Saturday, September 23, 2006

Bollywood romanticizes certain ethnicities

have you noticed that the two ethnicities that are romanticized in Bollywood are Punjabis and (to a lesser degree) Bengalis? (There are tons of characters with last names like Malhotra and then, of course, there's the Devdas type of film, glorifying Bong culture) I guess this is not big news, but still... i guess if one were to look at those involved in the films, these two groups would be more highly represented, and thus the result is that they over-romanticize their own groups...

but it's annoying. especially when we gujaratis are relegated to the questionable glory of such songs as "G-U-J-J-U!" (in the film Kal Ho Na Ho), South Indians are relegated to slapstick humor, and most other ethnic groups are just plain ignored. It's quite ironic, considering that quite a few actors and actresses hail from various parts of India not well represented in Bollywood... For example, Dimple Kapadia is Gujarati, Aishwarya Rai is from Mangalore, Rekha is Tamilian and John Abraham is half Malayali and half Parsi.

it would be a refreshing change to see other Desi ethnicities represented in a positive light in Bollywood.

Saturday, July 08, 2006

Delicious book recommendations...

so i recently sent off an email to my friends:

looking to get from you recommendations of the very very best, best, bestest books that you've read in the last year or two years (or however long)
books that you Truly enjoyed reading, found delicious even.
looking forward to compiling a list... so that i don't just go to the bookstore and randomly blow money on random books... this way i can have a Strategy.
not that i'm planning on buying anything much anytime soon. but a girl can Dream, no?

oh yeah, and books like this that *i've* read recently? Here they are, but i warn you, simply fun reads are mixed in with truly "great" literature in the following:

-The Glass Palace (amitav ghosh)
-The Hungry Tide (amitav ghosh)
-Kissing in Manhattan
-On Writing (Stephen King)
-My Uncle Napoleon : A Novel(Iraj Pizishkzad)

i also read love creeps but really didn't like it. i also waded through john irving's recent one, Until I Find You... he needed an editor to chop it down. Bad.ugh.

so far, here are some of the recommendations I've gotten... will update this entry as more arrive (and oh do feel free to contribute!)

The In Between Life of Vikram Lall
Cereus Blooms at Night by Shani Mootoo
Persepolis (Marjane Satrapi)

Thursday, June 22, 2006

update from the fourth floor of St. Joe's

in Paterson... today is thursday... well actually it's past 1 a.m., so technically it's friday...

anyway, am typing this from pappa's hospital room... he's sleeing... peacefully enough, it seems... it's disturbing to see him so weak. i really really really hope this operation has helped him and not harmed him, really hope.

glancing over at him now and then to make sure he's breathing alright. yeah i'm morbid, and maybe, just maybe, a bit paranoid, but waddyagonna do about it...

his blood pressure was quite low today, even for him, with his chronically low bp... hmm. worrisome. he's worried i know... this takes so much out of him, out of us... these hospital stays... we've become strangely used to it... this time it, meaning the whole routine of how things go here, everything is more familiar. whether we want to or not, we are becoming old hands at this. gosh. who would want to? unless you are a doctor or nurse or something. the nurses at the Open Heart recovery room were great. not that he had open heart surgery, but he did get a tunnel created in his upper chest, so the surgeon wanted to make sure he was well taken care of for the firt 24 hours... at least... now that he's back on the 4th floor, it's back to the family... it's up to the family and the patient to make sure that the right questions are asked... that's just how it is, these days... short staffed on nurses... all hospitals are, i understand, from talking to people...

exhausting... it takes its toll on all of us.

last year, when pappa was admitted to the hospital after fainting, and it turned out he had a n arrhthmia and needed an ICD, then... at that time, i freaked out. Freaked out. and actually lost weight even (a little) since i was constantly, CONstantly at the hospital. felt guilty about even going home for a couple of hours.

but now so exhausted .... of course tongight i'm in the hospital, watching over him... i've positioned this armchair thingies so that i face him... his neck does seem a bit bent fwd... hope he doesn't get a crick in it... i'll hit post on this, and then go try to adjust his bed a bit so that it's in a more noral postion... but hope i won't wake him up... well, the sleeping med he's taking has made him groggy indeed, though...

i worry about my mother too... all this... so much to deal with.

but then this is what life about... no life is possible without the surety of death.

and disease is but one ethod, isn't it?

morbid, my thoughts are

ahh... better go and try to adjust his neck...


Thursday, June 01, 2006

I am from...

