Tag Archives: Ritu Soni Marwah

Hillary Clinton Uses ‘Pokemon Go’ to Get Voters


PokemonGo the augmented reality mobile app and game is already on more than twice as many phones as Tinder, has twice the engagement rates of Snapchat, and unbelievably, already has a higher percentage of daily active users than Twitter! Nintendo’s stock price is up over 30% in the last week. Pokémon GO is the biggest mobile game in U.S. history according to Survey Monkey. Hillary Clinton is going to use the new Pokemon Go smartphone game to lure voters. “Pokemon Go to the Polls,” as she called it.

The game allows players to capture, battle, and train virtual creatures, called Pokémon, who appear throughout the real world. It makes use of GPS and the camera of compatible devices. The game is free-to-play, although it supports in-app purchases of additional gameplay items. There are three main “teams” that people compete from in PokemonGo: Instinct (Yellow), Mystic (Blue) and Valor (Red).

Hillary Clinton is going to leverage this virtual game to attract more customers.  Near a PokeStop, her team can create something called a “Lure” to attract more Pokemon for 30 minutes. This drives traffic through their doors for the next 30 minutes.

Hillary Clinton wants to use the “Lure” to woo and register voters in the key swing state of Ohio, according to her campaign.

“Join us as we go to the Pokestop in Madison Park and put up a lure module, get free pokemon, & battle each other while you register voters and learn more about Sec. Hillary Clinton!!!,” the campaign said in a post on her website. The event is listed as taking place at the Madison Park Pokestop and PokeGYM in Lakewood, Ohio, on Saturday between 1 and 2p.m.

Clinton also mentioned Pokemon Go in Virginia on Thursday while campaigning with potential VP pick Sen. Tim Kaine.

“I don’t know who created Pokemon Go, but I’m trying to figure out how we get them to have Pokemon Go to the polls,” she said, as the crowd shrieked.

Donald Trump shared a video on Facebook Thursday evening featuring Clinton as a Pokemon named “Crooked Hillary.”

The idea for the game was conceived in 2014 by Satoru Iwata of Nintendo and Tsunekazu Ishihara of The Pokémon Company as an April Fools’ Day collaboration with Google, called Pokémon Challenge.

At First Peek Mohenjo Daro Does Not Meet the Expectations of Fashion Historians


A thread sample was removed from a copper bead excavated at Harappa in 1999. It was silk. This new discovery of silk in the Indus Valley pushes back the earliest date of silk outside of China by a millennium, states the research done under the auspices of Harvard’s Harappa Archaeological Research Project. A team from the University of Wisconsin at Madison, New York University and Harvard University jointly carried out recent work at Harappa. Mohenjo Daro, a film directed by Ashutosh Gowariker that releases on August 12, 2016 is set in the Harappan civilization. Historical accuracy of the cast’s clothes, and headgear is a subject of great interest to the fashion bloggers.


Map: http://www.crystalinks.com/induscivilization.html

The Indus Civilization was one of the great river civilizations of the ancient world, covering an area larger than that of Mesopotamia or of Egypt. It extended from the Himalaya and Hindu Kush to the coastal regions of Kutch and Gujarat; westward into Baluchistan and eastward into northwestern India. Harappa was the first of the Indus cities to be discovered. The civilization spanned over 3000 years.


The release of the trailer for the movie Mohenjo Daro set fashion bloggers a titter. April Ferry who won an Emmy Award for the costumes in the TV show Rome had initially worked on the film’s costumes.


After she left Neeta Lulla stepped in. Lulla had worked with Hrithik Roshan in Jodhaa Akbar a film known for its opulent costumes. What is the verdict of the fashion history nazis on the first peek into the movie?

“The trailer says it’s 2016 BC. It’s a bit worrisome that the next time someone Googles “Mohenjo Daro Costumes” for educational purposes, they’ll stumble upon snapshots from the film!” blogs Purushu Arie.


Among the many things he points us is the fact that “India is a hot and humid nation and due to climatic conditions, both men and women living in the time of Mohenjo Daro simply wrapped a rectangular cloth in lungi style. Bifurcated garments came much later around the time of the Kushanas.” The movie hints at tailored garments.

