There are so, so many things that are difficult about raising a kid–it’s more than snuggles and reading, more than copious numbers of demon stink-filled diapers (thank goodness). The hardest part for me, I think (aside from sleep-deprivation, that is), is that while I’m helping Mir discover who he is, I’m still not sure of who I am. Some time ago, I wrote about trying to figure out our Indianness for The NRI–and my worries about cultural misappropriation.
I grew up in a Muslim-Catholic household. We celebrate Easter, Christmas, Eid-ul-Fitr, Eid-ul-Adha, and Ramadan (though only my father fasts). At Christmas, my parents literally deck their halls–tinsel and ornaments overrun the house, half a dozen animatronic Santas carol in the living room, and a Christmas train chugs through a snowy wonderland on the dining room table. We’re a marvelously mixed-up family, and I love it. But my father’s family, the Indian side, has only two Hindus, both of whom married into the family. Our Indianness is a Muslim-Indianness; I have little knowledge of Hinduism beyond recognizing pictures and statuary of Kali, Shiva, Ganesh, Krishna, and Brahma.
Hindu Gods do hold a certain fascination for me. I’ve always been interested in polytheistic religions, and I’ve read widely about the Greek, Roman, and Norse traditions. I’ve read many myths to Mir; we even have a few mythology picture books. But Hinduism is a living religion. If I read stories about Krishna to Mir, am I simply reading him a story, or am I stealing someone else’s belief system…
This Christmas past, I had a Christmas post at The NRI, which I completely forgot to blog about! Christmas is a busy time of year for us – three celebrations in three days – and things unrelated to shopping, cooking, and Joe’s birthday often slip my mind. But, better late than never…
For my family, Christmas is a season in the true sense of the word: in mid-November, my mother enters Merry Magic Xmas Mode, liberating boxes of ornaments, lights, and statuary from a Christmas storage locker a dozen suburbs away, buying more ornaments, and stocking up on all the small necessities of hosting friends and family. Come December, my dad sets up a Christmas village and train set, and puts up the (artificial) tree. When I lived at home, we’d spend hours detangling lights, stringing tinsel, hanging glass balls, and oohing and aahhing over baubles we’d grown up with…
Late last year, I saw Salman Rushdie promoting his new book, Luka and the God of Fire, at, irony of ironies, a church in Cambridge (the same church in Harvard Square once hosted Richard Dawkins). A lady in the audience asked him about the Rohinton Mistry/Mumbai university debacle, which, at that point, I hadn’t heard of. It’s quite a story, depressing and hopeful in turns, complete with politics and charismatic leaders. Here’s the blurb for the newsy piece I wrote for The NRI last month.
In October of this year, Rohinton Mistry’s prize-winning debut novel, Such a Long Journey, was pulled from Mumbai University’s syllabus. Following Gustad Noble, a bank clerk and Parsi family man drawn into the intrigue and corruption of the Indira Gandhi years, the novel was added to the English syllabus four years ago.
The novel, writes The Guardian’s Nina Martyris, is evocative of “a Bombay of mutton samosas, prostitutes and convent schools, spies who use lines from Othello to pass on messages and public walls which need god-photos to keep them clean.” It’s a dark, grimy portrait of 70s Bombay, one which takes on Indira Gandhi, the then US and Pakistani governments, and conservative political party Shiv Sena. And therein lies the rub…
Another new piece up @ The NRI – an overview of President Obama and his support for India’s bid for a permanent spot on the UN Security Council. Writing about politics, outside of my usual umbrella, is a fun change, particularly since I’m a BBC and WSJ junkie. It’s nice to work outside my comfort zone every now and then; books are still my first love, though!
Do you try and write outside your comfort zone often? Why? Why not?
Here’s the Obama blurb; read more, as usual, @ The NRI. (Also, props to Barnaby Hazard Morris, a fellow NRI writer, for the excellent title.)
2010 is a year of change–according to the Obama camp, anyway. Still riding on his “Yes We Can!” platform, US president Barack Obama is on the move, touring India, Indonesia, Japan, and South Korea in a can-do effort to build better relationships with Asia’s emerging powers.
Although the trip in general is important, Obama’s address to Indian parliament–following a 2006 speech by President George W. Bush–was not groundbreaking. According to the Wall Street Journal, the two presidents’ speeches were quite similar, from the “oldest democracy in the world” spiel to the not-so-subtle references to Indian icon Mohandas (Mahatma) Gandhi. Obama’s address, however, stands out for its clear acknowledgement of India as an emerging power the US needs to form better ties with, as he backed India’s bid to become a permanent member of the UN Security Council.
“The just and sustainable international order that America seeks includes a United Nations that is efficient, effective, credible and legitimate,” Obama told the Indian parliament. “That is why I can say today, in the years ahead, I look forward to a reformed UN Security Council that includes India as a permanent member…[read more]
Long time, no updates! It’s been busy in Cambridge, with a sick kidlet, a sick me, and scads of work. I have a few pieces I’m really excited about coming up soon, though.
In the meantime, here’s an interview @ The NRI with Amanda Sodhi, a fabulous woman conquering mountains everyday. Seriously, Amanda makes me look really, really lazy, even on my 3+ article days. Here’s the blurb; head over to The NRI to read more.
Amanda Sodhi is something of a whirlwind–when she’s not penning lyrics for some pretty impressive Bollywood names, writing and shooting a film, she’s busy working the marketing department at Camilla David Textiles. She’s also impressively in tune with the Indian experience in the US, writing for several Indian publications, including a Planet Bollywood and Saathee magazine. Earlier this month, I sat down to chat with Amanda about her film, “Life! Camera Action,” being Indian in everyday life, and more…