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 Vaisakhi Abroad

In the lands far away, the Punjabi’s bond together under the umbrella of this age-old tradition. The Vaisakhi festival rejuvenate the desi communities. In a foreign land, the day brings to life a scene from the original Punjab!

April 13 – The Vaisakhi Day! The Baisakhi Day! Call what you like! 🙂
The Vaisakhi 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 a new year. Those old sickles have been replaced by the modern automated machinery; the farmers have outsourced the labor to the migrant workers but the Vaisakhi festival continued to be celebrated with same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 Punjabi’s are settled, the festival is a key part of their social and religious customs. Desi communities all over the world have their own ways of honoring this tradition of Vaisakhi Mela. Continue reading “The Vaisakhi Abroad”

Traveler’s aid: checklist for Indian trip

A traveler’s aid: a checklist for Indian trip

checklist2
A traveler’s aid: a checklist for Indian trip

Packing for a trip back home to India? A check list that keeps growing, but this is a good start: Continue reading “Traveler’s aid: checklist for Indian trip”

Naming a baby girl

“Yesterday, we were blessed with our second child”, he wrote an email to his friends and family member. “A beautiful baby girl – 7.25 lb, 16.5 inches, brown hair, brown eyes”….. “Cannot decide on the name, suggestions welcome!”

“Yesterday, we were blessed with our second child”, he wrote an email to his friends and family members. “A beautiful baby girl – 7.25 lb, 16.5 inches, brown hair, brown eyes,.. not sure who she looks like.” He ended the email with an open invitation to all, “Cannot decide on the name, suggestions welcome! :)”

Kiran, his wife, wanted to name her Navee; she had always liked that name.
“Umm… not sure about this one!” He quipped.
“It is a cool name, and easy to pronounce, even for Canadians!” she insisted

“What would you like to call your sister?” Kiran asked Sonia, her 6 years old daughter.
“I don’t know”, she was mesmerized by the little thing, “She is so cute! Name her princess!”
“Well, you are my princess!”
“Now you have two!” She giggled

His mother sat in the chair next to the hospital bed, holding the baby, rocking her gently every now and then. She wanted a son, but she was content with God’s will!
“Every child is born with a predetermined luck – a destiny!” She had said when the doctor first gave them the news. “We cannot change it, it is His decision!” She pointed up with her index finger. Continue reading “Naming a baby girl”

The Tea Time

After tossing and turning for a long time, he got out of the bed and sulked on the sofa in the living room…. his first day in Canada…. a short story…

“Would you like something to drink, sir?” the flight attendant asked with a polite yet firm voice.
“Some tea please,” he replied in a monotone voice.
“Ice tea or hot tea?”
“Oh, I mean hot tea.”
“Do you want anything in it – Milk or sugar?” The attendant inquired again as she poured the tea from a steel jug into a paper cup.
“Both – milk and sugar…”
“Is half-and-half okay?”
“No, I want only a little bit milk in my tea…”
She handed him two tiny cups of creamer, with label- ‘Mini Moo’s, half-&-half’.
“Oh, that’s what you meant by ‘half and half’…!” Before he could finish his sentence, she had already moved on to the next row of passengers.

After deboarding the plane, the passengers collected their luggage and lined up in the ‘Immigration and Customs’ section. Upon his turn, an immigration officer asked him all kinds of questions.
“When were you married?”
“Two years ago.”
“How long did your spouse stay with you in India?” His eyes glued to the computer screen as he continued the inquiry.
“Two week.”
“Is she the one sponsoring you?”
“Yes…sir”
“When was the last time she visited you?”
“Last year”…..
Finally, after a few more questions, he got ushered to a small cubicle where a white female officer with short red hair greeted him
“Welcome to Canada!” She said with a smile, shaking his hand and offering him a seat.
She told him about different facilities available for the new immigrants; she explained the job search options and how to apply for Social Insurance Number, and so on…
Finally he was guided to gather his luggage and follow the ‘Exit’ signs. Continue reading “The Tea Time”

An interview with Anna Hazare

This Youtube video is an excellent glimpse into the mind of Anna Hazare. This is an unbiased interview with nos strings attached; straight forward questions with straight forward answers including a vital message for every Indian – home or abroad.

An Exclusive interview of ANNAJI – ‘Father of the Modern India’

This post is a guest contribution from Shweta Nagpurkar Saxena, based on her recent interview with Anna Hazare.

