Indian Fashion Trends abroad

How to popularize Indian fashion in western society? The difficulty with sari dress-up gives you the answer: Keep it simple. To influence westerns, the Indian fashion has to be simple, yet appealing to the senses for colors, embroidery and style…and, above all, fun to wear!!

The Indian fashion trends abroad!

Jessica Alba in Desi Style
Jessica Alba in Desi Style

Indian fashion in western countries is mainly limited to the Indian population. There are quite a few Indian designers and many Indian models that support Indian clothing, but their popularity is largely within their own kinds – the Indians. The desi clothing styles from India have failed to cross-over into the western mainstream fashions.
During the 1970s, the Western fashion started to influence the elements of the Indian dress. Also, around the same time, Indian fashion began to infuse into of Western markets. Throughout the 1980s and 1990s, the trend of ‘East meats West’ became more and more popular. As a result, by the turn of the century, both Western and Indian fashion approach had intermingled, creating a unique style of clothing. For example, traditional Indian clothing such as the kurti (Indian shirt) has been combined with western jeans to create a casual attire.

But this unique style of inter-mixed fashion is more visible in urban Indian population or the NRIs living abroad. This fusion of western styles into Indian fashions is more limited among the Indian population. In other words, the traditional Indian fashion is far more influenced by the western designs. The same cannot be said about the traditional western fashion.

The biggest problem with Indian clothing is the complexity of dress-up. Perhaps, this is the main reason that Indian trends have not forged any meaningful impressions on western population. Sari, for example, is an elegant and beautiful Indian dress, a very popular formal wear among the women of Indian ancestry. As lovely as it may be, sari is not easy to ‘tie’ or put on. Compared to western clothing, dressing up in a sari is a project in itself and very time consuming by any measure. So, let us face it, sari is not going to be a popular dressing style even for the most sophisticated white fashion connoisseurs of western countries. Continue reading “Indian Fashion Trends abroad”

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 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! Continue reading “Happy Diwali – A celebration abroad…without fireworks”

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”

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”

The ban on Affirmative Action – a new trend

Positive discrimination; employment equity, ‘reservation’….affirmative action comes in different shapes and with different names. However, inequality in society goes beyond socially defined boundaries and the color of the skin…

Affirmative action has many names in different parts of the world. Some call it positive discrimination; Canada touts it as employment equity; it is ‘reservation’ in India and positive action in the UK. Affirmative action is the policy of providing special opportunities for a disadvantaged group of society who suffer from discrimination. It is an effort to ‘equal the playing field’ by favoring a weaker/minority group.

The nature of positive discrimination policies varies from country to country. Some countries, such as India, use a quota system, whereby a certain percentage of jobs or school vacancies must be set aside for members of a certain group. In some other regions, specific quotas do not exist; instead, members of minorities are given preference in selection processes. The US public colleges and Universities often consider race and ethnicity during admission process.

The Affirmative action is intended to promote the opportunities for the minority groups – to give them equal access to that of the privileged/majority population.

Now, there has been ongoing argument that the affirmative action is an unfair system and prefers certain groups during a selection process. The Michigan state has been in the news for many years now as the argument (for and against affirmative action) started in a school, leading all the way to the Supreme court. Here is a quick summary:

October 1997: Two students (Jennifer Gratz and Patrick Hamacher) sue the University of Michigan regarding the affirmative action policy used in undergraduate admissions after not getting into the College of Literature Science and Arts.

December 1997: Barbara Grutter sues the university regarding the Law School’s use of admissions, which considers race in reviewing applicants.

June 2003: The U.S. Supreme Court held in the Grutter case that diversity is a compelling interest in higher education, and that race is one of a number of factors that can be taken into account during the admissions process. The Court upheld the holistic review used in the Law School’s admissions policy. Continue reading “The ban on Affirmative Action – a new trend”

The Ant and the Grasshopper – The Indian Version

The old story: The Ant works hard and preserves food… the idle Grasshopper plays and waste the summer away. Come winter, the Ant is warm and well fed.. the Grasshopper dies out in the cold. Now, here is the Indian version…

An old story:ant_grasshopper

The Ant works hard in the withering heat all summer building its house and laying up supplies for the winter. The Grasshopper thinks the Ant is a fool and laughs & dances & plays the summer away. Come winter, the Ant is warm and well fed. The Grasshopper has no food or shelter so he dies out in the cold.

