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  • 19 Sep 2020 2:20 PM | Anonymous

    Hello community members! We are excited to host our first monthly meeting for South Asian Activists and Allies (SAYAA) on October 7th at 8:30 pm!

    SAYAA is dedicated to disseminating resources about important social justice and racial equity initiatives while also increasing our own self-reflection of the role South Asian communities can play in supporting social justice and promoting activism to combat such trends.

    If you are between the ages of 15-35 and are interested in joining us or learning more, please email SAYAAec@googlegroups.com

  • 19 Sep 2020 2:01 PM | Anonymous

    By Pravin Trivedi

    They have to be good tomatoes. Really good tomatoes. Maybe they are the elephant variety, like the garlic from that town in California. Gilroy, that’s the town. But really, why fifteen dollars?

    Well, since it may be a long story, I might as well start now. We downsized our living requirements from a seven bedroom house to a two bedroom condo. A little cramped, but my wife and I did get to see each other’s faces a lot more during the day.

    Apart from complaining about the lack of room for my never-ending projects and honey-do lists, there was one thing that was bothering me a lot. We had no garden! I could not plant any tomatoes or vegetables. It was the one thing I enjoyed in the big house. I wound up spending my spare time chatting with the neighbors and visiting the local bars until I came up with the solution. I got some clay pots and made my own mini garden on the 8 feet by 10 feet wooden deck in the rear of the condo. We found that it was not forbidden by the articles of the condo group. And two or three people could still squeeze onto the deck and sit.

    We had stored last summer’s plant equipment in the basement for the winter. It looked like the plant supports, diggers, gloves and fertilizer were not going to be needed this year. But with my procrastination, I was late in getting around to doing anything. So, it was end of July before I got my plants in the pots. By mid-August they were two feet tall. While my friends were complaining daily about how many tomatoes they were having for salad, I only had six yellow flowers on each plant.

    Discussing my garden became a taboo subject in the house. We finally had two tomatoes, one on each plant. They were green in September when we went to visit my sister. My wife had warned her not to talk about my tomato season. When we returned one tomato plant had been knocked flat on the deck by the wind. The other tomato was still green. I picked that tomato, wrapped it in newspaper and left it in the kitchen drawer. We forgot about it until Christmas when it finally turned red. The total cost this year – fifteen dollars! What an ROI!

    Can’t wait till Spring.

  • 6 Sep 2020 7:13 PM | Anonymous

    By Ragoo Raghunathan

    Hinduism’s most important and best-known text, The Gita, says the purest gift is one given from the heart to the right person at the right time and at the right place expecting nothing in return. As we are engrossed in our daily grind, it becomes important to remember these words and incorporate the act of giving in one’s life.

    During our professional pursuit we are focused on learning, earning and being successful in what we do. It is mostly take, take, take. Let us not forget that there is also so much happiness and satisfaction in giving. It is said that people are happier when they give than when they get. LinkedIn reports that ‘volunteer activities’ increased over 2-3 times more than it was a couple years ago. Volunteering for humanitarian and health causes were especially popular with a big spike in volunteering for civil rights organizations in the past few months.

    What can I give?

    In our professional life giving is easy – the best thing one can give is their time. You can give your warmth and friendship, give a listening ear or a shoulder to lean on. Last but not least – you can give materially if you can afford it. Giving inspires giving. People who have been on the receiving end of kindness do pay it forward and give to others even when they have hardly anything to give. Perpetuating the cycle of giving makes the world a better, more humane place to live in.

    If you are an experienced individual, immaterial of the area of expertise, plan to set aside a little time on a regular basis to guide or mentor younger professionals. Sharing your experiences, offering to join a panel discussion on a local platform, contributing to the local parent-teacher meeting, participating in the local town hall meeting, encouraging an aspiring entrepreneur by giving her a word of advice or some tips will just do the trick. There are many little things you can do to help others on LinkedIn. Being open to networking on LinkedIn, endorsing someone’s skills, sharing or liking their post, increasing their visibility to your network are just some of the actions you can take. If you are part of a local community or cultural organization (like India Society of Worcester), volunteer some time there.

    So what do I get?

    Well, the brain is a complex organ and responds via neurochemical signals. Happiness triggers the release of dopamine, serotonin and oxytocin in the brain. While dopamine is connected to motivation and arousal, serotonin is crucial for sleep, digestion, learning, memory and appetite. Oxytocin is among the most important hormones and favorably affects your blood pressure, increases bonding, trust and empathy, while reducing social fears. So, if giving makes you happy and allows us to secrete all these wonderful neurochemicals in the brain, we owe it to ourselves to give as often as possible.

