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Dishing It Out 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 PR and Marketing Manager: Malini Patel (408) 324-0488 x 221 Graphic Designer: Nghia Vuong EDITORIAL BOARD Managing Editor: Vidya Pradhan (408) 324-0488 x 226 Calendar Editor: Nadia Maiwandi (408) 324-0488 x 224 COLUMNISTS Forum: Rameysh Ramdas Films: Aniruddh Chawda Dear Doctor: Alzak Amlani The Last Word: Sarita Sarvate Zeitgeist: Ragini Tharoor Srinivasan Uncubed: Krishna Sadasivam

Last month, a humorous article on one woman’s misadventures in her search for Mr. Right (“Shaadi Dot Kya”) generated a storm of comments online. While it is always gratifying to be able to engage our readers, it was immediately apparent that several commenters wanted to weigh in, not on the issue itself, but on the personal traits of the author. In a short span, the discussion was in danger of being hijacked and diverted to ad hominem attacks and accusations of misandry. Is incivility, engendered by anonymity, merely the norm of online discussions? Or do women bloggers attract particularly vile responses? When Rebecca Watson, founder of the Skepchick website, casually related her discomfort at being approached by a stranger in an elevator late at night, she was called a diva, an attention seeker, and other hateful appellations that cannot find a place in this magazine. Rekha Basu, a columnist at the Des Moines Register, was subjected to such vitriol that she changed her commenting policy to require real names. Even harmless (read: non-provocative) mommy blogger Heather Armstrong received such negative comments that she decided to compile them in an ad-supported site aptly termed “Monetizing the Hate!” Male bloggers and writers like David Yepsen and Nick Coleman agree that they get

Contributors: Jasbina Ahluwalia, Khorshed Alam, Anirvan Chatterjee, Priya Das, Sukanya Dasarathy, Shailaja Dixit, Madhumita Gupta, S. Gopikrishna, Anita Kainthla, Sharmila Mukherjee, Rajesh C. Oza, Jula Pereira, Meera Ramanathan, Shanta Sacharoff, Ranjit Souri, Vivek Wadhwa


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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 95151-1285. Member, MEDIA INDIA GROUP India Currents: Northern & Southern California Khabar Magazine: Atlanta, Ga. 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.

their fair share of attacks, but point out that these attacks are rarely personal. In contrast, blogger Lena Chen classifies her hate mail as body-snarking, vengeful, racist, resentful, and sociopathic (the last segment spewing misogynistic fantasies). I checked out an online forum called, where one male blogger referred to his dates as “Smokey” and “Psycho.” The response? Commiseration and sympathy. When Maureen Dowd, columnist for the New York Times, asked Alan Dundes, a renowned folklorist, about the unwarranted attacks on female writers, he replied, “Women are supposed to take it, not dish it out.” The feminist movement in the United States is nearly half a century old, but women are still significantly underrepresented in traditional media, which means our perspectives are still rarely heard. But the Internet has proved to be a boon to female voices that cannot find mainstream outlets. These new voices may be perceived as a threat to the established patriarchy, which could explain the hatred and sexism. But the numbers are growing and the gravy train of the privileged majority might soon be on its way to be decommissioned. Meanwhile, all comments will be moderated!

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Northern California Edition


Masala Gourmet Celebrity chefs on television have been successfully integrating desi flavors with American cuisine By Priya Das





FORUM: Should California pass the Domestic Workers’ Bill of Rights? Two opinions. By Rameysh Ramdas and S. Gopikrishna


ZEITGEIST: Give and take. By Ragini Tharoor Srinivasan


BUSINESS: The death of open government. By Vivek Wadhwa


PERSONAL ITEMS: The artistic bulge. By Ranjit Souri


TAXATION: Report your overseas financial assets now! By Khorshed Alam


25th ANNIVERSARY SPECIAL: Twenty years of recipes. By Shanta Sacharoff

102 REFLECTIONS: One’s faith needs regular practice. By Shailaja Dixit


THE LAST WORD: A doyen of Indian literature. By Sarita Sarvate


TRAVEL: The Sidis of Murud Janjira. By Anita Kainthla


RECIPES: Fire up the grill! By Meera Ramanathan

112 THE HEALTHY LIFE: Brain-based therapy. By Sukanya Dasarathy 121 DEAR DOCTOR: Alternative therapies. By Alzak Amlani


135 RELATIONSHIP DIVA: Dating tips for the frequent flier. By Jasbina Ahluwalia

Hrithik Roshan talks about his new movie, Zindagi Na Milegi Dobara and where his film choices are taking him


32 Ask a Lawyer 33 Visa Dates 138 Uncubed

EDITORIAL: Dishing it out. By Vidya Pradhan

130 DESI VOICES: Dark and beautiful. By Jula Pereira

Anirvan Chatterjee tackles the subject of climate change in his creative story Lanka is Drowning, which took second place in the Katha 2011 fiction contest




Q&A: Pratima Dharm is the U.S. Army’s first Hindu chaplain. By Vidya Pradhan


BOOKS: Reviews of India Calling and Indian by Choice. By Rajesh C. Oza and Sharmila Mukherjee


MUSIC: CD reviews of Vel and Cinema. By Priya Das


FILMS: Reviews of Zindagi Na Milegi Dobara, Delhi Belly, and Bbuddha Hoga Tera Baap. By Aniruddh Chawda and Madhumita Gupta.



88 Cultural Calendar 103 Spiritual Calendar 125 Classifieds

89 Non-stop Bhangra 92 Afro-Indian Quilt Show 98 Fundraiser by Cricketer Muralitharan india currents • august 2011 • 3



Indians Can Enjoy Both Whiskey and Wine!

I was very happy to see an article about wine in your latest issue (Soma Rising, July 2011) since I do enjoy wine and, living in Northern California, frequent wineries in Napa, Sonoma, Carmel Valley, and Paso Robles. It was very disappointing though, to see a rather amateurish attempt at talking about wine and those who enjoy wines. Right up front, the remarks attributed to Rajat Parr came across as very condescending. Given that he himself is a first generation Indian American, it was rather inappropriate for him to say that first generation Indian Americans only love scotch. This was further reinforced by the owner of Sawkar Vineyards, again, a first generation Indian American. This attitude is wrong and needs to be called out as such. Rather than spending time putting down those who are not into wine, they should have instead spoken of the large number of us first generation Indian Americans who actually do enjoy wine. I also like scotch, whiskey, and rum. Having a preference for one does not preclude enjoying the other! Finally, it is clear that the writer is just learning about wines, since when she talked about Mushal Vineyards, she says that the owner strolls through 14 blocks of orchards; might I remind her that orchards bear fruit of another kind, while vineyards yield wine grapes? Also, she missed a few other significant players in the wine industry in Northern California—Deepak Gulrajani, co-owner of Nicholson Ranch in the Carneros region, Dhruv Khanna (co-founder of Covad Communications) of Kirigin Cellars in Gilroy and Deepak Manair of Diamond Oaks Vineyards (he recently sold this winery, though). Rupi Singh, via email

A Misleading Title to an Informative Article

It is unfortunate that Kalpana Mohan’s informative write up on Indian entrepreneurs in the wine industry of Napa Valley appears under the title of “Soma Rising” (July 2011). She correctly identifies the Vedic references to the elixir of life as “soma” but incorrectly labels it as “intoxicating.” The soma elixir is an extract from a rare lotus variety prepared in a very rigorous and almost ritualistic fashion. It is variously described as non-alcoholic, hallucinatory, rejuvenating and possibly sedating. I take the liberty of providing a reference to a fascinating book Soma: A Divine Hallucinogen by David L. Spess. Kalpana’s article is very informative and

entertaining to read. However, without knowing the acreage under cultivation, volume of sales, marketing sources etc., I wonder if this is still a hobby venture for some deep pocketed Indian expatriates. My palate still maintains a strong bias towards Johnny Walker, Bl and Bombay Sapphire. P.Mahadevan, Fullerton, CA

An Example of Misandry

I’m glad this kind of article (Shaadi Dot Kya, July 2011) gets published, because those with an ounce of intelligence can easily read behind the lines here, and see that we live in a society that goes on and on about how hard women have it, how they have to live up to so many pressures to be sexually attractive but also cultural icons, but no mention is given (especially in this new generation) to the pressures that women put on men—how something silly as plastic on a chair or saying “would you like to hang out” immediately writes you off, and even your own skin color can sometimes be seen as an immediate liability. Misogyny, or hatred towards women, is such a common word that gets thrown around and used ad nauseum. But misandry, hatred against men is almost never heard. Is it because it doesn’t happen as much or is it because acts of misandry are never identified as such? I’d call this article a clear example of misandry (desi misandry, which is all too common unfortunately). Guys Have Feelings Too, online

It’s Sauce For the Gander!

Give a little credit for the guts it took to post this (Shaadi Dot Kya, July 2011). Shallow? Sure. Funny? I thought so. Yes there are pressures on men, but in Indian culture there is so much pressure on women to be pretty, fair, look down, cook, clean, and be submissive that there is really no comparison. I have a friend who is not in the best of shape, dark, and the sweetest girl you could ever know. How many guys of these dating websites do you think scoffed at paying for her dinner, walked out on her on sight, or expected her to do things for them because she was “lucky” enough to be out on a date with them? I’ve heard horrible stories and each more heartbreaking than the others. Has a guy (like me), ever thought about how that might feel if guys were put under that kind of scrutiny instead of girls? It would suck, as the responses clearly show. Man or woman, not giving people a deeper chance beyond superficial impressions is what is wrong. But I’ll give the author the benefit of the doubt on this one and, even if she does

turn out to be very shallow, hopefully this is a good learning experience for her and for the Indian community fortunate enough to see this perspective. No Guts No Glory, online Preeti G.’s article generated a number of comments online. To follow the entire discussion, please check out articles/2011/07/17/shaadi-dot-kya

“Unsavory Cultural Traits” are Very Real

The editorial (Paying Our Dues, June 2011) really laid bare the truth about the “unsavory cultural traits” that have migrated with our community from India. I have also observed these negative behaviors displayed and could not agree with you more. Once when my wife and I were taking a walk in the Evergreen area of San Jose, we noticed that the outside lawn of a house was totally neglected with weeds taking over, untrimmed bushes, etc. We talked to the owner who was from India about the need to keep a neat and clean appearance for the house, and he replied that he was here in the United States only to make money and then return to India. Many of our legal residents sponsor their old parents for a green card and then obtain hundreds of dollars/month/person in Supplementary Security Income (SSI) from the U.S. government, as well as free medical care for them on their “word of honor” that the parents do not have any assets even in India. Instead of taking responsibility for the upkeep of their parents who never worked a single day in the United States, these residents shift the burden on U.S. taxpayers. Not only is this practice shameful, but from a practical standpoint this burden will also be carried by their children and grandchildren. Low-wage earning American workers get a pittance in Social Security after working all their lives whereas non-working foreign migrants get large SSI payments, food stamps, and medical care. The United States is no longer a prosperous nation as it used to be, and cannot afford such largesse on fraudulent claims. Maneck Bhujwala, Huntington Beach, CA

Krishna Was Indeed Mortal

This is in response to the letter from Swami Avdoot (Krishna is Not Mortal, May 2011). If Krishna is immortal He should be living with us now. Hence Krishna was a mortal and the Bhagavad Gita is immortal. Jesus was mortal; the Bible is immortal. Mohammed was mortal; the Koran is immortal. Adi Sankara was mortal; the Baja Govindam is immortal. Gandhi was mortal; his teachings on non-violence are immortal. Ramki Durai, via email india currents • august 2011 • 5

Reform the Hindu Temple

It all began when a member of the Sunnyvale Hindu Temple noticed a patron entering a worship area in the temple with shoes on, a no-no in any Hindu temple. The incident prompted a closer scrutiny of the management of the temple. Some members began looking into the maintenance and upkeep of the temple premises, especially the kitchen, bathrooms, and parking lot. The poor maintenance has been noted by the Hindu temple members for many years but, people have hesitated to approach the management due to apathy. We began a signature campaign in April 2011 to determine how the temple collects and spends the money it gets through donations. This led to an examination of the temple bylaws. While investigating recent changes to the bylaws, we noticed these two particularly troubling new laws: • In the event the corporation has no directors, then those children or lineal descendants of the founding directors who (a) have reached the age of majority, and (b) are either members of Hindu Temple South.. shall be asked to participate in that process ... Those children or lineal descendants … shall become the committee to appoint new Directors … • Founding Directors. The Founding Directors of the corporation are … each of whom has served as a director since the inception of this organization without

6 • india currents • august 2011

interruption and each of whom has provided capital to the organization in excess of twentyfive thousand dollars. These founding directors shall be permanent members of the Board of directors… The bylaws also state that these Founding Directors cannot be removed even if “Said Director has worked contrary to the interests, goals, and objectives of the corporation (section 4.09).” These bylaws appear very detrimental to transparency and accountability in temple management. Also, we have not received any satisfactory explanation from the temples current trustees on how the funds collected so far have been utilized and why the goal of constructing a new temple has been held in abeyance, despite several years of fund raising. We have had no choice but to present our petition, with over 1,100 signatures to the Sunnyvale authorities. A detailed explanation posting the use of temple funds, along with independent audit of all monies received and disbursed would help resolve this issue. We do not want the temple to spend devotee’s donations on lawyers. All we are asking is that the devotees, whether they donated one dollar or a million, ask the temple management for a true accounting. Here are the changes we would like to see going forward: • The temple must adopt bylaws that respects devotees’ beliefs and treats the temple

as a place of worship rather than a business. • There must be transparency in the disposition of temple funds. • There must be a rotation system in management appointments that takes into account the qualifications of the candidates rather than their lineages. The Hindu Temple South Bay Reform Committee ( At the time of going to press, India Currents had not received a response from the Sunnyvale Temple management.

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Does California Need a Domestic Workers Bill of Rights? Rameysh Ramdas

S. Gopikrishna

No, let us not make hiring difficult

Yes, domestic workers are not domesticated animals



he California State Assembly has passed a Domestic Workers Bill of Rights (AB 889) and sent it to the State Senate for consideration. This bill would specially regulate the wages, hours, and working conditions of domestic work employees and would give them the same basic labor-law protections as other California workers. While I do not question the sponsors’ motives, I do question their judgment in passing this unnecessary and ill-advised legislation at this time. In a free market economy such as ours, goods and services should be priced by supply and demand. Any impediment from the government, local or federal, to hiring simply means that fewer jobs will be created. The large employers will take their jobs to anywhere in the world with a more conducive business climate while employers of domestic workers—often the frail and elderly on fixed income—will simply not hire a helper. Instead, many will simply move to assisted care and nursing homes and claim the subsidies from Med-Cal to pay for it, thus transferring the burden to the tax payers and straining the state budget. Also, adding a layer of bureaucracy will do little to stem “underground caregivers” from working with/for homeowners. California has over 4 million seniors, the highest in the nation, 19.2% of whom live on incomes less than the federal poverty level and most of them require assistance with daily living. Home care providers estimate that this bill will raise their costs by 30-40% that will be passed on to the senior citizen customers. Our nation is reeling from large scale unemployment at this time. California leads the pack with a 12% rate that discounts the folks that have stopped looking for work or are making do with seasonal or part time work. This is the time when governments at all levels should be using every lever available to allow every person to compete for every available opportunity for work or trade—from tax breaks and reducing onerous regulation. That is the only way we can dig ourselves out of this recession and restore our economic strength. The best thing to happen to anyone is a paycheck; this bill, however well intentioned, will have the unintended consequence of taking that paycheck away from many workers while hurting our neediest seniors and the disabled. Yes, President Bill Clinton raised the minimum wage in 1996 and still presided over the largest economic expansion in a generation—he was wise to do it on an economic upswing and had an astute ability to raise consumer, employer and corporate confidence. We do not have that luxury today Let Government get out of the way. Let domestic workers keep their jobs and the grandpas and grandmas enjoy their independent freedom of living in their own homes with caring assistants. n

omestic workers fill crucial gaps in modern America by helping accomplish all the things that need to be done but don’t attract mainstream workers—this spans a wide spectrum, ranging from looking after children to seniors. Candidates for such jobs probably realize that such work is not the typical 9-5 job since human relationships work with neither clockwork periodicity nor predictability. However, the fact that they have jobs which may require longer hours on a frequent basis should not make domestic workers vulnerable to abuse and exploitation. Such abuse and exploitation of domestic workers is so common that it may be taken to be the norm. The phenomenon seems to involve pillars of society, as evidenced by the conviction of the Sabnanis of Muttontown, New York, in 2007 for exploiting their Indonesian domestic workers.The horrors inflicted on the poor domestic workers included being beaten with brooms for “stealing” food from garbage bags due to inadequate nutrition. The exploited parties in such cases are no longer domestic workers, they are more like slaves. The profile of domestic workers in California is ideal for exploitation—they may be undocumented, invariably don’t speak English, have no awareness of their rights, and are prepared to do anything not to return or be returned to the pain and poverty of their homelands. They take up the work that nobody else wants, are underpaid when not unpaid, and are systematically exploited physically, emotionally, and psychologically. One wonders what the employers’ incentives are in hiring workers who are untrained and are difficult to communicate with. Wouldn’t hiring a worker to assist seniors involve checking for certification besides a criminal check to see if the candidate has abused vulnerable seniors in the past? The only way of making sense of hiring a person whose lack of qualification confronts the employer is the potential for economic exploitation. Arguments about allowing market forces to “set” wages in such situations are euphemisms that make exploitation legal and acceptable; there is an incentive to be abusive. The Bill of Rights actually works towards the employers’ advantage by allowing them to set qualifications and minimum standards for employment in exchange for a decent wage. Lastly, the proof of such laws is in the pudding—the skies have not crashed in New York state which passed a similar law in 2010. One doesn’t hear about the exploitation of au pairs because their rights are protected under federal law. The Bill of Rights introduces much needed legislation and levels the ground between employers and employee. It should be applauded and upheld for preventing the reduction of domestic workers to domesticated animals.n

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

Toronto based S.Gopikrishna writes on issues of importance to Indians.

This bill, however well intentioned, will have the unintended consequence of taking a paycheck away from many workers.

8 • india currents • august 2011

Arguments about allowing market forces to “set” wages in such situations are euphemisms that make exploitation legal.



Ragini Tharoor Srinivasan

Give and Take


Photo Credit: Project Hotsauce

ne of the striking aspects of E.M. Forster’s A Passage to India is that his Indian “natives” are characterized by their repeated acts of strained and naïve generosity. Strained and naïve, I say, because their gestures are more self-effacing than selfless, childlike but not considered. Take, for instance, Dr. Aziz’s removal of his own collar stud to give it to Mr. Fielding. “Not if you’re wearing it yourself,” Fielding protests. “No, no, one in my pocket,” comes the lie from Aziz, who then wrenches off his own collar and removes the gold stud that was gifted to him by his brother-in-law. Later in the novel, Aziz plays host to two English ladies, taking them via train for an elaborate picnic in the Marabar Caves. In order to host them, he spends the entire preceding night in the train station, borrows money and servants from friends, and incurs the wrath of his boss. Yet this is how Forster imagines Aziz’s take on the event: “[Aziz] had been allowed to show courtesy to visitors from another country, which is what all Indians long to do…Hospitality had been achieved, they were ‘his’ guests; his honour was involved in their happiness, and any discomfort they endured would tear his own soul.” Forster pointedly (and patronizingly) exaggerates Aziz’s desire to extend his hospitality, but the irony is not lost on the reader. The individual Indian goes to considerable lengths to play host to individual Brits, while as a group the British are uninvited guests in India—guests of the worst kind: domineering ones, who have made themselves at home and refuse to leave. What, then, was Forster trying to say about Indian hospitality? Is Aziz a slavish mimic man whose self-image requires the approval of an Englishman? Does he give out of a desire for power, for the satisfaction that the colonist is enjoying something in his possession? Or are his acts of generosity driven by a simple desire to feel … competent? What does the Indian expect in return? As children, our earliest lessons are arguably in the politics and conventions of giving and receiving, the coded languages of “please” and “thank you.” Over time, certain norms are ingrained in us. Their absence in others is deplorable, evidence of poor rearing, or a deliber-

ate effort to slight someone. My brother and I learned early that you never go to anyone’s home empty handed. A container borrowed should never be returned empty, but with something inside it—even if just fruit. Birthdays always warrant gifts. Thank you’s must always be timely. And my mother’s cardinal rule: never question an impulse to give, to be generous. I think about that a lot when I find myself battling my inner curmudgeon: “Why take the $20 bottle when they serve $5 wine?”; “Why buy the tickets when you already paid for the dinner?”; “Why give a gift when ___ never does?” I haven’t the space to delve deeply into the dynamics and regulations of the gift economy. Scores of social scientists have written on this subject, including Jonathan Parry’s famous work on “the Indian gift.” I am simply interested here in the stories we tell ourselves about why and how we give and receive. What does the achievement of hospitality do for the giver? How do we receive what is given to us, and how does the identity of the giver condition our stance in reception? Sometimes, we give in an effort to equalize a relationship within which we have previously received much. We give out of feelings of obligation to those who have done something for us or our loved ones. We give to kin we are bound to by familial expectation. We give out of love and on whims; we give in bursts of generosity or to spread our good fortune. In our lesser moments, we give to draw attention to ourselves. We give because everyone else is doing it. We give because we feel we have to. And although we have all been cautioned that true giving means giving without expectation of receiving, we give because we want something back. She gives to be liked. He gives to look good. Of course, it gets more complicated. We grow wary of the friend who gives too much or too often. A gift given in ill-spirit or with undue expectation may need to be returned. Even the most well-intentioned hosts grow cranky when guests overstay their welcome. We re-gift gifts we don’t want. And who isn’t guilty of looking some gift horse or the other in the mouth? Then there’s the fact that some givers do not wish to be recognized for what they have given; recognition and thanks only creates awkwardness in the face of a natural gesture. My grandmother loves to surprise her grandchildren with our favorite foods and treats, but she positively squirms when we thank her. “What thank you, what thank you,” she shakes her head in annoyance. “You don’t say thanks for all these things.” American that I am, I’ve noted with curiosity the Indian injunction to perform, not speak, one’s gratitude. My grandfather, too, used to laugh at what he saw as the superficial British politesse of “sorry, sorry,” and “thank you, thank you.” You are sorry. You act thankful. You don’t say those things. Which brings me back to Aziz, his gold stud, and his hospitality, which I’ve been thinking about as I write a not-insignificant number of thank you cards to my own wedding guests and gift givers. Suddenly Aziz seems less naïve and more noble, giving what he had in the hope of establishing some relation for the future: He never questioned the impulse to be generous. He did not doubt the worth of the recipient. He did the best he could. n Ragini Tharoor Srinivasan is a Ph.D. student in the Department of Rhetoric at the University of California, Berkeley.

10 • india currents • august 2011

Photo Credit: La Catholique

Masala Gourmet

Celebrity chefs bring an Indian twist to American cuisine


By Priya Das

he history of any society, be it contained within a country’s borders or in the transitory settling of a people, can be traced by its culinary development. Indian culture and cuisine have matured over several centuries; assimilating foreign elements whenever they needed to. Staple desi favorites such as chilies are said to have come from Portugal; the Punjabi tandoor is from Afghanistan; even some of the “Indian” spices, such as asafetida, come from the Arabs. What defines these “foreign” elements as Indian is the adoption by Indians not just within India, but to wherever Indians go. For centuries America, too, has been assimilating immigrants and their culture; and the multi-rooted cohesiveness of settled Americans has in turn, continually asserted its own stamp. Several different cultural legacies can be traced by just browsing through a menu at any American diner. Consider the quintessential hamburger: it’s origins can be traced to the popularity enjoyed by a patty made of minced meat in Europe in the 18th century. New York City harbor eateries featured this dish in an attempt to attract German sailors. In time it was widely adopted by Americans, who added the bun and the onions. This is why it is interesting to see the emergence of desi food culture in the United States. What will happen when the cuisines of these two diverse societies meet at the corner of Main and Union? When will a desi-influenced dish become an American holiday tradition like the English pie? 12 • india currents • august 2011


ne can say that a beginning has been made; Chef Vikas Khanna has been invited to the White House, and has been voted hottest chef in New York City, the gourmet capital of the United States. Diplomatic circles aside, things seem to be spicing up in America’s homes too—desi chefs are now gaining celebrity status, by winning over food critics and peers on televised contests and shows. More importantly, their use of accepted culinary and gourmet practices and ingredients makes for an easier crossover. Viewers and chef-peers alike can understand what desi cooking is all about, instead of having an isolated experience of mysterious delicacies at niche gourmet Indian restaurants. To be mainstream, a cuisine must seem doable to a regular Joe or Jane. Weekly appearances on TV by these desi chefs endears the Indian cuisine by peer and critical acclaim and demystifies it by letting regular Americans look over their chef-tunic-adorned shoulders. Where does one find turmeric? And how much do you use in the boiled lentils? These celebrity chefs answer these very questions. With style, charm, grit, integrity, and creativity, they are slowly taking the flavors of India to American homes.


hief among the celebrities is Floyd Cardoz, who battled it out week after week with other chefs on the televised Bravo Channel show, Top Chef. His final competitors came from mainstreamed cuisines—one had a modern Mexican culinary background, the other French-Californian. Each chef has an impressive culinary resume. Chef Cardoz himself was executive chef at New York’s famous Tabla restaurant, which was known for its “American Food With An Indian Soul.” In spite of the race against time in every round, Cardoz personified style and quality by his dogged attention to flavor. He almost missed prepping for the menu in his final round because he refused to give up on seeking out the right ingredients. It underscores his approach to cooking: “I believe some of the blame for the un-gourmet-like perception of Indian cooking is with us Indi-

Floyd Cardoz

ans. Restaurant owners try and keep the food cheap, by using the cheapest ingredients. I have never understood why that is so, since everybody in India has memories of their mum or dad haggling with the neighborhood vendor to provide the best quality produce or meat. Why, then, do something different when you open a restaurant?” Cardoz also doesn’t understand why a menu must be fabricated, when the locals want to just get a taste of India. One of the first tasks he undertook at his first job in a desi restaurant in the United States was to strike down one such incredible dish, Chicken Marango, a dish made with chicken and ripe alphonso mangoes. “Who tries that in India?” he asks. For him, staying true to the ingredients is foremost in creating a recipe. His flair for Indian techniques and spices works the rest of the magic. For example, a Cardoz recipe suggests marinating a hanger steak (a smaller piece of flesh that hangs from the diaphragm of the cow) in a blended mix of coriander and mustard seeds among others, to retain the rich flavor of the meat while adding an Indian twist. His recipes enable Americans anywhere to spice up their everyday dishes using supermarket items.


arti Sequeira, one-time contestant and now Food Network Star, hosts her own show, Aarti Party, on the network. A focus group participant during the contest owned up to feeling as if Sequeira was a friend showing how to cook Indian, such was her charm. Chef Sequeira’s secret does indeed seem to be the warmth she exudes on camera, and into the potential yumminess of her recipes. She breaks through the diehard will-notgive-up-my-American-comfort-food barrier by simply adopting American or gourmet dishes and making them Asian, such as fried green tomatoes and the raw vegetable soup, gazpacho. For

Suvir Saran

the former, she recommends a cumin tadka, excuse me, “finishing oil;” and uses lychee fruit in the latter. With a typical girly flourish she says, “Lychees taste like the color pink.” And in those simple words, she has gently demystified unknown, daunting flavors. Roshni Mansukhani-Gurnani, champion of Food Network’s show Chopped, showed, during the contest, that a menu can be desified in 30 minutes or less. Chopped is famous for its mystery and unlikely ingredients. In one round, Mansukhani-Gurnani combined mandatory ingredients duck breast, persimmon, and polenta into a Curry Duck Breast With Ginger Polenta Salad.


he trick seems to be in understanding the ingredients and developing an instinct for pairing them up, like the patty in a bun that became the hamburger. Making a successful marriage of Indian cuisine and American ingredients seems to be the key to achieving red, white and blue success. This is brought home also by contestant on Food Network’s Top Chef and judge on their Iron Chef series, Suvir Saran. Chef Saran is cofounder of American Masala, the name for his culinary philosophy, book, and farm, all representing the best in Indian and American cooking. A testament to this is a cocktail served at Devi, the NY restaurant where Saran is executive chef—Cilantro Tonic is a combination of vodka or gin, tonic, and cilantro (coriander leaves). He also boldly experiments with strictly desi ingredients; a lunch item on the menu is kathal (jackfruit) biryani. Saran’s contribution to change in America’s neighborhood culinary scene is not just via TV. In 2008, he was one among the panel of gourmet chefs chosen by UC Berkeley to get the students eating in their cafeteria. In a piece in the SF Chronicle, student Christopher Hogue, a doctoral candidate in mechanical engineering from Ohio said, “I was a meat-and-potatoes Midwest kind of guy. Now naan and dal is my comfort food. It’s the California equivalent of mashed potatoes and gravy.” india currents • august 2011 • 13

hat kind of training makes a gourmet chef? What enabled these desis to change perspectives? Interestingly, most got a solid start in India. Says Chef Maneet Chauhan, executive chef at Vermillion (Chicago and New York), Food Network’s Iron Chef contestant, and Chopped judge, “When it was time for me to choose a path to being chef, the institute in Manipal came up tops in Hotel Management, so I trained there first. The training in India is rigorous, and we follow the same textbooks based on the French Gastronomique as other countries. Working in five-star hotels in India also provided me great exposure to international ingredients and recipes; you get to work with the finest international ingredients. I was astonished to see fresh [vegetable and fruit] purees from New Zealand!” She was hired on campus by the Taj Group, but wanted to study some more. The Culinary Institute of America (CIA) beckoned, and she landed at her sister’s place in Chicago in 2000. She remembers, “When I got here, my sister was incredulous that I would only ask to visit produce markets, when all other visitors from India would make a beeline for the malls … At the CIA, the emphasis on knowing your ingredients is allconsuming—a class on product identification taught us the look, taste, smell, and ways of treating 15 different apples.”


hite House guest chef and Amritsar-born Vikas Khanna graduated out of the WelcomGroup Institute in India, and continued on to study at the Culinary Institute of America, Cornell University, New York University, and the prestigious Le Cordon Bleu, Paris. In addition, he has worked with some of the most honored chefs in America, and now is executive chef at Junoon in New York. He has appeared on shows on NBC, ABC, and Fox. Martha Stewart Vikas Khanna

: Jonatha n Gregson


Authentic Anjum

Meet the host of BBC’s Indian Food Made Easy television series, Anjum Anand. Her latest book is called I Love Curry. “My approach to Indian food is flavour without too much fuss or fat.” The no-fuss style is mirrored in her culinary background as well; Anand has had no formal training, and is self and family taught. Her influences include her mother’s cooking, and father’s drive and work ethic. Anand’s website and fourth book, Eat Right For Your Body Type emphasizes another inspiration—the benefits of adopting Ayurveda and how food is key to good health. Anand definitely believes in making every day cooking Anjum comforting by bringing back authentic and simple techAnand niques; she frequently uses the mortar-pestle on TV to grind up spices, for example. Anand experimented with business school at first, but then decided it was better to make a career out of something she loved—cooking—rather than spending her life working for a pay check and waiting for the weekend. “My family were surprised by my decision; cooking was not considered a ‘respectable’ career,” she shares. For the future, she is working on a range of sauces under the brand name The Spice Tailor, due to come out in the United Kingdom this summer. In keeping with her healthy attitude to cooking, her next cookbook will be about vegetarian Indian recipes.