The Indian Version:

The Ant works hard in the withering heat all summer building its house and laying up supplies for the winter. The Grasshopper thinks the Ant’s a fool and laughs & dances & plays the summer away. Come winter, the shivering Grasshopper calls a press conference and demands to know why the Ant should be allowed to be warm and well fed while others are cold and starving. NDTV, BBC, CNN and other media outlets show up to provide pictures of the shivering Grasshopper next to a video of the Ant in his comfortable home with a table filled with food. The World is stunned by the sharp contrast – ‘How can this be that this poor Grasshopper is allowed to suffer! What an injustice!!’
So, Arundhati Roy stages a demonstration in front of the Ant’s house. Medha Patkar goes on a fast along with other Grasshoppers demanding that Grasshoppers be relocated to warmer climates during winter . Mayawati states this as `injustice’ done on Minorities.

Amnesty International and United Nations criticize the Indian Government for not upholding the fundamental rights of the Grasshopper. The Internet is flooded with online petitions seeking support to the Grasshopper, many promising Heaven and Everlasting Peace for prompt support as against the wrath of God for non-compliance.
Opposition MPs stage a walkout. Left parties call for ‘Bengal Bandh’ in West Bengal and Kerala demanding a Judicial Enquiry. CPM in Kerala immediately passes a law preventing Ants from working hard in the heat so as to bring about equality of poverty among Ants and Grasshoppers. Lalu Prasad allocates one free coach to Grasshoppers on all Indian Railway Trains, aptly named as the ‘Grasshopper Rath’. Continue reading “The Ant and the Grasshopper – The Indian Version”

Happy Diwali – Drink, Dine and Dance!

You have to be in India to understand the Diwali festival. A few candles and some firework – that’s nowhere close to the actual festival of Diwali. The thundering sound of the fireworks and the glow of night-lights gets lost somewhere in the translations, the translations from Indian culture to the life abroad! But, we are not in India! We have our own way of celebrating Diwali abroad.

Happy Diwali
Happy Diwali

Diwali – the festival of lights, the king of the all the Indian festivals. There is nothing more festive and more celebrated than Diwali in India.

You have to be in India to understand and experience this festival. A few candles and some firework – that’s nowhere c;lose to the actual Diwali. But, we are not in India; we have our own style of celebrating Diwali abroad.

All around the globe, Indians celebrate Diwali festival, but in our own way! The families and friends get together to drink and dine, to party and dance. Seems familiar? Well, that is how we celebrate almost everything abroad – by drinking, dining and dancing! Be it a wedding, a birthday party, even the Holi festival.. or anything in-between …. we never pass on an excuse to drink, dine and dance!!

‘Festival of Lights’ is an understatement to describe this celebration in India. But, then again, we are not in India. The euphoria of Diwali, the traditions of the day, the competing fireworks late into the nights are hard to describe, even if you try.   The feeling and enigma of Diwali is beyond what words can narrate. The thundering sound of the fireworks and the glow of night-lights gets lost somewhere in the translations, the translations from Indian culture to the life abroad! Continue reading “Happy Diwali – Drink, Dine and Dance!”

The cat and the cage

Her grandma had a cat; a cat she found wandering around in her farm when she was a little girl. That was a long time ago. The life on the farm was simple back then. The day her grandma got married, they caged the cat under a big wooden box. Perhaps, they did not want Tufaan to run through all the sweets and the decorations….

metal_cage1Her grandma had a cat; a cat she found wandering around in her farm when she was a little girl. That was a long time ago, even long before India’s partition in 1947. The life on the farm was simple back then.

The little cat loved to run through the farm and all over the house, always on the run. Grandma named her Tufaan, which meant storm.

The day her grandma got married, they caged the cat under a big wooden box. Perhaps, they did not want Tufaan to run through all the sweets and the decorations. The grandma remembered it vividly – the cat scratching the box, begging to be freed. They had to put extra weight on the perforated box to keep her from escaping.

The wedding went smoothly, grandma lived a long and happy life.