    What are you waiting for?
  • 6 Sep 2020 7:06 PM | Anonymous

    By Pravin Trivedi

    Everyone’s journey through this planet is a one-time event. One day you slide down your mother’s legs, empty handed, screaming your lungs. If you are not screaming then one of the medical staff, if they are there, slaps your rear end to ensure you cough and spit and seek food with your open mouth, trembling lips. You drink your mother’s milk and sleep. That goes on for a few short years and before you know it growing up envelops you and carries you thru this world.

    You are given one chance to leave your mark. Where you want to make it and how you want to be remembered is up to you. Most make themselves the number one with I want, I have. They continue to make money, buy property, widen their power and influence. They compare themselves with their siblings, life partner and coworkers in a materialistic way.

    A few see the stuff they have amassed as important but see the more important goal is to use it to help others less fortunate than themselves. 

    The year was 1951. The month was June. The time was 2 p.m. Siesta for some, especially the young ones. There was no indication of an impending monsoon and it looked like there would be no rain for the third year in Balwa, Gujarat. There are only three seasons in India. Winter, summer and the rainy reason, monsoon.  When it rained, there was not a dry spot anywhere. Not on the road, not in the fields, not even in the house.  But where was the monsoon this year? You could hear the earth crackle and bake in the sun. This happened with predictable monotonous regularity every five years.

    The heat was oppressive, nearly one hundred degrees, with barely a whispering wind. The little boy was looking out of the living room window holding the metal bars that were close enough so that he would not fall out. It was a second-floor room and the slight breeze was welcome.  But it was very warm, more like the desert wind called ‘loo’.

    “Move Gauri move.”

    The sound of a stick hitting parched skin covered bones could be heard. With it the plaintive sound of a cow bellowing moo. The cow had no energy to move. Yet the farmer behind her and his son  in front, pulling the neck yoke, tried to move the beast one foot at a time.

    “Why are they beating the cow?  It is so cruel,” the boy asked his father.

    “You get down from there right now,” his mother shouted running towards him. “You will fall down and kill yourself one of these days.”

    “You worry too much about your son,” father told her. “He is nimble and careful. His hands can do creative things. He may end up as an artist, musician or even a surgeon when he grows up.”

    “You should see him doing things when he thinks you are not around,” a little girl quipped entering the room to see what the commotion was about.

    “Tattle tale,” the boy shot back.

    “Go do your homework, both of you,” mom said dismissing the children.

    The boy was persistent.

    “But why were they beating the poor cow?” he wanted to know.

    “We have had two years with no rain. The monsoons are late again this year. The farmer cannot afford grass or water for his cows. If he can get her to the next village there is a rich man who will keep her with the other animals he has gathered until things improve,” father explained.

    “That man has more than a hundred animals like Gauri that he feeds and provides shelter and water. When the rains come, the poor farmer will get his cattle back,” father continued answering the son.

    “But there is water in other parts of India, only we are suffering here,” thought the little boy. At bedtime, he kept tossing and turning. He could not rest nor sleep until he could figure out what should be done.  Art or music was not important. A belly full of hay and water was what was needed for the animals.

  • 6 Sep 2020 7:01 PM | Anonymous

    By Priya Vaidya

    The India Society of Worcester (ISW) has been celebrating the cultural festival of Ganesh Pooja in the Shrewsbury area for nine years in a row. It is mainly celebrated in Maharashtra, where its public festival form was first introduced by the leading freedom fighter Bal Gangadhar Tilak. With the spread of Marathi speakers across India, the Ganesh festival is now celebrated outside Maharashtra too. People celebrate and follow the tradition fondly. Given its popularity in India, all the indians residing in the United states also celebrate this event with a lot of enthusiasm. 

    One of the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic we are facing today, is in the way festivals are celebrated this year. Given the restriction, all events are virtual and so was our ganeshotsav. "Bappa", as he is fondly called, goes online this year! The team started planning for the event a few months in advance, the decision for an online event was made early on. The planning began in full swing and the team was able to line up a series of pre-recorded entertainment sections. 

    On Sunday August 30, the program started at 2 pm. The pooja happened religiously and with perfection at the Manjrekar residence. The decoration and the preparations showcased the Bappa (Ganesha) in his ever cheerful grandiose look. The video streaming of the event on Facebook live was shared with ISW family and friends to participate in it virtually. The ritual of performing aarti (holy chanting of hymns) also happened online with several of the community families participating one at a time and the rest joining them from their respective homes. The virtual darshan (or online sighting) of the Ganesha seemed a very different experience for many of us, yet it was better than not having it at all.