Small fragments of cloth preserved in the corrosion products of metal objects show that the Harappans wove a range of grades of cotton cloth. Flax was grown and may have been used for fibers. (Good, Irene, J.M Kenoyer and R.H. Meadow (2009) “New evidence for early silk in the Indus Civilization”.)

Hirthik Roshan’s pristine white clothes have therefore not found favor with Purushu either. “Though the bleaching technique was known to the ancient Indians, they mostly used natural bleaching techniques like sun drying and so on, and not chemicals like chlorine or peroxides. As a result, pristine white clothes never existed in ancient history and they always had a slight beige shade.”


Evidence found hints at men wearing a cloth around the waist. Women’s clothing seems to have been a knee-length skirt. In fact, as per some figurines, women sometimes went bare-breasted. In fact the movie carries a large plate on the wall, revealing this historical information.


The heroine, Chaani is shown wearing a blue (Indigo) and red colored dress. Both these colors were common in the Indus Valley Civilization, with blue being a ‘regal’ and ‘rare’ color. Anju Modi the designer who put together costumes for the historic film Bajirao Mastani said to Asian Age, “The whole attire is very modern, and I can’t understand if it is imaginary or a real life character. One can’t criticize the director’s vision without knowing the context of the film, and it is something that one can figure out only after having watched the movie. Going by the name of the film, Mohenjo Daro, one would expect the first look to be very true to the essence of the film and imagine the protagonist to be dressed in something that is very raw, rustic, basic and handmade considering the era it is set in.”





Kabir Bedi, the villain of the piece, supports a headgear similar to the one found on the famous Pashupati (‘Proto Sivo’) Seal.’ The circle in the middle of the forehead is adopted from the bust of a bearded man found in Harappa.

DailyO has the last word. We’ll really know only in August this year. Till then, it’s Fantasia in the Mound of the Dead.


Ritu Marwah is Social Media Editor at India Currents. She is an avid reader of history, a discipline in which she has a post-masters degree. 

Smart Kids Are Made by Smart Teachers?

In Silicon Valley, immigrants who are living the American dream because their family ensured that they get the benefit of quality education, spare no expense when it comes to the schooling of their own children. Many parents have bought into the promise of private education.

Their experiences at companies like Google, Facebook and Twitter have taught them that their children must learn to make complex arguments and solve problems they’ve never seen before. They must learn to think critically. And towards that end these couples will spare no expense.


The question then arises which style of school would be suitable, Catholic, Montessori or non-denominational? Non-denominational schools like BASIS, Challenger and Stratford are popular with the Indian American community as parents are assured that time spent at school will be without religious bias. Religious studies will not be part of the curriculum. BASIS and Challenger have also proved themselves in communities other than the Bay Area where their methods have won them accolades.

Economists Michael and Olga Block started the first BASIS charter school in Tucson in 1998. They thought that low expectations for American students were leading schools to dumb down the curriculum. BASIS.ed manages twenty public charter schools, including seventeen in Arizona, two in Texas, and one in Washington, D.C.  as well as five independent schools in Fremont and San Jose, CA; Brooklyn and Manhattan, NY; and McLean, VA; and one international school in Shenzhen, China. According to the U.S. News & World Reportrankings, which highlight top-performing public schools on a state and national level, BASIS.ed schools were named the #2, #3, and #6 best high schools in the nation. Challenger school similarly had strong beginnings in Utah and expanded to 25 campuses in five western states.


Dr. Ashley Leyba Head of School at BASIS Independent Fremont says, “The school is designed to blend the rigor of European and Asian education models with American creativity.” The BASIS.ed curriculum incorporates hands-on STEM learning, with engineering and Mandarin courses beginning in kindergarten and lab-based sciences with students as young as ten.


Herself a doctor in history from the University of California, Berkeley Dr. Leyba is a strong believer in problem solving. When kindergartners use measuring tapes and stop watches and tweak the angles of their paper planes to make them fly better, science has entered their zone of fun.


As Silicon Valley Challenger parents, Bruce and Tammy, summed up, “Few investments parents can make for their child’s future provide such a great return.” They themselves sought an environment of learning that encouraged self-reliance, independent thinking, and a healthy pride in one’s accomplishments for their child.

