Indian names but English nicknames?

Perhaps as a part of the globalization, India and Indians are also starting to take on English or Americanized nicknames. It is even more popular amongst the desi generation living overseas. A brainwash, or adaptation to the demands of the society?

Overseas Living: The Trend of Americanized/European nicknames instead of desi names!
At a desi wedding parties or other similar functions abroad, you are bound to run into some guests with interesting names; I mean the English version of Indian names. If someone introduce himself as Gary Singh, you know right away that his parents did not name him Gary. Now, is his real name Gurdip, Gurjit, Gurdev….? That could be a good guessing game if you get bored of the party!

Nicknames are very common amongst American and European people, but those are often predictable. Jim is generally short for James, Tony is nickname for Anthony, Bob is probably Robert and so on…. White people are used to the nicknames. However, when Indians use nicknames, they are often questioned. “You are forgetting your root”, you grandma will probably remind you. Others will call you ABCD – ‘American born confused desi’, or even worse!

Also, if you introduce yourself with Americanized/westernized nickname, some people may get confused, or they want to know more. “So, what is your real name? You don’t look like ‘Gary’!” Now, don’t take it the wrong way, that could be a sincere question. They just want to know more about you; many people use such conversation as ice breakers.

The general question that many have: should we be using Americanized nicknames? Does that make you hypocrite or shallow amongst your hardcore Indian circle?
Continue reading “Indian names but English nicknames?”

Happy New Year!

Happy 2016! Another year full of new possibilities….Take a look around, slow-down and take a break once in a while…enjoy the journey of life…. into another year!

Best wishes for a Happy 2016!!
Wishing everyone a good health, happiness, prosperity and good Karma, though we are still looking for ‘him’!
2015, another year gone by, a part of the past now. Most of it will fade away into distant memories.
Looking ahead, a new year -2016, with new potentials. So, time for some new resolutions, even though most of our new year’s resolutions are about the same as before… not much changes in our wishes and expectations. Except, the time moves on!
The life’s journey is random in nature – beautiful, exciting, surprising, boring, disappointing…. all combined in unpredictable steady moments of time. There are ups, there are downs. But, if you look around, there is always something to live for, to cherish, to enjoy….
So, here is another year, a brand new 2016, full of new possibilities… Explore it, enjoy it !
Life happens, moment-by-moment, day by day, year by year…
So live it! Let us be grateful for another chapter in our lives.
Look around; admire the nature, the surroundings…, admire the goodness of humanity. Be a part of ‘all that is good in the universe’.
But, above all, slow down once in while, take a break. Break the fast pace of the daily grinds and look around every now and then;enjoy the journey! The life, the living, happens in the present!
Happy Journey!
Happy New year!!

Best Bollywood Movies of 2015

2015 is a colorful year for Bollywood, with many refreshing movies. There are big budget mega-productions with mega cast, while others are artistic films with low profile actors. Drama, action, crime, comedy…. there is a plenty to choose from, and there are quite a few good ones… and, some great ones…

Top Hindi Films of 2015
The 2015 year brought us a lot of Bollywood masala. The big budget films combined with big name stars dominated the big screen, but there were many outstanding movies in a variety of genres. Here are some of the memorable movies of 2015:bajrangi-bhaijaan2
Bajrangi Bhaijaan: A sweet little girl with contagious smile opens this movie in the beautiful and scenic valleys of Kashmir. The touching story spans beyond the borders of India and Pakistan. The direction is brilliant; the music is true to the north India and Kashmiri settings. The dialogues are crisp, even though six years old Harshaali Malhotra says more with her eyes and smile throughout her captivating screen presence. Salman Khan plays the role of a devoted Bajrangi; he follows his heart and breaks all the religious and political boundaries in an effort to return the separated child back to her parents in Pakistan. His noble mission encounters serious hurdles all along; his innocent and naïve approach results in comic dramas, some of them predictable. Kabir Khan directs this comedy-drama; Nawazuddin Siddiqui and Kareena Kapoor feature in the supporting roles.
Piku: This is not your typical movie. It is an artistic and entertaining comedy that revolves around an aging father and his street smart cosmopolitan daughter. Amitabh Bachchan portrays a Bengali old man who speaks his mind and is overly obsessed with his non-existing health issues. The entertaining dialogues are short, sharp and mainly argumentative throughout the movie. The acting and direction has a very natural flow. Even though the characters cannot stand each other most of the times, the movie centers around love and the caring nature of average human beings. Irrfan Khan and Deepika Padukone are natural actors and this movie is no exception for their brilliant acting.

