems to have two sets of watertight emotional compartments, one to deal with her family’s expectations,

34 | INDIA CURRENTS | July 2013

and the other to satisfy her desires. Abhay points out this dichotomy and asks her to be true to herself. He continues to search for some purpose in his life and she helps him find his focus, and helps realize his potential. Alternating between the points of view of Rasika and Abhay, Sreenivasan vividly portrays intricacies of family dynamics. Through their eyes readers get a glimpse of the Indian dinner parties with delicious food and colorful saris where mothers and fathers brag about their children, and look down on those who “don’t act Indian.” In addition to seeing Portland, including commune living, readers can follow the travels of Rasika and Abhay to Bangalore and Auroville. Sreenivasan says, in her twenties she read The Woman Warrior, a memoir about growing up Chinese-American, by Maxine Hong Kingston. That book made her realize that the issues she faced were not unique to her or to Indian-Americans, but to the children of many other immigrants as well. Her interest in this particular generation inspired her to start a website: Second Generation Stories ( where she features books written by the children of immigrants from other countries. Just as Sreenivasan could relate to those stories, many children might relate to her autobiographical children’s novel, Aruna’s Journeys. She is the author of short stories, essays, non-fiction reference books and fiction for children. Her first published short story appeared in India Currents in 1992. Her short story “The Perfect Sunday” received an honorable mention and was the 2011 Katha finalist. She also runs an online Gender Equality Bookstore ( If the author’s intent in And Laughter Fell

from the Sky is to define the issues faced by the children of immigrants, she has clearly accomplished that goal. Not just young IndianAmericans, but people of all ages and cultural backgrounds can relate to this story of family and love. No wonder the novel was included in a Barnes and Noble blog post as one of the five “Great Books You Missed in 2012.” n Hemlata Vasavada and her husband emigrated from India in 1968 with their one-year old daughter. She has a master’s degree in philosophy from the University of Jodhpur. She is an office holder in Skagit Valley Writer’s League. Her articles and humor pieces have been published in the Seattle Times, the Syracuse Herald, Northwest Life & Times, Tea A Magazine, RV Journal, Houston Chronicle, The Herald (Everett), Skagit Valley Writers’ Anthology, Khabar (including an interview with author Bharti Kirchner), and “I should Have Stayed Home” anthology from RDR Books.



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An Embroidered Identity By Tara Menon THE SWEETNESS OF TEARS by Nafisa Haji. William Morrow. 2011. $6. 400 pages.


afisa Haji’s novel, The Sweetness of Tears, set in two continents, is a sweeping story of three generations of women. The protagonist, Jo, named after Jo March in Little Women, goes through a shocking realization when she finds out that her father is not the Christian war veteran married to her mother, but a Pakistani Muslim. She is interested in uncovering her background, and in the process encounters more family secrets. The Sweetness of Tears also touches upon 9/11 and its consequences. Those whose interest in Islam has been fanned by the tragic event can gain a better understanding of the religion. Haji effectively uses a multitude of voices, each one colloquial, but distinct and culturally appropriate, to narrate her story. Sometimes there are stories within stories as characters reveal their secrets. They show us that people are who they are not just because of their genes but also because of the events that have shaped their lives. Jo begins the narrative by filling us in on her Christian upbringing. Her maternal great-grandfather was a preacher and his daughter, her grandmother, worked for a missionary organization. Jo’s uncle was the youngest ever televangelist, and her mother founded a camp in which children had obstacle-related activities illustrating a “specific detail of the allegory of salvation” from The Pilgrim’s Progress. In school Jo disputed Darwin’s theory with her biology teacher using her great-grandfather’s bestselling book, Evilution, to bolster her arguments. However, she tells us, a problem arises when she finds about Mendel and his theory of genes. It makes her question her own parentage because she realizes that two blue-eyed people could not produce a daughter with dark brown eyes. Two years later, just before she leaves for college, she confronts her mother, who confesses that Jo’s father is not Jake, the man who brought her up, but Sadiq Mubarak. This revelation sets in motion the course of the novel and once Jo goes to Chicago to attend college she finds herself staring first at the windows of the apartment building he lives in and finally at the name, Mubarak, S. A., on the intercom system. 36 | INDIA CURRENTS | July 2013

The narrative baton passes on to her biological father and he conveys the shock he feels when he discovers he has a daughter, “My daughter, who is newborn to me and eighteen years old, knocked at my door last month.” They scrutinize each other, looking to see resemblances. Jo wants to know who he is, a request Sadiq feels he should honor. His account of his childhood in Pakistan traumatizes Jo, who leaves before she learns how he met her mother. As a result of her encounter with Sadiq, Jo decides to study Arabic and Urdu instead of the Swahili class she signed up for. She becomes an interpreter for the government, hoping to do some good after 9/11. One of the suspected terrorists she interrogates proves to be a link to her father’s past. After Jo encounters him, she wants to find out more about her father and she goes to her Pakistani grandmother, who is as oblivious of her existence as Sadiq was. The novel illuminates important aspects and stories of the Shia branch of Islam. When Sadiq first meets his daughter, he recounts to her what his mother told him about Muharram. “We wear black, Sadee, every year, for two months, my mother said. We don’t listen to music. We mourn what happened in this month, almost fourteen hundred years ago. As if it were today. We grieve for the family of our beloved prophet

Muhammad, peace be upon him, crying and mourning for them more than we mourn for our own troubles and problems …” Elsewhere we read the details of a traditional Islamic wedding as well as a mut’a, a temporary arranged marriage, the kind that Sadiq and Jo’s mother had. There are riveting passages presenting a scene in a Pakistani church, showing how Christianity is practiced in an Islamic society. The writer shows the interconnectedness of the world through Jo, who brings together the jigsaw pieces of her life to ultimately form a complete picture. She presents a scene of a Thanksgiving family dinner at the end that sheds light on the different weaves of faith and family. The Sweetness of Tears shows the personal consequences of war through three generations of men, Jo’s brother, her father Jake, and grandfather, who have been affected by the war and whose actions have had repercussions on the women in their lives. Haji, an American of Indian and Pakistani descent, amazes us at her ability to bring together the elements of the faiths of Islam and Christianity, the different cultures of Pakistan, America, Iraq, and a cast of three generations in two continents in a single novel. However, this is not her first multigenerational novel nor is it the first time she has a protagonist uncover a lie pertaining to the family. Her debut novel, The Writing on My Forehead, which is about three generations of a Muslim family, has a protagonist who discovers that her dead grandfather is actually alive and lives with his second family in London. The Sweetness of Tears is a tapestry of stories embroidered with many rich threads. The tiny flaws are almost inscrutable, but if we search for them they are there: Jo is shaken up after discovering that her biological father is Pakistani, but we don’t see her anguish over the fact that Jake isn’t who she thought he was; we don’t learn her deepest thoughts about Islam though she observes so much about it; and for the skeptical readers there are too many coincidences. However, what is indisputable is that Haji has much to offer, especially when it comes to depicting faith, cultures and families. n Tara Menon is a freelance writer based in Lexington, Massachusetts. Her fiction, poetry, and book reviews have been published in many magazines.


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Katha 2013 • First Place By Mustafa Abubaker


All the lights in my home are off. The

ace: "Light" bysnow’s MUSTAFA Georgia so deepABUBAKER, I’m doing lungesAtlanta, in order to get to the door, my breath

A Creative Commons Image

mimickingby cigarette smoke, my fingers on Massachusetts Place: "Legacy" ANU CHITRAPU, Boston,

the verge of frostbite. Ringing the bell, I remember how I used ace: "Ahalya" by DEBJANI MUKHERJEE, Auckland, New Zealand to slide down the hill whenever it snowed as a child, clad in a parka. My father, all bundled ble Mention: "Ripples" by ARCHITHA Morristown, New Jersey up in black puffy jackets, earmuffs andSUBRAMANIAN, gloves would catch me, and bless his soul, agree to catch "Burning" me one moreby time as I would trot up Canberra, Australia ble Mention: NIKESH MURALI, s and four hundreds of short the cookbooks hill. I’d look and out into the horizon, admire how the Sun’s light hit the snow gently atest novel Tulip Season: A Mitra Basu Mystery is enough to let it be but strongly enough to let it glow. I hear footsteps, a low murmur growing in intensity. The door opens and there’s my father’s wife, cigarette in her right hand as his year she judges Chitra Divakaruni and BhartiI’m quiet. For a while, we just study pincheswere my chin with her left. Smoke each other. I’ve gained a little weight. His d. rises and finds refuge in her brunette hair. hair is almost gone. There’s a tattoo on my She’s aged; the wrinkles on her face have upper arm. I notice his teeth, once as white settled into thin narrow lines embedded in as the clouds, have gone to shit; stained with her cheeks. I feel sorry for her. I look into tobacco, a strange brownish-yellow mixture. her eyes, eyes that have seen death more “Beta,” he says this time, blowing his than birth. She stares daggers into mine. I’m nose, taking the ginger ale from Fatima. “I scared she might slam the door. But then, I didn’t realize you were coming.” notice my father slowly making his way toSheepishly, I look down and mumble wards the door, clutching a cane and smiling. something incoherent. I feel small. Why My heart drops. didn’t I tell him? Would it have been that His pupils have managed to retain that difficult? What’s wrong with me? distinctive mischievous twinkle I first recog“I guess I just wanted to surprise you.” nized in my childhood. He moves her out “I’m surprised,” he retorts, not missing of the way and takes my hand and leads me a beat. into the home. The texture of his palm is I can’t tell if he’s serious. Burping after a rough, patchy; I wonder if he still takes care few sips of the ginger ale, he tells me about of himself. how Fatima makes him the happiest man on “The power’s out,” Fatima announces, the planet. He tells me about his work and closing the door behind me. I spot a few how the guys Bruce and Timothy are still candles burning in the foyer, dripping wax making it bearable. He tells me about how on the plates. Bruce’s son was diagnosed with cancer, how “Did you call the power company?” I he drove to the hospital and almost veered want to know. We’re in the living room now off the road and into a tree because he didn’t and my father, Baba, lays his cane down on want to feel any more pain. He tells me the side of the burgundy sofa and sighs. After about how one day he noticed Bruce didn’t asking Fatima for a ginger ale, he shakes his come in to work and he found him weeping head. in his car, his shirt wet with tears. He tells “I’ve been waiting for the right time to me about how the wind lets my mother’s light those candles,” he says to me, winking. voice sing in his ears every February. He “You think I would pass up such a perfect tells me about how one day, getting groceropportunity?” ies, he spotted a shoplifter and decided to 38 | INDIA CURRENTS | July 2013

let him go. He tells me about the time he got the call that my grandmother had passed, how the room’s temperature had suddenly dropped to freezing, how he’d locked himself in the house for weeks and hadn’t spoken to anybody. He tells me about how much he missed me, how he wrote me letters but he never heard back. He tells me how Fatima can never understand. He tells me how he himself cannot understand. The candles burn bright in the dark and I can feel my father’s soul shining brightly; proud, humble, innocent, even. And I cannot do anything about it. My soul—torn, berated, spit on and chewed up—isn’t worth hearing all of this. But I sit there and listen to him quell disbeliefs about certain things and strengthen my tastes towards others. There’s a lull in the conversation—and for a second, I think he wants me to tell him where I’ve been. Why I left. Why mail addressed to me still comes to the house. Why I never stay for long. Why, in the dead of the night, when he is asleep and getting a little bit of peace in his life, I call from miles away using a phone booth and just breathe into the phone, listening to him say “is it you?” over and over again. But, I’m wrong. He ignores the fact, pretends like it never happened. He’s old. Maybe his memory is warped—or maybe he just doesn’t care. Maybe he’s waiting for the right moment to make me feel worthless, abandoning a home at a time when it gave shelter to a sick mother, a grieving father and a lifetime of wealth. I’m exploring the home, running my fingers along the walls, reminiscing on the days they knew nothing. With trepidation, I move towards my childhood room, once adorned with posters of musical icons worshipped in my adolescence, once a haven to old novels I wrote notes in and cherished: all the things I had left behind. Opening the door to the room in which


India Currents and Khabar are pleased to announce the results of


• Light by MUSTAFA ABUBAKER, Atlanta, Georgia Cash award $300

Second Place:

• Legacy by ANU CHITRAPU, Boston, Massachusetts Cash award $200

Third Place:

• Ahalya by DEBJANI MUKHERJEE , Auckland, New Zealand Cash award $100

Honorable Mention: • Ripples by ARCHITHA SUBRAMANIAN, Morristown, New Jersey • Burning by NIKESH MURALI, Canberra, Australia

The winning entries will be considered for publication in upcoming issues of India Currents and Khabar magazines. This year’s judges were Tania James and Amit Majmudar. The judging process was completely blind. Tania James is the author of a novel, Atlas of Unknowns. Her most recent book is Aerogrammes and Other Stories, which was named a Best Book of the Year by The San Francisco Chronicle, Kirkus Reviews, and Library Journal, as well as a New York Times Editor’s Choice. Amit Majmudar is a novelist, poet, and diagnostic nuclear radiologist and was a Katha Short Story contest winner himself for two years in a row. His first novel, Partitions, and two poetry collections were published to wide acclaim. His most recent novel is The Abundance. Visit for details. We thank the writers for taking part in the contest and encourage them to continue writing!

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Most Popular Articles Online June 2013 1) A Boy Turned Pariah. Kalpana Mohan 2) My Mother’s Neem Tree. Samanvitha Rao 3) My Father and His Sixty Books. Jaya Padmanabhan 4) Katha Fiction Contest 2013 Results. 5) Minding the Gap. Ritu Marwah 6) San Francisco’s Ethnic Dance Festival. Emma Blanco 7) Cool as a Cucumber. Praba Iyer 8) Seeds for Soil, Seeds of Spirit. Jojy Michael 9) Heart of Glass. Geetika Pathania Jain 10) Encounters with Elephants. Anil Mulchandani, Dinesh Shukla

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I thought of ending my life, in which I first recognized love, in which the sunset woke me daily through the window, in which I wept for my mother, in which I listened to music and danced, in which I rolled my first joint, in which I paced back and forth pondering countless topics, I am lost. Before me is a utopia, a world which I have long abandoned. Today, the room is sparse, trickled down to nothing more than a mattress and a few random objects strewn about on the Persian rug. A janamaz sits in the corner, folded twice. I don’t remember any surahs. The walls have been robbed of their ornaments; some of the tape remains, meeting each other diagonally. But I can't seem to discern it from my youth. I close my eyes and see where the record player was, where the book shelf was. I wish I could extract memories from the room. Collapsing on the mattress, my mind drifts. Turning to lay on my back and stare at the ceiling, I remember hearing the arguments from my room as a child. Hearing the glass shatter, hearing the voices shout. I couldn’t forget the sheer terror I felt in my soul whenever it happened. Slowly, my eyes close themselves, as if they don’t want me to remember. It’s better to sleep, dream of a better life, envision an alternate reality. A candle in the room, the sole source of light, burns before me and I wonder how long the power’s been out. Then, I wonder if Baba’s even able to pay the bill. Part of me wants to find out, part of me wants to leave the money somewhere in plain sight, part of me wants to grab my steely black suitcase and leave in the middle of the night with nothing gained but melancholia. The flame flickers, taunting me, and I rise from the bed, walk over to the candle and crouch down right in front of it, my eyes drawn to the ember and my nose drawn to the scent. I can’t remember the last time I lit a candle. My gaze transfixed on the light, I’m back in the sixth grade, my mother crooning old family lullabies to me and telling me that middle school won’t be that bad, that when she was in middle school she loved it, caressing my forehead with a gentle touch and kissing it afterwards, leaving a glass of warm milk by my side. Before she left, she would always say that it’s okay to feel small sometimes, that it humbles you. I hesitate— my mother’s face flashes in my mind—and I blow the candle out. I’m submerged in darkness, somewhat shocked by how therapeutic it feels and, oddly enough and with much resignation—I’ve never felt smaller. n Mustafa Abubaker is a writer living in Atlanta, Georgia. He is the author of The Surrogate as

well as the 2011 YoungArts Merit Award Recipient for Novel Writing. Mustafa has contributed to Complex, Wine & Bowties, The Aerogram, Pigeons & Planes, The Liner, Khabar, Loose Change and more. You may read his work at Judges’ Comments: We admired “Light” for the fine focus and immediacy of its language. There’s a great deal of emotional depth in this glimpse of a life; perhaps what was most moving about the story was all that remained unsaid between father and prodigal son. This year’s judges were Tania James and Amit Majmudar. Tania James is the author of a novel, Atlas of Unknowns. Her most recent book is Aerogrammes and Other Stories, which was named a Best Book of the Year by The San Francisco Chronicle, Kirkus Reviews, and Library Journal, as well as a New York Times Editor’s Choice. Amit Majmudar is a novelist, poet, and diagnostic nuclear radiologist and was a Katha Short Story contest winner himself for two years in a row. His first novel, Partitions, and two poetry collections were published to wide acclaim. His most recent novel is The Abundance. Visit for details.

Katha 2013 Results

award $300): FIRST PLACE (cash UBAKER Light by MUSTAFA AB Atlanta, Georgia sh award $200): SECOND PLACE (ca PU RA Legacy by ANU CHIT ts set Boston, Massachu award $100): THIRD PLACE (cash MUKHERJEE, Ahalya by DEBJANI nd ala Auckland, New Ze ION: HONORABLE MENT Ripples by ARCHITHA w Jersey SUBRAMANIAN, Ne ION: HONORABLE MENT RALI MU Burning by NIKESH Canberra, Autralia


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Looking for Calcutta Revisiting old haunts in Kolkata By Melanie Priya Kumar A bird’s eye view of New Market


he last time that I had visited my birthplace, Calcutta, was just before the turn of the new century and here I was back again, well into the new millennium! It is strange how the concept of home keeps changing. I perceived myself as a Solomon Grundy kind of person, who instead of being “born on a Monday, christened on a Tuesday,” was “born in Calcutta, grew up in Jamshedpur …” The problem with people like these (read me!) is that they find it hard to answer very matter of fact questions about identity. There is a realization about not having put down roots anywhere and yet having left a part of myself in each of the places that I have lived in. And each time that I revisit, I am looking for that elusive something that was left behind. In most cases, I have only nostalgia to fall back on! And so, the excitement was palpable, when the touchdown at the Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose Airport in Kolkata was announced. The two name changes hit me almost immediately. I had been used to the alliterative “Dumdum” from the time I was a child and the new names instituted some distance between the place of my memory and the city I was visiting. I was visiting Kolkata to attend a wedding and it seemed as though most of my

flight was on a similar mission. The Bengalis, like the Punjabis, have been among the votaries of the Big Fat Indian Wedding. I stepped out to a blistery and windy welcome. It was an unusually cold winter, one that had forced Bengalis to arm themselves with thick woollens, shawls and the de rigueur monkey caps (where a good part of the face is shielded by a thick woollen cap, leaving only the eyes, nose and mouth exposed). I recall earlier visits and the horrified reactions of relatives and friends upon seeing me pad about in my bare feet on December mornings and their urgent admonishments:

West Bengal Chief Minister, Mamata Banerjee, at the Kolkata Book Fair 52 | INDIA CURRENTS | July 2013

“wear your chappals and socks or you will catch a cold!” I had completely forgotten the average Bengali’s preoccupation with health. There often is no trace of embarassment even when discussing delicate health ailments like those of the digestive tract! At the Scottish-Bengali wedding I attended, I developed an insatiable appetite for the mouth-watering Bengali sweets, the sandesh, the rasagullas, and the gulab jamuns. There was a band of shehnai players resplendent in their Lucknowi clothes. I went up for a little chat and listened to these performers praise Calcuttans and their love of culture, which had kept their art-form alive. All the men turned out to be Muslims from either Bihar or Uttar Pradesh who had made this city their home. It felt good to be present at an Indian-Scottish wedding, conducted according to Hindu rites, with Muslim shehnai players holding forth. I decided to visit New Market, originally known as Hogg Market, and found it teeming with people. It seemed as though the old thriving marketplace had lost its old-world charm. Everyone seemed to be in a great hurry and there was none of that lazy, relaxed kind of shopping that I had associated with this market. Kolkata has always been a favorite place of the Chinese, many of whom have made this city their home, congregating in places like Chinatown and Tangra. Known for their enterprise, they opened beauty parlors, restaurants and leather footwear shops. Chinese carpentry and dentistry also became synonymous with quality. New Market was filled

with stores selling shoes, made by Chinese workmen and it was not surprising to see a dentist in the midst of the rows of shops. New Market has a well-known Tibetan jewellery shop called “Chamba Lamba.” There was a young man inside, what was earlier a solely feminine preserve, trying out a pair of ear-rings! Calcutta it seemed had metamorphosed into its new name and culture, while I had been away. I drove to Park Street and past old restaurants like Trincas, where Usha Uthup gained fame as a singer and brought respectability to the profession of nightclub singing; Flury’s—famous for its confectioneries and liqueur chocolates; Kwality’s, Moulin Rouge; Mocambo; and the grand old Grand Hotel, now refurbished and glitzed up as the Oberoi Grand. When traveling around in a yellow cab (almost extinct in India), I found that the city’s famed traffic jams had not reduced, even as I realised that the people’s idea of road sense had not improved. Not surprisingly, the two are corollaries to each other. The cab radio kept plugging the “Boi Mela,” or book fair. So, I decided to attend along with a friend. Bengalis are lovers of literature, quite undeterred by the huge lines at these events. At the book fair, my friend and I stumbled upon the book launch of “Pataudi, Nawab of Cricket.” Suresh Menon who edited and authored the book was to discuss the biography with Bollywood’s yesteryear heroine Sharmila Tagore (married to Pataudi) and Saurabh Ganguly, billed as India’s most successful cricket captain. All the three speakers radiated charm. Sharmila Tagore shared some special memories of her husband, including the kick that she got from him under the table, when she used a cricketing term incorrectly (leg glance instead of a late cut)! Saurabh Ganguly was asked by a member of the audience “Dada, why don’t you become the brand ambassador for cricket in Bengal?” Pat came the reply, “For that, you will have to ask Didi!” The didi in question is Mamata Banerjee, the Chief Minister of West Bengal, who looms imposingly over Kolkata, ever since she vanquished the communist party, CPI (M), after they held sway in the state for more than three decades. Her