“Let me tell you Aman,” Grandma would love to talk about her cat, ” Tufaan was my good luck. Our family’s prosperity is tied to that cat! She was my best fried!!”

Twenty years later, when Aman’s mother got married, grandma told the servants to arrange for a cage. For two days, during the ceremonies, grandma made sure that the cat stayed in the cage.

She repeated the same ritual when he other daughters got married!

“I am not very superstitious, only when it is logical,” Grandma would say if anybody asked about her cat being restrained in the cage during the ceremonies. Nobody questioned her; they did not question their elders back then.

And then, many years later, Aman came to Canada for studies. After her graduation, she got a good job in Toronto and decided to stay in Canada.

For last two years, she was in her first serious relation. She was happy, for a while. Earlier this year, she decided to back out; things were not working out.

Last month she went ahead and bought a large animal cage from the local pet store.

Now, all she needs is a man, and a cat.

Did I tell you – she is not very superstitious, only when it is logical!

Other Short Stories Continue reading “The cat and the cage”

The whispers and the shouts

“You have to go! I am done with you! This marriage is over!!”
She said nothing.
“Wait till I show these pictures to your family!”
“Please listen…” she stopped mid sentence, not sure what to say next, or how to explain it.
“Sleeping with a married man! Shame on you!!…” Panting and puffing in anger, he paused to catch up his breath…., “You are disgraced all over Surrey! I will make sure!!”

“You have to go! I am done with you! This marriage is over!!”
She said nothing.
“Wait till I show these pictures to your family!”
“Please listen…” she stopped mid sentence, not sure what to say next, or how to explain it.
“Sleeping with a married man! Shame on you!!…” Panting and puffing in anger, he paused to catch up his breath…., “You are disgraced all over Surrey! I will make sure!!”
Tears dribbled down her big brown eyes, scrolling down to the flustered cheeks, and to the sides of her big red lips. Her dark brown hair all ruffled up, she periodically wiped her forehead with the back of the right hand. With each and every nervous motion, in the nightlights of the front hallway, her tall and slender frame looked very fragile
It was late night, long after dinner time, long after the bed-time. He had already opened the door, asking her many times to ‘get the hell out of my house’. She resisted, she pleaded. Her futile efforts were useless. He grabbed her by the shoulder, almost pinching her with a firm grip. Turning her around, he pushed her out of the door.
She cried, this time much louder, but the door was already shut and locked behind her.
Standing at the front porch, she looked around. The upscale neighborhood was deserted. Other than a couple strolling down the side-street towards the pond on the far end, there was no one around. She was relieved that nobody saw her being thrown out of her own house.
The relief lasted only a few moments, only a few seconds. She looked around again; she looked down. She was bare feet. Scantily dressed in her summer Indian clothes, she was already starting to feel the chill of September night. The British Columbia weather and a full night ahead – she was scared. Very scared.
She turned around and knocked on the door, gently at first. No response. Then she banged on it, much harder. She could hear his footsteps on the other side of the door, getting closer and closer. She waited.
“Go away! Go call your boyfriend!” Her husband shouted from inside the house.
“Please open the door, Raj!” Her voice trembling, barely audible.
No response. She started to panic. They have had fights before; they have had long arguments that lasted beyond midnights. Being thrown out of the house, this was the first time.
A car drove by. She turned around, facing towards the door; pretending, as if unlocking the door. The front porch was dimly lit. The solar lights alongside the hydrangea bushes lit up the well-manicured front yard. The half moon was up in the middle of the sky; the stars were already out. For any other day, this would have been a perfect night to be outdoor, to admire the nature. Not tonight. Beyond the lights, moon and stars, she was more focused on the dark – a long night ahead.
Another car drove by, slowing down as passing by, perhaps to look at the house with woman standing at the door.
“Open the door!” She banged the door again. Continue reading “The whispers and the shouts”

Accent improvement for Indian Speakers – the sounds of p, t, ch and k

In American or European English, the sounds of p, t, ch and k are pronounced somewhat differently than an Indian speaker is used to these pronunciations. The English p t ch and k are ‘aspirated’, accompanied by a puff of breath air…

English accent improvement for Indian speakers
In American or European English, the sounds of p, t, ch and k are pronounced somewhat differently than an Indian speaker is used to these pronunciations. The English sounds  of p, t, ch and k are ‘aspirated’ at the beginning of a syllable that has the accent. For example –  pin, tin, chin, kin are supposed to be aspirated.