Photo Cre dit

The Chronicle went on to claim that “…the improved food at Cal Dining … is broadening the palates and perspectives of the country’s future leaders.”

considers his cooking “exquisite and unusual.” Khanna considers his time in his grandmother’s kitchen as part of the foundational training. Being born with misaligned legs, he could not join his peers outdoors, so he spent a lot of time in the kitchen with his grandmother. In a blog he writes, “Before preparing every meal my grandmother had a cup of tea and thought through everything she would be making before she started. I later came to understand that this technique is called visualization. When it gets hectic at Junoon, I try to remember her technique.” Mansukhani-Gurnani was born and raised on Sindhi food in Canada. She developed a flair for presenting early on, watching the Urban Peasant cooking show in Canada. She says, “Watching this show I would find myself in my kitchen at home cooking and talking to the walls pretending that they are my audience.” Cardoz credits his European education with

rounding off his culinary skills, in addition to his degree in Hotel Management. “After graduation in Mumbai, social life was difficult, my hours weren’t conducive to partying, besides, nobody wanted to hang out with a cook!” Switzerland was where he was accorded respect, where he could settle into his profession. He started cooking in his apartment, rolling out dough with a wine bottle to make chapatis (the flat unleavened bread that is the staple of the Indian home cook). Soon word spread, and “I had a decent clientele!” he says. His journey to the United States was not to earn further experience; it was to be at his brother’s wedding while he waited for his Australian paperwork. As fate would have it, the paperwork got delayed, and he decided to give the United States a try. After some time at an Indian restaurant, he caught a break at the St. Regis, where he manned every station in the kitchen, starting with three months at the salad station, followed by stations dealing with hot appetizers, vegetables, protein (fish and meat), roasting, and sauces before moving on to becoming chef de cuisine. “I don’t have an ego, and am not afraid of hard work,” he comments.


iven the 16-18 hour days on their feet, in hot and humid conditions while under pressure to please discerning palates, hours in front of the camera, and days of experimenting to come up with gourmet-recipes, how do these chefs keep up their energy? Cardoz finds the flavors from his childhood inspirational. One of the dishes responsible for Cardoz’s win on Top Chef is the humble upma, a savory semolina pudding, which he would eat when he got home from school in Mumbai (the chef’s upma was made with kokum, coconut milk, and wild mushrooms). He knew he wanted to be a chef the day his dad took him to a big hotel in Mumbai for a sit-down dinner, with several forks and knives. That was when food became an india currents • august 2011 • 15

16 • india currents • august 2011

Aarti Sequeira

other fused dishes, a salad of shaved beef and curry flavored vermicelli. Vermillion is popular also for its fusion Thanksgiving meal, attracting regulars every year. The holiday menu appears on desi steroids: cumin-star anise turkey stuffed with rice and lentils, cranberry chutney laced with panch puran (Bengali blend of five herb/spice seeds) and greens, sarson da saag (Indian mustard), served with pumpkin empanadas. While Chauhan is proud of the how far her clientele has come along the spice road, she laments those that walk in asking for the “curry powder”—many Americans still believe there is one magic concoction that makes a curry.


experience for young Cardoz. Chauhan too attributes her love of food to her childhood memories. She grew up in Ranchi in eastern India, where the multi-regional neighborhood literally whetted her appetite. “I would go to the next-door aunties and tell them, feed me!” confesses Chauhan, talking about her delight at the various different tastes she got to experience at such a young age. Her mettle was tested when she had to sponsor her own education at the CIA. “I didn’t have financial aid at the beginning so I had to get creative. Culinary school is not cheap, especially for immigrants. On weekends, I volunteered to help chefs do events and demos, so I didn’t have to worry about meals. I acted as a tour guide to get coupons to the bookstore. I also was dorm manager in return for certain free privileges.” Chauhan graduated top of her class and in all award-categories.


here does this courage of conviction come from? Is it not daunting for an immigrant to represent a not-yet-perceived-tobe-gourmet cuisine on TV? Sequeira admits to feeling that her knowledge of desi cooking didn’t amount to much in the early days of the contest (Food Network Star). “I felt out-matched by the professional cooks. Desi cooking was so ingrained in me that I felt like I had nothing worth offering.” Sequeira took to cooking as a creative outlet only when jobs weren’t easy to come by after her move to Los Angeles in 2004. She started to recreate childhood recipes, but kept feeling that “making lasagna seemed easier, the ingredients were all available, and I could pick up the recipe from anywhere.” This gap between what she wanted to do and what she could easily access got her experimenting, and she began hosting her own shows on YouTube. It took a while for her to realize that her knowledge of spices and Indian techniques, while seeming meager to her, was still more than what others knew. “I’d wanted a career in journalism, I wanted

to change people’s lives. Now, I achieve change by touching the lives of so many people through my show.” Chef Khanna is spiritually charged and devotes a large portion of his energies in the service of people. One of his programs, called Cooking For Life gets top chefs from the world over to collaborate on gastronomic events to raise money and awareness for different causes around the world. His documentary series, Holy Kitchens, captures the essence of food within the context of religion, tying it up with the real world experience of sharing food (trailers are at ). His invitation to the White House is due in part to his spiritual bent; his food will be featured at the Hindu American Seva Conference to be held there. In a similar vein of keeping it true, Junoon’s menu reflects ancient Indian techniques such as cooking in the handi (pot), tandoor (clay oven), patthar (stones), tawa (cast iron utensils), and sigri (an open pit fire). Chauhan has a different muse, and takes on fusion cuisine with a flair, saying, “Vermillion is unabashedly bold, we celebrate spices; at the same time, fusion is dear to me. I’m inspired by everything, every day, and by everybody.” Her Indian-Latin American menu features among

Roshni Mansukhani-Gurnani

efore taking on a spice-challenged clientele and televised contests though, some of these chefs had to take on their families. Like in a typical desi family, MansukhaniGurnani’s decision to not pursue medicine or law for a career was met with disdain. “You are crazy and confused,” is the reaction I got from everybody”, she says. “I’ve wanted to be a cook even before I knew of chefs. When I was a teen, I worked in a restaurant clearing tables and serving coffee. One Sunday, the kitchen was backed up and my boss asked me to help out. I spent my whole eight-hour shift peeling potatoes. It was then I realized I belong in the kitchen.” She did do a two year stint towards a Bachelors of Business, but then headed for Culinary Institute of Canada. Winning the Chopped title was for her a personal victory, a vindication. Mansukhani-Gurnani is now an executive chef consultant in Boston and aims to promote non-mainstream professions among traditional cultures. She certainly has chosen the right cuisine at the right time! The United States food scene seems to be going through an India-themed Woodstock, and like those Flower Power days, when Pandits Zakir Hussain and Ravi Shankar among others, were infusing ragas into American melodies, Chefs Cardoz, Chauhan, Khanna, Mansukhani-Gurnani, Saran, and Sequeira are starting to hold America in a delicious “Spice Vise.” We seem to be on the cusp of it becoming convention to sport turmeric and curry leaves alongside rosemary and thyme in Main Street kitchens. These pioneering chefs have chosen to adopt fine regional ingredients but stayed true to an Indian flavor profile; have dared to authenticate and amplify desi food; have taken Indian dishes through the gourmet-culinary grinder, thus delectably ambushing everyday American palates. Who knows, maybe McDonalds will import their McAloo Tikki from India to the United States due to popular demand.n Priya Das is a marketer with an interest in tracking grass-roots change in society and niche markets. india currents • august 2011 • 17

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Vivek Wadhwa

The Death of Open Government Vivek Kundra’s departure from government does not bode well for


ivek Kundra’s resignation last week from his post as the nation’s Chief Information Officer is an ominous event. Kundra’s goal was to set government data free via an expansive Internet effort called, and encourage innovation with government-collected data through the Open Government Initiative. He had hoped to slash tens of billions of dollars from the government information technology budget by democratizing who and which types of companies can deliver IT solutions to the government. The most radical part of his program was to make public data available to entrepreneurs, allowing them to build new applications that solved problems for the government and their communities. The program was off to a great start, with hundreds of thousands of data sets becoming available, and entrepreneurs building thousands of innovative applications. Then the ill-considered race to slash the federal deficit started. The Obama administration agreed to cut e-government initiative funding from $35 million to $8 million. Never mind that Kundra’s programs had already saved taxpayers $3 billion over the past two years. Not surprisingly, Kundra resigned. Why preside over a portfolio of shuttered initiatives? In a phone interview, Kundra acknowledged that he is worried about the program’s funding, but told me that he believes that the open data initiative has so much momentum that it is unstoppable, echoing the sentiment issued in his formal statement that he is “confident progress will continue.” But, with Kundra gone, I am not optimistic about the program. Whenever a program loses its key evangelist, it normally dies. The Open Government Initiative is likely to suffer a slow, inevitable death. We may live in the richest nation on Earth, but most government agencies and large corporations still process their missioncritical transactions on ’60s-era legacy systems that were designed for machines with less processing power than an iPhone. And they’re more expensive. The IT systems for these mainframes typically took years to build and cost millions of dollars—and that doesn’t include the hundreds of millions more we spend to maintain them. Today, software developers can churn out more sophisticated applications for thousands—not millions—of dollars. So, while grandma flips through photo albums on her 22 • india currents • august 2011

iPad and watches streaming videos from Netflix, our government relies on cumbersome web-based systems that function by tricking mainframes into thinking that they are connected to cathode ray tube (CRT) terminals. The problem is catching very prominent attention. When President Obama could not get a late-model Blackberry, he complained that the U.S. government was 30 years behind when it comes to technology. But, while he may have noticed and pushed for reforms in the early part of his administration, President Obama certainly has not made a priority of advocating for Kundra and his laudable goals. In January 2010, I issued a challenge to Silicon Valley to bid on a rewrite of an unemployment benefits check-processing system that the California government had budgeted $50 million just to maintain. I was met with a hail of criticism from government IT contractors who claimed that complying with government mandates for security was complicated and that their experience best positioned them to keep the government’s systems humming. A senior vice president of one of these firms went so far as to call me “naïve” and to say that I should not “kick something” that I “know absolutely squat about.” Meanwhile, half a dozen Silicon Valley entrepreneurs with deep domain experience came forward. They all believed they could build a better government IT system for a mere fraction of the annual operating

Vivek Kundra

costs—as low as $1 million. A year later, no one has taken these entrepreneurs up on their offer, even as California prepares for a draconian round of budget cuts that will hammer poor children and the education system. Meanwhile, featured on the home page of the is a picture of a cupcake with two lit candles and the festive words “Happy 2nd Anniversary,” It’s a hollow celebration marking the gutting of a rare win–win scenario that resulted, while it lasted, in both less spending and better government.n Vivek Wadhwa is an entrepreneur turned academic. You can follow him on Twitter at @vwadhwa and find his research at

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india currents • august 2011 • 29



Vidya Pradhan

A Calling for Seva

Pratima Dharm is the first Hindu chaplain in the U.S. Army


ratima Dharm is the chaplain to the 1000 or so Hindus in the U.S. Army. She earned her commission in 2006 and did a tour of duty in Iraq before returning to the United States to serve at the Walter Reed Army Medical Center. You immigrated to the United States about 10 years ago and then decided to study at a seminary. What made you study theology? I have always been interested in religion and theology. In India, however, education is geared towards a career. In those days studying [theology] as a field was not available. I would go out of my way to work in temples and join associations in churches. The point of it all was seva (service), and how you apply the doctrine of seva in the scriptures, whether it be the Bible or the Gita, into real life situations. When I was 9 or 10, I started a program in my school to educate poor children. When I was 14 I came to Bombay to study psychology and continued my social work. How comfortable were you with studying in a Christian seminary in the United States? I was comfortable enough because I had studied in a convent school and had been exposed to Christianity. We went to the chapel [at school]. I had many Christian friends who would participate in our festivals and we would go carol singing during Christmas. As far as the teachings of Jesus are concerned, it’s not very different from [what we learn as Hindus]. That is why Gandhiji was very drawn to Christianity. He would always keep a Bible on his table next to the Gita. [The seminary stint] was an opportunity to exchange ideas. These [Christian] beliefs were actually very complementary. Jesus stresses so much about love in the Bible. That is not so very different from what our scriptures have to say. I tend to concentrate on Jesus’ message of peace and love. Of course there are other social and cultural factors in play, and the different denominations that have sprung out of cultural and religious traditions. What did you family think about your choice? My parents have been about doing the right thing. They knew that this path that I was exploring brought me peace. My family has always been very supportive. Though they come from very traditional backgrounds, they’ve broken barriers of their 30 • india currents • august 2011

own, like dowry. When my dad got married to my mom 55 years ago, he refused to take dowry because he followed the teachings of Gandhi. My nanaji (maternal grandfather) was a Gandhian too. For the benefit of our readers who are not familiar with what a chaplain does, can you tell us what the job involves? We are there to ensure that all soldiers get an opportunity to exercise their right to express their religious thought. There are soldiers of all faiths in the military, and the chaplains are there to make sure they do so without any hindrance. Part of my job is to hold worship services. As a Hindu chaplain I hold Hindu worship services, scriptural studies, yoga classes. I also do a lot of suicide prevention classes. We have had a lot of PTSD issues because of the wars the United States has been involved in, to the point where suicide prevention has become a necessity in the military way of life. When you first joined the army you were endorsed by the Pentecostal church. What does that mean? As a chaplain you need an endorsement. [Editor’s note: Ecclesiastical endorsement is the Church’s affirmation that a person in chaplaincy is performing (or will perform) a valid ministry.] Some of the basic requirements are that you need to have completed a seminary degree, you need to have completed a certain number of credit hours. We go through different exams, we turn in papers, we get interviewed. It is a very lengthy process that can last up to three years. Didn’t you need to be a Christian to represent the Pentecostal church? You have to be a Christian. You have to go through the entire process of baptism and ordination. I went through that. Then they had a process that took five years of training; I studied Hebrew, did Jewish studies. I studied the Old Testament, the New Testament, languages [like Greek and Latin] and other spiritual studies. Hinduism is not a subject that is tackled in the seminary. When you enter the seminary it is a very different world. [But] it was a very positive experience for me. It added to what I already believed in. My background is in the Sanatan Dharma, the Vedas, the Shrutis, the Puranas, the Gita. My parents raised me very traditionally, but I was also given the freedom to explore and seek the Truth.

How did the endorsement from the Chinmaya Mission come about? Did this happen after you returned from your tour of duty in Iraq? No, I returned from my tour of duty in 2008. Chinmaya Mission happened in May 2011. When I was stationed in DC in 2010, after a stint in Georgia, I came in contact with the Chinmaya Mission. I had been exposed to them as a student in Bombay. I met their members here, some of whom had served in the army. In May they interviewed me and found me a suitable candidate [to be a Hindu chaplain]. Were they looking for a Hindu chaplain? No, I approached them. Why did you want to change the chaplaincy at this point? I wanted to return to the place I belong. My journey brought me here. Emotionally and spiritually, mainly spiritually, I came to a place of peace and balance and felt I needed to go back to my roots. Do Hindu scriptures support this kind of position? Is there any historical or cultural precedent for the role of a chaplain? The word chaplain does not exist but to me the role is more important—what we bring to the job, what services we perform. As I look at it, seva is part of my role, no matter what I do. When I am taking on the role of a teacher, where I am educating my soldiers about the value of life, I am dipping into my scriptural knowledge, and also Christian or Jewish traditions. My main focus is service and we have enough examples of that in the Hindu tradition. When I get up in the morning and go to Walter Reed and work with soldiers who have lost their limbs in an IED blast, the theme and the intent I take to them is my own integrity, my own honesty that I am there for them fully. That situation is very sacred and those things are present in every [religious] tradition. Now that you are a Hindu chaplain, have your duties changed in any way? Not at all, except I do Hindu services now. I believe that there is one God and I worship

Him. Our deities are different; for me it is Krishna, for some it may be Rama or Jesus, or Allah. I was raised to believe we must honor everybody, however they choose to believe. What I love about Hinduism is that it such a broad religion, a way of life. It is not an organized religion where unless you go to the temple you are not connected to God. What kind of questions do you get asked by the people you serve? What do they come to you for? They come to us for individual counseling based on individual issues. We also do a lot of marital counseling, relationship counseling. The issues can be really universal. Of course, having studied different religions, it has given me a broader window into a person’s perspective, a better understanding of who they are and where they are coming from. I only suggest, ultimately it is their choice. As a Hindu chaplain, do you only counsel Hindus? [I counsel] everyone. And that is true of any Christian, or Muslim, Jewish, or Buddhist chaplain. You are not restricted to any one religion then. Not at all. Unless there is a worship service going on. [Though] it is not uncommon for Christians, or Buddhists, or Muslims, or anyone to sit in a service that is not of their religion. In the military way of life, we may be of different religions but we have so much opportunity to interact that we are a team first. I have had so many Christians wanting to be a part of Hindu services, scriptural studies, or yoga. I delve into the meditative aspect of yoga, the part that has to do with the emotional and spiritual side of a person. Given the polytheistic nature of Hinduism, have you had any sort of backlash from members of other faiths? I don’t look at Hinduism as a polytheistic religion. I would be one of the first persons to challenge this. We have lots of deities that have been allowed at a later Vedic period to enter the Hindu way of life. That is, if you are interested in making Krishna your focus, then do so. If your [object of devotion] is Santoshi Ma, then make her yours. But God is one, and that’s there in the Vedas. When Westerners came to India the message they took back is that Indians worship many gods. Allowing many deities to exist is comforting to us. For a Hindu it is not a big deal. For the Westerner it is heretical, pagan. When I read the Shrutis, it is very clear to me that Hinduism also has one God, that we call the Brahman or the Ultimate Truth. In the Jewish tradition that would be Yahweh, in Islam it’s Allah. Most Indians don’t think twice about it. We get up in the morning, we say a prayer to our [specific] God, but we know that [our prayer] is going to the Ultimate Truth. You left for your tour of duty in Iraq when your younger daughter was very young. She was four-and-a-half months!

How did you bring yourself to leave her? I put a stone on my heart. It was a very, very difficult thing to do. But I believe in performing my duty. I am a Rajput and when we give our word to somebody, we keep it. And I gave my pledge of allegiance to this country and my sense of being a citizen is to give back to the country. Didn’t you have a choice, though, on whether to serve or not? Yes, I did have a choice. [But] to me the main motivation was what a great opportunity it was to serve such a great nation. I truly believe in the American Constitution. It is one of the finest pieces of writing. And the way this country chose freedom and justice and equality is commendable. I have benefited so much from this country. How has your family dealt with your moving around? They have been a pillar of strength. I couldn’t have done it without my mom. My children are really connected to her. She has helped me, no questions asked. I just handed my whole house to her and went off to war. Have they been in one place the entire time you have been in the Army? They have moved with me. They have moved five times in five years! I am so glad for my husband, who is Indian, but surprisingly supportive! My inspiration is the strong, powerful women I came across in Bombay in my formative years. Having a husband who understands that I am a strong, independent woman helps a lot. Could you share a memorable experience from your job? Oh, there were so many! When I landed in Iraq, my battlefield circulation took me to Kurdistan. The people there lived in the mountains and they had gone through a lot of wars that had created political instability and poverty. So I started clothing drives. Once I provided 300 flutes to a school. They were ecstatic and seeing that joy [was indescribable]. So many things came out of these humanitarian missions. I was invited to speak at a Roman Catholic church there. This church is believed is to be as old as the church in Rome. It has 10,000 members and I had arranged to supply their community a lot of food and water. This was in a town called Zhako. Because of the humanitarian mission I had a 7-8 month-old relationship with the community. These people look upon Indians very favorably. We were at a service when the priest called me from the audience to come up and preach. I was extremely touched but very hesitant because their customs are very different. I had covered my hair out of respect for their tradition and had asked all the women soldiers to do the same. He said, “Preach from John 6: 50-54 ‘Jesus is the bread of life.’” And I did. And he translated it into Kurdish and Aramaic, one of the oldest languages in the region. I think the people stayed out of curiosity

Preaching at the church in Zhako

to hear a woman preacher. But once I started speaking they listened keenly. I went into the history of the Kurdish people, connected it to their lives and that seemed to touch them. It is just wonderful to experience other cultures and their approaches to God. Hinduism also teaches us to respect other religions and not become dogmatic. Your name is so suited to the profession! I know! I got the name from my husband. His name is Dharmendran Rajendran and in their family the wife takes the husband’s first name. I was so happy to take his name because [Dharmendran] does mean “one who lives by the faith.” I chopped his name because a lot of people couldn’t pronounce it. When I became a citizen, I was allowed to change my name at the end of the process. When the officer offered me the option I excused myself for a few minutes and went outside to get my husband’s permission to shorten it; after all, it was his name! I said, “I hope you won’t be offended because the first five letters still retain the meaning of the name.” And he was kind enough to say “Go ahead.” It seems so prophetic now that your name aligns so well with what you do. I see what you’re saying because Chinmaya Mission also noticed it. And my first name, Pratima, means “Image of God.” My father gave me this name and I was called “Ma” throughout my childhood. I have always had a leaning towards God. I believe this name has come from Him and He is behind every part of my life. I have just submitted to Him. That’s all there is to it. Without Him I wouldn’t be a chaplain. He comes first in my life, Before my children, before my husband, before my parents, it is my God. n Chaplain Dharm has been awarded the Bronze Star Medal, Army Commendation Medal, National Defense Service Medal, Iraq Campaign Medal, and the Global War On Terrorism Service Medal. india currents • august 2011 • 31

I C ask a lawyer

Madan Ahluwalia

Spousal Support What factors determine the amount?


pousal support is a term used to define the dollar amount a spouse will have to pay on a monthly basis to the other spouse after a divorce. Such a support amount can be paid during the divorce proceedings as well. Spousal support can be temporary, for a fixed term, or dependent upon a contingency or event. Parties can come to an agreement on spousal support at any time. A spouse desiring spousal support has to make a request for such spousal support. It is not automatically granted. The court considers several factors based on guidelines provided in the Family Code. Family Code is the codified law enacted by the State of California and deals with issues surrounding Dissolution of Marriage (aka divorce), Parentage issues, Child Support and other related issues. Several factors determine the award of spousal support and are too many to list in this discussion. However, some of the main ones are: length of the marriage, income earn-

32 • india currents • august 2011

ing capability of the parties, age and health of the parties, history of violence, tax burden of support on parties, number of children and which party has the custody of the child(ren), need of the parties, etc. Two of the biggest factors which guide and dictate spousal support are: (1) length of the marriage and (2) children related factors such as number of children, age of children, effect of separation of parents on lifestyle, child support being ordered, etc. Typically, the longer the length of marriage, the longer the spousal support period is. The goal of spousal support is that the supported party shall be self-supporting within a reasonable period of time. The two parties’ respective assets and liabilities, before and after the divorce, also play a considerable role. “Need” includes more than “bare necessities of life.” But Family Code expressly states well-established case law that “need” must also be judged in terms of the parties’ station in life during marriage

and before separation. However, a spousal support order must be consistent with the supporting spouse’s ability to pay as determined by his or her circumstances at the time of the support hearing i.e. the obligor’s present (not past or future) circumstances (current income/cash flow, assets, earning capacity, etc.). Sometimes, one spouse may give up a high paying job to be able to declare an inability to pay spousal support. Whether the act is intentional or not, is a question of fact. However in such a situation, the court can impute a certain level of income to the nonworking spouse in the exercise of discretion. In such a situation, multiple and repeated requests might have to be made to obtain spousal support. And that is what makes the divorces expensive and toxic.n Madan Ahluwalia, Esq is a California attorney. He can be reached at (408) 416-3149. His website is



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August 2011


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india currents • august 2011 • 33



Lanka is Drowning!


anka was finally drowning. At the worst possible time. Prime Minister Rama was in the middle of a press conference about Ayodhya’s upcoming Olympic bid, when a voice squawked in his ear with the news. He kept smiling. Maybe they wouldn’t notice. “Sir, how will Ayodhya respond to the Lankan crisis?” “Sir, will this affect Ayodhya’s climate policy?” “Sir, does this increase the risk of Asura suicide bombings on Ayodhyan soil?” Rama put on his caring face. “Ayodhyans stand with the Lankan people during their hour of need. We are very concerned about sea level rise in low-lying Lanka, and I have already assigned General Hanuman to be my point person to monitor the situation, and ensure that Ayodhya is doing all it can to help.” He switched to his serious face. “To the people of Lanka, I want you to know that when natural disasters strike, we are always ready to help. In return, we ask you to reject the terror tactics that have given your once-peaceful land a bad name. Thank you.

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34 • india currents • august 2011

My thoughts are with the Lankan people.” He closed his eyes, murmured a prayer, and walked off stage. Rama switched on the news on the way home. Scenes of devastation from the lowlying island nation. The ticker below read: “Rising tides consume 30% of Lanka: Rama demands end to terror.” Damn damn damn. That was exactly the opposite of the caring tone he’d been meaning to convey. He hated speaking off the cuff on issues like this. Where was Sita when he needed her? She did caring so much better than him, and audiences lapped it up. She was due to return that evening from yet another state visit to Kishkindha, where she was inaugurating the new Ayodhyan military base. Sita, with her film star looks, was much more popular in Kishkindha than President Sugriva’s caretaker government, so the embassy tried to have her fly out as often as possible. Rama glanced up. There she was on TV, knee deep in water, hugging a crying Asura mother and child. The heading ran “Ayodhya’s response: Sita on the scene.” A clutch of microphones were stuck in her face. She was visibly shaken. “Coastal areas are drowning faster than rescue crews can evacuate them. We knew this would happen. We’ve failed Lanka.” The camera wobbled, recovered. “We need to cut emissions, accept Lankan climate refugees. Ayodhya will do everything it can. We can’t have this happen again. No more Lankas.” Tensions ran high at the cabinet meeting the next morning. “What is this ‘no more Lankas’ business?” demanded finance minister Bharata. “There will be ten, hundred, a lakh more Lankas. Surely Sita-bhabi isn’t proposing that we bring growth rates down to zero for a generation just to save a few island states and coastal regions.” He paused. “This isn’t very responsible, with the climate talks coming up.” Rama sighed. This wasn’t the first time that Sita’s big mouth had gotten him in trouble with the man who held the purse strings. She was a farmer’s daughter, not the kind of girl the eldest of the Raghu clan was likely to end up marrying. But party leaders were full of praise when he proposed to his secret college girlfriend. Her chatty and direct approach helped soften Rama’s image going into elections,


Anirvan Chatterjee

Katha 2011 Second Place Winner humanizing the heir apparent of Ayodhya’s leading political family. He won the election by a landslide with Sita at his side. But Sita kept on going after the election, making expensive public pledges left and right: crop insurance for farmers, restrictions on moneylenders, homes for earthquake victims. Every new budget-busting promise ended the same way: Sita repentant, Rama frustrated, and Bharata left furiously tweaking budget numbers. Things improved after Rama had his brother Lakshmana doing fulltime Sita-handling duty, but she’d managed to escape her minder yesterday, taking the first flight out from Kishkindha to Lanka as soon as she heard the news. “Don’t worry,” Rama assured his team. “We’ll work through this.”


ita had never felt more tired. She’d been up for 20 hours: flying to Kishkindha, watching the news, giving Lakshmana the slip, flying to Lanka, and getting out to the coastal zone, where she accompanied the stream of homeless Asuras trudging inland, hounded by press the entire way. She felt that she would pass out, but didn’t have any of her assistants to ask for help. She managed to flag down a passing police car. A few minutes later, a wide-eyed officer was rushing her off to the Ayodhyan embassy, but they couldn’t get anywhere near it, because of the huge crowd of asylum seekers surrounding the building. She grew agitated. “Can you take me to Ravana?” she asked the officer. The car sped away toward the Presidential Palace. As she was being buzzed in, she heard the din of voices from the refugee encampment in the park across the street. General Ravana was nicer than he looked, dressed in full Asura warrior regalia, including the traditional horned headgear that could get one stopped at airports the world over. Yet he’d invited her into his situation room, where he was taking reports. Sita sat off to the side, trying not to fall asleep. The evacuation effort was going largely as planned, explained the home minister. Emergency stockpiles had not been situated in the right places, and the military had to step in to help. The situation was peaceful now, but might deteriorate. Lanka might lose substantially more land mass in the days ahead if coastal defenses failed. Ravana turned to Sita. “Why are you here?” She opened her drooping eyes.




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them back to drown?” “Mass migration? Do you want to condemn Asuras to life as perpetual second class citizens? Outsiders subject to eternal suspicion?” “Not second-class citizens, Ravana. Advocates. Truth-tellers. Would you prefer that Lanka become a fairy tale, some mythological land remembered only by old women? You’ll go to the conference, won’t you? For Lanka?” “Who will accept Asuras? Ayodhya? You know perfectly well how they demonize us.” Sita remained silent. “Sita, we’ve had a stressful day. Why don’t you come join me in my quarters?” She glared daggers at him. Ravana rose, sat down again, and finally called an attendant, asking him to show Sita to a guest room. She followed, and found herself in an ornate bedroom. She slammed the door shut, locked it, and finally blocked it with a chair for good measure. Then she finally breathed. As Sita lay in bed, she thought of everything she’d seen that day. The look on the refugees’ faces. The dire predictions of future loss. Ravana’s passion for Lanka. She remembered what they said about Asura men. And then slept. Photo C redit: N isho Aru

I saw the rising waters, I had to come.” She tried to recollect her thoughts, but Ravana interrupted. “Of course I appreciate your being here—it’s the only reason the media’s covering us. What does the situation look like from the field?” Sita was awake now. “Things are miserable. One of the families I walked with got separated from their youngest son on the road, and the army men wouldn’t let them stop to look. I saw an old man die on the way. The refugees I talked to are tired, hungry, angry. If they have relatives in town, they’re staying with them, but many of the families don’t have anybody to turn to.” She paused, and caught her breath. “I’ve been seeing emergency services teams around the city, but they’re not getting where they need to be quickly enough. I’m particularly worried about the elders. They’re having a hard time getting evacuated, and slowing things down. If more coastal regions drown, families need to start getting evacuation orders earlier to give them more time to prepare.” Sita was trembling. “I never quite believed this could happen.” “Five thousand years of Asura civilization, and we may not survive as a nation past next week,” said Ravana deliberatively. “We’ve begged and pleaded with industrialized and industrializing nations, but we were consistently ignored. You can talk all you want about Ayodhya’s Rama-rajya, but it was Ayodhya that led the charge to scuttle the global agreement. We’re not sitting around waiting for your aid. It’s your Rama, back at home, who’s the problem.” “But why the terrorism,” interjected Sita. “Blowing up oil tankers or factories doesn’t win you friends. Any child knows that. Go to the climate talks. Dialogue is the only thing that can ever work.” Ravana replied, “You said something on TV about ‘no more Lankas.’ We believe the same. We may be the first to go, but rising seas will affect low-lying areas the world over unless we act. Lanka has many friends. Can you blame them for trying to slow down the rising tide?” His face hardened. “What choice do we have left? Can you expect the young Asura men you saw today to accept the destruction of their homes? We’ve tried rocking the boat, but it’s the whole ship that needs to be taken down.” Asked Sita, “What does that mean? Do you expect every citizen of Lanka to become a terrorist? Lanka’s shrinking. Where will the Asura people go?” “Some of us will join the climate resistance. Others will drown. We will drown, but we won’t leave. Lanka is our home. It may not mean much to your climate negotiators, but to us, Lanka is swarga.” “Have you seen the state of the refugees? I have. Do you mean to condemn women, children, elders to drown? They’re already victims. Why make it even worse? I’ve seen the lines outside the Ayodhyan embassy. People want to get out. Will you be the one to forcibly hold


ama boarded the plane with his laptop, along with a stack of briefing papers and cuttings. He was tired of making edits to his opening speech for the new climate talks; he’d been given a plum primetime spot, but things had suddenly gotten so complicated. He started flipping through the cuttings. “’No More Lankas’ Surprise” warned an Ayodhya business journal. “Sita’s Lankan Fling,” announced a local paper; the accompanying photo showed Ravana and Sita sitting next to each other at a press conference. “TREASON?” read the headline in the opposition paper. There was more. A foreign newsweekly had a picture of Sita on the cover, holding a refugee Asura child: “Sita in Lanka: Human Rights Hits the Climate Talks.” An international paper lauded “No More Lankas: Ayodhya’s New Climate Strategy,” while an editorial in a typically unfriendly overseas paper derided “Sita’s Lankan Photo-Op: Same Policies, Better Marketing.” He looked up. There was Ravana, sitting three rows ahead. Suddenly first class felt too crowded; he should fire his assistant. Rama’s father had told him to always Do the Right Thing, but things must have been easier for a national leader in a simpler time. Greater moral clarity and all that. Or perhaps not. He remembered the complications his father had to deal with around succession issues. Politics was brutal. Sometime he felt like giving it all

up, just to avoid having to continuously disappoint people he cared about. Dharma was a bitch. Someone was walking up the aisle; Ravana was heading his way, the twin horns of his headgear bobbing up and down. Rama feigned sleep. When the plane arrived, Rama was quickly whisked away into a waiting limo. He’d made some major edits to his speech, and finally felt good about it. Bharata might not approve, but he knew what he had to do. Several police cars joined his vehicle as they progressed toward the conference center. He heard chanting outside, and saw a flurry of signs. As the car approached the building, Rama saw a large group of Asuras in horned headgear. “No More Lankas,” several signs read. A young woman silently clutched a hand-lettered poster: “Sita speaks for me.” Rama turned away. Where the hell was Sita? He’d waited day after day, but she hadn’t left Lanka. When they spoke on the phone, she kept asking him for time. She always had one more press conference. One more emergency. One more day. He’d feel better if she’d just come out and tell him what to do about Ayodhya’s climate position, but when he finally asked about it, she just broke down. “Haven’t you been listening? You’re the prime minister. You have all the facts. You’ve always had all the facts.” Sita may have been speaking for the young girl on the street, but she had stopped speaking to her husband. Rama’s car stopped inside the conference center perimeter, surrounded by a thick ring of guards. He found his way to the main hall; he’d arrived just in time. Rama was seated with delegates and leaders from several other South Asian nations, but Ravana wasn’t there. In fact, the entire Lankan block lay empty. Half an hour of boring introductions, and it was finally time for his rewritten opening speech. Lanka was still missing.