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mud and mud is money) to indicate his sense of detachment towards all things material. So, it was, with a bit of a shock, that I found the place teeming with shops selling all manner of things, and big jewelry advertisements sprawled across the walls. I guess that when it comes to nostalgia, Calcutta, the place of my past can really exist only in my mind. And so, though what I looked for in the Calcutta of the 20th century was occasionally missing in the Kolkata of the 21st, the trip was certainly worth it. When I need to feel good about the city, I can just inhabit the childhood places and memories in my mind and draw happiness from them. n Melanie is a Bangalore-based writer and Literary Reviewer who has been freelancing for more than 15 years now. She holds degrees in English and Mass Communications. Temple units at Dakshineshwar

posters dominate the city-landscape, just like Jayalalitha’s in Chennai. Banerjee’s imperiousness is legendary and the story goes that some poor academic landed in jail for uploading a cartoon spoofing her among his private set of friends! I decided to visti Dakshineswar, located in the extreme north of Kolkata, where Ramakrishna Paramahamsa is said to have found enlightenment. One of his famous sayings is “Taaka maati, maati taaka” (money is

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Wikipedia’s Sexist Turn Men are Novelists; Women are “Women Novelists?” By Sandip Roy • New America Media


t 5:44 PM on April 1, John Pack Lambert, a 32-year-old student of history at Wayne State University took a small step for one man which proved to be a giant leap for mankind. And I mean MANkind, not humanity. Lambert moved Patricia Aakhus, author of The Voyage of Mael Duin’s Curragh from American novelists to the category American women novelists. Two minutes later, teen romance author Hailey Abbott suffered the same fate. Then Megan Abbott. At 8:51 PM Lambert, the oneman army to engender order in the universe, created a new category, Nigerian women novelists and put Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie there. James Gleick’s account in the New York Review of Books of how Wikipedia fell into the great gender gap is a riveting read, a sort of detective story for category-geeks. The next day Lambert was briefly sidetracked by a discussion of whether there should be a Category:Jeans enthusiasts (for “celebrities and famous people who are always wearing or frequently spotted wearing jeans”), but then he got back to work and A. L. Kennedy, till then a Scottish novelist, became a Scottish woman novelist. On April 3 he created a category for Greek women screenwriters; so far it has only one member. The rest of the world cried “Sexism.” Leading the charge was Amanda Filipacci, one of the women writers who suddenly found herself banished to the ante-chamber while the men hogged the living room. (Sounds like an old-fashioned Indian wedding.) Filipacci complained in a post on The New York Times: “People who go to Wikipedia to get ideas for whom to hire, or honor, or read, and look at that list of “American Novelists” for inspiration, might not even notice that the first page of it includes far more men than women. They might simply use that list 54 | INDIA CURRENTS | July 2013

A Creative Commons

... why not move the men out to Male American Novelists? There was a proposal to do that. It got shot down fast. That is our problem in a nutshell. We categorize by minority and therefore it’s hard to escape bias. without thinking twice about it. It’s probably small, easily fixable things like this that make it harder and slower for women to gain equality in the literary world.” Even Wikipedia’s founder Jimmy Wales was gobsmacked. In a post titled “WTH,” he wrote: “My first instinct is that surely these stories are wrong in some important way. Can someone update me on where I can read the community conversation about this? Did it happen? How did it happen?” Lambert stoutly defended himself to Gleick. “This whole hullabaloo is really missing the point,” he said. “The people who are

making a big deal about this are not being up-front about what happens if we do not diffuse categories.” Diffuse is geek-speak for moving things from a parent category to a sub-category. American novelist, said Lambert was just too big to be useful. “It is really a holding ground for people who have yet to be categorized into a more specific sub-cat,” said a user called Obi-Wan Kenobi. “It’s not some sort of club that you have to be a part of.” May the force be with Obi-Wan Kenobi but really? If that’s the case why not move the men out to Male American Novelists? There was a proposal to do that. It got shot down fast. That is our problem in a nutImage shell. We categorize by minority and therefore it’s hard to escape bias. So after The New York Review of Books (again!) scooped all the big pubs by tracking down the mysterious Misha, the socalled Svengali alleged to have “radicalized” the brothers Tsarnaev, many commenters complained that he was described as halfArmenian. Why not describe him as halfUkrainian complained angry readers, probably Armenians. On the flip side, Indian American publications routinely complain that Kamala Harris is described as California’s first African American Attorney General when she is also its first Indian-American Attorney General. But Wikipedia’s women problem is different. It’s not about the clumsiness of describing Kamala Harris as California’s first female African American Indian American attorney general. Like much of the online world Wikipedia has a gender gap. But as it has become the default go-to site for information, its gender gap is showing in embarrassing ways. In 2011, Noam Cohen wrote in The New York Times that the contributor base was barely 13 percent women. That means there’s gender bias that shows up in the very act of deciding what topic is worthy of meriting a wiki entry and how long it is.



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Sandip Roy is the Culture Editor for Firstpost. com. He is on leave as editor with New America Media. His weekly dispatches from India can be heard on This article was first published in New America Media.



A topic generally restricted to teenage girls, like friendship bracelets, can seem short at four paragraphs when compared with lengthy articles on something boys might favor, like, toy soldiers or baseball cards, whose voluminous entry includes a detailed chronological history of the subject. For example, during the royal wedding in 2011, Wikipedia members debated furiously about whether Kate Middleton’s dress deserved an entry. Wiki founder Wales thought it did because it had more social and cultural interest than “100 articles on different Linux distributions, some of them quite obscure… and (they have) virtually no impact on the broader culture.” Well intentioned, I am sure. But a problematic example to use to try and fix a real gender problem. As one reader said at that time: “I really see this idea that keeping this article does something to remedy the gender imbalance here to be facile at best and insulting at worst.” Pardon me, Wiki, but your slip is showing. It’s a knotty problem that goes beyond one OCD history student. How do you create categories without creating hierarchies? Especially given the fact that a “gay writer” is happy to claim a Lambda award given out for LGBT writing and a woman politician is grateful for support that comes her way thanks to a group like Emily’s List which wants to encourage women in politics. But neither want those honors to disqualify them from being “writer” or “politician.” The problem is not one of the categories you belong to but the ones you don’t—this idea that somehow a woman American writer is not an American writer as well. So in the world according to Wikipedia Maya Angelou belongs to 20th century women writers, African-American memoirists, African-American women poets, African American writers, American Activists, American dramatists and playwrights, American people of Sierre Leonean descent—everything but 20th century writer. But the first categories Salman Rushdie belongs to are 20th century novelists and 21st century novelists. Until Wikipedia understands that the difference between the two entries is not just one of ordering but of perspective, it’s doomed to keep falling face first into the gender gap. n

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A Staple Nourishment Finger millet recipes By Vijitha Shyam


inger millet is one of the oldest grains known to mankind. Finger millet is also known as Mandua/Kezhvarangu/ Ragi in different Indian languages. Every summer break when I visited my grandparent’s village, there would be one breakfast dish made with it every week. It could be ragi idlis (steamed cakes), dosas (savory crepes), uthappams (pancakes), sevai (noodles) or chapattis (Indian breads). My grandfather has friends who are farmers and during every meal he would share insights about the harvest, growing season, principles of crop rotation and how to make compost. Some information went over my head and some stayed etched in my heart forever. Finger millet has a very short growing time. It can grow into a mature plant within 70-80 days or even less. Finger millet is high in starch and considered a substitute for wheat, maybe even better than wheat because its proteins are more easily digested. “It has the third highest iron content of any grain, after amaranth and quinoa,” states Matt Styslinger from Nourishing the Planet

Finger Millet Cutlets Ingredients (makes 10 cutlets) 1 cup finger millet/ragi flour 1 medium sized sweet potatoes, boiled and mashed ¼ cup fenugreek leaves, finely chopped (optional)You can also use drumstick/ moringa leaves 1 tsp turmeric powder 1 tsp chili powder 1 tbsp coriander powder 1 tsp cumin powder 1 tsp garam masala 1 tsp salt

56 | INDIA CURRENTS | July 2013

½ cup cilantro, finely chopped 1 tbsp water (if needed only) ¼ cup olive oil for cooking Directions In a clean bowl add finger millet flour, mashed sweet potatoes, fenugreek leaves, spices and cilantro. Mix them well by hand. The water from the cooked sweet potatoes is enough to knead them into a dough. If it’s still dry, try sprinkling a little water and keep doing so till it has the right consistency of dough. Roll

them into balls (of equal size). Heat a large frying pan on medium-low flame, drizzle 1 tbsp oil along the edges in such a way that the surface of the frying pan is covered with streaks of oil. Take each ball and press them between your palms about 1 cm in radius. Place them on the sizzling hot pan leaving enough space between them. Cook for 8-10 minutes on each side. Remove and place on a plate with a paper towel to drain the excess oil. Serve hot with any sweet-spicy chutney like peach or mango. n

project. Finger millets are highly nutritious, gluten free and easy to digest. My grandfather would say that rice and wheat need more water and improved soil fertility for better yield while millet grows well in dry, arid lands. It seems to me that this presents a wonderful opportunity for farmers in the drier parts of the world. We should all eat more whole grains like millet, quinoa, and barley to encourage and support our local indigenous farmers. In fact if we alter the natural crop patterns, our natural reserves will dry up fast and Mother Nature will act against us. So let’s respect the biodiversity in nature and eat foods based on the location and weather patterns. Finger millet grain is resistant to insects and rot and can be kept for a while. It is also used for brewing alcohol beverages and as animal feed. In south India it is often a basic ingredient in porridge and is considered a poor man’s staple. It originated in east Africa and came to

India around 1000 B.C.E. There are some old Sangam poems around 300 B.C.E to 300 C.E. describe how people of the mountainous region cooked their freshly harvested millet. “Pour in sweet foaming milk from a wild cow into a pot that smells of boiled venison, its broad sides white with fat. Set it on a wood burning stove that uses sandalwood for firewood. When it begins to boil stir in freshly harvested millet and let it cook. When it is cooked, serve it on wide plantain leaves set outside where wild jasmine and nightshade flowers grow.”


re-created my long lost relationship with millet during my gestational diabetes period. Finger millet breaks down to sugar very slowly and doesn’t spike your blood sugar drastically. It slowly works in your body and hence it’s a perfect ingredient for those who are diabetic or pre-diabetic. They are readily available in Indian grocery stores. I feed my son finger millet porridge or

ragi kanji, a dish made with flour of the sprouted grain for breakfast every other day. It should be well cooked before feeding it to kids. One of the easiest dishes to make with finger millet is cutlets. All it requires is to mix the finger millet flour with mashed sweet potatoes, regular potatoes or peas and a few Indian spices. To add a more healthy twist, throw in some greens like fenugreek leaves or spinach. For a bigger challenge, try the Ragi Sevai (Finger millet noodles)—recipe below, which requires the idly cooker and the noodle press. Enjoy! n Vijitha Shyam is a clinical research professional by day and a food blogger, recipe developer and aspiring writer by night. She authors the blog “Spices and Aroma,” a place to find recipes for authentic Indian dishes that fit the South Beach Diet and Gestational Diabetes Menu.

Finger Millet Noodles Ingredients (Serves 2) For the noodles: 2 cups finger millet 1 tsp salt 2 cups hot water For the base mixture: 1 large onion, chopped 2 green chilies, slit 1 teaspoon ginger, minced 10-12 curry leaves 1 tsp mustard seeds 1 tsp urad dal/black gram dal 1 tbsp olive oil Equipment Idli plates, pressure cooker or bamboo steamer Noodle press

to massage the crumbled flour into smooth dough. Cover it with a damp cloth and let it rest for a while. Brush the inside of the noodle/ sevai press with oil so the dough comes out clean instead of sticking to the press. Start by using ¼ cup of the dough and place it inside the press and cover. Use the press as per manufacturer’s instructions. 2. Grease the idli plates with cooking spray or oil. Transfer the noodles to the greased idli plates. Steam-cook them for 12-15 minutes. Once the steam has settled, open and transfer to a fresh bowl. Once cooled, remove them and crumble it into smaller pieces using your hand. Set aside. 3. In a large saucepan, heat oil. Once the oil ripples, add the mustard seeds and let it pop. Throw in the urad dal and curry leaves. Sauté for 30 seconds. Then mix in the onions and ginger and cook for 8 minutes until the onions soften. Add the cooked noodles to this mixture, combine well and serve with any chutney of your choice. n

Directions 1. Mix finger millet flour with salt and sprinkle boiling water littleby-little to form soft dough. Mix with a spoon and then when the dough has cooled, use your hands Photo Credit: Praba Iyer Cucumber Margarita

July 2013 | | 57


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relationship diva

Taking Him Back By Jasbina Ahluwalia


I dated a guy for about one and a half years and while we certainly had our fair share of ups and downs, overall I had thought things were going pretty well between us. So it surprised me when he broke up with me, without really giving me any reasons beyond that he had doubts about us. I was heart-broken at the time, and it took me about six months to get over him. Fast-forward five months later, and I’ve been dating online and despite having a ton of frustrating experiences there are two guys I’ve been emailing. I’ve had phone conversations with them and both seem pretty interesting. But just the other day, my ex-boyfriend emailed me out of the blue telling me he’s missing me. I thought I was over him, but now I’m confused about what I should do. Should I even consider taking him back?


Kudos to you for getting back out there after your heart was broken; as well as continuing your online dating efforts despite the frustrating experiences. I can understand how your ex-boyfriend

telling you he’s missing you would be confusing. I’d imagine there may be other readers who may also be revisiting past relationships. While you are the only one who can make the decision regarding what’s ultimately best for you in this situation, I do have some suggestions to guide you in gaining clarity as you consider the course of action you’d be best served by taking. The first question which comes to my mind is: Why did the two of you break-up in the first place? From your question, it sounds like your ex-boyfriend never really gave you a reason for ending the relationship beyond having doubts. You had mentioned that the two of you experienced “ups and downs.” Sometimes, as time elapses we tend to remember the ups, and forget the downs. The second question which comes to mind is: What has changed in the last 11 months? Before addressing this pivotal question, in my opinion, it would be premature to cut-off communications with the two guys


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you met online who you find interesting. If you are seriously considering revisiting a potential relationship with your exboyfriend, you should first explore whether or not his behavior and words align with your relationship goals at this time. In other words, is he willing to engage in open and honest communication? Do his previous doubts about the relationship remain? If he no longer harbors such doubts, what has changed? You should also try to discover what he wants in terms of a relationship with you at this point. Keep in mind that “missing you” and committing to the kind of relationship you desire are not one and the same. Best wishes! n

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In Memoriam

Lalgudi G. Jayaraman 1930—2013 By P. Mahadevan


iolin maestro, Lalgudi G. Jayaraman was born in the town of Lalgudi in the Tiruchirapalli district of Tamil Nadu. He started his musical career as a disciple of his father Lalgudi Gopala Iyer and at an early age, through determined effort and guidance, rapidly acquired proficiency with the violin. He gave his first performance at the age of 12. He was considered a legendary pillar of Karnatik music, one who embodied the discipline of rigor as well as the rigor of discipline. He made his violin sing and dance to the lyricism of his creative mind. Lalgudi Jayaraman died of cardiac failure in Chennai on April 22, 2013. His loss has left the Karnatik music world and his legions of fans bereft. Jayaraman is credited with developing his own style of playing the violin, the “Lalgudi Bani” which enabled him to follow very closely the variations of the human voice on the strings. To him, the very act of giving a concert on stage was a ritual in the realm of the divine, and to accept second best was treason. I recall an incident that occurred in our Southern California community in 1971. A few of us got together to arrange our very first Karnatik concert featuring Lalgudi Jayaraman and Dr. N. Ramani, the flutist. Lalgudi was meticulous in observing format and tradition, one of which was to keep a lit oil lamp on stage. This was objected to by the property owners who rented the hall to us, for obvious reasons. Somehow we managed to convince them and a polished brass lamp was lit and set in place. One among us, however, was less tolerant than others and tauntingly lit his cigarette from the ritualistic symbol lamp prior to the concert. Jayaraman was very upset by the incident. However, it didn’t affect his performing a scintillating concert to the satisfaction of all. Jayaraman was fortunate in observing, learning and accompanying several musicians of repute. Among these are Dwaram Venkataswamy Naidu, Kumbakonam Rajamanickam Pillai, T. Chowdiah, R.K. Venkatarama Sastry, M.S. Gopalakrishnan and T.N. Krishnan. He has collaborated with the legendary American violinst and conductor,

70 | INDIA CURRENTS | July 2013

Yehudi Menuhin, who presented him with a special Italian violin in 1965 as a sign of respect and admiration. After a stroke in 2006, Jayaraman felt that the dexterity of his fingers was not good enough to play the violin to his established ability. He therefore gave up playing on the stage altogether. He branched out into other fields of music and became a composer of musical varnams, thillanas and kirtanams as well as a choreographer of dance dramas. He took on the role of teacher with renewed vigor, working with senior vocalists like Bombay Jayasree, Harikatha exponent Visakha

Hari, younger artist Saketha Raman and his own son G.J.R Krishan and daughter Vijaya Lakshmi. He left us as a complete musician: a lifelong composer, performer and teacher. Accolades and honors have been showered on him such as the Padma Shri and the Padma Bhushan. He declined the honor of the Sangeetha Kalanidhi from the Madras Music Academy as it came, according to him, too late in his career. The Academy quickly made amends and came up with a Lifetime Achievement Award instead for Jayaraman, the first such award in a hundred years. He was made an honorary citizen of Maryland in the United States and Ohio declared April 2 as Lalgudi Day. Just as the famous writer R.K. Narayan

put the mythical village of Malgudi on the literary map, so did Jayaraman put the small town of Lalgudi in the musical almanac. Phrases like “tillana by Lalgudi” or “accompanied by Lalgudi” became self explanatory. He was a musical landmark, an ethereal minstrel of modern times and a legendary musical genius. His passing marks the end of an era. n P. Mahadevan is a retired scientist with a Ph.D. in Atomic Physics from the University of London, England. His professional work includes basic and applied research and program management for the Dept. of Defense (India). He taught Physics at the Univ. of Kerala, at Thiruvananthapuram. He does very little now, very slowly.


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July 2013 | | 71

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July 2013 | | 73

Art Exhibition/Sale:

Two musical stalwarts reunite after many years. Please come and enjoy the mesmerizing melodies on sitar by Pandit Krisnha Mohan Bhatt accompanied by the soulful rhythms of Pandit Swapan Chaudhuri. Krishna Bhatt is considered one of the top sitarist of this generation, performing in the style passed down by Pandit Nikhil Banerjee, Ustad Ali Akbar Khan, and Pandit Ravi Shankar

Esteemed the world over for his purity of sound, depth of knowledge, rhythmic creativity, and dedication to teaching, Maestro Swapan Chaudhuri is considered one of the greatest living musicians and tabla virtuosos of our time.

Sunday, July 14, 2013 • 3:00 pm

Saturday, July 20, 2013 • 7:00 pm

Venue: Ali Akbar College of Music

Venue: Divine Science Community Center

Tickets: $20

Tickets: $40 & $25

215 West End Ave., San Rafael, CA 94901

1540 Hicks Ave., San Jose, CA 95125

Tickets available at the door: $40/$25 For further information contact: NIKHIL PANDYA (415) 205-9630 • 74 | INDIA CURRENTS | July 2013

Vocal Music Classes By DR



(disciple of late Pandit Gyan Prakash Ghosh and Ustad Munawar Ali Khan) * Teacher of repute and artiste having numerous stage and TV shows. * Elementary lessons for beginners in Indian Classical Music (Hindusthani style) and Light Classical Music - including bhajan, ghazal, etc.

