Tag Archives: San Francisco Bay Area

Nazaakat Aur Taaqat ~ A Delicate Power

Stories are powerful entities. They hold entire universes within them. The human experience across the world, depends upon the telling and sharing of stories to shape its cultural identity. Narratives come in forms that are as varied as the plots and characters that inhabit them. Music and dance have played an important part in storytelling from times immemorial.

Speaking with Bay area based Kathak dancer and teacher, Farah Yasmeen Shaikh opened up another dimension into the world of storytelling. Reading her biography on her website, Noorani Dance, only whet my appetite to delve deeper. Farah’s life is a story of many beginnings.

Like most immigrant narratives, it begins with a multi-generational series of journeys. Starting in Partition-era India, it winds its way through Pakistan, before reaching the shores of the American dream. And there it finds yet another beginning in the dreams of a young girl who falls in love with the dance form of Kathak. Honing her skills over a period of nearly two decades under the tutelage of her Guru, the late Pandit Chitresh Das (Chhandam School of Kathak), the story evolves to see her spread her wings and invent new plot lines.

Farah choreographed the full length production of “The Twentieth Wife” in 2015 based on Indu Sundaresan’s award winning novel. This was followed by “The Forgotten Empress”, scripted by well known playwright and director Matthew Spangler. Her latest work “The Partition Project”, was co-produced in collaboration with EnActe Arts to commemorate the 70th Anniversary of the 1947 partition of India and Pakistan. In 2016, Farah founded “Noorani Dance”, an organization which provides in-depth Kathak training to students. Apart from performing internationally and actively teaching, she writes, blogs, and uses her voice to highlight issues that are close to her heart. Her most important role is that of a mother to her 8 year old daughter. These achievements over the years have only served to stoke the fires of her passion for dance and journey further both spiritually and creatively.

The recipient of awards and grants from the Walter & Elise Haas Fund, San Francisco Foundation, and SVCreates to name a few, Farah was the guest choreographer for the World Dance Program at Alvin Ailey Extension in New York City, and the Mona Khan Dance Company, besides being involved in theatrical and feature film choreography as well. 

As she prepares to launch a new dance production “Nazaakat aur Taaqat – A Delicate Power”, I spoke with her about the impact of Kathak on the many areas of her life.

P.K:  Let us start by talking about your upcoming production. An interesting choice for a title! The word Nazaakat (delicate/delicacy) is not often seen associated with the word – Taaqat (strength).  

F.Y.S:  The word ‘Kathak’ is derived from the word ‘Katha’ which means ‘story’. Performers were originally called ‘kathakars.’ In this dance form,  the four elements of ‘Tayaari’ (technical readiness), ‘Laykaari’ (rhythmic virtuosity), ‘Khoobsurti’ (beauty) and ‘Nazaakat’ (delicacy/refinement) , are equally important. One cannot and does not take precedence over the other. Here we see complementary yet contrasting elements making up the whole. Kathak requires years of discipline. A dancer certainly has to develop strength (Taaqat), but it is a fragile and delicate skill to maintain that discipline – ‘Sadhana’. So in a sense, delicacy itself is such a powerful thing!  Delicacy is also about sensitivity and consciousness. It also speaks to femininity. The stereotypes explored and examined in this production will show that often delicacy shrouds an innate strength and power. The ability to be mothers, possessing a deep sense of nurturing – that in and of itself is a strength!

P.K:   What is the main story central to this production? Have you taken a new approach to your craft in terms of choreography?

F.Y.S:   The central story is that of Heer and Ranjha – the equivalent of Romeo & Juliet. The opening piece is based upon a light classical film song which has been rearranged musically to fit into the structure of a classical piece. Heer and Ranjha’s story can be placed in so many contexts. I was moved by the idea that two people were forced to separate on the basis of caste, social class and creed.  Religion and betrayal play a big part in their story. I wanted to explore how we use religion to our advantage… and how it works against us, even in this day and age.

