“Yestereve, on the marble steps of the Temple, I saw a woman sitting between two men. One side of her face was pale, the other was blushing.” ~Kahlil Gibran
Dilip Kumar, Rajesh Khanaa, Madhubala, Sri Devi…. all these well-carved actors and actresses were not born with these popular and stellar on-screen names. Nargis’s real name was Fatima Rashid.
Wanna test your knowledge of their given names? Try this quiz:
Some fun-facts, interesting observations and comic beliefs about Indians living abroad!
U r desi if:
- Your parents drink 6 cups of tea a day.
- When you are unwell/sick, everyone turns into doctor advising what to do.
- You have a 40 lb. bag of rice in your pantry.
- Your parents lecture you in English “No English; you should speak in your mother tongue at home!”
- “You want an iPhone? When I was your age, I didn’t even have shoes!!”
- You have to call just about all your parent’s friends ‘Auntie’/'Uncle.’
- You arrive an hours (or two) late to a party and think it’s normal.
- Your dad is either some type of engineer or a doctor or a taxi-driver… or owns a convenience store.
- Your parents blame everything bad on bad Karma from previous lives.
- Everything you eat is savored in garlic, onion and tomatoes
- You talk for an hour at the front door when leaving someone’s house.
The Vaisakhi (Baisakhi) is one of the most popular festivals of North India.
For centuries, Vaisakhi has marked the time when farmers get ready to put their sickles to the harvest and celebrate the coming of a new year. Those old sickles have been replaced by the modern automated machinery; the farmers have outsourced the labor to the migrant workers from other parts of India but the Vaisakhi festival continued to be celebrated with same vigor, with same fanfare.
The festival bears even greater significance for the Sikhs – the Sikh Religion foundation was laid on this day in 1699.
The Vaisakhi festival is equally popular among the Punjabi communities abroad. Throughout the world wherever Punjabis are settled, the festival is a key part of their social and religious functions. Desi communities all over the world have their own ways of honoring this tradition of Vaisakhi Mela. Continue reading
A salute to the Spring of 2013
Another day, a beautiful day. The mild temperature of sunny afternoon. A welcome change.
The wintery chill is finally fading; the days growing longer, the nights shrinking. The morning frost is short lived. The winter attire and warm clothes are a thing of the yesterday. Strolling down the street in a spring jackets – it feels much lighter, much nicer; you can finally breathe the freshness of new air. A welcome change.
Yes, another day and another season; it is finally starting to feel like spring again!
The small green buds are starting to peep from the naked tree branches. The green hue is returning to the brown dead grass. The ponds are no longer frozen; a pair of white swimming swans declare that the spring is finally here – the proof if you still need one. The outdoors are inviting again, with open arms. Continue reading
Learning the mother tongue…
The Sunday classes in the temple or Gurudwara…
Attending religious recitals even if you don’t understand what the priest is saying….
Growing up abroad is a challenge in itself, not that we realize it when we are kids. You not only have to worry about the the bigots and the racist idiots on the street, but your parents and elders are paranoid to the point of obsession; the obsession with raising the kids with ‘Indian values’.
Growing up in India – you are amongst your own kind; you are emerged in your own culture. As a a child in India, the social values are spoon-fed over the years; you are surrounded by your own skin color; you are the majority. No confusion, no duplicity.
Living abroad however, our culture at home is often different than the culture on the street. We are dealing with a multicultural society. Our social settings totally different and multidimensional. As a kid growing up, we adapt to the surroundings, to the society we grow up in.
Growing up in American or any other Western society, the Indian American families tend to hold on to the inherited culture and Indian social values much more closely. The parents cling to the carried-over traditions from India, holding on to the Indian roots very dearly. The Indian families make a VERY conscious effort to instill the Indian values into their kids. Continue reading
Packing for a trip back home to India? Quite a few things to take care of. A list that keeps growing:
- Valid Passports: duh, no brainier!
- Valid visa or visa application: For those with non-Indian passports.
- Shopping for the airline tickets: If you have flexible dates, you can find some really good bargains online.
- Luggage/suitcases: H+L+W=61 inches and 50 lbs maximum; who would have thought!
- Clothing, the shopping: Don’t go crazy, save some space/weight to bring back all the bargain buys.
- Fitting/sizing suits: Planing to attend some formal gathering or a wedding? try on those old suits. Body shape changes over the years and that belly too!
- Malaria pills: Get those if you are going during mosquito season.
- Typhoid vaccine: Ask your doctor if you need one; no harm in being extra careful, especially for kids.
- Shopping for gifts: There is no end; keep it to reasonable. hard to please everybody.
- Voltage converter: Need for your 110V American electronics.
- Phone list of important/emergency contacts
- Camera/Camcorder: How else you going to make your FB friends jealous?