* Special lessons in Bangla Gaan - (Bengali) ClassesseIn, San Jo Puraatani, Tappa, Nazrulgeeti, Sunnyvale ra Atulprosad, Raagprodhan, etc. & Santa Cla Contact: (408) 799-1102 • (408) 823-3918

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Artistic Director: Renowned Musician & Vocal Hindustani Classical Singer & Guru. Sangeet Visharad from Lucknow, India Vocal Music Lessons * Hindustani Classical * Bhajans * Kirtan & Ghazal training * Voice training for public perf. Individual & Group Lessons


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July 2013 | | 75

India Currents Fax: (4 Initials


Sliding into Ragasphere Debashish Bhattacharya’s new fusion album By Teed Rockwell

BEYOND THE RAGASPHERE. Music by Debashish Bhattacharya. Available from Riverboat/World Music Network at CD Album: $16.98.


lassical Hindustani Slide Guitar? The idea must have seemed strange at first. When Brij Bhusan Kabra first conceived of the idea, his father made him promise that he play only pure classical music on the instrument. He kept his promise, more or less. Call of the Valley, his most popular album, stretched the form considerably by featuring the first triple jugalbandi, with bansurist Hariprasad Chaurasia and santoorist Shivkumar Sharma. Kabra’s student Debashish Bhattacharya, however, has recorded some of the best Indian fusion music I’ve ever heard. His 2003 album Mahima remains one of my favorites, and I would say his newest release Beyond The Ragasphere is even better, if it were possible to compare the two. Mahima was shaped by the visionary sociomusical techniques of Bob Brozman, who always immersed himself in all aspects of a culture before he tried to interact with its musicians. The result was an album that combined Brozman’s love of every kind of world folk music with Bhattacharya’s technical virtuosity. The songs were distinct and richly textured little vignettes, each with its own distinct mood: toe-tappingly rhythmic, or sweetly lyrical, or even playfully silly. My favorite was “Digi Digi Dom Dom,” which was originally inspired by nonsense syllables playfully uttered by Bhattacharya’s three-year-old daughter Sukanya. Now, over a decade later Sukanya goes by the name Anandi, and is the featured vocalist on Beyond the Ragasphere. It was not clear to me at first that Sukanya and Anandi were the same person, but fortunately she dispelled my

76 | INDIA CURRENTS | July 2013

confusion in an email. “Father was performing at the Rogue Folk Club in Vancouver when I was born, and got the good news when he reached California the next day.” She said, “He intended to name me Anandi, but by the time he knew I was born I was already named Sukanya by my grandmother. I perform by the name of Anandi, though legally my name is Sukanya. I hope that clears the soup.” Although still a teenager, Anandi is now a mature and accomplished musician, who can hold her own with the many virtuosos that Bhattacharya has recruited for this album, such as bluegrass dobro player Jerry Douglas, drummer Jeff Sipe, flamenco guitarist Adam del Monte, electric bassist Mainak “Bumpy” Chowdhury, and legendary Indojazz-rock guitarist John MacLaughlin. Even though he plays (brilliantly) on only one song, McLaughlin is arguably the godfather of this album. In many ways, it combines the musical visions of McLaughlin’s two greatest

albums of the 1970s, Shakti and the Mahavishnu Orchestra. Shakti was an all-acoustic ensemble with tabla, and the Mahavishnu Orchestra was an electric band with rock and roll drum kit. Thanks to amplification technology that was not available in the 70s, Bhattacharya’s album combines tabla and drum kit on several songs, and enables the numerous acoustic instruments to be as loud as McLaughlin’s electric guitar—when necessary. It also enables Bhattacharya to explore the full spectrum of dynamic range, combining many other instruments with radically different acoustic volumes. Bhattacharya is not the first person to utilize amplification technology to facilitate east-west musical combinations. The artful interactions between Steve Smith’s drums and Zakir Hussain’s tabla certainly come to mind. But Bhattacharya creates combinations that work especially well, enlisting his team to create a variety of rich musical moods. Each song starts with a raga and then searches for affinities between that raga and some other form of music. The first song opens with loud fast unison lines in raga Kirwani, starting with the strings, tabla and drums, then breaking down to a gentle interplay between tabla, slide guitar, and bansuri. The volume repeatedly rises and falls as each instrument solos, then finishes with a climactic tihai in full unison. “JD2 Pillusion” has blue grass dobro and Indian slide guitar playing in Raga Pilu, which subtly transitions into a bossa nova beat. Two great slide players on the same song sounds like it would be too much of a good thing, but it

isn’t. Hearing them together underscores the noticeable differences in these two very similar musicians, as Douglas’s dobro provides a rich chordal foundation for Bhattacharya’s supple melodies. “Indospaniola” and “Reflections Remain” combine Raga Bhairavi with the Phrygian musical mode of flamenco guitar music, accompanied by both tablas and flamenco handclaps. Theoretically, the notes of Phrygian and Bhairavi are identical. In practice, each tradition has worn its own melodic grooves into the scale, and even when they “copy” each other, the two guitarists add their own colors to the melodies they copy. Bhattacharya and del Monte sound like two speakers using different dialects of the same language as they trade solos, and the result is a fresh and thought provoking musical conversation. The stylistic contrasts between the two players is further underscored by the fact that Bhattacharya is playing his Gandharvi guitar, his largest instrument modeled after the metal strung twelve-string guitar, while del Monte’s delicate but fiery flamenco guitar relies on its six nylon strings. “Ode to Love” features the slide ukulele Bhattacharya calls the Anandi, accompanied by Nishad Pandey on classical guitar. To make things a bit more confusing, Anandi the singer is not featured on this cut, but Bhattacharya plays a beautifully lyrical melody on Anandi the instrument. This melody was written while Bhattacharya was touring Ireland, but it sounds somewhat Brazilian, largely because of its use of the minor 7 flat 5 chord. The most traditional song on the album is “Khamaj Tarana,” which is, unsurprisingly, a tarana (vocal composition using instrumental syllables) in raga Khamaj. Even this song has its surprises, however. Instead of the traditional accompaniment of harmonium or sarangi, Bhattacharya accompanies his daughter’s vocals with his Chatarangui slide guitar (modeled after the six stringed guitar) and the main melody is further doubled by Pandey’s classical guitar. Nevertheless, the two guitars faithfully perform the “ghosting” function required for traditional vocal music, and the artful variations in Teental should satisfy even the most dogmatic Hindustani purist. n

Upcoming Events

Vocal: Manasa Suresh Violin: Sruthi Sarathy Mridangam: Akshay Venkatesan Venue: 3058 King Estates, San Jose, CA 95135 RSVP to Anu Suresh -

Carnatic Vocal Classes in Fremont / Dublin For more info regarding Carnatic Vocal Classes contact: Anu Suresh

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BAY AREA PERFORMING ARTS Sunday, 13 October 13, 20







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Teed Rockwell studied with Ali Akbar Khan for many years, and is the only person in the world to play Indian classical and popular music on his customized touchstyle veena. You can see and hear videos of his musical performances at www.

Carnatic Vocal Concert

Sunday, July 14, 2013 : 4:30 pm - 7:30 pm



July 2013 | | 77

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July 2013 | | 79

Jayendra Kalakendra presents

Bharathanatya Arangetram of

Brijen & Akshaya Thananjeyan (Disciples of Smt. Suganda Sreenath)

July 6th, 2013 at 3:30 pm Dougherty Valley Peforming Arts Center 10550 Albion Road, San Ramon, CA 94582 • email:

Hindu Community and Cultural Center 1322 Arrwhead Ave., Livermore, CA 94551 A Non-Profit organization since 1977 Tax ID# 94-2427126; Inc# D0821589 Tel: 925-449-6255; Fax: 925-455-0404 Web:

HINDU HERITAGE SUMMER CAMP For Kids Aged 7 - 12 years August 12th to 16th, 2013 Time: 9 am to 4:30 pm Camp to be held at HCCC



80 | INDIA CURRENTS | July 2013



and a whole lote more! For more information please contact:

K. Shankar - Padma Chari - (408) 857-4454

dance & music

KALANJALI Dances of India Establshed in 1975

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Bharatanatyam classes (Kalakshetra style, incl. Extensive Theory)

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Enrollment for New Students at Santa Clara, San Jose & Fremont For details contact Suganda Iyer

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Call: (408) 251-3438 e-mail:

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proudly presents

Anika Rajamani Ritika Rajamani

Anushree Ari

Sunday, June 23, 2013 - 3:30 pm McAfee Performing Arts Center

Saturday, June 29, 2013 - 4:00 pm McAfee Performing Arts Center

Sivu Palaniappan Chamu Palaniappan Sunday, July 14, 2013 - 3:30 pm Smith Center

Harshini Gorijala Ashmita Rajkumar Saturday, August 3, 2013 - 4:00 pm McAfee Performing Arts Center

Ashwini Achutharaman Ankita Jain Sunday, August 18, 2013 - 2:00 pm McAfee Performing Arts Center

Shria Bulusu

Rhea Menon

Saturday, July 6, 2013 - 4:00 pm McAfee Performing Arts Center

Sunday, June 30, 2013 - 3:30 pm McAfee Performing Arts Center

Suhani Shankar Thaniya Shankar

Priya Kini

Saturday, July 20, 2013 - 4:00 pm McAfee Performing Arts Center

Shivani Singh Ishani Singh

Sunday, August 4, 2013 - 3:30 pm McAfee Performing Arts Center

Riya Berry

Saturday, August 24, 2013 - 4:00 pm McAfee Performing Arts Center

Gayathri Srinivasan

Saturday, July 13, 2013 - 4:00 pm McAfee Performing Arts Center

Saturday, July 27, 2013 - 4:00 pm McAfee Performing Arts Center

Shreya Soma

Sunday, August 11, 2013 - 3:30 pm Albert and Janet Schultz Cultural Arts Center @ JCC

Varuna Ravi

Saturday, August 17, 2013 - 4:00 pm Cubberly

Pavani Malli

Sunday, September 8, 2013 - 3:30 pm Albert and Janet Schultz Cultural Arts Center @ JCC McAfee Performing Arts Center 20300 Herriman Avenue, Saratoga, CA Smith Center, Ohlone College 43600 Mission Boulevard, Fremont, CA

Cubberly Theater

4000 Middlefield Rd., Palo Alto, CA

JCC Albert & Janet Schultz Theater 3921 Fabian Way, Palo Alto, CA

July 2013 | | 83

Upcoming FALL Concerts:

Smt Rama Vaidyanathan

Smt Akkarai Subhalakshi, Swarnalatha

and more.... Sri Maharajapuram Ramachandran

Sri Ganesh & Sri Kumaresh 84 | INDIA CURRENTS | July 2013

Sri Abhishek Raghuraman

SIFA 2013 Sponsor Membership is now open

For updated information please log on to

Enlightenment Evening with

Kip Moore

Come join us at Enlightenment Evening Meet-ups scheduled below and explore a very different kind of meditation !! Devised by Americans Charles (1929–2007) and Ada Berner in the 1960s, this format combines self-enquiry meditation with interpersonal communication processes in a structure that resembles both a traditional Zen sesshin (meditation retreat) and an interpersonal workshop. This process aims to leverage the collective energy of the group to quieten the individual mind and open it to higher experiences

The Enlightenment Evening will be lead by Kip Moore. Kip Moore hails from a diverse background including: business communication, relationship coaching, meditation, spiritual development and visual arts. He has been leading workshops and conducting individual consultations for over sixteen years. Kip is a certified Enlightenment Master.

Saturday, July 20 • 4.00 pm - 6.00 pm Saturday, Aug 17 • 4.00 pm - 6.00 pm Fee: No Charge Venue: Sunnyvale, CA. Please RSVP for venue address


Please RSVP with




w w w. s h i v a m u r u g a n t e m p l e . o r g




Sun. Aug. 18 Mahasankata Chaturthi Celebration Bharathanatyam Meena Logan & Students.

Contact: USHA RAJGOPAL Client: KIP MOORE Fax: PDF Please indicate any changes or corrections needed on this proof, and e-mail/fax it back to us. PHOTO: VIGGY MOKKARALA

Fri. Aug. 17 - 6pm Varalakshmi Vratham

India Currents Fax: (408) 324-0477 Initials


Sun. Aug. 25 Ad is Correct Shri Jeyanthi Celebration Needs Changes Anu Suresh & Students.

DEREK NUNES 1885 Lundy Ave., Suite 220 San Jose, CA 95131 (408) 324-0488 / (714) 523-8788 FAX: (408) 324-0477


SHIVA MURUGAN TEMPLE /SAIVA SIDDHANTA ASHRAM 1803 Second Street, Concord, CA 94519 • Weekdays: 10am - Noon & 6pm - 9pm • Weekends: 10am - 9pm Voice Mail (925) 827-0127 • • Fax (925) 827-0209 •

July 2013 | | 85







July 2013 | | 87

events JULY 2013

California’s Best Guide to Indian Events Edited by: Mona Shah List your event for FREE! AUGUST issue deadline: Friday, July 19 To list your event in the Calendar, go to and fill out the Web form

Check us out on

special dates U.S. Independence Day

July 4


July 9

Ratha Yatra

July 10

Guru Purnima

July 22

Idu’l Fitr

August 8

Indian Independence Day

August 15



4 Thursday

Akhil Bharatiya Gandharva Mahavidyalaya Mandal Music Exam.

Registration is open for Sangeet Parichay (1st) to Madhyama Poorna (6th). In vocal, tabla and dance (kathak, bharatnatyam and odissi). Organized by Akhil Bharatiya Gandharva Mahavidyalaya Mandal California Branch. 8 a.m.-8 p.m. Tabla Niketan, 7844 Mcclellan Road, Cupertino. (408) 792-7014. www.tablaniketan. com.

Ronu Majumdar performs, July 14


6 Saturday

Indian Classical Music Concert by Young Talents. Sangeet Ankur highlights

the vocal and instrumental talents of kids. Organized by Sangeet Dhwani. 1:30-4:30 p.m. Milpitas Library Auditorium, 160 North Main St., Milpitas. Free. (408) 733-7442, (408) 394-0554. www.

Bharatanatyam Arangetram of Brijen and Akshaya Thananjeyan. Students

of Suganda Sreenath, Artistic Director, Jayendra Kalakendra. Organized by Jayendra Kalakendra. 3:30 p.m. Dougherty Valley Performing Arts Center, 10550 Albion Road, San Ramon. Free. www.

Bharatanatyam Arangetram of Shria Bulusu. Student of Vishal Ramani, Artistic Director of Shri Krupa Dance Company. 4

88 | INDIA CURRENTS | July 2013

p.m. McAfee Performing Arts Center, 20300 Herriman Ave., Saratoga. Free. (408) 4610607.


12 Friday

Gujarati Literary Talks. Nilam Doshi and Shree Vijay Shah will talk on Krishna’s relevance today, conduct a workshop on writing a short story in Gujarati, and read from their books. Ends July 15. Organized by Harikrishna Majumdar. 11 a.m.-5 p.m. email or call for locations. Free. (650) 3252760.,, Karaoke Masti. 7 p.m. India Community Center, 525 Los Coches St., Milpitas. $10 members, $12 general. (408) 934-1130.


Contemporary Classical Choreography


eople consider performing for Yuva Bharati an honor… and creativity and innovation in dance can only come through new choreography,” says Santa Dasu, one of the founders of Yuva Bharati. Their upcoming event, Kalpana, features senior and accomplished dancers from across the Bay Area in four different classical forms. “With Kalpana, we are taking great local talent with great ideas for choreography and providing a venue for creativity. Our performers may have studied in India or studied here, but each are given the opportunity to choreograph a new 10 minute item, and we encourage groups to perform,” says Tejaswi Kondapalli, co-coordinator of Kalpana and recipient of a Fulbright Fellowship to study Tarangams and Kuchipudi dance in Hyderabad. “Kalpana means ‘creativity’ and the basic premise is to give opportunities to young and upcoming Indian classical dancers. Traditional pieces are handed down generation after generation, and some can be 200 years old. Young artists don’t have space to showcase their own choreography… and we give them a chance,” says Ganesh Vasudeva, dancer and co-coordinator of Kalpana. Solo artists, including Rasika Kumar, and groups from across the Bay Area are preparing bharatanatyam, kuchipudi, odissi, and kathak pieces for the show. “Schools were

Performance at a recent Yuva Bharati festival

By Michelle Baird writing to us, asking us to give their students a chance to choreograph and perform. We approached senior dancers in the community and asked them to perform, then held an application process for post-arangetram dancers,” says Vasudeva. “I’ve seen this from the start, and we’ve had so many calls and so many applications,” says Kondapalli. “Lots of people think this is a competition, but it’s not a competition. It’s a way to showcase local choreography. There is no other such event, in the Bay Area or anywhere else,” concludes Kondapalli. Kalpana is sponsored by Yuva Performance at a recent Yuva Bharati festival Bharati, a non-profit dedicated to supporting local dancers in classical Yuva Bharati,” explains Kondapalli. “We Indian forms. “When we started Yuva Bharahave sponsors and memberships, but the ti, there was no organization promoting organization is totally volunteer run. We classical Indian dance. There were all these have about 20 volunteers per event, and arangetrams, but afterward no chance to perour 30 volunteers put in over 1,000 volform. Dancers need a chance to perform on a unteer hours per year,” explains Dasu. proper stage with proper lighting,” explains “We also provide a video archive of perDasu. Yuva Bharati hosts multiple events, formances on our website and once a week including bringing an artist from India each our performances are broadcast on a local year, but remains committed to supporting channel,” explains Kondapalli. classical dancers within the United States. Kalpana provides a stage as well as “We are constantly scouting for talent, bringvisibility for highly trained dancers and ing people from Dallas, Houston, Seattle, professionals alike. The event also offers Chicago, New Jersey, and across Califorthese performers the opportunity to create nia” says Dasu. “We something entirely novel and individual wanted to take dancwithin a very classical form. “We have ers post-arangetram amazing dancers with a unique perspective and advanced perand creative thinking. It is hard to get this formers interested many different points of view in a single in taking their dancconcert. To grow as a dancer one should ing to the next level. watch other dancers and learn,” says VaWe bring in talent sudeva. To see Kalpana is an opportunity from all over,” adds to enter the tight-knit community of Bay Kondapalli. Area performers, the opportunity to both “Since its foundappreciate and learn. “We have people with ing in 2006, Yuva new choreography and a venue to explore Bharati has sponwhatever they want. It’s not just mythosored 30 senior logical or religious, it only has to be within dancers with twenty the confines of classical dance. There’s the to twenty-five years chance to see new choreography that you of experience and haven’t seen when you go to other shows,” provided 70 dancconcludes Kondapalli.n ers post-arangetram with the opportunity August 3, 4 p.m. Mission City Center for to perform. People Performing Arts, 3250 Monroe Street, Santa consider it an honClara. $15. or to perform with July 2013 | | 89


California’s Best Guide to Indian Events

Bharatanatyam Arangetrams

Gayathri Srinivasan, July 13; Sivu and Chamu Palaniappan, July 14; Priya Kini, July 20 of Shri Krupa Dance Company

Bharatanatyam Solo Concert by Rasika Kumar. The devadasi (temple dancer)

who refused to abandon her art. The woman who ignited a national movement with a simple act of defiance. The ordinary citizens who rebuilt their lives in the wake of a dev-

astating tsunami. These and other stories are depicted in Courage., a solo bharatanatyam production by Rasika Kumar. Live musical accompaniment by: Malavika Kumar (nattuvangam), Sindhu Natarajan (vocal), Ganesh Ramanarayanan (mridangam), Krishna Parthasarathy (violin). Ends July 13. Organized by Abhinaya Dance Company. 8-10 p.m. CounterPULSE, 1310 Mission St., San Francisco . General $15, student/senior $10. (408) 871-5959.,

One Track Heart: The Story of Krishna Das—A Film. In 1970, Jeffrey

Shria Bulusu’s arangetram, July 6

90 | INDIA CURRENTS | July 2013

Kagel walked away from the American dream of rock ‘n’ roll stardom, turning down the chance to record as lead singer for the band soon-to-be the Blue Oyster Cult. Instead, he sold all his possessions and moved from the suburbs of Long Island to the foothills of the Himalayas in search of happiness and a little-known saint named Neem Karoli Baba. The film follows his journey to India and back, witnessing his struggles with depression and drug abuse, to his eventual emergence as Krishna Das, world-renowned spiritual teacher and Grammy nominated chant master. Landmark Theaters, One Embarcadero Center, Promenade Level, San Francisco. Shattuck Cinemas, 2230 Shattuck Avenue, Berkeley. Christopher B. Smith Rafael

Film Center, 1118 4th St., San Rafael. www.


13 Saturday

Berkeley South Asian Radical History Walking Tour. Discover 100+ years

of Bay Area Desi history, from 1908-2013. You’ll visit original sites, hear stories, and leave inspired by our community’s struggles for justice. Tour is stroller and wheelchair accessible. 10 a.m.-1 p.m. Telegraph Avenue, Downtown Berkeley. $7.50-$15. contact@

The Heart Sutra—An Afternoon of Indian Classical Music and Dance.

Odissi dancers Mayumi Fukushima and Hitomi Kiriyama teamed up with musicians Go Arai (violin/sitar) and Shiori Ishida (tabla) to form Muyuju with a vision to share their innovative, new dance form. Mayumi created the unique dance style in 2008 when a hip joint problem made it difficult for her to walk. In their repertoire, the artists usually sit on chairs and perform their own dance choreography as well as traditional odissi dance items. They also sing the “Heart Sutra”, the ancient Buddhist prayers in Sanskrit. Mukund Subramanian and


California’s Best Guide to Indian Events

Desi Q 2013 By Mona Shah


esiQ is the world’s only conference for queer and trans-folk South Asians, happening once every five years. The conference inspires attendees to become successful advocates for societal change in their local communities. Hundreds of activists, organizers, and artists; students, workers, and professionals come together and dialogue, gossip, strategize, dance, eat, flirt, make friends and connect, all the while celebrating their selves, communities and lives. This year, the conference will look at the big picture of the LGBT movement and community. Twenty-seven years after the first queer South Asian group (Trikone) was founded, the present queer worlds look vastly different from a generation ago. Their movements, club scenes, potlucks, gender identities, geographic affiliations and migratory patterns, artistic and intellectual productions, and kinship networks and families have never been so multi-faceted. DesiQ opens on July 3, with the screening of Nilanjan Neil Lahiri’s “The Ode” based on the novel, Ode to Lata by Ghalib Shiraz Dhalla. This will be followed by panels and discussions that will continue from July 4-6 on the UCSF Mission Bay Campus. Topics are wide-ranging, contemporary and evocative from art to spirituality to politics to sexuality. The presenters include prominent and passionate individuals from Pakistan, Bangladesh, India Sri Lanka, and the Uinted States. Speakers include Anjali Gopalan, Executive Director of Naz India, Gautham Raghavan, Associate Di-

Jyothi Satyanarayan will join Muyuju as the guest local vocalists. Organized by Friends of Asako Takami. 2 p.m. San Mateo Buddhist Temple, 2 S Claremont St., San Mateo. General $22, students $12. friendsofasako@gmail. com.

