Apr 272010

I spent several hours last night reading my current novel, “Secret Daughter” by Shilpi Somaya Gowda, which I finished. It was compelling and easy to read, making the time fly by. I was intrigued and wanted to find out more. I kept wondering what was going to happen next. Some parts were difficult to read, particularly the specific references to incidents at the slum community called “Dharavi” in Mumbai.

It was also difficult to read the beginning reference to female infanticide and later blatant promotion in a village of gender selection ultrasounds. The references were made more difficult as a new mother to a daughter. I pushed through the challenging and moving descriptions to discover a story about family connections, love, overcoming obstacles, and hope.

Gowda’s debut novel is impressive in its descriptions, imagery, and character development. You begin to feel you personally know the characters, sympathize with them, and rejoice with them. The novel made difficult and endearing statements about South Asian culture.

Above all, “Secret Daughter” is about the love and connection between a mother and her daughter, making it a perfect novel to read in commemoration of Mother’s Day.


Earth Day and India

 Ayurveda, Cultural integration, Development  Comments Off on Earth Day and India
Apr 222010

Rajasthani mustard field

A mustard field in Rajasthan

Today is Earth Day. In India, one can argue that every day is Earth Day for many people. Caring for the Earth has been an integral part of the South Asian culture. Take Ayurveda as an example. One can not separate nature from the practice; it is an integral part. I have seen examples of environmentally-conscious practices in India that are probably taken for granted. An example is seeing a housewife in Jaipur use a solar cooker on her flat roof-top to take advantage of the sun to cook mangoes in order to make mango pickle.

Of course, there are exceptions to caring for the Earth in modern-day India as resources are continually being sacrificed to support a growing population and demand as the country develops at an astounding rate. India is in the position to learn from the mistakes of developed countries regarding growing sustainably.

India can choose to integrate its green heritage to develop further in environmentally-conscious ways. Traditional sustainable practices can be balanced with current green technologies. Developed and undeveloped countries can learn from one another in this regard.

In appreciation of Earth Day, it would be great for Indians and other nationals to reflect on their heritage and its focus on nature and the planet. This heritage can remind us to live greener and to teach one another ways from our heritage we can do that more.


Fitting in as an immigrant

 Adaptation, Authenticity, Cultural integration  Comments Off on Fitting in as an immigrant
Apr 082010

I recently wrote an article for ABCDlady Magazine entitled “Fitting In.” It touches on an aspect of immigration that does not get much attention. I’m certain there are many people that upon moving to another country, particularly the US, have seen dynamics in their family change. Some children may have experienced their formative years in their originating country (India in my case), whereas the younger siblings experience their formative years in the new country. This can contribute to a divide between the siblings down the road, particularly if not managed well by the parents.

I was encouraged to speak English at home, rather than my native Rajasthani dialect. As would be expected, I was eventually not able to effectively speak the dialect, although I can still understand it. Eventually, that contributed in creating a divide as I was the only one speaking in English. I’ve learned about languages that not all words and concepts can be easily translated. There are emotionally-evocative Hindi songs that would lose much in an attempt to translate the words and meaning. From this perspective, I want my children to know Hindi at least. Expecting it of my white spouse is probably a tall order.

It can be alienating and isolating for second-generation South Asians who manage to find some integration in their new country, but are not able to connect with their family of origin anymore. Their family can feel like a club they are not welcome in. As we age and are not able to have the ideal family dynamics we imagined, all is not lost. Rather than focusing on what we have missed out on and do not have, we can create the relationships we seek with others. There are people in the world that want to be paternal or like siblings. We can create our own families biologically and through the formation of our own community.

I intend to be the mother I wanted to have. I’ve thought specifically of the maternal characteristics I would have wanted to see and experience in my life and plan to give that to my children. I can be someone who is engaged, present, nurturing, and involved. I can be the type of sibling I would have liked to have with friends: supportive, caring, interesting, and funny. We don’t control others and their choices; we can only try to control ourselves.

Pria and Maya


Alternative Guru Deepak Chopra

 Alternative Medicine, Books  Comments Off on Alternative Guru Deepak Chopra
Apr 012010

Deepak Chopra is a superstar of alternative medicine and spirituality. He makes me more proud of being Indian! 😉 I have some of his books and appreciate his thoughts. He was on Dr. Oz recently and offered the following insightful thoughts and helpful tidbits:

-Get rid of emotional toxins

-Quiet the mind

Introduce positivity – “you can’t just expect someone to think happy thoughts and create happy molecules.”

Meditation: “Close your eyes, watch your breath, be aware of your body, don’t have expectations or worry about any noises or thoughts. Surrender yourself to the moment.”

Meditation for Kids: Start at 5 years of age for 5 minutes. Add 1 minute for each subsequent age.

Insomnia: Even when lying down and your head is full of speeding thoughts, you are getting the metabolic rest of “almost sleep.” You are 90% there even if not sleeping. You go further when watching your breath. “So the worst thing you can do is worry about sleeping because the more you will not sleep.

The best way to get the best sleep (good quality) is to make your day really interesting – to make your day dynamic, full of activity, and exercise. Then the night will follow spontaneously.”

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