This production has retained the traditional Kathak style as far as structure. But I am exploring many things that I have tried during my workshops in Pakistan. This is the first time I will be sharing that on stage.

P.K:   Reading your blog is a revelation about you – the person, the dancer, the woman. What has dance taught you about cultural and religious identity?

F.Y.S:   I believe strongly that my art form, my creativity, is essentially a study in human emotions. For most people culture and religion are two sides of the same coin. But for some, one might supersede the other. There was an instance when I was a student of Pandit Chitresh Das where I was approached by a fellow student, a Muslim like me, who wanted to know how I could relate to or accept some of the aspects of Kathak that might be perceived as ‘Hindu.’ I have always held strongly to the idea that creative expression and art is a language that goes beyond labels. It certainly does not make me less of a person, or less of an artiste – to be who I am, creating the work that I am doing.
During my time in Pakistan I was initially hyper-aware about not performing pieces that could cause trouble. Eventually I learnt that the people who attended the performances were there out of sheer interest regardless of what I chose to showcase. My work was warmly received, and I never felt alienated. My experiences there made me realize that these relationships should be fluid. There is no need to categorize and box myself in any way.

P.K:   You have based your work on several female ‘Nayikas’ or protagonists, with productions like “The Twentieth Wife”, and “Forgotten Empress”. What draws you to characters from that period in history, other than the obvious reason of empathizing with them as women?

F.Y.S:   Stories need to go beyond just the storyline or characterizations drawn from an epic or a book. Exploring the lives of these woman, taking them out of the zenana, from behind the jaali, allows us to get up close and personal with them. Noor Jehan was labelled as having been a shrewd woman because she managed to hold on to her power from behind the scenes. Why is that so wrong?! I wanted to explore all aspects of her attributes and celebrate them. For me personally, this exploration took on a new dimension in my understanding of Kathak.

As for the time period in history, there was an amazing spirit of tolerance, an acceptance of diversity in all forms – in arts and culture – during the Mughal era; especially during Emperor Akbar’s time. It must have been an incredible time to have been an artist! That is also why these women were able to exert such an impact on the world around them.

P.K:   Speaking of watershed moments in history, you performed as part of the Partition Project in March of 2018. The Partition of India and Pakistan in many ways rewrote your own family history, did it not?

F.Y.S:   Yes, I grew up watching movies from that time period and was always very interested in the topic. My parents’ families lived in Mumbai in 1947 during the Partition. They were both very young at that time and did not move to Pakistan until 1948, following the civil unrest after Gandhiji’s assassination. Although they do not have direct memories, I have heard stories about what it was like during that time. My grandfather left behind a thriving business to make the decision to move his family, only to realize how difficult it was to start over from scratch on the other side. The helplessness and demoralization that he and others in his situation experienced was heartrending. But despite this, many people survived and made something of themselves. Noorani Dance partnered with EnActe Arts to commemorate the 70th Anniversary of the Partition in March 2018. Titled ‘The Parting’, the production was very close to my heart!

P.K:   Since your first solo performance in 2007, your journey with Kathak has been about personal exploration and self discovery. It is evident from your blog posts that it shares space with social activism as well. Is this a natural progression for you as an artiste?

F.Y.S:   Yes, it is! My Guruji, Pdt. Chitresh Das, planted a seed in me which went beyond my love and passion for the art form in and of itself. It was the idea of creating art within a larger context and message. While I absolutely love Kathak, and it enriches me in so many ways, it also has incredible power as a medium and a vehicle in the realm of storytelling. Visual display, movement, music – all these layers make for a powerful instrument. I find myself naturally gravitating towards issues with social and political merit. It is exciting to be able to find ways to express my opinions through the medium of Kathak, with an inherent message underlying the elements of dance.

P.K:  Can you share with us about your time training with Pdt. Chitresh Das Ji?

