check my source spankbang videos

Heart to Heart: A Symphony of Music and Advocacy 

Have you considered that music can be a means to spread awareness on important public health issues? Three musicians hailing from three distinct cultures are crossing borders to transform hearts.They are using spiritual consciousness and healing energy, while drawing attention to  an alarming—but woefully under-reported—rise of congenital heart defects killing hundreds of thousands of children annually around the world. 

This trio of acclaimed multi-talented musicians are pioneering an adventurous blend of western jazz and Carnatic-style Indian music. The musicians in this diverse super group include India-born U. Rajesh, hailed by many as the world’s foremost Carnatic-style mandolin player; Greece-born Dimitris Lambrianos, a keyboard prodigy who is now a world-class composer and performer proficient on dozens of instruments; and American composer, recording artist, and music educator George Brooks, on the saxophone.

The concert sponsor, the U.S.-based Heart to Heart Foundation, supports low-cost pediatric heart surgeries that have saved the lives of thousands of children in numerous low-income countries. The concert will include a brief video presentation about the Foundation’s work.  

Saturday July 20, 7:30pm. Cemex Auditorium, Stanford University. For free tickets to this event, please register at:  https://tinyurl.com/H2H-Music . For additional information, please visit:  www.h2h.foundation

 

Making The Best Of Stress: Silicon Valley’s High School Rap Scene

Evergreen Valley High School. Tucked away in the middle of a quiet neighborhood in East San Jose, the blue and brown walls of the school burgeon with hopes, dreams and perhaps most dangerous — expectations. 

The predominantly Asian-American school is ranked 79 out of 1334, for the best college prep public high school in California, and with an average ACT score of 31, the high academic standards of its students seems evident. In fact, EVHS is one of many increasingly competitive public high schools sending a significant percentage of students to the UC schools. (all statistics from niche.com

But along with the academic rigor of public schools like EVHS come a vast array of mental health issues. According to Dr. Marie-Nathalie Beaudoin, the director and founder of Skills for Kids, Parents, and Schools, an organization that offers on site counseling services to children, educators, and parents in the Bay Area, two of the most prevalent mental health issues seen in high school campuses that she has supervised have been anxiety and depression. It’s no secret that Silicon Valley public schools in particular have been brought under severe media scrutiny for the increase in the number of suicides as a result of pressure to keep up with academic expectations.  Of little acknowledgement in the factors influencing anxiety and depression is the impact that video-game and social media addiction can have in the lives of high schoolers today. 

Dr. Marie-Natalie goes on to explain: “Five or ten years ago, we were seeing issues dealing with academic pressure, anxiety, an overdiagnosis of ADHD;  it seems like all of these issues still exist, but the vast majority of calls I receive from schools and from distressed parents turns out to be related to video game addiction.” 

Made to sustain continuous use, video games tap into the reward system of the brain — increasing dopamine, leading to a feeling of validated accomplishment, often resulting in an addicted and obsessed user base. “In the more privileged communities, issues of anxiety, like anxiety about performing academically goes hand in hand with  a disconnection from social interaction. If young people spend all their free time on video games, as opposed to playing with one another, or interacting, or doing sports, then there’s a loss. There’s definitely a loss in terms of personal growth.” says Dr. Marie-Nathalie. 

Video games facilitate a shift in social connections from being in person to online. The dissonance between the two seems to be characteristic of an era of Internet powered interactions, befitting (but not limited to) a Silicon Valley high school. Exchanging the quality of an in-person friendship for innumerable friends on online forums, like gaming communities, or social media platforms compromises the level of conversation between the two parties, and “interferes with the depth of the relationship — how meaningful it is.” The superficiality of the new standard is at the very least distracting — if not disturbing. Students are more likely to feel obligated to respond to a text, or check Instagram, thereby multitasking between their online presence and their academic work, resulting in prolonged hours of school work, and even a decrease in academic performance as a result of constant distraction.

A 2005 Psychological Science study, concludes: “a major reason for students falling short of their intellectual potential (is) their failure to exercise self-discipline,” quite common for today’s high schoolers. Dr. Marie-Nathalie concurs, explaining that the frontal lobe, responsible for self-discipline, is not fully developed until the twenties, leaving teenagers to grapple with the consequences of academic underperformance as a result of extreme distractions and lack of self-discipline without the benefits of a fully rational mind.

But how much do the video game addictions and social media interactions that comprise a majority of a student’s brain power have to do with mental health issues?  After all, distraction doesn’t seem like the worst thing in the world. Inconvenient yes, but dangerous? This crucial issue is just beginning to be understood. 

With the greater part of a high school student’s day being spent on social media platforms, or online gaming communities (widely considered to be an online social platform due to the elements of gaming chats), perceived validation from peers is often purely online, from the number of likes or comments on a post, often leading to an ascription of importance to maintaining surface deep relationships, and deriving self-worth from them. When the appropriate number of likes are not reached, self-esteem is impacted. According to a 2014 American Psychological Association study, “Social networking sites (SNSs), such as Facebook, provide abundant social comparison opportunities… indeed, the results showed that participants who used Facebook most often had poorer trait self-esteem, and this was mediated by greater exposure to upward social comparisons on social media.,” defining upward social comparisons as “a high activity social network, healthy habits, etc., .” Blows to self-esteem coupled with academic stress seems to be what drives students towards isolation, while at the same time instigating depression and performance anxiety.

Reversion to online activity, whether it be video gaming, or scrolling through Instagram suggests a sort of complacency, one that is reflective of a loss of agency, as a result of denial of severe academic stress. 