I just got a poem published in Voices: The Journal of New York Folklore, in the Spring/Summer 2006 issue. It is in the Creative Nonfiction section... Below is how it appears, on pages 47 and 48... Enjoy --- :)
In his column in this issue, Tom van Buren refers to the New York Folklore Society's 2005 Writing Folklore conference, which was held in September in Tarrytown, New York. The poems presented here are the contributions of two of the conference attendees. The poems were produced as part of a writing exercise led by Steve Zeitlin, executive director of City Lore, in which participants were given the beginning prompt "I am." We are grateful to Yesha for [her] willingness to share [her] poetry with Voices: The Journal of New York Folklore.

I am from the fog rushing over Twin Peaks
and from the parched Sabarmati Nadi
a river that sometimes is
and from the icy blue of snow-fed Tahoe

I am from the sandy alley in Unava where
our house doesn't have a number
not even a street name--
just "near Lakshminarayan Temple"

I am from Ba with no teeth
and an infectious laugh
and from Lakshman Dada
of no near relation but full of stories
of lotus roots he dived to eat
and daughter that he lost to death but found again in

I am from Aunti and Uncle at Saturday School
and wearing the wrong color blue pants and
getting in trouble

I am from my little sister and brother age two and four
weaving stories for their big-eyed wonder
when one was over and they begged for another
I told them they'd have to wait, because
the stories, like naughty children, were running races
around and around inside my head, and I'd have to
stop, go inside and...
CATCH one, before I could drag it out to tell them.
And they believed me.

I am from too much responsibility
but also from duties shirked

I am from the pink-flecked cool tile porch seat
wrapped around the front and back of my mother's
father's house in Ahmedabad
and from my dead black fingernail that fell off my
finger after
I slammed it in a chair
which I buried in my great-grandmother's garden,
where she grew meetho limdo

Saturday, May 27, 2006

here i am

sitting in my hotel room at the Days Inn in Shrewsbury, Mass, a town that was incorporated beFORE the 13 colonies declared Independence. Ya, *that* old.

my dad is across the hall, in room 133, catching up with old Rhode Island-day friends Nalin Uncle, Prafulla Aunti, Kirit Uncle, and Rashmi Aunti, Gupta Uncle, and others

It's funny. I am getting a glimpse of some of their past (theirs and my parents') that I hardly could have known about, since we left Rhode Island by the time I was seven... It's er... Illuminating to say the least.

Monday, May 22, 2006

mixed messages




Monday, May 15, 2006


i get so so so so SO angry.

right now is one of those times.

I was researching fellowships online.

I found one for "new Americans" - people who are naturalized citizens.

Got excited about it, but then.

Found out they have an AGE REQUIREMENT. You cannot be older than 30 To Even Be Considered.

What kind of Bullshit is this?

Academia is a Stacked deck. They prefer to have callow, impressionable youths straight from the grocery stores - er, colleges - delivered to their doorstep.

I despair.

Friday, May 12, 2006


yesterday i wrote a poem while waiting for the subway
not super original, but something at least, vs. nothing…

New York is
pizza and smoke
burnt peanuts
and piss
whoosh and roar of underground labyrinth too dark to tell
push and run
glare and glamour and sleaze and
honking of impatient yellow taxis
workaday wonder
outrageous ordinariness

May 12, 12:42PM

Thursday, April 20, 2006

a few weeks ago...

...we attended my cousin's wedding, on a Florida beach... and took some interesting photos on the beach... :)

Saturday, April 01, 2006

Two nights of Plays!

on Thursday, Pooja and I went to see the fourth year of Seven.11

it was great fun... they had me giggling the whole way through... it was also fun to catch up with college friend Gitesh, who is producer, along with his wife, Rohi...

here's an excerpt from Desipina's press release re: Seven.11
DESIPINA & COMPANY is pleased to announce "SEVEN.11 CONVENIENCE THEATRE (2006)," the
fourth annual edition of their critically-acclaimed series that explores the alternately funny and poignant aspects of immigrant life in America via seven eleven-minute plays and musicals--all set within the confines of a 7-11 convenience store. Directed by DARROW CARSON, the production runs from March 30th through April 16th with an opening date of April 6th at THE KRAINE THEATRE, 85 East 4th Street.
The performance schedule is Thursdays-Saturdays at 8:00 PM and Sundays at 2:00 PM. Tickets are $17 ($11 student rush tickets at the door with a valid ID) and are available through Smarttix at (212) 868-4444 or via the web at For more information on the production, please log onto the official website at

Yesterday I had dinner with friends Roohi and Emme at Flor's Kitchen, a Venezuelan place.

yumm... empanada...

and then, we went to see Ms. Sophie Divine Presents, an amazing play!

Here's more about it:
Gender, Sexuality, and the Black Church (Theatre this Weekend!)