Veena Concert. Hrishikesh Chary on veena and Vignesh Venkataraman on mridangam. Organized by Sri Ranga Ramanuja Maha Desikan Fine Arts (SR Fine Arts/ SRFA). 2-5 p.m. Community of Infinite Spirit (Divine Science), 1540 Hick’s Av., San Jose. Free. (408) 569-0860. srfinearts2012@gmail.

rector of the White House Office of Public Engagement and Madhu Malhotra, Program Director of Gender, Sexuality and Identity at Amnesty International. The conference ends on July 6 with a gala featuring dinner, drinks and dancing with DJ Rekha. The gala MC is D’Lo and entertainment is provided by Dhaya Lakshminarayanan, Blue 13 Dance Co. and more.n


Bharatanatyam Arangetram of Ananya Ram. Student of Shreelata

Suresh, Artistic Director of Vishwa Shanthi Dance Academy. Accompanied by Shreelata Suresh (nattuvangam), Asha Ramesh (vocal), N. Narayanan (mridangam) and Shanthi Narayanan (violin). Organized by Vishwa Shanthi Dance Academy. 4 p.m. Mexican Heritage Plaza, 1700 Alum Rock Ave., San Jose . Free.

Wednesday, July 3: 6 p.m. Reception, 7 p.m. Screening followed by Q&A with writer Ghalib Shiraz Dhalla and actor Sachin Bhatt. Delancey Street Screening Room, 600 Embarcadero, San Francisco. July 4-6: 8:30 a.m.-6:30 p.m. Conference, UCSF Mission Bay Campus, San Francisco. July 6: Gala 6:30-midnight. Scottish Rite Center, 1547 Lakeside Drive, Oakland. and

Bharatanatyam Arangetram of Gayatri Srinivasan. Student of Vishal

Ramani, Artistic Director of Shri Krupa Dance Company. 4 p.m. McAfee Performing Arts Center, 20300 Herriman Ave., Saratoga. Free. (408) 461-0607. vishart@gmail. com.


14 Sunday

Sevathon 2013. A walkathon that aims

to set the standard as the largest social and service platform of its kind. It recognizes, July 2013 | | 91


California’s Best Guide to Indian Events

A Special Afternoon Concert. The two virtuosos, sitarist Krishna Bhatt and tablist Swapan Chaudhuri perform. 3-6 p.m. Ali Akbar College of Music, 215 West End Ave., San Rafael. Reserved $30, general $20. (415) 454-6372.

Bharatanatyam Arangetram of Sivu Palaniappan. Student of Vishal Ramani,

Artistic Director of Shri Krupa Dance Company. 3:30 p.m. Smith Center, Ohlone College, 43600 Misison Blvd., Fremont. Free. (408) 461-0607. www.

Manjari- a tribute to Lalgudi Jayaraman, July 21

supports, and nurtures a spirit of giving by empowering individuals of diverse backgrounds to unite and strengthen their communities. Walkers, runners, non-profits, sponsors, family members and friends are all part of the Sevathon family. Organized by India Community Center. 7:30 a.m. Baylands Park, 525 Los Coches St., Sunnyvale. 5k/10k $35, Half Marathon $60. (408) 9341130. Sevathon.

Master of the Winds. A music ensemble by Ronu Majumdar, a flutist in the Hindustani style and George Brooks a saxophonist and composer, successfully bridging the worlds of jazz and classical music. They will be accompanied on the tabla by Ramdas Pulsule. Organized by Basant Bahar. 5-8 p.m. Jain Temple, 722 S Main St., Milpitas. Free for Basant Bahar members, $25 for non members. (510) 870-2244.


20 Saturday

Lighting the Way 2013. A benefit

3K/5K/10K run/walk. Lighting the Way

Book presentation and Lecture by Lopa Paul. Three Rivers of Tears, written

against the backdrop of history, probes the forces that determine nationhood. The story begins in 1970s Calcutta, where a young lady, Binapani, is sucked into a revolution. The background of the story is the birth of the three nations that splintered out of colonial India. The lives of the characters move within the landmark events of postIndependence India, Pakistan and Bangladesh, but their sources are traced back in time through history and oral narrative and brought forward to the present. Paul will focus on passages reflecting spiritual values of India including the Upanishads, the Gita, and the writings of Sri Aurobindo, Tagore and others. 11 a.m.-12:30 p.m. Cultural Integration Fellowship, 2650 Fulton St. (at 3rd Ave.) San Francisco. Free. (415) 668-1559. www.http:// 92 | INDIA CURRENTS | July 2013

Sports Day, July 20

provides a platform to light up lives of kids in developing countries by giving them the power of education and health care. Organized by Mukti For Social Development. 9 a.m. Oak Meadow Park, 200 Blossom Hill Road, Los Gatos. $35 General, $20 students, $15 kids under 12. (831) 210-5179. puplaz@,

3rd Annual Sports Day. A day of track and field competitions including races for all ages (100m, 200m, 400m, 800m, 1600m). Cookie eating competition, sack race, 3-legged race, jump-rope competition and much more. Organized by Nurture KIDS, FIA, Fremont Hindu Temple and FUSD. 10:30 a.m.-5 p.m. Tak Fudenna Stadium, Washington High School, 38442 Fremont Blvd., Fremont . Free. (408) 621-06704. www.wenurturekids. com/sportsday. Bharatanatyam Arangetram of Priya Kini. Student of Vishal Ramani, Artistic Director of Shri Krupa Dance Company. 4 p.m. McAfee Performing Arts Center, 20300 Herriman Ave., Saratoga. (408) 461-0607.

A Concert by Krishna Bhatt and Swapan Chaudhuri. 7 p.m. Community of Infinite Spirit, 1540 Hicks Av., San Jose .

events $40/$25. (408) 293-3838.

Karnatik Music Concert. By K. J. Yesudas. Organized by Thampy Antony, Prema Thekkek and Lending Hands International. 6 p.m. Chabot College, 25555 Hesperian Blvd., Hayward. $20-$100. (925) 552-9905, (408) 836-5804, (41) 987-7075.


21 Sunday

Manjari (Blossoms)—A Next Generation Performance. Will include a tribute

to Karnatik vocalist, violinist and composer, Lalgudi Jayaraman. The pièce de résistance is a Navaragamalika (garland of nine ragas) varnam portraying the nine rasas of the goddess Parvati. Another highlight is a unique medley of his Thillana compositions which mirror life’s travails. Concert led by Abhinaya company dancers Rasika Kumar, Malavika Kumar, and Sindhu Natarajan. Additional dancers are Lakshmi Venkatesan, Nilufer Jain, Somya Khare, Sahana Vishwanth, Susmitha Bhat, and Shachi Kumar. The compositions will be rendered live by Mythili Kumar (nattuvangam), Asha Ramesh (vocal), N.Narayan (mridangam and kanjira), Shanthi Narayan (violin) and Srikanth Chari (veena). Organized by Abhinaya Dance Company. 4-6 p.m. McAfee Theater, 20300 Herriman Ave., Saratoga. Donor $25;

California’s Best Guide to Indian Events general $15; student/Senior $10; family of four $45. (408) 871-5959.

Hindustani Vocal Concert with Rujul Pathak. Student of Ustad Shaukat Hussain Khan, Rujul will present compositions from the musical lineage of her guru and gharana along with presenting nuances of khayal gayaki. Accompanied by Vikas Yendluri (tabla) and Krishna “Kitta” Parthasarathy (violin). Organized by Sangati Center. 6 p.m. Subterranean Arthouse, 2179 Bancroft Way, Berkeley . $10-$20. www.sangaticenter. org,


24 Wednesday

July Book Club Meeting. The club meets once every two months, talks about a variety of books, both fiction and nonfiction, and maybe flavor the evening with spicy snacks and pungent arguments. The next book selected is “Evening is the Whole Day” by Preeta Samarasan. 7 p.m. India Community Center, 525 Los Coches St., Milpitas. Free. (408) 934-1130. steffany@indiacc. org.


26 Friday

Movie Screenings at Laborfest. Two

movies will be screened. “The Machinist,”

Ananya Ram’s arangetram, July 13

directed by Hannan Majid and “Richard York and Bhopali,” directed by Van Maximilian Carlson. Organized by 3rd i. 7 p.m. 518 Valencia (near 16th St.), San Francisco. Donation.,


27 Saturday

Sangeet Bahar—Concert of Hindi Movie Songs. Based on classical raags.

Teed Rockwell will play selected songs on his veena, followed by vocalists and musicians and on karaoke tracks. Organized by Sangeet Dhwani. 2-5 p.m. Milpitas Library Auditorium, 160 North Main St., Milpitas. Free. (408) 733-7442.

Bharatanatyam Arangetram of Suhani Shankar. Student of Vishal Ramani,

Artistic Director of Shri Krupa Dance Company. 4 p.m. McAfee Performing Arts Center, 20300 Herriman Ave., Saratoga. (408) 4610607.

Rujul Pathak performs, July 21

Vocal Concerts. Featuring Anirudh Venkatesh (vocal), Hrishikesh Chary (veena), Vignesh Venkataraman (mridangam). Organized by Sri Ranga Ramanuja Maha Desikan Fine Arts (SR Fine Arts/SRFA). 7-10 p.m. Rancho Rinconada Parks and Recreation, 18000 Chelmsford Drive., Cupertino . Free. (408) 569-0860. srfinearts2012@gmail. July 2013 | | 93


California’s Best Guide to Indian Events

Bharatanatyam Arangetrams

Suhani and Thaniya Shankar, July 27; Harshini Gorijala and Ashmita Rajkumar, August 3; Shivani and Ishani Singh, August 4 of Shri Krupa Dance Company



28 Sunday

Shri Krishna Madhuram-Sathvaro Shri Radhe Shyamno Dhwitiya, A Play. A devotional, musical depicting the

life of Shri Krishna and Radha. Dance and music performed by 35 artists from India. Organized by Bay Area Youth Vaishnav Parivar. 4:30 p.m. Chabot College Performing Arts Center, 25555 Hesperian Blvd., Hayward. $45, $35, $25, $15. (408) 586-0006. www.


3 Saturday

Karnatik Music Vocal Concerts— Triple Header. 2-3 p.m. Puja Balachander

(vocal), Vignesh Thyagarajan (violin), Aditya Srinivasan (mridangam). 4-4:30 p.m. Nitya Ramesh (vocal), Vignesh Thyagarajan (violin), Aditya Srinivasan (mridangam). 5-6:30 p.m. Ajay Gopi (vocal), Keerthi Sundaramurthy (violin), Ravindhran (mridangam). Organized by Sri Ranga Ramanuja Maha Desikan Fine Arts (SR Fine Arts/ SRFA). 2-6:30 p.m. Community of Infinite Spirit (Divine Science), 1540 Hicks Av., San

94 | INDIA CURRENTS | July 2013

Jose. Free. (408) 569-0860. srfinearts2012@

Bharatanatyam Arangetram of Harshini Gorijala. Student of Vishal

Ramani, Artistic Director of Shri Krupa Dance Company. 4 p.m. McAfee Performing Arts Center, 20300 Herriman Ave., Saratoga. (408) 461-0607. www.

Kalpana—A Choreographic Showcase. Performances in bharatanatyam,

kuchipudi, odissi and kathak. Organized by Yuva Bharati. 4 p.m. Mission City Center for Performing Arts, 3250 Monroe St., Santa Clara. $15, members free. (650) 565-8859. www.yuvabharati. org.


4 Sunday

Bharatanatyam Arangetram of Shivani Singh. Student of Vishal Ramani, Artistic Director of Shri Krupa Dance Company. 3:30 p.m. McAfee Performing Arts Center, 20300 Herriman Ave., Saratoga. (408) 461-0607. www.

Omkaar—the Festival of New Creation. The festival is a celebration of three

vibrant classical dance forms by leading dancers of the Bay Area: Mythilli Kumar, Artistic Director of Abhinaya Dance Company (bharatanatyam solo), Nirmala Madhav Artistic Director of Pampa Dance Company (kathak solo) and Jyoti Rout, Founder and Director of Jyoti Kala Mandir (odissi solo). This festival will be divided into group performances, solo performances, and lecture demonstrations with Q&A sessions. Organized by Jyoti Kala Mandir, College of Indian Classical Arts. 4-6 p.m. Woodside High School Theater, 199 Churchill Ave., Woodside. $15 advance, $18 At the door. (510) 273-2447, (510) 589-3989.,


8 Thursday

Performing Diaspora Festival KickOff. Performances by Byb Chanel Bibene,

Joti Singh, Muisi-kongo Maloga, Jia Wu, Jewlia Eisenberg, Muisi-kongo Malonga and Nadhi Thekkek. Organized by CounterPULSE. 6-9 p.m. Bissab Baobab, 3388 19th St. St., San Francisco. Free. (415) 626-2060.


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California’s Best Guide to Indian Events

Omkaar—a performance by Mythilli Kumar, Nirmala Madhav and Jyoti Rout, August 4


10 Saturday

Performing Diaspora Symposium.

Leading scholars, elders and artists gather for a series of thoughtful and challenging conversations that will contextualize the intersection of traditional arts, contemporary performance and California’s changing demographics. Panels include: Body Destroyed/Body Remembered, Genocide, Civil War and Performance, Representing Africa: The Changing Face of African Dance in the San Francisco Bay Area, Inside Bhangra: An Experiential Lecture/ Demonstration with Joti Singh, Spirit Moves: Sacred Dance Onstage. Organized by CounterPULSE and Alliance for California Traditional Arts. CounterPULSE, 1310 Mission St. at 9th, San Francisco . Free. (415) 626-2060. info@,


11 Sunday

Bharatanatyam Arangetram of Shreya Soma. Student of Vishal Ramani,

Artistic Director of Shri Krupa Dance

Company. 3:30 p.m. Mexican Heritage Plaza, 1700 Alum Rock Ave., San Jose. Free. (408) 461-0607. www.


12 Monday

Hindu Heritage Summer Camp. Arts

and crafts, Slokas, writing, sewing, reading and more will be taught at the camp. Ends Aug. 16. 9 a.m.-4:30 p.m. Hindu Community and Cultural Center, 1322 Arrwhead Ave., Livermore. $200. (925) 449-6255, (408) 857-4454., Padma@


15 Thursday

Performing Diaspora Weekend One.

The artists represent many of the state’s most exciting new voices at the intersection of traditional arts, contemporary performance and California’s changing demographic. In the first festival weekend, Byb Chanel Bibene, Joti Singh and Jia Wu excavate their own heritage and push the boundaries of their current practice, explor-

ing themes of survival, identity and healing. Taboo and Heroes by Byb Chanel Bibene is a multi-media exploration of Bibene’s personal experience as a survivor of the wars that struck the Republic of Congo in the late 1990’s. Joti Singh’s Red, Saffron and Green weaves Bhangra, Punjabi folk music and West African rhythms to tell the story of her great grandfather, Gyanee, who fought for Indian Independence from San Francisco in the early 20th century. Ends Aug. 18. 8 p.m. CounterPULSE, 1310 Mission St., San Francisco. $20-30. (415) 626-2060. infos@

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A Question of Identity By Gaurav Rastogi


t a party the other day, while mingling with old and new faces, a friendly looking chap walks up and says, “So, who are you?” Very infrequently does one get an in-person friend request, in this age of social media, and so I habitually rattled off my name and enough biographical details for him to place me in terms of history, geography and economics. The sort you might find in my byline below. But this time it was different—I felt somehow that I hadn’t really answered his question. Whenever I need to know more about something, I look it up on Google. Now that I needed to know more about myself, I turned to my friends at Googleplex… and it was a complete waste of a gorgeous three-day summer weekend. What would be that search, whose answer is “me?” Where would I start, and where should I look? It’s not an easy question and, frankly, the answer is less interesting than the question itself. Let’s eliminate the obvious right away—I’m not just my name. If that were true, and we were only our given name, we would be frozen in character when our parents named us. That reminds me of a story. In the late 70s, before killer drones roamed the skies, global terror was created by the American satellite that was about to fall from the skies, a screaming ball of flaming metal traveling at a frightening velocity. Far on the other side of the planet, we kids in India were warned to stay indoors that July week, for death was coming from above. The Skylab was falling and the entire world was waiting prayerfully. And so, but naturally, it was inevitable that a couple in Punjab would hit upon just the right name for their newborn son—Skylab Singh; what better name would strike fear in the heart of the enemy? I often think—does he fly high, the boy who’s now a man, does he do experiments in space, and does he always re-enter in a fiery ball? I certainly hope not, or we would have heard about it too. We’re not our names at all, dear Skylab Singh, so relax and don’t worry about falling from the skies anymore. If

102 | INDIA CURRENTS | July 2013

you Google “Skylab,” you will find things about your namesake, but not about your own character. Maybe the answer is to situate oneself relative to other people. We are sons to our parents, carrying their genes and influenced by their nurture. We look like them, we talk like them and, much as we like to think otherwise, we somehow think like our parents too. We are also friends with famous or infamous people—some of their celebrity may have rubbed on us along the way. For example, I went to school with someone who has of late, become an exceedingly popular writer of pulp fiction—does our time together mean that I, too, can spin a good yarn? We are also parents, and inherit traits in the other direction too, son to father. Being the father of William H Gates III, the Third, must have changed in some way the character of William H Gates II, the second, even though the latter came first. Counting out in this way, we are sons, fathers, friends, brothers, colleagues and mentors to other people. Our social network graph spirals out indefinitely in degrees, eventually touching all humanity, since history began, and goes back further to the first primate, continuing

further back into the first mammal, then rewinding the story back to the fish that crawled, and going on (keep pace now, we’re almost there) to the multi-cellular goop and then to the simple creatures that bubbled around in the primordial soup. Speaking of bubbly simple creatures, you’re probably “friends” with a few on Facebook. Everybody, their third cousin, and your fourth grade classmates are friends with you on Facebook. Does that tell you anything about yourself, other than that you like peeping through windows into other people’s homes and lives; that some of your friends like to over-share; that your friends play “Criminal Minds” and would like you to join in. Looking at others is a poor way to learn anything about your own self. Relativity is great, but the variables are too many and the search likely futile. Sometimes we describe ourselves as a collection of social and cultural identities. An Indian, Hindu, American, Educated, Middle-Class, West Coast, Global Citizen, maybe? These are boxes in which we can put ourselves, but these cannot be a fulfilling way to describe ourselves. Cultural boxes may be meaningful in the society at a point in time,

but will eventually lose their meaning, or even acquire the opposite meaning in time. These boxes are just labels, but they are not the thing itself. I am reminded of that painting “The Treason of Images” which shows a pipe, below which is written in French “this is not a pipe.” An image is not the thing itself. We are not the labels that we, or others, put on us. We are something entirely different from the words that can be used to describe us. A little self-reflection is called for here. For many of us, self-reflection is limited to brushing and combing in front of the bathroom mirror. We know what we “look like,” but are we defined completely by our looks? If we were our looks, people across the world would not spend billions to look like someone else. We’re not merely the face we see in the mirror. The search isn’t over; it hasn’t even begun in full earnest yet. Granted, we are not what we look like. But are we our body, since we identify so completely with it…we’re identical with it? People who lose limbs don’t become someone else. People grow in size, change appearance, and still feel they are the same person all the way. Dead bodies still look like the people they used to be. We’re inside a body, but where exactly inside the body,

and what is our relationship with this body? What separates a living person from a dead body? This isn’t just a hipster question to impress people with at parties. Sage Ramana Maharshi contemplated what it means to die, and attained enlightenment by just thinking only about this question, following it to the ultimate conclusion. So, ask yourself this: Who am I? This is an absurd question, isn’t it? We know who we are. We have a name, and we’re situated in space and in time. We have experienced a series of experiences, we have our memories. We have parents, friends, relatives and colleagues. We belong to circles on venn diagrams. We carry out actions, and we think thoughts. When we see things, they are seen by us. When we hear things, they are heard by us. When we touch things, they are touched by us. We are the focal point of all our senses. We are the generative point of all our actions. We are the lead protagonist of our story, a story that has a beginning, middle and an end. We are the center of our Universe, that’s who we are. No really, not that borrowed answer. Ask again, WhoAm I? My name is a temporary label, my location in space and time is relative. My experiences are impermanent and my memory is fickle. My actions couple with the reaction

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Gaurav Rastogi is an executive at a leading global consulting firm, and writes on Vedanta, Yoga and Business. He promotes a holistic approach to yoga as part of Yoga Bharati’s Bay Area chapter. He tweets @alpharust.