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“Welcome, friends. We are in a time of shared crisis, and Ayodhya is finally ready to take responsibility, as we should have in the past.” A few claps from the audience. Overhead, appeared an image of a forlorn Asura child. “When disaster struck our friends in Lanka last week, Ayodhya jumped into action. My wife Sita is there now, leading rescue efforts. The Lankan delegation apparently couldn’t be with us today, but it’s up to all of us to speak on their behalf. We’re proud to report that Ayodhya is responding on every front.” Overhead, an image appeared of a group of Ayodhyan children wearing matching green t-shirts. “Ayodhya’s schools are rolling out the greenest curriculum ever.” Next, an image of smiling Ayodhyans in suits. “Our top industrialists are partnering with environmental NGOs, voluntarily going green. In Ayodhya, we believe caring for the planet never has to conflict with profits.” Rama’s speech was being televised outside on huge screens outside the convention center. A massive multi-hued crowd jostled in front of the security line. Extra police had been stationed outside after an attempted breach in event security. The protesters’ chants and cries grew louder as Rama spoke: “NO MORE LANKAS. NO MORE LANKAS. NO MORE LANKAS. NO MORE LANKAS.” Near the front of the crowd, a lone man in horned headgear fought his way to the front and tried to call out to the guards, only to be

38 • india currents • august 2011

roughly shoved back. He emerged elsewhere in the crowd, and pushed his way forward again. Behind him had gathered other Asuras. Inside, above Rama’s head, appeared a massive image of Sita. Rama beamed. “I’m so proud to announce the launch of the Sita Global Fund, to help victims of climate change. The people of Lanka will be the first recipients. Ayodhya will send every citizen of Lanka a bucket, to help impacted communities adapt to changing conditions. Ayodhya has made its bold commitment to the people of Lanka. Who will join us?” Wild cheers and claps from the Ayodhyan delegation. Rama stood at the podium, soaking up the love. Outside the building, chaos reigned. “Hornheads!” Panicked security guards teargassed a large cluster of Asuras. As the crowd backed up, one man kept walking toward the entrance, his voice drowned out by screams. He tried to fish a badge out of his pocket, but it was too late. A volley of rifle fire. Ravana fell. Rama spent the day in meetings and headlined the green business summit that night. He checked in with Bharata, who was, for once, pleased with his performance. Jet lag struck, and he fell asleep in his clothes. Rama was woken up by a call in the middle of the night. A familiar voice. “I’ll drown if I need to, but I’m never coming back.” Click. The leader of Ayodhya lay in his bed staring at the ceiling, trying to make sense of it all.n

Author’s Note: This story was written after the Copenhagen climate conference as I was interviewing climate activists in Bangladesh and India, the two most climate-vulnerable nations in the world over the coming 30 years. The Ramayana is a timeless story of crisis and statecraft, and I enjoyed seeing the characters find their way into a contemporary South Asia. The interviews that inspired this story are at 3EULLe3zU42lQ/ . Judges’ comments: Shilpa Agarwal: The timeless characters of Rama, Sita, and Ravana are evoked within a modern, political crisis which sheds light on the complexity of their humanity. Rama is not all virtuous. Ravana is not a demon. But most humorous and moving of all is Sita: not at all the dutiful, obedient wife we know, but a compassionate, fearless “big mouth” who is not afraid to stand up for what is right. Ronica Dhar: I loved the gesture this story makes: to take an old, old story and modernize it in such a way that it sheds light on both the original setting and the new one is a great challenge. This story succeeds in that effort. Anirvan Chatterjee is a techie and entrepreneur from Berkeley, California. He spent 2009-2010 documenting the work of climate justice activists and policy analysts across Asia and Europe as part of the Year of No Flying project.

india currents • august 2011 • 39



Rajesh C. Oza

A Layered Subversion INDIA CALLING by Anand Giridharadas. Times Books, Henry Holt, 2011. 273 pages. $25.


ndia Calling is written in the voice of the prodigal son returning home. It serves as a bookend to An Area of Darkness, V. S. Naipaul’s extended, homecoming screed from 1964. Though the two books share a common thematic structure, their Indias are different, as are their authors’ responses to these Indias. Indeed, if Naipaul’s India was a dark, exhausting, and chaotic world in a feudal state of postcolonial decay, Anand Giridharadas’ India is a modern, hopeful world with a transformational light at the end of the tunnel. While on tour to promote India Calling, Giridharadas spoke at Stanford University to discuss topics ranging from the book, the writer’s life, life in India, and lives of IndianAmericans. Prior to his work as a columnist for the New York Times and the International Herald Tribune, Giridharadas began his career at McKinsey & Company. Although he is presently a doctoral candidate at Harvard University, there is little academic jargon in his highly accessible book. The power of Giridharadas’ writing stems from his peeling back layers of assumptions— assumptions about India and about his own familial relationship with the subcontinent. Using what anthropologists call “emic” or “local” knowledge available only to cultural insiders, Giridharadas jumps into Indian life and allows Indians to enter into his life. While acknowledging the work of scholars such as Sudhir Kakar and A. K. Ramanujan, he challenges himself beyond received knowledge by meeting Indians ranging from Mukesh Ambani, one of the wealthiest men on earth, to Ravindra Misal, an entrepreneur who has transcended his low-caste origins. What results is a profoundly moving narrative of an oft-wounded civilization that is now alive with possibility. Because of the importance of India’s arrival on the modern stage and because of how magnificently Giridharadas conveys the dilemmas of this arrival, this reviewer reached out to the author for an interview in January 2011. The good news is that India Calling, which merits a wide reading, is doing well, and thus its author has been much in demand. Unfortunately, this also means that Giridharadas was unavailable for a meaningful dialogue. He suggested he would be available for a brief phone conversation to clarify things, if needed, and asked if it would be possible for me to get as much as possible from the book 40 • india currents • august 2011

itself. Of course it would. In the days before writers were celebrities guffawing with Jon Stewart on “The Daily Show” or playing literary tennis with Charlie Rose on PBS, the books spoke for themselves. What follows is a subset of questions sent to Giridharadas via email.

Congratulations on India Calling. In listening to you speak about the book with the Stanford students, I sensed a self-awareness that perhaps came out of what you called your “encounter with India.” How has living these past several years in India changed you? To return to India in this way, as the son of those who had left, was to know dizzying change—and change as much in the seer as in the seen. My vocation was to witness, with supposed detachment, the spectacle of an old country turning new. But I could not pretend to be so detached. India’s new realities were undoing not only India’s old realities, but also the old facsimiles of reality in my mind and in the minds of many others in the world. And how about the experience of writing the book? Has that had a palpable impact on you? To see India clearly would require an excavation of my own buried imaginings, and

a sifting of what had endured from what had withered and pivoted in new ways. Tom Friedman, your colleague at the New York Times, explained that Nandan Nilekani had given him the idea for the theme and title of The World is Flat. What or who informed the title of India Calling? It can be read in a layered way, with many meanings. What does the title mean to you? It was strange that now I had come to reinvent myself in, of all places, India [to find my calling]… At first, India had felt alien to me: alien in its crowds and strange phraseology, alien in its probing of my native place, alien in its lack of enthusiasm for my arrival. My old lenses were still in place—India the exhausting, difficult country—and so I saw only what I had always seen. In fact, working at McKinsey shielded me from India’s hardships, and I sensed after a time that this was part of the problem. Working in business, I was prancing on the surface of things, not going below and confronting what had fascinated, angered, and humiliated me about India all these years. Writing would turn out to be a worthier mode of confrontation ... I was not sorry to say good-bye to consulting. Your mother’s family came from Punjab. Your father is from Tamil Nadu. You grew up in Shaker Heights, Ohio. After these many years in India, where is home now? What does “desh” mean to you? Like so many Indians today, this book is bound to no one place. It was written in Bombay, Goa, Maryland, Massachusetts, and Colombia. In this new world, it is people, not places, that anchor you. In India Calling you blend a personal voice with that of so-called objective reportage, giving the book the feeling of a memoir. There are many moments where you conflate the personal and the objective. One extended section has you comparing and contrasting your maternal grandfather (Nanu) and Dhirubhai Ambani. [The Ambani family approach to business] was not business as my grandfather thought of business. It was a no-holds-barred, bottom-up approach that refused to accept “no,” that defied the stuffy Anglicized stickler for rules, that put human relationships above everything: commerce as it was played on the streets, not as a parlor game. Congratulations on your recent engagement. You wrote a sweet piece about evolving traditions that range from the old-world Hindu family blessing the engagement to the newworld lovebirds’ engagement ring marking commitment. The punch line involved the online community in the emerging world requiring a change in your Facebook status to make the engagement official. What’s lost and what’s gained in this blended world? A certain subversive idea is flowering in India: the idea of romantic love, love without context and without the considerations of

family and tribe. The parent-child relationship had traditionally overwhelmed the husbandwife bond. ... Love would creep into marriage late in the game, a love built on habit and need and the accumulation of a shared past. But it was not romantic love, love that arrests the heart, love that makes life’s burdens dissipate away, love that shrinks the world down to the vital truth staring at you from across the valley of your pillows. A longing for twoness is now asserting itself in India. Back in 2007 Ed Luce wrote a wonderful book called In Spite of the Gods: The Strange Rise of Modern India. I assume you’ve read it. The title of my review of that book was “Wondering About India: Palimpsest or Pentimento?” So, do you believe that India is a palimpsest, a layering of old, religious ways onto the new? Do tradition and modernity coexist like a grandparent and grandchild in an extended family? But this is India, and there was always a layer below the layer below the layer. If a seeming prudery masked a new promiscuity, that promiscuity in turn masked something else: an enduring devotion by the young and modern to filial piety, an enduring belief that the future, however drug- and drink-laced, must be woven into the tapestry of the past… And so the young Indians I know manifest the Indian tendency to face change and its choices with a philosophy of “both-and,” not ‘either-or.’ (From Luce, whose praise is on the book’s dust jacket: “India Calling is for those who prefer the view from the ground than from thirty thousand feet.”) While you certainly have your own distinctive voice, there are echoes of V. S. Naipaul. Indeed, you extend Naipaul’s “million mutinies now” theme. What debt does your writing owe to this Nobel Laureate? For many Indians, it was not the village betters who had reined them in, who had deprived them and the world of the fullness of themselves. It was, rather, the colonial stain, that residual longing to be someone apart from yourself [a theme that has informed Naipaul’s books and his life] ... Millions of Indians strove to learn English, but fewer and fewer strove to be English ... At first, I had seen India … through other lenses. I had seen a country frozen in my youth, and then returned to see it bursting with energy. I had seen the new cult of the self and new faith in self-making. I had seen, alongside this flowering of self-confidence, a new cultural confidence in the ascent of the uncolonized Indian. And all of this, in different ways, suggested an Indian awakening, after the darkness in which India had lurked in my imagination. n For RCO’s daughter, Anupama, who has responded to India’s calling with her own calling by teaching at Shanti Bhavan: Ek din (one day) there will be educational equity in this world.

Sharmila Mukherjee

Anachronism By Choice INDIAN BY CHOICE by Amit Dasgupta. Wisdom Tree. Paperback. 139 pages. $19.95.


remember reading the following lines in Chetan Bhagat’s national bestseller, One Night @ the Call Center: “Remember … the brain and IQ of a 35-year-old American is the same as the brain of a ten-year-old Indian … America is stupid, just accept it,” and staring at them incredulously. Was this kind of crude anti-Americanism, where an entire culture’s IQ is reduced to a formulaic stereotype, for real? Then I recalled that Indian mass-cultural products, especially Bollywood, have abounded in stereotypes of the decadent “white” world, shown to be full of greedy, family-valueless, sexually permissive men and women (remember Subhash Ghai’s Pardes?) against whom the true Indian defines herself as traditional, pious, and sexually conservative. But of late, coinciding perhaps with the shrill narrative of India’s ascendancy in the globe as a superpower nation of the near-future, the attack has become especially crude and aimed at a particular part of white-America’s social body—its brain, the seat of its intelligence. In the patriotic fares of filmmaker Manoj Kumar, we were told that white folks are immoral; today, an youth icon of a brashly confident nation tells us that white folks are “stupid,” moronic enough to be blind to the fact that they are a spent force in the world while India is the emergent one. While the “white moron” remains invisible in Bhagat’s novel, present only as a digitized voice of America screaming racial epithets at Indian customer service operators in a call center in Gurgaon, in writer/diplomat Dasgupta’s graphic novel Indian by Choice, he appears in person, in the guise of Mandy, the young hero of the novel. Technically, Mandy is not “white;” he is a second-generation Indian, born and raised in Chicago, and one assumes that his parents are immigrants from the “brain-drain” era. Mandy, however, has seemingly imbibed all of the moronic traits that are ascribed with routine mindlessness to Americans by writers who relish stereotyping. Dasgupta makes no effort to differentiate between Mandy’s Indian-Americanness and Americanness; Mandy is “as American as they come—hot dogs, French fries, baseball, and the love of all things American, especially blonde.” Stereotypes happen when artists seek to represent other cultures, not

through a direct and dynamic experience of them, but through second-hand knowledge. Perhaps Dasgupta’s idea of life in contemporary urban America is mediated by Bollywood? The stereotype of the putative “America” is brazenly perpetuated throughout the novel and Mandy is reduced to being a blubbering mouth piece for Dasgupta’s comically anachronistic vision of the cultural potpourri that is today’s Chicago. When Mandy goes to India to attend a family wedding in New Delhi, he takes a tour of the famous Jawaharlal Nehru University; he meets politically conscious students on campus and tells them that on American campuses students typically are apolitical as they worry about “when the next game is going to be, when should we have our next dance get together … Politics? That’s not a student thing, I’d say.” This is not a case of anachronism, but sheer ignorance and misrepresentation, for who can deny the role that American campuses have traditionally played in shaping political events? Dasgupta recreates his unsuspecting hero in the mold of the “ugly American” that in European writing of the 1930s through the 70s would walk imperiously into foreign lands as a tourist, throw his weight around and annoy the natives with his preconceived notions of people and place. So, predictably we find Mandy expressing shock at his cousin’s

india currents • august 2011 • 41

arranged marriage. He is all for “love” marriage, and—I wasn’t expecting this from a 21st-century Indian American youth—even asks his cousin if his marriage has been prearranged since he was a child. Child marriage? Even a Texan redneck wouldn’t think of that, let alone an urbane Indian American kid who probably attends an elite school in Chicago and mingles with a diverse crowd! What next? Questions about sati? From the moment Mandy boards an Air India flight from Chicago to New Delhi, he is constantly badgered about his name. Why not his Punjabi Indian name Mandeep, he is asked and his choice of an Americanized name is made fun of and judged. Mandy insists that he is happy in his Mandy skin, and nothing he says, does, or thinks in the novel, suggests otherwise. But the writer, who also operates as a propagandist of sorts in his novel—dwelling on the virtues of Indianness (of a strictly Dasgupta kind) and the vices of Indian Americanness—has decided very early on that Mandy is a bad name for an Indian American, for it signifies a betrayal of the Indian’s root culture and heritage; for as long as the hero remains Mandy he risks being chastised by the “real” Indians who choose to reside in India and choose to embrace their Indianness proudly. Dasgupta is in no mood to deprive Mandy of a freedom of choice and abandon his hero to his hapless American fate; he decides to rescue him. The crux of the novel’s rather pe-


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dantically crafted events is the story of the hero’s conversion from Mandy to Mandeep. The conversion takes place as Mandy experiences India first-hand and realizes that his mind was full of nonsensical notions of an India derived from biased Western representations of it. The real, 21st-century India is modern, powerful, rich, diverse and full of a history of a magnificent past and a promising future. At the end of the novel, with his mind brimming with this new knowledge of what it means to be a true/real Indian at home or abroad, our hero takes his flight back to Chicago and introduces himself as “Mandeep” to his fellow passengers, a Mandeep who lives in India and is on his way to visiting America. More nuanced, a reader is tempted to say, are the hero/heroine’s identity conversions in a Karan Johar mass-market flick. But that’s understandable, as one deeply suspects that schlock director Karan Johar could have been one of Dasgupta’s muses in his novelistic enterprise on identities. Indian by Choice undertakes to perform a most difficult task of defining “identity,” something that is as slippery as an eel. He simplifies the task by presuming that identity is something that is fixed and there exist, in the Dasguptan world, two types of identities: an original (good) one and a derivative (bad) one. Mandy while he was living in the skin of Mandy was living the

Dasgupta presumes that identity is something that is fixed and there exist, in his world, two types of identities: an original (good) one and a derivative (bad) one. derivative life of a wannabe American, while upon converting to Mandeep he begins to live his authentic/original life. The bad white moron thus wisely chooses to revert back to the good, smart Indian. In the 21st century when living a “hyphenated” identity—Indian American or Chinese American or African American or even something as local as Nuyorican—is considered to be a prized/privileged existence, one that is hybrid and always in exciting flux, always in the process of being formed and reformed, Dasgupta, instead of choosing to celebrate its complexity, chooses to castigate such hyphenated existence as counterfeit. His is an anachronism by choice. n Sharmila Mukherjee teaches Writing and Literature at New York University and practices girth-control during her spare time.



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personal items

Ranjit Souri

The Battle of the Artistic Bulge


few months ago, a fellow comedian asked me to perform a set at his CD release party. I declined the offer, giving some vague reason. In fact, I was scared to do the gig. I was unpleasantly surprised at the fear that his offer evoked in me, and at my succumbing to said fear. In fact, I was slightly ashamed. What kind of comedian is afraid to perform comedy?


had spent the last dozen years doing ensemble musical comedy. I had performed on stages all over the country, plus every weekend in Chicago for the past eight years. I had also done solo comedy, but I had stopped performing solo about a year before. And now, even though I was still performing with my ensemble every weekend, I was so far removed from solo work that I was now afraid to do it. I was out of shape. My comedic muscles had atrophied and, now, they languished under the fat of disuse.


aving struggled with weight problems for years, I made a connection here. This moment—of realizing that I was now afraid to perform solo comedy—was like that moment (every few years, unfortunately) when I am at my highest weight and inadvertently catch a glimpse of myself in a mirror (inadvertently, since I avoid looking in the mirror when I’m very overweight). That moment often serves as a turning point for a renewed effort towards physical fitness.

I resolved to get back into performing solo comedy and get myself back into artistic shape. I made a plan to write 10 jokes every day, and tweet one of them as my “Joke of the Day.” I started in November, and I am still doing it; so I have now written thousands of jokes in the past few months. I will include a few of them scattered throughout this essay. • The Indian buffet is a great place to pick up chick peas. • My relationship advice costs nothing. And it’s worth it. • Never under-estimate the power of the hyphen. For example, in a chicken coop, the chickens are basically slaves. But in a chicken co-op, the chickens jointly own the property.


teach classes in sketch-comedy writing, and one idea I espouse in my classes is “three inequalities that will increase your creativity.” Here they are: 1. PROCESS > PRODUCT 2. QUANTITY > QUALITY 3. PERSISTENCE > TALENT In each pair, the first item is something that you (as an artist) have control over, and the second item is something that you do not have control over. So the basic idea is, focus on what you can control, not what you cannot. I cannot control the product or the quality—in other words, I cannot sit at my desk and decide to write a great joke and then do it. But I can control the process and the quantity—in other words, I can sit at my desk and decide to write 10 jokes. Probably most of them will be duds, but there’s a decent chance that one or two of them will be good. Similarly, I cannot control my level of talent, but I can control my level of persistence. • As a teenager I signed a multiple-album deal with Columbia Records. They sent me 12 albums for a penny. • My worst nightmare at a party is a white guy who knows a lot about India. • Inconceivably, the pregnancy test turned out negative.

I 44 • india currents • august 2011

n my previous solo comedy forays, I had focused on musical

comedy—playing the piano and guitar and singing songs. I had achieved some success with that, and had worked up to performing 30-minute sets at several venues in Chicago. But anytime I’d tried to do traditional standup comedy—just me and a microphone, with no instruments and no singing—I’d bombed nightmarishly. So now, as I wrote jokes every day, I resolved not only to get back into doing solo comedy, but also to push myself to do traditional stand-up. I started taking a stand-up class, putting jokes together in routines, and getting out to open mics to practice doing comedy without music. • I have a friend who attended Occidental College. She didn’t mean to. • The Olympic rings are a Venn diagram on steroids. • I went to a reverse psychologist. He wouldn’t stop blabbing; but hey, I made 90 bucks.


n this new endeavor to work on non-musical stand-up comedy, I have still experienced my fair share of bombings—including one open mic at which I did so terribly that the host of the show spent several minutes immediately after my set berating me (in jest but …) from the stage. However, I have also tasted a bit of success, including a 10-minute set that went swimmingly. You know how when you’re at a grocery store and they are giving out free samples of some food and no matter what it is it tastes amazing? Having a bit of success as a standup comic is the same way. In a small amount, it tastes amazing. I want more of it. Admittedly, with the food-sample situation, often when you take the food home and eat some more of it, it doesn’t seem to taste quite as good. I suspect that that’s where the analogy fails—I suspect that larger amounts of success in stand-up comedy are proportionately just as satisfying. I hope to find out. • After much reflection, I have decided to clean my mirror. • My doctor said that I need to start watching what I moisturize with. So I’ve switched to I Can’t Believe It’s Not Body Butter. • I was telling a squirrel about his lunch, but he was in a hurry so he asked me to put it in a nutshell.n Ranjit Souri lives in Chicago.

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o any U.S. taxpayers with bank accounts in other countries outside the United States, who are wondering if they need to report it to the U.S. government, the answer is yes. Similar to reporting of foreign income, the IRS requires taxpayers to report foreign bank or investment account information if the aggregate balance of the taxpayer’s financial accounts exceeds $10,000 at any time during the year, irrespective of the source of the funds. A person who holds a foreign financial account may have a reporting obligation even though the account produces no taxable income. If a person in the United States has a financial interest in or signature authority over a foreign financial account, including a bank account, brokerage account, mutual fund, trust, or other type of foreign financial account, the Bank Secrecy Act requires them to report the account yearly to the Internal Revenue Service by filing a form TDF 90-22.1, known as the Report of Foreign Bank and Financial Accounts (FBAR). The form must be filed by June 30th of each year for information pertaining to the previous year (for example all information relating to 2010 must be filed by June 30, 2011) and no extensions apply. A “person in the United States” generally means a citizen or resident of the United States; it is not only limited to individual taxpayers but also includes partnerships and corporations. If the total value in all of the foreign accounts in which a taxpayer have an ownership and/or interest (even if it’s authoritative rather than financial) reaches $10,000 or more at any point in the calendar year, the taxpayer will need to file an FBAR as mentioned above. That applies even if the taxpayer has been faithfully reporting the income on his/her federal income tax return and even if they have never, ever repatriated a single dollar to the United States. The FBAR is required because foreign financial institutions may not be subject to the same reporting requirements as domestic financial institutions; although global banks are being asked to disclose U.S. accounts that are held overseas by U.S. persons. The FBAR is a tool to help the United States government identify persons who may be using foreign financial accounts to circumvent U.S. law. Investigators use FBARs to help identify or trace funds used for illicit purposes or to identify unreported income maintained 46 • india currents • august 2011

or generated abroad. The FBAR is a tool used to collect basic information on financial accounts overseas where a U.S. person has control over them— whether it is because they have signature authority on the account or because they can exercise control over them. The form is sent directly to the Department of the Treasury, separate from the taxpayer’s annual income tax return for the same year. Although commonly misinterpreted as a form that goes along with and makes part of your yearly tax return. It is an informational return only, meaning it will have no information on the filer’s tax liability. Even if a taxpayer filed an extension for his/her personal returns, he/she must file the FBAR (TDF 90-22.1) on time. Late filing may result in the taxpayer being subject to a penalty, unless otherwise exempted by the taxing authority. Exceptions to the FBAR reporting requirements can be found in the FBAR Instructions at irs-pdf/f90221.pdf. There are filing exceptions for the following United States persons or foreign financial accounts: • Certain foreign financial accounts jointly owned by spouses; • United States persons included in a consolidated FBAR; • Correspondent/nostro accounts; • Foreign financial accounts owned by a governmental entity; • Foreign financial accounts owned by an international financial institution; • IRA owners and beneficiaries; • Participants in and beneficiaries of taxqualified retirement plans; • Certain individuals with signature authority over, but no financial interest in, a foreign financial account; • Trust beneficiaries; and • Foreign financial accounts maintained on a United States military banking facility. The FBAR is not the only reporting obligation for your offshore investments. You must also report your income on foreign accounts each year on Schedule B of your federal income tax return. On top of that, the IRS has created a special reporting requirement for Americans with more than $50,000 in non-U.S. assets. Last March, President Obama signed the

Hiring Incentives to Restore Employment (HIRE) Act (H.R. 2847). The HIRE Act significantly expands the scope of offshore reporting requirements if the taxpayer holds more than $50,000 of “foreign financial assets.” This Act requires taxpayers to disclose information on their foreign accounts in respect of the items listed below using an IRS form (yet to be created): • Any ownership of non-U.S. securities. • Any financial instrument or contract held for investment from a foreign issuer or counter-party. This would require the reporting of offshore life insurance or annuity contracts. • Any interest in any foreign entity. Reporting provisions in current law impose an obligation for U.S. persons who acquire or dispose of a 10% or greater interest in a foreign corporation or partnership to disclose that transaction. However, no disclosure for smaller interests was previously required. Now irrespective of how much an individual owns, they will be required to disclose their interest in a foreign entity. FBAR compliance is a serious matter, and global banks are getting more pressure than ever to disclose U.S. accounts, so this is the time to get these matters settled and file the form. Each year an FBAR is not filed timely (by June 30th) is considered a separate violation. Generally the civil penalties for willfully failing to file an FBAR can be as high as the greater of $100,000 or 50 percent of the total balance of the foreign account per violation. Non-willful violations that the IRS determines were not due to reasonable cause are subject to a $10,000 penalty per violation. Taxpayers hiding assets offshore who do not come forward can face high penalty scenarios as mentioned above as well as the possibility of criminal prosecution. For criminal penalties the base penalty is a maximum fine of $250,000, a maximum term of imprisonment of five years, or both. Each FBAR not filed or falsely filed constitutes a separate violation. Therefore if five FBARs have not been filed, five counts could be charged against the taxpayer. The statute of limitations for criminal penalties is five years.n The tax information contained in this article is of a general nature and should not be acted upon in your specific situation without further details and/or professional assistance. Khorshed Alam is a practicing CPA and Business Valuation Analyst. Check out http: // or call (408) 445-1120.

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Anita Kainthla

The Invincible Fort of Murud Janjira


was 14 when I heard about the African Sidis from my father. Several years later, during a vacation, as I travelled by road along the lower lip of Gujarat I suddenly spotted three African women crossing the road with babies on their hips; it struck me immediately that these were the Sidis my father had talked about. But I was maneuvering thick city traffic and was unable to stop and explore. I finally met the elusive Sidis last year. In early 2010 I was in the Gir forests of Gujarat for a research and writing project when I heard about an isolated tribal village deep in the Gir. When I reached the location I found, to my utter amazement and excitement, an ancient Sidi stronghold. My guide, however, told me a more fascinating story: in the small town of Murud, 165 km (102 miles) from Mumbai, via Alibagh, there is an impregnable fort—Janjira, where the Sidis ruled for nearly four centuries! Janjira is situated on the coast of the Arabian Sea, in the District of Raigadh of Maharashtra. Before I made the trip to Murud, I delved a little into the Sidi story.


he Sidis are the descendants of slaves, sailors, and maritime workers, forced and voluntary migrants from the East African countries of Somalia, Ethiopia, Sudan, and later Zanzibar.

Inside the Janjira fort

The process of enslavement, transportation, and the sale of Africans occurred through an established slave trade network in the African interior. From the African interiors they were transported into the neighboring Arab nations, which in turn sold them off to Asian as well as European countries. The process of enslavement continued till slavery was finally restrained through passing of antislavery laws in 1807.


he Sidi story begins in India as far back as the 1st century AD. In the 3rd century AD, the forts on the Konkan (Maharashtra) coast were the principal trade centers for Arab merchants. However, meaningful presence of the Sidis in India dates back to the 12th/13th centuries. The forced migration of Africans for purposes of slavery is incontestably the major reason for the presence of Africans in India. But much before the need and notion of enslavement of humans arose in the ancient societies, commercial compulsions prompted the people of those times to undertake numerous hazardous journeys across the seas. The African Diaspora in India is today mostly concentrated in Gujarat, though there is a smattering of Sidis in Maharashtra, Karnataka, and Andhra Pradesh. In the seven-odd centuries that the de-

scendants of the African seamen and slaves have been in India, they have been completely incorporated into the Indian mainstream. But they have preserved two things from their past—their physicality and their music. Though they have been practicing intercommunity marriages, even today the Sidis have negriod features and are easily distinguishable from the rest of the locals. Their music has remained the subject of study for anthropologists, which has helped them trace the roots of these Sidis to several East African countries.


anjira came into prominence in the late 15th or early 16th century when the Sidis became its virtual masters. After it had been ruled over by such historical greats as the Mauryas, Silharas, Chalukyas, and Yadavas, it fell into the hands of the Abyssinians or Sidis in 1490 A.D, by way of trickery against a Koli king. Malik Ambar, a powerful Abyssinian, subsequently constructed a strong stone fort there in 1567 A.D. Numerous wars were waged against the Sidis by the Marathas, Mughals, and Portuguese to wrest Janjira from them, but in vain. The Sidis proved fiercer soldiers and greater seafarers than them all. The Janjira state came to an end after 1947 with the merging of princely Indian states with the union. india currents • august 2011 • 51


planned a winter visit, wanting to avoid the clamminess of coastal travel. Roha, 120 km (75 miles) southeast of Mumbai, on the Konkan railway, is the nearest railhead. One can also travel by road from Mumbai to Murud. Another fun route is by ferry from Mumbai to Rewas jetty, 90 minutes away, and then by bus via Alibagh and Chaul. I learned about the ferry only after I’d rented a taxi. At Rs. 7 (15 cents) a kilometer, a taxi is not unreasonable. Alternatively, State Transport buses from Mumbai Central are available. After a pleasant and enjoyable six hours on decent roads, we were at Murud. I had made reservations at the Golden Swan Beach Resort, which has a variety of rooms and cottages but is probably one of the more expensive options. One can also opt for the simpler Maharashtra Tourism Development Corporation (MTDC) rooms and cottages. An interesting stay would be with residents who have rooms and shacks on rent. No matter where you choose to stay, the beach is just a few minutes walk away. The Golden Swan Resort is on the beach itself, and even as we entered it, the sun was readying to set over the vast expanse of the sea, right ahead. The beach is fringed with betel and palm trees and all around in Murud one can hear the swishing of the casuarinas. The young and not-so-young, in their flashy beachwear, were all darting about in an attempt to catch the exquisite drama created by the fading light over water. I managed to freeze the sight in a photograph for posterity. Later, after a little trip to the town and a beach walk, I had dinner in the cozy sit-out of the little cottage that I’d rented. I sat there Another view of the fort

spellbound by the magnificence of the vast sea before me till I was overcome by drowsiness, even as the noisy vacationers partied on. The next day began with a splendid sunrise that entered my room through the slatted window and fanned my pillow. After breakfast it seemed like everyone in the resort was headed to the village of Rajpuri, which is 5 km (3 miles) away from Murud. Once there, we huddled into sailboats that would take us to the fort. I had to wait my turn patiently in a long queue. Every sailboat comes equipped with self-appointed guides and we were lucky to have Sahil, the most entertaining of the lot. As we proceeded to sail across to the fort, Sahil told us that many Sidi families lived within the precincts of the fort up till 1972 and that his father had been among them. When the fort began crumbling these families moved out. The heirs of the Sidi royalty of Janjira now live mostly in Mumbai or Indore but do visit Janjira sometimes. In the middle of Sahil’s chatter the fort loomed into view; a 40 feet tall, magnificent structure, fighting the relentless battering of the Arabian Sea all around it even today. The brackish waters of the sea have had a debilitating effect on the stone structure. As boatloads of people embarked, Sahil continued: the fort took 22 years to build and is spread over 22 acres of land. At the entrance is an inscription in Persian and a stone carv-

Landing dock at Rajpuri

ing depicting a tiger engulfed by six elephants which, according to Sahil, is the emblem of the might of the Sidis. The fort is crescent shaped, with several arches. In the heydays, there were 500 cannons mounted on these arches; only three are left today. Inside the fort walls are the ruins of a mosque, and a palace and bath with water channeled from streams, telling of ancient times when royal ladies occupied the quarters. The deep well with cold and sweet water—a wonder of nature in the midst of the saline sea—still provides water to quench the thirst of the weary visitor. Gazing into the horizon from the ramparts of this magnificent fort overlooking the sea, one cannot but acknowledge its great strength that withstood a number of invasions. In the north west of Janjira, there is another fort called Padma Durg, built by Shivaji, who made 13 unsuccessful attempts to conquer Janjira! By the time Sahil’s story was done, we’d reached the end of the tour but my imagination continued to recreate the fort’s splendor during the Sidi rule in the region. Our largish group poured out of the tall gate and waited for a boat to unload a fresh batch of weekenders. We refilled the boat to return to Rajpuri. As I returned to Mumbai that evening, by bus this time, I tried to imagine what it must have been like during the era of Sidi supremacy and wondered about their descendants who, even today, live a diaspora existence. n Anita Kainthla has authored three books (a collection of poetry, a biography of Baba Amte, and a work on the religious and historical background of Tibet) and writes features and travelogues for magazines.

