India Currents gave me a voice in days I was very lost. Having my articles selected for publishing was very validating – Shailaja Dixit, Executive Director, Narika, Fremont
As the year end issue, we decided to make this cover story a scrapbook of lists, brief conversations, short responses and quirky comments, culled and mined from you, our generous readers. Thank you and Happy Holidays!
Ten Commandments For Seniors
1. Treat your children as grown ups, educated adults and not as children any more. Treat your daughter-in-law and son-in-law like your own children.
2. Never give advice unless asked for.
3. Never ask them about their financial status.
4. Even if you know they are in need of financial help, do not offer it unless in some way they indicate.
5. Never mention to them that you did this or that for them. What you did was your duty.
6. Never interfere in the personal life between husband and wife.
7. Allow them to bring up their children the way they wish to do. You did so when you had your turn.
8. If your children follow the tradition and festivals of the country they live in, do not question or criticize them for it.
9. Be as independent as possible and try not to depend on them.
10. Take care of your health and do light exercise or walking.
Top Ten Books of 2012
Beyond the Beautiful Forevers: Katherine Boo
Little America: Rajiv Chandrasekaran
The Beautiful and the Damned: Siddhartha Deb
Aerogrammes: Tania James
India Becoming: Akash Kapur
Ruins of Empire: Pankaj Mishra
I Am an Executioner: Rajesh Parameswaran
The Folded Earth: Anuradha Roy
Joseph Anton: Salman Rushdie
Narcopolis: Jeet Thayil
The Cutest Things Kids Say
Out and about with my Little One yesterday. We spotted one of his schoolmates biking down our street. “Oh, Amma!” he said. I knew exciting news was coming. “She’s the fastest runner at our school!” I shared that her brother had been the fastest runner at the high school, too. “There must be a bit of genetics at play,” I said. “They come from a running family.” “So…we come from a ‘thinking’ family?” he posed. “Yeah, I guess you could say that,” I snickered, being a loooong way from athletic. “Well then, I have one thing to tell you, Amma,” he said. “You’d better hope it’s Mind over Matter!”
Bye!” I hollered, as I made my way out the door. Little One comes running, “Wait, wait … you’re leaving?” “Yeah,” I said, as I reached down to give him a hug. “No, no … come here,” he said, as he walked over to the kitchen stool. He teetered precariously on the bottom rungs, spread his arms, and commanded, “Now!” He proceeded to give me a big bear hug while gleefully proclaiming, “Pretty soon, this is how it will be all the time! You’re gonna be the shortest one in the house.” I don’t care … as long as bear hugs are still part of the deal.
Driving home with my Little One, we happened upon a cool looking convertible, just one lane over from us. “I wonder what kind it is,” I mused. We got the chance to find out as we passed by. “Oh, it’s an Audi covertible,” I said. My Little One turns to me with a sly grin, and quips, “An Audi covertible? Would that be the opposite of an Innie convertible?”
Matangi Rajamani is a clinical extrovert and lives with her husband and three sons in Cupertino, CA.
Plagiarism—Previously Owned Prose
Star children who should NOT be in movies
Riya Sen (oh please!)
Our Most Popular Articles in 2012
Finding Youth in a Retirement Home By Lakshmi Mani—November
Mind it, Pundit By Kalpana Mohan—September
Growing Older By the Golden Gate By Kalpana Mohan—March
When in Rome By Matangi Rajamani—April
Excuses that make you mad!
I was watching TV.
I did not check my email.
I lost your phone number.
I didn’t know I was supposed to do it.
I’m not sure.
I didn’t have time.
I misplaced it.
I can’t do it.
Something came up.
I didn’t know.
It was an accident.
I didn’t mean to do it.