The sheer competition to not only to get into college, but also to increase earning potential has influenced many students in the Indian-American community to ignore a well-rounded education, choosing not to explore other passions and instead focusing narrowly on STEM based career paths. It seems like the overwhelming amount of extracurriculars — DECA, Speech and Debate, Robotics Club — are all being pursued for the benefit of college admissions, rather than out of personal interest. 

In a world where the college application process outranks everything, it is becoming increasingly more difficult for kids to just be kids. The superficiality ensures resume-building prevails over the true pleasure of doing an activity just for the sake of doing it.

It is in the midst of exactly this environment, that a group of unconventional (at least by Silicon Valley standards) high schoolers from EVHS chose to pursue rap. The possibility of a resistance to the stereotypical college oriented journey seems likely in a refreshing take on modern hip-hop. And with their very existence being  unprecedented it seems that they call into question a potential shift in the social norms and culture of Silicon Valley. 

But why rap?

In conversation with Chetas Holagunda, a member of the EVHS rap circles and better known by his rap name BLVSE , the authenticity behind his passion for rap is clear. The name BLVSE itself, a tribute to the caliber of this EVHS senior signifies the “flame, like a blaze, inside of me that keeps me going;  I’m always motivated to keep going and trying new things…I push myself through it even though its not for a college app or anything, I still keep going.

The journey to producing an upbeat and “hype” song has been paved with humility and determination, qualities that BLVSE proudly embodies — the hallmark of his musical experience. Coming from a family of Carnatic musicians, BLVSE’s influences seem diametrically opposed, citing the impact that artists like JUICE WRLD had on his style of music. A note about the importance of blending contemplative, and self-analysing lyrics with a party vibe seems to encompass the goal of many BLVSE songs — a marriage that might not be too far away from the Carnatic focus on sound and lyrics. 

His current experience expands beyond the initial focus on “the melody that came out, the vibe that it spreads,”. Instead he says: “Now I’m trying to incorporate both, so you listen to lyrics that have one meaning, but you also have a vibe that you can party to, where you can have fun.” He tries to keep most of his songs light hearted at “ground level, and pretty relatable,” but on occasion, like any other artist, emotion is too powerful to ignore. “A lot of rappers talk about depression, like JUICEWRLD definitely blew up that idea…I definitely talk about it in some of my songs… I don’t explicitly say it but there’s some stories that end up sad… I don’t directly call it depression, but people can infer what happens.”

Although the blend of Jamaican cultural influences and working-class urban themes has historically characterized rap music as celebrating the African-American experience, its popularity—some may even say notoriety— has led to a divergence from the traditional African-American subject. Over the course of hip-hop history, as rap artists have become more racially diverse, there has inevitably been a shift in lyrical content, and although the original swagger that encompasses the essence of the genre has been kept intact, rap has gone from the discussion of urban issues to more diverse personal stories. Battles with mental health, struggles with poverty, and other topics of cultural relevance and relatability.

But it’s the core of hip-hop, the ability for  raw self-expression combined with the triumph of bringing people together, that seems to be what persuaded these high school rappers to produce music. The goal of BLVSE’s music seems to be a creation of a safe space for the kids of toxic Silicon Valley high schools, where gaming addiction and academic pressures are the reality. 

It is the harsh truth that these students must endure more than their fair share of stress. In addressing the extreme range of emotion regarding academic pressures, BLVSE does acknowledge some school interference, but says that “they have certain events but they aren’t really effective in helping students. They (students) just go to get the credits and leave, so it’s really not as influential as it can be.”

What might be more impactful, and certainly what seems to be more entertaining, is convening outside of an academic context with friends to blow off steam. BLVSE remarks: “I always have that vision of performing in my own concert where everyone is just jumping up and down to a song.” Where everyone is present.

Consistent with the counterculture element of rap, these teenagers are cutting through the intense norm of laser beam focus on structuring all activities around a college application. Coming together to enjoy good music seems to be a rarity in the lives of today’s teenagers —lives that are focused on not only getting good grades, but also volunteering at homeless shelters, and winning speech and debate trophies, peppered with the constant Instagram check in. Moving kids away from their obsession with the activities of the other, the value placed on comparison to peers through social media, might be a challenge, given that platforms like Instagram and Soundcloud might be essential in distributing music, which help  create a fanbase. But even in the presence of such widespread social networking, the intention of bringing people together in real life, is laudable — even reflective of the origins of hip-hop in Bronx house parties. 

In a world where perfection is deliberately demanded, there is little time for recreation. By doing what they do with love, these rappers ensure that high school isn’t just about ignoring stress in an extreme focus to get into college — it can be about celebrating little successes, and taking some time to live in the moment.

But rappers like BLVSE understand that this freedom to create isn’t universal. The undisputable motivational role of parental support seems to be instrumental in the production process. As BLVSE describes it: “The good thing is that my parents actually support this… so that definitely helped me,-  like if my parents like a song, they would push me to share it with other people.” With a chuckle, he says: “It’s definitely not the type of music they listen to, but they do enjoy it, so that motivates me to put it up.” And even as BLVSE acknowledges that his experience in the EVHS rap community has been with full support from his parents, it is understood that this is a luxury some of his peers don’t have. 

Supporting high school rappers might be one way to fight a toxic culture of Silicon Valley disenfranchisement with harsh and competitive academic environments.

The shift towards STEM education seems to be reflective of a body of parents who came of age in a community where there was only one path to escape the cycle of lower middle class life — where the easiest path to guaranteed success was STEM education. And although STEM education, the craze that has taken over Silicon Valley isn’t innately terrible, it forces students to put on blinders, curbing passions like music, design, art, dance before they fully develop into hobbies or even careers. The beauty of the American dream is the diversity on the journey towards success. Forcing students to comply with an outdated standard, emphasizing perfection no matter the cost, has resulted in a generation plagued by the pressure to perform. Retreating into a world of superficial connections through social media or gaming seems to be an apparent attempt to find that affection and validation that have traditionally been a parent’s responsibility to cultivate, through any other means possible.

