As I watch the sunflowers in my backyard move gently in the breeze, I remember spending time with my mother just a few months ago, planting seeds in trays. We filled the trays with potting mix, placed seeds in tiny holes by making slight indentations with the thumb and then the trays were watered ever so gently. Even as my mother watered the seed trays every day, all we saw was damp potting mix. The color of dark brown, the potting mix hugged the contours of the seed tray and stayed entrenched, with not a sign of green. And then, suddenly, the dark brown soil was broken up with dots of green that made a pretty pattern.
Still, seemingly nothing changed for a couple of weeks. The watering continued, the trays were placed on the deck during the day and pulled into the shadows in the scorching heat. And then it started to change and when it changed, the change came quickly.
I had planted sunflower seeds of different varieties. There were the “knee high” yellow sunflowers, a variety dubbed Cinnamon Sun for its bright red hue, and then there was the “Birds and Bees” variety. The seed trays were suddenly filled with seedlings of various heights and we had to transplant them quickly. I worked the soil making it pliant and ready for the tiny seedlings and pushed them into little holes in the ground. I, then left for a few weeks of vacation. Upon our return, as we pulled into the driveway, I opened the car door hastily and rushed through the garden gate into the backyard.
And, there they were—the Cinnamon Sun sunflowers true to their name, with red sunflowers on stalks that were six feet tall. I stood next to the plants gazing up at them. I was awed that life could have existed in those tiny seeds. Life, as we learn time and again, sprouts with vitality and vigor in ways that are exciting and hopeful.
As I write my first editorial, that’s how I feel—excited and hopeful about a new beginning.
Within these pages, I hope that you will find articles that plant seeds of thought in your minds. For this first issue, I have worked with many writers who bring a diversity of ideas and thoughts to the readers of India Currents.
Our cover story written by Gayatri Subramaniam features desis who have made unconventional choices to follow their passions. An Olympic swimmer, Shikha Tandon, writes about the challenges of pursuing sport at the highest levels in India. “What is Organic Anyway?” an article written by P. Mahadevan, offers practical information that you can use.
Anirvan Chatterjee writes about perceptions and misperceptions in his commentary on flying in America today.
Our columnist Kalpana Mohan reveals that the word “thug” has origins in India. Who would have thought of that? Sarita Sarvate shares a personal story, while Jagruti Vedamati shares recipes for festival dishes from Odisha.
Also check out the profile of Nilita Vachani, a storyteller and documentary filmmaker, who followed the trial of Raj Rajarathnam, the billionaire hedge fund investor, and his informant Anil Kumar in the insider trading scandal all the way to a tiny village in Bengal to find the maidservant Manju Das who had been wronged. A short film on her story has just been released—use the digital link with the article to see this. Our book review of Incarnations by Raj Oza has links to podcasts recorded by the author Sunil Khilnani, produced by BBC Radio. These digital extras add depth to our artticles and you can check them out on our website.
As you read our magazine, an idea we planted could take shape in your mind making you look at the world anew, in ways similar to how I felt standing next to that giant sunflower.
Hello and welcome to this exciting and hopeful time—ideas are being born—life is good!