The video is an excellent glimpse into the mind of Anna Hazare. This is an unbiased interview with no strings; straight forward questions with straight forward answers including a vital message for every Indian – home or abroad. As always, Annaji’s message carry a sincere appeal for everybody – to love and support your Motherland no matter where you live.

Here is the Youtube link to Shweta’s interview with Anna Hazare! Continue reading “An interview with Anna Hazare”

Double Standard

She had big dreams, her ideology was based on truth, honesty and kindness. But that was a long time ago, that was before she saw the real world. In the name of the family, for the sake of the society, she has learned to compromise at every stage of life abroad…

She had big dreams, her ideology was based on truth, honesty and kindness. But that was a long time ago, that was when she was seventeen. She thought she was special; she was born to do great things; she was born to make a difference. But then again, that was was when she was in high school. She barely new the world out there. She never knew that the rules of kindness, love and truth apply differently beyond the walls of her house.

Somewhere along the way, somewhere in the process of growing up, she left her house to encounter the real world. She was no longer shielded by her family and her loved ones. It was part of her society, it was part of the traditions to move out. She got married; her family tied her knot to an educated man from Canada. Not because they knew him, or she loved him; they married her in the hope that life would be better in Canada. That is what everyone thought, and that is what they believed – she will be better off in Canada, far better off.

But then again, people are not what they appear to be. In the real world abroad, things are very different. The real world is far different than the one based on dreams; the real world where ideology is often talked about but seldom practiced. Most of the people talk big but do little, she soon learned.

In no time, she was exposed to the double standards as she left her father’s house. She saw hypocrisy first hand – day in and day out. The lies, the deceptions, the compromises – everything was at play on her new stage of life. Continue reading “Double Standard”

Plight of a woman in the NRI Marriages

A traditional woman from India wants to save her marriage at every cost, even when it is an unhappy marriage. In the NRI marriages, society abroad takes full advantage of a women’s desire to make things work. In the name of the compromises, in the name of the family pride, women overseas are suffering from this hidden but cruel treatment every day.

“Indian men are the most ugly men on this planet. Their hearts so ugly that u can not even imagine. I am Indian married to an Indian, the pain and the suffering he has given me and continues to give me, is crazy. Why?……. Indian men in India may be good, Indian men who come to the west are ugly ugly men…may god give me courage to remove this painful lump( my husband) out out of my life forever.. ” Says Katiyani while commenting on this article.

Many parents in India prefer to marry their beloved son or daughter to NRIs.  Their main hopes and wishes for their kids are to see them will settle abroad and prosper. A common man still looks up to the other countries as the ultimate salvation for their offspring.

Yes, arranged marriage is still the most common way to matrimony in India, especially when it comes to marrying abroad. With very little knowledge about a ‘funny dressed’ visitor from the west, people are willing to wed their son or daughter overnight. They don’t want someone else to steal their opportunity – the opportunity of a golden ticket to go abroad.

Marriage is supposed to be a sacred bond, based on mutual love and respect. However, NRI marriages are fundamentally based on greed. It is the greed that results into lifelong headaches for many couples, and heartaches along with it. Continue reading “Plight of a woman in the NRI Marriages”

The wandering thoughts – living abroad and the past

It is human nature – we get used to where we live and we start calling it home…It is human nature to look beyond the present, relive the past and keep looking for a better future. The time evolves, the memories evolve but the attachment to the past stays, the past we left behind a log time ago…

The wandering thoughts – the home abroad and the long gone past

It is human nature – we are always daydreaming, often lost in our own thoughts. Thinking about past or future and imagining hypothetical scenarios is a part of our day-to-day life. We are never content with what we have, always thinking about ‘what could be’ or ‘what could have been’.

Millions of us leave our homes and our countries to go abroad, searching for a better future, looking for a better life. Some leave by choice – because we want to try new things and new places; others leave because of necessity, because they have to – for one reason or another.

Regardless of where we are and what we have accomplished, we are never satisfied with what we got. Once we go abroad, once we establish ourselves in the the new place, our mind wanders and thinks about going back to the motherland – where we originally come from. It is not because we need to, it is not because we have to; it is because of our nature – we are never satisfied with what we have. The present is never enough!