F.Y.S:   I have an immense amount of gratitude for the skill and knowledge he imparted in the years I was his student. My training with him began when I was a student in SFSU. It was in many ways an intense and demanding relationship. He was very old school in the way he trained. It was all about tough love and lessons happened both on and off the dance floor. He was an exacting teacher and I definitely benefited from his demands for perfection!

We live in a liberated society in the U.S, but this traditional art form, like many others, requires a complete submission to the Guru. Many people who are committed to traditional art forms face challenges when it comes time to allowing their students to explore on their own. This is quite common. Unfortunately it became challenging to study with him when that time came in our relationship. I had to make a hard decision very much against that ‘Parampara’ (tradition), and struck out on my own. As difficult as it was for me, and I am sure for him as well, I will always honor and cherish my time with him forever!

P.K:  What are the next steps for Noorani Dance?

F.Y.S:   I don’t envision a large institution for Noorani Dance, but want quality over quantity. Forming a nonprofit organization is at the top of the list. And as always, I have several new ideas for projects! Keeping my work in Pakistan ongoing is very important to me. I would like to travel and work there, building bridges between Indian and Pakistani artists, even if that happens here locally in the U.S.  

P.K:  How do you see yourself evolving as a teacher?

F.Y.S:   As an artiste, I see two aspects that are equally important; my performing career and being a teacher and mentor to my students. Teaching is so much more than just imparting the dance form. It is a combination of having clarity, but being fluid and open without becoming rigid about evolving. I don’t call myself a Guru – that label has to be earned!

“Nazaakat aur Taaqat – A Delicate Power” opens on May 4th, 2019, at the Mexican Heritage Theater in San Jose. Featuring an impressive lineup of talented musicians and singers, along with the dancers from Noorani Dance, the production promises an evening of visually rhythmic journey of dance and music to enthrall our senses.


Pavani Kaushik is a visual artist who loves a great book almost as much as planning her next painting. She received a BFA from the Academy of Art University, San Francisco. Her new avatar requires creative juggling with the pen and the brush.


Homelessness in the Silicon Valley

‘Tis the Season of Joy. The time of year when we count our blessings. Neighborhoods are sporting signs of festivity all around. Twinkling lights and fresh coats of paint adorn homes. Swathes of fall colors render the scene with an extra helping of cheer. Families gather to celebrate kinship, filling homes with warmth brought on by togetherness.  And above all, there is Love – the secret ingredient that makes a house a ‘Home.

I am holding a set of greeting cards in my hands. They make me smile with their vivid colors and childish renderings of stick figure humans, bugs and nature. Flipping them over I read the names, Anaya, Noe, Kaelyn – the artists who created these beautiful scenes. Ranging in ages between 6 and 10, they are children who live amongst us. What sets them apart from the average child is the fact that they have been or are currently homeless. Their existence has none of the safety or security that calls for celebration.

And yet, there is nothing in the scenes created by their little hands that alludes to their dire reality. These images are bursting with cheerful promise and hope. A playground sits nestled among trees on a glorious sunny day. Flowers abound as butterflies flit about. Children sport smiley faces as they play and enjoy their time outdoors. Houses rest under shady trees beneath an azure sky. The pictures project joy in a manner only a child can depict. It is a way to frame their fervent dreams and hopes. Because reality is often very different from these scenes.

Nandini Gondhalekar is Director of Individual Giving, for LifeMoves,  a non-profit organization committed to breaking the cycle of homelessness in San Mateo and Santa Clara counties. I met with her at LifeMoves | Haven Family House shelter in Menlo Park. Walking me through the clean, efficiently-run, welcoming premises, Nandini impressed me with her passion for the cause. I grew up in Mumbai, India. My family is deeply committed to and active in community service, social justice and advocacy. This early experience of volunteerism has profoundly influenced my career and professional decisions,” she says.   