Bay Area is also experimenting with student-centered learning in an alternative environment. In 2013, former Google head of personalization Max Ventilla, started AltSchool. Mark Zuckerberg, a leading activist for school reform, contributed a large portion of a new $100 million round of venture funding to AltSchool.  High level executives from Google and Uber were taken on as teachers. Providing support to teachers is Raj Bhatia, AltSchool’s vice president of product. Before he joined AltSchool he was a product manager at Zynga.

The approach holds that kids should pursue their own interests, at their own pace. To that AltSchool mixes in loads of technology to manage the chaos, and tops it all off with a staff of forward-thinking teachers who are set free to custom-teach each student. The result, they fervently say, is a superior educational experience.

This fall another school will join Siicon Valley’s family of independent schools. Opening fall 2016, BASIS Independent Fremont will serve students in kindergarten–grade 8 and act as a feeder for their flagship 5-12 program in the Valley, BASIS Independent Silicon Valley. BASIS has a diferent view on use of technology in the classroom. “Tech in the classroom almost always hurts class learning. It’s all about the teacher in the classroom,” says Mark Reford, the chief brand officer for Basis Educational Ventures. The difference is the teaching.The role good teaching plays in student results is critical.

“The most significant variable in the quality of a school is the teacher in the classroom.”

All photographs are of BASIS Independent School’s students and staff and provided by them.

Transgender Sari Models Turn Heads


Transgender people, often spotted at weddings and births, have always held a distinctive place in Indian culture. Considered special, their blessings are sort at every momentous occasion. They are rewarded with a gift of money in exchange for their benediction. In the west they are seen as a fashion forward community who enjoy dressing up.


Kochi based designer Sharmila Nair recently launched her new collection of saris, featuring two transgender models. The models – Maya Menon and Gowri Savitri – have no previous experience in modeling. The collection is titledMazhavil or rainbow. The rainbow flag symbolizes the colorful aspirations of the LGBT community, of which the transgender are a part. Together the designer and the models transformed the sari world.


“In this collection we have mainly concentrated about the colors – using all the shades in the rainbow! Fabric used is hand-woven cotton that is naturally dyed so that the colors don’t fade. The saris are starch free, perfect for the summers,” said Sharmila to Polka Café.

The collection is certainly turning a lot of heads.


“In the past two weeks, we’ve already sold more than 100 saris. Besides people in India, we’ve received lots of orders from Britain, Singapore, Australia and the US,” Ms. Nair said to the BBC.


“I was thinking about how I was going to showcase this collection of handloom saris and I saw a Facebook post about the state government’s new policy to better the lives of transgender people,” she said to the BBC.


The models, both 29, are college graduates, but they are unemployed because they are transgender, she says. This assignment has brought them visibility.


Ritu Marwah is Social Media Editor at India Currents. She is an award winning author, chef, and debate coach. 

Sixty Minutes Talks to Roomy Khan



Roomy Khan lived in the affluent Atherton neighborhood of Silicon Valley where the roads are paved with gold and diamonds shimmer on stalks. Their red Bentley matched the titanium watch she bought her husband. Friends called her a day trader. She made a lot of money on Wall Street as a stock market analyst. She scouted for insider information that did not match Wall Street predictions, trading tips which she shared with her former employer, Raj Rajaratnam, co-founder of Galleon Group, one of the largest hedge funds in the world. By 1999, she had made $50 million.

Then one day in 2008 the Feds at her door knocked the breath out of her. The tide turned and she was swept under, left gasping for breath. Roomy had sent an errant text and now she had no choice but to cooperate. She became a government informant.The FBI wanted Rajaratnam, and she would help them get him. Rajaratnam once said an astrologer had warned him that a girl with a mole would be his downfall.

In October 2009 he was arrested and is now serving his seven-year sentence in jail. Roomy Khan got one year. You can hear her story including the moment when she was caught here on 60 Minutes.

Hills of Cupertino Are Alive With The Sound of Dissension

Across the street from the Falafel restaurant has stood a mall called Vallco. They say she was the queen of Cupertino in her time, a beauty. David Orth wrote on its Facebook wall  “Back in the day, all the young men would drive for miles just to see you!” However now, like all dowagers, she stands old and forlorn at the corner of Wolfe and Interstate 280.  Her children have stopped visiting her. There are some in the city of Cupertino, the same city where Steve Jobs first took a bite of the Apple, who would get a new princess to take her place: a young attractive curvaceous towny that will attract the young and make space for the old. And then there are those that would like status quo and let the old Queen keep her place. “Revitalize her with Community Vision.”