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of the Universe (Newton, I believe, figured this out). My thoughts use words, ideas and logical structures that are borrowed from others. My senses convey only a fraction of the reality to me, hiding the microwaves, the low pitches, and so on. Why, there appears nothing in me that stands on its own—everything about me is relative. We run after hard, material things because we believe they will help us become someone, something of substance and permanence. We want experiences that will define us, memories that shape our outline. We want money, we want fame, we want the whole world— this hunger is so intense. We crave fulfillment in this world of passing experiences, and get frustrated when these experiences peak, and then pass away as well. Maybe the outside isn’t the right place to find fulfillment. “Wrong Way” signs on the freeway. Turn around and go inside. Or maybe the answer isn’t meant to be found, and the question needs to be unasked—Who Am I?n

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1 Monday

Ramayana For You and Me. Lecture Series by Swami Tejomayananda one of the foremost disciples of Swami Chinmayananda, now the Head of Chinmaya Mission worldwide. Ramayana shows us through the courageous examples of its hero Shri Ramachandraji how values can be practiced in everyday life. Ends July 4. Organized by Chinmaya Mission San Jose. 7:30-9 p.m. Gunn High School Spangenberg Theatre, 780 Arastradero Road, Palo Alto . Free. umakj@, www.


3 Wednesday

Kritika Subramanya Swami Abhishekam. Organized by Pitadhipathi

Jagadguru Shri Narayanandha Puri. 6:30 p.m. Balaji Temple, 5004 N. First St., San Jose. (408) 203-1036, (408) 956-9050., www.,


4 Thursday

Sri Durga Homa and Music. Group

participation, followed by aarati and mahaprasad. 10:30 a.m.-1:30 p.m. Badarikashrama, 15602 Maubert Ave., San Leandro. Free. (510) 278-2444. www.


5 Friday

Pradosham Rudra Abhishekam. Orga-

nized by Pitadhipathi Jagadguru Shri Narayanandha Puri. 5:30 p.m. Balaji Temple, 5004 N. First St., San Jose. (408) 203-1036, (408) 956-9050., info@, www.

Boundless Wisdom. Meditation fol-

lowed by reading and commentary by Nome on verses from Ribhu Gita. 8-9:30 p.m. Society of Abidance in Truth (SAT), 1834 Ocean St., Santa Cruz. Free. (831) 425-7287.


Sri Sundarakhanda Ramayana of Gowswami Tulasidas. Singing of the Sri

Sundarkhanda Ramayana by Goswami Tulasidas, followed by aarati and mahaprasad. 2:30-5:30 p.m. Badarikashrama, 15602 Maubert Ave., San Leandro. Free. (510) 278-2444. www.badarikashrama. org.


7 Sunday

Kriya Yoga: The Spiritual Science of God-Realization. Sunday Service.

Organized by Self-Realization Fellowship. SRF Center Sacramento, 4513 North Ave., Sacramento. (916) 483-9644. SRF Center Los Gatos, 303 E. Main St., Los Gatos. (408) 2525299. Richmond Temple, 6401 Bernhard Ave., Richmond. (510) 232-6652. Contact temples for times.

Amavasya Shiva Abhishekam. Orga-

nized by Pitadhipathi Jagadguru Shri Narayanandha Puri. 6 p.m. Balaji Temple, 5004 N. First St., San Jose. Free. (408) 203-1036, (408) 956-9050.,,

July 104 | INDIA CURRENTS | July 2013

6 Saturday

12 Friday

Adi Mahalakshmi Abhishekam. Organized by Pitadhipathi Jagadguru Shri Narayanandha Puri. 6 p.m. Balaji Temple, 5004 N. First St., San Jose. Free. (408) 203-1036, (408) 956-9050.,, Art of Living Course. Workshop prre-

sents a combination of meditation, knowledge and action. Ends July 15. Organized by Art of Living Foundation. 7:30-9:30 p.m. Art of Living Center for Yoga and Well Being, 555 Mowry Ave., Ste C, Fremont. General $395, students $295. (925) 202-5346, (510) 304-0594., course_details.aspx?course_id=14871, www.


13 Saturday

Balaji Abhishekam. Organized by Pitadhipathi Jagadguru Shri Narayanandha Puri. 8:30 a.m. Balaji Temple, 5004 N. First St., San Jose. Free. (408) 203-1036, (408) 956-9050., info@, www.


14 Sunday

The Source of Lasting Hapiness. Sunday Service. Organized by Self-Realization

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Fellowship. SRF Center Sacramento, 4513 North Ave., Sacramento. (916) 483-9644. SRF Center Los Gatos, 303 E. Main St., Los Gatos. (408) 252-5299. Richmond Temple, 6401 Bernhard Ave., Richmond. (510) 2326652. Contact temples for times.

Pooja. Organized by Pitadhipathi Jagadguru Shri Narayanandha Puri. 6:30 p.m. Balaji Temple, 5004 N. First St., San Jose. Free. (408) 203-1036, (408) 956-9050. balajitemple1@,,

Sukla Shashti Subramanya Sahasra Nama Pooja. Organized by Pitadhipathi


Jagadguru Shri Narayanandha Puri. 6:30 p.m. Balaji Temple, 5004 N. First St., San Jose. Free. (408) 203-1036, (408) 956-9050.,,


18 Thursday

Ashadha Ekadasi Panduranga Homa. Organized by Pitadhipathi Jagadguru Shri Narayanandha Puri. 4 p.m. Balaji Temple, 5004 N. First St., San Jose. Free. (408) 2031036, (408) 956-9050. balajitemple1@gmail. com, www.balajitemple. net,


19 Friday

Ramana Darshanam. Meditation followed by reading and commentary by Nome on the text. Talks with Sri Ramana Maharshi. 8-9:30 p.m. Society of Abidance in Truth (SAT), 1834 Ocean St., Santa Cruz. Free. (831) 425-7287. www.


21 Sunday

The Spiritual Art of Getting Along With Others. Sunday Service. Organized

by Self-Realization Fellowship. SRF Center Sacramento, 4513 North Ave., Sacramento. (916) 483-9644. SRF Center Los Gatos, 303 E. Main St., Los Gatos. (408) 252-5299. Richmond Temple, 6401 Bernhard Ave., Richmond. (510) 232-6652. www.yogananda-srf. org. Contact temples for times.

“The Art of Un-Learning as Interwoven into the Spiritual Journey” by Ashgar Gholami—A Lecture. Gholami will relate the path of un-learning to the life of the Buddha and Rumi. 11 a.m.-12:30 p.m. Cultural Integration Fellowship, 2650 Fulton St. (at 3rd Ave.), San Francisco. Free. (415) 668-1559. culturalfellowship@sbcglobal. net.

Guru Poornima Sri Satyanarayana 106 | INDIA CURRENTS | July 2013

25 Thursday

Sankata Hara Chaturthi. Organized by Pitadhipathi Jagadguru Shri Narayanandha Puri. 7 p.m. Balaji Temple, 5004 N. First St., San Jose. Free. (408) 203-1036, (408) 956-9050., info@, www.


27 Saturday

Hanuman Abhishekam, Sundar Khanda. Followed by pot-luck prasadam.

Organized by Pitadhipathi Jagadguru Shri Narayanandha Puri. 5:30 p.m. Balaji Temple, 5004 N. First St., San Jose. Free. (408) 2031036, (408) 956-9050. balajitemple1@gmail. com, www.balajitemple. net,


28 Sunday

What Is the Soul? Sunday Service. Organized by Self-Realization Fellowship. SRF Center Sacramento, 4513 North Ave., Sacramento. (916) 483-9644. SRF Center Los Gatos, 303 E. Main St., Los Gatos. (408) 2525299. Richmond Temple, 6401 Bernhard Ave., Richmond. (510) 232-6652. Contact temples for times. “Savitri and Integral Yoga” by Deepti Diwakar —A Lecture. A follower of Sri Aurobindo and the Mother of Pondicherry, India, she is an ambassador of Indian culture, speaking frequently in academic circles and spiritual centers on the topics of dance, architecture, and the sacred texts of India. 11 a.m.-12:30 p.m. Cultural Integration Fellowship, 2650 Fulton St. (at 3rd Ave.), San Francisco. Free. (415) 668-1559.

Vasavi Devi Abhishekam, Pooja, Bhajans and Prasadam. Organized by Pitad-

hipathi Jagadguru Shri Narayanandha Puri. 4 p.m. Balaji Temple, 5004 N. First St., San Jose. Free. (408) 203-1036, (408) 956-9050., info@balajitemple. net., www.balajimatha. org.


30 Tuesday

Krithika Subramanya Swami Abhishekam. Organized by Pitadhipathi

Jagadguru Shri Narayanandha Puri. 6:30 p.m. Balaji Temple, 5004 N. First St., San Jose. Free. (408) 203-1036, (408) 956-9050., info@balajitemple. net., www.balajimatha. org.


4 Sunday

How Devotion Reveals the Invisible God. Sunday Service. Organized by

Self-Realization Fellowship. SRF Center Sacramento, 4513 North Ave., Sacramento. (916) 483-9644. SRF Center Los Gatos, 303 E. Main St., Los Gatos. (408) 252-5299. Richmond Temple, 6401 Bernhard Ave., Richmond. (510) 232-6652. www.yogananda-srf. org. Contact temples for times.

“Love, Longing and Surrender: Ways to the Divine Feminine” —A Lecture. By Mytrae Meliana, Ph.D. This

talk explores Eastern paths to the Divine. 11 a.m.-12:30 p.m. Cultural Integration Fellowship, 2650 Fulton St. (at 3rd Ave.), San Francisco. Free. (415) 668-1559.


11 Sunday

Enjoying Life’s Challenges. Sunday

Service. Organized by Self-Realization Fellowship. SRF Center Sacramento, 4513 North Ave., Sacramento. (916) 483-9644. SRF Center Los Gatos, 303 E. Main St., Los Gatos. (408) 252-5299. Richmond Temple, 6401 Bernhard Ave., Richmond. (510) 2326652. Contact temples for times.

“The Virgin and the Serpent: Universal Symbols in the Life of Mirra Alfassa” —A Lecture. 11 a.m.-12:30

p.m. Cultural Integration Fellowship, 2650 Fulton St. (at 3rd Ave.), San Francisco. Free. (415) 668-1559. culturalfellowship@sbcglobal. net. Check out IC online at

© Copyright 2013 India Currents. All rights reserved. Reproduction for commercial use strictly prohibited. 

spiritual growth

All kinds of Hindu traditional Pujas and homas Ganapathi, Navagraha, Vasthu, Ayushya Homas, Marriages, Seemantham, Nama-karnam, Upanayanam, Sathyanarayana Puja, Lakshmi Puja, Durga Sapthasathi Yanthra Puja. Hiranya Sradha and last rites. American born children’s horoscopes.

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OUR APPEAL TO THE BAY AREA COMMUNITY • PLEASE SUPPORT Dear Devotees, VVGC sincerely appreciates the continued support over the years. It has not only outgrown its capacity to accommodate the increasing number of devotees from many faiths, but has also been facing challenges such as inadequate parking. VVGC is in the process of acquiring a much larger plot of land, about 12.7 acres, at 11355

Monterey Road in San Martin, CA (About 18 miles from the present location). We are currently working with Santa Clara County to obtain the necessary permits, and will start offering regular services at the new site as soon as we get the use permit. We hope to move to the new location gradually within the next 9 months. The estimated cost of the land is about

Please make the check payable to VVGC with a memo at the bottom to read "San Martin Site” Mail to: VVGC, 32 Rancho Drive, San Jose, CA 95111 YOUR CAN DONATE ONLINE FROM THE WWW.VVGC.ORG WEBSITE BY USING CREDIT/DEBIT CARD OR PAYPAL ACCOUNT BY CLICKING ON THE PAYPAL DONATE BUTTON

Your support is absolutely essential for this ambitious plan.

108 | INDIA CURRENTS | July 2013

$1.5 million. VVGC has embarked on an ambitious fund raising campaign for the first time, and requests the devotees to come forward to either make a donation, for which a receipt will be mailed OR make a pledge (loan) payable to VVGC. We will mail you the promissory note. All donations are tax deductible, to the extent allowed under the Law.

VVGC is committed to provide the excellent traditional services that the Hindu community in the Bay Area has enjoyed over the past few years. In addition we plan to conduct Yoga, Meditation, Music and Language classes as well as facilities such as an Auditorium and a Library. — Thanks, VVGC Please feel free to contact any of the volunteers listed below. Subramaniam Y. Dixit (408) 628-9166 • RamKumar (503) 997-5368 Sarangapani (408) 332-9894 • Sriram (650) 438-5477 FOR FURTHER INFORMATION PLEASE VISIT WWW.VVGC.ORG



2344A WALSH AVE., SANTA CLARA, CA 95051 Temple Hours: Weekdays 6:30-8:30 am; M and F 1-8 pm; Tu-Th 5-8 pm; Sat. Sun 10 am to 8 pm. Daily arati at 6:30 pm; Please check our events schedule at

EVERY EVENING: Devi arati in upstairs Shakti shrine, with Sri Pratyangira Ashtottara archana, from 6 to 6:30 pm Nitya Puja, Arati, and Shiva Ashtottaram in main shrine, 6:30 to 7 pm NIGHTLY Rudrabhishekam at 7 pm with additional pujas (may be cancelled when other programs conflict): Mondays: Somvar Rudrabhishekam Tuesdays: Subrahmanya abhishekam and puja with Skanda Kavacham and Subrahmanya Ashtottaram Wednesdays: Vishnu abhishekam and puja with Vishnu Sahasranam Thursdays: Dakshinamurti puja with Ashtottaram Fridays: Lalita Devi Abhishekam followed by Sri Lalita Sahasranamam chant Saturdays: Rudrabhishekam with Ayyappa puja Sunday: Ganesha abhishekam and puja

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Chronicles of Culture A conversation with the editors of the Encyclopedia of Hinduism By Suchi Sargam


he Encyclopedia of Hinduism (EH)— perhaps, and strangely—the world’s first comprehensive encyclopedia on Hinduism, was launched in India in a 11 volume series with 7,216 pages. The preview ceremony held on the banks of the Ganges in Hardwar during the Kumbh Mela had the Dalai Lama and other spiritual leaders bless the publication that took close to two decades to complete. Surprisingly, this encyclopedia had its seeds in the United States even as the Indian subcontinent remains its strongest demographic foothold. EH had its birth in Pittsburgh in 1987, though its contents have been written by scholars from around the globe. Indrajit Hazra writing for the Hindustan Times says about EH, “The production is excellent, as is the quality of images that are scattered across the volumes. With entries that include the ‘Dhammapada’ (the main text of Theravada Buddhism), the ‘Chipko movement’ (the organised environmental movement to resist the destruction of forests in India’), as well as the ‘Saura Mandala’ (solar system), clearly, this is an encyclopedia that doesn’t define ‘Hinduism’ in any narrow, proselytising way.” Rajan Mehra, the chairman of Rupa Publications Group called EH the “most important publication of his career.” The BJP leader, L.K. Advani published a blog in praise of the Encyclopedia. Intrigued by the interest EH has generated, I spoke to K.L. Seshagiri Rao, the key editorial man behind the series who worked on it between 1987 and 2006, and Kapil Kapoor the Editor-in-chief who spearheaded the editorial unit till its publication. Rao has a Ph.D from Harvard University and teaches Religious Studies at the Universtity of Virginia and Kapoor is the former pro-Vice Chancellor of Jawaharlal Nehru University in New Delhi and a professor of English. How was the idea of the Encyclopedia of Hindu110 | INDIA CURRENTS | July 2013

great religions like Christianity, Islam, Judaism, Buddhism and Sikhism, but Hinduism did not have an encyclopedia back then. The Encyclopedia of Hinduism will remedy this appalling omission. It makes available to the world, the authentic heritage of Hindu culture, its ethical legal, artistic, medical and scientific achievements, and most importantly, its spiritual insights, values and accomplishments.

ism conceived? Rao: A post-graduate student of mine at the University of Virginia, where I used to teach Asian religions, asked me to recommend an Encyclopedia of Hinduism where he could research and get information on Hinduism. I had to tell him that there was no such manual on Hinduism. Then I started thinking about it and shared my ideas with Pujya Swami Chidanand Saraswati, the founder and spiritual head of the Hindu Jain Temple in Pittsburgh. He gave me the green signal and full support to work on the Encyclopedia project. It became a major academic enterprise, and Swamiji later founded the India Heritage Research Foundation (IHRF) to sponsor and sustain it. Note: The first volume of the series contains an introductory chapter titled “Blessings of H.H. Pujya Swami Chidanand Saraswatiji” that states this explanation as the source of the encyclopedia: “The idea that came to me that day, more than two decades ago, came from the Divine.” The introductory pages mention that it was the need to disseminate correct information on Hinduism “in the West” as one of the causes for its creation. Could you elaborate? Rao: There are encyclopedias of other

How would you introduce this Encyclopedia to prospective readers? Kapoor: First, the word Hinduism is only about 200-300 years old. What we call Hinduism is a cultural community and an intellectual system. It is not a “religion” like other religions—there is no single belief system with a single text like the Koran, single institution like the Church, a priestly class like the Maulvis, bound to certain interpretation only. Hinduism has many gods and allows godlessness too; you can speak against Hindu gods and beliefs, as there is tolerance for dissenting opinions. In the encyclopedia we have projected it as a powerful intellectual culture. Has Hinduism been addressed as a religion in the encyclopedia or as a system of beliefs? I found both references in the preliminary pages… Rao: What is religion? Do they say dharma is religion? The word religion comes to us from the West. So far as the Hindus are concerned, Hinduism is not a religion but sanatana dharma, a way of life. Hindu tradition is not a belief system. It is a spiritual tradition with moral and spiritual disciplines (sadhana) that are intended to be practiced. Kapoor: The preliminary pages may contain some such references, as some learned scholars and elders have given their best wishes and blessings in those pages, as is the Hindu tradition of doing things. To bring this project to fruition, was an in-depth study of Vedas, Upanishads, Puranas and other epics like Ramayana, etc. undertaken? Rao: The intention was not to interpret basic

texts, but to record how they have been interpreted by saints, sages and scholars through its history. The authors of the Encyclopedia include philosophers, archaeologists, historians, social scientists as well as experts in the different languages of India such as Sanskrit, Hindi, Tamil, Telugu, Malayalam, Gujarati, etc. The scholars were asked to write articles on saints, sages, poets, scholars who have contributed immensely to the Hindu tradition. A few examples are Tulsidas, Kabir, Guru Nanak, Alwars, Nayanmars, Purandaradas, Thyagaraja etc. What sources were used to make the series? Rao: The basic sources were Sruti, Smriti, Puranas, Ramayana, Mahabharatha Brahmasutra, Yogasutra, Bhagavad Gita as well as the writings of saints, sages and scholars in different Indian languages. Are there any references to the scandals that some popular “saints” were involved in while being guardians of Hinduism? Kapoor: If you check the Britannica Encyclopedia on Christianity, there is no mention of the violence that was committed on people over the centuries. The Encyclopedia is not for propaganda material. So why do we need to include the negative aspects of saints and sages in our work? We are not doing a critical exposition of Hinduism here. What kind of work force was employed in the making of this series? Rao: The Encyclopedia, with contributions from about 1,500 scholars, is mostly written by Hindus in India and the United States. There were some non-Hindu scholars who wrote about Buddhism, Jainism, Sikkhism, Christianity and Islam, in other words, other religions. 70% of the contributors came from India, and 30% from the West. But many of those from the West are Hindu scholars, working in different countries. Hindu studies have been pursued by Middle Eastern and Western academics too. This has given rise to diverse perspectives, which do not always coincide with indigenous interpretations. The Encyclopedia discusses such diverse perspectives and endeavors to arrive at an understanding that is sound from a scholarly point-of-view. What was the process in putting this momentous book together? Rao: First, a huge Entry List was prepared with contributions from scholars in different fields. From that list 10,000 entries were selected. Then for each entry an appropriate

Dalai Lama with Pujya Swami Chidananad Saraswati

scholar/expert was identified. More than 8,000 articles, which were edited down to about 7,500 articles. The central office in Pittsburgh arranged workshops, conferences and seminars in the various universities in India and the world to identify scholars and supporters. Manuscript editing conferences were organized in Rishikesh and New Jersey. Articles, handwritten or typed mostly, were collected, processed, catalogued, and documented by a database maintenance team in Columbia, South Carolina. What were the biggest challenges you faced? Rao: The chief problem was financial; Pujya Swamiji worked very hard to raise funds for the project. Sometimes, he was successful; sometimes, he received only promises. Since the series is out, have you started getting feedback from readers and critics and what are your objectives for the next edition? Rao: I am 84 years old, and cannot do much now. I can only recommend and give suggestions as to what should be done next on matters such as: • Translation of the Encyclopedia into several Indian and Western languages • Expansion of the project Kapoor: We have invited readers to draw attention to errors, omissions and other issues that may be wrong, since this is the first edition. Since the release, I have got hundreds of calls from people pointing out errors in punctuation and grammar, etc. These are minor things. We are looking forward to more constructive criticism in time to come. Buddhism, Jainisim, Sikhism and other Indian religions/traditions have been introduced as off-

shoots of Hinduism in the Encyclopedia, but weren’t they revolutionary movements against Hinduism in the first place? Will this not be seen as an attempt at derailing rebel movements by a larger religion and co-opting them instead of allowing them to exist as alternates to Hinduism? Rao: If Sikhs, Jains and Buddhists call themselves a separate tradition, we have to respect their opinions. But they all agree that they arose from and took some insights and values from Hinduism, and in some cases discarded some values of Hinduism. And it is true that we are trying to assimilate them within our system. We are absorbing the insights and values of Christianity, Buddhism, Confucianism and other religions. We are not only tolerant, but also highlight the good points of other religions and absorb them. Are you accepting articles for the next edition? Rao: As of now, articles are not being collected. But that will change. There are still many articles and research items that need to be included. Like the south Indian and north Indian temples, south Indian philosophies, saints and sages—not all have been covered. Much more needs to be done. Kapoor: I believe this is just the start. Given the chance, this Encyclopedia, given its timeless subject, can go upto 50 volumes easily. A lot more can be done. n Suchi Sargam is a journalist in India. THE ENCYCLOPEDIA OF HINDUISM By India Heritage Research Foundation. Mandala Publishing, India. 2013. English. 7216 Pages. $804. Hardcover. 11 Volumes. Available at July 2013 | | 111

Yinsights How Yin Yoga changed my Iyengar practice By Mimm Patterson


rom the moment I began a serious yoga practice, almost thirty years ago, I have practiced Iyengar. My first teachers, Larry Hatlett and Karl Duffy, are senior teachers who, on several occassions, traveled to Pune to study with Mr. Iyengar and his family. And because I was devoted to my teachers in 1984 it followed that I was—and in 2013 still am—devoted to Iyengar Yoga. Iyengar Yoga emphasizes alignment and safety through the use of props in order to guide the practitioner into the asana. As the student develops strength and flexibility the reliance on props diminishes until the individual can achieve the pose on their own. Strict alignment principles protect joints and create a safe style of yoga that has clean, precise lines. An Iyengar practice is slow. Mindful. There is a clarity to the practice that in 1984, as a young woman just beginning her yoga journey and uncertain about her new life in California, I loved. Three decades later, as I settle into mid-life, it is the practice I turn to when life is out of focus or too chaotic. The physicality of the practice reins me in. Strict Iyengar practice is about the asana. Traditionally, pranayama, mudras and bandhas are not introduced until the basic postures are mastered. There is no “HotIyengar-Vinyasa.” No “Iyengar-Pilates” hybrid. Even the yoga I teach and describe as “Iyengar-Influenced-Slow-Flow” is a disservice to the name. There is one simple hallmark of an Iyengar practice: repetition, repetition, repetition. I’m often asked for advice from individuals new to yoga. They’re curious and confused by the various schools and brands of yoga and don’t know where to begin. I encourage them, always and unequivocally, to first study Iyengar. It is the perfect foundation practice, like learning the piano scales. Once you know the notes you can play anything you want. My admiration for Iyengar explains the yoga guilt I experienced after being introduced to Yin Yoga in 2009.