"Damien's story is one that occurs again and
again in almost every Black, Christian community."
Andrea Davis, Playwright

Ms. Sophie Divine Presents
By Andrea Davis

WOW Cafe Theatre
59 E 4th St (East Village - Btwn Bowery & 2nd Ave)
Thurs, Fri, & Sat - March 30, March 31, & April 1 @ 8pm
Purchase or Reserve Tickets at ($10)

In the space between life and death, Ms. Sophie Divine takes a young gay African American man named Damien on a journey that spans the events before his suicide attempt and confronts the bigotry of the church.

Staged reading directed by Andre Lancaster. Talk back to follow performance. Prospective full production designs will be on display. Funds raised will go to staging the future full production.

Featured Performers
Piper Anderson
Vaughn Belcher
Denise Collins
J. Michael Kinsey

Production Team
Directed by Andre Lancaster
Playwright/Producer Andrea Davis
Production Designers Amy Kitzhaber, Casey Smith, Elliot Lanes, and dj:ayden
Stage Manager Elliot Lanes

PRESS RELEASE (download .pdf)
March 20, 2006, New York, NY - Ms. Sophie Divine Presents, a timely new play and a response to the national trend of prominent black leaders using the pulpit to promote spiritual violence, will receive a staged reading performance at the WOW Cafe Theatre in the East Village (59 East 4th St., Between 2nd Av & Bowery). Written by Andrea Davis and under the direction of Andre Lancaster, this staged reading with a vibrant cast is set to go up Thursday, March 30th, Friday, March 31st, and Saturday, April 1st at 8pm.

"Damien's story is one that occurs again and again in almost every Black, Christian community, in some form. My hope is that placing the problem before the eyes of the community will make it even less ignorable, and will encourage the continuation of a conversation that has already become so crucial to the survival of a sense of unity within Black Christianity," says the show's writer Andrea Davis.

Ms. Sophie Divine Presents is the story of a young gay black man's attempt to take his life after years of having felt rejected by his church community. In the space between life and death, however, he meets Ms. Sophie Divine, who takes him on a reflective journey that spans the events leading up to his suicide attempt, and confronts the bigotry of the church. After the staged reading, there will be a talk-back surrounding the play's themes of race, sexuality, and Christianity, particularly as it pertains to Black

"When you have so-called leaders of the Black Christian Community like Bernice King and Rev. Willie Wilson promoting a right-wing - or is it white wing? - homophobic and sexist agenda, it's imperative that believers and artists alike respond with ferocity and conviction," says Director Andre Lancaster. "This is what Andrea Davis has done with Ms. Sophie Divine Presents. Whether you grew up in the church or not, whether you're in the church or you left the church out of protest, you'll identify with these characters."

"I'm going to be in attendance to this staged reading, because this type of reflection around issues within the black community needs to be represented on stage - and it's people like us who can take this show to a bigger audience and national stage," says Playwright/Director/Singer-Songwriter Khalil Sullivan.

About WOW Café Theater:
Started as an international women's theater festival in October of 1980, WOW Café Theater is a women's theater collective which promotes the empowerment of women and trans people through the performing arts. WOW serves as a platform for performing artists at all career levels and in all disciplines, empowering them to learn production skills as well as to develop their creative vision.

Friday, March 24, 2006

running around

which i love to do

new york is fabuloso, despite the rude people.

because here's a secret: for every rude person (and yes, there are Many) there are Three Nice People.

But shh... don't tell too many people--- this City is already Crowded. ;)

also, went to Philly to check out U Penn for a few days last weekend

this wknd am off to Florida to attend a wedding. (edit, edit, edit)

Tuesday, March 07, 2006

I was 17

Visiting India for the first time in six years... My mother and masi had decided that it would be cheaper to travel by ST bus, from Gandhinagar to Ahmedabad, plus, the bus ride wouldn't be that long...

so we waited in the hot Gujarat sun... Magically the "amdavad vadaj" bus came and stopped right in front of me... I was carrying my three year old cousin, Megha, in my arms. She was my sweet darling, who could do no wrong. I had even made a batik of her baby look, so sweet, so innocent.

As the bus came to a halt, a wave of men slammed into me, as they scrambled to be first on. I was knocked flat onto my back, breathless, with Megha wailing on top of me. She was fine, just scared. I too was fine, just scared... And angry.

somehow we all got on, but there weren't enough open seats so that all of us could sit together. I was looking for a seat elsewhere... A young, handsome man offered me a seat next to him, but having had some experiences with fresh young men, i refused. Instead, I preferred to take a seat next to a fifty-ish Kaka (uncle). He seemed kindly, just a few years older than my dad.

as the bus got underway, i noticed movement on my right side. the Kaka's elbow was occasionally hitting my side. oh well, i thought. the bus had bad shocks, and the Gujarat roads were not yet the marvel of high-tech smoothness that they are now.
Soon, though, the Kaka's elbow seemed to be moving even when the bus was driving smoothly. After a few minutes, (YES. I know, I was OBLIVIOUS) anyway, after a few minutes i noticed the elbow seemed to be making a circular pattern on my side.