Rap music is the perfect union of elements of actual social interaction and self-expression, both ideas that are “taboo” in the Silicon Valley high school journey of college preparation. It is reflective of a growing population of students that are no longer complacent — students who declare, like BLVSE: “Any field is of equal value!”

Students who don’t hide behind an online identity, but rather embrace the power of their voice. In the words of BLVSE: “Im putting my feelings out there, if you don’t enjoy it, then that’s up to you. If I express myself saying that I’m happy with myself, then I’m gonna be happy with myself.”

In fact, there is a proven therapeutic effect of the self-expression of rap. The danger of bottling up emotions is something that Gloria Baxter of the Lighthouse of Hope Counseling Center knows intimately. She even uses elements of hip-hop culture in adolescent group therapy sessions, asking students to write a rap about what upset them. Results have been phenomenal.

It is our responsibility as a society to encourage creative expression among the next generation. Together, we have opened up a Pandora’s Box of perfect SAT scores and  5.0 GPAs. In a world where the bar can never be reached, rap is not only a coping mechanism; it restores agency amongst these high schoolers, giving them a sense of responsibility and control over their actions. Up to this point, we have raised children who only knew how to be students. They will be forced to approach the workforce the same way they approach school — desperately rooting around for validation. There is a cultural shift that needs to occur in the Silicon Valley parent community (especially among Asian and South Asian parent groups) to allow students to pursue their true passion while carving their individual  path to success. Encouraging high school rappers in their journey of creative self-expression might be one of the ways to do so.

Sumedha Vemulakonda is a youth contributor at India Currents. This article is the result of a year long quest to expand her music tastes, while learning more about rap and hip hop culture. 

Look for more

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

DN_T

DN_T

DN_T

DN_T

DN_T

DN_T

DN_T

DN_T

DN_T

DN_T

DN_T

DN_T

DN_T

DN_T

DN_T

DN_T

DN_T

DN_T

DN_T

DN_T

DN_T

DN_T

DN_T

DN_T

DN_T

DN_T

DN_T

DN_T

DN_T

DN_T

DN_T

DN_T

DN_T

DN_T

DN_T

DN_T

DN_T

DN_T

DN_T

DN_T

DN_T

DN_T

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

-

DN_T

DN_T

DN_T

DN_T

DN_T

DN_T

DN_T

You have no events for this day

Look for more

You have no events for this month

Look for more

You have no events for this month

You have no events

stec_replace_image
stec_replace_icon

stec_replace_summary

stec_replace_desc_short
0d 0h 0m 0s
Expired
In Progress

stec_replace_location

stec_replace_timespan

  • stec_replace_icon

    stec_replace_summary

    stec_replace_date

    Reminder
  • Create an event

    Click to submit your own event

    Title

    Description (optional)

    Short Description (optional)

    Image (optional)

    Location (optional)

    Website URL (optional)

    Calendar

    Icon

    Category

    Color. By default will use the calendar color

    Starts On

    From

    Ends On

    To

    All Day

    Repeat Event

    Repeat gap

    Repeat by day

    Repeat Ends On

    Search Keywords

    Counter

    Your E-mail

    Notes to the reviewer (optional)

  • stec_replace_summary

    Awaiting approval

    Cancel
    Cancel
  • stec_replace_tags
    Invited
    stec_replace_icon
    stec_replace_summary stec_replace_short_desc
    Expired
    In Progress
    stec_replace_guest_name stec_replace_product_name stec_replace_location stec_replace_date
    stec_replace_image
    stec_replace_icon
    stec_replace_date_big
    stec_replace_date
    stec_replace_tags
    stec_replace_summary
    stec_replace_short_desc
    • Event Info

    • Location

    • Schedule

    • Guests

    • Attendance

    • Shop

    • Forecast

    • Comments

    stec_replace_tags

    stec_replace_summary

    stec_replace_description
    • stec_replace_title
      Organizer of stec_replace_event
      stec_replace_about
      stec_replace_social
    Visit Website
    • 0

      days

    • 0

      hours

    • 0

      minutes

    • 0

      seconds

    • Attend

    • Decline

    Event expired

    Event is in progress

    Book this event
    Additional information
    View Cart Proceed to payment

    Attachments

    Import to Google Calendar

    Location

    stec_replace_location

    Get Directions

    Get Directions

    Could not find route!

    Details

    stec_replace_details

    No schedule

    stec_replace_date stec_replace_time
    stec_replace_title
    stec_replace_desc
    stec_replace_avatar
      stec_replace_social

    stec_replace_name

    stec_replace_about

    You are invited to this event!

    • Attend

    • Decline

    • stec_replace_name
        stec_replace_status

      stec_replace_name

    stec_replace_product_image
    featured sale out of stock

    stec_replace_product_title

    stec_replace_product_short_desc

    QTY:stec_replace_product_quantity

    PRICE:stec_replace_product_price

    Add to Cart

    Product

    Name

    Quantity

    Price

    Action

    Weather data is currently not available for this location

    Weather Report

    Today stec_replace_today_date

    stec_replace_today_icon_div

    stec_replace_current_summary_text

    stec_replace_current_temp °stec_replace_current_temp_units

    Wind stec_replace_current_wind stec_replace_current_wind_units stec_replace_current_wind_direction

    Humidity stec_replace_current_humidity %

    Feels like stec_replace_current_feels_like °stec_replace_current_temp_units

    Forecast

    Date

    Weather

    Temp

    stec_replace_date

    stec_replace_icon_div

    stec_replace_min / stec_replace_max °stec_replace_temp_units

    stec_replace_5days

    Next 24 Hours

    Powered by Forecast.io

    Vaishnava Jan Toh: Who Wrote This Hymn Which Gandhi Loved?