For Nandini, bearing witness to discrimination based on poverty and hunger instilled in her a strong sense of community mindedness, and a desire to help address such issues. Poverty, hunger and homelessness are complex social issues; providing effective solutions requires both knowledge and empathy. Nandini’s educational and professional backgrounds have helped with the work she does at LifeMoves.

The Changing Face of Homelessness

We see the homeless everywhere. Holding placards, carting their possessions in shopping carts, inhabiting street corners, and store fronts. Yes, we do see them. But do we really “See” them? Steeped in the drama of our own existence, we seldom stop to consider the hapless souls we share space with in our everyday meanderings.

But the face of homelessness is changing. The boundary of homelessness is no longer limited to a story of mental illness, substance abuse, PTSD or worse. It casts its long shadow across social strata, encompassing people of all ages and backgrounds; many of them work credible jobs, and draw a paycheck but they are still unable to provide a safe home for their families. This is the reality. It is a story that affects human beings across cultural and partisan lines.  It is a story of abundance breaking at the seams. It is the sad saga of the American dream gone horribly wrong. The helpless inability of a fully deserving person to create a sanctuary called a ‘Home.

Talking to Nandini was a revelation. Citing the many changes occurring in Silicon Valley over the years, she spoke of dramatic cuts in the Federal shelter budget and a radically shifting housing market. How, you may wonder, does this connect to homelessness? Speaking of Silicon Valley alone, one in five households has an average income of $35,000. Many of the families cannot do without the services of public programs for their medical, nutritional and general assistance needs.

Most of LIfeMoves’ homeless clients are employed. Some of them hold two jobs to make ends meet. If they are not on disability, managing a health issue or a psychiatric condition, they are out there working,” says Nandini. A significant number hold specialized and/or white collar jobs. A majority of the clients seek employment in the service sector. These jobs offer them no benefits. At most, they make $10 or $12 an hour.  And this is where the cycle begins.

Silicon Valley has an abundance of new homes being built. Everywhere we look there are billboards advertising the latest community offering the most modern of amenities. For every family that joins the race to make their dream of home ownership a reality, there are at least three fighting a battle to maintain a roof over their heads.  “The average monthly rent for a one bedroom apartment in Redwood City nowadays is $2745. Menlo Park or Palo Alto is upwards of $3000! It is very very difficult for a person working a service sector job to afford these rents!”, exclaims Nandini. Many of these families are living in basements, garages, and very often in their vehicles, one precarious step away from the streets. For me personally, this was a jarring realization!

Life Moves – the Organization

An organization whose mission is to break the cycle of homelessness, LifeMoves (formerly InnVision Shelter Network), is the largest non-profit in San Mateo and Santa Clara serving homeless families and individuals. Providing interim/ transitional housing and food since 1987, LifeMoves also provides supportive services that helps residents return to a stable, long term, self-sufficient life. Operating 9 shelters and 8 facilities that include a permanent supportive housing site, they also run a drop-in center in Palo Alto called the Opportunity Services Center, which provides two meals a day, including laundry and shower facilities. Of the approximately 700 people they help every day, roughly half of them are minor children.

LifeMoves runs non-site programs through which they help their clients apply for benefits like Medi-Cal, SSDI and food stamps. They also offer specialized services to veterans and their families, distribute motel vouchers and help people who desperately need emergency assistance if they are at risk of becoming homeless.

As an organization with a long history and a strong infrastructure, LifeMoves takes pride in its therapeutic service model – which takes into consideration the source of homelessness instead of only trying to fix the symptoms. This approach has made a huge positive impact and garnered far-reaching results over the years. Serving over 10,000 homeless individuals and families annually, and providing more than 266,000 nights of safe shelter, LifeMoves has successfully helped 89% of families and 73% of individuals end their cycle of homelessness, change their lives, and return to stable housing in the last year.