Dum Laga Ke Haisha: This is a beautiful family movie without a dashing muscular hero or a glamorous leading lady. Set in the 1990s in the temple town of Haridwar, the nuclear family drama is realistic and with a natural flow. The dialogues and the acting are true to the settings and the surroundings of lower-middle class lives. With little true romance, the movie is a comic yet beautiful story of ‘acquired love’ in an arranged marriage. The film portrays a complicated relation of an average young couple dealing with the daily struggles and social stigmas. Bhumi Pednekar and Ayushmann Khurrana deliver outstanding performances of an odd yet caring couple.
Masaan (Fly Away Solo): This is a beautiful film with very engaging acting all around. Each character is unique, yet they all merge into a story that keeps you interested start to end. Complicated human emotions are conveyed with a superb and clear direction. Richa Chadda shines from the very beginning, as a determined single woman who out-lives the social stigma and the corrupt police. The settings of Banaras against the Ganga River are poignant yet beautiful, just like the storyline. Vicky Kaushal, Sanjay Mishra and Shweta Tripathi star as the main cast. The critically acclaimed movie has won many awards at national and international levels. Continue reading “Best Bollywood Movies of 2015”

Happy Diwali – A celebration abroad…without fireworks

Happy Diwali to all the Indians across the world! Live it, celebrate it, enjoy it….even if without fireworks and lights! You only live once…well, not according to the Hindu philosophy, but you got the idea!

Happy Diwali to ALL – Home and Abroad!

Happy Diwali
Happy Diwali

Over the years, while living overseas, the Diwali day has become just like any other other Indian festival day. You don’t really celebrate it, especially if it falls during a week-day when everybody is at work or school. So, what we do? We say ‘Happy Diwali’, just like we say Happy Holi, Happy Janmashtami, Happy Gurupurab…, but it doesn’t mean much. It is just like saying ‘Happy Holi’ instead of the exchange of the real colors during the Holi festival.
And sometimes, especially if it is on the week-end, we get together and celebrate with food and drinks. The fireworks are ‘optional’, mostly forgotten…

Everyone knows what Diwali symbolize; we say it all the times when we explain it to our ‘non-Indian’ colleagues and friends:
‘Diwali symbolize the victory of Good over Evil, Light over Dark…’ We have memorized it, just like little kids memorize the multiplication tables in the school, without paying any attention to the meaning.
The meaning of Diwali is not lost in translation; it is lost over time and over physical distance of countries far away from India!

Diwali is special day in Indian culture; it is a divine day for Indians. No one disputes it; no one should. Growing up as a child in India, I did not care for any meaning of Diwali or what it symbolized. The fireworks were enough for me; enough motivation to look forward to this day, to ‘celebrate’ it in the real sense. The day filled with sweets and all kinds of food and the night, yes, the real treat, the night full of fireworks. We used to count days to the Diwali night, just like kids count days to Christmas in the Western countries.
Different places, different times, different ways of lives…
Continue reading “Happy Diwali – A celebration abroad…without fireworks”

A Quiz on Disappeared Bollywood Stars: Where are they now?

These Bollywood stars disappeared from the movie scene after making a huge splash! Here is a quiz about some of these mega stars of the past; where are they now! Take this quiz and test your Bollywood knowledge!

Bollywood Quiz: Bollywood Actors from the past, where have they gone!
Mandakini
Some of the Movie stars had a very short on-screen life; they made a big entrance and then disappeared. Some had personal issues; others were not so lucky on the big screen. Yet others decided to take a different path. Here is a quiz about some of the mega stars of the past. This is your chance to test how well you know your Bollywood!
Some from the old days, some no so distant.
Some happy endings, some not so.
Here we go! Good luck with the quiz:

Remember the light-eyed teenager Mandakini; the leading lady in RaJ Kapoor's film ‘Ram Teri Ganga Maili’? Where is she now?