    Vruksh ma bij Tu, Bij ma vruksh Tu,

    Jou patantaro e ja paase.

    You are the seed within a tree, You are the tree within a seed

    If I look for distinctions, then that is all I will see.

    Narsinh Mehta was a 15th century poet-saint and exponent of Bhakti (worship) form of poetry. He is highly revered, especially in Gujarati literature where he has earned the accolade ‘Adi Kavi’, first among poets, in Sanskrit.

    Narsinh lost his parents when he was five years old and was raised by his grandmother. Poor and singularly focused on worship, he faced considerable discrimination in society, including from within his own family. At a young age, he married Mandalika and, having no real means of livelihood, the young couple lived with Narsinh’s older brother and his wife in the old city of Junagadh in north Gujarat. While Narsinh had a loving relationship with his brother, it is believed that his sister-in-law often derided him for his excessive devotion to God and lack of gainful employment.

    One day, overwhelmed by the dreary circumstances in his personal life, a distraught Narsinh wandered deep into the nearby Gir forest. There, in the solitude of nature, it is said that he meditated for seven days without food or water. Pleased with his sincere devotion, Lord Shiva appeared before the young man and, on Narsinh’s request, led him to Vrindavan, the garden-city where Krishna had lived. Here, Narsinh witnessed the ethereal Ras-Leela dance of Krishna and the Gopis (cow-herding girls devoted to Krishna). Legend has it that the divine experience so transformed Narsinh that he dedicated his life to composing and performing kirtan, or religious recitals, singing praises of Lord Krishna. From that day, Narsinh Bhagat regaled everyone with stories of Krishna’s life: from his mischievous childhood exploits stealing butter from the Gopis to his erotic encounters with them.

    One of Narsinh Mehta’s famous creations about the young Krishna’s carefree days is the delightful Jal Kamal Chhandi Jaane Bala (Leave these lotus-filled waters, Child), a poem based on Krishna’s mythological encounter with the dreaded ten-headed Cobra, Kali Naag. The mighty Cobra’s wives (Naagan) enquire of Krishna who has jumped into the Yamuna river, where Kali Naag dwells and terrorizes the people of Mathura, to retrieve his ball:

    Kahe re Baalak tu marag bhuliyo, Ke tara veriye valaviyo

    Nishchal taro kalaj khutiyo, ahinya te shid aaviyo?

    Tell us, Child, did you lose your way, or did one of your enemies lead you here

    Surely your time must be up, why else would you come here?

    To which Krishna responds:

    Nathi Naagan hu marag bhuliyo, nathi mara veriye valaviyo

    Mathura nagri ma jugatu ramta, naag nu shish haariyo!

    I have not lost my way, Naagan, nor have any enemies led me here

    During a betting game in Mathura, I happened to lose the head of your Naag!

    In the end, the story goes, Krishna valiantly fights with and defeats the monster Kali Naag but does not kill him because he has promised the faithful Naagan that he will spare their master’s life; instead, he banishes the Cobra and makes him promise never to return to those waters. “Behold!”, the poet-saint seems to be saying, “Krishna, the all-powerful, in might as well as compassion!”

    So steadfast was Narsinh’s faith that he was considered the ‘chosen one’ whose love was reciprocated by the object of his affections, Lord Krishna. Narsinh Mehta’s writings include autobiographical stories, one of which is Kunvarbai Nu Mameru, where Krishna comes to the rescue of his special disciple. According to the custom of Mameru, the parents of a woman expecting a child offer gifts to her in-law’s family during a celebration held in the seventh month of pregnancy. All Narsinh had to offer when his daughter was pregnant were his priceless bhajans, and he proceeded to sing his heart out. Suddenly, it is said that Lord Krishna arrived in the form of a wealthy merchant and fulfilled the materialistic needs of everyone, thereby saving Narsinh’s honor! Like most of mythology, the story is an allegory – in this case, of human greed and prejudice.

    Narsinh Mehta was a pioneer in many ways: as a man with scarce regard for social status, since he was stigmatized by members of his Brahmin community for worshiping with members of a lower caste. He was a saint who did not denounce family, unlike other men of faith, and he continued to fulfill his duties as a husband and father after devoting his life to Krishna.

    His sentiments are well proclaimed in what can be considered his most famous work, ‘Vaishnav Jan Toh,” which describes what it means to be a ‘Vaishnav’ (worshipper of Lord Vishnu, one of whose avatars is Krishna). The bhajan, a favorite of Mahatma Gandhi’s, is well known nationally as well as internationally, having been featured in films and documentaries based on the Mahatma.

    Vaishnava jana toh tene kahiye je peed paraayi jaane re

    Par dukhe upkaar kare toye man abhimaan na aane re.

    A Vaishnav is one who understands the plight of his fellow humans

    Though he helps those that are in need, he does not allow it to inflate his ego.

    Amazingly, Narsinh Mehta’s original work has been passed down by word of mouth – very little has been found in written form! A devotee of the immortal God, a human with indestructible faith and a way with words, seems to have imbibed some of that immortality, uniting several generations through his reflections on humanity, faith and love.

    Bela Desai, Ph.D., has been working in biotechnology in the San Francisco Bay Area for more than twenty years. Besides science, she enjoys reading and traveling to different places around the globe. She loves to dabble in singing and writing as well.