The Town Center Initiative wants to raze the old lady and instead build “The Hills at Vallco”, a walkable and sustainable mixed-use town center. Vallco has always struggled, they say, from the moment Valley Fair mall, straddling the cities of San Jose and Santa Clara, set up court.

A 30-acre Community Park and Nature Area blanketing beneath it offices, residences, hotels, shops, restaurants and entertainment is suggested to compete against Valley Fair that has always given the nearby Cupertino mall a run for its money. Today’s retail marketplace must serve as an exciting town center in order to be set up for success.

Shopping has gone online and for a mall to attract the stores there has to be a promise of footfall. An amphitheater, two town squares, and a destination play space for children along with residences and offices will ensure retailers a return on their investment. Westfield’s Valley Fair mall has understood the importance of becoming a living room and a kitchen for the millennials. Planning for the coming generations entails dovetailing with their changing habits and providing for the requirements of the coming generations.

The vote on the The Town Center Initiative comes up in November of this year. The promise of a beautiful town center is being sweetened further with promise of a new elementary school and a high school innovation center, one-time tax revenues of approximately $16 million and new recurring net revenues of nearly $5 million every year to the City of Cupertino, as well as $3 million every year in new net revenue to the Fremont Union High School District.

High Schools are funded by the State government. The State divvies up the monies collected through property taxes amongst the cities. The State limits the high schools on how they can use the money explained Reed Moulds Managing Director  Sand Hill Construction Management LLC. The high school innovation center is one such facility that the Cupertino high schools will not be able to fund on their own.

Nandy Kumar, Partner at Sand Hill Construction Management LLC also promises a program akin to the co-op program offered by some universities where students intern with companies during the school year. ” That is going to be a condition in our contract with the retail tenants that they must offer internships to the Cupertino high school students.”

Cupertino Residents for Sensible Zoning have their own initiative which also comes up for a vote this November. Their measure would essentially restrict Vallco to what’s there now— overruling the City Council’s decision in late 2014 that allocated additional office and residential capacity to the mall area. The Sensible Zoning initiative would also ban the City Council from granting general plan amendments, which allow developers to seek variances on height, density and zoning.

The last is in reaction to Cupertino City Council’s approving of the amendments made by the same developer, Sand Hill, to it’s Main Street project. The project was originally touted as Cupertino’s answer to Santana Row. The record shows that Sand Hill increased the amount of office space substantially, decreased the retail space, and never built certain features, such as an athletic club and senior housing. The council quietly approved amendments to the original plan.

There is always the danger that the beautiful renderings above may have a few pieces missing by the time the project is translated into reality as is the bane of a number of construction projects.

Residents of Cupertino before you vote in November, and vote you must because you and your children will be spending your time here, visit http://revitalizevallco.com and http://www.bettercupertino.org

Ritu Marwah is Social Media Editor at India Currents. She is an award winning author, chef, debate coach, and mother of two boys. 

Gets Your Heart Pumping

 “Have you taken MEDS,” asked Sheetal Singhal as she leaned across the table. An impish look flashed me a dimple. We were at the South Asian Heart Center’s 10th anniversary gala Scarlet Night at the Santa Clara Convention Center. Perplexed I turned to San Jose City Councilman Ash Kalra who has announced his intentions to run for State Assembly in California’s 27th district. He seemed to be seriously mulling over the words of Ashish Mathur, co-founder and executive director of the South Asian Heart Center “Every woman who signs up for the program, we will pay for their lab work if they also sign up their spouse. So this is the best two for one deal in town.” It looked like Councilman Ash Kalra, who is single, had lost out on an opportunity here. I thought I saw him scrolling through his contact list for Mom.

Salil Jain, an ardent fan of the program, turned to me “After you get screened they ask you to follow up with MEDS, which stands for meditation, exercise, diet and stress reduction, and sleep. That’s what differentiates them from any other program I have tried. They know what I eat at home and tweak my lifestyle for optimal pumping of my blood. 6,300 participants screened and coached so far by SAHC in behavior modification program, which seeks to decrease the incidence of diabetes and heart disease among South Asians especially Indians.” Salil did look very undiabetic and his wife vouched for his good heart. I took heart and promised myself that this is the last chocolate pudding I am eating.