52 • india currents • august 2011


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25 years

Twenty Years of Recipes

A food columnist looks back on her years of writing for India Currents


By Shanta Sacharoff

have been enjoying India Currents (IC) ever since I first chanced upon a copy in 1989. India Currents is unique, and has been from the start. Even when it was a simple black and white newsletter that mostly listed Indian cultural events and conveyed something significant and educational about those programs and the artists involved. The small magazine related stories and published interviews with many Indian notables and their achievements. No wonder India Currents quickly became an important resource for the SF Bay Area Indian community. Reading India Currents, desis began to pay more attention to Indian dance, music, arts and cuisine available in their neighborhood. Many restaurants began to advertise in IC, a welcome service for those of us looking for new eateries to explore. For me, an added attraction to the extensive cultural calendar was India Current’s vegetarian recipe column. Vegetarianism was becoming popular in the SF Bay Area at the time. And as we Indians have a history of taking our culture and cuisine wherever we go, our vegetarian cooking attracted a growing interest amongst health conscious people.


couple of years after the magazine began, I met Arvind Kumar, one of the founders. Our conversation turned to food, and we both marveled at how our desi ancestors had figured out that a vegetarian diet can be very nutritious, a fact that the Western world

was just beginning to discover. In 1994, I was working on my second cookbook, which included a chapter on vegetarian nutrition with some of the latest food research. Arvind asked me if I would share what I was learning with IC readers. I agreed, and wrote a two-part essay which appeared in the next two issues. This was the beginning of my long relationship with the magazine. I was busy raising three children, with the youngest only two years old. Some of my spare time was spent cooking and creating new recipes. I had also begun working part-time at Other Avenues Food Cooperative (of which I am now a part-owner) so there was no shortage of good, seasonal ingredients to experiment with, and friends to share a new dish. One good thing about creating recipes is that family and friends can be guinea pigs! So when India Currents offered me a regular recipe column, I eagerly threw my hat in and began to develop new recipes to contribute almost every other month.


ome of my favorite columns in India Currents are Teed Rockwell’s music essays and Sarita Sarvate’s Last Word columns. Both of these contributors have strong, educated opinions and, whether I agree with them or not, they have always made me think. Last year I had the good fortune to meet some of these talented contributors at a writers’ party that the India Currents team hosted; I had the feeling that I already knew them through their work. They were already a large part of my life. My daughter Serena, who illustrates my columns, also loves to read and share India Currents with her friends. Among her favorite columns are Dear Doctor and the film reviews. She and I regularly consult the carefully researched calendar of events in the SF Bay Area.


s modern telecommunication shrinks the world and makes information available at the speed of thought, only publications that adapt to change will survive. As always, arts and culture remain a staple of IC, but other columns have evolved to serve the contemporary Indian American community. This is the main strength of India Currents; it is always evolving in response to its audience. Similarly, the recipes that I have written over the years have changed as people’s eating habits and attitudes toward food and cooking have changed. This is particularly visible here in California where our tastes are influenced by the many cultures and ethnicities that mingle here, and the great variety of fresh ingredients that are easily available. A wholesome, plant-based diet has always been popular among the health conscious people of California. However, 20 years ago, seasonal and local foods were not in vogue. Also, shoppers at health food stores did not focus on low-fat and low-salt foods as much. They assumed that being vegetarian was healthy enough, even though research has indicated that a meatless diet can be unhealthy if not balanced. In the past few decades, health conscious people have greatly expanded their awareness regarding the food choices they make. They have modified their lifestyles in order to be ecologically re54 • india currents • august 2011


sponsible and also to be respectful to animals. The customers at my health food co-op report that Indian vegetarian diet is quite suitable for them because it is not dairy-dependent. Indian Americans seem to have changed their attitudes towards their diet as well. Previously, these immigrants embraced the variety of meats available here in the United States, but now many desis are returning to their virtuous rice and dal tradition.


wo decades ago, the Indian community in the SF Bay Area was not as visible as it is today. Pockets of Indian immigrants were found in the academic communities in the East Bay and the South Bay. There were only a few good Indian restaurants. It was not always easy to find unique ingredients needed for Indian cuisine in San Francisco. I remember taking my cooking class students on a “field trip” to Indian food markets in Berkeley where they could buy black mustard seeds and asafetida. During the technology revolution of the 80s in Silicon Valley, the Indian population increased dramatically. Along with them came their culture and cuisine with Bollywood movies, more restaurants, and Indian food markets. The ingredients needed for Indian cuisine can now be found at health food stores and gourmet supermarkets. You can now get genuine saffron even at warehouse stores like Costco! In addition, a growing number of Indian grocery stores all over California carry readymade, packaged, canned, and frozen Indian foods so working folks can now make their favorite idli, dosa, or dhokla in minutes.


ately there is another phenomenon developing within the “foodie” communities in California. It is the renaissance of “making food from scratch.” This trend seem to have started partly because many creative people are now finding the time to source and prepare quality food. Others wish to cook with wholesome, organic, and local ingredients. Indian Americans have become more aware of healthy trends. We realize that Indians are genetically more prone to have heart related ailments than many other ethnic groups. Adopting a low-fat, low salt and high

fiber diet is good for our coronary health. The new generation of young Indian Americans (including men) report to me that they are eager to learn how to cook healthy Indian food because as children they were often kept away from the kitchen by their desi moms. More and more, Indian chefs are exploring how to combine and cross various cuisines in a complimentary, health promoting style. The interethnic trend has even reached some restaurants in the Bay Area. I used to call my recipes “Classical Indian,” but over the years they have become infused with other ethnic cuisines that I have encountered and learned from. I have taken advantage of what is growing locally and made it “Indian” with the use of spices and traditional cooking techniques. I experiment with traditional Indian entrées and combine them with ingredients and techniques learned from other cuisines. In my cooking class we make patra, (a savory dish which traditionally uses taro leaves) using different locally grown leaves including green chard, red chard, and collard greens. And, as I learn more about health and nutrition, I incorporate my knowledge into the recipes I develop. I also enjoy and learn from columns contributed by the other chefs who write for India Currents. Lately I have been working on creating recipes to meet the needs of people with dietary limitations, such as low-fat, non-dairy, or gluten-free diets. Some of these special recipes have already appeared in India Currents, and others are on their way. We the writers, contributors, and readers, continue to help IC’s dedicated staff to keep India Currents always current and responsive to cultural and political changes. IC is important, not only to Indian immigrants, but to everyone who feels a kinship with the Indian community, in this generation and the next. We are fortunate to have India Currents as a forum for change and exchange in our constantly expanding, vital global village.n Shanta Nimbark Sacharoff, author of Flavors of India: Vegetarian Indian Cuisine, lives in San Francisco, where she is a manager and coowner of Other Avenues, a health-food store.

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Meera Ramanathan

Fire Up The Grill!


ary of barbecue parties? As you wistfully look at the platters filled with seekh kebabs and chicken drumsticks, nothing but corn and asparagus lands in your plate. The salt-and-pepper seasoning is just as bland. As you take refuge in the cocktails, your mind wanders off to the spices in your rack that would put your taste buds to work. Don’t throw in the towel just yet. Grab the tongs and non-stick spray and fire up your grill, meat be damned, and put a twist on vegetarian kebabs with two interesting marinades. Not only are they appetizing, but I find that kids get their serving of vegetables without complaint and that spicy taste I’ve been lusting for is finally at reach. Barbecue parties are great way to socialize and entertain in summer. In the East Coast, My friends and I outsource cooking to our husbands the minute spring shows up at our doorsteps; it’s their time to sauté as we wives sit back, relax, and chat. These marinades can be made well in advance and the vegetables can be skewered ahead so you don’t have to break a sweat when it’s party time. If you don’t have a grill, the same kebabs can be baked in the oven at 375 degrees for 20-30 Red Chili Marinade (enough for 5 kebabs) 1⁄4 teaspoon turmeric powder 1 tablespoon chili powder 1 teaspoon coriander powder 1⁄4 teaspoon garam masala 1 tablespoon salt 2 tablespoons yoghurt (preferably Greek yoghurt or homemade curd) 2 teaspoons lemon juice Mix all of the above to form a smooth paste. Take care not to make it too thin; you will be unable to coat the vegetables. Hariyali (Green) Marinade (5 kebabs) 1 cup coriander leaves, chopped cup mint leaves, chopped 2 green chilies 4 cloves garlic, chopped 1 teaspoon fresh ginger, chopped 2 tablespoons yoghurt 2 teaspoons lemon juice 1 tablespoon salt Grind all of the above to form a smooth paste, adding salt at the end. Vegetables 2 medium sized red onions 2 bell peppers (assorted colors) 58 • india currents • august 2011

minutes. (Take care to turn them over every 5 minutes) A few basics before you start the grill fest. Have a bottle of lemon juice handy. Always season with a pinch of salt and a dash of lemon juice when you remove from the grill and let the vegetables sit covered in foil for a minute. Not only do the flavors get into the vegetables, you don’t burn your tongues. Ensure you spray the grill with non-stick spray adequately so vegetables don’t stick to it. If you are using

wooden skewers, soak in water completely for about 30 minutes or longer so they don’t catch fire. Metal skewers are a better bet for the forgetful chef. When even hard-core meat eaters start lining up for your delicious kebabs, smile and be happy to be vegetarian! n

20 Baby Bella mushrooms (stems removed) 1⁄2 pound paneer Cut onion, and peppers into large squares and paneer into cubes. Coat the vegetables and paneer with your choice of marinade. Take care not to soak the paneer for a long time as it might get soggy. Arrange the vegetables on the skewer to display the colors best. Except the paneer, the skewers can be pre-made and refrigerated overnight. At the very minimum, soak the vegetables for 10 minutes. The vegetables mentioned in this recipe are just a guide. So get innovative, use baby zucchinis, baby corn, and brussel sprouts—any vegetable that you think can be skewered and will absorb the marinade. Remember to taste the marinade to ensure the right spice level before dipping the vegetables. Enjoy!

1 teaspoon salt 1 cucumber (if using English cucum bers, use half) 1⁄2 cup coriander leaves 1⁄2 cup mint leaves 2 cups of yoghurt (preferably Greek style)

Cucumber Yoghurt Dip It is always a good idea to have some yoghurt based dip when you grill, so the spices and heat from the grilling are balanced by this cool and refreshing dip. 1⁄2 teaspoon freshly grated ginger 1⁄4 teaspoon garam masala pinch of chaat masala

Meera Ramanathan is a freelance writer dabbling in short stories, food and travel writing.

To garnish 2 lemon wedges 2 slices of cucumber 2 whole mint and coriander leaves Line a sieve with cheese cloth and place it on top of a bowl. Add the yoghurt to the sieve and let it drain refrigerated for 3 hours or overnight. This removes the excess water so you don’t end up with raita. Grate (without mashing) the cucumber and squeeze out the water. Chop the mint and coriander leaves finely and mix with cucumber. Just before serving, add the cucumber mixture to the drained yoghurt along with the spices, ginger, and salt. Fold the yoghurt into the mixture rather than mixing it. This ensures that the yoghurt does not become runny. Taste to adjust salt and garnish.

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E-mail: india currents • august 2011 • 75



Priya Das

A Revolutionary Sound VEL by Susheela Raman. CD. Available in the United States as an import though private sellers. Available on Amazon Music as album or singles.


n the track “Raise Up,” jazz-soul singer Susheela Raman urgently breathes, “Got this voice coming through, in my blood, in my veins, a current of love, a chorus of pain.” Listening to any of Raman’s songs in her latest album Vel is something like that, a voice coming through, blazing a trail for the almost always revolutionary music. The music for “Raise Up” includes, for example, Rajasthani folk singers and instruments and the guitar. When she then sings to raise up your hands higher, higher a little later in the song, you want to obey. Many know Raman from the soundtrack of Mira Nair’s movie The Namesake, but the London-born, Australia-raised singer shot into fame with her first album Salt Rain in 2001.

It was the first time, perhaps, that the world got to hear Karnatik and Tamil vocals driving powerful jazz/ soul/ rock sounds, taking freely of the best from multiple musical cultures Salt Rain bagged the BBC Radio 3 world music award for Best Newcomer. In Vel too, Raman’s complex blend of sounds is pulled off simply, by staying true to the underlying emotion. In an evangelical chorus-sounding “Ennapane,” she begins as would a soul singer, with breathy lyrics, albeit in Tamil. Then suddenly she invokes Muruga (second son of Lord Shiva, who sports the vel or lance) in cries of Vel Muruga! “Magdalene” is a Norah Jones meets Eric Clapton’s “Layla” meets the tabla; “Eighteen Floors” is Enya-like. “Paal” has a gentle beat by anklebells, and Raman’s seemingly unheard appeals to Muruga are given a flourish by some great guitaring. “Daga Daga” is a passionate rendition by a die-hard devotee, and will be an acquired taste—while her voice is compel-

Karsh Kale Goes Mainstream CINEMA by Karsh Kale. Six Degrees. Available on and iTunes for album or individual track purchase.


arsh Kale’s Cinema has already claimed the #1 position on iTunes World Music, #3 on Amazon’s International Music, and spots among Top Tens in Electronica and Dance/DJ music charts. Kale’s decade-plus old career started with his Electric Tabla, which gained him popularity in the local band scene in New York in the late 90s as a drummer. Six Degrees, a relative newcomer to the music labels then, signed a multi-album record deal, “making him the very first Indo-American to attain a solo record contract in the States.” It is claimed that Kale’s “Realize,” his first solo international release, gave the Asian Massive (Underground/Electronica) scene sustaining momentum. He has continued making inroads in other settings as well; he scored for the musical Elizabeth: The Golden Age, as part of Midival Punditz Karsh Kale banner, and is a sought after composer in Bollywood; Mira Nair’s The Namesake featured his “Flight IC480”. Microsoft’s Vista comes with 2 of his songs, “Distance” and “One Step beyond.“ In Cinema, he deviates from his usual edgy-electronic style to a more homogenized, settled sound, more A.R.Rahman-like, if an 76 • india currents • august 2011

analogy is to be drawn. Incidentally, he opened for Rahman at the Hollywood Bowl last month, where the Los Angeles Philharmonic orchestra played several of Rahman’s film scores. To the mainstream audience, this album might present itself as a welldone remix of cinema-scaled soundtracks. To followers of Kale though, it presents a different, film-scoring-inspired side of him. It is more Indian for one, and less experimental for another. It is definitely not a crossing for a new frontier in electronic music. But it is extremely easy on the ears, and will uplift. Cinema also seems to be a compilation of all current rising musical stars, and as such can be seen as a record of 2011 in

ling in its rough staccato style, the all-Tamil lyrics take getting used to. It has to be said, though, that one cannot deny the vibe. YouTube videos of the acoustic recordings show every musician swept up in the emotion. Apart from being an astonishing synthesis in itself, Raman’s music is really a commentary for how Indian music can be staged for an interesting crossover to a world audience. She credits this in part to Sam Mills. Given her background in South and North Indianand blues-based music, Raman struggled with bringing these streams together, till she met Mills in 1997, a progressive guitarist who had collaborated with musicians from around the world. Says Raman online of his work in the album Real Sugar, “This record inspired me, it bridged a gap and found common ground for Indian music to be expressed to a new audience (and) opened a whole set of musical contact points.” Well, Vel.n parallel music. Kale features Bollywood playback star Shruti Pathak, of Bollywood movies Kurbaan, Fashion fame in “Ma,” (which also has excellent vocals by his daughter, Milan). “Peekaboo” presents a soul setting to rock sensation Monica Dogra, of indie Indian rock band Shaa’ir and Func. “Man on Fire” is more reminiscent of classic Kale, an electronic soundscape with classical Indian touches, in this case the sitar played by Pandit Sunil Das. “Mallika Jam” is get-on-your-feet stunning, featuring Danish pop sensation with Asian roots—Anne Rani. Ghazal trailblazer Vishal Vaid renders the Umrao Jaan movie number “Zindagi Jab Bhi” into Kale’s “TurnPike.” Kale has certainly to be credited to have elevated so-called synthetic music to a level worthy of tastefully treating a ghazal; in other words, it is no ordinary re-mix. Kale has of course written the scores of all the tracks, but as performer, he has cast himself as equal participant or supporting cast throughout the album. “Ma” has him performing straight-cut and brilliant on the electric guitar, tablas, synth bass, and keyboards; “Man on Fire” has him primarily keyboarding. The timing of both Cinema and Vel is important; we seem to be on the cusp of a great wave of Indianization of world culture: Raman and Kale have shown us how to take our music to a waiting world, on a path blazed by Rahman.n

Indian Classical Music Maestro

Dr. Sisirkana Dharchoudhury

teaching in Bay Area! Vocal & Instrumental (including all kinds of bowed, string and wind instruments). Contact 510 589 8566 • •


Students of Dr. Sisirkana Dharchoudhury proudly present Indian Classical Music Maestro Dr. Sisirkana Dharchoudhury (fondly known as Didiji), disciple of legendary Late Baba Allauddin Khan Sahib and 'Swara Samrat' Late Ustad Baba Ali Akbar Khan Sahib of the traditional Maihar/Seni Gharana is offering professional music lessons in Hindusthani Classical Music in both vocal and instrumental. Dr. Sisirkana Dharchoudhury had been the Dean of Music of the prestigious Rabindra Bharati University at Calcutta. She is a very sought after classical violin performer - and has charmed audiences throughout the world. She is currently located in Fremont, Bay Area.

Guru-Vandana & Saraswati-Vandana

and an afternoon of Indian Classical Music at the Milpitas Library (160 N Main Street, Milpitas, CA-95035) th

on 20 August starting from 11:00 am

For further details please contact: 510 324 8874 (day time) 408 533 5617 (evening). This is a free event.

To keep our Indian musical culture alive & to spread it to next generation...

Akhil Bharatiya Gandharva Mahavidyalaya Mandal is conducting

Indian Classical Music Examination in Bay Area.


In April 2011, more than 125 students successfully appeared. It's time to fill the application form for November, 2012 Exams Exams will be conducted for Prarambhik Praveshika Pratham Praveshika Poorna

Category's are: Indian Classical Vocal Indian Classical Instruments (Tabla/Sitar/Harmonium/Violin) Dance (Kathak - Bhratnatyam - Odissi)

LAST DATE FOR SUBMITTING APPLICATION AUGUST 7, 2011 For more information, please visit


india currents • august 2011 • 77

I C films Aniruddh Chawda

Andalusian Desi ZINDAGI NA MILEGI DOBARA. Director: Zoya Akhtar. Players: Hrithik Roshan, Abhay Deol, Farham Akhtar, Katrina Kaif, Kalki Koechlin, Music: Shankar Ehsaan Loy. Theatrical release (Excel).


or modern Hindi films, Yash Chopra’s success at setting popular romances Silsila and Chandni in Europe paved the way for Hindi film makers to make a beeline for its snow-peaked countries. Recently, after the limited success of such Euro-centric films as London Dreams and Jhootha Hi Sahi, Europe as a backdrop appeared to have all but lost her screen charm. Not so! With Zindagi Na Milegi Dobara, the producer-director brothersister team of Farhan and Zoya Akhtar have one more sensational Eurozone card deck to unroll. By setting the beautifully filmed and very welcome peak-summer comedy-adventure-bromance Zindagi Na Milegi Dobara in Spain, the Akhtars rescue the summer Hindi film circuit with a light-hearted, fun filled romp that is the best popular Hindi movie of 2011 so far. Three Gen-X men agree to take a trip together to see the sights and, begrudgingly in the case of one of them, re-connect with each other. The ringleader is Kabir (Deol), an architect who has already proposed to Natasha (Koechlin). To fight pre-wedding jitters and also to reunite his two quarrelling buddies, Kabir arranges a 3-week long European road trip. Kabir’s friends are Arjun (Roshan), an overreaching London-based broker and Imraan (F. Akhtar), a copy writer in India. Their tour gets a jumpstart when, at their very first stop, they run into the comely diving instructor Laila (Kaif), who both Arjun and Imraan, who are already at odds, take a shine to. While the stated destination is Europe, the actual destination is a journey of discovery and re-discovery. Big kudos to Zoya Akhtar for validating such a graceful, playful portrait of how some males bond. Z. Akhtar’s keen hand gets a very nice boost from cinematographer Carlos Catalan’s camera work that never misses at zooming in on bold strokes of local Spanish color; there are visually striking mo78 • india currents • august 2011

ments galore! Roshan, Deol, and Kaif are aptly utilized and lend credibility to their roles. The heaviest burden is shouldered by Farhan Akhtar’s Imraan, a somewhat wayward soul looking to come out from the shadow of his long-lost biological father. The brilliant Deepti Naval provides great support as Imran’s silently suffering, widowed mother back home. Imraan’s search for a way home is the emotional core of the movie. Shankar Ehsaan Loy’s score squeezes juicy Hindi-and-flamenco infusion numbers that are situation specific. On “Senorita,” Maria Del Mar Fernandez’s torchy opening to the Andalusian flamenco dance number also ropes in Roshan, F. Akhtar, and Deol, who all get in on the singing. For the record, all three manage to hold a note or two! Musically, what is most striking is Neil Mukherjee’s flamenco guitar that simply rocks. Like a light Mediterranean Chablis—which, incidentally, flows with a bottomless earnestness through what could also be a guided tour of Spanish bars—the soundtrack goes down easy. Even though framed as a Roshan-Kaif vehicle, ZNMD’s true “star”—if it has one—is Spain. Spain as a destination for Hindi movies is a relatively new concept. Spain’s Mediterranean coast is not unlike the American West— sporadically “civilized” at its urban outposts yet rugged, wild, and mountainous to the extreme elsewhere. The Spanish charm comes at you with a seductive come-here-who-me innocence tinged with sangria and citrus. It might just make you sit up and seriously consider a Spanish vacation to follow in the footsteps of Arjun, Kabir, Imraan, and Laila! The discoveries are heartfelt and genuine while the stunts are breathtaking. Adventurous, funny, well-made, and pleasantly resonant, ZNMD is a picture-perfect Hindi movie stamp on a picture-perfect postcard from Spain. n EQ: A

The Definitive Hrithik Roshan T

he star of Zindagi Na Milegi Dobara chats with Aniruddh Chawda about his successes and failures and how he makes his career choices.

Zindagi Na Milegi Dobara is a road trip filmed mostly in Spain. What did you find appealing about this role? Everything about this film project appealed to me—the fact that I would be working alongside two dear, and hugely talented, friends of mine again (Zoya Akhtar and Farhan Akhtar), the script was completely fresh and innovative for Indian cinema. I expected no less from Zoya—she is such an accomplished and respected director from the new wave of Indian filmmakers who are really changing the landscape of Indian cinema. What was your reaction to the discussion about Zindagi being similar to Dil Chahta Hai? The similarity starts and ends with the fact that the three main protagonists are a trio of male friends. Yes, they come from different backgrounds and life experiences, but that really is as far as one can go. Zindagi… is a completely fresh offering in Indian cinema—an exciting road trip movie which takes the characters on a journey of revelations and epiphanies. Compared to Zindagi Na Milegi Dobara, your upcoming role in Karan Johar’s remake of the Amitabh Bachchan classic Agneepath appears to strike a vastly different chord. How do the two roles stack up? Yes, you’re right. My role as Arjun in Zindagi… is simultaneously lighthearted yet profound, whereas my role as Vijay Dinanath Chauhan in Agneepath is intense throughand-through. There is obviously the additional pressure of paying due homage to one of the most seminal films of Indian cinema and Amitabh Bachchan’s iconic character portrayal. I certainly wouldn’t be able to emulate his unforgettable performance, but I

feel a duty to perform the very best in my career to date. As an artist, I am always looking to take my capabilities to the next level with each role I sign, and Agneepath has provided one of the most challenging roles in my career to date. It’s been a great honor. After the first few years when you took on several films per year, you have cut back to only selecting one or two movies every two years so. How has this impacted you as an actor? It is really important for me to push my boundaries and exceed myself with each role I sign. I guess you would call me a method actor, insofar as I completely submerge myself into the skin and soul of a character. I live, eat and breathe that character, and I would be doing an injustice if I were to divide my wholehearted focus and commitment between several roles at any one time. At this stage in my career, it is important to sign roles that challenge me and which by nature require 110 percent commitment from the outset and until the completion of filming. What are some classic movies you would like to recreate? What roles would you like to undertake? What is your dream role? You know, there are so many films and characters that I find completely iconic and inspiring. As much as I may fantasize about essaying that role at that time, I’m not on a mission to offer my own, contemporary reinterpretation. It so happened that the opportunity of essaying the role of Vijay Dinanath Chauhan presented itself to me, and was certainly an offer I couldn’t refuse. But again, it doesn’t mean to say I want to re-enact all of my favorite film roles. What I am doing in Agneepath is hopefully paying respect to Mr. Bachchan’s iconic performance, but I am certainly not attempting to emulate his performance. I don’t necessarily have an agenda or dream role as such—my professional ethos is that a role which presents itself should challenge my capabilities as an artist and push my boundaries. How do you reflect back on Kites? Every time a film isn’t appreciated by audiences, you are forced to reevaluate and go through a period of self-examination. It is always disheartening because you feel you have let down the most important people—those who pay their hard earned money to see you on screen and enjoy a great piece of cinema. However, after that period of reflection, you have to pick yourself up and move forward, having learned the lessons the experience has presented to you. How has the Hindi film business changed in the decade since your debut in Kaho Na Pyaar Hai? Is there room for experimental, offbeat films? And if yes, would you like to star in them? You know, the industry has evolved a huge amount over the last ten years. There have been the increasing collaborations with the West, both in terms of on-screen artist

A scene from Zindagi Na Milegi Dobara

appearances, as well as the crossover contribution of behind the scenes talent such as editors, directors, etc, as well as the big studio collaborations and synergies. Insofar as experimental, offbeat films, these are forming a hugely influential and lucrative parallel to mainstream Indian films as a sub genre of Indian cinema—films which are really pushing boundaries in terms of subject matter, content, stylistics, direction, featuring unknown or debut casts, etc. A lot of these films are proving to be great box office triumphs. Okay, the distribution platform may not be as extensive as a major studio production, but given the fact that costs are often relatively low, a lot of these films have yielded significant box office returns. There’s some exceptional talent emerging in this alternative Indian cinema, both in front of as well as behind the cameras—fearless filmmakers, superb actors, etc, championing groundbreaking (in Indian cinema terms) subject matter. I guess this is a reflection of changing audience tastes and demands and India’s growing middle class who want something new, thought-provoking and challenging. I would certainly be open to starring in an experimental or offbeat film—it all depends on the right opportunity presenting itself. Do you find it unusual that a sizable number of headlining names in Hindi films, including you, are all related to each other? I don’t think it is necessarily unusual. I’d like to think that although an artist may have a filmic family background, their continued presence in the industry is due to their own merits and capabilities as an artist. I guess for a lot of us who grew up in the industry, so to speak, it was a part of our genetic make-up and it became second nature to follow a career path in the industry. Do you feel that your good looks detract from being taken as a serious actor? Have movies like Dhoom and Krish typecast you as an action hero?

No, I don’t think so. My role in Kites was very action oriented, yet audiences were not impressed. Audiences may have certain expectations of you, but that does not mean to say they want you to replicate performances or certain role types time and again. My role in Jodha Akbar, for example, was not action-oriented and certainly didn’t capitalize on physical attributes—that wasn’t appropriate for the role—but audiences loved it. My performance was taken seriously and appreciated by audiences, although the role was a complete departure from an action hero avatar. I think filmgoers look at the film product holistically. Are you secure about your place in the industry? Where do you see yourself 10 years from now? I just keep on doing what I love to do and feel extremely passionately about. I don’t necessarily have a long term plan and take each day and the opportunities it brings with it as it comes, but will continue to perform for as long as audiences want to see me on screen and filmmakers want to sign me. How do you juggle being a father with your professional aspirations? Luckily, I have a very understanding and patient wife, as she also comes from a film background. It certainly makes things easier and she understands and supports my professional aspirations unconditionally, as does my entire, amazing family. My family is my number one priority. Whenever I am not working, I am at home with my wife and children. Believe it or not, I’m a fairly regular father, despite the hectic working schedule. You’re known for having overcome a stutter as a child. What advice would you give to people with disabilities? To understand that these are the characteristics that make us unique and exceptional as human beings, and to try and embrace those things. Believe in yourself and know that you are a beautiful and amazing human being both inside and out, and to always do your best.n india currents • august 2011 • 79

Soft Core Corn DELHI BELLY. Director: Abhinay Deo. Players: Imran Khan, Poorna Jagannathan, Kunal Roy Kapoor, Vir Das, Shehnaz Treasuryvala, Vijay Raaz. Music: Ram Sampat. Theatrical release (UTV). In English, with no sub-titles. Parental advisory: Mature theme, extensive sexual references and crude humor.


rude and rude movies succeed when they can juxtapose popular discourse on topical themes on top of superbly timed comic delivery that sums up an outward—often vulgar—expression of the audience’s silent, albeit laugh-out-loud, reaction. In Hindi movies, Aamir Khan used this shotgun approach extremely well with 3 Idiots while Hollywood went to town with the same loaded guns in the Hangover franchise. What Aamir Khan’s new offering Delhi Belly wanted to be was to have us imagine a parallel universe where the trio that formed the 3 Idiots, instead of settling down in a blissful ashram-like setting in the Himalayas, had moved to Delhi to start careers. What we get instead is a corny, mildly amusing comedy that anemically teeters at the same level as the over-written script that has a disturbingly serious preoccupation with all things scatological. First things first. Aamir Khan devising an all-English language movie in a “Bollywood” offering is interesting up until about 15 minutes into the movie when one begins to suspect that the only reason Delhi Belly is in English instead of in Hindi is because Indian censors, which generally better tolerate English cuss words in Hindi movies than Hindi cuss words, would very likely have turned Delhi Belly into a silent movie if the script had been in Hindi. (Editor’s Note: A dubbed Hindi version does indeed soften the language.) After the novelty of the 10th F-bomb dropping in the first five minutes wanes—no, really, count ’em—a plot of sorts emerges involving a trio of struggling Delhi underachievers. Led by Tashi (Imran Khan), a journalist, the band also includes Nitin (Kapoor), Tashi’s photographer and Arup (Das), a mousy comic strip artist. The men’s sedate daily routine takes a faster track after Tashi agrees to ferry a courier package for his girlfriend Sonia (Treasuryvala). The package moves around from one buddy to another. Unbeknownst to any of them, the 80 • india currents • august 2011

package carries smuggled contraband.The three Delhi idiots suddenly find their lives go from simply eking out a living to a fast-moving train wreck in very short order. The casting call is for slapstick comedy. Translation: there are roles galore for anyone who can aimlessly swing a gun out of a moving car, take wild jabs at party-goers, any men who can cross-dress as a burqa-clad would-be female diamond thief or crash into the home of total strangers to use their loo. The comedy lacks spontaneity and feels forced. The only emotional resonance is registered by Tashi’s co-worker Menaka (newcomer Jagannathan), a silently suffering, and married career woman having second thoughts about her life choices. After that, it’s back to the slapstick and the scatological jokes. Even the all-tongue, no holds barred full mouth to mouth smooch Tashi and a gal pal get into feels anti-climatic. And to think that only five years ago, a far more chaste kiss between Hrithik Roshan and Aishwarya Rai in Dhoom 2 became all the rage in India and even had at least one lawsuit filed against those stars for “vulgarity.” Aamir Khan & Co want to both parody cinema and remain above the fray. Witness Aamir Khan’s cameo as a retro disco dancer meant to invoke Mithun Chakraborty’s superstar persona. Sadly, it brings to mind only Shahrukh Khan’s title song from Om Shanti Om. There is a sense or irony that the script struggles to overcome and never quite gets there. When Tashi and Menaka deadpan in a Q&A session with a massively self-absorbed starlet, Tashi and Menaka’s facial expression betray too much smirkiness for us to enjoy the irony being exploited. There then is the movie’s promo. As if the specter of a toilet tank coming crashing down to the digital Dolby multi-track sounds of flatulence were not sufficiently, as the Brits would say, off-putting, then the concept of a voiceover that resembles Bachchan’s magnificent baritone introducing a vignette of Aamir Khan’s better and better known movies Lagaan, 3 Idiots, and Dhobi Ghat fade out only to fade into sounds yet more flatulence. This pretty much sums up the Delhi Belly experience. Just when one thinks that the Aamir Khan name was becoming synonymous with excellent cinema, Khan perpetrates this corny, foul-mouthed, mediocre two-hour fart joke that is mostly just not funny. n EQ: C+

Madhumita Gupta

Here Comes the Father BBUDDHA HOGA TERA BAAP. Director: Puri Jaggannath Players: Amitabh Bachchan, Hema Malini, Raveena Tandon, Sonu Sood, Prakash Raj, Sonal Chauhan Music: Vishal Shekhar Theatrical Release: Viacom 18 Motion Pictures, AB Corp.


e came, he saw, and he conquered the Hindi film industry way back in the 1970s and 80s. After a lean period, he rose like the proverbial phoenix from the ashes. Three decades after his debut, Amitabh Bachchan scaled new histrionic heights with roles written specially for him in an unprecedented and unrivalled return. The films of his oeuvre may have ranged from excellent to downright bad but he has always played his role to perfection. And now we have the tantalizingly titled Bbuddha Hoga Tera Baap, which well might be a tongue-in-cheek answer to all the queries about his retirement. Why should I leave, he seems to ask, when can do all the things I could do 20 years ago and still look as dashing as ever (white beard notwithstanding)? That is what Bbuddha is all about—a vehicle show-casing the Angry Young/Old Man of our times. Viju (Bachchan), an ex-hit man, has ostensibly been called home from Paris by the reigning mafia don Kabir Bhai (Raj) to bump-off an inconveniently efficient cop, Karan Malhotra (Sood), who has vowed to clean-up the underbelly of Mumbai. Viju arrives (in style!) but is surprisingly unsuccessful. And therein lies the nub. Is Viju really what he seems? Why is he in India and what is his relation/equation with Sita (Hema Malini) or Kamini (an over-the-top Tandon)? Throw in the cop’s love-angle Tanya (Chauhan), with their tangled love story aided and abetted by Big B, and we have time-traveled to an early 80s Bollywood potboiler. Any Bachchan fan will catch the delightful references to the actor's previous hits. The gangster father versus cop son is straight from Aakhiri Raasta; Bachchan on a Harley reminds one of his entry in Mukkadar Ka Sikander; and the swashbuckling act at the end turns the climax of Inquilab on its head. Even his character’s name, Viju, is a play on the many justice-seeking characters he played named Vijay. And here the film delivers what it promises, as the credits claim in the end “The film is a tribute to Amitabh Bachchan.” It is an unadulterated paean to the legend. What works in the movie is, of course, a no-holds-barred Bachchan. At 68, he rocks. Whether it is the so-called “item,” as he helpfully informs the audience, in which he shakes a leg to a medley of his own hit numbers from yore, or the way he packs his punches or




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india currents • august 2011 • 81

not seduced by the Bachchan aura, Bbuddha will be an unwelcome reminder of the kind of movies we watched during a particularly bad era of Hindi films. Even the poor direction and editing of those times seems to have been faithfully reproduced. Perhaps it was intentional, but it is jarring to an audience that has moved on. But if you’re a die-hard Bachchan aficionado, watch it—this living legend of Hindi movies guarantees that you’ll overlook the movie's shortcomings.n EQ: B



FLIC convincingly disposes of villains half his age, or gets flirty for his seven decades or dewy eyed when he finally admits that age is catching up. Bachchan, being Bachchan, does a bit of everything in the movie and does it with aplomb. Whether it is singing or dancing or emoting, his bravura performance manages to hold the sketchy story up to a fair extent. Sood, to his credit, holds his own against the legendary actor, Prakash Raj is menacing enough as the reigning don but Makarand Deshpande is reduced to a clown. Tandon looks beautiful but has to let go of her David Dhawan style of overacting, Hema is graceful


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as ever and does justice to her small role. The new girls on the block, Chauhan and Kaur, are pretty. Period. The plot dangles at many points, which makes the story meander till the interval and the editing is choppy at best. One casualty to the indifferent editing and screen-writing is that instead of creating suspense behind Viju’s identity, the movie ends up merely confusing the viewer with its many loose ends. The subplots interfere with the main story and head nowhere. The music by Vishal Shekhar is unmemorable except for the medley “Go Meera.” For most viewers not familiar with or



HHHH Bbuddha H oga Tera B HHHZi aap ndagi Na M ilegi Doba HHHTe ra en Thay B hai HHWes t is West HHNak shatra HHPya r Ka Phan da HHHR elay HHHiss HHHZo kkomon

Charity Fashion Show & Dinner Enjoy the LuvNeha Creation Attires, which takes you through the various moods of summer, while being a hero for many special children at the same time!!!