     

    Masterful Debut Novel

    Madhuri Vijay’s debut novel – The Far Field – is many things all at once. A tale that spans from Bangalore to Kashmir, a tale that hints at the dark clouds of mental illness, of love lost and unrequited and the protagonist’s attempt to be honest about her own role in the story. 

    The novel spins on the relationship that the protagonist Shalini shares with her mother –   “Somebody once described my mother as a strong woman,” she says without fuss. The vignettes she paints about her mother are where she is at her best  – “My mother, with her lightning tongue and her small collection of idols on a shelf in the kitchen. My mother, with her stubborn refusal to admit the existence of meat or other faiths, who crossed the street when we passed a halal butcher with his row of skinned goats, their flanks pink and shiny as burn scars.”  

    Her father, a successful business executive, looks on at the world with pragmatism and confidence.

    In the previous quote, the admission that her mother crossed the street at the sight of a halal butcher’s stall takes on new meaning as the novel progresses. A Muslim – Bashir Ahmed, enters their house selling Kashmiri kurtas and shawls, carrying a cloth bundle on his shioulders. He tries to eke out a living far from his home in Kashmir by walking from door to door selling his wares on the streets of Bangalore. 

    “I was six the first time he came, and I still remember it. How my mother had not ceased moving even for a second, all week….How she had intense surges of laughter at nothing. How she cooked, a pile of vessels growing dangerously high in the sink, but how, at the same time, she claimed never to be hungry….When the bell rang that afternoon, I was in the living room.” The afternoon visits start then, and soon, Bashir Ahmed is the teller of tall tales about his land that leave mother and daughter listening with mouths agape.

    With his arrival, the strife in Kashmir enters their lives in faraway Bangalore – during one of Bashir Ahmed’s visits, her father happens to be home sick and launches into a tirade that will sound similar to what many Hindus might have heard right in their homes. “These poor Pandits leaving their houses and running away in the middle of the night, because they might be killed for being Hindu! It’s sheer madness, and these militants sound like animals.” And, the verbal lynching goes on.  To this, Bashir responds saying, “It is very sad about the Pandits, janaab. But that is happening in the Valley. In my area (in the mountains) no Hindus are being killed.” After a while, Bashir Ahmed stops coming to their house, for reasons that are explained later.

    When Shalini becomes an adult, she leaves in search of the vendor Bashir Ahmed in the mountains in Kashmir and a whole set of characters appear. Army soldiers who rule Kashmiri towns with impunity, men and women who grieve the disappearance of loved ones, tiny offices where grieving mothers file petitions to the government, and the harsh conditions in which they eke out a living.  Soon Shalini’s life starts to intersect in complicated ways with Bashir Ahmed’s family, and her choices start to matter in their lives as well.

    The author has tried to marry the political to the personal, and for some reason, the political side of the equation did not carry with it the urgency that the personal did for me. Two themes that she repeats at opportune times in the novel when she comments on the choices made by characters in her novel stayed with mel. Never be a coward. Do something, anything – is advice that her mother first spouts and other characters in the novel spout this too at other times. Along with this, comes another piece of advice that seems to have been drawn from the Bhagavad Gita – without action, what is there to life but to wait to die? A question that hangs with great significance in the context of the novel and one that seems to reach every reader.

    The tautness with which she draws the characters of her parents, Bashir Ahmed and herself does not somehow extend to the characters living in the mountains in faraway Kashmir. However, in the lines of the plot, she masterfully manages  to carry a certain tension that lasts till the last page of the novel. A twist at the very end only amplifies this tension.

    A masterful debut novel and a must read!

    Nirupama Vaidhyanathan is the Managing editor of India Currents magazine.

     

    From Our Sponsors




    Kabir meets Miles Davis at Stanford Jazz 2019

    The weather in Central Maharashtra, said Jim Nadel, Artistic Director and Founder of Stanford Jazz Workshop, was about the same as outside, in Palo Alto, California. This seemed a fitting setting for the Indian Jazz Journey on June 23rd, and attendees were welcomed with a cooling mango beverage and a hand-held fan.

    Several fans were to be found in the human form as well. Deepa Nagpal of Los Altos said she had come to hear Mahesh Kale. (Hear the conversation below:)

    A festive vibe at Dinkelspiel Auditorium

    I glanced at some of the handouts to find out more about the musicians. It was, as promised, “a special moment to witness the creation of incredible new music as jazz guitarist Stanley Jordan and Indian classical music superstar Mahesh Kale collaborated in this special event with saxophonist George Brooks and tabla master Subhankar Banerjee.

    Vocalist Mahesh Kale’s career accelerated exponentially in 2015 when he won the best playback singer award at the 63rd National Film Awards for his work in the epic musical Katyar Kaljat Ghusli. The film scored an unlikely honor for a regional art form far outside Bollywood’s mainstream Hindi-language fare, helping spark a revival. “Youngsters have taken a liking,” Kale says. “They have these songs on their play list next to Adele, and when youngsters connect to an art it gives a lifeline for 50 to 60 years.”

    George Brooks has long served as a bridge between the American jazz scene and India’s greatest classical musicians, a role the Berkeley saxophonist has embraced in organizing a series of unprecedented East/West encounters for the Stanford Jazz Festival.

    Kale and Brooks have been collaborating for several years, but making his first trip with this cross-cultural collaboration was storied jazz guitarist Stanley Jordan, whose two-handed tapping technique radically expanded the instrument’s possibilities. He burst on the scene in 1985 with his debut for the Blue Note label, Magic Touch, which spent a year on top of the jazz charts.