Umbria (Italian)—San Francisco;
Sens (Mediterranean)—San Francisco
Saravana Bhavan (Indian)—Sunnyvale
Amarin Thai (Thai)—Mountain View
Maria Maria (Mexican)—Danville
Reb Robin Gourmet Burgers (American)
Evvia (Greek)—Palo Alto
Chez Panisse (Californian)—Berkeley
The Plumed Horse (Californian)—Saratoga
Let me revert back to you on the same after I have done the needful.
Please leave your number behind.
My nephew is passing out as a proper convent educated now.
He never bunked school. You know he got into this school without any pull.
I’ll give you one tight slap!
Where are you put up?
She is in the family way.
This is my most favorite pet peeve.
Even I do not mind working hard.
Let us go have a fag.
After the order at a fast food place: Question “For here or to go?”
Do the needful.
— Lisa Tsering
He has gone out of station.
Just timepass, yaar!
He correctly only did it.
“Wanted—Milky white girl”—in matrimonial ads.
I will give you a tinkle.
“Hum nervasa gaye the.”
For what purpose you need this?
Please come visit sometimes.
Deepak Chopra’s 5 Favorite Destinations
Delhi (Lodhi Gardens),
—Submitted by Rujul Pathak
Three Fates (A Prose Poem)
By Dilnavaz Bamboat
We sit at a table crowded with spiced, steaming tea cups, a study in diversity.
One whose bronzed, gleaming skin carries tales of her ocean-framed ancestors. Another, pale, fair, with whispers of ancient Persia in her veins, and the third, of the same people, her bloodline mapping the landscape of two great nations.
Between us, live roots and displacement. Among us, rock movements and plane rides and boat journeys from 1200 years ago. We are of people who have shifted. Whose sensibilities and histories have shifted. People who once belonged, then belonged again, spun in cycles of precarious identity. Ripped from their homeland by threat, under duress and desire to build a life beyond living.
Around this table covered in cheap formica we sit, the Buddhist from Colombo, the Parsis from Karachi and Bombay, who have known other lands as rank strangers, then intimately, as a secret shared on a one night stand. We congregate our beings around disposable cups of chai and unleash our stories.
Time, it melts away. We jump off a cliff in the 10th century, swing past invasions, conversions, and long bloody, migrations, crash land into civil war and hurried overnight departures, past the smell of burning flesh and singed spirits, yank and sow roots stripped to rawness, touchdown in subcontinental cities where lineage marched to a temporary tune, then continent-hop over to Africa, to North America, the luckiest among us belonging only to two places, now gathered here in these cities around the Bay, where a microclimate, a microculture, a microuniverse of one can safely exist.
Turning around in unison, we nod to our waiting ancestors. It’s alright, we say, you survived, and then revert to the vapors rising out of our drinks, to punctuate our sagas with a period.
Through the hollows of their eyes, Fate stands silently by, eraser in hand, knowing her day will come again.
Dilnavaz Bamboat is the editor of the Feminism & Diaspora section of UltraViolet.in. Her poems were most recently published in Muse India Literary Journal. Dilnavaz enjoys history, singing, and red velvet cupcakes.
Dammit I’m Mad
Our Most Popular Cover Stories in 2012
. Undocumented, Unapologetic, Unafraid By Prerna Lal—March
. The Great Indian Journey By Preston Merchant—April
. Framed for Success By Arpit Mehta—August
Our Most Popular Issues in 2012
Insults We’ve Thought Of But Never Uttered
During the meeting, please put your mobile phone in Manmohan Singh mode.
Oh, I see you liked your first chin so much, you added two more.
Do you have to leave so soon? I was just about to poison the tea.
You’re airplane-friendly (short)
Remark: You Speak English so well. Retort: So Do You!
Best Dog Breeds
Australian toy shepherd
Out of office Responses
You are receiving this automatic notification because I am out of the office. If I was in, chances are you wouldn’t receive any response at all.
I will be unable to delete all the unread emails you send me until I return from holiday. Please be patient and your e-mail will be deleted in the order it was received.