The LifeMoves | Haven Family House shelter in Menlo Park is equipped with a well run day-care facility for younger children, an upgraded teen center, and two play areas. It also features a community garden maintained by the residents. Located in a quiet residential area, the shelter has a welcoming air about it. Case workers work with clients and residents, volunteers are busy off-loading supplies and donations and the shelter operates with a well-oiled efficiency. 

Walking the quiet halls of LifeMoves | Haven Family House shelter, we met a resident in the laundry room. In a large well lit room lined with washers and dryers, she folded baskets of clothes as she spoke with us, ecstatic about the chance she and her family had been given at LifeMoves. It was such a simple thing – clean laundry free of charge, and it had made such a difference in her life! It is these little things that most of us take for granted everyday.

Giving Back

Nandini spoke about the active volunteer program that keeps LifeMoves and its programs running smoothly. “Homelessness is a reality across the diaspora. It is imperative that we realize the harsh truths in our own backyard. There is always a need for volunteers. Donate in kind, donate your time! Make a financial donation if you can! It will help make a difference,” she urges.

We have had a lot to give thanks for these past months. California has seen depravity and hopelessness with wildfires ravaging entire neighborhoods. This and other events have touched us all, bringing home some harsh truths to reflect upon. As the cooling rain quenches the roaring thirst of the arid land, it clears the grey smog to reveal blue skies once more, bringing with it a reminder of the many lives who have lost so much.

In this ‘Season of Joy’, it behooves us all to consider stepping out of our bubbles, to try and take the first step in making a change in the life of someone other than ourselves.


If you would like to learn more about LifeMoves, please go to www.lifemoves.org  or contact Nandini Gondhalekar at 650-685-5880 X 115; ngondhalekar@lifemoves.org


Pavani Kaushik is a visual artist who loves a great book almost as much as planning her next painting. She received a BFA from the Academy of Art University, San Francisco. Her new avatar requires creative juggling with the pen and the brush.





#RIP @Parts Unknown.


noun sui·cide \ ˈsü-ə-ˌsīd \

Merriam-Webster definition:  : “the act or an instance of taking one’s own life voluntarily and intentionally”

I woke up to Anthony Bourdain’s death headlining CNN on Friday morning – June 8th, 2018. There was a dull thud in my heart and total silence enveloping my mind. No, I did not know Mr. Bourdain personally. Neither was I on a first name basis with Kate Spade… nor with Robin Williams. But my reaction to the news stories of their deaths was a sense of stunned shock.

With each story came a sense of dread which followed closely on the heels of the initial shock that I had felt. A deep sadness spread, slowly staining my emotions in a very palpable sense.  And through it I saw the pattern that bound these talented, bright, amazing individuals… in the brilliance of their abilities – in lives lived in the spotlight, of fame and fortune, and in their sudden – decimating – definite ending. 

Death in any form has a finality to it, no doubt. It remains one of the absolute truths of existence, just as Birth is. The human experience seems primed to engage in the happy prospect of ‘Beginnings,’ while instinctively unwilling to face up to ‘Endings.’  But face it – we must, at some time or another. The act of inflicting harm upon oneself, trying to or successfully managing to take one’s own life – has the power to shake our belief in all that is enduring and good. It also leaves heartache and shatters the lives of loved ones in its wake. 

The dictionary labels the word “Suicide” as a ‘noun.’ When translated into a ‘verb,’ it takes on a violent and malignant form, which has been described in many ways. An act of cowardice. A rejection of the Divine gift of Life. The worst form of ‘Himsa’ or violence. Each of our world’s major religions, varied as their language may be, agree in this unflinching belief, and condemn the taking of one’s own life. 

Human beings in the course of their evolution have a ‘Fight or Flight’ instinct hardwired into their DNA. I can imagine desperation and extreme helplessness in someone considering such an act. But I do not see cowardice. To me, it seems to require strength of a different kind to be able to carry out an act that goes against a basic human instinct to safeguard, and protect ourselves. And yet, some of us manage to do it. Why? 

