Spending too much time in reality? Come escape with one of the most popular and talented storytellers of our time – Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni.
Divakaruni is the author of over 18 books, including Mistress of Spices, which was the 2009 pick for One Book One Community: San Mateo County Reads, and the bestselling The Palace of Illusions. She is considered one of the Twenty Most Influential Global Indian Women and oftentimes writes about the Indian experience, contemporary America, women, immigration, history, myth, family, and the joys and challenges of living in a multicultural world.
Her new novel, The Forest of Enchantments, promises to be as exceptional as the rest of her work. It’s a retelling of Ramayana, one of the two major Sanskrit epics of ancient India. The traditional Ramayana tells the story of Rama, the legendary prince of the Kosala Kingdom. Divakaruni retells the story from his wife Sita’s perspective.
Already know well the story of Rama? You won’t be disappointed by Divakaruni’s exquisite poetic prose in her retelling. Unfamiliar with the story of Rama? Divarkaruni’s exceptional storytelling will draw you in and not let you go.
Divakaruni will be in conversation with Vandana Kumar, who, as a new immigrant, co-founded India Currents magazine in 1987. Fully digital today, India Currents has the largest following among Indians in the United States.
As a new immigrant, Vandana Kumar co-founded India Currents magazine in 1987 and published an award-winning print magazine for 32 years. She has stewarded India Currents to flourishing readership over decades, winning multiple awards for her cultural and business leadership.
Her immigrant story is an inspiring one and it was a great dialogue about her own story and the origin of India Currents and its successes over the years.
Do you know that two media companies in the Silicon Valley are led by women? Representing two of the largest populations in the world, India and China, these two medias serve the immigrants from India and China in the United States.
India Currents has been a thought leader since its founding in 1987. An achievement that speaks to the unique need for a platform that champions South Asian identity of the diaspora . DingDing TV celebrates its 10th anniversary this year. Check out this video which shows publisher of India Currents, Vandana Kumar in conversation with Diana Ding, CEO of DingDing TV.
On the screen, a couple was getting married. A North Indian bride and South Indian groom. But the match-makers were absent. Dr. Suniti Solomon explained how her presence would raise questions. People would be uncomfortable, and ask why an AIDS doctor was at the wedding? It was best that she stay away to avoid stigma for the couple.
The notion of stigma came up a lot in the San Jose premiere screening of Lovesick (2018), which occurred at the Student Union Theater at the San Jose State University campus on Saturday, October 20 and was filled with the hubbub of a friends-and-family gathering. Posters of the microbiologist Dr. Suniti Solomon, on whose work the film was based, were emblazoned with the tagline: “In India, where marriage is a must but AIDS is unspeakable, how do you find love if you’re HIV+?” The screening of the film was an answer to this question. We learned that like other Indian matchmakers, Dr. Solomon would match by religion, education, and income; but she also matched by white blood cell counts (CD4) and viral loads.
The evening began with Vandana Kumar, publisher of India Currents, introducing the directors Ann S. Kim and Priya Giri Desai prior to the screening. India Currents Editor Nirupama Vaidyanathan and Culture and Media Editor Geetika Pathania Jain facilitated a Q&A session with directors Ann S. Kim and Priya Giri Desai. To answer questions from the audience, Dr. Sunil Solomon, an epidemiologist at Johns Hopkins University and the son of the late Dr. Solomon skyped in to talk about his mother.
The stigma that continues to be associated with HIV came up several times in the evening. In 1986, when Dr. Solomon documented the first case of HIV in India among sex workers, AIDS was seen as a ‘dirty disease,’ associated with sex workers, drug addicts and homosexuals. Her work was questioned. Yet, she persevered, and is regarded as a pioneer in the field. In 2015, Dr. Solomon was posthumously awarded the Padma Shri medal by the Government for her contribution to science.
In April, Urvashi Pathania reviewed the film for India Currentsand mentioned that “both Manu and Karthik are sweet and lovable, but there is a certain emphasis placed on the fact that neither was “to blame” for contracted HIV.” When posed with this question at the event, the film-makers related that those who come to the clinic are preponderantly housewives who have contracted AIDs. As the evening progressed, the knowledge of the audience continued to grow, as did the admiration for the unconventional and fearless doctor.
Our review had praised the film as “humorous, poignant and tender.” “The film is an homage to the remarkable Dr. Solomon, who passed away before the film was released… She understood the interconnectivity between human wellbeing and love — and all of its accoutrements, like desire and compassion — and her own love for others will always be remembered.”
India Currents is a media partner for Lovesick.
Geetika Pathania Jain is the Culture and Media Editor at India Currents.
“The two most important days in your life are the day you are born and the day you find out why.” —Mark Twain.
Keynote Speaker: Rishi Kumar – Saratoga City Council member
Moderator: Vandana Kumar – Publisher, India Currents
For Saratoga Councilmember Rishi Kumar, his life is dedicated to helping Saratoga as well as the Silicon Valley grow and progress. As one of the keynote speakers at Ding Ding TV’s 3rd Civic Leadership Forum of 2018, Councilmember Kumar used his knowledge and experience as a community leader to inspire current students who are involved in similar activities at school (i.e. Interact Club of Silicon Valley, Hanlin Youth) so that they can bring that back to their clubs. He also emphasized certain concepts that are not only applicable to students but also working adults who hope to advance their business or things that they are passionate about. Such concepts includes not being afraid to take risks, utilizing one’s social networks/social media accounts, the importance of being able network and speaking in front of an audience. Councilman Kumar ended his speech by answering questions from students from the audience.
India Currents is an important facet of America’s emerging multi-cultural identity. It’s a monthly publication that explores the heritage and culture of India as it exists in the United States. The magazine covers a wide range of subjects – politics, arts, literature, travel, and even recipes – tat are of interest to a general readership. Over the years, India Currents has won considerable recognition for it’s content, including awards from New America Media, The Arts Council Silicon Valley, and the South Asian Journalists Association as well as nominations for the Utne Independent Press Awards.
India Currents has been in publication since 1987, when it started as a utility for the burgeoning South Asian community. Today, the magazine is published in two print editions as well as online, but it remains true to its original ethos and is free to all California subscribers.
For the first time in 21 years, India Currents has two women at its helm. Vandana Kumar, a veteran in the publishing business, has worn many hats in two decades – from working on advertising and the calendar to serving as Editor and now as Publisher of the magazine. Her goal for India Currents is that it be a “passionate voice of the community that evolves with the changing diaspora, while remaining accessible, usable and relevant to the times.” That’s where Ragini Srinivasan comes in: a second generation writer and aspiring academic who’s not much older than the magazine itself. As managing editor, Srinivasan is expanding India Currents’ relevance for a younger, more web savvy readership with stories that challenge established notions of the immigrant experience. Both women agree: it’s an exciting time to be thinking about India in the Unites States.