Dear Humanoid, Corporate Entity or Spammer that just e-mailed me: … please note that the subject of this auto-response e-mail, “Vacation Reply,” is woefully inaccurate, since I’m not on vacation but hard at work as usual, but of course thanks to Microsoft’s usual idiotic bureaucratic Kafkaesque Byzantine user-hostile way of doing things, there’s no way to create a custom subject line for auto-responses. Thank you for your understanding.
Chitra Divakaruni’s 3 Favorite Opening Passages
1. Denis Johnson—Jesus’ son, a collection of stories. (From Car Crash While Hitchhiking)
A salesman who shared his liquor and steered while sleeping … A Cherokee filled with bourbon … A VW no more than a bubble of hashish fumes, captained by a college student … And a family from Marshalltown who head- onned and killed forever a man driving west out of Bethany, Missouri … I rose up sopping wet from sleeping under the pouring rain, and something less than conscious, thanks to the first three of the people I’ve already named— the salesman and the Indian and the student—all of whom had given me drugs. At the head of the entrance ramp I waited without hope of a ride. What was the point, even, of rolling up my sleeping bag when I was too wet to be let into anybody’s car? I draped it around me like a cape. The downpour raked the asphalt and gurgled in the ruts. My thoughts zoomed fully. The traveling salesman had fed me pills that made the linings of my veins feel scraped out. My jaw ached. I knew every raindrop by its name. I sensed everything before it happened. I knew a certain Oldsmobile would stop for me even before it slowed, and by the sweet voices of the family inside it I knew we’d have an accident in the storm.
2. Shilpi Somaya Gowda— Secret Daughter
She came to the abandoned hut at dusk, without a word to anyone, when she felt the first unmistakable pulls deep within her. It is vacant, except for the mat on which she now lies, knees drawn up to her chest. As the next wave of pain shudders through her body, Kavita digs her nails into clenched palms and bites down on the tree branch between her teeth. Her breathing is heavy but even as she waits for the tightness to ease in her swollen belly. She steadies her gaze on the pale yellow shadow on the mud f loor, cast by a flickering oil lamp, her sole company in the dark hours of night. She has been trying to muffle her cries until it is unbearable to do so anymore. Soon, she knows, with the urge to push, her screams will beckon the village mid
wife. She prays the baby is born before dawn, for her husband rarely awakens before sunrise. It is the first of only two prayers Kavita dares to have for this child, wary of asking too much from the gods.
3. T.C. Boyle—San Miguel
She was coughing, always coughing, and sometimes she coughed up blood. The blood came in a fine spray, plucked from the fibers of her lungs and pumped full of air as if it were perfume in an atomizer. Or it rose in her mouth like a hot metallic syrup, burning with the heat inside her till she spat it into the porcelain pot and saw the bright red clot of it there like something she’d given birth to, like afterbirth, but then what would she know about it since she’d never conceived, not with James, her first husband, and not with Will either. She was thirty-eight years old and she’d resigned herself to the fact that she would never bear a child, not in this lifetime. When she felt weak, when she hemorrhaged and the pain in her chest was like a medieval torture, like the peine forte et dure in which the torturer laid one stone atop the other till your ribs cracked and your heart stalled, she sometimes felt she wouldn’t even live to see the year out.
Chitra Divakaruni teaches Creative Writing at the Univ. of Houston. Her latest novel is the international bestseller One Amazing Thing. In 2011, along with Salman Rushdie, she received a Light of India award. She invites India Currents readers to join her at http://www.facebook.com/chitradivakaruni for literary conversation.
If you had to choose a different career, what would that be?
Chinmayi Spripada (Playback singer, singing predominantly in Tamil, Malayalam, Kannada, Telugu and Tulu): I didnt give that choice to life 🙂 its either this or nothing.
Manoj Bajpayee (Indian film actor known for playing offbeat, unconventional roles): Pata nahi mere bhai!
Priya Anand (Model and Indian film actress has appeared in Tamil and Telugu films): I’d work for a Non Profit Organisation.
