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A Way of Life

Just as I began reading your July 2013 issue, I put on the kettle for “tea” like Sarita Sarvate (Tea, India Currents, July 2013), called out to my husband, “I’ll have three sugars with that, please” like Kalpana Mohan (I’ll Have Three Sugars With That, Please, India Currents, July 2013), then went into the den and managed to find a spot to sit on “the accursed couch” like Lakshmi Palecanda (The Accursed Couch, India Currents, July 2013) to read your always interesting magazine. Congratulations on starting up in Washington, D.C.

A. Sharma, West Covina, CA

Supplementing the Story

The article on Rabindranath Tagore by Anita Felicelli (Tea, India Currents, July 2013) was excellent. Here are some interesting nuggets of information to supplement the article:
Tagore originally wrote the Indian national anthem, “Jana Gana Mana,” in 1911.

The story goes that in 1919, Tagore was invited by his friend, an Irish poet, James H. Cousins to spend some time at the Besant Theosophical College in Andhra Pradesh, at which institution Cousins held the position of Principal. One evening at the behest of his friend, Tagore sang “Jana Gana Mana” in Bengali. Impressed by the inspirational message of the song, the college adopted it as their “prayer song.”

Subsequently, with the help of Cousins’ wife, Margaret, Tagore set the song to music and translated it into English. It was through word of mouth, that the song spread beyond the borders of Andhra Pradesh and was first known as “the morning song” before it became India’s national anthem. The second stanza of the song has the philosphical basis of the unity of religions as well as of East and West.

Tagore is also well-known for his thoughtful consideration of religious philosophy. In his foreword to Dr. S. Radhakrishnan’s book, The Philosophy of Upanishads, he has beautifully explained in a few pages a great understanding of the human personality and its connection to the Infinite Truth. “We are afraid of death, because we are afraid of the absolute cessation of our personality. Therefore, if we realize the Person as the ultimate reality which we know in everything that we know, we find our own personality in the bosom of the eternal.”

It is worth reading and shows Tagore’s greatness for which my words are a very feeble tribute.

Jayananda Hiranandani, Artesia, CA

A Favorite Beverage

It was so invigorating to read Sarita Sarvate’s article on tea (Tea, India Currents, July 2013). Tea, coffee or even knitting fills a very important gap, which exists between the real world of stress and the imaginative world of good memories and fantasy. I think mothers of yesteryear did have this parallel life of living on their own, working in  their house from morning to evening and whenever they had leisure time to read the Ramayana or make pillow covers and pajamas from discarded sheets. All in all Sarvate’s Tea had a distinct aroma. I always read India Currents by reading the last page first. And by the way Red Label is still my favorite.

Suresh Mandan, Fremont, CA

Sarita Sarvate is at her best as she reminisces and raves about the joys of drinking tea (Tea, India Currents, July 2013).
“I need at least one vice,” says she, “and tea is my drug of choice.” My sentiments exactly. Not to mention that tea keeps some other vices (like soda and alcohol) away.
Vijay Gupta, Cupertino, CA

A Celluloid Connection

I immensely enjoyed Sandip Roy’s article  in the June edition (My Granddad, The Bengali Peddler, India Currents, June 2013). It also solved for me what was a minor (and forgotten) mystery dating back to a favorite film from 1955. The movie was Rodgers and Hammerstein’s Oklahoma!. In it, there was a character called Ali Hakim, a peddler, (played by Eddie Albert), who was the love interest of Ado Annie, played by Gloria Grahame. I saw this movie when I was 14 years old, in rural Washington state, and I  mused, “Ali Hakim? What is his background? Sounds Muslim, how did he get into the mix in rural Oklahoma?”  Now, with the excellent article in your June issue, it all becomes clear.  I wonder if anyone else noticed this?  Could there be other books, films, or what-have-you in which these  pioneering Bengali peddlers  play any roles? I hope that in the future, you could do a follow-up article about Fatima  Shaik and her efforts to connect with her heritage.  It makes for  fascinating reading. Thank you for your always excellent reporting.
Darleen Dhillon, Berkeley, CA

Bottlenecks in the Flow Chain

I respectfully beg to differ from Krishnamachar Srinivasan’s view that corporations cleverly find ways of fending off older employees, especially in the Silicon Valley, CA (Aging Out in Silicon Valley, India Currents, July 2013). Intense competition between players in the Silicon Valley demands the utmost urgency and requires going from concept to validation, production, manufacturing and market release as quickly as possible. Any bottlenecks in the flow chain in this cycle will obviously be eliminated as and when identified, whether young or old.

A few years back, an Indian American friend of ours working in the restaurant management business got a plum assignment to run a very large, busy, chain restaurant unit overlooking the ocean, in Los Angeles. One day, during the lunch rush hour, the manager found that the waiting line for tables had lengthened rapidly and orders were returned to the kitchen for repair or remake at a faster rate than normal. He checked the kitchen, found the problem and fired the chef instantly, but asked him to leave the premises at the end of his shift which was still three hours away. The chef, in turn, decided to wreak some vengeance. He took out the best cuts of meat and seafood from the freezer and grilled them to perfect charcoal. Several hundred dollars worth of  food was wasted almost  instantly. The saga of the afternoon continued with the firing of our friend, the manager, an hour later “for not taking effective action in a timely manner.”

P. Mahadevan, Fullerton, CA

I thank Mr. Mahadevan for his careful reading of my article. I wrote about my experiences over a long period (1969-2002) in the computer industry.  I worked for a think tank, companies at various stages in their lives in the Silicon Valley and a start up where I did not strike oil.  By no stretch of imagination am I claiming expertise, nor do I desire to use a broad brush.  It is based on many engineers’ lives  that intersected with my life and I benefited from them.

I respect Mr. Mahadevan’s views, but my battles with deadlines were mostly manager made.

Krishnamachar Sreenivasan, Palo Alto, CA

Vandana Kumar

Vandana Kumar is a publishing executive with a 35-year track record in the industry. She leads the India Currents Foundation as President and CEO. As a new immigrant, she co-founded India Currents magazine...