    Tabla maestro Subhankar Banerjee rounded out the ensemble, adding another virtuosic voice to the proceedings. Banerjee has toured with many of India’s greatest musicians, including Ravi Shankar, Hariprasad Chaurasia, Ustad Amjad Ali Khan, and Shiv Kumar Sharma. He’s also collaborated with guitarist John McLaughlin, a founding father of the Indo-jazz movement as a co-founder of the 1970’s ensemble Shakti.”

    On Sunday, Dinkelspiel Auditorium was full to capacity. The audience applauded the musicians in turn. Several jugal-bandi improvisations added to the playfulness of the concert, with Stanley Jordan climbing aloft a stool at one point to strike a pose with George Brooks. All hands were on deck for this riff on So What by Miles Davis.

     

    Mixing East and West. So what?

    But the audience was clearly the most enchanted when Mahesh Kale displayed the vocal range that is the legacy of his classical training. Hear Mahesh Kale’s beautiful voice as he sings Chadaria by Kabir at Stanford Jazz 2019:

     

    As part of the workshop, and in keeping with the oral tradition of music, the audience was encouraged to repeat musical notes, but the result, Kale stated with radical candor, was “quite terrible.”

    After meeting with the long queue of admirers and well-wishers, Mahesh Kale spoke to me about how diverse music forms might not be part of the repertoire, but somewhere reverberate with the inner self. Music is a great equalizer, he says, and while high tech brings wonderful things, music serves as a balancing force for Silicon Valley stress. (He is an engineer by training,)

     

    George Brooks characterized the concert as a cross-pollination and wanted to distance himself from the notion of fusion music and said he considered this more of a conversation between artists and a way to develop relationships between artists.

    The audience protested when the musicians announced that it was time to wind down. And as the concert ended, the third such collaboration, and the audience filed out, several members of the audience were humming the tunes they had heard.

    Perhaps Mahesh Kale was on to something. Despite living in Silicon Valley, no one looked particularly stressed.

    Cover image: Mahesh Kale, voice; Stanley Jordan, guitar; George Brooks, saxophone; Subhankar Banerjee, tabla.

    Geetika Pathania Jain is Culture and Media Editor at India Currents magazine. She feels fortunate to be able to attend ICMA (Indian Classical Music and Arts) and other classical music concerts close to home.

    Attending ICMA concerts — one of the perks of living in the Valley

    My Sweet Love: A Remembrance

    Just three months have passed since you slipped away leaving Ashok and me behind; yet it feels like an eternity.  I recall that summer evening vividly and with disbelief. Sitting at your bedside, holding your hand and watching as your breaths got weaker and further apart.  Then with that last breath – a small sigh – you were gone from our midst. Your face turned ever so slightly and the rays of the evening sun streamed through the bedroom window gently lighting you in peaceful repose. No more pain. No more suffering. No more medication. In the lap of Mother Nature and the Almighty for eternity. We are left behind to bear your loss, mourn your passing. We struggle to live on and cope without you, without your strength, your grace, your spirit, and your love to hold us all together.

    These three months have been surreal. I’m sure I will wake up from a dream any minute now to a sound you’ve made, and check if it’s time for your morphine, monitor the oxygen flow, give you a sip of water, and adjust your pillows.  But that’s the dream – that you are still here, with us a while longer, smiling through your pain and discomfort; a tower of strength, showering us with your love, the gentle touch of your hand in mine and peace in your heart.

    The first few weeks were a blur.  I recall our neighbors stopping by with food, sympathy and offers to help. Bhaiyya, bless him, stepped in and took care of the funeral arrangements.  All our friends said kind words. Ashok and I moved around in a daze, unable to fully comprehend that you were no longer with us. Then there were arrangements to make, questions to answer, calls to banks and credit card companies and insurance companies, forms to be filled out.  I threw myself into these distractions. 

    Eventually everyone returned to their own lives. The new school year started and Ashok is back in class – eighth grade now – and seemingly doing well. He has signed up for track and field and goes for practice a few evenings a week.  I am back at work. We are getting through our daily routines. He and I watch a ball game together on weekends and I make dinner for us most nights. We go for walks once in a while and run errands together. We don’t talk much about what happened; there is a lot that is left unsaid.  Remember our picnics in the backyard? He and I tried that last weekend but it just wasn’t the same.  

    The hospice folks have been great. The social worker stops by or calls to make sure Ashok and I are doing okay.  The other day she recommended that we try joining a support group for families or sign up for grief counseling. I don’t want to sit and listen to a bunch of people talking about people they’ve lost or about their difficulties coping.  I’m not sure I can handle that. 

    All told I think I’m doing okay and handling myself the best I can.  However, little things – random thoughts, a place, a phrase overheard, or the sight of something – suddenly trigger uncontrollable grief.  Just one toothbrush by the bathroom sink. Your blue dress hanging in the closet. That tree in the park that you liked so much. News of some new breakthrough in cancer research. I never know when it’s going to happen and when it does, I don’t know why. It just does.  There are days when I hear myself talking out loud to you as though you are in the next room, about to walk in at any instant. All your things are just where you left them. I don’t even want to think about what I’m supposed to do with them.

    I cannot believe you’ve left us. I become numb thinking about it. I keep going back to that day in February when Dr. Jeffries told us that continuing treatment was no longer a practical option.  Sometimes I feel that they gave up on us too soon. Couldn’t they have tried another approach? Perhaps there was a clinic somewhere else that could recommend a treatment that would work? Agreeing to turn to hospice care felt like admitting that we were at the end of the road. Should we have looked at other options?  It makes me angry sometimes. I feel like throwing things. And then I think of what you said to me: “I want to spend my last days in the comfort of my home, with the two of you, in peace.