Most of the immigrants, no matter how long they have been away from their own country or how good life they live in the new place, have nostalgic attachment to their homeland. It is nothing new; it is part of being human. We never let go of the past, especially if past involves sweet memories of childhood. adolescence and youth.

Many of us – settled abroad, often think about going back, returning for good. Even after we have made new life in the new country, the thought of going back often creeps into our minds. It is a good nostalgic memory of past. Most of us think about it – going back permanently, but very few actually try it. And those who return to their motherland, the experience is often not what they expected or what we imagined. Continue reading “The wandering thoughts – living abroad and the past”

Moving Overseas! Is Your Family Ready?

There are a few simple things you can do to help your family accept the fact that your overseas move is pleasant and smooth. These commonsense and easy to follow tips can make this separation more tolerable – for you and for your family…

The world has become a very mobile now-a-days. Nobody spends the whole life at one place, or even in one country. Traveling has become a necessary part of everyday living. Going abroad, trying new places, visiting new countries, exploring new cultures…all this has become a common undertaking.

When you move to a new country for a long studies or for a job, you have to leave behind so much. The family, the friends, the home, your own country…this all becomes a part of the nostalgic memories of living in India. Those childhood days, college fun, home food, Indian culture and traditions …. all this can never be replaced or forgotten.

Moving overseas brings its own excitement. You are eager to see new places, make new friends and explore your things. However, it is a fact that you cannot ignore your loved ones far-away who are going to miss you and feel your absence day and night. Just like you, your family and friend are left behind with your memories alone to remember you by.

Every family is different and so are the reactions to the departure of a family member. Nobody is ever ready to separate from their loved ones. However, there are a few simple things that you can do to help your family accept the fact that your overseas move is not so bad after all. These commonsense and easy-to-follow tips can make this separation more tolerable, for you and for your family: Continue reading “Moving Overseas! Is Your Family Ready?”

Citizenship and Immigration Canada – CIC Website

Citizenship and Immigration Canada – CIC is a Canadian Government site that deals with Immigration and Citizenship. It offers a variety of valuable resources on the related topics including general information on immigration, commonsense tips, guidance for potential immigrants, new laws affecting the immigrants…

CIC – Canadian Government Source of Citizenship and Immigration

Have a question about immigration to Canada? Interested in Canadian Citizenship? Any question on moving to Canada? Almost all the time, you can get your answer from the official website of Citizenship and Immigration Canada. Commonly know as CIC, the site is maintained by the department of Canadian Government that deals with Immigration and Citizenship. It also links immigration services with citizenship registration.

The site is the true Bible for any information on Canadian Citizenship as well as immigration to Canada.  It offers a variety of resources on the related topics including general information, commonsense tips, guidance for potential immigrants, latest news on the subject, the new laws affecting the immigrants and so on. There are different sections addressing different aspects of immigration and citizenship. Continue reading “Citizenship and Immigration Canada – CIC Website”

Her social drinking troubles

In this day and age, the double standards are alive and well – in India and abroad. This is a short story, through the eyes of a modern woman, struggling to adjust to the Indian society and the social norms….

Her parents drove for two hours from Seattle to Surrey, B.C. They did not have a choice. They had to be there. For the entire drive, Meena – her mother – looked out of the car window. She was not admiring the scenery or the landscapes; her brain was racing with troubling thoughts and imaginations. She was worried about their daughter, Anita.

“I am not sure how to tell you this, but I have to; people are starting to talk!” Out of the blue, that was a bombshell from Rani, Anita’s mother-in-law, when she called on Wednesday.
“I don’t understand, what happened?” Meena asked; her voice trembling, and barely audible.
“Can you come over this week-end? Then we can talk,” Rani said after a pause.
Her hands shaking, Meena put-down the phone and slumped into the sofa.

“What’s going on?” Meena called Anita within minutes after that call, the suspense was killing her.
“Hi mom, how are you?” Anita was caught off-guard.
Her mom was quiet on the other end of the line.
I don’t know what you talking about, mom,” Anita added.
“Rani just called me.”
“I don’t know what the big deal is about. Everything is okay mom!” Anita said.
“You tell me now, or I am coming there tonight!” Continue reading “Her social drinking troubles”

India through the eyes of my American Classmates

For someone from India, life as a new student in America can be quite interesting. My classmates come from a very diverse background, not to forget in all colors – white, brown, black, yellow, pink, dark pink…well, sometimes it is hard to tell the real color with all the makeup on!

