The selfie, a self-portrait taken on smart phones for quick dissemination on social platforms, has changed the speed and frequency with which we seek to define ourselves. Selfies capture how we want the world to view us. It has become part of our autobiographical data, recording particular moments with quick precision. Here we present a selfie snapshot of our community.
Not my Mississippi, but Mrinalini’s. My Mrinalini, for whom I need to purchase life insurance, but who is, it turns out, far more powerfully the insurer of mine. She ensures that I am alive to connections I couldn’t see before. She ensures that I look at trees, that I watch the dust blow over a grave, and read the names of people past with wonder. She offers up her bloodline, her ancestry, her roots to me to share in, to write about. She is at home in both India and Indianola among the living and the dead. And she is squealing now, a baby’s perfect sort of reverence.
Ragini Tharoor Srinivasan, Mrinalini’s Mississippi, February 2014
I was named after Aruna Asaf Ali, the freedom fighter, he is saying. My birth name, it turns out, is indeed Aruna. I am destined to do great things in this world, he is telling me, and an incredible feeling is sweeping over me. I am special; I am to change the world, I believe.
Sarita Sarvate, Autobiography of a Freedom Fighter, May 2014
On my daily walks, I realize that I’ve yet to pick on Enrique. When he does come to fix that timer problem with my sprinkler, I’ll have to remind him, yet again, to paint that wall. And then I’ll show him the orange tree he transplanted whose leaves are now so jaundiced that I’m worried it’s a closet-Gingko. “Enrique, my man, tell you what,” I’ll say, when he visits. “First, I think you need to know your orange. Better than you do your own navel.”
Kalpana Mohan, An Orange Letdown, May 2014
Finding Nemo may take place under the ocean but it’s actually a road movie. And while the plot may seem to be the journey of father Marlin searching for and finding his son Nemo, in essence it’s the journey of Nemo finding himself. As in Nemo’s ocean, there may be set currents but no set paths. Kalpana will go to places we have never been. She will meet people we do not know. She will have adventures we will not be aware of—unless she wants to share them with us. I hope all she’s learned so far will serve her well. And if she’s ever feeling low, I hope she’ll remember how much she is loved.
Ranjani Iyer Mohanty, Finding Kalpana, September 2014
We belong to a moment in history when Hinduism is beginning to wake up, if not from a long slumber, then at least a long silence. We did not speak to the world, and to ourselves, as Hindus, in a very long time. For reasons of strategy and sensibility, we have been modest and easy-going about religion, despite some unpleasant encounters in history with forces to the contrary.
We prayed, no doubt, and we went to temples and we made deals with God. We enjoyed our festivals and sang our bhajans and watched our Ramayan serials. But we did not ask, until the present generation came of age really, that provocative question: what does it really mean to be Hindu today?
Vamsee Juluri, Who is a Hindu? September 2014
Face-to-face with another human being, we are usually reminded that there is context to their opinions—people’s lived experiences give them different lenses through which they perceive events. Online, however, many of us respond to this onslaught with unbridled anger.
Anita Felicelli, Mad, Mad World, February 2014
Inexplicable flight-paths, deadly viruses, natural disasters, war zones, and revolutions at a global, community, and individual level seem to dominate the news these days. It is a wonder that life, the greatest show of all, goes on at all. And yet, it is true what they say about the human spirit, that it is indomitable and stands resolute in the face of calamities.
Priya Das, I Will Survive, November 2014
There ensued a lecture on B cells and T cells and proteins and triggers. There were descriptions of the immune system and of the ultimate dilemma he was spending his years exploring: “Why do our bodies sometimes attack themselves? And what keeps them from doing that all the time?” I was left cross-eyed by the cellular details, but charmed by his deep interest in the subject, so deep in fact, that it never occurred to him that he may be coming across as a complete nerd. Or that this very nerdiness—and his disregard for his image—would be, for me, his biggest appeal.
Vibha Akkaraju, How I Met My Husband, October 2014
A rainless existence affects me in ways deeper than just the physical. It strains the connection to my past, highlights the flaws in this Valley I am learning to befriend, and keeps me hankering for home.
Dilnavaz Bamboat, Rain, Again, March 2014
When my daughter was a toddler, she was at Macy’s with my husband, laughingly pushing her stroller up against his legs as he paid at the counter. The saleswoman snapped, “Ugh, wonder where the child’s mother is!” My husband replied that it was all right, and he was the child’s father. The woman responded, “No, you’re not.” Granted, my genes won in this case and there is not a trace of German in that beautiful little being I call my child, but my husband, shocked, and not knowing whether to laugh or be insulted, repeated that he was the dad. The woman retreated quickly with, “Oh, she just looks so exotic …” Nice save, lady, but not enough. Calling my child exotic did not negate all the insinuations of the previous five minutes.
Gayatri Subramaniam, Blind, August 2014
My own writing process is a function of my passion and paranoia.
Jaya Padmanabhan, Passion and Paranoia, April 2014
The accents? We slaughter the Queen’s and the President’s English with many victorious stabs. Indian characters in American sitcoms, Hari or Harry grill the consonants like steak.
We wince at clichéd portrayals. Revenge is sweet via Bollywood waging its own gleeful takeover across the globe.
Usha Akella, Waving Stars and Warning Stripes, September 2014
America is basically on a path to outstrip the 1984 Union Carbide Gas Disaster’s notorious place in history as the world’s worst industrial accident in history. According to the EPA, there are about 13,000 facilities across the United States storing or processing hazardous chemicals in amounts capable of endangering the public, not to mention all the transporting of those chemicals.
Jayshree Chander, Hazards of Toxic Spills and Leaks, July 2014
U know Indian parents have come to visit when we r loading two crates of mangoes into the car.
At the Diwali party tomorrow I told people to wear color, and people are really stressed out by it
We are impressed by Australian speed as you are charmed by Indian spin, until of course Shane Warne came along.
“The qualities I most admire in women are confidence and kindness.”
Someone REALLY help me .. I need to know what next fad after ‘SELFIE’ is .. I’m getting kind of selfied with this selfie thing !!
Life is not always black and white and every human being has a limit. Sadly in India the fairer sex has to have a larger limit, more tolerance and worry about what people
will say irrespective of the facts and the truth.
Haha Flight attendant coming down the aisle: “Beverage? Would u like a Beverage?” Gets 2 me & starts miming a cup. “DO. YOU. WANT. A. DRINK?”
I’m running to transform the Republican Party in CA.
With all due respect, people of China, stop seeing Transformers so much, you’re making movies worse for everyone!
Just add salt, water and electricity = a solution to help stop Ebola?
Does anyone know how to get green nail polish off of bathroom tile and grout?!
The Issues that Flew Off the Stands
Cover Stories You Loved
Who Is a Hindu
Vamsee Juluri, September 2014
Mixed, Chopped and Stirred
The Help Effect,