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5:30 pm - 10:30 pm : Doors open at 5:00 pm

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india currents • august 2011 • 87

Edited by: Nadia


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special dates Ramadan starts

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Aug. 22

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Aug. 30


Sept. 1

Ganesh Chaturthi

Sept. 1

Labor Day

Sept. 5

cultural calendar


1 Monday


Souful Stitching. An exhibit of Siddi

kawandi, or quilts made by South Asian communities of African origin. The work featured in this exhibit was created by descendants of Africans enslaved by Portuguese in the 16th century and brought to Goa. Slaves who fled their captures set up free communities in Karnataka, communities that still exist. Among other features, the quilts bear crescents or crosses to depict the artisan’s religious orientation. Ends Sep. 18. Museum of the African Diaspora (MoAD), 685 Mission St., San Francisco, 94105. (415) 358-7200. (See story.) 88 • india currents • august 2011

Shubhangi Sakhalkar will give a vocal concert as part of the Summer Concert Series on Aug. 13 in San Rafael.

SamskritaBharati Event: Panini 2011. A

week-long Samskritam day camp for children, grades third to eighth. No prior knowledge of Samskritam required. Learn samskritam with experienced Samskrita Bharati instructors. Parallel interactive fun art and games along with Yoga sessions! Monday, Aug. 1-Friday, Aug 5; 9 a.m.-3 p.m. (extended care till 5 p.m.); Sunnyvale Hindu Temple, 450 Persian Drive, Sunnyvale. Also, Monday, Aug. 8-Friday, Aug 12; 9 a.m.– 3 p.m. (extended care till 5 p.m.); Holy Trinity Church, 38801 Blacow Road, Fremont. Register:

Ends Aug. 12. Organized by Samskrita Bharati. 8 a.m.-5 p.m. Sunnyvale and Fremont. $225 for first child, $200 for sibling. Extended care (between 3:30-5:30 p.m.): $25 per child. (408) 431-6508, (408) 431-0507. sanjose@samsk,

The White Tiger. Authored by Aravind

Adiga, the book group will discuss this biting satirical novel, winner of the 2008 Man Booker Prize. Set in modern-day India, the story is about an up-from-poverty chauffeur



Jennifer Marshall

Non Stop Bhangra Get Jazzed W

ith more than 100,000 festival-goers expected throughout the weekend, the 22nd San Jose Jazz Summer Festival promises to be as electrifying and entertaining as ever. The festival run Friday, Aug. 12Sunday, Aug. 14 and will host 100 live acts ranging from jazz, pop, and soul to salsa, funk, and the music of Brazil, Cuba, Africa, and India. “We’re not only focused on the big name acts,” says Michael Miller, executive director of the festival, “More of our focus is about having emerging acts and trying to give up and coming bands exposure to a big audience.” Miller considers the diversity of the festival one of its strengths that set it apart from others. “It’s important to have diversity in the music we’re presenting—every type of ethnic music that we can find available to put out there. We really want to be representative of our community.” Non Stop Bhangra will represent the Indian musical genre at the festival, performing modern reincarnations of bhangra music. Founded in 2004, the collective features comprises the dancers from the Dholrhythms Dance Company, respected Bay Area DJ Jimmy Love, and live dhol (drum) players. Non Stop Bhangra has been a popular monthly event for the last seven years, mixing traditional bhangra with a vast array of reggae, hip hop, and breakbeat dance sounds. “Our performances always include an interactive portion with the audience where we teach basic bhangra dance steps followed by a DJ set, infused with performances by Dholrhythms Dance Company and live drumming” says Dholrhythms co-founder Suman Raj. Co-founder Vicki Virk explains the group’s vision, stressing community as a motivating force. “The blend and vision of the group’s musical style is to bring this sound, which is typically only found in the Punjabi community, and open up a dialogue between this music and the greater music community at large, and to make as many people dance as possible.” The collective seems to have achieved this goal to a large extent, with its monthly dance floor night having received numerous awards and a becoming staple in the San Francisco nightlife scene. Non Stop Bhangra is excited to bring its unique musical style to revelers in San Jose for the first time, “A few years back, Non Stop Bhangra took to

the festival scene and has been doing shows on both large and small stages across North America. We are super excited to be a part of the San Jose Jazz Festival” says Raj. Over half of the performers in the festival line up are based in the Bay Area, and the local arts community, restaurants, and countless businesses will participate through food and craft stalls at the event. The fifth annual Club Crawl will also be held as part of the festival over two nights. A cross section of musical and cultural styles from across the globe will be showcased, including iconic ’70s band The Ohio Players, Ramsey Lewis and His Electric Band, Cuban piano player Alfredo Rodriguez and trio, and South American trumpet player Arturo Sandoval, to name a few. A sense of community lies at the core of San Jose Jazz’s purpose and the organization has been strengthening the bond between local musicians, businesses and children in need for over 25 years. Its free Wednesday night jazz concerts throughout the year and monthly South First Friday jazz nights continue to promote local musicians, hotels, and businesses, however it is the organization’s commitment to music education as a means of inspiring underprivileged youth that is the primary focus. Its latest initiative, Progressions, is a school-based program run in conjunction

with the Franklin McKinley Public School District. Taking place after school and on weekends, teachers redirect students’ energy into creative pursuits rather than antisocial activities. “There’s no cost to the kids at all. We start with them in kindergarten and we stay with them until they graduate high school. We see pretty quickly the attention span going up and test scores improving,” he says. The summer festival is a grand reflection of the organization’s guiding principle, “The goal is for everyone to have a great time at great value,” says Miller. DJ Jimmy Love of Non Stop Bhangra shares Miller’s outlook, “Our philosophy is to just have fun with whatever the crowd responds to, and share what we love and let that connect with the crowd. We always tell ourselves if we get the crowd’s shoulders moving and everyone is smiling, then we have done our job,” he says.n Non Stop Bhangra performance: Friday, Aug. 12, 10-11:30 p.m. Jazz Beyond stage, Plaza de Cesar Chavez Park, San Jose. Festival: $15 Friday evening; $20 Saturday, Sunday (each); $45 three-day festival pass; children under 12 free. india currents • august 2011 • 89



and his wealthy but corrupt employers. Note: Adiga will not be present. Organized by The Commonwealth Club. 5:30 p.m. SF Club Office, 595 Market St., second floor, San Francisco, 94105. Free. (415) 597-6700. club@commonwealthclub.or g.

Wake Up Laughing, Wise Up Loving. The

Commonwealth Club’s Humanities Forum presents Cosmic Comic Swami Beyondananda who will be taking live questions from the audience. If you have an answerable question, the Swami will have a questionable answer. Swami has been called “The Mark Twain of our generation”. This program is part of the Club’s India Now series. Organized by Commonwealth Club of California. 6 p.m. Commonwealth Club of California, 595 Market St., second floor, San Francisco, 94105. $20 general, $7 students, members free. (415) 5976705.

3 Wednesday


Business Training Program Orientations.

A piece by Salma Aratsu, a speaker and participant in the series.

India NOW

Series explores various facets of India

Women, start or expand your own business! Join C.E.O. Women’s award-winning business & English training program, started by Bangladeshi Farhana Huq. C.E.O. Women has orientations Wednesday, Aug. 3, 6:00-7:30 p.m. and Wednesday. Aug. 17, 6:00-7:30 p.m. at 111 W. St. John St., #410, San Jose; Thursday, Aug. 4, 6:00-7: 30 p.m. and Thursday, Aug. 18, 6:00-7:30 p.m. at 1433 Webster St., #100, Oakland. Ends Aug. 18. Organized by C.E.O. Women. 6-7:30 p.m. Free. (888) 361-0516.


ust two years after the 2008 Oscar winning “Slumdog Millionaire” renewed the Western fascination with India, The Commonwealth Club is presenting a closer look at Indian culture in their August series of special lectures this year. India NOW will feature topics ranging from Bollywood and yoga to economic development and remarkable innovation to religion and culture. Despite its global significance, the world’s second-most populous country remains largely a mystery to many Americans. With its vast array of religions, languages, ethnic groups and traditions, India defies easy classification. The Club will welcome a number of prominent India experts from various fields, including academia, business, government, and the arts. With a host of speakers, panels, films, and exhibits, the series will shed light on India’s complexities and explore its rich diversity. “Very few Westerners have a true understanding of this enigmatic country—a nation fraught with contrasts and contradictions. On one hand India is overcrowded and poverty-stricken. But India also boasts a thriving economy and extraordinarily wealthy and educated upper class,” says Gloria Duffy, president and CEO of The Commonwealth Club. “We hope to explore some of these ostensibly conflicting realities,” she says. The series organizer, Carol Fleming, says, “India is a land of paradoxes: it contains a populace vastly divided along socioeconomic and religious lines. We hope to understand the many challenges India will encounter as it continues to grow in both population and wealth.”n Topics: Aug. 1 cosmic comic; Aug. 3 investing, Aug. 8 yoga and the Bhagavad Gita, Aug. 9 bio-diversity and agriculture, Aug. 10 Muslims in India, Aug. 11 economic growth and entrepreneurship, Aug. 18 sustainable water supply, Aug. 22 Islamic and Hindu art, Aug. 24 Bollywood, Aug. 25 Indian diaspora, Aug. 29 medical innovations, and Aug. 31 India as a rising superpower. Please check calendar listings for details on individual programs. 90 • india currents • august 2011

The film “Sita Sings the Blues” will be shown on Saturday, Aug. 6 as part of the “Roots in the Air, Branches Below” exhibit on modern Indian art in San Jose.

Investing in India Today. With Sunil As-

nani, a portfolio manager for Matthews International Capital Management, and Jennifer Schatz, the senior vice president of marketing for Matthews International Capital Management. India’s ability to not only achieve respectable economic growth in a turbulent environment but to do so without injecting mammoth stimulus, demonstrates its inherit resilience, says Asnani. However, blindly investing in anything in India could lead to disappointment. Come learn about growth opportunities as well as the challenges for this country of 1.2 billion people. Organized by The Commonwealth Club. 6 p.m. SF Club Office, 595 Market St., second floor, San Francisco, 94105. $20 general; $8 members; $7 students. (415) 597-6700. club@commonwealt


4 Thursday

Next Year In Bombay, Film Screening. A documentary by co-directors Jonas Pariente and Mathias Mangin. The film profiles the surprising diversity of India’s Jewish communities and the challenges they face in maintaining their culture and traditions as their populations dwindle. Pariente will join the audience in a Q&A after the screenings. Organized by 31st San Francisco Jewish Film Festival. 4 p.m. Oshman Family JCC, 3921 Fabian Way, Palo Alto. $11 general; $10.50 senior/student; $9 JFF members. (415) 6210523.



6 Saturday

Next Year In Bombay, Film Screening.

Sabyasachi. A rare collection of clothes and

accessories for sale from a rare collection of Sabyasachi Couture saris and outfits to handwoven kantha and kanjeeveraam saris to kurtis, Italian handbags, and jewelry from Kolkata. Organized by Pia Ka Ghar. 11 a.m.-6 p.m. Pia Ka Ghar, 12159 Page Mill Road, Los Altos, 94022. (650) 559-0825, (650) 353-0599.

Creative Minds: Sita Sings the Blues. Screening of the acclaimed animated film

“Sita Sings the Blues” (2008, 82 minutes). Nina Paley directed the film based on the epic Indian tale, the Ramanyana. The screening, part of the museum’s “Creative Minds” series, will be followed by a private tour of the exhibition “Roots in the Air, Branches Below: Modern and Contemporary Art from India” at the museum. In her film, Paley set the story of Sita, a character revered for her chastity, to the 1920s jazz vocals of Annette Hanshaw. The director connected the tale to her own experiences of life, love, and relationships. The New York Times called the film “affecting, surprising, and a lot of fun.” The film is unrated; parental guidance is suggested. Organized by San Jose Museum of Art. 12 p.m. Camera 12 Downtown San Jose, 201 S. Second St., San Jose. $10 general; $6 members. which includes the movie, tour, and museum admission. (408) 271-6840. -_sita_sings_the_blues/841.

2:15 p.m. The Roda Theatre at the Berkeley Repertory Theatre, 2025 Addison St., Berkeley. $12 general; senior/student $10.50; $10 JFF members $10. (415) 621-0523. (See story.)

The Risks and Rewards of Entrepreneurship- Before You Turn 18!. Talk and

book signing by Gurbaksh Chahal, who, at the age of 16, started his own Internet-based company ClickAgents, making him one of the the youngest self-made millionaires. Chahal went on to become the youngest executive of a multibillion dollar NASDAQ listed company. In his book “The Dream,” Chahal aspires entrepreneurs with hands-on advice on how to achieve success. Join him for an interesting session of entrepreneurship development and learn how to carve out new niches in the market place. Organized by India Community Center. 3-4:30 p.m. ICC Main Hall, 525, Los Coches St., Milpitas, 95035. Free, must pre-register. (408) 9341130.

Bharatanatyam Arangetram of Ishana Narayanan and Mounika Narayanan. Students of Vishal Ramani, artistic director of Shri Krupa Dance Company. 4 p.m. The McAfee Performing Arts Center, 20300 Herriman Ave., Saratoga, 95070.

Bharatanatyam Arangetram of Sreevidya Kurra. Student of Usha Narayan,


Film Highlights Struggle of Jews in India E

xploring themes of multicultural identity and dedication to homeland and religion, Jonas Pariente and Mathias Mangin’s film, “Next Year in Bombay,” is an examination of Indian Jews who struggle to maintain their lives in India while getting to practice their religion with no constraints. The film does not explore prejudice but rather the lack of resources to Jewish services in India. The 55-minute documentary feel more like a series of short profiles than a film with a narrative, but it provides a rare look at a 2,500-year-old Indian community that has dwindled down to only a few thousand in population, as many relocate in Israel. The film profiles Jews living in Mumbai as well as the rural areas of Maharashtra and Andhra Pradesh. Showing as part of the 31st San Francisco Jewish Film Festival.n—Nadia Maiwandi Showing Aug. 4 (Palo Alto), Aug. 6 (Berkeley), and Aug. 7 (San Rafael). Check calendar listings for details on screenings. india currents • august 2011 • 91



Quilted Together

Afro-Indian identity in San Francisco exhibit of ‘Siddi kawandi’ R. Benedito Ferrao


n July 15, the Museum of the African Diaspora (MoAD) in San Francisco inaugurated the exhibit “Soulful Stitching: Patchwork Quilts by Africans (Siddis) in India.” Curated by Henry J. Dewal, professor of African and African diaspora arts at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, and Sarah K. Khan, director of The Tasting Cultures Foundation, New York, the exhibition displays 32 quilts, or kawandi, by members of Siddi Women’s Quilting Cooperative, a nonprofit in Karnataka, India. Siddi is a term used to describe various South Asian communities of African origin—their presence is as far-reaching as Balochistan, Pakistan, and Junagadh, Gujarat. The collection at MoAD, however, comes specifically from descendants of Africans enslaved by the Portuguese in the 16th century and brought to Goa. Fleeing most notably during the Inquisition (1560-1812), 92 • india currents • august 2011

the runaway slaves set up free communities in nearby Karnataka, which still exist. Kawandi visually embody the interraciality and syncretism that occurred over centuries between Africans and Indians in Goa and Karnataka. Pieced together from saris and other fabric, the quilts may bear crescent-shaped ornamentation to signify the maker as a Muslim woman, while the works of Catholics incorporate cross motifs. Interestingly, Dumgi Bastav’s 2004 quilt, featured in the exhibition, bears both icons. What is common to all kawandi is that they are considered incomplete if not embellished at the corners with layered triangular pieces. These are called phula, which in Konkanni, a language spoken in Goa and Karnataka, means flowers. The incorporation of this arguably vestigial adornment, both linguistic and artistic, alongside other cultural signifiers, emblematically bears witness to historical hybridity and contemporary culture in the everyday use quilts provide in Siddi households.

“Soulful Stitching” bills itself as the first exhibition of quilts by Siddis outside India. However, this legacy is little known within India itself. Generally, the cultural imaginary associates India’s experience with Africa through the British colonial-era diasporic presence of primarily Punjabis, Goans, and Gujaratis in the now free nation-states of East Africa. It was also from Africa’s east coast, ironically, that the Portuguese trafficked slaves and where, too, an Afro-Asiatic commerce existed prior to European contact. MoAD’s exhibit here in the United States—a nation itself no stranger to the African slave trade—offers an opportunity to rethink Afro-Indian diasporic cultural heritage through the symbolic quilting together of these identities and their markers in the patchwork of kawandi.n Runs through September 18. Museum of African Diaspora (MoAD), 685 Mission St., San Francisco, 94105. (415) 358-7200. http: //

artistic director of Dehee Performing Arts California. Organized by Dehee Performing Arts California. 4-7 p.m. Cubberley Community Center, 4000 Middlefield Road, Palo Alto, 94303. (510) 364-6995. seshi_

Kalpana. An annual choreographic showcase

where a performer is given the opportunity to present a self-choreographed item. Ends Aug. 6. Organized by Yuva Bharati. 4-6:30 p.m. Mission City Center for Performing Arts, 3250 Monroe St., Santa Clara, 95051. $10; free for Yuva Bharati members. (650) 565 -8859. yuva_

Health Advisory Clinic. Organized by Hindu Community and Cultural Center of Livermore. Shiva Vishnu Temple, 1232 Arrowhead Ave., Livermore, 94551. Free. (925) 449-6255, Ext. 3, (925) 371-5640.

Hindustani Vocal Music Concert by Sangeeta Bandyopadhyay. The eldest

daughter of tabla maestro Sankha Chatterjee, Bandyopadhyay has had the rare privilege of receiving extensive training from three major gharanas of khayal gayaki. Her gurus include Sangeetacharya Chinmoy Lahiri, Munawar Ali Khan and Kamal Bandyopadhyay. Besides khayal, Bandyopadhyay is also a skillful thumri singer. She will be accompanied by Saibal Bandyopadhyay (harmonium) and

Sangeeta Bandyopadhyay will give vocal concerts on Aug. 6 and Aug. 13 in Fremont.

Satish Tare (tabla). Organized by Basant Bahar. 8:30 p.m. Fremont Temple Annexe, Delaware Drive, Fremont, 94538. $20 general; free to Basant Bahar members. (510) 6516386, (408) 390-7094, (510) 6516386.,,

7 Sunday


San Francisco’s Festival of The Chariots: Ratha Yatra Festival. The 45th annual “Festival of

the Chariots” seeks to educate the public on the great culture of India and its many facets. Known throughout India as the “Ratha Yatra” festival, has been performed for thousands of years in Puri, India, and today it is celebrated in all major cities through out the world. An interactive parade, in which people will pull three large chariots by ropes, will begin on John F. Kennedy Drive and Transverse Drive. The parade will continue down JFK Drive and end at 12 p.m. in Sharon Meadows on the corner of JFK Dr. and Stanyan Street. The Sharon Meadows festivities will include a free vegetarian meal, live theatre, Sreevidya Kurra will have her bharatanatyam arangetram music, ancient Indian dances, on Saturday, Aug. 6 in Palo Alto. exhibits, books, and much more. This festival is wheel chair accessible and family friendly. Organized Hall, 1232 Arrowhead Ave., Livermore, 94551. by The International Society for Krishna Free. (925) 449-6255. Consciousness. 11 a.m.-5 p.m. Golden Gate Park, John F. Kennedy Drive and Transverse Drive, 94118. Free. (510) 982-6911. Moraga Jazz Festival. Hosted by Carol Alban (flute/vocals). “Jazz for Joplin” Benefit Concert (Joplin tornado), featuring star-studNext Year In Bombay, Film Screended lineup: George Brooks (Bombay Jazz on ing. Organized by 31st San Francisco Film saxophone), Aushim Chaudhuri (tabla), Kai Festival. 11:15 a.m. Christopher B. Smith Eckhardt, Barbara Higbie, Mary Jenson, Frank Rafael Film Center, 1118 Fourth St., San Martin, Alex de Grassi, Carol Alban, Viviana Rafael. $12 general; $10.50 senior/stuGuzman, Victoria Theodore, David Thomas dent; $10 JFF members. (415) 621-0523. Roberts, Rafael Manriquez, Alvenson Moore, (See Napoleon Revels-Bey, Marc Levine, Bob Scott, story.) Steve Sage, and surprise artists. 2-5 p.m. The New Rheem Theatre, 350 Park St., Moraga, Cultural Program. A melodious ren94556. $20 general; $15 students/children. dering of Annamacharya Kritis by Sweta Box Office: (925) 388-0751. (925) 388-0751. Prasad of Hyderabad. Prasad is a gold www.thenewrheemtheatr medalist at national-level competitions conducted by the Annamacharya Bhavana Vahini. Accompanied by Sri Veeramani Bollywood Rhythms Workshop with Bha(violin) and Sri Dhanamjayan (mridanvana Mody. In this workshop, students will gam), with an enchanting bharatanatyam experience a unique fusion of Bollywood dance recital by Vaishnavi Vivek, student of choreography and hatha yoga, both of which Padmini Dorairajan. Co-sponsored by Shri have roots in India. The Bollywood dance comKrupa Dance Company. Organized by ponent consists of a combination of regional Hindu Community and Cultural Centre. folk dance styles, such as garba (Gujarat re 1:30 p.m. Shiva Vishnu Temple. Assembly india currents • august 2011 • 93

gion) and bhangra (Punjab region). The choreography is also heavily influenced by Latin, Arabic, West African and hip hop styles of dance. The dancing encourages self-expression, light-heartedness, and grace, while the yoga allows the body to remain supple and relaxed. Join Mody as she shares a very joyous aspect of Indian culture with you!. Organized by Yoga in the Middle. 4-5:45 p.m. Yoga in the Middle Studio, Village Galleria, 20211 Patio Drive Suite 235 Castro Valley, 94546. $20. (510) 537-2584.


8 Monday

Akhil Bharatiya Gandharva Mahavidyalaya Mandal 2011 Examinations. The

music examination are held annually in the hopes of keeping Indian music traditions alive in the Bay Area. In 2010, more than 125 local students successfully appeared. Applications are now being taken for the 2011 exams, held in November. Category’s are: Indian Classical Vocal, Indian Classical Instruments (tabla/sitar/harmonium/violin), and Dance (kathak, bharatnatyam, odissi). Exams will be conducted for prarambhik (first year), praveshika pratham (second year), and praveshika poorna (third year). Completed applications must be submitted on or before Aug. 8. Organized by Akhil Bharatiya Gandharva Mahavidyalaya Mandal. 7:30 p.m. 7844 Mcclellan Road, Cupertino. (408) 792-7014. satish_


9 Tuesday

IC Roots in the Air, Branches Below

Featuring modern and contemporary art by Indian local artists and early trailblazers such as M.F. Husain, F.N. Souza, Tyeb Mehta, S.H. Raza, Ram Kumar, J. Swaminathan, Jahangir Sabavala, Krishen Khanna, Manjit Bawa, V.S. Gaitonde, Madhavi Parekh, Ganesh Pyne, K.G. Subramanyam, and Jamini Roy in one show. Now through Sept. 4 (closed Mondays). San Jose Museum of Art, 110 S. Market St., San Jose. (408) 271-6840.

Bali: Art, Ritual, Performance

While Bali is widely appreciated as a vibrant center of visual and performing arts, there has never been an in-depth exploration of its artistic traditions in the

94 • india currents • august 2011

Chandi Ramesh will have her bharatanatyam arangetram on Saturday, Aug. 13 in Palo Alto.

Jai Ranganathan: An incredible success story from the farmlands of India. Can environmental conservation and economic development go hand in hand? What will it take to improve the economic condition of the world’s poor? The conventional wisdom is that environmental considerations stand in the way of the economic progress needed to better the lot of the poor. But what if the conventional wisdom is wrong? Ranganathan talks about an amazing story from the fields of India, where the environment and

the prospects for farmers have advanced together. In the Western Ghats mountain range, one of the world’s hot spots for unique species, the traditional agricultural practices used by local farmers have sheltered species and forests that would otherwise likely have vanished centuries ago. But this is not a charity operation, as these farmers have achieved astonishing economic success through their environmentally friendly agricultural methods. This case study shines a light onto a brand new way of jointly planning for

short-term ongoing events United States until now. “Bali: Art, Ritual, Performance” brings the art and artists of this special Indonesian island to San Francisco. See not only artworks but explore the context in which they were made and used, as the museum comes alive with the kinds of music and performance that fill Balinese ritual life. The 131 artworks on view—many borrowed from international collections and never before seen in the U.S.—range from simple, yet deftly woven images of the rice goddess to elaborately carved and gilded chairs. There will be puppetry, gamelan performances, masked dances, and more to provide a museum experience as unique and mesmerizing as Bali itself. The Asian Art Museum is the exclusive venue for this exhibition. Now through Sept. 11.

Closed Mondays. Asian Art Museum, 200 Larkin St., San Francisco. (415) 581-3500

Souful Stitching. An exhibit of Siddi

kawandi, or quilts made by South Asian communities of African origin. The work featured in this exhibit was created by descendants of Africans enslaved by Portuguese in the 16th century and brought to Goa. Slaves who fled their captures set up free communities in Karnataka, communities that still exist.Some quilts bear crescents or crosses to depict the artisan’s religious orientation. Ends Sep. 18. Museum of the African Diaspora (MoAD), 685 Mission St., San Francisco, 94105. (415) 358-7200. (See story.)

rural uplift and environmental conservation in India and indeed throughout South and Southeast Asia. Organized by The Common Wealth Club. 6 p.m. SF Club Office, 595 Market St., second floor, San Francisco, 94105. $20 general; $8 members; $7 students. (415) 597-6700.


10 Wednesday

Rafiq Dossani: Muslims of India: Their Politics, Identity, and Economy. Rafiq

Dossani, Ph.D., is an author and senior research scholar, Stanford University. India’s 160 million Muslims differ geographically by language, socioeconomic status and culture. The Muslim-Indian community shares a common trajectory of challenges in their political power and socioeconomic status. Their identity, in the eyes of the average Indian, is evermore monolithic and faithbased. To some politicians, Muslim Indians are now considered a security risk. Dossani will discuss the causes of their challenges and possible future. Organized by The Commonwealth Club. SF Club Office, 595 Market St., second floor, San Francisco, 94105. $20 general; $8 members; $7 students. (415) 5976700.


11 Thursday

India’s Economic Growth : What Can We Expect? Nirvikar Singh, Ph.D., is a professor of economics, UC Santa Cruz; author, and member of an advisory group

to the Finance Minister of India on G-20 matters. India’s economy is projected to grow in 2011 at a rate faster than almost every other country in the world. Is this growth sustainable? What will drive, and limit, its growth? How will it sustain innovation and entrepreneurship? What will be the role of the government? A prominent economist and expert on India will share views on the Indian economy and its future. Organized by The Commonwealth Club. SF Club Office, 595 Market St., second floor, San Francisco, 94105. $20 general; $8 members; $7 students. (415) 597-6700.

12 Friday


19th Festival of India and Parade Celebrations. With grand marshal Mallika Sher-

awat, Bollywood star and soon to be featured in the Hollywood movie, “Politics of Love.” Also featuring co-grand marshal Bollywood actress Sheeba, Bollywood singer Anjan Guha, and many others including Bay Area singers. Parade on Sunday, Aug. 14. Ends Aug. 14. Organized by Federation of Indo-American Associations of Northern California. 39439 Paseo Padre Parkway, Fremont. Parade: (510) 2999771, Cultural program: (510) 421-3535, Mela booths: (408) 561-1745.

Non Stop Bhangra at San Jose Jazz Festival. Founded in 2004, the collective

features comprises the dancers from the Dholrhythms Dance Company, respected Bay Area DJ Jimmy Love, and live dhol (drum) players. Non Stop Bhangra has been a popular monthly event for the last seven years, mixing traditional bhangra with a vast array of reggae, hip hop, and breakbeat dance sounds. Festival runs Aug. 12-14. 10-11:30 p.m. Jazz Beyond stage, Plaza de Cesar Chavez Park, San Jose. Festival: $15 Friday evening (includes NSB performance); $20 Saturday, Sunday (each); $45 three-day festival pass; children under 12 free. ww, page/non-stop-bhangra. (See story.)


August Saturday

Bharatanatyam Arangetram of Malavika

Ananya Anand and Namrata Anand will perform a Karnatik vocal concert on Friday, Aug. 14 in Saratoga.