It dawned on me that he might be doing this for some sexual pleasure, but I resisted thinking this at first, because i thought, what pleasure can be derived from making circular motions, with your elbow, on the side of a girl.
Nevertheless, when it continued, I realized that this was just not normal.

But I was too young, too scared to say anything to him. After all he was a Kaka, even if not my Kaka.

What did i do? The good thing was i was sitting in the aisle seat. I turned around to look at the back of the bus, where Megha, my mom, masi, and bro and sis were sitting. I shifted over to the very edge of the seat, so that only my right buttock held me to the seat. Elbows-Kaka could not reach so far without contorting his body, so now i was safe.

Now to make this position seem more natural, I leaned back toward Megha and started talking to her, calling all the way down the aisle... We talked like that for a long time... After a while she ventured up to where I was, and we played and hugged and told each other secrets, all the while my right buttock precariously hanging on to the very edge of the seat. Megha was my favorite lil cousin before that, and certainly after, too.
Note: This entry was written as part of Blank Noise's Blog-a-Thon on the topic of eve-teasing. To learn more, click on link and scroll all the way down, to see the list of participants.

Saturday, February 25, 2006

of birds and ants and other small things

meditation for the day

All good work is done the way ants do things, little by little.
-Lafcadio Hearn
(thank you to Seema and Ajay, whose holiday card featured this lovely quote.)

another one from Anne Lamott, a bit more contemporary:

”Thirty years ago my older brother, who was ten years old at the time, was trying to get a report on birds written that he’d had three months to write. It was due the next day. We were out at our family cabin in Bolinas, and he was at the kitchen table close to tears, surrounded by binder paper and pencils and unopened books on birds, immobilized by the hugeness of the task ahead. Then my father sat down beside him, put his arm around my brother’s shoulder, and said, ‘Bird by bird, buddy. Just take it bird by bird.’”

Tuesday, February 21, 2006

sunset today

another day... gone.


Monday, February 20, 2006

so low

need to regain nrg

didn’t do yoga today
that woulda helped
started off the day in much higher spirits, is that because didn’t accomplish what i wanted to?
feel adrift alone
but am strong can create new circles. but so
getting old, i shall wear my trousers
yeah and i thought i understood that poem at age 17
i knew nothing at that age
am surprised now at how i even functioned back then
but then i realize
with dismay
i did better then than i do now, in many ways
what happened

Running to Write It Down... Weird where a thought can take you...

The other day I was talking to Blank and she mentioned that so-and-so (someone I don't know) was "nice, but Weird." Suspecting that she and I may have very different views on this topic of What Constitutes Weird, I probed a little.

"Hmm," I said, tentatively, wanting to explore it a bit more, but also not wanting to piss her off by starting an argument. (Blank and I can get into arguments like that.) "Tell me, what does he do that seems weird to you?"

"Well, one time a bunch of us were out at a bar--a loud, dark bar where people were dancing--and suddenly he stopped and said, 'Does anyone have a notebook? I just thought of something, and I need to write it down before I forget it!' Isn't that Weird?"

"Hmm..." I looked at her. She looked at me. We both knew what I was thinking. But I said it anyway.

"Well, I do things like that all the time."

"Yeah, well..." she said. "Well... that's because you're weird too... figures that you would think that's normal." Now this wasn't said with any malice nor did I take offense at this. In fact, if asking for a notebook to jot down a fleeting idea constitutes weird, then let Weirdness be my trademark, my motto, my mission. I wish I acted on my Weirdnesses more Often.

This morning, as I drank my much-needed and anticipated two mugs of heavenly ginger-chai (after having dropped Blank off at the airport at 4:30 in the morning) this incident must have been playing around in the back of my (weird) Subconscious. Because as I drank tea and read further in the logical and yet infuriating book, The Nurture Assumption, I came across an idea that brought me running to this computer, to this blog, right now. But before I share my Weird idea that I came to write down, I need to give you some background on this much-discussed book.

In The Nurture Assumption, through much of the book Judith Harris refutes the commonly held assumption that it is parents who, through proper nurturing and guidance, teach their children (or don't, in some cases) what they need to know to have a successful life. Although I am not a parent, I have been a teacher in the past, and it both maddens me as well as intrigues me that she may have a point there. I won't go into all of her arguments here, but what she basically says is that children learn how to interact in each specific situation-- they learn the rules of interaction as specific to that circumstance and are socialized to behave in certain ways that suit that particular environment. This means that while the child may have been taught to be quiet and polite and honest at home through parental conditioning, he or she MAY be (doesn't Have to be) very different at school.