Vishal Dadlani (Hindi playback singer and Music Director): I don’t do “lifestyle” pieces. So, no, but thanks.
Kartik Murali (Former Indian cricketer): Genetic engineer
Sonu Nigam (Playback singer): I wntd 2 b a pilot in childhood & beside being singer, wntd 2b an astronaut
Neil Nitin Mukesh (Indian film actor): Honestly I can’t think of anything but the creative field. Painter, pianist, photographer, something. Some form of art.
Agam Darshi (England born actress based in Canada): Photographer, naturalpath. working for an NGO in Africa ..
Dileep Rao (Hollywood actor who has appeared in Avatar and Inception): Manhattan, dirty vodka martini, old fashioned and Juliet & Romeo
Jaaved Jaaferi (Indian actor): TEETOTALLER dude
Taapsee Pannu (Indian film actress): Don’t Drink.
These are a Few of My Favorite Things
On random and completely spontaneous occasions, my mother buys mehendi from the Indian grocery store. Usually, when she does, we drop everything we are doing just so we can pry open the package, smell the greenish brown powder, mix it with water, and draw delicate and intricate patterns on our hands.
My sister and I have a competition over whose mehendi turns out darker, while my mom reminisces about the days when she and her two other sisters would labor over the art of applying mehendi. She tells us stories about how she and her sisters would pluck fresh leaves from a henna tree in their grandfather’s farm, grind it, and use the paste to decorate each other’s hands.
The three of us can sit for hours talking about our day, making jokes, all while holding a tube of mehendi. For me it connects me to my heritage, and helps me bond with my family.
—Shilpa Venigandla, senior, Los Altos H.S.
My Box of Bindis
I remember my childhood filled with pink and glamor. When I was five years old, my closet shelf housed a tower of bangles, bracelets, earrings and necklaces, and on top, like the glittering, luminescent star on a Christmas tree, there it was—my pretty Indian rectangular jewelry box painted with a dark haired maiden containing a jumble of sticker packs of colorful bindis.
Every Sunday, before heading to dance class, I would view my pretty maiden, open the lid to my box of bindis and spend precious minutes trying to decide which one to wear.
Showcasing it during dance class, I’d refuse to take it off after. Even after I changed into my everyday clothes, my bindi would stubbornly sit on my forehead.
Sadly, these days, when I open my closet, I rarely feel that same enthusiasm I once had.
Now, all I have are the memories of that eagerness as I rushed to open my bursting box.
Now empty, this box and its colorful contents, seem larger in my memories.
—Kavya Padmanabhan, junior, Gunn H.S.
From the seven-shot slap—a slap being shown from seven angles—to the crazy dance numbers where everyone seems conveniently synchronized, I thoroughly indulge in this on-screen fictional world. I cry with Shahrukh Khan, laugh with Salman Khan, and dance with Katrina Kaif. When my Caucasian friends watch Hindi movies, they view it as being “full of pretty outfits” and “so many colors,” but I see the beauty within all these colors. As an Indian in America, I feel a special connection to my roots when I watch these films. Inherent in these films are some deeply-rooted cultural values. When I see a child happily spending time with his or her family, I feel as though I need to bond with my own family. When I watch the traditional Diwali or Holi festivals played out, I feel as though I owe it to my heritage to celebrate our traditions. The Bollywood industry has more than just “pretty colors” and “hot actors”—it embodies value, culture, and all that goes along with being Indian.
—Simran Devidasani, senior, Monta Vista H.S.
Favorite Hindi movies
Dil To Pagal Hai
Kuch Kuch Hota Hai
Maine Pyar Kiya
Amar Akbar Anthony
Dil To Pagal Hai
Dilwale Dulhaniya Le Jayenge
Hum Aapke Hain Koun
Hare Rama Hare Krishna
Ek Tha Tiger
Zindagi Na Milege Dobara