Now, what in the world is an aspirated sound, you may ask?

The aspirated sound is the pronunciation with an initial release of breath air. For example h, as in hurry, is aspirated. Also, the rule is equally noticeable in English sounds like pit or kit where a puff of breath is clearly audible in the pronunciation of p and k sounds.
You can try pronouncing “pit” out loud and hold your hand in front of your mouth, or a lit candle if you need a more dramatic effect. You will feel a puff of breath, or see a flicker of the candle flame, that accompanies the “p” of “pit,” because it’s automatically aspirated in English. That is, of course, if you are pronouncing it with American accent.

In Indian speakers, the speakers with Indian accent, the required aspiration is missing by habit. This is because we are used to our speaking habits based on Hindi, Sanskrit or other mother tongues from India. In Indian English p, t, k are well-known to be unaspirated. If no flicker of candle flame in the above experiment, then you need some practice!

In other words, the American “p” sound is much harsher than Indian sound where a speaker tries to pronounce it quietly without accompanied burst of air. The same distinction applies for t, ch and k sounds.
The Indian speakers don’t have this problem with many other aspirated sounds, included the pronunciation of h, as in hurry.

The Indian speakers can overcome this pronunciation habit, the lack of aspiration, by repeatedly and consciously practicing the correct sounds of p, t, ch and k. Continue reading “Accent improvement for Indian Speakers – the sounds of p, t, ch and k”

Weight-Loss Intervention

“it is very noticeable, especially on your tummy!”
“Extra weight doesn’t look good on you!”
“yes, do something. You need to lose some weight!”…. a short story

“it is very noticeable, especially on your tummy!”

“Extra weight doesn’t look good on you!”

“Everybody is asking if something is wrong with you.”

“We have a wedding next month, your own brother-in-law!”

“yes, our own family celebrations!”

“Sari does not look good with tummy sticking out!”

“We love you, that’s why we are asking you.”

“yes, do something. You need to lose some weight!”

Her mother-in-law and the two aunts continue the bombardment. Everyone else is quiet, as if silent witnesses to the ugly situation. Continue reading “Weight-Loss Intervention”

Rendezvous

Love is supposed to make you glow. But in her case, it was the other way around. Maybe it was cursed, she wondered. Perhaps, because it was forbidden.

Love is supposed to make you glow, make you happy. But in her case, it was the other way around. Maybe it was cursed, she wondered. Perhaps, because it was forbidden.

“God damn it!” She murmurs, as another customer leaves her shop without any purchase.
“I really need money! I really need something to support myself.”

She looks in the wall-size mirror behind the counter. He skin pale; the big beautiful eyes don’t hold the same old shine – the glow of a rising sun they once had. Her mom had picked her name – Aruna, literary meaning sun rise.
Even with all the make-up, the dark circles underneath her eyes eclipse her beauty of yester years.

Her father owns the Taj Fashions – an Indian clothing store in Brampton. The well-lit shop in a small shopping plaza is deserted. If the business dies, her income dies – she knows it.
Selling Indian fashion and designers’ clothes is all she has done since she came to Canada. She needs the store to flourish. She needs the business to survive.No customers.
Another ominous sign in two days.

The love brought her stress and misery. It was very hard to hide, to hide from her parents and everyone around her.
Brave and undeterred, she met him every chance she got. He was an addiction, a drug that she needed the most to function.

He made promises, big promises – about them being together, about their future. She trusted him with everything, she trusted him with herself. Like a newly wed bride, she dressed up for him; she did everything for him – everything.

And, all this time, carefully, she hid him from her family, from everyone. Her biggest secret to date. Or, so she thought.

Time changed, it always does.
People. Nosy people. They always find out. The rendezvous, just like an odor, are impossible to hide. Her boyfriend crumbled under the weight of the society. He showed his true colors; he deserted her. He decided to stay with his wife.
Her faith faltered, the rosy future quickly got covered under a dark cloud, just like the dark circles under her pretty eyes. Continue reading “Rendezvous”