Sujatha Suresh and Chandana Reddy-Sinha. 

Heart’n Spice sponsors of Scarlet Night For South Asian Heart Center gave out cinnamon toothpicks. “Cinnamon is known to help manage blood sugar levels among many other benefits. It is also a delicious naturally sweet meal ender that kills post meal cravings,” said Chandana. I picked up a couple of boxes. Bye bye chocolate pudding, hello cinnamon toothpicks.





Sheetal Saini Singhal and Amrita Raina

The place was brimming with supporters in various hues of red. The men had sportingly worn red ties and red roses in their lapels. Sonya pinched a red flower from the table and stuck it in her hair. The rapid-fire auction followed Dil Se, UC Berkeley’s premier a Capella group. By the end of the evening $275,000 had been raised for programs aimed at addressing the twin epidemics of heart diseases and early onset of diabetes. The Center’s strategic initiatives, including prevention, physician education and clinical research were now secure. 600 members clapped.

Pakistani actress, singer and songwriter Komal Rizwi set the ball rolling by inviting the audience to the dance floor with her upbeat numbers. Bombay Jam took things to a different level and the Scarlet Night team got right behind them. A casino and a poker tournament followed but by then my heels were reminding me of the weight they were carrying. One more thing I will be able to do better at the next gala if I stay with the plan to call the South Asian Heart Center’s team tomorrow.

Ritu Marwah is Social Media Editor at India Currents. She is an award winning author, chef, debate coach, and mother of two boys. 

Holi in Pakistan


A Pakistani Hindu covered with coloured powder is sprayed with coloured water during celebrations for the Holi festival in Lahore, March 16, 2014.  — Photo by AFP

“As young boys broke an earthen pot, commonly called Matki, hanging in the middle of Krishna Mandir’s courtyard with butter inside it, the priest (Pandit) shouted, ‘Holi Hay’. Soon after, people at the temple started throwing colours at each other, marking Holi, the festival of colours,” reported Pakistan’s leading newspaper Dawn.

The Hindus of Rawalpindi and Islamabad marked the festival on Thursday at Krishna Mandir in Saddar, which had been illuminated. Hindus celebrate the festival at the start of spring season to remember the victory of a devotee of Hindu god Vishnu against the Raja of Multan who led evil forces, said the Dawn.


Young Pakistani street vendors sell coloured powder or “gulal” on the eve of the Hindu festival of Holi in Karachi, March 15, 2014. — Photo by AFP


Pictures by Muzzammil Afzal Dawn

Last year the National Student’s Federation (NSF) had organized the formation of a human shield at the Holi celebrations at Swami Narayan Temple in Karachi to show solidarity with and protect Hindus in attendance. “We gathered outside Shah-i-Najaf Imambargah to form a human chain to send a message of unity and solidarity,” said Mr. Jibran Nasir.


Pundit Channa Lal gets his forehead marked with red color as a ritual before starting the special prayer to celebrate the festival of Holi at Balmiki Temple in Rawalpindi.  — Photo by Sara Farid

This year Sindh government declared March 24 as a public holiday to mark the occasion of Holi. Days after the National Assembly of Pakistan adopted a resolution to take steps to declare Holi, Diwali and Easter as holidays for minorities a resolution was passed.

“The government of Sindh has been pleased to declare March 24, 2016 (Thursday) as public holiday throughout the province of Sindh, on the occasion of Holi for all offices, autonomous, semi-autonomous bodies, corporations and local councils under the administrative control of government of Sindh except essential services,” a notification issued by office of the Sindh chief secretary read.

A spokesman for the Chief Minister House told Dawn.com that in the past, only the Hindu community was given a holiday on Holi. “This is the first time Holi has been declared a public holiday anywhere in Pakistan.”


Picture from The Dawn

Holi, a popular Hindu spring festival is celebrated at the approach of the vernal equinox, on the full moon day. The festival date varies every year, per the Hindu calendar, and typically comes in March, sometimes February in the Gregorian Calendar. Revelers spray colored powder and water on each other, dance, and distribute sweets during Holi celebrations.


Asha Stanford Holi

In the San Francisco Bay Area Holi is celebrated in parks, universities, and temples.