Why or how would this happen? Well, according to Harris, the child adapts to each situation according to its own peculiarities. If the School environment causes Lying, Cheating and Stealing to be rewarded then the child will be likely to engage in these behaviors at school, even if he or she is quite honest at home. This concept--of switching behaviors to suit the environment--is called code-switching. A very common example of code-switching happens in the lives of children who are immigrants or children of immigrants--they quickly learn that although in the home environment they must speak their native tongue, they must speak in English to survive in the school environment. So they (mostly) do. I would suspect that the ones who don't are able to do this because so many of their peers speak their native tongues. (I have seen this happen in one of my ESL classes... but there is also more going on there--one sign of emergent language is understanding but not speaking the language. Oh my, I am digressing quite a bit.)

One area of influence, though, where Harris concedes that Nurture can have a huge societal effect is that wielded by teachers. She says it's not so much the content of what the teachers teach, as it is the atmosphere of belonging and groupness that teachers can (and yet so rarely do) create in their classroom that can have a huge positive impact on the kids who are part of that rareified environment. She gives as an example the story of an inner city school teacher, Ms. A, all of whose first-grade students continued to do well in school and in their careers, better than their peers from the same school, throughout their lives! Harris attributes this not so much to what the teacher taught them, as the fact that in her classroom these kids probably learned to love learning, and a safe environment was created for learning; thought and education were respected by the whole group. This is indeed very different from most classrooms, where the peer group makes it an Uncool Thing (at least in the majority of American public schools) to want to learn. In fact Harris found that students who weren't in Ms. A's classroom were positively affected by these values, if they chose to identify with them!

While her theories seem very well-thought out and are cogently argued, I can sympathize with the parents out there, who reading this, might despair, or, more likely just reject her theory outright. After all, who likes to hear that they are pouring their efforts for their children into a black cauldron of Hmm... Maybe it'll Help? But my purpose here is not to disprove or agree with her perspective.

Just to say that as I pondered the wonderful Ms. A's of the world, and how I wished I could have been one of those talented leader-teachers who gave their students the gift of the love of learning... as I thought about this, one teacher came into focus. She was my 5th grade teacher, and I was in her classroom for only two days, as my family moved to another state right after school started. Her name was, I think, Ms. Werth and she changed my life forever in that day or two that I spent in her classroom.

What did she do? I distinctly remember that first day; I even remember that I sat on the right front side of the classroom and felt wistful as she outlined how things would work in her classroom--her teaching philosophy. I remember being impressed that she bothered to do this. (This was back in 1980, and things were fairly old school. Especially in NYC public schools.) In fact I remember knowing that she was going to be a great teacher even before I entered her classroom; her reputation had percolated through to the fourth grade, and I had been so excited that she was going to be my teacher, before the impending move turned everything topsy-turvy. One thing though, before my memory strikes you as strangely and unbelievably prodigious. If you were to ask me about her teaching policy today, I would be hard put to describe a single tenet of that philosophy.

However one memory is Crystal Clear. At one point she said, "Sometimes, you may see me jump up in the middle of a lesson to go write something down in my journal. Don't worry--it's because I'm a writer, and so when I have ideas, I have to write them down right away, or else I'll forget them. So don't mind me when I do that... In fact, if you have thoughts you want to write down like that, I welcome you to do it. It's what writers have to do!"

This stuck with me. And the thing is, she was such a leader, so respected by the kids, that instead of this somewhat strange behavior being a point of ridicule, this was actually a Cool thing about her. At least I believe it was--otherwise her reputation with the children would have been quite different. (Remember your teachers? Kids tell each other these things, and they don't mince words.)

At any rate, today, as I sit here reading The Nurture Assumption, my conversation with Blank comes to mind, as I ponder how we are socialized--or not--to accept Wonderful Weirdnesses as Welcome or Strange and Undesireable parts of Life. And I silently thank Ms. Werth. In two days she may have... I don't know. Changed my life?

Thursday, February 16, 2006

places I have traveled to for work

Yesterday I caught myself feeling a tiny bit jealous of my sister, cuz she is going away to an island for a lil mini-vacation, something she has done more than I have. (I've gone once, to Curacao, but that was it. Not that I'm complaining.)