- Currency/funds : Check the limits of maximum cash you can take.
- Pay up-coming/due bills
- Stop/hold mail delivery
- Don’t forget your favorite casual shoes; be prepared to lots of walking
- Weigh the suitcases: If they look heavy, they probably are.
- Arrange ground/road transit from Indian airport to the final destination
Strict Gun Laws – we owe this to our children
The guns kill, there is no doubt about it. The guns are made to kill – animals, people, anything you aim at. The guns are the means to kill and assault. Yet, it is a sad fact that guns are so easily available, so accessible to everyone and anyone with little effort.
Guns are a part of American life, a part of the culture. There is a history of gun ownership in USA; it is a part of growing up – a hobby, a habit.
But, how good is a past tradition if it is ruining the future? Be it an old habit or an age-old tradition, some bad habits need to go, so do the traditions. It is about time, about time to change the gun ownership tradition in America. In fact, it is already too late.
In the recent years, we have witness more and mover mass killings, more and more gun violence on a large scale. Shooting little kids in the schools, killing innocent students in the university campuses, gunning down peaceful worshipers for no reason…..too many killings on daily basis, too much gun violence.
It is a shame that powerful NRA, the National Rifle Association, is single handedly controlling the gun laws in this country. Disguising itself as the defender of Second Amendment rights, NRA is spending lots of money advertising the pro-gun agenda and lobbying the congress to support pro-gun stance. What the NRA does is simply disgusting and down right dirty. It is very vocal against any gun controls including the right to own semi-automatic weapons, the guns that can spit out 100s bullets per minute. Why anyone need these assault weapons is beyond any common logic, beyond any rationale. Continue reading
Top Bollywood films of 2012
As every year, Bollywood industry churned out hundred of feature films in 2012 – some very good, some very bad and a lot of mediocre ones. Here are some of the stand-outs of the year:
Barfi!: This is a romantic comedy written and directed by Anurag Basu. The movie narrates the story of “Barfi” – a mute and deaf boy in Darjeeling, West Bengal. The plot beautifully outlines his relation with two girls, one of whom is autistic. The film stars Ranbir Kapoor, Priyanka Chopra and Ileana D’Cruz in lead roles.
Gattu: A low-budget flick for all ages, Gattu appeals to kids and adults alike. Directed by Rajan Khosa, the story revolves around a kid living in a small town where everyone is obsessed with kite-flying. No glitter or high-budget stunts here; just pure human drama at its best.
Vicky Donor: This romantic comedy is directed by Shoojit Sircar and produced by John Abraham.The movie explore the subject of sperm donation and infertility, something new for Indian cinema. It stars Ayushmann Khurrana, Yami Gautam and Annu Kapoor in the lead role.
Ek Tha Tiger: This is an action film, directed by Kabir Khan and produced by Aditya Chopra of Yash Raj Films. The movie stars Salman Khan and Katrina Kaif in the lead roles supported by Ranvir Shorey, Girish Karnad, Roshan Seth and Gavie Chahal. A combination of love story and spy drama, the movie is full of dazzling action, beautifully filmed international scenery and pleasant music. Continue reading
A horrific tragedy beyond imagination: Sandy Hook Elementary School Newtown shooting!
This is bad, beyond words.
Just heard on the news: Some deranged lunatic went crazy inside an elementary school in Connecticut, shooting little kids. More than 25 people are reported to be dead, 20 of them are children between the age of 5 and 10 years.
This is just unimaginable – one of the worst tragedy you can dread..
This is pure evil, the worst kind you can think of.
Killing innocent people is bad enough, killing innocent little kids? How low can you go!
I feel sad and helpless; not sure what to say or what to do! Continue reading
He lived on the north side of my town, on Dorothy street. I used to pass by his house during my evening strolls. His house had an over-sized green door that did not seem to fit the neighborhood, just like him.
With a white beard and a grey turban; he was easy to spot from a distance. I always found him outside his house, gardening the front-yard or just admiring the outdoor. As I would walk-by, I exchanged hello/hi with him. I was just being polite – out of respect for our elders. But over time, I made his acquaintance. He liked to talk, I found out pretty soon. Chatting with him became a part of my evening routines.
“Beautiful weather! Nice day for a walk!! Scattered clouds over there, look like a floating goat!!!” He would say random things with a chuckle. He laughed at his own jokes; that used to be a cue for me to laugh.
He was very fond – actually very proud, of India and all things Indian, I could tell. Not that I needed to know, but he often told me the virtues of Indian society, the pride of being Indian. He also reminded me how advanced Indian are, compared to the ‘white people’ as he would call them.
“I was the first Indian in this town” he mentioned one evening, “There were no Indian shops in this area!!”