    Immediately following the pooja was the entertainment program, based on the Theme: Retro to Metro  (1980 - 2020). Focus was on Hindi and Marathi movies that have contributed remarkably to the entertainment industry during that era. The local amateur artists enthusiastically practiced various skits. The team lined up Sachin Pilgaonkar, PL Deshpande, latest movie Sairat as the marathi contributions and for hindi the evergreen "Sholay", "Maine Pyar Kiya", "Three Idiots" made it to the list. The response was tremendous. Everyone within the comfort of their homes, enjoyed their very own friends taking to the stage and becoming the star of the screen! The dances, dialogues and the creativity in choosing the background and the locations was mesmerizing. Use of available resources to create the props, video editing and effects made it even more enjoyable. Some of the characters were so effectively showcased that it reminded us instantly of the originals, like "masi" from "sholay", "antubarva" from "vyakt and valli" and "Manjula" from "Ti phularani".  

    Added benefit of this event being online was that a lot of artists and famous personalities from India sent in their best wishes in video format which was broadcasted live during the event. It added a nice surprise element to the show. Music composer Dr. Salil Kulkarni, famous compete Sudheer Gadgil and Marathi Bana fame Ashok Hande recorded their lovely wishes for us with some of their own songs and anecdotes. The team also pulled together an online interview with famous hindi and marathi movie writer and director Abhijeet Deshpande. His seamless style of speaking, varied experiences and narration of backstage stories with famous personalities like Amitabh Bachchan kept the audience engaged through the interview. A short video clip of one of the past isw ganeshotsav events was also broadcasted early on in the show which made everyone nostalgic. The compering for the show was precise and effective. Ah! and there was a very vibrant, foot-tapping dance by the teenager girls crew which made the audience instantly energized. The girls were very agile and graceful in their presentation. Thus, the entire show turned out to be a balanced mix of skits, music, dance and speeches. 

    Given the situation we are in today worldwide, each one of us wants to help each other, stay positive, healthy and engaged; but there is this "black hole" of worry sucking us now and then.... Amidst of such unprecedented times, ISW Ganeshostav turned out to be a mirage of hope and positivity. The teamwork and the uplifting spirit of the presenters and audience outgrew the anxiety and cheerfulness prevailed! 

    Overall, it was a great show, a virtual event indeed, yet it left all of us longing for the usual in-person celebrations with all the dress-up and decorations and the noise. We are certain, next year we will celebrate this event in all its glory and grandeur and in person at the new ISW building in our very own Shrewsbury. Until then, गणपती बाप्पामोरया
  • 24 Aug 2020 10:06 AM | Anonymous

    It is with great sadness that we convey news of the passing of Mrs. Parameshwari Sharma, the founding First Lady of ISW. She was the wife of ISW Founder Mr. Shyam Sharma and mother of past president Mr. Pradeep Sharma. She was in a nursing home in Maryland for the last few years. She celebrated her 86th birthday in July.

    May her soul rest in peace and may the bereaved family find a measure of solace at this difficult time.

    Message from Mr Pradeep Sharma :
    To our ISW family,

    The sincere feelings, love, and respect that you have expressed through your condolence messages, are very comforting to me, my father, Kiran, our daughters, my brother, my sisters, their spouses, and their children.

    The Funeral and Cremation will take place on Tuesday August 25th. The visiting hours are between 12PM and 2PM. Cremation will be at 2:30 PM

    Address:
    Harry H. Witzke’s Family Funeral Home Inc.
    4112 Old Columbia Pike
    Ellicott City, MD 21043

    The family has requested in lieu of flowers to make a donation to ISW.

  • 23 Aug 2020 6:00 PM | Anonymous

    By Ria Deshpande

    Pushpa Joshi, a resident of Hopkinton MA, has been involved with ISW for over 50 years. Throughout the years, she has experienced ISW blossoming from a small, dedicated group of people to the awesome community center it is today. Now as a member of Humrahee, she retells her fascinating experiences during the early days of ISW and the wisdom she has to share with the next generation. Read about it below!

    When did you come to the United States?

    I came in 1964. My husband got a job here, so I moved here with him.

    How did you first get involved with ISW?

    When I came to the U.S., ISW was very informal. We Indian people used to meet at different people’s houses and plan programs on a very small scale. For example, for Diwali, everyone would gather at someone’s house and we would have an aarti. I remember we also used to have Indian movie nights once in a while — the Indian Ambassador from New York used to send us films!