But then I remembered that I have been so lucky as to get to travel to many interesting places for work. And while it was for Work, and so many times I was Too Busy to Actually see much and it wasn’t all that glamorous as it may sound, I was always very Curious, and tried to, whenever possible, explore and seek out the Adventure in each place I went. Even when I had a 101 degree fever and bronchitis, in, for example, Geneva.

so, here’s the list. please don’t be jealous. those who travel a lot for work know what i mean, no?

i will try to do this in somewhat chronological order, but memory may fail me. some of my favorites are bolded...

1. Chowchilla, California (in the Central Valley. Woo hoo!)
2. Visalia, California. (ditto)
3. Fresno (oh yeah)
4. Bakersfield
5. Reno
6. Tahoe
7. Sacramento
8. Los Angeles
9. Seattle
10. Portland
11. Spokane
12. Eugene
13. San Jose
14. the East Bay (back then, it felt like a foreign country to me)
15. Albuquerque
16. Colorado
17. Santa Fe
18. Taos
19. Riverside
20. San Diego
21. El Centro
22. Vista
23. Taft, Cali (hoo, boy)(please, no offense intended if you live in Taft, but… I never felt more aware of my race than when I was in Taft. People Stared at me.)
24. Imperial, Cali
25. Marin County
26. Eureka
27. Fortuna
28. Hoopa Valley, Cali
29. New Delhi
30. Bombay
31. Taiwan
32. Manila
33. Hong Kong
34. Singapore
35. Jakarta (though how does this count. Was there Less than 24 hrs!)
36. Bangkok
37. Honolulu
38. The Big Island
39. Maui
40. London
41. Paris (my hotel room had a Hole in the Door, the size of my Fist. What did I expect for USD50? Plus I got bronchitis here, which lasted me through the rest of Europe. Joy.)
42. Brussels
43. Geneva
44. Athens
45. Auburn, Cali
46. Davis
47. Mendocino
48. Fort Bragg
49. Point Arena
50. Willits
51. Clear Lake
52. Chico
53. Anderson
54. Shasta
55. Ferndale
56. Clovis
57. Grass Valley
58. Nevada City
59. Loomis
60. Marysville
61. Yuba City
62. Loyalton
63. Redding
64. Dixon
65. Fairfield
66. Cloverdale
67. Cotati
68. Healdsburg
69. Petaluma
70. Rohnert Park
71. Santa Rosa
72. Sebastopol
73. Napa
74. Vallejo
75. Portola
76. Lassen
77. Susanville
78. Chester
79. Quincy (near Feather River)
80. Tacoma

Wednesday, February 15, 2006

more about being healthier...

Sat Feb 11
Worked out at gym for 1 hour (including stretching time)
Sun Feb 12
Shoveled snow (during Blizzard!) and took a walk thru the blizzard
Mon Feb 13
Went Sledding with J'ben and her kids... see photos below!
and, Shoveled Snow
Tue Feb 14
Wed Feb 15
Yoga first thing in the Morning - about one hour

Tuesday, February 14, 2006


why is two always company?
feeling abandoned by coupled up people.

seems things have to be in even numbers, the older you get.

Monday, February 13, 2006

the day After the Blizzard...

we went Sledding!

and... built a Snowperson... (we're not sure of the gender... but we know that he/she sure is friendly-looking!)

Sunday, February 12, 2006

Tuesday, February 07, 2006

Valentine to my parents

Sometimes people misunderstand when I write about or podcast about my parents or other relatives. They question my motives, they imply that I do not love them, nor am I grateful for what I have been given.

I am indeed grateful. Grateful enough to understand that they are human, and not gods. And humans have flaws. And I would even argue that it is a greater act of love and courage to see your parents as people with treasures and faults hidden in their nooks and crannies, instead of hiding behind the "obey and cherish my parents blindly" rule that many follow. Because to understand them, and then to love them is the greater act of faith.

But today, I'd like to dwell on the reasons I'd like to give my parents a valentine:

Valentine to my parents

To my mother for walking the mile with me, every week, to the library, to take out exactly 10 books. That was the limit of what they allowed. And then, she read them to me, all week long.
To my father for working year after year after year in a job that wasn’t his first love, in order to do the right thing--the only possible thing as far as he was concerned--support his family
To my mother for teaching me the Navakaar mantra when I was three
To my father for teaching me to laugh
To my mother for saying yes
To my father for saying no
To my mother for taking such care of me when I had the chicken pox
To my father for sharing his gazhals and shayris with me, even when I couldn’t understand
To my mother for singing the Stavans and Stutis with us every day
To my father for telling us his tales of college mischief in Baroda
To my mother for her shy voice
To my father for his crooked smile
To my mother for my birth by the bank of the river Sabarmati
To my father for my life

being healthier

i have resisted writing about this because i felt i was doing too little… but in the spirit of “bird by bird” by Anne Lamott, here goes:

things I have done that are bird-steps on the path:

* eating a little less
* trying to stop when full (although this just does not work as well with Banilla Yogurt)
* substitute healthier (yet delicious options) when possible. Example: Banilla Yogurt instead of ice cream
* resist buying cookies at the store. It has been at least two weeks. Possibly more. Wow. I didn’t realize that till I just wrote it down. cool.
* trying to walk more. Some days I do great, and then others, NOTHING happens. But on Sunday I really walked -all the way from 112th street in NYC to 42nd st. !