Ayesha Jhulka played key roles in films like ‘Jo Jeeta Wohi Sikander’, 'Khiladi', 'Masoom'.... What happened to her?





Meenakshi Seshadri, known for her great acting in movies like Jurm, Ghayal and Damini, disappeared from the Bollywood screens. What happened to her?





Kumar Gaurav, the son of superstar Rajendra Kumar, was an overnight star with his debut movie Love Story. Where is he now?





Kimi Katkar created a stir for her film Tarzan (1985). She played opposite Big B in Hum and is still remembered for her Chumm Chumma song. Where is she now:





Saira Banu, the famous lead actress of 1960s and 1970s stopped acting suddenly in late 1970s. What happened?





Salma Agha made a splash with movie 'Nikaah', her soulful voice won her filmfare award for Best Playback Female for the song "Dil Ke Armaan Aansuon Mein Beh Gaye". What happened to her?





What happened to Sushil Kumar and Sudhir Kumar after their superb acting in the superhit movie Dosti in 1964?





Bhagyashree, best known for her debut lead role in the movie Maine Pyar Kiya, is nowhere on the Bollywood screens. Where is she?





Raj Kiran acted in around 100 films. Karz, Begunah, Basera, Maan Abhiman and Arth were some of his most memorable movies. Where is he now?








Continue reading “A Quiz on Disappeared Bollywood Stars: Where are they now?”

Old Hindi songs and the subtle Punjabi touch

The old Hindi film songs are known for the use of Urdu words and a subtle touch of Punjabi. Listen to the Hindi songs from 1950s, 1960s and 1970s and you will feel this bias. However, this influence has slowly faded away over the recent years…

Listen to old songs from Indian Hindi movies (now called Bollywood movies), you will notice two things:
1. A lot of songs are written in pure Urdu,
2. There is a clear influence of Punjabi language/wording on a lot of old Hindi (or Urdu) songs.
To understand this influence, you have look at the history of Indian Cinema in early 1900s. Before the Indian Partition in 1947, even though the movie production was concentrated in Bombay, north India was a prime spot for shooting the actual film scenes. Lahore and Delhi were commonly used for urban settings; the Kashmir valley and the Himalayan foothills were the key spots for natural scenery and natural beauty.
The political and religious unrest in Punjab in 1940s played into the Punjabi infusion into Hindi cinema. Many Lahore based actors, directors and singers moved to Bombay to avoid living amongst the riots and the social divisions. The likes of B.R. Chopra, Mohammed Rafi, Sahir Ludhianvi, Verma Malik… were impacted by the Punjab Partition and all of them made their name in Bombay film industry sooner or later. Pran, our favorite ‘Villain of the Millennium’, started in Lahore in Punjabi cinema in 19040, his first film was Yamla Jat. After acting in several movies in Lahore, he moved to Bombay after 1947 partition of India.

In early 1900s, Punjab was one of the most prosperous region of India and Punjabi actors were preferred for the lead/main roles because of their fair complexion and taller/stronger stature. Starting with Prithviraj Kapoor (Kapoor family), Rajesh Khanna, Sunil Dutt, Dharmendra… Punjabi dominance in Bombay film industry was very noticeable and they brought Punjabi culture with them. Even more is true about poets and song writers.
For example, if you listen to ‘Roti Kapda Aurr Makaan’ movie’s songs, there is a clear Punjabi influence. The song ‘Mehangai Maar Gayi’ starts with a mixture Urdu and Punjabi:
‘Usne kahaa tu kaun hain, maine kahaa ulfat teri
usne kahaa takta hai kya, maine kahaa surat teri
usne puchhaa chaahata hai kya, maine kahaa chaahat teri
maine kahaa samjhaa nahi, usne kahaa kismat teri…’ Continue reading “Old Hindi songs and the subtle Punjabi touch”

TED Talk: A Saudi, an Indian and an Iranian in a Qatari bar

Even the most serious and touchy topics can be better addressed when followed with a laugh! Iranian-American comedian Maz Jobrani takes to the TED audience…

The Iranian-American comedian Maz Jobrani delivers a comic piece to the TED audience in Doha, Qatar. This is an interesting take on some the most serious issues and perceptions surrounding Muslims and the Middle East.
Oh, and also included are some pieces of common advice to the people with brown skin when boarding an airplane in America!

