Three new South Asian writers discussed their writing at Ahaana , a San Diego nonprofit, which held its first in-person book reading event for 2022, ‘Ahaana Authors with Chai & Chaat’, on February 5.
Authors Davinder Kaur, Kelly Bagla, and Anna Bushi read from their work and participated in a spirited question and answer session with a mixed audience of Indian and American women, before signing copies of their books for fans.
Nanda Mehta, Ahaana’s founder, explained that “Most of our events are a way to spread awareness of our culture and initiatives. Almost every one of them has been hugely successful, in spite of the challenges of the last two years. We have been able to create and conduct great online events and collaborations safely.”
In her memoir, Forced to Marry Him, British Punjabi Davinder Kaur describes growing up in a strict, traditional family and being pushed into an arranged marriage according to the cultural norms of her Indian community. She talked movingly about her many adventures in the quest for freedom and independence before moving to the US to live life on her own terms with her children.
Local attorney Kelly Bagla discussed her entrepreneurs handbook Go Legal Yourself, a companion to her former book Go Own Yourself, which aim to help women achieve financial independence and freedom by learning to decode the mysterious world of finances – pertinent advice in an age of feminine independence for women survivors of domestic abuse and violence. Bagla announced that 50% of the proceeds from the sale of her books would be donated back to Ahaana.
Anna Bushi, an engineer by profession, writes Indian historical romantic fiction as a hobby. Her books Heir to Malla and War of the Three Kings set in ancient India, portray strong, independent women who learn to survive and achieve their goals.
All these books are available on Amazon.
Attendees had a chance to refresh with hot chai before visiting Ahaana’s Renaissance Project Shop, whose theme “Reimagine, Refabricate and Recreate.” is expressed in offerings of gently used Indian party clothes for sale or repurposing, with proceeds going to fund programs for women empowerment.
Nanda Mehta launched Ahaana, a registered 501c non profit in 2015 to encourage men and women in the South Asian community to speak openly about taboo subjects such as domestic violence, abuse and abandonment, and increase awareness through community events.
Their first production Yoni ki Baat, the South Asian version of the Vagina Monologues, received rave reviews for its well-attended live performances. Ahaana also partners with the San Diego DA’s office to present a series of online Brown Bag Lunch Seminars that address issues of concern such as hate crimes, elder abuse, addiction and drug prevention.
Susheela Narayanan is a retired early childhood educator and Professor of Child Development from San Diego Mesa College. A longtime resident of San Diego, she is active in her community and with Rotary as an advocate for social issues, especially involving women, children, and refugees. She enjoys hanging out with her family of two children and two teen grandchildren who live in the Bay Area. Her interests include reading, music, travel, gardening and writing human interest stories.
Images credit Ahaana