The World Health Organization (WHO) has staggering statistics on the number of suicides globally. Close to 800,000 people die due to suicide every year.  This number is difficult to comprehend! It means one person every 40 seconds takes their own life!  The numbers further state that for each adult who died of suicide there may have been more than 20 others attempting suicide. Not to speak of the number of children and young adults who have been in the news in India and elsewhere recently. Apart from social, economic and political causes that drive such sad ‘trends,’ like the farmers in India for example, there is a common underlying reason – Psychological.

What is it that prevents individuals who seem otherwise well adjusted, from seeking out psychological help when in obvious distress? I am aware that we do not go through life with the number for a helpline keyed into our speed dials. I also know that for most of us the knee-jerk response to “How are you doing?”, is “Great!”.  But I struggle to understand how in this age of information, of smartphones; people can find themselves so isolated and helpless that the only option is for them to end it all – by making that ultimate, unthinkable choice. 

Or is the truth pointing in the other direction? Has their cry for help gone unheard and unnoticed? Or could they have lacked the awareness as to where to seek help?

South Asian Cultural Context: 

There might be a cultural quotient to this as well. And that bears examining. To my mind, Anthony Bourdain, Kate Spade and Robin Williams belonged to a culture where seeking therapy and counseling for their mental or physical ills is accepted for the most part – but they still became part of this dark statistic. What about the South Asian context, where even in this day and age, there exists a stigma associated with certain realities? Where openly discussing or admitting to illness like cancer or Parkinson’s, let alone mental illness – is still considered off-limits – a taboo?

Dr. Bindu Garapaty, Psyd. in Clinical Psychology, is focussed on empowering the mental health of women in the South Asian community (S.F Bay Area) through health consultancy, and advocacy. She cites a lack of awareness as the key ingredient which leads to the perpetuation of unconscious taboos / stigma, prevalent within the S.Asian community. This, coupled with a lack in the numbers of mental health providers who are sensitive to cultural differences, creates a gap that seems too wide to bridge. She calls for a ‘movement of solidarity’, to help change the dialog within the community.

Ulash Thakore-Dunlap, is Asst. Professor in the MA Counseling Psychology Program at the Wright Institute, Berkeley and is engaged in clinical practice in San Francisco. She is also the first South Asian to hold a seat as Co-Chair on the Mental Health Board of San Francisco. Through her counseling practice and by serving as advisor in various organizations, Ulash has been instrumental in creating advocacy and visibility for S.Asian mental health professionals and clinical needs.

Ulash admits that there is shame and stigma within some S.Asian community members in seeking mental health support. They generally feel much more comfortable seeing their primary care provider, but face barriers – personal and family related – in receiving counseling. Some have also shared that they have had negative experiences finding a good cultural fit in the counselors they sought out, which led them to not seek counseling again.

The Annual South Asian Mental Health Conference organized by Drs. Preet Kaur Sabharwal and Nina Kaur has been valuable in bringing providers and community members together interested in learning about South Asian mental health needs, sharing best practices and advocacy work. The conference is in its third year and will be taking place in November 2018 in Fremont, California.

More importantly,  Ulash brings to light a bias from non-South Asian providers that all our community members are affluent and working in the tech industry; despite the fact that we have many members who do not fit this media stereotype. She calls for more awareness from the mental health care providers, in terms of the diversity within the S.Asian community, relating to language, culture, personal experiences, immigration experience and choice of work. But she is encouraged by some great efforts, by individuals and organizations in the S.F Bay Area to increase visibility of S. Asian mental health needs.

Parijat Deshpande, therapist, speaker, advocate – and founder of MySahana.orgis one such individual. Parijat started the organization in 2010, while still in the middle of graduate training in Clinical Psychology. She realized there was a tremendous gap in terms of applying the tools that she was learning as part of her training towards helping members within her own community. “Our family values and the way we are brought up is significantly different,” she says.  Even in cases where they do seek mental help, cultural taboos prevent South Asians from going the whole way in finishing treatment. She further adds that they have the highest dropout rate with therapy, and the lowest awareness in terms of finding help.