    Asha, you give me the strength every day to move on. I think about our lives together and how we managed to get through all of this, and I’m hopeful. Some days are better and some days are worse. I wake up early in the morning sometimes and lie in bed wondering how I’ll get through the day. Why did you have to go?  How will life be for Ashok and me? Will I be able to do the right thing by him? Be there for him? Will he know that he can come to me for help? Then I always ask myself what you would say and I have my answer.  

    You are with me all the time. In my heart. Perched on my shoulder guiding me at every step, giving me courage to get through the day.  I am so thankful for you, for Ashok, and for our time together. My sweet Asha. My Sweet Love. I miss you terribly.

     

    Your Arun

     

    This remembrance is dedicated to all those who are left behind grieving for their loved ones.

     

    Mukund Acharya spent 40 years on three continents as a professor, scientist, manager and technologist in aerospace. He currently promotes healthy aging and wellness, advocates for patients and their families, and is exploring the use of short stories, photopoetry, and blogs to spread the message on the importance of living substantive, impactful, fulfilling and contented lives while giving back to the community.

     

    Go Kale Green For Summer

    Kale, an extremely nutritious leafy green vegetable, is a part of the cabbage family. The impressive profile of kale lists many important nutrients.  One cup of cooked kale contains over 300% Recommended Daily Allowance (RDA) of vitamin A, almost 100% RDA of vitamin C, and over 1000% RDA of vitamin K, also 10% RDA of calcium, and 6% RDA of iron. Unlike spinach, kale is low in oxalates, so the calcium and iron in kale is easier to assimilate. One cup of cooked kale has only 40 calories, but offers three grams of protein.

    37

    Several varieties of kale are available in the market. The most common are curly green kale and dark green dino kale.  Kale can be eaten raw in a salad, or you can stir-fry it quickly described below. Here are three recipes for kale, one simple and two more elaborate.

    Shanta Nimbark Sacharoff, author of Flavors Of India: Vegetarian Indian Cuisine is a co-owner of Other Avenues Food Cooperative in San Francisco. Serena Sacharoff is a chef, an illustrator and an art student.


    Kale Stir-Fry
    Ingredients
    2 tbsp olive oil or sunflower oil
    3 cloves of garlic, peeled and minced
    ¼ tsp whole cumin seeds
    6 cups green, curly or dino kale, rinsed,
    drained and finely chopped
    ¼ tsp salt (or to taste)
    juice of ½ lemon or lime

    Method
    Heat the oil in a frying pan and add the garlic. Saute for 2 minutes. Add cumin seeds. After another minute or two add the kale, and stir-fry the mixture for five minutes or until the leaves are wilted. Add the salt and lemon or lime juice, toss, and serve.
    Variation: Pan fry a cup of small paneer, tofu or boiled potato cubes in a teaspoon of oil and add to kale after it has been wilted.

    Baked Kale Chips
    Ingredients
    8 to 10 large dino kale leaves
    2 tbsp olive oil
    1/8 tsp salt (or to taste)

    Method
    Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

     

    Prepare the kale as follows: remove any thick central stems and discard. Wash the leaves thoroughly and drain them well. Spread the leaves in a single layer on a cloth or paper towel, and roll the kale in the towel gently to absorb as much of the moisture as possible.

    Lay the leaves flat on a cutting board and rub them gently on both sides with a small amount of oil. Sprinkle a bit of salt on one side, and lay the leaves in a single layer on a lightly-oiled cookie sheet (or two). Bake the leaves for 10 minutes. If done, they will be crisp, like cooked papadam. If the leaves are still limp, bake them for another 2 minutes, watching carefully so they don’t burn. Using tongs, flip the leaves, and bake them for another minute or two, watching carefully. Transfer the hot chips to a platter and serve hot or cold as a  snack or as an appetizer.

    Kale Pakora
    This recipe was inspired by an appetizer I had at the Vermilion Restaurant in Manhattan last winter. I had ordered “kale salad,” expecting a bowl of chopped kale with dressing. Instead, I was pleasantly surprised with hot kale fritters like pakoras, while it was freezing cold outside!

    Ingredients
    8 to 10 large green, curly, or dino kale leaves
    1 cup of garbanzo or chick-pea flour
    (also known as besan in Indian markets)
    3 cloves of garlic, peeled and  minced
    ¼ tsp each ground cumin and ground coriander
    a few pinches of ground cayenne pepper to taste
    ½ tsp (or to taste) salt
    juice of ½ lemon or lime
    approximately ¾ cup or more water
    2 cups light oil such as canola, peanut or sunflower seed oil

    Method
    Wash, rinse and dry the kale thoroughly as described in the recipe for Kale Chips.  Cut kale into smaller pieces and lay them on a platter. In a mixing bowl, combine the garbanzo flour, spices, salt and lemon juice. Add water as needed to make a batter that is similar to pancake batter.

    Heat the oil in a wok or a heavy frying pan until it is very hot. Check that the oil is hot enough by dropping a small piece of batter into the oil. If the piece bubbles and rises to the surface right away the oil is ready.

    Dip two pieces of kale into the bowl and cover them with batter, leaving some parts of the leaves uncovered. This will give the finished pakora a light, tempura-like texture much different than traditional pakoras.

    Carefully, slide two or three of the dough-covered kale pieces into the hot oil. Keep your distance from the hot oil as it may splatter due to moisture in the leaves. When the kale pieces are crisp and light brown, turn them quickly using a tong and cook them briefly on the other side. Remove them from the oil and lay them on a platter lined with paper towels. Repeat the process in small batches until all of the leaves are cooked. Arrange them on a platter in a single layer to keep them crisp. Serve hot or at room temperature with mint chutney.