Monday, February 06, 2006

oh yes, the voim...

Coined a new word, and submitted to Merriam-Webster's Open Dictionary

voim (noun) : the void within oneself, when one drowns loneliness in internet-related activies such as instant messaging and internet games
example sentence:
The voim got me playing yahoo games really really really late at night to forget the fact that my most important friendship was down the drain.

Sunday, February 05, 2006

shimmering white peacock day

new york did its
fractals of beauty,
shimmering white peacock imitating the fire engines passing by St. John the Divine,
most delicious pizza in the world,
impromptu job interview,
sweet room-for-rent across the street from Labyrinth,
Hungarian cupcakes and cider,
North Face sale in 35 degrees weather,
Times Square alight and well,
friendly strangers helping,
Whole Foods jasmine lotion,
Poet’s corner wisdom,
Riverside blue clouds and dogs
dance today.

Saturday, February 04, 2006

someone just reminded me of this great old song

Words-adapted from the bible, book of ecclesiastes
Music-pete seeger

To everything (turn, turn, turn)
There is a season (turn, turn, turn)
And a time for every purpose, under heaven

A time to be born, a time to die
A time to plant, a time to reap
A time to kill, a time to heal
A time to laugh, a time to weep

To everything (turn, turn, turn)
There is a season (turn, turn, turn)
And a time for every purpose, under heaven

A time to build up,a time to break down
A time to dance, a time to mourn
A time to cast away stones, a time to gather stones together

To everything (turn, turn, turn)
There is a season (turn, turn, turn)
And a time for every purpose, under heaven

A time of love, a time of hate
A time of war, a time of peace
A time you may embrace, a time to refrain from embracing

To everything (turn, turn, turn)
There is a season (turn, turn, turn)
And a time for every purpose, under heaven

A time to gain, a time to lose
A time to rend, a time to sew
A time to love, a time to hate
A time for peace, I swear it’s not too late

Friday, January 27, 2006

"Showing Off"

one of my oldest artworks... a batik... done when I was 17...

gold (fall in NJ)

gold (fall in NJ)
Originally uploaded by IndianGirl.
I took this back in November... just got around to uploading it now...

Glorious, no?

Wednesday, January 11, 2006

my personal journey

My personal journey is a mirror, a small microcosm of the struggle for authenticity that American Desis face. Although I was born in India, I emigrated to the U.S. at the young age of one. As I began to attend nursery school and then kindergarten, my parents started to wonder and fear what an American education would do to me. They feared that I would not know India and wouldn't learn about my heritage, that I might be led astray in this strange land, in ways they couldn't even fathom. Therefore they decided to see if I would able to handle being sent to India for a long visit of three months--without my parents--their thinking being that if I were physically strong enough to handle this visit, then they might send me to boarding school in India the following year. I went to India at the age of six, right after first grade. In fact, my parents were so anxious about me spending an adequate amount of time there that they pulled me out of first grade a whole month early to send me off!

I was (perhaps surprisingly) quite excited and eager to make the journey; after all, at that age my parents were my gods and if they told me that going to India was a wonderful idea, then it was--and I was also looking forward to spending time with my grandmother. What I didn't know is the impact this journey would have on me. One could argue that when I emigrated to America at the age of one, I lost the authenticity of being truly Indian, at least in the eyes of my parents, first generation immigrants to whom nothing in the U.S. could match up to romanticized notions of the homeland. My parents were understandably concerned about this loss. To help me regain this lost authenticity, they sent me to India at age six.

But what happened is that now in India I lost whatever American authenticity I had gained in my first few years here. When I left America, my parents admonished me to speak only in Gujarati to my relatives, worried that most of my relatives didn't speak English. When I arrived in India, I missed my parents terribly (after all they were my gods at that time) and so I obeyed their dictate in a literal fashion; I refused to say a word of English. Looking back, I remember even being begged by a nun (my uncle's acquaintance) to speak to her in English, but terrified, I ran away, refusing to spout English. I know that I did this because the superstitious, magical-thinking child that I was, I believed that something terrible would happen to me or my parents if I disobeyed their order. Within three months I regained (arguably) much of my “lost” Indian authenticity, but at the cost of my American self. Upon my return to the States, I found it very difficult for many months to think or speak in English, though I was still able to read quite fluently. (My parents had not banned reading in English while I was gone!) I also looked very different, having lost a third of my body weight due to illness and lack of desire to eat in the hot climate of India. My American body had betrayed me in India and all of the germs of India gained a toehold within me, making me a reticent shadow of the bubbly girl that my parents had sent off with such great hopes. My parents, to their credit, immediately realized that Indian boarding school was not for me, and resolved to keep me with them. They did, however, keep a long-range plan in mind of eventually moving back to India, after saving “enough money.” (Ah, that typical immigrant dream!)