Rajasthan Association of North America (RANA) Holi celebrations 2014

Rajasthan Association of North America (RANA) Holi celebrations will be held in Cardoza Park Milpitas, California on Saturday, March 26, 2016 (11:00 AM – 3:00 PM). Asha Stanford Holi 2016 will be held this year at Stanford University on Saturday, April 2nd (11am-3pm) and Sunday, April 3rd (11am-3pm). Holi celebrations at the Sunnyvale Hindu temple are on 26th March, Saturday.


Asha Stanford Holi 2014

“For memory has painted this perfect day

With colors that never fade,

And we find at the end of a perfect day

The soul of a friend we’ve made.”

– Carrie Jacobs Bond

Ritu Marwah is Social Media Editor at India Currents. She is an award winning author, chef, debate coach, and mother of two boys. 

Celebrate Durga Puja With Me And Other Celebrations


There is a Durgabari or Durga temple near my house in Delhi but I have never been inside it. Just as the clay effigy of Goddess Durga would roll into the temple at the start of navratri or the nine day celebration, the adjoining temple, where I went religiously since the age of nine, would start the erection of skyscraper effigies of Ravan and his two brothers, to be set aflame with great fanfare on the tenth day following navratri. Somewhere in a town in Gujarat girls and boys dressed in their chaniya-cholis skipped their way to their local raas-garba dance and the city of Mysore geared up for their Dusshera parade. Homes in Tamilnadu were erecting a rack of odd-numbered shelves of Kolu that is 3, 5, 7, 9, or 11 wooden planks and setting atop the rack dolls and toys along with the deities. The basic celebration in all parts of India was the celebration of good over evil. Vijayadashami may represent victory of Lord Rama over Demon Ravana to me but to my neighbor it could represent the triumph of Goddess Durga over the buffalo Demon Mahishasura.

When I left my hometown and traveled far away I discovered the many meanings of Vijaydashami or Dussehra. In my local temple came the golus, the garbas and the red smeared Durga worshippers. I can understand the desire therefore of the mother who wants to share her celebration with her daughter and wrote a book of poems to do that.

“‘Celebrate Durga Puja With Me!’ started as a thought while we were on vacation in Australia. We were in Brisbane, right around the time of Durga Puja and I was visiting an old friend who I grew up with in Mumbai. We were absolutely thrilled to find that the local Bengali Association would be celebrating Durga Puja and as we enjoyed the festivities of the “weekend Puja”.. we reminisced about our childhood when the whole city would come alive! I realized that as long as we lived outside India, my daughter may never get to experience Indian festivals the way I did growing up. I wanted to spark an interest in her so she would want to know more about our various festivals and Indian culture, in general.…I decided to recreate the magic of our festivals through poetry and thus ‘From The Toddler Diaries’ was born, “ says Shoumi Sen a Strategy, Sales and Marketing professional at a leading Energy Management company who grew up in Mumbai and Dubai and studied Engineering at BITS, Pilani and the University of Maryland, College Park. She currently lives in Los Angeles, California with her husband and daughter.




My American son picked up Soumi’s book on Durga Puja. I saw shock register as his eyes alighted on the picture of Durga slaying the demon. “Why is this terrifying image in a children’s book?” I hurriedly scanned the poems for an explanation of Mahishasura and the goddess. The juxtaposition of the pictures and the text could be better with the text explaining the picture but the story was one that was close to the author’s heart. She had sung those poems to her daughter as she lay in her lap.

Sanjay Patel the Pixar animator and Academy Award–nominated director and author of The Little Book of Hindu Deities says,”Sure I grew up with the names,” he said. “But would I know that Hanuman was the son of the wind god? Or that Krishna was an avatar of Vishnu? Of course not.”


It was only later as an adult that Patel read books about Hinduism. He has now authored four books on Hinduism — all in style of animation. The books — The Little Book of Hindu Deities: From the Goddess of Wealth to the Sacred Cow (2006), Ramayana: Divine Loophole (2010), The Big Poster Book of Hindu Deities (2011) and Ganesha’s Sweet Tooth (2012) have been huge successes.

As I wander into the Sri Krishna Balram temple on Reamwood Ave in Sunnyvale I laud mothers like Shoumi Sen who narrate the tales of their favorite goddesses and gods to their little ones bringing alive the joys and celebrations of India.


Ritu Marwah is Social Media Editor at India Currents. She is an award winning author, chef, debate coach, and mother of two boys.