112 | INDIA CURRENTS | July 2013

A student arrived for class early one day and told me about a workshop she had attended. “We held the poses for five minutes!” I was skeptical. And intrigued. I arrived home later that day and did that thing we do. I Googled. That was the day my yoga life began to change. In January 2010, I attended my first workshop. I sat in the back of the studio, rigid and resistant to this new way of thinking. No more alignment. Softening into the shape. What did this mean? Why did it feel like something my body and my practice was hungry for? Nine months later I attended training at Land of Medicine Buddha in Soquel, and became a certified Yin Yoga teacher. After all my years of being dedicated to Iyengar, why did I feel such a strong affinity for Yin? Where Iyengar is all clean lines and precision, Yin is curvilinear and soft. Where Iyengar strengthens, Yin lengthens. Where Iyengar hardens, Yin melts. Our intentions when we practice Iyengar differ from the intentions we embrace during a Yin practice. In that way, Iyengar and Yin complement one another. They are two halves of the same whole. And now, at last, the practice I had loved for decades was balanced. I appreciate Yin’s focus on connective tissue. The fascia, tendons, ligaments and bone. In order to transform connective tissue we resolve, in Yin, to do three simple things: We hold for time. At least two minutes but sometimes ten. It’s like this: if we want to straighten a row of teeth do we knock them around with a hammer and pliers until they are where we want them? Of course not. We apply braces and then patiently allow the connective tissue to move, shift, open and settle. That is how Yin cultivates patience. That is how, in Yin, we discover release. We play the edge. We don’t force our bodies to hold shapes that bring discomfort. Instead, we hold the truth that our edge moves. Our edge—the place where we feel stress on the connective tissue but not distress or pain—contracts and expands. It changes from day to day depending on our

lifestyle, our mood, our health. And so each practice is a new and different experience. We open ourselves to change. Sometimes change moves us forward. And sometimes change asks us to step back. Finally, we embrace stillness. Instead of fanning heat with the exertion one finds in a yang-fueled Iyengar practice, we remain still and soft. This allows our body to sink into our full expression of the pose, one breath at a time. The stillness and silence of a Yin practice feels foreign at first. And then we realize—it’s what we’ve been missing. The balance I feel by practicing both Iyengar and Yin extends beyond the physical. The clarity Iyengar offers is matched by Yin’s contentment. The effect of Yin practice on the nervous system is deep and profound. Rather than extending energy outward toward the edges of my body, in Yin I move to the interior. For that reason I find Yin a calming antidote for those days that are filled with static. The days when I need to retreat for a time. The atmosphere a Yin practice creates encourages the unwinding of tension. In the West we pride ourselves on our ability to move fast and multitask. The challenge of Yin reaches beyond the effect it has on tight, bound connective tissue. Yin Yoga asks us to practice “not doing.” In that practice cravings and aversions will be made apparent. Emotions we have buried underneath the pile of work on our desk will rise to the surface. I love my Iyengar practice. I truly do. It feeds my body; my attitude toward life. It nourishes me. But Yin Yoga has added a new dimension to my practice. Yin feeds my soul. Ultimately, there is balance and beauty in them both.n For the better part of two decades Mimm has been a yoga teacher, massage therapist, reflexologist and writer. When she’s not balancing in Ardha Chandrasana or wrestling with a sentence, she’s either playing her guitar or doing homework. This year she begins work toward her master’s degree in transpersonal psychology at Sofia University.

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ONGOING SPIRITUAL EVENTS Daily Laughter Yoga Club. Simple effective

yogic exercises with laughter therapy for perfect health and happiness and to reduce stress. Serra Park, Hollenbeck Roadd, Sunnyvale. Daily. 7 a.m.-8 a.m. Free. (408) 4901260.

Vishnusahasranama. Daily, 12 p.m. Balaji Temple, 678 Cypress Ave., Suunyvale. (408) 203-1036. www.

Aarti. Daily, 8:30 p.m. Balaji Temple, 678

Cypress Ave., Suunyvale. (408) 203-1036.

Patanjali Yoga Sutras: Satsang. Parama-

Sunday Worship Services. The service offers a nonsectarian message of hope, faith, and the essential harmony of the world’s religions, emphasising on self-realization, awakening to the inherent goodness of our spiritual nature and living in harmony with divine will. Center for Spiritual Enlightenment, 1146 University Ave., San Jose. Sundays, 9 a.m. and 11 a.m. (408) 283-0221, x30. Lecture on different religious traditions. The meditation hall is also open for those who wish to deepen their meditation practice. Organized by Cultural Integration Fellowship. 2650 Fulton St. San Francisco. Sundays, 9-11 a.m. (415) 626-2442. Yoga and Meditation. Sundays, 9:30-11 a.m. Premarpan Yoga and Wellness Center, Los Gatos. Free. (408) 406-8197. premarpan@

Nome on self-dnowledge and self-inquiry, recitation and readings from the Upanishads, recitation of Tamil Ribhu Gita. Organized by Society of Abidance in Truth. Every Sunday, 10-11:30 a.m. 1834 Ocean St., Santa Cruz. Free. (831) 425-7287. www.satramana. org.

Advaita Vedanta and the teachings of Sri Ramana Maharshi. Society of Abidance in Truth, 1834 Ocean Street, Santa Cruz. Sundays, 10 a.m.-12 noon. (831) 425-7287. www. Monthly Satsangs of Vaswani Mission of Bay Area. Includes video discourse tapes of Dada Jashan, reading of the Noori Granth, Gita path, bhajans, and shloka recitation. Fremont Hindu Temple, 3676 Delaware Dr., Fremont. Third Sundays, 10:30–11:45 a.m. (510) 796-4472, (408) 218-6364. prmlani3@

hamsa Nithyananda says, “Don’t add movements to your life, add life to your movements.” That is yoga. Patanjali is a great sage and inner world scientist from ancient India. He was the first person to systematize the oral yogic tradition and encode it in a concise form called Yoga Sutras, roughly over 2,000 years ago. Through these talks, he enables the flowering of yoga in you, so you can see a visible change in your very postures, ethical discipline and sensory perceptions. Program broadcast live from India, conducted by Paramahamsa Nithyananda. Organized by Life Bliss Foundation. Daily, 8-9:30 p.m. Nithyananda Vedic Temple, 513 Los Coches St., Milpitas. Free. (408) 263-6375.

panied by the divine and auspicious chants of Rudram and Chamakam we perform abhishekam (holy bath) to Lord Anandeshwara, Anandeshwari (Shiva and Parvathi), Shiva linga, Devi, Karthikeya and the Nava grahas using divine powder, sandalwood powder and turmeric. It is later followed by grand alankaram (dressing up) of the deities, naivedhyam, and Maha Aaarthi. 10 a.m.-1 p.m. Nithyananda Vedic Temple, 513 Los Coches St., Milpitas. Free. (408) 263-6375.

Community Gatherings include a short


Sunday Service Sikh Temple, 2301 Ever-

alization Fellowship. SRF, 303 E. Main St, Los Gatos. Sundays, 11 a.m. (408) 252-5299.

Simplified Kundalini Yoga (SKY),

Abhishekam and Alankaram and Special Pujas to magnificent deities, accom-

green Ave, West Sacramento. Sundays, 10 a.m. (916) 371-9787.

plus physical exercises. We guide and initiate SKY meditation. We also provide Kayakalpam and Introspection courses. Sundays, 8-10 a.m. Sunnyvale-Sanadan Dharma Kendra,897 Kifer Road, Suite #1, Sunnyvale. Free. (510) 456-8953. www.

1930 S Grant St, Stockton. Sundays, 10 a.m. (209) 946-9039.

Guru Gita Chant Siddha Yoga Medita-

Free. Open to all. (650) 218-4223. braroo@

tion Ctr, 4115 Jacksol Dr., San Jose. Sundays, 8 a.m. (408) 559-1716.

Purification and Meditation Ananda Sangha, 2171 El Camino Real, Palo Alto. Sundays, 9 a.m.-9:45 a.m. (650) 323-3363.

Meditation and chanting. Yogalayam,

1717 Alcatraz Ave., Berkeley. Sundays, 9-10:30 a.m. (510) 655-3664. www.yoga114 | INDIA CURRENTS | July 2013

Sri Akhand Path Sahib Sikh Temple,

Sri Aurobindo Meditation and Study Group. Sundays, 11 a.m.-Noon. In Danville.

Jainism Classes for children 4 years and older. Organized by Jain Center of Northern Califorina. Jain Bhavan, 722 South Main St., Milpitas. First and third Sunday of every month. 10-11:30 a.m. $35 annually for members, $50 anually for non-members. (408) 517-0975, (408) 262-6042. www.jcnc. org. Satsang, silent meditation, discourse by

Sunday Services Self Realization Fellowship, Sacramento Center, 4513 North Ave, Sacramento. Sundays, 11 a.m. (916) 483-9614. talk with discussion, kirtan, puja, meditation, and treats. San Francisco Integral Yoga Institute, 770 Dolores St., San Francisco. Sundays, 11 a.m.-1 p.m. (415) 821-1117. www.

Ramanama meditation and kirtan.

Organized by Badarikashrama. Badarikashrama, 15602 Maubert Ave, San Leandro. Sundays, 11 a.m. (510) 278-2444. www.

Sunday Service Organized by Self Re-

Sunday School for children 6-14 years

of age to give them a general knowledge of the universal truths of Vedanta, to acquaint them with the basic teachings of the major living religions, and to inspire reverence for the great religious teachers of the world. Organized by Vedanta Society of Northern California. Vedanta Society of Northern California, Old Temple, 2963 Webster St., San Francisco. Sundays, 11 a.m.-Noon. (415) 9222323.

Zoroastrian Temple Arbab Zoroastrian Temple, 10468 Crothers Rd, San Jose. First Sundays, 12 p.m. (408) 365-0119. Nithya Dhyaan Meditation Satsang,

a powerful meditation technique to achieve physical and mental well-being. Organized by Life Bliss Foundation. Sundays, 3:30 p.m.


451 (Kung-Fu School), Los Coches St., Milpitas. Sunday Festival, an evening of bhajans, arati, discourses and Krishna prasadam. Organized by ISKCON. ISKCON, 951 S. Bascom Ave., San Jose. Sundays, 4:30-6 p.m. Free. (408) 559-3197.

Festival and Feast an evening of bhajans, Bhagavad Gita classes, aarti, kirtan, and prasad. Radha Krishna Temple, 2990 Union Ave, San Jose. Sundays, 5:30 p.m. (408) 5593197. Satsang. Kirtan, lecture, prasad distribu-

tion, and vegetarian feast. Sri Chaitanya Saraswat Ashram, 2900 N Rodeo Gulch Rd, Soquel. Sundays, 6 p.m. Free. (408) 462-4712.

Meditation with devotional chanting and talk on yoga philosophy. Sivananda Yoga Center, 1200 Arguello Blvd., San Francisco, Sundays, 6 p.m. (415) 681 2731.

Satsang. Prayer, chanting meditation, lec-

ture series on devotional topic (Geeta, Bhagwatam, Brahma Sutra, Upnishads etc.), followed by arti and prasad. Jagadguru Kripalu Parishat (JKP) Center-San Jose. Sundays, 6-7:15 p.m. 4940 Avenida de Carmen, Santa Clara. (408) 980-9953.

Women’s Sufi Gathering Discussion of Sufi principles, poetry, literature and meditation. Organized by International Association of Sufism. Berkeley venue to be announced. Sundays, 7 p.m. Free. (510) 849-5309.

Let us brighten your smile! • • • • •

Devotional Meetings Programs includ-

ing prayer, chanting meditations, video discourse (Bhagvad Gita series), arti and homage. J.K.P. Sunnyvale Center, 955 Ponderosa Avenue #27, Sunyvale. Sundays, 7:30-8:45 p.m. (408) 738-1201. days, 11:30 a.m.-1:30 p.m. followed by Preeti Bhoj. Sunnyvale Hindu temple, 420-450 Persian Dr., Sunnyvale. (408) 734-4554, (408) 734-0775.

Bhajan, Kirtan, Sathsang or Puja.

Sundays, Balaji Temple, 678 Cypress Ave., Suunyvale. (408) 203-1036. Balajitemple1@

Monday Bhagavad Gita—The Song of God

with Kamala Lee, teaching the scriptures of the Bhagavad Gita. Organized by Integral Yoga Institute. Integral Yoga Institute, 770 Dolores St, San Francisco. Mondays, 6 p.m.7:30 p.m. $48. (415) 821-1117. www.inte-

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Sri Rudrabhishekam Mondays, 6:30-8

p.m. Sunnyvale Hindu temple, 420-450 Persian Dr., Sunnyvale. (408) 734-4554, (408) 734-0775.

Shree Maa and Swami Satyananda Saraswati lead Sanskrit chanting, commentary and discussion of scriptures including Lalitha Trishati, Bhagavad Gita, Sundarakand, Chandi Path. Devi Mandir, 6:30 p.m. Live web broadcasts at broadcasts (707) 966-2802.

Shiv Puja. 6 p.m. Bhajans with music, discourse, and arati. Vegetarian food served. Free. Shree Ram Mandir, 3401 Claus Rd., Modesto, CA 95355. (209) 551-9820. Rudrabhi Sheka. Mondays, 7-8:30 p.m. Balaji Temple, 678 Cypress Ave., Suunyvale. (408) 203-1036.

Tuesday Discourses on Sri Rudram. By Vijay

Kapoor. Half hour of chanting followed by explanation of meaning, based on books by

116 | INDIA CURRENTS | July 2013

Swami Dayananda Saraswati and Swami Maheshananda of Dakshinamoorti Math. 7:30- 9 p.m. Jain Bhawan, 722 S. Main Street Milpitas. Free.,

Shri Appaji Meditation. Participate in

unique psychosomatic spiritual meditation techniques Shri Appaji has developed after years of in-depth analysis, research, and experiments. Group meditation, discourse sessions. Shri Appaji Meditation Center, Sunnyvale. Tuesdays, 9:30 a.m. (women only), 7:30 p.m. (men and women). $10/session, first Tuesday free. Registration required. (408) 7359025.

Jain Spiritual Lectures on topics such

as syadwad, anekantwad, nonviolence, forgiveness by samanijies from Jain Vishwa Bharati, Ladnun, Rajasthan. Jain Bhavan, 722 S. Main Street, Milpitas. Tuesdays, 8-9:30 p.m. Free. (408) 262-6242, (650) 207-8196.

Gakara Ganapathy Sahasranama

Hindu Community & Cultural Ctr, 1232 Arrowhead Ave, Livermore. Tuesdays. (925) 4496255.

Shree Maa and Swami Satyananda

Saraswati lead Sanskrit chanting, commentary and discussion of scriptures including Lalitha Trishati, Bhagavad Gita, Sundarakand, Chandi Path. Devi Mandir, 6:30 p.m. Live web broadcasts at broadcasts. (707) 966-2802.

Sri Hanuman Puja. 6:30-8 p.m. Sunnyvale Hindu temple, 420-450 Persian Dr., Sunnyvale. (408) 734-4554, (408) 734-0775. Osho Meditations. Tuesdays, 6:30 p.m. at Amrithika, 248 Hamilton Ave., Palo Alto. Free. (650) 462-1980. Hanuman Chalisa and Durga Pooja and Subramanya Strotam. Tuesdays,

7-8:30 p.m. Balaji Temple, 678 Cypress Ave., Suunyvale. (408) 203-1036. Balajitemple1@

Chanting Hanuman Chalisa. Chanting of the powerful Hanuman Chalisa in a group grants the devotee protection from all harm and blesses him/her with health, wealth and prosperity. It is followed by special aarthi to Ram parivar (Ram, Lakshman, Sita, and Hanuman). Transcripts of the Chalisa provided (in English, Hindi, and Tamil). Tuesdays, 8-9:30 p.m. Nithyananda Ve-

dic Temple, 513 Los Coches St., Milpitas. Free. (408) 263-6375.


Wednesday Yoga for Wellness. This class will offer tools to help manage stress, enhance the immune system, promote healthy digestion and sleep, and optimize the body’s own healing mechanisms, by using movement, breath, meditation, and sound in a supportive group setting. Wednesdays, 9-10:15 a.m. Yoga Shala, 330 Melville Ave, Palo Alto. $15. (650) 857-0226. Worship Services include a burning bowl

ritual that supports each one in consciously letting go of that which no longer serves our highest good and inviting in that which does. Center for Spiritual Enlightenment, 1146 University Avenue, San Jose. Wednesdays, 12-1 p.m. (408) 283-0221, x30.

Bhagavad Gita Class An in-depth explo-

ration of the Bhagavad Gita, led by Vaisesika Dasa Adhikari. ISKCON, 951 S. Bascom Ave., San Jose. Wednesdays, 6 p.m. Free. (408) 5593197.

Shree Maa and Swami Satyananda Saraswati lead Sanskrit chanting, commentary and discussion of scriptures including Lalitha Trishati, Bhagavad Gita, Sundarakand, Chandi Path. Devi Mandir, Wednesdays, 6:30 p.m. Live web broadcasts at (707) 966-2802.

Bhagavath Seva - Voluntary Service to

God. Wednesdays, 6:30-8 p.m. Sunnyvale Hindu temple, 420-450 Persian Dr., Sunnyvale. (408) 734-4554, (408) 734-0775. www.

Ramayana Katha Aranya Kand with pravachan by Shastriji. Vedic Dharma Samaj, Fremont Hindu Temple, 3676 Delaware Dr., Fremont. Wednesdays, 7:30 p.m. (510) 6590655. Brihadaranyaka Upanishad, a discourse by Swami Prapannananda. Vedanta Society of Sacramento, 1337 Mission Ave., Carmichael. Wednesdays, 7:30 p.m. (916) 489-5137. www. Mandukya Upanishad is a class by Pra-

pannananda on Vedanta scriptures. Vedanta Society of Sacramento, 1337 Mission Ave., Carmichael. Wednesdays, 7:30 p.m. (916) 4895137. July 2013 | | 117

Devotional Meetings including prayer, chanting meditations, video discourse (Bhagvad Gita series), arti and homage. J.K.P. Sunnyvale Center, 955 Ponderosa Avenue #27, Sunyvale. Wednesdays, 7:30-8:45 p.m. (408) 738-1201. Satsang. Prayer, chanting meditation, lecture series on devotional topic (Geeta, Bhagwatam, Brahma Sutra, Upnishads etc.), followed by arti and prasad. Jagadguru Kripalu Parishat (JKP) Center-San Jose. Wednesdays 7:30-8:45 p.m. 4940 Avenida de Carmen, Santa Clara. (408) 980-9953. www. Sri Aurobindo Meditation and Study Group. Wednesdays, 7:30-8:30 p.m. In

Danville. Free. Open to all. (650) 218-4223.

Meditation. Wednesdays, 7:30-8:30 p.m.

Balaji Temple, 678 Cypress Ave., Suunyvale. (408) 203-1036.

Satsang Siddha Yoga Meditation Ctr, 4115 Jacksol Dr, San Jose. Thursdays, 7:30 p.m. (408) 559-1716. Inspirational Service SRF, 303 E. Main

St, Los Gatos. Thursdays, 7:30 p.m. (408) 2525299.