“It must be hard back then”, I once asked; that was bad idea. For next 20-30 minutes, he told me all about the hardships of being an isolated Indian living amongst white folks.
“Many mornings I used to find eggs shells all over my new car in this driveway; these people, I tell you!….”
Sometimes, he complained, but he was not bitter. He told his past stories with the same braggadocio as a captain would shares his encounters with the rough stormy weather.
He was different. I enjoyed these brief daily encounters, or perhaps his stories, from all over the places. He came across as a fanatic Indian; he never tried to hide his obvious bias for ‘the great India’. Without hesitation, he would share his thoughts about superior Indian culture, the sins of the western society…. But it was never monotonous; he always had new anecdotes.
I did not agree with many of his views, but I never argued with him either. When in serious mood, he spoke like a professor, like a preacher – as if never in doubt. I thought to myself – you cannot change the thinking of an old man, those outdated views….
I recall it was Friday; I did not see him outside his house that evening. It was strange, his absence. Then, even more disturbing, I did not see him for days, for weeks. I looked for him, I even waited and lingered around his house, but he was nowhere to be found. Continue reading
I recently subscribed to Netflix Service. Not sure if it is offered outside USA and how widely, but I was looking for an on-demand network for English movies and TV shows. For $7/month and with first month free, it was rather a safe trial.
It took me about 5 minutes to sign up for Netflix using my laptop and I was all set to watch a wide variety of TV shows and Hollywood movies on the laptop/computer and TVs. As you can imagine, the TV has to be able to access the internet for Netflix programs to play on it.
I was able to set-up Netflix on our TVs in 3 different way (on 3 different TVs):
- My main floor HD TV has internet access, so no problem there.
- Second plasma TV (no direct internet access) in the basement is connected to XBox360 (and Xbox comes with wireless access); so we can watch internet on that TV as well. However, we have to use Xbox remote-controller to scroll around the Netflix menu.
- Upstairs TV (in the bedroom) has no direct internet access but the blu-ray player is internet-ready and hence Netflix ready.
So in no time, I was able to watch a variety of English shows and movies on my TVs. However, I was pleasantly surprised to find a wide variety of Hindi movies under ‘Foreign’ category. I even found a few Punjabi movies, along with quite a few documentaries about India.
Currently on Netflix, there are about 200 Hindi movies (a rough estimate) to select from and watch at your own convenience. I am sure Netflix periodically adds new titles (just like English movies and shows), and perhaps removes less popular ones. When I sorted the Hindi movies by release date, I found many recent Bollywood movies, some of them released this year (2012) like Ishaqzaade, Tere Naal Love Ho Gaya, Joker, Rowdy Rathore… Continue reading
The US Presidential Elections are less than 10 days away. And, I can hardly wait for the whole thing to be over!!
The attack ads, the twisted truths and repeated slogans bombarding the airwaves day and night – the election campaign is a bit put-off, and quite often down right distasteful. I don’t think anyone look forward to watching these political ads anymore. I cannot see anybody enjoying the propaganda unless you are a fanatic follower of the candidates or you have nothing better to do!
Throughout these campaigns and bitterly contested debates, both parties are promising a lot for the next 4 years if you elect their guy – the economic prosperity, the financial reforms and how well they understand the average American’s woes…
I wonder if politicians believe that the voters are too dumb to see through the thin veil that separates the reality from the promise-land. Is is sad and disheartening that American politics is down right dirty and is driven by so much negativity. You have to think – there is something fundamentally wrong they way the system operates!
I am not a democrat nor republican. Like many of you, I am turned off by the while political system. Moreover, I don’t think the American president has as much power as they advertise during the election days. Remember, any new law has to go through the both houses of US congress; and we all know how inefficient and how divided the US congress is.
So, no matter how many promises either of the candidate makes, keeping those promises is a whole different thing. May I advise, a grain of salt, or a spoonful! Continue reading
You have an idea, make it happen! That is what ‘Google for Entrepreneurs‘ says! The Google wants to make new start-ups easier for the entrepreneurs. The mega-company already provides Internet-related products and services, including internet search, cloud computing, and software and advertising technologies; this is one more feather in the giant cap that Google wears.
This is a fantastic news for those who need some help with converting their ideas into a tangible service or product. This new initiative help you discover local programs and online resources to launch and scale your business. Many individuals, many companies and different start-ups are already joining the program to ‘Connect, learn, and grow through programs from Google and local partners’.
For those interested in exploring this, you can find workshops, networking events, mentoring sessions, and much more under Events.
A fox looked at his shadow at sunrise and said, “I will have a camel for lunch today.” And all morning he went about looking for camels. But at noon he saw his shadow again — and he said, “A mouse will do.” Continue reading