“So how do you like it here, in US?” This is a common icebreaker with new classmates from other countries.
“I love it; it’s fun!” is my general response. After all, I don’t need to complain about my homesickness to everybody.
“I would love to go to India, but am little bit worried about the safety and stuff over there; ….”  Some hesitation about a country far away is quite normal among Americans.
“Stuff like what?” I like to explore what they think about India.
“Well, it is a new place; plus I don’t speak Indian.” Some say this as a joke, while other are clueless to the Indian languages.
And sometimes, the things get slippery after such small talk! That is where the snakes, the elephants and other wild animals jump into the picture. Some questions, asked even with the utmost seriousness, beg for a chuckle, if not a full blown laugh!

I like my American classmates and friends just as much as my desi colleagues, well almost. At least, that’s what I would like to believe and that’s what I try anyways. Many of these firangs are my close friends. We eat together, we study together and we goof-off together. It’s a fun bunch of people I am surrounded by.

I am one of the five Indians in our class. There are students from everywhere – Canada, European countries, Australia, Kenya, Mexico and Korea…to name a few. They all come from a very diverse background, not to forget in all colors – white, brown, black, yellow, pink, dark pink…well, sometimes it is hard to tell the real color with all the makeup on. 🙂 Continue reading “India through the eyes of my American Classmates”

Many Indians abroad dating exclusively whites only!

There seem to be an emerging and perhaps growing trend among the new generation of Indians abroad who prefer to date whites only…instead of dating someone from desi circle.This ‘chat’ on the social network site is a quick glimpse into their psyche…

19:19 Me
Are u okay if I use this ‘chat’ for a blog post…a post on ‘Some Indians abroad dating whites only’ ?

19:19 Neelam
No, not really! Plz!

19:20 Me
my loss 🙁

19:20 Neelam
haha….sorry

19:21 Me
🙁

19:21 Neelam
may be..you can change the name and place…a little

19:21 Me
I should do that.
Why though?

19:22 Neelam
haha I don’t need publicity..or hate mails…lol

19:22 Me
okay cool, thanks

19:23 Neelam
haha np

…………

A friendly warning: Take this post with a grain of salt, especially if you get indigestion from racial mix and deviations from the strict social norms. Continue reading “Many Indians abroad dating exclusively whites only!”

The night before Babbu’s wedding

A sea of beautiful brown skin. Some bare-feet, others testing their newly bought shoes on the dance floor, dancing away with Kesha’s ‘Tick Tock’ song blaring through the whole house. The young, the old, the guys, the girls – all mingled up and ready to party, setting up their own pace. …Babbu and his passe head out for a night out on the town….One last night, he is going to enjoy his ‘single’s’ life….at least that’s what he thought…

A sea of beautiful brown skin. Some bare-feet, others testing their newly bought shoes on the dance floor, dancing away with Kesha’s ‘Tick Tock’ song blaring through the whole house. The young, the old, the guys, the girls – all mingled up in the mood for a party, setting up their own pace. Loud music, louder commotion. Kids running all over – a complete chaos. Everyone is lost in the moment.

Every now and then, a car pulls up to the front of the house dropping off new guests. Tomorrow is a big day for the Gill family. Their only son Babbu is getting married.

By the time the sun touched the western horizon, the house is all packed full – to the limit. More guests trickle in – from as far as India, London and Vancouver. For a two story bungalow, the full blasting air-conditioners cannot subside the heat and smell – the smell of perfumes, sweets, masala, incenses and liquors… all mixed together.

The house in Brampton is a short drive from the Toronto airport. Raj – Babbu’s cousin, has been to the airport three times already, picking up the relatives as they arrive from all over the places. He is the most excited about his fourth trip, however. His three cousins from England are arriving next, the cousins he has not seen for a long time.

As the dusk turns into an early night, a black stretched limousine pulls to the front of the house. It is a part of the night-out planned for the groom and his passé. One last time, Babbu is going to enjoy his ‘single’ status before shackling down into the married life. The limo driver steps outside the driver seat, polishes the already clean windshield with a black cloth, like a ritual. Then he lights up a cigarette, while some of the elders watch him with a look of disapproval.

The groom and his passé of five friends get to the limo. Continue reading “The night before Babbu’s wedding”