Raj. Student of Vishal Ramani, artistic director of Shri Krupa Dance

Company. 4 p.m. The McAfee Performing Arts Center, 20300 Herriman Ave., Saratoga, 95070.

Bharatanatyam Arangetram of Chan-

dini Ramesh. Student of Shreelata Suresh, artistic director of Vishwa Shanthi Dance Academy. Organized by Vishwa Shanthi Dance Academy. 4-7 p.m. Cubberley Community Center, 4000 Middlefield Road, Palo Alto, 94306. Free. (650) 430-2236.

2011 Summer Concert Series. With Ram Kaundinya, Rahul Joshi, and Omar Ali (tabla trio), Shubhangi Sakhalkar (vocal) with Ravi Gutala (tabla), and Prashant Phatak (harmonium). Organized by The Ali Akbar College of Music. 7:30 p.m. 215 West End Ave., San Rafael. (415) 454-6372. concerts.html.

Vocal Concert. With Sangeeta Bandyopo-

adyay, accompanied by Saibal Bandyopoadyay (harmonium) and Nikhil Pandya (tabla). Organized by Sangeetaanjali. Sangeetannajali Kaksha, 39701 Logan Drive, Fremont. (510) 651-9149.

14 Sunday


Karnatik Vocal Concert. With Ananya

Anand and Namrata Anand, students of Jayashree Varadarajan, director of Sri Rama Lalitha Kala Mandir. Accompanied by Rangashree Varadarajan (violin) and Ravinda Bharathy Sridharan (mridangam). Organized by Sri Rama Lalitha Kala Mandir. 4 p.m. The McAfee Performing Arts Center, Saratoga High School, 20300 Herriman Ave., Saratoga, 95070. Free. (408) 772-6449.

Mrtyunjay: Victory Over Death. An

odissi dance performance presented by internationally acclaimed dancer/choreographer Jyoti Rout, artistic director of Jyoti Kala Mandir College of India Classical Arts. The event will include original choreography by Rout. The central item, “Mrtyunjay: Victory Over Death,” invokes the universal spirit which transcends body and mind, space, and time. Organized by Jyoti Kala Mandir College of India Classical Arts. 4 p.m. Mission City Center for Performing Arts, 3250 Monroe St., Santa Clara, 95051. $15 advance purchase/$18 at the door general; $12 advance purchase/$15 at the door students/seniors. (510) 486-9851.

17 Wednesday


Spice of Life, Growing Up Queer india currents • august 2011 • 97




Cricketer Aims for Sri Lanka

Cricketer Muttiah Muralitharan to fundraise for the North Empowerment Project in Sri Lanka on Sunday, Aug. 21.

Shyamal Randeria-Leonard


he tiny South Asian island of Sri Lanka has weathered its share of hopelessness and hope in this century. A joyous exodus from a colonial grip was bloodily punctuated by a decades-long Sinhalese–Tamil civil war to be later solemnly followed by the angry ravages of the 2004 tsunami, which claimed over 40,000 lives. Yet, the denizens of destruction seem to have done little to extinguish this nation’s pride and its pursuit of survival and success. Symbolic of this thrust for semblance are organizations such as the Foundation of Goodness (FOG) that have energetic and undaunted founders and trustees at the helm, such as FOG founder Kushil Gunasekera and the nation’s beloved and legendary cricketer Muttiah Muralitharan, popularly known as Murali. Murali comes to the Bay Area to help 98 • india currents • august 2011

raise funds for the North Empowerment Project in Mankulam, Sri Lanka. The estimated $7 million project will build a school as well as a sports complex for displaced civilians from the civil war, according to Anura de Alwis, a longtime friend of Gunasekera who initiated the California branch of the foundation. Cricket is the most popular sport in the island nation. The Sri Lankan cricket team won the much coveted 1996 Cricket World Cup amongst a host of other titles and test matches during the last decade. Murali was rated the greatest test match bowler and is the world record holder in Test and One Day International (ODI) cricket. Murali recently retired from cricket in 2010 after registering his 800th and final wicket in July 2010. Cricket fan Swati Doshi Jhaveri is a die-hard who watches matches weekly and

owns an extensive collection of cricket memorabilia and player autographs. She calls Murali “one of the best spinners the world has ever witnessed. In spite of reaching this height of fame, he is still so humble.” Mahinda Rajapakse, president of Sri Lanka, donated a 50-acre parcel in the wardevastated region of the northern province to Murali, and to date the area has been cleared of land mines, initial groundwork for the foundation has been laid, and an estimated 1,000 bicycles and backpacks loaded with school supplies have been donated to children, de Alwis says. The Sinhalese Gunasekera managed Tamil-born Murali during his cricket years and their symbiotic relationship is based on not only the shared desire to uplift rural communities in particular its children, but also serves as a tacit model of Sinhalese-Tamil collaboration. Gunasekera had set up FOG in his ancestral home of Seenigama in 1999 at a small scale to provide essential services to lo-

cal communities. In 2004, when the south of Sri Lanka was hit by the tsunami, Gunasekera personally saved dozens of lives by working with Murali, fellow trustees, and generous donors at FOG to provided immediate response in transport, food, and care. FOG continued service expansion in education, computer and business training, health care, psychosocial support and housing. Canadian pop singer Bryan Adams donated a swimming pool, and a number of cricketers and administrators from the U.K. and Australia have also generously contributed to FOG. The rehabilitation also touched hundreds of lives, says Gunasekera, who recalls Neranja, an 18-year-old woman who heartily trained in the sports complex and went on to represent Sri Lankan in the national netball team. Gunasekera also recounts Podi Sampath, 25 who was picked up in a relief camp and demonstrated “a very proactive and dynamic persona during five years of volunteer service.” Sampath is now FOG’s chief operations officer. FOG is also involved in assisting its recipients of aid with alternative income streams. Prior to the tsunami, coastal villages largely depended on illegal coral mining that was detrimental to the environment, according to Gunasekera. Divers routinely broke coral improperly to bring it ashore for lime powder conversion and in doing so contributed to removing a natural sea barrier against large waves. FOG has assembled training centers where hundreds have been trained for diving and harbor jobs in Sri Lanka. FOG’s goal in the next 10 years “is to narrow the gap between urban and rural life—the centers provide one of the best opportunities to children in shaping their careers,” Gunasekera says. He adds poignantly, “I never expected this to be so gigantic, nor that it could come from a tragic tsunami.” Gunasekera’s foundation and its business model, which converts villages into self-sustained communities, have been very successful in Seenigama, and the replication of this model to serve the civilians of Mankulam was a natural progression. The outdoor carnival-like event will take place at the 100-acre estate of Bay Area Sri Lankan Surya Kumar. Food and beverages along with band music, bhangra dances, and face and mehndi painting will be provided as entertainment. Participants can meet Gunasekera and spin an over with Murali or have him sign an autograph. Raffles and silent auctions for cricket memorabilia will also be available.n Sunday, Aug. 21, 11 a.m.-3 p.m. Anandha Tidul, 2401 Via Diablo, Diablo. RSVP by Aug. 7. $100 general, $50 ages 10-18, children under 10 free. Tickets: (408) 781-2205, (925) 3518173, (925) 828-1329; goodness.inmankulam

in India. With Devesh Khatu, Minal

Hajratwala, Rakesh Modi, and Dipti Ghosh. Growing up gay and lesbian in India imbues a broad world view consistent with the multiculturalism of secular India and the pluralistic religions of the subcontinent. At the same time, Asian family pressures drive conformity amid strong expectations of an individual born to be part of a collective. Our speakers have each forged powerful identities as accomplished LGBT activists, authors and builders of a new class of LGBT world citizens equally at home in India and the United States. Organized by The Commonwealth Club. 6 p.m. SF Club Office, 595 Market St., second floor, San Francisco, 94105. $20 general; $7 students; members free. (415) 597-6700. club@commonwealthcl

18 Thursday


Veena Srinivasan: Pipe Dreams: Water for Thirsty Cities in India. As India’s

urban population and income grow in unprecedented numbers, supplying water reliably to the community has become a growing concern. Faced with limited reservoir storage, aging piped infrastructure, and rapidly growing demand, no Indian city today has a 24/7 water supply. India’s rapidly growing cities represent both a challenge and an opportunity. Because much of the infrastructure is still being built, there is the opportunity to follow a different development path than has been followed elsewhere in the world. Join Srinivasan, Ph.D. and research associate for Pacific Institute, for a discussion on possible pathways to build a sustainable water supply system in India. Organized by The Commonwealth Club. 6 p.m. SF Club Office, 595 Market St., second floor, San Francisco, 94105. $20 general; $8 members; $7 for students. (415) 597-6700.

19 Friday


Induz Karaoke: Aazaadi Ek Ehsaas.

Aazaadi Ek Ehsaas, an Independence Daytheme karaoke night. Sing, dance, have fun with the entire family while contributing to a good cause: the Santosh Orphanage in Bangalore. Singer registration: Please send an email to and include the song name. You are encouraged to sing relevant theme songs, but song choice is open. Organized by Induz. 7:30-11:30 p.m. Swagat Indian Cuisine, 4918 Paseo Padre Parkway, Fremont, 94555. $9.99 dinner buffet general; $4.99 children ages 5 -9. Cash only. (510) 742-1300.


20 Saturday

Vocal Concert and Bharatanatyam Program. An enchanting vocal concert

by Nandita Sriram, student of Jayashree Varadarajan, and bharatanatyam by Jayanthy Sridharan, artistic bharathakalakutiram, and her students. Organized by Shiva Vishnu Temple Livermore. 1 p.m. Shiva Vishnu Temple, Assembly Hall, 1232 Arrowhead Ave., Livermore, 94551. Free. (925) 449-6255.


21 Sunday

Goodness in Mankulam with Muralitharan, Sri Lanka’s Legendary Cricketer. A fun-filled outdoor gala event with

Sri Lanka’s legendary cricketer, Muthiah Muralitharan. Come and spin an over with Murali. Also featuring entertainment and food. Proceeds go toward establishing a Learning Empowerment Institute in the former war-affected northern province of Sri Lanka. Organized by One Sri Lanka Foundation. 11 a.m.-3 p.m. Anandha Tidul, 2401 Via Diablo, Diablo, 94528. $100 general; $50 children 10-18; children under 10 free. (925) 828-1329, (408) 781-2205, (925) 3518173. (See story.)

Next Generation Soloist Series. Sindhu Natarajan (4 p.m.) and Yatrika Ajaya (5:30 p.m.) present choice pieces in the traditional repertoire. Organized by Abhinaya Dance Company. Historic Hoover Theater, 1635 Park Ave., San Jose, 95126. $8 general advance, $10 general at door; $6 student advance, $8 students at door; free for Abhinaya members. (408) 871-5959. home.shtml.


22 Monday

Sacred Heritage: A Merging of Islamic and Hindu Traditions. The Common-

wealth Club’s member-led Middle East Forum, in association with the Club’s Arts Forum and the The San Francisco Interfaith Council, presents renowned artist, Salma Arastu who will discuss the contemporary relation of religion to art. In conjunction with her art exhibit at the Commonwealth Club from July 19 to mid-September, Arastu will share the inspiration for her imagery, a blending of spirituality, Islamic values, and beauty in modern culture. The moderator will be Michael Pappas, Executive Director of the S.F. Interfaith Council. This program is part of the Club’s August series, India Now. A book signing will follow india currents • august 2011 • 99

the presentation. 6 p.m. Commonwealth Club of California, 595 Market St., San Francisco, 94131. $20 general; S.F. Interfaith Council members $8; Club members/students free. (415) 597-6705.


23 Tuesday

Rajasvini Bhansali: India Shining, From the Ground Up. Bhansali, is the executive director of International Development Exchange. The rhetoric of India Shining, a 2004 public relations campaign, engineered by the then-ruling Hindu fundamentalist party, referred to the economic growth following India’s IT boom and a few years of plentiful rain. As India’s image as a developed nation grew in the eyes of the global north, it disguised the growing economic, social and cultural disparities in a country where over 400 million people continue to live in extreme poverty. A vibrant civil society and many grassroots movements in India work to deepen democracy and build the power of ordinary people. Bhansali will discuss what has been learned from the ground up from these movements working across sectors, cultures, issues and regions. She will focus in part on

the success of women-led, community-driven initiatives working for long lasting social transformation. Organized by The Common Wealth Club. 6 p.m. SF Club Office, 595 Market St., second floor, San Francisco, 94105. $20 general; $8 members; $7 students. (415) 597-6700. club@commonwealthclu

Spices of India Cooking and Henna Party. With Ranjan Dey,

acclaimed chef and proprietor of San Francisco’s New Delhi Restaurant. The evening will include a cooking demonstration using Chef Dey’s “speed scratch” style with a masalas spice-blend, sampling of traditional Indian flavors, and henna hand painting. Enjoy a dinner buffet following the presentation consisting of the mouthwatering, showcased dishes. Organized by The Commonwealth Club. 6 p.m. SF Club Office, 595 Market St., second floor, San Francisco, 94105. $52 general; $40 members. (415) 597-6700. club@commonwealthclu


August Wednesday

Bollywood Now.

Manaswini Avvari will give her Kuchipudi Natyanjali on Sunday, Aug. 28 in Fremont.

Bulbul Tiwari, postdoctoral fellow, Stanford University, will introduce historical and contemporary Hindi film. She will provide insight into the significant conventions, economics and genres, including a screening of excerpts form old and new musical film performances. 6 p.m. Commonwealth Club of California, 595 Market St., San Francisco, 94131. $20 general; $8 members; $7 students. (415) 597-6705.


25 Thursday

India and her Fragments: Migrations from Old to New Worlds. Talk by Minal

Swapan Chaudhuri will perform a tabla solo as part of the Summer Concert Series on Saturday, Aug. 27 in San Rafael. 100 • india currents • august 2011

Hajratwala, award-winning author of “Leaving India,” who will discuss how India’s 30 million world wide diaspora is reshaping trade, identity, and culture all around the globe. She will speak to what

she says Americans need to know about the rapidly changing country to which nearly 2 million Americans trace their roots. This program is part of the Club’s India Now Series. Organized by Commonwealth Club of California. 6 p.m. 595 Market St., San Francisco, 94131. $20 general, $8 members, $7 students. (415) 597-6705.


26 Friday

Rock Band Euphoria Live in Concert.

Euphoria is India’s first rock band to enter the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. They are currently on their “Item Tour.” Organized by Nyoo TV and Amrapali. San Jose Center for Performing Arts, 255 Almaden Blvd., San Jose . $29-$125 advance, $39-$125 at door. (215) 490-2457, (713) 357-8216, (650) 477-8654.


27 Saturday

Bharatanatyam Arangetram of Pujitha Anur. Student of Shreelata Suresh, artistic

director of Vishwa Shanthi Dance Academy. 4 p.m. Cubberley Community Center, 4000

Middlefield Road, Palo Alto, 94065 . Free.

Nrityaarpana’s Fifth Annual Day. A

presentation by bharathanatyam by artistic director Roopa Anand and her students. Organized by Nrityaarpana. 4:30-6:30 p.m. Shirdi Sai Temple Auditorium, 1221 California Circle, Milpitas, 95035. (408) 874-6214.

2011 Summer Concert Series. Arjun Ver-

ma (sitar), accompanied by Nilan Chaudhuri (tabla. Featuring Pandit Swapan Chaudhuri (tabla solo). 7:30 p.m. Ali Akbar College of Music, 215 West End Ave., San Rafael. $20 general, $15 members/seniors/students. At door only. (415) 454-6372.


28 Sunday

Kuchipudi Natyanjali of Manaswini Avvari. Student of Jyothi Lakkaraju, artistic

director of Natyalaya Kuchipudi School of Dance. Organized by Natyalaya Kuchipudi School of Dance. 3 p.m. Smith Center, Ohlone College, 43600 Mission Blvd., Fremont, 94539. Venue: (510) 659-6182, Info: (510) 440-1992.

Neha’s Sweet 16 Charity Fashion Show and Dinner. 5:30-10:30 p.m. Century House

and Gardens, 37447 Fremont Blvd Fremont, 94536. $25, $50, $100, $500-plus donations to Children’s Hospital and Research Foundation, Oakland.


29 Monday

Medical Technology Innovation for India. The Commonwealth Club’s

Health & Science Forum and the Science & Technology Forum present Rajiv Doshi M.D., executive director of Stanford’s/ India Biodesign and Anurag Mairal, Ph.D., director of Global Bio Design. They will discuss India’s young health care system which is facing problems when needed most and Stanford’s program in biodesign which has been working closely with India to promote medical technological innovations, etc. Organized by The Commonwealth Club. 6 p.m. Commonwealth Club of California, 595 Market St., second floor, San Francisco, 94105. $20 general, $7 students, members free. (415) 597-6705.


31 Wednesday

INDOvation: India’s Rise as an Innovation Superpower. The Common-

wealth Club’s Business and Leadership/ Science and Techology Forums present Navi Radjou, executive director, Centre for India and Global Business, University of Cambridge. He will discuss how India’s pervasive resource and capital scarcity combined with massive diversity and growing connectivity are turning the country into a large-scale, living lab where grassroots entrepreneurs and corporations are coming up with frugal inventions that are

affordable and sustainable and have relevance not only within India but world wide. Organized by Commonwealth Club of California. 6 p.m. 595 Market St. San Francisco 94131(adjacent to Montgomery BART). $20 general, $8 members, $7 students. (415) 597-6705. www.commonwealt


3 Saturday

Bharatanatyam Arangetram of Nisha

Parmeshwar. Student of Indumathy Ganesh, artistic director of Nrithyollasa Dance Academy. Accompanied by Indumathy Ganesh (nattuvangam), Asha Ramesh (vocal), N.Narayan (mridangam), and Shanthi Narayan (violin). Organized by Nrithyollasa Dance Academy. 4 p.m. McAfee Performing Arts Center, Saratoga High School, 20300 Herriman Ave., Saratoga, 95071. Free. (408) 927-8010, (510) 623-8230. ni,


4 Sunday

Mother Ganga: The Eternal River. An

evening of bharatnatyam thematic dance ballet by Gauri Patil. The program is performed for the benefit of Lynbrook High School. The dancer is accompanied by world-renowned live orchestra ensemble visiting the Bay Area from Chennai, India. Organized by Shri Krupa Dance Foundation. McAfee Performing Arts Center, 20300 Herriman Ave., Saratoga, 95070. $10. (408) 621-1932, (408) 725-0174. gauriarang200,


7 Wednesday

Bharatanatyam Workshop. Dance instruc-

tor Sanjay Shantharam is now touring the U.S. performing and conducting workshops in several locations for bharatanatyam students and performers in the Bay Area, intermediate and advance level only. Bharatnatyam items will involve abhinaya and nrithya. Music will be provided. Learn karanas and charis, basic yoga, and pranayam for dancers to enhance stamina, physical fitness, and wellness. Participants will get a chance to perform with Shantharam at the end of the workshop. Ends Sep. 11. Organized by Vidyalatha Jeerage. 6:30-8:30 p.m. Sanatana Dharma Kendra, 897 Kifer Road, Sunnyvale, CA 94086. $150. (408) 507-0892.,

Nisha Parmeshwar.will have her bharatanatyam arangetram on Saturday, Sept. 3 in Saratoga.

© Copyright 2011 India Currents. All rights reserved. Reproduction for commercial use strictly prohibited. india currents • august 2011 • 101



Shailaja Dixit

Who Moved My Vitamin D? T

his morning I wanted to call the pundits to my house. Light the holy flames, fill my house with Vedic chants and dissolve my grief like golden ghee melting blissfully on wooden chips. On most days the puja room in my house is a locked door. I trip past it on my way to work, trudge past it on my way to bed. Ignore it most weekends through the clinks of wine glasses. But today is different. I am coping with the death of a 6-year-old neighbor; I am grieving the loss of a childhood acquaintance. I am dreading a surgery on my dearest friend. Illness and death: a mirror to my mortality. A message that my clichéd haven of children, husband, and a big, warm house is tenuous; so very transitory! I have looked in this mirror before. One parent, uncles, grandmother ... many losses seemingly washed away by exuberant youthful memories. My first kiss, the first ride on my Honda, my first paycheck, my firstborn ... And yet, yet—when I sat down to meditate this morning, the tears that rolled were not for my friend. They were for me. For all the people I lost. When I closed my eyes and chanted, I prayed most desperately for myself above all else. As I sat in silence looking at the peaceful smile on Buddha’s face, I begged for my sanity above anything else. And perhaps, that’s what a prayer is all about. It’s about a rock that you sit tight on when the seas start churning. No matter how far out you have swum, when that perfect storm whips up, you are going to swim right back to it. I was fascinated when I read The God Delusion by Richard Dawkins. The book raises many questions on the existence of a supreme external being, especially when revered through orthodox channels of prayer and religion. It sparked many a discussions in our living room, too. Should we believe in God? Is the act of praying important? Is a physical manifestation of our spirituality necessary? Spurred by doubt and blinded by the 102 • india currents • august 2011

bustle of daily chores it was just easier to let go. To drop the evening meditations. To spurn the morning salutations. To start believing in my invincibility. Did I let go of something important? Did I lose something precious? This morning, in this searing moment of pain, the answer is a crystal clear YES. (Displaying my Bollywood roots) I am reminded of a scene in Abhimaan. The hero (Amitabh) asks the leading lady (Jaya) if she believes in God. I recall her answer “Babuji kehete hain behes mein kuch nahi rakhaa.Vishwaas hi sab kuch hai.” (My father says nothing is found in arguments. Faith is everything). There is a certain truth to these words. And it comes shining through in moments when we lose our ability to be logical!

We are wired to look for God when we land in trouble. It’s an instinct as primal as a child hiding behind its mother for protection. But very few of us are evolved enough to find this comfort and strength from abstract spirituality alone. We understand life through our five senses. And that exactly is how we should also understand death and seek comfort in our conflicted moments. To simply be good and spiritual is not enough when the mind is reeling. We need to breathe in the fragrance of an incense stick, hear the chime of the arati bell, see the regal countenance of a merciful God, feel the stickiness of prasaad on our fingers, taste the cooling assurance of tulasi water ... and then, slowly, our senses soak in some perspective. We get a sense of sharing and community; human empathy and superhuman love reach us in ways we can finally understand. The simplest analogy I can draw is that just as vitamin D is needed to absorb calcium, so is the act of praying to absorb God. So, just as I teach my children table manners and find them piano teachers, I must also teach them how to find their faith and keep it. And just as I take myself to the gym and enroll in professional courses, so must I practice my faith daily, even when mortality does not stare me down with stony eyes. In the words of Kabir: “Jo sukh me sumiran kare, dukh kahe ko hoi.” (Had we remembered Him in good times, why should grief have come!) Note, Kabir doesn’t promise ever-lasting good fortune; he promises no more grief. Perhaps through strength born of faith practiced every day. I end my epistle now. The sun is bright outside my study. I am going to open the windows wide. I am going to find my Vitamin D.n Shailaja Dixit lives in San Ramon with her husband and two boys. She has been working in the field of market research for 10 years and teaches devotional music as a hobby.

IC August

spirituality and health

3 Wednesday

Morning Classes on Vedanta Dindimah. Talk in English by Swami Tattvavi-

dananda Saraswati on the tenets of Vedanta, a beautiful, structured, traditional text by Adi Sankaracarya. Ends Aug. 11. Organized by Arsha Vidya Center. 7-8:15 a.m. BAYVP, 25 Corning Ave., Milpitas. (650) 208-9565. vijayk

Atmotsava (Ramana Nama Sankirtanam). Devotional chanting of stotrams,

bhajans, and learning to recite. Organized by Society of Abidance in Truth. 7:30-9: 30 p.m. 1834 Ocean St., Santa Cruz, 95060. Free. (831) 425-7287.

Aadi Pathinettam Perukku. Organized by

Sri Lakshmi Ganapathi Temple. 32-B Rancho Drive., San Jose. (408) 226-3600. srikalahathe

Evening Courses on Viveka-Cudamani.

Talk by Swami Tattvavidananda Saraswati on the the fundamental tenet of Vedanta, which ascribes life’s problems to a lack of discrimination between our self and things other than our self. Ends Aug. 11. Organized by Arsha Vidya Center. BAYVP, 25 Corning Ave.,

Milpitas. (650) 208-9565. vijaykapoor108@ya


4 Thursday

Learn to Meditate. Meditation is one of

the most natural and rewarding of all human activities. It gives direct, intuitive experience of higher realities, and is the cornerstone of true spirituality. It also brings balance, rest, and a growing inner peace. Ananda is one of the oldest and largest centers for meditation training in the Bay Area. Thursdays, Aug. 4, 11, and 25. Ends Aug. 25. Organized by Ananda Church. 7:30-9 p.m. 2171 El Camino Real, Palo Alto 94306. $45. (650) 323-3363.


5 Friday

Kirtan (Chanting). Join for an evening of

sacred chanting. Most chants are simple to learn, so you’ll be able to join in easily your first time. Words are provided. We’ll sing many beautiful chants in English as well as some Indian chants accompanied by harmonium and guitar. Fridays, Aug. 5, 12, 19, and 26. Organized by Ananda Church. 7:30-9 p.m. 2171 El Camino Real, Palo Alto 94306. free. (650) 323-3363.

Ribhu Gita. Readings with commentary

and dialogue, by Nome, from the book, Ribhu Gita. Organized by Society of Abidance in Truth. 8-9:30 p.m. 1834 Ocean St.,

Santa Cruz, 95060. Free. (831) 425-7287.


6 Saturday

Meditation on Om with Swami Anubhavananda. A wonderful opportunity to deepen

our understanding of meditation and of the universal, sacred mantra Om with an inspiring world-renown orator, who has deep knowledge of yogic, Vedantic and Hindu scriptures and philosophies, and whose talks are rich in wisdom and wit. Organized by Vishnu-devananda Yoga Vedanta Center. 8:30-10 a.m. 1034 Delaware St., Berkeley, 94710. Free. (510) 273-2447.

Sri Sundarakhanda Ramayana of Sri Tusidas Goswami. Group recitation of

Sundarakhanda Ramayana followed by aarati and mahaprasad. 2:30 p.m. Badarikashrama, 15602 Maubert Ave., San Leandro, 94578. Free. (510) 278-2444.


7 Sunday

Meditation on Om with Swami Anubhavananda. A wonderful opportunity to deepen

our understanding of meditation and of the universal, sacred mantra Om with an inspiring world-renown orator, who has deep knowledge of yogic, Vedantic and Hindu scriptures and philosophies, and whose talks are rich in wisdom and wit. Organized by Vishnu-devananda

Bring Harmony into Your Life with Yoga I

n today’s society, yoga can be viewed as a tool for a healthy body and mind. The techniques of asana, pranayama, and meditation are usually practiced toward this goal. While these three practices are important components of yoga, we must remember that a human being is composed of several different facets besides body and mind. We must also balance the emotions, the intuitive abilities, and the vital energy to live in complete harmony. With yoga our awareness starts to expand beyond the body and mind and we encounter: one, prana, the vital multidimensional energy that keeps us alive and functioning, and two, emotions, which form an integral part of our life. Prana is the expression of life—physical elation or sluggishness, mental clarity or confusion, emotional balance or imbalance is a manifestation of energy. Energy when

managed through yoga leads to harmony and well-being on not just the physical level, but brings mental clarity and the ability for clear decision making on the psychological level, and awakens the dormant centers on the spiritual level. There are several yogic practices which directly influence the flow of energy, remove energy blocks, and allow us to awaken and increase the level of prana within the totality of our being. Emotions hold incredible power. They have the ability to exalt or diminish the vital energy, which sustains our very life. Often emotions are repressed or suppressed leading to illness and imbalance on several levels. This reflects in our day-to-day interactions within the family, at work, or in society. When we are able to direct and channel our emotions in a healthy manner, we feel more positive and harmonious in our temperament and social interactions. Through specific yogic techniques and

practices, we can bring about an awareness and balance in these intricately interwoven areas. When we start to look beyond the body and begin harmonizing ourselves at various levels, we eventually discover our latent potential, leading to a more fulfilling and enriched life! Swami Satyadharma Saraswati is a master teacher, from the satyananda yoga tradition developed by Paramahamsa Satyananda, and will be offering two programs in the Bay Area based on these principles.n—Vishalakshi Rao Vishalakshi Rao is the secretary of North American Gurukul (www.northamericanguru Swami Satyadharma Saraswati programs: Awakening Prana on Saturday, Aug. 20 and Opening the Heart on Sunday, Aug 21. Please check event listings for details. india currents • august 2011 • 103

Yoga Vedanta Center. 8:30-10 a.m. 1034 Delaware St., Berkeley, 94710. Free. (510) 273-2447.

Satsang. Silent meditation, discourse by

Nome on Self-Knowledge and Self-inquiry, recitation and readings from the Upanishads, followed by recitation of Tamil Ribhu Gita. Organized by Society of Abidance in Truth. 10 a.m.-12 p.m. 1834 Ocean St., Santa Cruz, 95060. Free. (831) 425-7287.

Sri Satyanarayana Swami Puja and Kirtan. Group puja worshiping the

Lord Satyanarayana Swami followed by the Katha, bhajans, mahaprasad. Organized by Badarikashrama. 11 a.m. 15602 Maubert Ave., San Leandro, 94578. Free. (510) 278-2444.

Who Made God? 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. Organized by Self-Realization Fellowship.


8 Monday

The Philosophy of Yoga in the Bhagavad Gita. Monday night philosophy dives

deep into dharma, as detailed in the divine conversation between Krishna and Arjuna. Hear as they discuss the byways of yogic philosophy, and delight in Krishna’s failure to convince the warrior Arjuna to do battle with his relatives until Krishna realizes he must forgo reasoning and rely on the usual divine persuasiveness of overwhelming power. Organized by The Common Wealth Club. 6 p.m. SF Club Office, 595 Market St., second floor, San Francisco, 94105. $20 general; $7 students; members free. (415) 597-6700. www.commonw

Lalitha Sahsranama Puja. Ba-

laji Temple, 678 Cypress Ave., Sunnyvale, 94085. (408) 203-1036, (408) 733-9266.


9 Tuesday

Ekadasi. Ekadasi and Shiva, or Rudrabhishekam. Balaji Temple, 678 Cypress Ave., Sunnyvale, 94085. (408) 203-1036, (408) 733-9266.


10 Wednesday

Atmotsava (Ramana Nama Sankirtanam). Devotional chanting of stotrams,

bhajans, and learning to recite. Organized by Society of Abidance in Truth. 7:30-9: 30 p.m. 1834 Ocean St., Santa Cruz, 95060. Free. (831) 425-7287.

Pradosham Rudrabhishekam. Balaji Temple, 678 Cypress Ave., Sunnyvale, 94085. (408) 203-1036, (408) 733-9266.


11 Thursday

Art of Living Course. The course com-

bines a powerful breathing technique called Sudarshan Kriya—which brings a state of physical, mental, and emotional well-being and peace with practical wisdom for getting the most out of life. Participants leave the course with specific techniques they can practice every day. These practices are sacred treasures that grow in value over the years, as the benefits continue to blossom in daily life. Organized by Art of Living. Ends Aug. 14. 7 p.m. Ojas Yoga Studio, El Cerrito Plaza,, Suite 707, 2nd floor (take elevator next to Trader Joe’s), El Cerrito, 94530. $250 general; $50 repeat. (408) 480-4726. manisha_


12 Friday

Sri Varamahalakshmi Puja and Kirtan. With mahaprasad. Organized by Badarikashrama. 7 p.m. 15602 Maubert Ave.,San Leandro, 94578. Free. (510) 278-2444.

Meditation. Self-inquiry meditation

instruction by Nome, silent meditation, dialogues. Organized by Society of Abidance in Truth. 8-9:30 p.m. 1834 Ocean St., Santa Cruz, 95060. Free. (831) 425-7287.

Poornima & Varamahalakshmi Puja. With Sri Satyanaryanana puja.

Balaji Temple, 678 Cypress Ave., Sunnyvale, 94085. (408) 203-1036, (408) 733-9266.


13 Saturday

Poornima Special Balaji Abhishemkam. Balaji Temple, 678 Cypress Ave., Sunnyvale, 94085. (408) 203-1036, (408)

104 • india currents • august 2011



14 Sunday

Satsang. Silent meditation, discourse by

Nome on Self-Knowledge and Self-inquiry, recitation, and readings from the Upanishads, followed by recitation of Tamil Ribhu Gita. Organized by Society of Abidance in Truth. 10 a.m.-12 p.m. 1834 Ocean St., Santa Cruz, 95060. Free. (831) 425-7287.

Guest Speaker and Kirtan. Guest

speaker to be announced. Organized by Badarikashrama. 11 a.m. 15602 Maubert Ave., San Leandro, 94578. Free. (510) 278-2444.