    Mint Chutney
    Ingredients
    1 cup fresh mint leaves, stems removed
    ½ cup chopped scallions, including greens
    1 tbsp freshly grated gingerroot
    1 or 2 hot chilies, seeds and veins
    removed, chopped fine
    1 tsp salt
    ½ cup plain soy yogurt blended with
    ¼ cup of water

    Method
    Place the ingredients in the jar of a food processor or blender and puree until smooth.  Keep it chilled until ready to use.  If refrigerated in a covered jar, the chutney will keep for a week.

    Article was first published in August of 2015.

     

    Go Kale Green For Summer

    Kale, an extremely nutritious leafy green vegetable, is a part of the cabbage family. The impressive profile of kale lists many important nutrients.  One cup of cooked kale contains over 300% Recommended Daily Allowance (RDA) of vitamin A, almost 100% RDA of vitamin C, and over 1000% RDA of vitamin K, also 10% RDA of calcium, and 6% RDA of iron. Unlike spinach, kale is low in oxalates, so the calcium and iron in kale is easier to assimilate. One cup of cooked kale has only 40 calories, but offers three grams of protein.

    37

    Several varieties of kale are available in the market. The most common are curly green kale and dark green dino kale.  Kale can be eaten raw in a salad, or you can stir-fry it quickly described below. Here are three recipes for kale, one simple and two more elaborate.

    Shanta Nimbark Sacharoff, author of Flavors Of India: Vegetarian Indian Cuisine is a co-owner of Other Avenues Food Cooperative in San Francisco. Serena Sacharoff is a chef, an illustrator and an art student.


    Kale Stir-Fry
    Ingredients
    2 tbsp olive oil or sunflower oil
    3 cloves of garlic, peeled and minced
    ¼ tsp whole cumin seeds
    6 cups green, curly or dino kale, rinsed,
    drained and finely chopped
    ¼ tsp salt (or to taste)
    juice of ½ lemon or lime

    Method
    Heat the oil in a frying pan and add the garlic. Saute for 2 minutes. Add cumin seeds. After another minute or two add the kale, and stir-fry the mixture for five minutes or until the leaves are wilted. Add the salt and lemon or lime juice, toss, and serve.
    Variation: Pan fry a cup of small paneer, tofu or boiled potato cubes in a teaspoon of oil and add to kale after it has been wilted.

    Baked Kale Chips
    Ingredients
    8 to 10 large dino kale leaves
    2 tbsp olive oil
    1/8 tsp salt (or to taste)

    Method
    Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

     

    Prepare the kale as follows: remove any thick central stems and discard. Wash the leaves thoroughly and drain them well. Spread the leaves in a single layer on a cloth or paper towel, and roll the kale in the towel gently to absorb as much of the moisture as possible.

    Lay the leaves flat on a cutting board and rub them gently on both sides with a small amount of oil. Sprinkle a bit of salt on one side, and lay the leaves in a single layer on a lightly-oiled cookie sheet (or two). Bake the leaves for 10 minutes. If done, they will be crisp, like cooked papadam. If the leaves are still limp, bake them for another 2 minutes, watching carefully so they don’t burn. Using tongs, flip the leaves, and bake them for another minute or two, watching carefully. Transfer the hot chips to a platter and serve hot or cold as a  snack or as an appetizer.

    Kale Pakora
    This recipe was inspired by an appetizer I had at the Vermilion Restaurant in Manhattan last winter. I had ordered “kale salad,” expecting a bowl of chopped kale with dressing. Instead, I was pleasantly surprised with hot kale fritters like pakoras, while it was freezing cold outside!

    Ingredients
    8 to 10 large green, curly, or dino kale leaves
    1 cup of garbanzo or chick-pea flour
    (also known as besan in Indian markets)
    3 cloves of garlic, peeled and  minced
    ¼ tsp each ground cumin and ground coriander
    a few pinches of ground cayenne pepper to taste
    ½ tsp (or to taste) salt
    juice of ½ lemon or lime
    approximately ¾ cup or more water
    2 cups light oil such as canola, peanut or sunflower seed oil

    Method
    Wash, rinse and dry the kale thoroughly as described in the recipe for Kale Chips.  Cut kale into smaller pieces and lay them on a platter. In a mixing bowl, combine the garbanzo flour, spices, salt and lemon juice. Add water as needed to make a batter that is similar to pancake batter.

    Heat the oil in a wok or a heavy frying pan until it is very hot. Check that the oil is hot enough by dropping a small piece of batter into the oil. If the piece bubbles and rises to the surface right away the oil is ready.

    Dip two pieces of kale into the bowl and cover them with batter, leaving some parts of the leaves uncovered. This will give the finished pakora a light, tempura-like texture much different than traditional pakoras.

    Carefully, slide two or three of the dough-covered kale pieces into the hot oil. Keep your distance from the hot oil as it may splatter due to moisture in the leaves. When the kale pieces are crisp and light brown, turn them quickly using a tong and cook them briefly on the other side. Remove them from the oil and lay them on a platter lined with paper towels. Repeat the process in small batches until all of the leaves are cooked. Arrange them on a platter in a single layer to keep them crisp. Serve hot or at room temperature with mint chutney.

    Mint Chutney
    Ingredients
    1 cup fresh mint leaves, stems removed
    ½ cup chopped scallions, including greens
    1 tbsp freshly grated gingerroot
    1 or 2 hot chilies, seeds and veins
    removed, chopped fine
    1 tsp salt
    ½ cup plain soy yogurt blended with
    ¼ cup of water

    Method
    Place the ingredients in the jar of a food processor or blender and puree until smooth.  Keep it chilled until ready to use.  If refrigerated in a covered jar, the chutney will keep for a week.

    Article was first published in August of 2015.

     

    Events

    Twitter
    Facebook
    youjizz jacklyn lick makes anthony hardwood sweat.