Most of the time, as we can see from this comedy, even the most serious and touchy topics can be better addressed when wrapped in laughter!
Instead of politicians and religious leaders, we need more comedians talking about the cultural and religious differences! Continue reading “TED Talk: A Saudi, an Indian and an Iranian in a Qatari bar”

TED Talk: East vs. West — the myths that mystify

When we look at the people from a different culture, we look through the lens of our own values, our own morality. Devdutt Pattanaik has an interesting take on the myths of India and those of the West… and how we misunderstand one another.

We often compare our Indian culture, values and traditions with the West. We always look at a culture through the values and the lenses of our own culture, our own definition of values and morality. There is no surprise, that we are often biased in our observations. This bias can be conscious or subconscious, our views are seldom neutral.
In this interesting TED talk, Devdutt Pattanaik takes an eye-opening look at the myths of India and the West. The speaker explains how these two fundamentally different sets of beliefs about God, death and heaven help us consistently misunderstand one another.

The speaker links the the business aspect to our culture and our myths. How we look at our business and operation is through the eyes of our own culture. The best ways to deal with dynamic and diverse markets is through the culture of our customers.
So, what is the ‘right’ or ‘suitable’ way to approach a situation or a business problem? It depends. It depends on the situation and it depends on the ‘eyes’ of the culture and mythology. Continue reading “TED Talk: East vs. West — the myths that mystify”

Cricket World Cup 2015: A Trivia Quiz!

This quiz is for the real fans of the game of cricket, with focus on 2015 World Cup….Check it out!

ICC-Cricket-World-Cup-2015Are you a real fan of the cricket?
Do you know your game?
Test your knowledge!
Here is a trivia quiz on 2015 Cricket World Cup.
Good luck!!

Please go to Cricket World Cup 2015: A Trivia Quiz! to view the quiz

Other Quizzes:

Continue reading “Cricket World Cup 2015: A Trivia Quiz!”

Top Bollywood films of 2014

2014 brought some outstanding Hindi films in a variety of genres – dramas, action flicks, thrillers, comedies.. Here are some of the best ones of 2014 Bollywood movies:

BestBollywoodMovies2014HappyNewyearBest Bollywood Movies of 2014
When in comes to Hindi movies and Indian Cinema, the tastes differ, the personal choices vary. Some like action while others prefer drama, and yet others long for serious films. Here are some of the best 2014 Bollywood movies:

Queen – Rani (the name translates to the ‘queen’) is an average girl with below-average self confidence. After her fiancé calls off their wedding, she embarks alone on her honeymoon to Paris and Amsterdam. This comedy-drama film is beautifully directed by Vikas Bahl. The film stars Kangana Ranaut in the lead role with Lisa Haydon and Rajkummar Rao playing supporting roles. This is a lively and a well-done movie, highly praised by the audience and the experts alike.

Happy New Year – This film is one of the most expensive films ever made in Bollywood. The action packed heist story can also be branded as a comedy film. The movie has a lovely direction by Farah Khan and is produced by Gauri Khan. The star studded cast includes Shahrukh Khan, Abhishek Bachchan, Deepika Padukone, Boman Irani, Sonu Sood, Vivaan Shah and Jackie Shroff. It is a very entertaining film, and has rightfully clinched the most number of trophies at the 2014 Stardust Awards ceremony.