Zen Fitness Designed to reduce stress, pain, and weight. Thursdays, 10:15-11:15 a.m. Sunnyvale studio. Contact for location, (415) 203-9231, Ancient Wisdom, Modern Mind,

Kirtan, an evening of chanting. Words

8-10 p.m. For location, call (408) 910-6052, (408) 578-5685.

Jain Swadhyay with an illuminating study

Shree Maa and Swami Satyananda Saraswati lead Sanskrit chanting, commen-

The Secret of the Self, introduction

to meditation and philosophy in the tradition of Kashmir Shaivism. Organized by Sri Sambha Sathashiva Vidya Peetham. Thursdays, 7-8:30 p.m. Nine Star University of Health Sciences, 441 DeGuigne Drive, Suite 201, Sunnyvale. www.

Shri Shirdi Sai Baba haarathulu dhoop aarti. Sri Lakshmi Ganapathi Temple, 32B Rancho Dr., San Jose. Thursdays, 7:30 p.m. (408) 226-3600.

118 | INDIA CURRENTS | July 2013

and Sri Maha Lakshmi Puja. Fridays, 6:30-8 p.m., Sunnyvale Hindu temple, 420-450 Persian Dr., Sunnyvale. (408) 734-4554, (408) 734-0775.

Dada Bhagwan’s Satsang. Thursdays,

Thursday yoga class for people with mild to moderate anxiety as well as for those seeking to reduce anxiety in their lives. Teachers use movement, breath, meditation, and sound in a supportive group atmosphere. Organized by Healing Yoga Foundation of San Francisco. Thursdays, 4-5:15 p.m. 3620 Buchanan St, San Francisco. Donations. (415) 931-9642. schedule.html.

Sri Lalitha Sahasranama Parayanam

Sri Santhoshi Mata, Durga Devi Pooja and Lord Lakshmi Pooja.

chanting and learning of kirtans. Organized by Society of Abidance in Truth. 7:30-9:30 p.m. 1834 Ocean St., Santa Cruz. Free. (831) 425-7287.

Yoga for Anxiety, an on-going, drop-in

mentary and discussion of scriptures including Lalitha Trishati, Bhagavad Gita, Sundarakand, Chandi Path. Devi Mandir, Fridays, 6:30 p.m. Live web broadcasts at www. (707) 966-2802.

guided Kriya meditation led by Pratibha Gramann, longtime student of Sri Baba Hari Dass. Thursdays, 7-9 p.m. Shubhamayurveda Center, 3606 Thornton Ave., Fremont.

of Jain scriptures Series continues on Samyag Tap, Samyag Gyan, Samyag Darshan and Samyag Charitra, with samanijies from Jain Vishwa Bharati, Ladnun, Rajasthan. Jain Bhawan, 722 S. Main Street, Milpitas. Thursdays, 8-9:30 p.m. Free. (408) 262-6242, (650) 207-8196.

Atmotsava (Ramana Nama San-kirtanam), meditation, readings, devotional

Shree Maa and Swami Satyananda Saraswati lead Sanskrit chanting, com-

tary and discussion of scriptures including Lalitha Trishati, Bhagavad Gita, Sundarakand, Chandi Path. Devi Mandir, Thursdays, 6:30 p.m. Live web broadcasts at (707) 966-2802.

Shirdi Sai Bhajans. Shirdi Sai Center,

897-B, E. Kifer Rd., Sunnyvale. Thursdays, 7:30-8:30 p.m. (408) 705-7904.

Sri Sai baba Aarti and Bhajana.

Thursdays, 7:30-8:30 p.m. Balaji Temple, 678 Cypress Ave., Suunyvale. (408) 203-1036.

Friday Kirtan and chanting. Organized by Ananda Sangha. Ananda Sangha, 2171 El Camino (at College), Palo Alto. Fridays, 7:30-9:15 p.m. Free. Note: Only on the first Friday of the month, these sessions will be held at 240 Monroe Dr., Mountain View. (650) 323-3363. www.

Fridays, 6:30-8:30 p.m. Balaji Temple, 678 Cypress Ave., Suunyvale. (408) 203-1036.

provided. English as well as some Indian chants accompanied by harmonium and guitar. Every second and third Friday, 7:30 pm, Ananda, 2171 El Camino Real, Palo Alto, free (650) 323-3363, free

Meditation, self-inquiry meditation instruction by Nome, silent meditation, and dialogues. Organized by Society of Abidance in Truth (SAT). Every first and third Friday of the month, 8 p.m. 1834 Ocean St., Santa Cruz. Free. (831) 425-7287. www. Group Meditation with mantra chanting and lecture with Swami Pranavananda, a senior meditation teacher. His kirtan and music is lively and his talks are practical. Sivananda Yoga Vedanta Center, 1200 Arguello Blvd, San Francisco. Fridays, 8 p.m. (415) 681 2731,

Bhajan Class for Children, ages 4-18.

Fridays, 8-9:30 p.m. Nithyananda Vedic Temple, 513 Los Coches St., Milpitas. Free. (408) 263-6375. www.

Saturday Srivenkateshwara Suprabhata and Vishnu Sahasranama Strotam. Satur-

days, 8-9 a.m. Balaji Temple, 678 Cypress Ave., Suunyvale. (408) 203-1036. Balajitemple1@

Simplified Kundalini Yoga (SKY),

plus physical exercises. We guide and initiate SKY meditation. We also provide Kayakalpam and Introspection courses. Saturdays, 9 a.m. Fremont Temple. Free. (510) 456-8953.

Ramakrishna-Vivekananda Literature, a discourse by Swami Prapannananda. Vedanta Society of Sacramento, 1337 Mission Ave., Carmichael. Saturdays, 7:30 p.m. (916) 489-5137.


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Introduction to Vedanta and Meditation. Based on the text Tattvabodha, by Swami Dayananda Saraswati’s disciple, Vijay Kapoor. 9:30-11 a.m. Jain Bhawan, 722 S. Main Street Milpitas. Free.,

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© Copyright 2013 India Currents. All rights reserved. Reproduction for commercial use strictly prohibited. 

Share your stories on health with India Currents readers! We are accepting original submissions that focus on health and wellness. Send your 600-800-word essay on disease prevention, exercise, ayurvedic cooking, or any other health-related topic to Mona Shah at



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Seva Raises a Brow to National Franchise Expansion within Walmart Beauty Salon Franchise Offers Guaranteed Foot Traffic in Thousands per Week


ow did an entrepreneur convince Walmart, the world's largest retailer, to partner with a new and relatively unknown beauty salon franchise concept that specializes in the art of brow shaping, facial hair removing and waxing? With hard work, creativity, and attracting more than 1,000 customers a week, Seva founders, Vas and Sonal Maniatis, overcame incredible odds to form an exclusive in store partnership and expand their franchise concept nationwide. In addition to brow shaping and facial hair removal, Seva offers a full range of nail and spa services including body waxing, facials, and eyelash extensions. After years of success in the real estate industry, serial entrepreneur Vas Maniatis and his partner Sonal opened their first eyebrow threading business in 2008 only after a Walmart regional manager needed to fill a vacant retail stall in his new Indianapolis location, days before its grand opening. Vas and Sonal agreed to open their eyebrow threading concept in Walmart, only to grow the business to two additional locations before catching the full attention of Walmart executives and forming an exclusive in-store retail partnership. “Seva offers an opportunity for potential franchisees with and without experience in the beauty industry to fulfill their “American Dream” and get involved in a franchise that offers full support and demonstrates success,” said Vas Maniatis. “Seva is a company that began in the shadows of a retail giant and has continued to thrive and generate profits in a down economy.” Seva currently operates 50 franchise and corporate locations throughout sixteen states, with huge expansion plans in 2013. The company's exclusive partnership with Walmart

120 | INDIA CURRENTS | July 2013

Franchise Information:

Seva is actively selling franchises. If you are interested in changing your life and the lives of others, please visit for more information about franchise opportunities.

and its ability to use the Walmart infrastructure allows Seva to provide its franchisees the opportunity to open multiple locations locally, regionally, or nationally with guaranteed foottraffic in the thousands per week. Walmart currently operates over 8,500 locations worldwide.

Highland Park, IL. “ We are proud of what the Seva brand represents and are fully committed to continued research and development of customized services and new beauty products,” Sonal Maniatis said. “Our Seva brand line of beauty products compliments our current line

“Seva offers an opportunity for potential franchisees with and without experience in the beauty industry to fulfill their “American Dream” Seva has designed a complete turnkey Salonin-a-Box delivery system which handles all aspects of the design, construction, delivery, and coordination of build out of every new Seva salon. The company requires start-up capital of $100,000, in which $15,000 is allotted for the franchise fee. Seva's proprietary iPad-based POS technology is installed in every location to enables its franchisees to easily run and monitor their stores in real time from anywhere in the world via any computer, web-enabled phone, or iPad. Offering world class training and support, Seva has established the Seva Academy to assure franchisees continued support of trained and certified threading masters. The academy offers a series of hands-on threading instructional classes limited to eight students per class. Classes provide highly personalized one-on-one instruction by Seva's Master Threader in state-of-the-art training facilities located within the company's corporate headquarters in the Chicago suburb of

of spa services and offers the franchisees an additional profit center.” About Seva

Seva, headquartered in Highland Park, Illinois, currently operates 50 franchise and corporate locations throughout sixteen states. The company was founded in 2008 and specializes in the art of brow-shaping and facial hair removal by threading and waxing, nail services including no-chip manicures and pedicures, full spa services including body waxing and facials, and eyelash extensions. Seva offers elegantly appointed salons conveniently and exclusively located within Walmart providing the convenience of onestop-shopping.

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dear doctor

The Complexity of Complexes By Alzak Amlani


I have heard of people having an inferiority or Napolean complex. I find myself getting into moods that I can’t get out of and perceive issues or people in a way that others think is very biased and emotionally colored. I have strong feelings about things, but does that mean I have a complex?


Two psychiatrists that talked a lot about the theory of complexes were Sigmund Freud and Carl Jung. They both deeply believed in the unconscious mind—an aspect of our mind that we are unaware of, but which deeply influences and reveals itself in dreams, complexes, synchronicities, slips of the tongue and body symptoms. I believe complexes are quite powerful and it’s good that you are thinking about what they are and how they operate. A complex is usually formed early in life due to a strong incident or numerous repeated ones. For example, if a child is repeatedly compared to other children in the family, as not being as smart, then that child will begin to doubt his own intelligence. This will show up in a range of ways. The child will second

guess his answers to questions on tests and in general conversations. When someone asks for a clarification or disagrees, the child will feel it is because he isn’t smart enough. Certain feelings of inadequacy, shame, inferiority and anxiety can constellate around such a complex. This can lead to lowered performance, fear of challenging oneself, test anxiety and fear of sharing one’s thoughts or responses. Some children will go in the direction of overcompensation by constantly trying to prove his/her intelligence. The child may have a hard time taking feedback or being challenged because unconsciously he feels inferior. There are numerous types of complexes: inferiority, superiority, hero complex, refugee complex, mother complex, father complex, savior complex, complexes around one’s beauty and many other aspects of personality and life. When someone has a complex things get taken much more personally because there is a certain self-absorptive quality to it. For example, when a man has a mother complex, he feels regressive, a bit insecure, seeks maternal comfort and often is not able

to experience his autonomy as a separate, strong adult. Completing projects, taking direction, setting appropriate boundaries and taking the heat in confrontational situations become challenging. Any type of complex can color a person’s viewpoint with a certain set of memories, perceptions, emotions and wishes. Thus, it could feel like the person is a bit impenetrable. While in such a state it is best to become aware of the power of one’s mind and psyche. Ask yourself questions on what is going on break apart some of the characteristics of the complex. If you know enough about your issues and personality, you might be able to actually name the complex. Slowly after doing the hard work of deconstructing the complex and releasing some of its energy, more integrated ways of responding can be cultivated. n Alzak Amlani, Ph.D., is a counseling psychologist of Indian descent in the Bay Area. 650-325-8393. Visit www.

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$10 for 25 words or less, 30¢ per additional word. Phone numbers and P.O. Boxes count as one word.

PLACE YOUR AD ONLINE: To place a classified ad online, go to http:// ANNOUNCEMENTS LOOKING FOR PLACE TO PARK SMALL live-in camper in exchange for small monthly rent or barter for business services (computer work/health services). Call Robert (951) 541-1668. LICENSED PSYCHOLOGIST PROVIDES treatment for depression, grief, anxiety and marriage difficulties. Expert Psychological Assessment for immigration: Political Asylum, VAWA or Hardship Waivers. (510)402-4114 BANGALORE NEAR I.I.M BANGALORE / L&T South City, 2400 sq. ft (two 30x40). Approved residential land for sale. Direct owner. E-mail: BEAUTY THREADING, FACIAL, HAIR, and full range of Shahnaz products. Khoobsurat Threading, 1014 E El Camino Real, Sunnyvale, CA 94087. Contact Shefali (408) 8350097. KASHISH SALON - Threading, facial/waxing, Hair & Makeup, bridal and wedding studio. Two locations San Francisco (408) 219-0046, Santa Clara (408) 260-2676. CHILDCARE ODISSI DANCE CLASSES with Guru Jyoti Rout. Jyoti Kala Mandir College of Indian Classical Arts. CLASSES: MUSIC CLASSES OFFERED BY LAKSHMI C. SAXENA in San Jose. North Indian vocal music: classical, semi classical, light music like bhajans, geet, ghazals, film songs, instrumental music: harmonium, tabla. Also Hindi lessons. Available for performances. Call (408) 268-3651 or email Lsaxena99@ ALI AKBAR COLLEGE OF MUSIC offers study in North Indian classical music. Four 8-week sessions a year are taught by master musicians. Classes are offered in vocal, instrumental and tabla. All are welcome. For more information please call (415) 4546264. CLASSES DE ANZA COLLEGE CUPERTINO, CA Learn Hindi, Earn 5 credits per quarter. Professor Nilu Gupta. (510)713 - 2500. WEEKEND TUTORING MATH/ENGLISH for students in grade 2-9. After school martial arts taught by a 3rd degree black belt instructor: 4423 Fortran Ct. 95134. (408) 687-8249. KARNATIK MUSIC LESSONS along with Bhajans for kids and Bhajans (many languages) for Adults, offered at Sanatana Dharma Kendra Sunnyvale. Contact (408) 464-3810, email:

MOST TRUSTED INDIAN DAYCARE by loveable Marathi family in Cupertino. Contact (408) 792-7014 or visit

ART TEACHER WITH MORE THAN 14 years of experience in teaching and selling art. Classes are open for Tanjore oil painting, water colors and charcoal. Classes held in Cupertino. Interested? Please call Namita (408) 242-6361.



CHHANDAM SCHOOL OF KATHAK DANCE. Classes held in Berkeley, Mountain View, San Francisco, San Bruno, San Rafael, and Union City. Beginning classes available in all locations. Call (415) 759-8060 or visit

FREE PEER COUNSELING and support offered to South Asian women. Maitri has a live person handling phone calls 9am-1pm (Mon-Fri) and a voice message helpline at all

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other times. Are you having problems with your partner? Are you going through cultural adjustment problems? Call (408)4368398. Our South Asian female volunteers speak many South Asian languages. Toll free hotline 1(888) 8-MAITRI or go to maitri@ IS A FAMILY MEMBER HURTING YOU? Contact Narika, a domestic violence hotline for South Asian women. Our services are free and strictly confidential. Call (800) 215-7308. EDUCATION VEDIC MATH AFTERSCHOOL ENRICHMENT. Sharpen your mental math and problem solving skills. Calculate at lightning speed with amazing ease and accuracy. More information (408)931-1000, FOR SALE INSTRUMENTS - Greatest selection of North Indian instrumetns in the U.S. Ali Akbar College store sells the finest quality sitars, sarods, tanpuras, harmoniums, tablas, flutes, etc. Complete repair service. We ship anywhere in the U.S. 1554 4th San Rafael, CA 94901. Call (415) 454-0581. www.aac. org/shop. HEALTH ARTHRITIS, AUTOIMMUNE-DISEASES, INFLAMMATION, PAIN Allergies, Asthma, Fatigue, Chronic-Illness. Learn how to recover. Two books at HELP WANTED LOOKING FOR INDIAN COOK, TANDOORI chef, and dishwasher (full time). Looking for farmer to grow seasonal vegetables. Please call (650) 630-8588. INSURANCE AMILA INSURANCE SERVICES - Looking for a better deal on Auto Insurance? Call (408) 723-2100.

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SEETA BHANDARI - All Solutions Insurance Agency. More than a provider - a partner. (408) 225-4300. INSURANCE SPECIALIST Amar Sehgal. Most Competitive Rates and Friendly Services. (408) 298-2194. LEGAL FREE LIVING TRUST SEMINARS. Presented by Attorney Robert P. Bergman. Learn about Living Trusts from an expert. Visit to register or call (408) 247-0444. DIVORCE ATTORNEY Madan Ahluwalia. Divorce, Alimony, Child Support, Child Custody, Property Division in Divorce. (888) 861-8436. MATRIMONIAL: FEMALE SEEKING AN EDUCATED INDIAN MALE, PREFERABLY Gujarati or South Indian aged 40-45. This is for a divorced Gujarati lady, 40 years old, slim, tall and fair. Would prefer someone without any attachments. Meetings possible in the month of May ’13. Email: SEEKING A MATRIMONIAL alliance for your sister, daughter or a loved one? Place your ad here and reach 32,000 households. You may find the right person here in India Currents classifieds. To place your ad call (408) 324-0488. MATRIMONIAL: MALE I AM A 54 YEARS YOUNG PROFESSIONAL male who is adventurous and very competitive. I’m looking for my best friend, partner, companion and soulmate who loves life and challenges. Email me at SEEKING A MATRIMONIAL alliance for your brother, son or a loved one? Place your ad here and reach 32,000 households. You may find the right person here in India Currents classifieds! To place your ad call (408) 324-0488 today! ORGANIZATIONS PEOPLE INTERESTED IN CONCERT opportunities to show case their talent in South Indian Classical Music, please contact SR Fine Arts at (408)569-0860. REAL ESTATE BEAUTIFULLY UPDATED, BRIGHT & spacious home in huge culdesac lot! Park setting backyard, sparkling in-ground pool, workshop/storage and many more! For your private tour, call Rama Realtor dre#01023954 Realty World Golden Hills at (408) 921-1987. HANDYMAN SPECIAL! MOST AFFORDABLE 3/2ba in Milpitas. Great neighborhood, few minutes from Great Mall. Good access to all major freeways. Outstanding value for the buyer willing to do cosmetic upgrades/few repairs in exchange for Instant Equity! Hurry, it will not last. For private tour, call Rama Realtor dre#01023954 Realty World Golden Hills at (408) 921-1987. RAMA, YOUR REALTOR, WISHES all of you a very Happy 4th of July! BUYING OR SELLING PROPERTY? Call an expert with over 22 years of experience, Harshad Shah (408) 238-1200. FIRST TIME HOME BUYER’S SPECIALIST. Foreclosures/REOs. Call Sue Bose (408) 835-3330 or email ROOMMATES LARGE FURNISHED BEDROOM IN QUIET, pleasant home available immediately. $675 per month. Kitchen, laundry, wireless WI-FI, cable TV, fruit trees, green in backyard. Resident female professor owener. (408) 286-3716 or SERVICES MEGHNA HINDIA, A LICENSED MARRIAGE AND FAMILY THERAPIST (MFC52578) is now accepting new clients. She sees individuals, couples, and children. Visit for details. Email at or call 650 279 9531. SERVICES! SERVICES! HAVE A SPE-

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AD OF THE MONTH DE ANZA COLLEGE CUPERTINO, CA Learn Hindi, Earn 5 credits per quarter. Professor Nilu Gupta. (510)713 2500.

CIAL service to offer to India Currents readers? Do you do catering, tailoring, repairs or cleaning? Advertise here in India Currents Classifieds for $10 only. Call (408) 3240488 today! SPIRITUAL GROWTH EAST COAST SPIRITUAL GUIDANCE CENTER: All spiritual needs - books, learning help, practices, counseling. Contact: Ma Yoga Shakti International Yoga Center of New York (718) 641-0402. TAX & ACCOUNTING KENT TAX & BUSINESS SERVICES. Income Tax Service, Bookkeeping, IRS Audit Representation. Call Chandrakant Chudgar (510) 744-0753. RAM ACCOUNTANCY SERVICES. CPA. We serve Individuals & Small and Medium Companies. (408) 866-5860. Email: info@ TUTORING PRIVATE TUTOR, children and adults, specializing in reading/writing/ELD, 25 years teaching experience, M.A. Columbia University. or contact Laura (408) 253-0509.