Sri Aurobindo Birthday Celebration: The Significance of Sri Aurobindo and the Mother. Sri Aurobindo (Aurobindo

Ghose, 1872-1950) was one of the great sages of modern India. After an influential political career in the cause of Indian independence, he turned to spiritual pursuits and developed the path of Integral Yoga, which combined practices from many different historic Indian yogic systems. Establishing an ashram in the French protectorate city of Pondicherry, Aurobindo was joined by a French woman, Mirra Alfassa, who was later to be called “the Mother,” and who attended to the daily affairs of the ashram while Aurobindo retired to write and meditate. Inspired by the philosophy of Sri Aurobindo, in 1951 Haridas Chaudhuri founded the Cultural Integration Fellowship in San Francisco. Robert McDermott, president emeritus of the California Institute of Integral (formerly Asian) Studies in San Francisco and chairman of the philosophy, cosmology, and consciousness program there, is a wellknown authority on the philosophy and importance of the Bhagavad Gita, Sri Aurobindo, and other spiritual teachers. He worked directly with Chaudhuri. Organized by Cultural Integration Fellowship. 11 a.m.-12:15 p.m. 2650 Fulton St., San Francisco, 94118. (415) 668-1559. culturalfellowship@sbcgloba

Lalitha Sahsranama Puja. Ba-

laji Temple, 678 Cypress Ave., Sunnyvale, 94085. (408) 203-1036, (408) 733-9266.

Miracles: The Working of Higher Laws. 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. Contact

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temples for times. Organized by Self-Realization Fellowship.


15 Monday

Sri Ragvendra Swami Aradhana.

Balaji Temple, 678 Cypress Ave., Sunnyvale, 94085. (408) 203-1036, (408) 733-9266.


16 Tuesday

Angaraki Chaturthi & Ganesha Puja. Organized by Balaji Temple. Balaji Temple, 678 Cypress Ave., Sunnyvale, 94085. (408) 203-1036, (408) 733-9266.


17 Wednesday

Atmotsava (Ramana Nama Sankirtanam). Devotional chanting of stotrams,

bhajans, and learning to recite. Organized by Society of Abidance in Truth. 7:30-9: 30 p.m. 1834 Ocean St., Santa Cruz, 95060. Free. (831) 425-7287.


19 Friday

Sri Ramana Darshanam. Readings, with

commentary and dialogues, by Nome, from the book, Talks with Sri Ramana Maharshi. Organized by Society of Abidance in Truth. 8-9:30 p.m. 1834 Ocean St., Santa Cruz, 95060. Free. (831) 425-7287.


20 Saturday

Way of the Himalayan Yogi. Himalayan

kriya master Yogiraj SatGurunath Siddhanath returns to the Bay for satsang, as Yogiraj discusses life from an enlightened viewpoint and shares his mission of Earth peace through self-peace. There will be ample opportunity to ask questions, and a spiritual experience will be available for all to receive. Organized by Hamsa Yoga. 1-5 p.m. Bunny Meadow, JFK Drive near the Conservatory of Flowers, Golden Gate Park, San Francisco, 94117. (866) 866-9644.

Awakening Prana by Swami Satyadharma Saraswati. This seminar aims to facili-

tate the conscious manipulation of prana, to awaken and increase energy within the body

and mind. Meditation on prana teaches the practitioner intuitive methods of locating and visualizing the pranic forces. Swami Satyadharma Saraswati is a highly evolved practitioner and Acharya of the classical yogic sciences within satyananda yoga. She has spent many years under the direct tutelage of Paramahamsa Satyananda Saraswati (founder Bihar School of Yoga, one of the world’s foremost Yoga training and research institutions) and his successor Swami Niranjanananda. Her experience and detailed knowledge of the subtle aspects of yoga is a great and rare gift. Through her travels internationally, she shares this knowledge eloquently and with great conviction, giving the student a deeper and richer exposure to yoga. Organized by North American Gurukul, Inc. 2-5 p.m. UUCPA, Palo Alto, 505 E. Charleston Road, Palo Alto, 94036. $30 by Aug. 8; $45 after. (408) 564-3198, (408) 7442027.

Mata Ki Chowki. Everyone will take

turns singing bhajans to the Divine Mother, with instrumentation, followed by aarati and prasad. Organized by Badarikashrama. 8-10 p.m. 15602 Maubert Ave., San Leandro, 94578. Free. (510) 278-2444.


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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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21 Sunday

Opening the Heart: Attuning the Mind and Emotions with Yoga. Emotions hold

kirtan and puja. Balaji Temple, 678 Cypress Ave., Sunnyvale, 94085. (408) 203-1036, (408) 733-9266.

incredible power. They have the ability to exalt or diminish the vital energy, which sustains our very life. Without healthy and appropriate emotional expression, one may experience imbalance and illness on the physical and mental levels. This seminar will present the yogic concept of emotion and the path of bhakti yoga (the yoga of devotion), as well as satyananda yoga nidra and specific meditative techniques, which enable one to understand, manage and transform the emotions. Yogic stretches, breathing and relaxation will be included to promote harmony and well-being. The program will also involve kirtan (yogic singing). Bring your voice, instrument, and heart! Swami Satyadharma Saraswati is highly evolved practitioner and Acharya of the classical yogic sciences within satyananda yoga. She has spent many years under the direct tutelage of Paramahamsa Satyananda Saraswati (founder Bihar School of Yoga, one of the world’s foremost yoga training and research institutions) and his successor Paramahamsa Niranjanananda Saraswati. Her experience and detailed knowledge of the subtle aspects of yoga is a great and rare gift. Organized by North American Gurukul Inc. 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Naperdak Hall, 770 Montague Expressway, San Jose, 95131. $75 by Aug. 8; $90 after. Last date for registration Aug. 19. (408) 5643198, (408) 744-2027. bayarea@northamerica

The Battle Between Good and Evil.

Satsang. Silent meditation, discourse by

Arunachala on Sept. 1, steadily abiding in and as the self, where he would henceforth reveal the highest Nondual Truth with teachings of self-knowledge, showing the primary means of the path of knowledge-- self-inquiry. This retreat, which precedes the celebration of that holy day, focuses on the Maharshi’s teachings contained within Atma Vidya, Ekatma Pancakam, Upadesa Saram, and other short texts, with spiritual instruction about these teachings, and much time for silent meditation. This retreat is an immersion in the fusion of knowledge and devotion. Organized by Society of Abidance in Truth (SAT). Ends Aug. 28. 9 a.m.-2:30 p.m. 1834 Ocean St., Santa Cruz, 95060. Registration required. (831) 4257287. html/sri_ramana_maharshi_self-reali.htm.

Nome on self-Knowledge and self-inquiry, recitation, and readings from the Upanishads, followed by recitation of Tamil Ribhu Gita. Organized by Society of Abidance in Truth. 10 a.m.-12 p.m. 1834 Ocean St., Santa Cruz, 95060. Free. (831) 4257287.,

Sri Krishna Janmastami. Yearly wor-

ship of Sri Krishna. Bhajans by Gopa Ratna, Ilora Jha and Suman and Sargam Shah followed by worship of Sri Krishna at Midnight. Mahaprasad at 9 p.m. “Rock Krishna’s Cradle” at 12 a.m. Organized by Badarikashrama. 7 p.m.-12 a.m. 15602 Maubert Ave., San Leandro, 94578. Free. (510) 278-2444.

Sri Jeyanthi. Devotional songs with Anu

Suresh and students. Organized by Shiva Vishnu Temple Livermore. Shiva Vishnu Temple, 1803 Second St., Concord, 94519. (925) 827-0127.

Sri Krishna Janma Astami. Bhajans, 108 • india currents • august 2011

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. Organized by Self-Realization Fellowship.


24 Wednesday

Atmotsava (Ramana Nama Sankirtanam). Devotional chanting of stotrams,

bhajans, and learning to recite. Organized by Society of Abidance in Truth. 7:30-9: 30 p.m. 1834 Ocean St., Santa Cruz, 95060. Free. (831) 425-7287.


25 Thursday

Ekadasi. With Sai bajans. Ba-

laji Temple, 678 Cypress Ave., Sunnyvale, 94085. (408) 203-1036, (408) 733-9266.


26 Friday

Sri Ramana Maharshi Self-Realization Retreat. Sri Ramana Maharshi arrived at

Pradosham Rudraabhishekam, Lakshmi

Puja. 5:30-8:30 p.m. Balaji Temple, 678 Cypress Ave., Sunnyvale, 94085. (408) 203-1036, (408) 733-9266.


27 Saturday

Death and Grief as a Spiritual Journey.

From a spiritual point of view, all of life is a preparation for dying. One’s true beliefs, “Who am I? What is real?” are put to the final test when the body, and with it the whole life and personality, begin to slip away. Explore how to work with the natural grieving process. Organized by Ananda Church. 10 a.m.-1 p.m. 2171 El Camino Real, Palo Alto 94306. $30. (650) 323-3363.

Ganesha Chathurthi 2011. The high-

light of this program is that children will perform the puja for Lord Ganesha and also participate in a cultural program. Puja: 10:15 a.m.-12:00 p.m. Cultural program: 1:30 -3: 00 p.m. To register for puja and/or cultural event, email with the name, item performing and contact information of the participant. Individual or group slokas and bhajans: 3-4 minutes. Individual or group dance or drama: 4-5 minutes. Last date for registration Aug. 25. Organized by Hindu Community and Cultural Center. 10:15 a.m.-3:15 p.m. Livermore Shiva Vishnu Temple, 1232 Arrowhead Ave., Livermore, 94551. Free. (925) 449-6255., bay-area/events/cultural/2011/07/ganeshachaturthi-children-s-program.htm,


28 Sunday

Amavasya Shiv Puja. 9 a.m. Ba-

laji Temple, 678 Cypress Ave., Sunnyvale, 94085. (408) 203-1036, (408) 733-9266.

Sri Ramanama Sankirtana and Meditation. Group chanting of Sri Ra-

manama Sankirtana, the entire Ramayana condensed to 108 verses. Organized by Badarikashrama. 11 a.m.-1 p.m. 15602 Maubert Ave., San Leandro, 94578. Free. (510) 278-2444.

The Bhagavad Gita: Divine Song. Lecture by Prasad Vepa. The widely revered

Bhagavad Gita, meaning the Divine Song, is the most popular Hindu scriptural text and represents the essence of Hindu spiritual wisdom. Drawing on over 50 years of reading and interpreting the Gita, Vepa shares his understanding of its essential message and relevance and shares how he strives to apply its wisdom in day-to-day living. Vepa is a retired corporate executive and Chairman of the Board of Trustees of the California Institute of Integral Studies. Vepa came to the U.S from Chennai, India, in 1968 as a graduate student at M.I.T. He has a deep interest in Vedanta, the core of Hindu phi

losophy. Organized by Cultural Integration Fellowship. 11 a.m.-12:15 p.m. 2650 Fulton St., San Francisco, 94118. (415) 668-1559. www.cultur Vasavi Mata Bhajans, Puja & Potluck Prasadam. 4 p.m. Balaji Temple, 678 Cypress Ave., Sunnyvale, 94085. (408) 203-1036, (408) 733-9266.

Sri Tulsidas Goswami. Group chant-


Atmotsava (Ramana Nama Sankirtanam). Devotional chanting of stotrams,

bhajans, and learning to recite. Organized by Society of Abidance in Truth. 7:30-9: 30 p.m. 1834 Ocean St., Santa Cruz, 95060. Free. (831) 425-7287.

1 Thursday

Meditation: Direct Perception of God. 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. Organized by Self-Realization Fellowship.


Shri Ganesa Chaturthi. Devotional songs. Organized by Shiva Vishnu Temple Livermore. Shiva Vishnu Temple, 1803 Second St., Concord, 94519. (925) 827-0127.

Sri Gauri, Sri Ganesha Puja, and Kirtan. Annual worship of Gauri and Ga-


31 Sunday

31 Sri Swarna Gowri Puja. 8:30 a.m. Balaji Temple, 678 Cypress Ave., Sunnyvale, 94085. (408) 203-1036, (408)

ing of Sri Sundarakhanda Ramayana of Sri Tulsidas Goswami, followed by aarati and mahaprasad. Organized by Badarikashrama. 2:30 p.m. 15602 Maubert Ave., San Leandro, CA 94578. Free. (510) 278-2444. www.badarikashrama.orgs.


4 Sunday

Sri Ganesha Homa, Music. Annual wor-

Sri Ganesha Chaturthi and Ganesha Stapana Abhishekam Puja. 8

a.m. Balaji Temple, 678 Cypress Ave., Sunnyvale, 94085. (408) 203-1036, (408) 733-9266.

nesha followed by aarati & mahaprasad. Organized by Badarikashrama. 7 p.m. 15602 Maubert Ave., San Leandro, 94578. Free. (510) 278-2444.

ship of Sri Ganesha. Homa, fire ceremony, conducted for Ganesha. Group participation. Organized by Badarikashrama. 2:30 p.m. 15602 Maubert Ave., San Leandro, 94578. Free. (510) 278-2444.

Lalitha Shasaranam Puja. Organized by Balaji Temple. 7 p.m. 678 Cypress Ave., Sunnyvale. (408) 203-1036, (408) 733-9266.

September 5 Monday Saraswati Puja 2011. This event is de-

September 3 Saturday Sri Sundarakhanda Ramayana of

signed to involve kids in invoking the blessings of Mother Saraswati. Let’s help kids achieve their best in school and everything

Swami Anubhavananda's Spiritual Discourses Venue: Date: Time:

Morning talks: Topic: Meditation on Om

Vishnu-devananda Yoga Vedanta Center,

1034 Delaware St., Berkeley, CA 94710

Sat., August 6 to Sun., August 7, 2011 8:30 am to 10:00 am

Evening talks: Topic: Success without Stress Venue: Date: Time:

Sanatan Dharma Kendra,

897 Kifer Road, Sunnyvale, CA 94086

Sat., August 6 to Sun., August 7, 2011 4:30 pm to 6:30 pm Know more about Swamiji - Visit:

For further information, call: (408) 257 4988 or (510) 273-2447 india currents • august 2011 • 109

Om Sri Mathre Namaha Vaidica Vidhya Ganapathi Center SRI LAKSHMI GANAPATHI TEMPLE

(408) 226-3600

32B Rancho Drive, San Jose, CA 95111

(Capitol Expressway West and Montrey Road Junction, Opposite and 1 Block from Capitol Cal Train Station)

Tuesday, August 2 - Thiru Aadi Pooram At 5.30 pm Sri Devi, Sri Bhu Devi Sametha Sri Venkateswara Utsava Murthy Abhisheka, Sri Bhuwaneswari Special Archana Aarati and Manthra Pushpa Wednesday, August 3 - Aadi Pathinettam Perukku (18th day of Aadi Month) Thursday, August 4 - Garuda Panchami Naga Panchami Friday, August 5 - Sukla Sashti Vratha - At 8.00 pmSri Valli Deva Sena Sametha Sri Subramanya Sahasranama Archana Thursday, August 11 At 5.30 pm Pradosham Shiva Sri Rudra Abhishkea Aarati and Manthra Pushpa Friday, August 12 - Sri Varalakshmi Vratha 6.00 am 1 St Batch / 7.00 am 2nd Batch / 8.00 am 3rd Batch / 9.00 am 4th Batch / 10.00 am 5th Batch / 12 Noon 6th Batch At 4.00 pm Sri Bhuwaneswari/Sri Lalitha Devi Abhisheka continued with Sri Lalitha Sahasranama chanting Aarati and Manthra Pushpa At 6.00 pm Samoohika Sri Vralakshmi Vratha Pooja Aarati and Manthra Pushpa. Please Bring The Following Items - Sri Varalakshmi Vratha Pooja (morning) Turmeric Powder, Kum Kum, Sandal Wood Powder, Beetel Leafs, Beetel Nuts, Coconut, Varieties of Fruits, Flowers, Sri Varalakshmi Mukham, Kalasam (if you have in your house) Pancha Pathira Uththarani, Plates, Agarbathi Camphor, Deepam, Kalasa Vasthram, Abharanam, Sweet Prasadam and any other additional prasadam Samoohika Vralakshmi Vratha Pooja (evening) Turmeric Powder, Kum Kum, Fruits, Flowers, Prasadam and any other additional prasadam Saturday, August 13 - Rig Yajur Upakarma Avani Avittam For Brahmacharis, Samitha Thanam Kamokarishith Japam, Brahma Yagnam, Maha Sankalpam, Yagnopaveeda Dharanam, Kandarishi Tharpanam, Vigneswara Varuna Sahitha Sri Veda Vyasa Pooja, Homam Veda Arambham, Aasseer Vadam, Theertha Prasada Viniyogam 1st Batch 6.00 am / 2nd Batch 8.00 am / 3rd Batch 10.30 am Please Bring The Following Items For The (Avani Avittam) Upakarma Pancha Pathira Uththarani, Black Seaseme Seeds, (Black Ellu) (Black Till) Plates, (Thambalam), Rice, Dhall, Jaggery, Fruits, Flowers, Coconut, Beetel Leafs, Beetel Nuts. If possible some Prasadam, for Neyvedyam For Thalai Avani Avittam Prathama Sravanam Vadu's (1st Year Upanayanam Vadu's) Please Bring Appam, Sundal, and some Prasadam for Neyvedyam At 2.00 pm Pournami Vratha/pooja Sri Sathya Narayana Swamy Pooja/Vratha. All are welcome to participate with family. At 4.00 pm Sri Navagraha Homa/Sri Saneeswara Graha Homa and Sri Navagraha Abhisheka/Sri Saneeswara Graha Abhisheka. Sri Venkateswara Abhisheka cont. with Sri Vishnu Sahasranama chanting Aarati & Manthra Pushpa Sunday, August 14 At 7.00 am Sri Gayathri Jam\Pam/Homam. Please contact temple for further details. Wednesday, August 17 At 4.00 pm Sri Maha Sankata Hara Chathurthi Ganapthi Homa, Sri Lakshmi Ganapathi Abhisheka Aarati and Manthra Pushpa Sunday, August 21 At 4.00 pm Sri Gokulashtami, Sri Kritika Vratha, Sri Lakshmi Ganapathi Ahisheka, Sri Valli Deva Sena Sametha Sri Subramanya Abhisheka, Sri Shiva Abhisheka, Aarati and Manthra Pushpa Monday, August 22 Sri Vaikanasa, Munithraya Sri Jayanthi Tuesday, August 23 Sri Pancharathra Sri Jayanthi Friday, August 26 At 4.00 pm Sri Bhuwaneswari/Sri Lalitha Devi Abhisheka, Pradosham Shiva Sri Rudra Ahisheka continued with Sri Lalitha Sahasranama Chanting Aarati And Manthra Pushpa Wednesday, August 31 Samopakarma At 7.00 am Only 1 Batch. Please contact temple for further details Thursday, September 1 Ganesh Chathruthi, Sri Vinayaka Chathruthi At 9.00 am Temple opens with Sri Venkateswara Suprabhatam At 10.00 am Srlakshmi Ganapathi Abhisheka, Sri Siddhi Vinayka Abhisheka, Sri Siddhi Vinayaka Vratha Pooja Aarati and Manthra Pushpa and Prasada Viniyoga Continuous Archana Through Out The Day At 5.30 pm Sri Shirdi Sai Haarathulu Dhoop Aarati At 10.30 pm Final Aarati Sukha Hartha Dukha Hartha Aarati snd Jai Jagadesha Hare Aarati snd Sri Balaji Ekantha Seva Friday, September 2 - Rishi Panchami Saturday, September 3 - Sashti Vratha At 8.30 pm Sukla Sashti Sri Valli Deva Sena Sametha Sri Subramanya Sahasranama Archana Sunday, September 4 - At 3.45 pm Sri Ganesh Visarjanam Monday, September 5 - Labour Day - Week End Timings Please Make A Note:: Temple Address:: 32 Rancho Drive, San Jose CA 95111 Temple Timings: Week Days Morning 10.00 Am To 12 Noon, Evening At 6.00 pm To 8.00 pm - Week Ends And Holidays 10.00 am To 8.00 pm


For Pujas & Rituals Contact: PANDIT

880 East Fremont Ave #302, Cupertino Villas, Sunnyvale, CA 94087 — Home: (408)

110 • india currents • august 2011

GANESH SHASTHRY 245-5443 / Cell: (925) 209-7637 E-mail:


do. Organized by M. A. Center. 3-5 p.m. 10200 Crow Canyon Road, Castro Valley, 94552. Free. (925) 398-0632. ranga_ saraswatipooja2011.eventb


7 Wednesday


11 Sunday

Lecture “Integral Yoga” by Kundan Singh. Singh obtained his Ph.D. from the

Ekadesi Sri Ramanama Sankeertana.

San Francisco-based California Institute of Integral Studies (CIIS) in East-West Psychology. He has a deep knowledge and sincere commitment to the philosophies

7 p.m. Balaji Temple, 678 Cypress Ave., Sunnyvale, 94085. (408) 203-1036, (408) 733-9266.


2, 9, 16, 23, and 30. Organized by Ananda Church. 7:30-9 p.m. 2171 El Camino Real, Palo Alto 94306. Free. (650) 323-3363.

9 Friday

of Sri Aurobindo and Haridas Chaudhuri, who brought Integral Yoga to California in 1951. In this lecture, Kundan will outline the salient points of Integral Philosophy including its core teachings from Aurobindo and Chaudhuri, as well as its roots originating from the teachings of Ramakrishna and Vivekananda, forefathers who brought Indian spirituality to the West. Organized by Cultural Integration Fellowship. 11 a.m.-12:15 p.m. 2650 Fulton St., San Francisco, 94118. (415) 668-1559. culturalfellowship@sbcglobal .net. © Copyright 2011 India Currents. All rights reserved. Reproduction for commercial use strictly prohibited.

Onam Pradosham Rudraabhishekam and Lakshmi Puja. 5:30 p.m. Balaji

Temple, 678 Cypress Ave., Sunnyvale, 94085. (408) 203-1036.

Kirtan (Chanting). Join for an evening

of sacred chanting. Most chants are simple to learn, so you’ll be able to join in easily your first time. Words are provided. We’ll sing many beautiful chants in English as well as some Indian chants accompanied by harmonium and guitar. Fridays, Sept.

Sri Krishna Janmastami Celebration ST

SUNDAY, AUGUST 21 , 2011 - 7:00 pm Program

Bhajans by:


Gopa Raha Nachiketa Yakkundi Ilora Jha Suman & Sargam Shah Midnight Sri Krishna Janmastami Puja We cordially invite you to join us for this auspicious celebration with family and friends, listen to devotional music and receive the blessings of Lord Krishna




Call: 510-278-2444 india currents • august 2011 • 111


the healthy life

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y son had problems playing with other children. He liked to play rough and could not understand why other children did not like to play rough with him. My son was said to be a tough kid who rarely cried, even when he did things that should have made him cry. This lead to problems at school. After weighing my options for treatment I decided to bring him to Dr. Slone of Slone Chiropractic. Shortly after undergoing an extensive evaluation and beginning treatment, I began to see changes. My son would cry when he fell down, he began to complain about the temperature of the water when I bathed him, and he was not as aggressive when he played. I was not sure what was going on, but I knew something was changing. When I informed Slone about these changes, he explained that my son was having sensory processing problems. He was not feeling all of the things that he should which is why he rarely cried and played so rough with other children. I always knew my child was not a mean child but I never knew why he could not learn to play less aggressive. Slone indicated that as my son began to process the sensory information, he will act more appropriate because he will be able to feel the pain that other children feel. Slone also noted that pain and temperature pathways travel together. The fact that my son could no longer tolerate the heat of the baths that he could prior to treatment was consistent with him processing the sensory information appropriately. All three of these—the feeling of the pain and temperature appropriately and playing more suitable with other children—correlate. Brain-based therapies/functional neurology is gaining popularity in the treatment of neurological conditions. Functional neurology is a way of evaluating and treating individuals with neurological conditions by developing treatment plans that are aimed at restoring function. The American Chiropractic Neurology Board is one of the certifying organizations that test and certify professionals in the field of functional neurology. “Chiropractic neurology is defined as the field of functional neurology that engages in internal and external environment of the individual in a structured and targeted approach to 112 • india currents • august 2011

affect positive changes in the neuraxis and consequent physiology and behavior,” according to the American Chiropractic Neurology Board. Individuals with neurologic conditions can be placed into two categories: 1. In the first category is the person who has an objective or organic pathology of the brain. These are often individuals who have an MRI showing pathology that a group of treating professionals can agree upon, such as stroke, tumors, and seizures. 2. The second category consists of individuals who have problems that do not show up on specific tests such as MRI. These individuals fit into more of a physiologic or functional pathology. Although they may have some tests that show up abnormal, it is not uncommon for treating professionals to disagree on the causes of the problems. Some of the common diagnosis consists of autism and ADHD. In brain-based therapies, a neurologic evaluation is performed in order to determine what areas of the nervous system are working properly and which areas are not. When it comes to areas that are not functioning as they should, these areas can be working too much or too little. Both of these situations can produce problems with human function. Lack of function can be a result of a number of reasons. One, there can be

pathology that is causing the lack of function. As mentioned above, this occurs with conditions in which there is an organic lesion such as tumors and strokes. Two, lack of function can also be due to the physiologic inhibition of the area. This means that although there may not be anything organically wrong, lack of function is due to neurologic inhibition. In both of these situations, the lack of function may appear the same. While lack of function is a common health problem detected in a neurologic evaluation, hypersensitivities or too much function can be just as debilitating. Examples consist of children or adults that cannot tolerate sounds, lights, or touch. These are the children or adults who have problems with a fire engines, flickering lights or sensory issues. The key to brain-based therapy is understanding neurophysiology and applying the principles of neuroplasticity, or the brain’s ability to “reorganize itself by forming new neuro connections throughout life,” according to I was very happy to see and, most importantly, to understand that if my son was not able to feel the sensory information that he should, he would not be able to understand that his rough play may be causing others discomfort. This will undoubtedly change his life and perspective forever. n


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Meditation and chanting. Yogalayam,


1717 Alcatraz Ave., Berkeley. Sundays, 9-10: 30 a.m. (510) 655-3664.

Laughter Yoga Club. Simple effective yo-

Sunday Worship Services. Seekers from all

gic 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) 490-1260.

Vishnusahasranama. Daily, 12 p.m. Ba-

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

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

Patanjali Yoga Sutras: Satsang. Parama-

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. info.vedictem

Sunday Simplified Kundalini Yoga (SKY), 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.

Guru Gita Chant Siddha Yoga Meditation 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.

Discourses on Bhagavad Gita, Ch. 12 by

Acharya Prabodh Chaitanya. Organized by Chinmaya Mission San Jose. Sundays, 9-10 a.m. Linclon High School, 555 Dana Ave., San Jose. (408) 998-2793.

114 • india currents • august 2011

faith backgrounds are welcome. 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. An inspirational message, silent meditation, sacred music and scripture from many traditions help us to remember what is true—life is good. 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.

Abhishekam and Alankaram and Special Pujas to magnificent deities, accompanied 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. info.vedictemple@gmail. com.

Sunday Service Sikh Temple, 2301 Evergreen Ave, West Sacramento. Sundays, 10 a.m. (916) 371-9787.

Sri Akhand Path Sahib Sikh Temple, 1930 S Grant St, Stockton. Sundays, 10 a.m. (209) 946-9039.

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) 5170975, (408) 262-6042.

Satsang, silent meditation, discourse by

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. First and fourth Sundays of the momth, 10-11:30 a.m. 1834

Ocean St., Santa Cruz. Free. (831) 425-7287.

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.

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.

Discourses on Gitas from Tulsi Ramayana by Acharya Prabodh Chaitanya. Organized by Chinmaya Mission San Jose. Sundays, 10: 30-11:30 a.m. Linclon High School, 555 Dana Ave., San Jose. (408) 998-2793.

Sunday Services Self Realization Fellowship, Sacramento Center, 4513 North Ave, Sacramento. Sundays, 11 a.m. (916) 483-9614.

Community Gatherings include a short

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

Sunday Service Organized by Self Real-

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

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. Orga-


nized by ISKCON. ISKCON, 951 S. Bascom Ave., San Jose. Sundays, 4:30-6 p.m. Free. (408) 559-3197.

Traditional Vedanta and meditation class-

es. Presented by Swami Dayananda’s Arsha Vidya Center. Jain Bhavan, 722 S. Main, Milpitas. Sundays, 5-6:30 p.m. for beginning students; 8-9:30 a.m. for intermediate students. (650) 208-9565.

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 distribution, 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, lecture

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 including

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) 7381201.

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Sri Ram Amrith Vani and bhajans. Sun-

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, Sathsanga or Puja. Sundays, Balaji Temple, 678

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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.

Rudrabhi Sheka. Mondays, 7-8:30 p.m.

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

Discourses on Sri Ramacharitmanas (Tulsi Ramayana) by Acharya Prabodh

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.

Chaitanya. Organized by Chinmaya Mission San Jose. Mondays, 10-11 a.m. Sandeepany San Jose, 1050 Park Ave., San Jose. (408) 9982793.

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

Discourses on Mandukya Upanishad

by Acharya Prabodh Chaitanya. Organized by Chinmaya Mission San Jose. Tuesdays, 6: 30-7:30 a.m. Sandeepany San Jose, 1050 Park Ave., San Jose. (408) 998-2793.

Community & Cultural Ctr, 1232 Arrowhead Ave, Livermore. Tuesdays. (925) 449-6255.

tary 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. SunnyReady for Extreme Makeover?

Hanuman Chalisa and Durga Pooja and Subramanya Strotam. Tuesdays, 7-8:30 p.m. Balaji Temple, 678 Cypress Ave., Suunyvale. (408) 203-1036.

Discourses on Brhad-Aranyaka Upanishad by Acharya Prabodh Chaitanya.

Organized by Chinmaya Mission San Jose. Tuesdays, 7:30-8:30 p.m. Sandeepany San Jose, 1050 Park Ave., San Jose. (408) 998-2793.

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 Vedic Temple, 513 Los Coches St., Milpitas. Free. (408) 263-6375. www.vedictempl

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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. Discourses on Kena Upanishad by Acharya Prabodh Chaitanya. Organized by Chinmaya Mission San Jose. 10-11 a.m. Sandeepany San Jose, 1050 Park Ave., San Jose. (408) 998-2793.

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, com-

mentary 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.

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.

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.

Devotional Meetings including prayer,

chanting meditations, video discourse (Bhagvad Gita series), arti and homage. J.K.P. india currents • august 2011 • 117




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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.

Sri Aurobindo Meditation and Study Group. Wednesdays, 7:30-8:30 p.m. 2134 Carmenere St., 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.

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.

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Sunnyvale Center, 955 Ponderosa Avenue #27, Sunyvale. Wednesdays, 7:30-8:45 p.m. (408) 738-1201.

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

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

Thursday Discourses on Kena Upanishad by Acha-

rya Prabodh Chaitanya. Organized by Chinmaya Mission San Jose. Thursdays, 6:30-7: 30 a.m. Sandeepany San Jose, 1050 Park Ave., San Jose. (408) 998-2793.

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

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.

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.

Shri Shirdi Sai Baba haarathulu dhoop

aarti. Sri Lakshmi Ganapathi Temple, 32B Rancho Dr., San Jose. Thursdays, 7:30 p.m. (408) 226-3600. www.siliconvall

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Jain Swadhyay with an illuminating study

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) 2078196.

860 E. Remington Dr. #F Sunnyvale, CA 94087

Open Mon-Sat 9am-6pm By Appointment Only

(408) 738-0996 Manjari Aravamuthan, M.D. Internal Medicine & Primary Care BOARD CERTIFIED

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

200 Jose Figueres Ave., Ste 230, San Jose, CA 95116

mentary 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.

(408) 929-6922


Shirdi Sai Bhajans. Shirdi Sai Center, 897-

India Currents goes to press as much as six weeks in advance of some events listed in it. Even though organizers do their best to stick to the announced schedule, in rare cases events are rescheduled or cancelled. To avoid disappointment, we recommend that you always check the organizer’s website, and


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• Digital X-Ray (98% radiation free) HYG IENE KIT • Ultrasonic Cleaning for all new pa • Intra Oral Cameras afte r initia tients l cleaning • Air Abrasion Polisher • Sterilizer Monitoring Service per OSHA

Most Health Insurance Plans Accepted including Medicare, HMO, PPO. Cash Paying Options Available. Languages Spoken: Tamil & Hindi

Aparna C. Nayudu, D.D.S. General and Family Dentistry

Personalized Care for the whole family • Cleaning, Fillings, Crowns , Bridges • Root Canal Treatment, Extractions • Bleaching

Pearl Dental Goup

(408) 531-8080

• Office hours by appointments • Evening/Weekend appointments • Most Dental Plans Welcome • Emergency Care • State of the Art Sterilization

3005 Silver Creek Rd #198. San Jose, CA 95121 india currents • august 2011 • 119

Sri Sai baba Aarti and Bhajana.