Slowly, I lost my aura of recently regained Indian authenticity, but curiously never quite felt at home here either. My parents had spent too much time reminding me (and reassuring themselves) that I wasn't American. Though I slowly--and with great difficulty--learned to adapt to American culture in school, I was mostly insulated from its effects when at home. Every day I woke up in India, and walked to school in America, bringing with me my chutney and cheese sandwiches and my trailing sense of authenticity. I simultaneously belonged to both places, and to neither. It wasn't until my freshman year of college, at age 18, that a college professor woke me up to the fact that I was indeed an American, when I wrote a paper about being Indian and he commented that since I lived in this country my whole life, I was indeed an American. And yet, while I knew in my heart that no one in India would truly accept me as an Indian either, I very much wanted to claim an Indian identity. After all, my childhood was staked on having that authentic Indian identity.

My experiences growing up straddling two cultures have taught me that categorizing someone as authentic or inauthentic can be a violent act in terms of identity formation, because this act of labeling has a visceral impact on one's psyche at such a young age. Not allowing a particular individual to develop and flower in the environment she is in, but telling her that she needs to be in another environment is not just unsettling, but can also be brutal to her sense of self. I am fortunate that, despite having undergone the violence of having my identity stripped from me in various ways, I have yet learned to reclaim my own sense of identity, my own stake on authenticity. Contrary to when I was a child and was told what and who I was, now I decide for myself. And I have decided over the years that I yield neither culture: I fully claim both American and Indian cultures as my birthright and my home. Now I create my own sense of authentic self, in my own image, as I see fit. Of course this sense of identity has been hard-won, but I am pleased, even at this late stage, to have finally grasped it for myself, especially in light of my beginnings in this realm.

These formative experiences have been instrumental in bringing me to my desire for graduate study. I wish to examine in a larger context the cultural aspects that try to strip authenticity from second generation immigrants. I would like to utilize what I learn, not just academically, but also to help young immigrants gain self-trust in the face of the struggle for identity that they must also face.

I believe this struggle that I have undergone has been the instigating factor in my decision to work as a teacher and a college admission counselor. In my chosen professions until now, I have been able to utilize my own hard-won self-knowledge to help students who may be going through similar struggles of their own. This has been gratifying--that I can help others in ways that I wished I had been helped while growing up. I wish to continue on this path of service to youth in my future as either an academic or school librarian, but I wish to do this after having gained a broad academic basis

Friday, January 06, 2006

middle school

my middle school years... i could write reams about those three years. or be utterly silent. there's almost no in-between way to describe that pain... it was a very lonely time. all that i wished for during those years is to have one friend in the world that i could really talk to. i did have a friend, but intellectually we weren't on the same plane. (there was a lot of affection, but we couldn't really communicate... that friendship was more about having a warm friendly person that you could go to the pool with, than about sharing your inner intellectual life/dreams/thoughts/ideas) I read all the time in middle school - Dickens was one of my favorites - while she barely read anything even for classes... you get the picture... of course this reading habit got me labelled weird... and boys would taunt me... it didn't help that i was one of a tiny sprinkling of Indian kids in our entire town of mostly Italian-Americans in New Jersey. Now that i think about it, i did have a couple of friends-- Mrs. Nover, the school librarian, and Mrs. Strauss (who was Mrs. N's sister!) my French teacher. Those two ladies saved me... in fact, when i decided to become a teacher a few years ago, i decided of all things to teach middle school probably to try to give to children some of what i was lacking back then, as these two wonderful women did for me.(i did it for 2 years, but then realized that while i loved many aspects of teaching, that big classroom with 30-odd kids you have to manage wasn't for me...) when i went back to my old middle school during the time i was preparing to become a teacher, i met some old teachers of mine, and one of them had something very interesting to share: she said that back then, i was pretty articulate and even gregarious with adults, but had a very tough time with my peers. i remember this, and the pain of it. i was one of those on the outskirt kids... all this slowly started to lift and get better in high school and much changed by college and beyond... but it took years to shake the feeling that, when people laughed, that they were laughing at me.