Parijat highlighted an important fact, “In all of India’s many languages, there is no specific word for mental illness – except ‘crazy!’ This brings about an inherent language bias, along with judgements and stigma.” She started MySahana.org mainly to help educate, provide outreach services and help connect the South Asian community to the right mental health service providers. In 2016, they started an online South Asian cultural competency training program for Non South Asian clinicians, providing much-needed resources for those that have little understanding of the cultural needs of their clients.

Young adults (late teens to late 20s), form the most “at risk” age group for depression, in the S.F Bay Area’s South Asian community. Parijat cites the cultural paradigm of straddling and navigating two separate cultures as being the main challenge for this age group, in the Bay Area. In addition, there is tremendous academic pressure which leads to a myopic view of life, where self-worth becomes determined by academic success. “The problem mounts until it compounds into a pressure cooker of sorts,” she says.

Typically, parents of teenage kids contact MySahana looking for referrals and resources. Young adults in the 20- year age bracket do not seek out help themselves, but people in their 30s do so occasionally. The typical 40+ year old will call with concerns regarding aging parents. The majority of calls come from women in their 50s – “empty nesters” who recognize signs of depression, and experience a severe loss of identity.

MySahana.org does not provide therapy. But they fulfill the community’s need to provide better access to appropriate services. They are always looking for volunteers across the country. Through their outreach events, they hope to reach a wider audience and foster much needed awareness.

When Robin Williams’ death hit the news feed in August 2014, I remember experiencing the same mind-numbing shock. The words of a song, a classic Jagjit and Chitra Singh ghazal floated through my mind, “Tum Itna Jo Muskura Rahe Ho, Kya Gham Hai Jisko Chupa Rahe Ho”“You seem to be smiling thus, What sorrows might you be hiding behind it?” It seemed a fitting musical eulogy for a remarkable human being, who made the whole world laugh, while apparently hiding his own pain behind a veil of hilarity.

As we pay tribute to the man, the author, the traveler, the entertainer – who called himself Anthony Bourdain, we must also remember the “plain talking” power of his words.  “As you move through this life and this world, you change things slightly, you leave marks behind, however small. And in return, life — and travel — leaves marks on you. Most of the time, those marks — on your body or on your heart — are beautiful. Often, though, they hurt.”  

We wish you peace Mr. Bourdain, as you move on to explore – Parts Unknown.”

National Suicide Prevention Lifeline


We can all help prevent suicide. The Lifeline provides 24/7, free and confidential support for people in distress, prevention and crisis resources for you or your loved ones, and best practices for professionals.

  • Get trained in identifying and supporting people at risk. Question. Persuade. Refer (QPR) is a FREE online or in-person suicide prevention training, available to anyone 18 years of age or older who lives or works in Santa Clara County. This training covers the myths and facts related to suicide, warning signs of suicide, how to ask Questions, how to Persuade someone in crisis to seek help, and to Refer them to resources. This and other trainings can be found at www.sccbhsd.org/suicideprevention.
  • Know the signs. Every day in California, friends, family and co-workers struggle with emotional pain. And, for some, it’s too difficult to talk about the pain, thoughts of suicide, and the need for help. Though the warning signs can be subtle, they are there. By recognizing these signs, and knowing how to start a conversation and where to turn for help, you have the power to make a difference – the power to save a life. Go towww.suicideispreventable.org.
  • Encourage family and friends in crisis or thinking about suicide to make use of mental health resources.

Santa Clara County Suicide and Crisis Hotline


Pavani Kaushik is a visual artist who loves a great book almost as much as planning her next painting. She received a BFA from the Academy of Art University, San Francisco. She has held art shows in London, Bangalore and locally here in California.