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The Accursed Couch Is that a couch or a landing place? Lakshmi Palecanda


y couch is cursed. Hold it, I am not off my rocker, nor am I steeped in superstition. It is the bald truth: a couch in our home is cursed. I trained to be a scientist, and I still believe that science can explain most things, but when it comes to that couch, I have to accept it as fact. How is it cursed, you ask? Well, you can never sit on it. It is always covered with stuff, clothes, books, papers, files, etc. Sometimes household appliances and even dishes find their way to the couch. Even when I clean it to within an inch of its life, I have to just turn the other way for a second … and it is covered, all over again. It all started when we moved to our present house in Mysore over two years ago. We decided to put this couch in front of the TV, so that the entire family could watch movies and programs together. A day later, I walked into the TV/computer room with a coffee in hand to watch a show. My older daughter was sitting on the computer table’s swivel chair, and the younger one was sitting on the floor. I asked the obvious question. “Why aren’t you sitting on the couch?” “What couch?” The answer puzzled me, until I looked under a huge pile of stuff and found the piece of furniture. Feeling miffed, I cleared out a small piece of real estate and sat down to watch TV. The next day, I walked by the same place, and saw that the cleared area was gone. It had been reclaimed by the “stuff.” Since that day, I’ve tried many things, including periodic cleaning binges. Oh yes, the pile goes away when I clean, but it is always back in a day or two. This phenomenon is so consistent that there is actually no history of the whole family sitting together on the couch to watch TV. Sometimes there may be two of us at opposite ends with a mound of stuff in between, or someone perched on the edge with the mound behind providing a back rest. But never have the four of us sat on it at the same time. Here, I have to mention that this mound of stuff ” is also the go-to place for practically everything in the house. “Did you check the couch?” is invariably the answer to any question posed regarding missing prop132 | INDIA CURRENTS | July 2013

erty in our domicile. Has anybody lost their school book/ socks/shoes/library book/pencil box/file/dress? It will be in The Mound on The Couch. I’m privately convinced that if you delve deep enough, you should be able to find Blackbeard’s treasure or the Ark of the Covenant in it. I’ve watched my children dive into it head-first, throw things to the left and to the right, thereby separating it into two mounds, and emerge wild-eyed but triumphant with the missing article in hand. And, oh by the way, now more stuff piles in between the two mounds causing a reversion to the single mound, only this one even bigger. There is also an interesting anecdote concerning this phenomenon. One evening, I carved out a small niche for myself and sat there watching a movie on TV. My older daughter began calling for me, but as I was engrossed in the show, I neglected to answer her. Later, after the show was over, I came out of the room, and my daughter pounced on me. “Where had you gone? I’ve been calling you for half an hour.” “I’ve been watching TV,” I replied. “But I didn’t see you,” she said suspiciously. “I was on the couch,” I defended myself. “Oh, you must have been on the other side of The Mound. That’s why I couldn’t see you.” She was mollified. Of course, as a mother, I had to ask her a question. “If you thought there was no one in the room, why didn’t you turn off the TV and lights?” For which I received a look. I let it go. Being a proactive person, I did not spend my time wringing my hands, but instead went looking for an explanation for it. I didn’t have to go far, only as far as Talakad, Karnataka. Talakad, located 45 km from Mysore, Karnataka, is a small hamlet that is home to many temples dedicated to Lord Shiva and Lord Vishnu. It is located on the banks of the river Cauvery. However, its fame arises from the fact that in that place, there are more than thirty temples buried meters deep in sand. Every 12 years, people clear the sand out of a few temples and hold a festival. Since five of these temples have shivalingas,

representing the five faces of Shiva, this festival is called “Panchalinga Darshana.” People come from all over India to attend this festival. However, within a month of clearing the temple and the “Panchalinga Darshana,” the temples fill up with sand again. This phenomenon is believed to be the result of a curse by a pious woman named Alamelamma. It dates from the early 1600s, when Raja Wodeyar, the king of Mysore, defeated Rangaraya, the Vijayanagar empire’s viceroy in Srirangapatna, another town near Mysore. The victorious king alleged that Rangaraya’s wife, Alamelamma, still had the jewels that rightly belonged to the temple at Srirangapatna. Eventually, when Raja Wodeyar sent soldiers to recover the jewels, Alamelamma fled to Talakad and famously cursed the king and the town before drowning herself in the Cauvery near Malangi, a town on the opposite bank of the river. She is supposed to have said, “Talakadu maralagi, Malangi maduvagi, Mysooru arasarige makkalagadirali”—May Talakadu be filled with Sand, Malangi be a whirlpool and may the Mysore kings never have offspring. Whether or not the rest of the curses came true is immaterial: Talakad is well and truly filled with sand. So you see, I have every reason for believing that my couch is laboring under the same category of curses. As to doing something about the accursed stick of furniture, my husband once suggested that we put it away. I turned a pale shade of grey. “What if the curse moves to another piece of furniture, say the bed? We’ll be in worse trouble then. Look at it this way. Maybe the curse has a positive aspect to it. The unavailability of seating may put off the kids from watching too much TV.” My spouse was so struck by the argument that he left the thing alone. And so the phenomenon continues. And whenever I visit other people’s houses, I’m always looking to see if any of their furniture is cursed too. Of course, I’m also dreaming. Now, if I were to find Blackbeard’s treasure …n Lakshmi Palecanda moved from Montana to Mysore and is still adjusting. She can be reached at

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On Inglish

I’ll Have Three Sugars With That, Please By Kalpana Mohan

sugar—noun A sweet crystallizable material that consists wholly or essentially of sucrose, is colorless or white when pure, tending to brown when less refined, is obtained commercially from sugarcane or sugar beet and less extensively from sorghum, maples, and palms, and is important as a source of dietary carbohydrate and as a sweetener and preservative of other foods.


t the moment, the silken wedge of a plum is exploding into syrupy goop inside my mouth. I’m intensely happy. The best moments of my life revolve around sugar. The earliest memory of sweetness is of a moment in my native place in Parur, Kerala, where I’m standing at the door of an outhouse kitchen inside my grandfather’s vast home. Male cooks clad in yellowing cotton dhotis are stirring jackfruit, jaggery and ghee in a vat to make chakkai varatti or jackfruit preserve. I’m watching them stir the bubbling confection with a ladle that resembles a spade. The sickly sweetness of thickening compote and caramelizing sugar assaults my senses. Like my father and his three sisters I, too, am paralyzed by that constant craving for something sweet. “I simply cannot understand Saroja,” my late mother would say when she talked about my aunt’s sweet tooth. “She says she has cut back on sugar in coffee. But then, at the end of every meal, she reaches out for an almond burfi or a laddoo, both of which are saturated in sugar.” I resemble my aunt Saroja both in appearance and personality. Like her, I believe that cutting back the sugar will decimate my spirit; I will warp into a bitter shadow of my former self. Never mind that my shadow looms rather large these days. In my home, we don’t shrink away from sugar. Every year, my husband and I look at the numbers from our annual physical exam. The cholesterol may swing this way or that. But one number, thankfully, squeaks into the reference range, that of sugar. That means that we’ll rejoice, as before, in the bounties and festivities of the season. This summer, for instance, we’ll attend weddings, graduations and birthdays and savor all the items on the dessert table. We’ll binge on bing cherries. We’ll dig into big berries. We’ll cool with kulfi. We’ll load up on falooda. We’ll say yup to the crepe—with banana and Nutella and a dollop of cream. When we’re in India we’ll tug greedily at a warm poli (pancake) sodden with ghee. We’ll let our tongue roll around its flaky layers. Alas, I’m not the only one seduced by sugar. Nations were colonized, empires built, fortresses fortified, and slaves bartered—all for sugar. For centuries Europeans believed that sugar was a rare and expensive spice. Throughout the eighteenth century, sugar from the colonies was England’s most important import. Sugar became the cornerstone of foreign trade; it was shipped, in the form of molasses, from the Caribbean to Europe where it was distilled into rum. The profits from the sale of sugar were then rolled into the purchase of manufactured goods in Europe. These were shipped to West Africa where they were bartered for slaves. The slaves were then transported, like sardines in a can, to be sold in the sugar plantations in the Caribbean. And then it began all over again: profits from the sale of the slaves were funneled into the purchase of sugar which was then shipped to Europe. Extensive sugarcane production created a glut in sugar supply and this once rare commodity began to grace the kitchen table in Britain and the United States. Over a 200-year period from the middle of the seventeenth century and the middle of the nineteenth, the status of sugar crystallized

from dear to cheap. The capital from the sugar industry had enormous global sway. It catalyzed the industrial revolution. It triggered the large human migration of the 19th century. Around the world, the rise in per capita consumption of sugar has been associated with industrialization and affordability. Over the decades, however, the Western world began contending with the ill effects of sugar. Alternatives to sugar now offer saccharine nirvana but, to many people, cutting back on sugar is tantamount to torture. Imagine offering a Frenchman extra-firm tofu on his cheese plate. Just try telling an Indian to shun sweetmeat. India, the world’s biggest sugar consumer with a population of 1.24 billion, consumes over 60% more than China. Sugarcane, the largest crop in the world, is indigenous to India where its roots run deep, connecting the souls of all those born of that soil to whom the giving of something sweet translates to joy, harmony and peace. It’s little wonder then that the word “sugar” originated from India, from the Sanskrit word “sarkara” meaning “grit or grave or pebble,” that alludes to the crystalline form of cane sugar. As I fly the friendly skies to India this summer, I will sip United Airlines’ frightful coffee and dreadful tea, and I will say, not once, but many times, to the irritation of the flight attendant, that I will have my beverage “with milk and three sugars, please, thank you.” And the attendant will give me three sachets of which I will open three and pour in just two and a half. Then I’ll grimace as I taste it and add the remaining sugar, shrug, and wince again. I shall figure that if I’m flying at thirty-three thousand feet above sea level, one thing must be true. I must be light. And then I’ll smile and ask for that Walkers Chocolate Chip shortbread cookie. Oh, yes, it has sugar, 90 calories, but who’s counting especially when airborne and hovering between reality and infinity? I will leave you with another cloying idea about sugar. When Cleopatra is waiting, breathless and fragrant, after a languorous bath in fermented mare’s milk and honey, would Marc Anthony ever seek to make love to a prostitute? So, please, do not, do not ever press my lips to a sugar substitute. No Surrogate Stevia for me. No Spare tire Splenda. Sugar is not a vice, unlike a one-night stand. Clad in virgin white or in raw brown, sugar is a virtue in the guise of a daily morning fix. n Kalpana Mohan writes from Saratoga. To read more about her, go to and July 2013 | | 135

136 | INDIA CURRENTS | July 2013


Lord of the Mountains By Aniruddh Chawda YEH JAWAANI HAI DEEWANI. Director: Ayan Mukherjee. Players: Ranbir Kapoor, Deepika Padukone, Aditya Roy Kapoor, Kalki Koechlin, Evelyn Sharma, Kunaal Roy Kapoor, Farooq Shaikh, Tanvi Azmi. Music: Pritam Chakaborty. Theatrical release (UTV). Hindi with English sub-titles.


anbir Kapoor’s modus is most successful when he plays a carefree, detached free spirit grounded only to himself, like he did in Wake Up Sid (2009), Anjana Anjani(2010) and Barfi! (2012), and not so much when he turns serious, as he did with Sawaariya (2007) and RockStar (2011). Fashioned after a film-style made famous by his great-uncle Shammi Kapoor, Yeh Jawaani Hai Deewani is a modern twist on the era of hipster saris, chandelier earrings and beehive coifs. More precisely, YJHD is very much like a remake of a Shammi Kapoor movie where a youth goes off into the mountains—not as rehab devised by parents to reintegrate their womanizing wayward scion—but as selfimposed exile to discover uncharted terrains. And the result is highly entertaining. Kabir Thapar (Kapoor), aka Bunny, is a high-flying host of an international TV channel. A chance meeting with Naina Talwar (Padukone), aka Billi, a former college acquaintance, results in the abrasive, outgoing and self-absorbed Bunny daring the coy, homely and bookworm med student Billi into signing on with Bunny on a camping and hiking trek in the Himalayas. As the adventure troop sets out, a subtle worldview reversal creeps in. The higher the group climbs, the more introspective Bunny becomes and he relives the turning points that have dinged his past. As if in response, Billi starts to shed her homebound footing and discovers a new, more self-assured identity. The embodiment of this inverse transformation, having Bunny cleverly mask a run from something as a mad dash towards something and having Billi appear to be dashing from something all the while she is running towards something, is handled by director Mukherjee with great finesse. Just as in Wake Up Sid Mukherjee delicately exploits the nuances of having two very different people brought together by chance. Billi and Bunny declare their specific boundaries up front and then spend the rest of the screen time imperceptibly nudging the same

boundaries. Staged with the same open-pockets conviction—YJHD is, after all, a Karan Johar production—there are sumptuous destinations used as backdrop, everything from Paris and Bangkok to a luxury island resort in Rajasthan and even Kashmir. Accompanying Bunny and Billi are two friends who have a mini discovery of their own. As their travelling best friends, Aditya Roy Kapoor and Koechlin add sizable amounts of romantic currency of specific one-sided unspoken longing. Kunaal Roy Kapoor as a bumbling groom-to-be, Sharma as a mountain-side sex siren and veteran actors Shaikh and Azmi as Bunny’s parental-figures round out a fine cast. Chakraborty’s reach in Hindi film music is currently second only to A.R. Rahman, who only makes infrequent stops with mixed results (“Jab Tak Hain Jaan”). After scaling dizzying heights with Barfi!, Chakraborty returns to a playful mood that wonderfully synchs ups “Ghangra” with beer hall moves of Madhuri Dixit dancing to a tune by Rekha Bharadwaj and Vishal Dadlani while “Dilli Wali Girfriend” has Arijit Singh and Sunidhi Chauhan celebrating a village belle’s coming of age. The soundtrack fits the movie’s adventure-trek mood like hand in glove. The 1960s witnessed a remarkable rise in what became known as the Technicolor romance genre in Hindi movie scripts. In step with a stable and maturing country’s arrival on the world stage, in part because of Jawaharlal Nehru’s prominence in championing of a “non-aligned” power block that cleverly swayed against the tides of the Cold

War, Hindi filmmakers went overboard in delivering mass entertainment that was high on emotion and low on realism. Junglee, Professor, Arzoo and Ayee Milan Ki Bela were prime examples of this micro epoch. Even Raj Kapoor’s couldn’t resist the easy money that could be made and did so with the megahit Sangam. If nostalgia can be packaged as romantic comedy and have it dress as well as YJHD does, we have no objections! n EQ: AGlobe trekker, aesthete, photographer, ski bum, film buff, and commentator, Aniruddh Chawda writes from Milwaukee.



e Baddoor Chashm David an Ek Thi Daya ne Go a Go Go Inkaar Che! Kai Po jlee Ka Mandola Bi Matru Ki Mai at Wadala Shootout tacks of 26/11 The At iabad Zila Ghaz July 2013 | | 137


Is That My Mother? By Tim Charles

winne r


ightings are in the laps of the gods or at least in the paws of tigers. If they want to be seen and guides know where to locate them, then you may be rewarded. We had already been blessed on the first morning at the Bandhavgarh National Park in Madhya Pradesh when a tiger magically appeared from the forest, crossed the road and disappeared. The next morning, at 5 a.m., Jagat, our guide, took us to a different part of the park and we stopped, expectantly, about 50 yards from a bush. He leaned forward and whispered conspiratorially, “Behind that bush is a young tiger cub, about a year old. He’s probably waiting for his mum to come back. She’s usually out at this time, hunting.” He then cupped his hands around his mouth and uttered a grating throatal rasp, and a few seconds later a cub emerged from behind the bush and padded towards the jeep, ears perked, looking

expectantly for his mother. Incredulous that she was nowhere in sight, he turned tail and slipped back behind the bush. Conservationists might be upset by the fact that the cub was induced, well, tricked to appear in this way, and if Jagat could imitate the tigress’ call, then so could poachers. But Jagat was and is a ranger dedicated to the preservation of India’s most precious resource, and as long as conservationists of his ilk are in a position to protect tigers they will be able to pad through the forest, unharmed. n Tim Charles is an ESL Instructor, a freelance professional photographer and a writer, currently writing a play about Indira Gandhi and Zulfikar Ali Bhutto. He can be reached at He is staging a photo exhibit at the Cultural Corner space in Newpark Mall in Newark, 1st through 30th September, 2013, Mon-Fri, 6-9 p.m., Sat and Sun 2-6 p.m.

India Currents invites readers to submit to this column. Send us a picture with caption and we’ll pick the best entry every month. There will be a cash prize awarded to the lucky entrant. Entries will be judged on the originality and creativity of the visual and the clarity and storytelling of the caption. So pick up that camera and click away. Send the picture as a jpeg image to with Subject: A Picture That Tells a Story. Deadline for entries: 10th of every month. 138 | INDIA CURRENTS | July 2013

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India Currents invites readers to send in a picture and caption to publish in our magazine. We’ll pick the best picture every month and award a cash prize to the winning entry. Entries will be judged on the originality and creativity of the visual and the clarity and storytelling of the caption. So pick up that camera and click away.

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the last word

Tea By Sarita Sarvate


y first taste of tea was second hand. I would stand behind the door curtain hanging between the front room and the middle room, twirling the fabric between my fingers, and peeking at visitors drinking tea. I would imagine its taste, hot and bitter. I was sure it was bitter, if not naturally, then from all the tears my mother, Aai, had shed into it over the years. During my early childhood, tea was a source of constant strife between my parents. Etiquette dictated that whenever a relative or a friend or even an acquaintance came over, Aai had to pump the kerosene stove, light a match, and boil a pot of water for tea. I think Aai began to resent tea because we had so many relatives who dropped in at all hours of the day and night. Even though she had made tea hundreds, perhaps thousands of times before, my father, Dada, insisted on issuing precise instructions as to how. Every day his needs varied. Sometimes, he told her to give him only half a cup; other days, he ordered it with lots of milk. I could Somenever figure out if the instructions were issued because Aai was by where along nature inept or if she had bethe way, tea became come inept because he gave her too many instructions. my religion. I began When special visitors to drink a big pot every like Aai’s long-lost brother visited, fancy tea cups, my morning, made with parents’ wedding presents, were pulled out of the glass Dada’s favorite brand, cupboard. This brother, my uncle, was a source of conflict Brooke Bond Red as well. When Aai had been a Label. young working woman in Mumbai, he had kicked her out of his house in the middle of the night. She had survived the catastrophe with sheer wits and charm, but somewhere deep down, a scab had formed in her heart that would never quite heal. So, on the rare occasion that my uncle came to town, Aai shed tears into the tea, as her brother sat in the front room, patronizing Dada. My father nevertheless treated him like a celebrity; my uncle after all was a scientist who had worked in the perfume industry in France and given a talk on the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC). My uncle drank our tea, showed us articles he had written for a magazine called Udyam, or Enterprise, and left, scarcely bothering to inquire after us. And he never apologized for his treatment of Aai. Was it any wonder then that one day, Aai decided to quit tea. It was the day after Independence Day. I was twelve years old, and had attended the flag-raising ceremony at school and given a speech. The next morning, Aai went into the kitchen to make tea, fainted, and crashed on to the floor. I ran and got the doctor, who pronounced that she had suffered a nervous breakdown. When the medicine man was gone, Aai vowed that she would never drink tea again because a neighbor had given her a poisoned cup on that Independence Day. Such was the nature of her illness. Around the time that Aai decided to quit drinking tea, I discovered it. I was tired from studying for an exam one day when Dada offered me a cup. Aai protested that caffeine damaged children’s brains. But in an ultimate act of betrayal, I drank it regardless. My brother Prakash too began to ask for extra-strong tea boiled in a pot the night before 144 | INDIA CURRENTS | July 2013

an exam, even though we normally drank tea British style, with tea leaves steeped in hot water. Soon, I could not live without tea. Perhaps there was a subconscious desire on my part to do the opposite of whatever Aai did; to become contrary to whatever she had become. She always pronounced that I would have to wear glasses because I read too many books; I retorted that books were necessary to maintain one’s sanity. She countered that novels told lies because there were no real people in them; I responded that novels contained the ultimate truth about life. Somewhere along the way, tea became my religion. I began to drink a big pot every morning, made with Dada’s favorite brand, Brooke Bond Red Label. Years later, in California, I began to serve it to American friends who loved it so much that they too began to make the trek to Indian stores. I have had tea served in clay cups on Indian Railways; I have had syrupy tea made with condensed milk served in a plastic bag on a bus in Thailand; I have had it in Tea Rooms in the New Zealand countryside. I have made tea on a camping stove by the side of the highway; I have made it in a bodega in Mexico with an immersion heater dipped into a water-filled Starbucks cup; I have made it in innumerable hotel rooms. I travel with a zip-lock bag of tea wherever I go. Soon, my hosts are hooked too; perhaps it is the joy they see in my face that lures them in. Drinking so much tea is not good for you, people say. I need at least one vice, I reply, and tea is my drug of choice. Many a night I go to bed dreaming of tea. Would I have any incentive to rise, I wonder, but for that heavenly cup of tea waiting for me in the morning. I am not even kidding. I saw a Steve Jobs film recently, titled The Lost Interview. In it, Jobs was asked why he was so attracted to counter culture. People were trying to find the gap, he said, between the humdrum life of earning a living and raising a family and the ephemeral life of the imagination. I am paraphrasing of course but his words brought tears to my eyes. For, listening to Steve Jobs, I realized that the difference between my mother and I was that she did not know how to fill that gap. But even as a young child, I saw the gap and understood the need to fill it with what little I had. Literature filled that gap. So did art and music and film and theater and gardens and birds and travel. The hot cup of Red Label tea every morning is what has made the difference between my fate and that of my mother, I think. For, in that small cup I have seen the universe of possibilities; it has represented for me the ability to find joy in small things; it has been a tool to survive tragedy, disappointment, heartbreak, failure, rejection, and so much more. In a Somerset Maugham’s novel, a woman is served a cup of coffee before being given the news of her child’s death, as the author comments that anything is bearable with a cup of coffee. I feel the same way about tea. I only wish that I could have made Aai understand the importance of that cup of tea; I wish she could have learned to enjoy life’s small pleasures. n Sarita Sarvate writes commentaries for Pacific News Service and KQED. Visit

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July 2013 Northern California Edition  

India Currents Magazine, July 2013 Northern California Edition

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