PK (Peekay) – This is a comedy film but a brave one – a full fledged satire on God and the religions. Some of the scenes include money extraction at temples, coconuts being offered in at a church… There is nothing comic about a Muslim girl’s dialogue, “Itna chota nahin ho sakta hamara khudaa, ki use hamare school jaane pe aitraaz ho.” (Our God cannot be that ‘small’ that he would object to girls attending schools). The plot begins with an alien landing on Earth but is stranded in Rajasthan when his spaceship’s remote control is stolen. The film stars Aamir Khan in the title role, with Anushka Sharma, Sushant Singh Rajput, Boman Irani, Saurabh Shukla, and Sanjay Dutt in supporting roles. The truth delivers under the guise of comedy is always a brilliant idea, nothing so alien about that.
.
Dedh Ishqiya – Crackling humor, fitting dialogues and beautifully written story that is punctuated by comic scenes throughout the movie…. This a refreshing comedy directed by Abhishek Chaubey and is a sequel of Ishqiya. The Movie stars Madhuri Dixit, Arshad Warsi, Naseeruddin Shah and Huma Qureshi in the lead roles. I wish I could understand more Urdu!

Haider – The film is a modern-day adaptation of William Shakespeare’s tragedy Hamlet. The crime drama is set amidst the 1995 Kashmir conflicts and civilian disappearances. Haider, a poet, returns to Kashmir to seek out his disappeared father and ends up in the middle of the state politics. Directed by Vishal Bhardwaj, it stars Shahid Kapoor in the lead role, co-starring Tabu, Shraddha Kapoor and Kay Kay Menon, with Irrfan Khan making a special appearance.
Continue reading “Top Bollywood films of 2014”

A vegetarian Thanksgiving feast – The Indian Style

There is a whole new emerging generation of vegetarians. Here is a vegetarian take on the Thanksgiving meal. Instead of turkey, try these dishes, an Indian Thanksgiving:

An Indian Thanksgiving for the vegetarians!A vegetarian dish
So, you don’t eat turnkey, or any other meat dishes! However, with Thanksgiving approaching, everybody is talking turkey. Thanksgiving menus are built around turnkey and meat entrees; without turkey, it is not really a Thanksgiving dinner, right?
Wrong!
If are vegetarian, you have a big dilemma at your hands – what to cook and what not to make for this holiday family feast! There has to be something in your dinner menu that stands out!

Don’t feel left out, there are millions of vegetarians out there facing the same question. Of course, we all take this challenge differently or underplay it, like….
“Thanksgiving is not really our holiday; we don’t celebrate it!..”
“We will just make one extra dish,… and a desert….that should do the trick!”
“Have to sleep early for Black Friday shopping next day, we will do something special for Christmas…”

If you are looking for an excuse to avoid thanksgiving dinner, there are plenty of them out there.
But, Why? Why pass on the chance to get together and have some fun with your family and friends! the Thanksgiving is all about showing the appreciation and thanking your loved ones! So, go on; celebrate! Put something together for the feast! Something that you are good at, something that is filling and ‘festive’!

The menu does not have to be American style or Indian style; it can be either, or a combination of the two. Pick out the dishes that you really enjoy; talk to your friends, build a menu in advance! Believe me, it is not that hard! You can start with something common.

Here are the suggestions for an Indian thanksgiving menu: Continue reading “A vegetarian Thanksgiving feast – The Indian Style”

Why not ‘Made in India’?

China is the front runner in manufacturing and export of a wide variety of products. Where does India stand in this race? What does the future hold for ‘Made In India’ trend….

Can India replace China as world’s manufacturing hub?made-in-india
The question is often asked, but seldom answered. The reason: there is no good answer; no one knows if this is possible in the near future. There is a wishful thinking and a hope, but no clear proof so far.

China has established itself as a dominant force in the manufacturing arena. Chinese have experience, which is hard to replace or reproduce. They have infrastructure specifically designed for outsourced manufacturing and they have no shortage of labor. As a result, ‘Made in China’ is a world force to reckon with.
However, China may be reaching its capacity in manufacturing labor. The wages are going up, the labor market is becoming more demanding. There are only so many workers you can hire at the rock bottom wages.

Necessity is the mother of invention, they say. The western companies need to find an alternate to China; they need a back-up plan at the very least. That’s why more and more companies are looking towards Indonesia, Vietnam, and oh yes…India.

