Many, many years ago, to catch a reflection of India in America was to be over the moon: a saree on the streets of New York, an Indian name in the phone book, a snatch of Indian music in a mainstream performance. Now of course India has become woven into the fabric of America, so it was no surprise to see the JFK Express – the train which takes you from the city to the airport – immersed in the images of Incredible India!
A tribute to the late great Dev Anand whose birth anniversary is on September 26. He is an evergreen part of the golden years of India’s film industry and adapted himself successfully into the contemporary decades. His fans were of all ages and all walks of life. He introduced some of the most beautiful actresses to the Hindi film industry. His film ‘Guide’ is a classic and one can see it again and again.
What is it with New York City – it’s simply buzzing! Today Manhattan is overrun by security, cops and traffic police, there are closures and enclosures everywhere and yet there seem to be people, people, people everywhere too! After all, how often do you get to see the Pope – and especially one is beloved as this one? An army of world leaders is in town for the UN Summit, including Prime Minister Narendra Modi. Also in town is the youngest world leader, Malala Yousefzai, for the premiere of the documentary ‘He Named Me Malala’ and also for delivering a powerful speech at the UN. And yes, even Priyanka Chopra, Bollywood Goddess, is in this frenetic city for the launch of her new ABC series ‘Quantico’.
‘Court’ is India’s official nomination for the Oscars. Director Chaitanya Tamhane on how he made the movie: “Instead of drawing inspiration from other films or literature, I found the experience of attending actual trials in the lower courts of Mumbai far more enriching. Some of the stories unfolding in those rooms are indeed stranger than fiction. What made these stories unlike anything I had seen on screen was the unique cultural milieu of Mumbai they were set in.”
When the writer Gita Mehta was growing up in Orissa, a small ancient image of Ganesha was unearthed in a mound of dirt as the foundations of their family home were being laid. “I’ve always kept the Ganesha which came out of my parents’ home,” confided Mehta when I interviewed her once in New York. “That is the one image that goes with me wherever I go. He came out of the Indian soil so to me he’s like an umbilical cord that connects me to India. So it doesn’t matter where I live – he is my India.” A lovely book from 2009, to check out this Ganesh Chathurthi.
This isn’t Kashi or Prayag but thousands of devotees clog the streets, dancing and chanting as Ganesha’s Ratha Yatra takes place – in Queens, New York. Yes, this pilgrimage spot happens to be in Flushing, Queens, and people came to celebrate Ganesha Chaturthi from as far as California, Florida, Texas, Atlanta – and even India!
It is Lord Ganesha’s birthday and everyone is invited to this giant block party. Over 50,000 lunches are prepared; there are hundreds of pounds of sweets and hundreds of gallons of rose milk. About 20,000 people turn up over the course of nine days at the Hindu Temple Society of North America. (Photo: Chirag D. Shah)
The Meet Brothers, known for their catchy music from ‘Baby Doll’ to ‘Chittiyaan Kalaiyan’ were in Manhattan to record with singer Poonam Khubani, also known as Poonam Kay. So here we were at the Hudson Eatery chatting with the Meet Brothers about their collaboration with Poonam. whose song ‘Ek Look Ek Look’ was featured in the Bollywood movie Aryan, and who’s made several popular pop videos since then.
The US has several Indian-Americans doing important work in academia. Meet Beheruz. N. Sethna, President of the University of West Georgia with a budget of $ 100 million and 100 programs of study through the doctoral level.
He’s a Parsi who’s got some important firsts affixed to his name: he is the first person of Indian origin to ever become the president of a university anywhere in the US. He’s also the first person from any ethnic minority to become president of a predominantly white or racially-integrated university or college in Georgia.
“I was so amazed at the thought of somebody cycling me, who was just turning 20, who was a fit young American man, that I insisted on bicycling half the way myself. That’s how I entered India, bicycling a rickshaw, with the rickshaw-wallah sitting in the back, wondering what the hell I was doing!”