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

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.

Brhad-Aranyaka Upanishad by Acharya

Prabodh Chaitanya. Organized by Chinmaya Mission San Jose. Thursdays, 7:30-8:30 p.m. Sandeepany San Jose, 1050 Park Ave., San Jose. (408) 998-2793.

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.

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

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

Sri Lalitha Sahasranama Parayanam and Sri Maha Lakshmi Puja. Fridays, 6:30-8 p.m., Sunnyvale Hindu temple, 420-450 Persian Dr., Sunnyvale. (408) 734-4554, (408) 7340775.

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

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

Kirtan, an evening of chanting. Words pro-

vided. 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 in-

struction 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.

Group Meditation with mantra chant-

ing 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,

120 • india currents • august 2011

Video Gita from Tulsi Ramayana, by

Acharya Prabodh Chaitanya. Organized by Chinmaya Mission San Jose. Saturdays, 4:306 p.m. Los Cerros Middle School, 968 Blemer Road, Danville. (408) 998-2793.

Bala Vikas Classes Organized by San

Saturday Guided Meditation, followed by discours-

es on Taittiriya Upanishad. Sandeepany, 1050 Park Ave., San Jose. Saturdays, 6:30-8 a.m. (408) 998-2793.

Guided Meditation followed by video

discourses on Svetashvara Upanishad by H.H. Swami Tejomayanandaji. Organized by Chinmaya Mission San Jose. Saturdays, 6:308 a.m. Sandeepany San Jose, 1050 Park Ave., San Jose. (408) 998-2793.

Srivenkateshwara Suprabhata and Vishnu Sahasranama Strotam. Saturdays, 8-9 a.m. Balaji Temple, 678 Cypress Ave., Suunyvale. (408) 203-1036.

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.

Sri Venkateswara Suprabhata Seva

and Sri Vishnu Sahasranama Parayanam. Saturdays, 10-11:30 a.m. Sunnyvale Hindu temple, 420-450 Persian Dr., Sunnyvale. (408) 734-4554, (408) 734-0775.

Video Satsang, bhajan, kirtan, Pranayam

(breathing technique), Mantra jaap and Dhyan program. Organized by Shri Yoga Vedanta Ashram. Saturdays, 11 a.m.-1 p.m. First and Third Saturdays, 2-5 p.m. Second Saturdays, Sunnyvale Hindu Temple, 420-450 Persian Dr. Sunnyvale. 11 a.m.-1 p.m. First and Third Saturdays, Fremont Hindu temple, 3676 Delaware Dr., Fremont. Free. (831) 2124680, (408) 667-8884.

Balajyothi Classes The classes focus on

slokas, bhajans, story telling and activities. HCCC Library and Learning Center, Livermore Temple, Livermore. Every 2nd and 4th Saturday, 1-2 p.m. ranganathanarchana@yah,

Discourses on Acharya Prabodh Chaitanya, Ch. 4, by Acharya Prabodh Chaitanya. Organized by Chinmaya Mission San Jose. Saturdays, 1:30-3 p.m. Washington High School, 38442 Fremont Blvd., Fremont. (408) 998-2793.

Jose Sathya Sai Center Study Circle. Sri Lakshmi Ganapathi Temple, 32B Rancho Dr., San Jose. Saturdays, 6 p.m. (408) 226-3600., www.siliconvalleyhindutemple .com.

Eucharistic Celebration in Tamil. Or-

ganized by Bay Area Tamil Catholic Community. Second Saturday of every month, 6: 45 p.m. St. Joseph Parish Church, Mountain View.

Osho Evening Meditation Meeting

based on Osho’s vision and techniques. Meditation class followed by vegetarian potluck dinner. Organized by Ritesh Arora (Amaresh). 989 Lakeshire Ct, San Jose. Saturdays, 7 p.m. (408) 294-6737, (650) 842-9140.,

Devotional Meetings Programs including prayer, chanting meditations, video discourse (Bhagvad Gita series), arti and homage. J.K.P. Sunnyvale Center, 955 Ponderosa Avenue #27, Sunyvale. Saturdays, 7:30-8:45 p.m. (408) 738-1201.

Ramakrishna-Vivekananda Literature, a

discourse by Swami Prapannananda. Vedanta Society of Sacramento, 1337 Mission Ave., Carmichael. Saturdays, 7:30 p.m. (916) 4895137. eN-Kriya for Kundalini Awakening. eN-kriya is a 42-minute process involving intense pranayama (breathing techniques), mudras (yogic hand gestures), asanas (yoga poses), and meditations. At the individual level, one experiences: physical health and healing, emotional well-being, spiritual ripening through kundalini awakening, Levitation and high state of awareness. En-kriya doesn’t contain any religious rituals or beliefs and it doesn’t matter who you follow. It just deals with breath. Every human being whether one believes in god or not is eligible to practice eN-kriya process. Organized by Life Bliss Foundation. Program broadcast live from India. Two-way live connection. Conducted by Paramahamsa Nithyananda. Saturdays, 810 p.m. Nithyananda Vedic Temple, 513 Los Coches St., Milpitas. Free. (408) 263-6375. www.vedictempl © Copyright 2011 India Currents. All rights reserved. Reproduction for commercial use strictly prohibited.

I C dear doctor

Alzak Amlani

Non-traditional Therapies Q

These days I hear of unusual therapies and ways of healing emotionally and mentally. Some are artistic ways of expressing feelings or issues and getting in touch with our inner selves. I have friends who use physical movement to change their state of mind. Of course, in India, yoga has been a big part of psychological and spiritual growth. As a teenager I used to make collages with pictures that reflected my vision or images that inspired me. You’ve talked about exercise and mindfulness in previous articles as approaches that help with different mental challenges. Can you explain how these approaches are different from and still a part of talk therapy


Psychotherapy today is becoming more interdisciplinary and integrative. It is pulling from the visual arts, drama, dance, movement, and body work such as acupressure and Rosen method, meditation and spirituality, neuroscience, and eco-psychology. There is a recognition that the human being is so complex and multi-dimensional that each person will need and be drawn to dif-

ferent ways of growing and exploring. When so many choices abound, it’s also challenging to know where to go and what’s best for your issues. There are three key processes that occur in moving towards mental and emotional well-being: • Getting clarity: This includes knowing whether you are feeling depressed, anxious, have unexpressed anger, trauma, or a thought disorder such as psychosis. For diagnosis, psychotherapy and psychiatry are most suitable. It also includes tapping your strengths, talents, coping styles, and ability to transform. • Having a way for the inner self to emerge and be integrated: This can happen in a variety of ways—someone asking you questions, listening and reflecting back what they hear; a safe and deep place for feelings to be heard and expressed; different physical movements like dance that allow your body to organically move without inhibition, reflecting the shifting of feelings, thoughts, and energies. It is a powerful way to access the unconscious without speaking and without edits

or distortions of the mind. It’s best practiced in small groups or at least having one person witness and contain the experience for you. Painting without planning can also be quite powerful. Allowing your hand to paint gives the unconscious an open space to project. It’s also a powerful way to encounter the inner critic, which is often judging us and inhibiting us from genuine expression and exploration. • Having our behavior and life reflect the inner changes: Sometimes this happens naturally. At other times we need to set intentions, make workable plans, and take action. Life coaches, taking classes, hiring people to do certain aspects of our projects, and shortterm counseling are very useful and supportive for this work. It’s by taking some risks and enjoying the range of tools and approaches available to us that we really begin to see what we like. This helps us grow in ways that change our inner and outer lives. n Alzak Amlani, Ph.D., is a counseling psychologist in the Bay Area. 650-325-8393. Visit

Is a family member or loved one hurting you?

A domestic violence helpline for South Asian women Our services are free and strictly confidential Call us for information and support from someone who understands your culture.

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PATEL, M.D., F.A.A.P. (408) 729-1220, by appt.

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Telephonic and email consultations available. Special complementary health rate plans available

We evaluate full range of medical problems including HEART & LUNG PROBLEMS including chest pain, cough, passing out, palpitation or shortness of breath, vascular problems; arthritis; ulcer, diarrhea, abdominal pains, heart burns; headache, allergy & hay fever; asthma; rash; thyroid, gout, diabetes, high blood pressure and cholesterol; anemia; blood in urine or stool; minor injuries at work and auto accidents, immigration exams, SECOND OPINION.


200 Jose Figueres Ave., #340 San Jose, CA 95116 (Easy access from 680 & 101)

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india currents • august 2011 • 123




SHRANGAR BEAUTY PALACE. Waxing, facial, manicure, pedicure, Bridal make-up, Mehandi all occasions. 20 years experience. Call Priti Goel (408) 732-9587.


FULL SERVICE FAMILY hair salon in South San Jose. Haircut: Men $8.95, Women $15. Threading: eyebrows $5, upper lip $3, full face $15. Facial $30. Waxing: full arm $20, full legs $30. Call Fantastic Sams for appt. (408) 448-7267. Location: 1659 Branham Lane, San Jose, CA 95118.

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

Don’t want to use your own address? We’ll assign you a FORWARD NUMBER and forward all your mail for $5 per ad.

REPLYING TO A FORWARD NUMBER: Seal your letter in an envelope, and mail it to INDIA CURRENTS FORWARD, 1885 Lundy Ave, Ste. 220, San Jose, CA 95131. Be sure to write the correct FORWARD NUMBER. No commercial solicitations please.

ANNOUNCEMENTS designed to help you pick out the best of Indian restaurant, realtors, groceries, shopping, services, events and all else right where you are. Also, find us on and on Twitter @theindianlist to get recommendations and updates on Indian businesses. Business owners, to add or verify your listing and send pictures, contact us at m. Marketing students interested in working with us - email

BEAUTY BEAUTY PARLOR. Specialist in herbal facial, henna, waxing, manicure, threading, pedicure, party and bridal makeup, hair cutting etc. Also latest Indian jewelry for sale and rental, bridal and party at reasonable price. Located in San Jose/Evergreen area. California licence holder. Call Amarjeet (408) 274-3450 or email sihraamarjeet@yah SEEMA BEAUTY SALON. Threading, waxing, facials, color, hair-cut, henna, perms, Japanese style hair straightening, head massage, hair conditioning, manicure, pedicure and bridal makeover. Located in Sunnyvale. Call (408) 244-6009. MAKING THE WORLD a beautiful place one face at a time. Savvy’s Bridal services specializes in meeting your needs to plan your wedding at your doorstep so that you don’t have to run around. Services offered are wedding planning, consulting, make-up, hair, dressing, mehndi, flowers, catering, photography. Call (408) 401-401-9821 or

HAIRSTYLING BY FARIN, 30 yrs. experience. Located in Sunnyvale. Cut, style, color, highlights, updo, keratin complex straightening, waxing, threading, facial, brides. Call (408) 307-3679. NAZ THREADING SALON, Sunnyvale. Facial: gold, pearl or diamond $40 with free veg. peel; waxing: full leg $29, full arms $18; manicure and pedicure $25; men’s haircut $12. Valid on Tues from 9am-1pm. Call (408) 400-0629.

BUSINESS DYNAMIC OPPORTUNITY for businessminded person. Related to printing industry. Investment needed. Website developer and graphic design expertise required. Desi related theme. Call (954) 817-6899. Online classifieds for the Indian community. Promote your business and services for free. Post classfieds in various categories in different cities for free.

CHILDCARE BALMANDIR, CUPERTINO. Infant/toddler care, convenient Cupertino, I-280/Foothill Blvd location, close to Mountain View, Sunnyvale, and Palo Alto. Licensed, good ratio, provide hot vegetarian lunch. Afterschool program available, qualified staff, preschool activities, age appropriate program, large playground. Lots of happy parents! Call (408) 737-0790. KARVE’S FAMILY DAY CARE. License #434406420. In Cupertino, early childhood educated and experienced. Safe, enthusiastic, and encouraging environment. Abundant toys, age-appropriate activities, vegetarian food. Call (408) 343-1073. PINK AND BLUE DAY CARE. Licensed quality care, Almaden Valley, San Jose. Spacious, comfortable, hygenic, healthy, safe environment for children 8 months and above. Contact Neeru (408) 268-7886.

GHARKUL DAY CARE. Marathi licensed day care in Cupertino. Flexible timing, homemade food, affordable rate. Accepting children of all ages. Please call (408) 7927014 or L’IL STARS afterschool care for Cupertino schools-Collins, Stocklmeir, Portal, and Eaton. Free pick up. Homework help. License #434411071. Call Deepa (408) 255-2596. AFTER-SCHOOL PROGRAM (Grades K-8) by California credentialed Teacher Math/English. School pickup available. Summer full day and half day. (408)962-0754

CLASSES: DANCE 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

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 ALI AKBAR COLLEGE OF MUSIC offers study in North Indian classical music. Classes are offered in vocal, instrumental and tabla. All are welcome. For more information please call (415) 454-6264 or classes.html AKHIL BHARATIYA Gandharva Mahavidyalaya Mandal. India music examinations are conducted in vocal, instrumental, dance, kathak, and bharatnatyam. Call (408) 7927014 or email SITAR LESSONS by Joanna Mack of Maihar Gharana. Teaching all levels. Acquire a firm grounding in theory and structure of North Indian Classical Raga and Tala. Learn Sitar maintenance and care. Assistance in selecting an instrument. Classes in Berkeley, San Rafael and SF. Please inquire about group classes. Call (510) 229-7497 or email PIANO LESSONS by Julia Hansen. All levels. B. Music, M. Music degrees Faculty member National Guild of Piano Teachers. Half Moon Bay. Call (650) 594-8233 or email

india currents • august 2011 • 125



SRIVARNISA KALALAYA offers bharathanatyam classes at Sunnyvale (Central and St. Mary). Flexible timings. Contact Nirupama at (208) 954-2477 or email nirupama.varad Also available for Nattuvangam.

CLASSES HINDI LANGUAGE CLASSES in Milpitas. Learn basics, letter recognition, vowels, consonants etc. Also Art classes for kids. For more information visit www.firstartclass.weeb or email: HINDI LANGUAGES CLASSES offered by Madhu Bhasha Kendra for Children 3+ to Adults in Bay Area. Accredited by WASC and UC System for High School Foreign Language Program. Credits and Grades transferrable for students in Palo Alto, Fremont, Milpitas, Saratoga, Cupertino. LANGUAGE CLASSES in Artesia. Reading, writing, conversational Hindi. Visit For summer classes Call Anshu to register (562) 243-7722. NEEDLE CRAFT CLASSES in Fremont - learn Embroidery, Knitting, Crochet.

Please contact Usha at (408) 644-4965 or

COUNSELING LICENSED MARRIAGE and family therapist offering psychotherapy in English and Bangla. Please visit for more information or call (415) 820-1550. COUNSELING FOR children and adults. Kids struggling with low grades, experimenting with drugs and alcohol, behavior problems? Adults experiencing family and marital conflicts, anxiety, depression, cross cultural issues? I offer counseling in English, Hindi, Urdu and Punjabi. Shalini Dayal, licensed Marriage and Family therapist in Fremont. Info:

EMPLOYMENT, seeks Software Engineer, M.S. in EE/CS, 2yrs exp. Co-own the front end architecture with Information architect. Create abstract cash back platform. Mentor team on performance optimization techniques and best practices. Design, development and testing of product. Knowledge of JAVA, JSP, Velocity, PHP. Apply HR, 333 Bryant Street, #250 , San Francisco , CA 94107 .

AD OF THE MONTH M AT R I M O N I A L : F E M A L E GROOM WANTED. Parents invite suitable alliance from US born/raised MD /PhD /MS/Similar aged 31-35 for their daughter, US MD, 30, slim, 4’11’’,Arya Vysya. Caste no bar. Contact: Account Rep-P/T Sales payment & bookkeepers.Applicants must be computer lit-erate w/access to the Internet. Email:

E N T E RTA I N M E N T CLASSICAL NORTH INDIAN musicians for weddings, parties, events, lecture, demon strations and private concerts. Please contact Zamzaman Arts at (510) 229-7497 or email HOST YOUR own party or join ours! Celebrations are important and we make them memorable with top quality LIVE music performances. Contact for an exclusive performance or how to join ours. Call (408) 789-7201 or email melodystardhananjay@g




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india currents • august 2011 • 127



FOR SALE: ART AVNISH CHANDRA (B.1931-D.1991). For sale: collection of works, 4 paintings and 4 watercolors by Avnish Chandra. Sold as a group only. Contact Fred Page, Grace Lane Gallery, or call (949) 6754100

FOR SALE: MUSIC INSTRUMENTS - Greatest selection of North Indian instruments in the U.S. Ali Akbar College store sells the finest quality sitars, sarodes, tanpuras, harmoniums, tablas, flutes, etc. Complete repair service. We ship anywhere in USA. 1554 4th San Rafael, Ca 94901. Call (415) 4540581. CARNATIC MUSIC live concert CD of Vinjamuri compositions sung by Sangeethakalnidhi RK Srikatan for sale for $6.00. Call (310) 341-3884 or email SANDHYAVINJAMURI@ YAHOO.COM

H E A LT H SOUTH ASIAN HEART CENTER at El Camino Hospital provides special health care for South Asians from Bangladesh, India, Pakistan, Nepal and Sri Lanka. We can help with early detection and advanced screening and health assessments, recommend lifestyle adjustment, provide referrals to wellness providers and assists participants in ongoing management of risk factors. Call (650) 9407242 or visit WWW.REKHASLIST.COM Introducing community driven free, low cost, or slidingscale medical providers from general medicine, specialities, dental, vision, to fitness and mental health. BAY VALLEY MEDICAL GROUP serves the East Bay with offices in Hayward, Pleasanton, Danville, and Castro Valley. With a diverse staff of physicians, BVMG provides compassionate, primary and speciality care, including an all female OB/Gyn departmenFluent in Hindi, Telugu, Kannada, Urdu and Farsi. For information please visit www.bayval or call (510) 785-5000.

HELP WANTED FRONT DESK, Assistant Manager positions for Limited service hotel in Colorado. Experience required. Send resume with references: Manager for franchise Colorado hotel 1-2 years managerial or front desk experience desired. Contact Nath at (970) 690-2506 or email:

128 • india currents • august 2011

M AT R I M O N I A L : F E M A L E ATTRACTIVE HINDU DOCTOR Female 34 seeks American Born Indian Professional Match. I am 5-2, never married , modern thinker with traditional values based in Northern California as an Internist. Email me a recent picture and complete details at GROOM WANTED. Parents invite suitable alliance from US born/raised MD /PhD /MS/ Similar aged 31-35 for their daughter, US MD, 30, slim, 4’11’’,Arya Vysya. Caste no bar. Contact:

M AT R I M O N I A L : M A L E AMERICAN MALE who manages his own business based in L.A. is looking for a lady friend that will eventually lead to marriage. Call Shawn (323) 969-9347. USA SETTLED RELATIVES, seeking bride for India based nephew, good looking, very bright, Hindu 31 years, 5’ 9” B.Com., equity portfolio management business. Attractive, supportive females, with good family values and positive outlook desirable. With biodata and photos contact: yrm888@

O R G A N I Z AT I O N S BIHAR SAMAJ is a social and cultural organization of enterprising and motivated people. Our aim is to promote interest in Bihar’s culture and we welcome support from anyone with interest in Bihar. For information write Bihar Samaj, P.O. Box 21285, San Jose, CA 95151. Call (408) 528-0489 or email

P U B L I C AT I O N S MAGAZINE ABOUT LESBIAN & GAY South Asians. Personal stories, letters, personal ads, calendar of activities, news about homosexuality, resource directory, interviews. Subscription $12.95 per year. Write Trikone, Dept IC, P.O. Box 14161, San Francisco, CA 94114. Call (415) 789-7322.

R E A L E S TAT E BUY DISTRESSED PROPERTIES for cents on dollars. Sell your home for 1%. Home buyers get 1% at closing. Call Kyson Realty (510) 857-5781. RE Broker. DRE license 01333025. GREAT FRANCHISED hotel 20 minutes from Albuquerque with very attractive earnings for immediate sale.Only serious buyers with considerable down payment reply to

3 BR,3 Bath flat about 1900 sq.ft. saleable area in 5 year old complex in Saibaba Colony, Coimbatore, TamilNadu with 24/7 security, fully furnished with modern amenities, 24/7 water and electricity, fully equipped kitchen with central gas, electric clothes washing machine and separate electric dryer, private balcony, wet bar, covered parking, exercise and community rooms for residents’ use. No brokers. If interested, email for more details.

SERVICES PROFESSIONAL GRANITE countertop installation, 1 day service, demolish your countertop, install new plywood, connecting all plumbing under the sink with pipes. We do custom and pre-fabricated granite. 3 years warranty on all installations, call (408) 460-8463. Fax: (866) 261-1330. california_ Brand new free undermount sink 9" dip. Brand new free Delta faucet in box, life time warranty.

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Jula Pereira

Dark and Beautiful Connecting with my heritage filled a void I’d never known I had


was only two months old when my parents brought me from Kerala to the United States in a small carrier. The family joke is that the cab driver almost put me into the trunk of his car, believing that I was extra luggage. I was being transported to another land, one that promised to offer a better life for my immigrant family. My father was an electrical engineer and ended up making a good living. I grew up very sheltered, enjoying the protection of my parents as well as the safety of my suburban environment. I rarely encountered another person of color. When I was 12 years old I confessed in my journal that I wanted to be white. I hated the color of my skin and despised my appearance. I wanted to be like the other beautiful Caucasian princesses at my school whose chestnut and blonde hair fell gracefully across their shoulders. I wanted aquamarine eyes. I secretly dreaded growing older and not being able to have a white boyfriend. Of course, I kept these thoughts and feelings to myself.


t made sense that I wanted to be white because I did not grow up learning to celebrate Indian culture. When we came to this country in 1980, my parents made a decision to Americanize the entire family. My father chose to not teach us siblings Malayalam. When I was older, I asked him why he did this. “Who would you be able to talk to?” he asked. He did have a point. My mother could not speak the language. She was punished

as a child in her convent school in India if she used anything other than English. In addition to not knowing the language, I was not familiar with other Indian traditions. We were Catholic and attended mass every Sunday. We were a minority in India but also in the United States because of our color. My mother rarely made us coconut curries or delicacies from Kerala. She served us fish sticks, meat loaf, and pot roast instead. I did not directly experience racism growing up, but I was incredibly sensitive to my differences. This sensitivity resulted in a deeply ingrained sense of self-rejection. Most teenagers experience alienation from their peer group at some time or another, but alienation from the self is incredibly painful. I felt very sorry for myself throughout my young adulthood. For many years, I was unable to find my roots because my ancestry remained a complete mystery to me. If you reject such a vital part of yourself, it creates a void in your subconscious mind. It whispers to you, calling your name.


y name was originally Manjula. While I have understood Manjula to mean “sweet” or “beautiful” in Sanskrit, I have most enjoyed a friend’s translation: “the one who leads you to your destination.” When I was 15, my father legally changed my name to Jula, the name that I had always been known by. It was as though that part of me was surgically removed. But when I turned 30, something awakened in me. I knew I had to return to my roots. One of my spiritual teachers encouraged me for many years to embrace my Indian heritage. He knew that I needed something because I was empty inside.


nd so began my quest. Last year, my father brought my siblings and me to Kerala. It was a homecoming for me, a pilgrimage of sorts. I had not been back to India since I was 11 years old. For the final part of the trip, I had the opportunity to stay in an ashram for a week to receive nourishing Ayurvedic treatments and rest. I drank in the experience. Each morning at the ashram, I sat on the cool veranda and sipped my freshly spiced chai. The sounds of Vedic chanting were broadcast through speakers. Every day, I attended classes in the ancient martial art named kalari. Sweat pored steadily from my 130 • india currents • august 2011

forehead as I concentrated on each movement. After a bath and a delicious breakfast of idlis and chutney, I would wrap myself in a bright saffron-colored cloth. I entered a small treatment room where two Malayali women kneaded my sore muscles with medicated oil. Despite their limited English, we found ways to communicate with each other. They tried to teach me a few words. Afterward, my skin would glow, radiating a beauty within me. The ashram was directed by Guru Hanuman Das, a kind spiritual leader who treated me as though I was his daughter. He would meander around the garden some mornings and I would shyly walk beside him. He asked me about my family, my divorce, my life. I posed questions about Indian philosophy and spirituality. He graciously answered each one. I felt a kinship with him among the beautiful coconut trees, green plants, and tropical butterflies. I was temporarily able to shed my unknown longing. I was able to listen to my own voice. Kerala spoke gently to me. She was able to share her secrets with me. It is a plentiful country, replete with lineages of great saints, poets, and mystics. This was the country of my birth, the roots of my ancestry.


ince that trip last year, I have been able to spend time with two other Indian teachers who have greatly impacted my life. They are Vishnu, my traditional Indian dance teacher and Vasanti, an extraordinary woman whose deep love of the Vedas shines through. Both teachers have inspired me to connect more deeply with my culture. To me, they embody the principles of Indian culture. My life is greatly enriched by their presence. As I learn more about my culture, I am able to accept my own history. I am more capable of witnessing the power and beauty that I had previously rejected for many years. I am coming into myself and learning to love the dark, rich tones of my skin. It is wholeness that all of us seek. To find this sense of security, we need to find a connection that fulfils us. I have been able to do this by exploring my heritage. Hopefully, I will also be able to inspire others to let go of their shame and to fully accept themselves for who they truly are.n Jula Pereira is a writer and graduate student living in Santa Rosa, California. She may be reached at

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I C relationship diva Jasbina Ahluwalia

Dating Tips For The Frequent Flier My focus in the last several years has been my education and career. At this point, I’d like to also focus some effort on meeting Mr. Right. While I absolutely love my work, it does involve some travel. My trips tend to be frequent, but also very short. As my short trips usually only allow me to spend time working, many times I’m leaving a city having only seen the inside of the airport, cabs, conference rooms, and hotels. Do you think my travel may be hindering my search for Mr. Right? I appreciate your realization that you need to bring the same focus that you've had on your career to your personal life as well. As you’ve seen, focused effort and investment of resources supporting your goals tend to lead to positive outcomes. Given that the trips, while frequent, are also short (hopefully allowing you to focus on your personal life in your home town after hours), below are some tips to optimize your possibilities during your limited downtime while traveling: • Instead of viewing those inevitable travel lines (checking in, customer service,


security, dining establishments, hotels, cab lines, etc) as wasted time, turn lemons into lemonade and seize the opportunity to confidently and warmly initiate conversations while in line. • Do the same with your plane/train fellow passenger—you never know! The gentleman or lady in 5C may be (or know) a great person to meet ... and people generally tend to be less guarded while traveling and outside of their day-to-day routines and responsibilities. • Instead of ordering room service to bypass solo dining, seize the opportunity and eat in the hotel restaurant (or even check out local restaurants, including potential communally-served eateries); who knows who you might meet if you appear approachable and accessible (eye contact helps; gluing your eyes to your reading material while eating does not). • I know there is an established avenue for fellow Mensa member “greeters” in different cities throughout the country enthusi-

astic about lending a local ear/eye—find out if different associations (both professional and otherwise) you are affiliated with have a similar program. • Consider contacting your alumni association prior to travel to see if there are any special alumni events happening at your destination during your planned travel. • Networking opportunities while traveling can serve a dual purpose with respect to meeting people for your personal life. Shared professional and educational background may serve as a great foundation for strong relationships.n Jasbina is the founder and president of Intersections Match, the only personalized matchmaking and dating coaching firm serving singles of South Asian descent in the United States. She is also the host of Intersections Talk Radio, a monthly lifestyle show featuring conversations with published authors/experts on relationships, health and wellness. www.Intersections

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Krishna M. Sadasivam is the cartoonist behind UNcubed, a weekly online auto-bio comic, focusing on life as an Indian guy in the United States. When he’s not creating comics or working as a freelance illustrator, Krishna teaches full-time in the Media Arts and Animation department of the Art Institute of Tampa in Florida. See more of his work at

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the last word

Sarita Sarvate

A Doyen of Indian Literature


have been thinking of Sane Guruji lately. Sane ( Sahnay) Guruji—teacher Sane—was a writer who every Maharashtrian child knew about when I was a child. What distinguished Sane Guruji’s stories from the usual childhood fare of Arabian Nights, the Panchatantra, or the Jataka tales was the fact that Sane Guruji did not dumb his fare down for children. Instead, he provided an emotional experience so rich and vibrant that even adults enjoyed his works. I was not a girl who was particularly close to my mother, yet when I read his magnum opus, Shyamchi Aai (Shyam’s Mother) I cried and cried. I think part of the reason was that I felt guilty for liking my father more than my mother. When I read the part where Shyam’s mother patched up her sari so she could put food in the mouths of her children, I got goose bumps. When she fed her child flour mixed with water as a substitute substitute for milk, my heart ached. Based entirely on Sane Guruji’s experiences with his own mother, the stories were a rare amalgam of fiction and autobiography. The reason they still tower over the memoir genre is because the author achieved the unusual feat of condensing each personal anecdote into its essential moral and wisdom while highlighting the human condition. And it was the human condition that plucked at readers’ heartstrings, for Guruji wrote these tales in early twentieth century-India which was then mired in colonial exploitation, poverty, and deprivation. Millions of middle class Indian women lived lives like his mother’s in those days, sacrificing themselves for their families and living only for others. Yet, Shyam’s mother was no pre-feminist victim; she wielded power in the quiet, understated, but firm manner of many of her contemporaries who were revered by their families because of their strength, their values, and their tenacity in weaving the ethical fabrics of their households. Shyamchi Aai was made into a movie by Acharya Pralhad Keshav Atre, a writer, poet, educator, political activist, newspaperman, actor, orator, and film producer. The film won the first ever National Film Award of India in 1953. It is important to remember that long before the so-called French new wave heralded realism in cinema, Marathi films were breaking new ground with such films with social significance. I never saw the film version of Shyamchi Aai but Sane Guruji’s words have left a deep mark on me. What strikes me today about the story is that we may decry the subjugation of women in Hindu mythology and culture—take Sita who had to die to prove her purity, or Draupadi who was treated like a chattel and shared by her five husbands—but Shyamchi Aai creates a role model of a wife and a mother that endures and demands respect even today.

Sane Guruji's Shyamchi Aai creates a role model of a wife and a mother that endures and demands respect even today

144 • india currents • august 2011

An equivalent in Western literature is hard to find. Fathers are much celebrated in European and American culture, but mothers are made into comic figures and ridiculed. Or else they are demonized, a la Freud, and blamed for every flaw in their progeny. I can’t think of one Western book, children’s or adult, that celebrates motherhood in quite the way that Shyamchi Aai does. Shyamchi Aai is that rare tribute to motherhood. It is, in a sense, an anti-memoir, for it does not trash the parent or make the narrator into a martyr to dysfunctional family life. Instead, it highlights the triumph of human virtue over adversity. Since Guruji’s books were written at the height of India’s freedom struggle, of which the author was very much a part, the subjugation that provided the backdrop to the story was not just to material privation but also to foreign domination. Sane Guruji formed an essential element of India’s social reform movement, heralded by Mahatma Gandhi and executed by stalwarts like Maharshi Karve, champion of women’s education, Baba Amte, caregiver to leprosy sufferers, and Baba Ambedkar, activist for untouchables. But even if Sane Guruji had only been a writer, his contribution would have been unparalleled in the history of world literature. It is a pity that even though so many writers of Indian origin have won much acclaim in England and the United States, much of India’s literature, particularly that written in its native idioms, remains unknown by the rest of the world. I was pleasantly surprised to discover that on Mother’s Day in 2010, Sane Guruji and his book Shyamchi Aai was commemorated all over India with screenings and kathakathan—storytelling events. I can only hope that the film will one day be distributed across Europe and America as an icon of cinema history and celebrated for its reverence for female power. As I get older, I am becoming painfully aware of the lack of respect for women in American society. If they are not seen as sexual tools, they are simply ignored. In a culture where old women are treated as hags at worst and seen as invisible at best, the respect that Indian culture offers to women at its brightest moments is truly heartening. Mother’s Day with its tokens of chocolates and flowers, has done nothing to uplift the status of women, but the publication of a book like Shyamchi Aai can. Alas, my sons have not read Sane Guruji’s books, nor have they seen the film. It is my fault that they do not even know Marathi. Nevertheless, something in my upbringing has rubbed off on them. For even though they are fully steeped in American culture, they have inherently adopted an attitude of utmost respect for their mother. My older son calls me every night to check on me. And every time I see my younger son, which is almost every day, since he lives with me, he tells me he loves me. I wish I had said “I love you” to my departed mother every day of my life too. But even as I grieve my failure as a daughter, I celebrate my success as a mother. I am grateful to be a kindred spirit to Shyamchi Aai. n Sarita Sarvate writes commentaries for Pacific News Service and KQED. Visit

India Currents August 2011 - Northern California  

Monthly magazine for the South asian diaspora