India is world’s second most populated country; no shortage of worker here. hence the question: Can India replace China as a manufacturing hub for the western companies? If you ask anyone including the Indian Government, the answer is Yes, with an ‘*’. Anything is possible, as they say and India has the size to stand against China. So what is the problem? Why India has not made much progress in this area?

Well, there are many ‘problems’, not just one. Continue reading “Why not ‘Made in India’?”

The top executives in America… and the path

One field where Indians have not fully caught up is the top executive tier of the US companies. While we continue to move into the middle class management, the success in the top tier jobs is not that prevalent. Here is the key information and a summary of available resources…

Climbing the corporate ladder: The ‘top executives’ in USA and the path to the top jobs
A job in the IT field or a small businesses ownership – when it comes to the favorite employment preferences of the Indian Americans, these are the two most common perception.  The new generations of Indian engineers and medical professionals are crowding the US industries. The thrifty approach of first generation Indians over the decades continue to contributed towards successful family businesses as well well as upbringing of a highly educated second generation of American Indians.
One field where Indians have not fully caught up is the top executive tier of the US companies. While we continue to move into the middle class management, the success in the top tier jobs is not that prevalent.
One thing to keep in mind, there are only limited numbers of top executive jobs. There is only one CEO, CFO or COO in a company – large or small. There could be many head-of-department positions in larger corporations but the numbers are relatively small. So, this could be one of the reason for limited success beyond middle management; there are just not that many jobs for top executives and competition is fierce for this cream of the crop.

The ‘top executives’: A summary
Based on the Bureau of Labor Statistics (US Department of Labor), here is an insight into the American ‘top executives’:

What Top Executives Do
Top executives devise strategies and policies to ensure that an organization meets its goals. They plan, direct, and coordinate operational activities of companies and organizations. Continue reading “The top executives in America… and the path”

We love soccer….but only every four years!

The soccer mania is everywhere during during the FIFA World Cup season, even in America. We love soccer during the World Cup time…Once the Cup is over, the whole craze fades away, for four years…

Brazil eats, sleeps and drinks football. It lives football! ~ Pele

The World Cup fever is in full swing all over the globe. Soccer, called ‘football’ everywhere except in America, is one of most popular sports if you step outside America. Many European and South American countries including Brazil, Argentina, Spain, Italy, Uruguay and England have some of most fanatic soccer culture. Soccer is their favorite pastime, a part of their daily life.

And, every four years during the FIFA World Cup, the soccer mania is everywhere, even in America. It is the World Cup time… and boy, we love the World Cup soccer! During this season, even the America joins the FIFA World Cup fan club band wagon.

FIFA, Fédération Internationale de Football Association, is the international governing body of soccer. It organizes the World Cup. During early days, FIFA pushed for Soccer to be a part of Olympics, but without success. So, they started their own world competition repeating every four years, just like Olympics. Today World Cup is as popular as Olympics, if not more, in most parts of the world. The sport commands billions of audience during this competition.

2014 World Cup in Brazil is no exception. USA, along with other 200 plus other countries competed for one of only 32 slots available in the World Cup match-up. The most talented teams are in the field in Brazil, fighting for the top honor – to be the 2014 World Cup Champion.

In many countries, especially in South America and Europe, football (the soccer, as they call it in America) is a religion. Christiano Ronaldo, Lionel Messi, Fernando Torres are worshiped like gods, more popular than the Hollywood stars. Continue reading “We love soccer….but only every four years!”

‘I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings’ by Maya Angelou

The caged bird sings
with a fearful trill….
and his tune is heard
on the distant hill
for the caged bird
sings of freedom…

A tribute to Maya Angelou – a life well lived.

The free bird leaps
on the back of the wind
and floats downstream
till the current ends
and dips his wings
in the orange sun rays
and dares to claim the sky.

But a bird that stalks
down his narrow cage
can seldom see through
his bars of rage
his wings are clipped and
his feet are tied
so he opens his throat to sing.

The caged bird sings
with fearful trill
of the things unknown
but longed for still
and his tune is heard
on the distant hill
for the caged bird
sings of freedom Continue reading “‘I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings’ by Maya Angelou”