Community Organizations Should Take the Lead

Kalpana Mohan has done a great job in drawing our attention to the most important but often neglected issue of everybody’s life (Rites of Passage, February 2011). I wish all community organizations prepare similar documents mentioned in this article, substituting information about pertinent local facilities available. Temples and local associations should, in particular, take a lead in this respect. This is an important service that they can render to the community.

Thank you, Kalpana, for this excellent article.

Sitha Desarazu, online

End of Life Issues in India

Kalpana Mohan’s article (Rites of Passage, February 2011), is timely to the aging desi community in the United States. Many of us have also had to deal with end-of-life issues with our parents in India, so a checklist for Indian circumstances would also help. My father passed away a couple of years ago and I had my share of drama in India. Thankfully, many relatives and friends, and even strangers, helped without my asking. And then there were close relatives and friends who did not show up because of old grudges or did not step up for lack of will.

On checking with other desi friends, I found out that NRI relatives do get stiffed in many ways. Wealth is distributed unequally or not at all. Power-of-Attorney documents are taken from NRI relatives and misused. Loans are taken against common property by strong-arming the aged elders. There must be many more skeletons in our collective desi closet when it comes to end-of-life issues. But most of us keep quiet and keep our peace.

An expose by India Currents that covers legal and ritual matters in India, and an explanation of Indian family dynamics at this stage of life would be very helpful. Bollywood and TV serials prepare you only so much about the Indian mind/morass.

Mala Setty, Long Beach, CA

It’s About Finding a Good Fit

I am writing in response to Sarita Sarvate’s recent article (Who Needs Psychotherapy, February 2011). I wanted to express my concerns and deep sadness for the author’s experience and beliefs. As an Indian American who has worked extremely hard to becoming a therapist I find this article to be biased, offensive, and disrespectful to my profession and me personally. People of all races, cultures, and socio-economic backgrounds are in need of trained professionals to provide them with the support they seek in times of trouble. They need to look for a person that we, in the therapy world, call “a good fit.”—someone who the client feels may understand them or their particular situation in a way that no other does. And it does not appear that Sarvate did this. Instead, she went to one “young, white female with little life experience.” This does not surprise me, but it is judgmental and unrealistic for Sarvate to believe that the first person she meets for a psychotherapy appointment will “get her pain.”

As I have grown to become one of these trained professionals, I have come up against many, most from our own Indian culture, who said that this was not a respectful profession and that I should be a doctor, or scientist, and so on. But I cannot tell you how happy I am that I did not listen to those that tried to dissuade me from my beliefs and followed my passion.

This article only reinforces the negative messages that so many in our culture receive about going to a stranger for help, and continues the cycle that so many people are in. In my work I have had the opportunity to meet and help many people faced with serious life threatening situations like domestic violence, rape, substance abuse, and cultural isolation. My hope is to continue to de-mystify the perceptions about therapy and create a comfortable and inviting atmosphere. It is up to both, the client who is seeking the support as well as the therapist, to understand the needs and the limitations.

Konika R. McPherson, San Jose CA

Don’t Neglect Mental health

I disagree with the author on the subject of psychotherapists (Who Needs Psychotherapy, February 2011).  Without family or good friends in the United States, I’ve sought out therapists occasionally, and to a man/woman, they’ve all helped me. They’ve never told me what was wrong, or what to do, or to take drugs, but have asked questions that brought out whatever was troubling me in the recesses of my mind.  Immigrants have a really hard time approaching therapists due to cultural taboos and fear of being thought crazy, and it is wrong to play up to those fears with this kind of an article.

Note to readers:  The author may not have had a good experience, but that shouldn’t stop you from seeking help from therapists.  Go with the attitude that you will get help; don’t be discouraged by a few bad experiences.  Mental health is very important.

Lakshmi Palecanda, Mysore, India

Balasaraswati

Many thanks for the wonderful book review on Balasaraswati (Destined to Dance, February 2011).

I wish to note that the reviewer states that Balasaraswati’s mother was Vina Dhanammal. However, according to Wikipedia, Vina Dhanammal (1867-1938) was her grandmother, and Jayammal (1890-1967), her mother.

I have had the good fortune to hear a concert by Jayammal in a program on All India.

Jayananda Hiranandani, via email

Editor’s note: Vina Dhanammal was, indeed, Balasaraswati’s grandmother. The error is regretted.

Kudos on Coverage

Thanks to India Currents for the wonderful article on Induz (Where Art Meets Heart, February 2011). It is a well-thought out, well -researched. and well-written article that was successful in connecting with many readers (based on feedback I received). Thank you for being the vehicle to raise awareness about the Induz organization and its cause to the masses!

Special call out to Nadia and Jennifer Marshal for their involvement.

Ray Mitra, Founder, Induz, on Facebook

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