    Do you have any favorite memories from the early days of ISW?

    I have so many pleasant memories with ISW! I used to teach at Worcester Public Schools, and to celebrate Diwali, they used to let us use the kitchen and hall free of charge for around five years. After that, they would not let us use their space due to insurance reasons. So we used a big hall on Southbridge Street, provided by the City of Worcester, to do monthly bhajans. These events were always so much fun. One of the most notable events I remember was back in 1982/1983 when we applied for official recognition for being a community group and then became officially registered in Boston. It was a very proud moment for us. And of course, it was such an important event when we first got permission from Shrewsbury to build a community center in 1991.

    What about ISW has changed over the years?

    A lot has changed. I would say that the biggest difference is that ISW is now much more widespread. As far as I know, we are not only the largest Indian organization in New England, but we are also the only Indian community group that owns their own property. I think this is very creditable for us. ISW is also involved in many more aspects of the community. In the early days, we primarily met up for monthly bhajans and Diwali events. Now we have expanded to being a language school, and a center for both youth and seniors. A lot more people and groups have now joined us over the years, from young couples becoming a part of ISW for language school for their children, to those children becoming a part of IYG, and so on.

    Do you have any message to give to the new up and coming generation, like IYG members or new volunteers?

    I want to say that I am very proud of ISW and all the new people who are taking interest in ISW. I love seeing young people getting involved with community events. I hope that 50 years from now, the same kids who are attending ISW school or are members of IYG will be watching over their children and grandchildren involved with the same but everchanging ISW.

  • 23 Aug 2020 3:26 PM | Anonymous

    By Nivedita Hegdekar, Intern @STEMPeers
    Freelance writer for American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology

    With the proliferation of courses available online and the current Covid restrictions making even more content available virtually, this is a great time to refresh your resume and add some pizzazz with appropriate certifications, courses and online credentials. Check out this article for some ideas on online offerings and tips on how best to manage your time while juggling your job responsibilities.

    Certificate programs usually focus on teaching specific and transferable skills related to your chosen field of interest. Many of these are self-paced and generally take a few months to a year to complete. Some useful certifications include 

    Besides, CourseraUdemy, LinkedIn Learning, and many others offer hundreds of certifications. Also, check out your professional association websites to see if they are offering any low-cost certification and webinar programs during the ongoing pandemic.

    Juggling online learning with ongoing responsibilities requires judicious planning and time commitment. If you are pursuing online learning for the first time, here are some useful tips:

    1. Create a setup conducive for studying: Set up a dedicated space in your home that’s comfortable and away from distractions and develop a routine that will help with your online learning. It is worth investing in a decent set of headphones to block out noise or participate in online group discussions. Also, remember to keep water and snacks nearby and take adequate breaks.   
    2. Set personal goals and dedicated routine:  If you are pursuing an online course with deadlines, set reasonable goals to keep yourself motivated. Set a goal or benchmark for your online learning and develop a plan to work toward that benchmark. 
    3. Keep trying! You must give yourself time to learn, grow, and permission to stumble. You may need a few attempts to master the online learning format or adhering to a schedule while being at home. If you ever feel unmotivated or overwhelmed, remember to tell yourself why you chose to pursue this course. Give yourself the freedom to experience a few bumps along the way but stay positive and adjust to get back on track.
    4. Make use of available resources: Many online courses are designed with a schedule in mind. They also come equipped with IT support, supplemental learning courses, discussion forums, and FAQs, to name a few.  You should reach out to your instructors or the online discussion forums if you have questions regarding your course material assignment. Remember, these online resources have been designed to help you and provide a friendly (and fun!) learning experience! 
  • 23 Aug 2020 1:34 PM | Anonymous

    By Pravin Trivedi

    “What do you want?” she barked over the din of the store, the announcements on the P.A. and a long line of shoppers waiting their turn.

    “Excuse me please, may I borrow this shopping cart?” said the little voice.

    She had trouble understanding him, and even more trouble understanding the request. She picked up the microphone by the cash register, pushed the button and in a shrill cracked voice said, “Store manager to register 3, emergency…”

    Now it was the turn for the shopper to look alarmed. He stuttered, “S.S.Sorry to give you so much trouble. We’ll manage somehow.  Thank you”, and tried to move the cart out of the way so that she could attend to the next shopper.

    Thinking she was about to lose the cart, she said, “No, wait here for a while.” Then to the assistant shelf stocker in a low voice, “Don’t let them out of your sight. Keep them near here until the manager arrives”

    So, they all waited, caricatures in a still life until the manager made an appearance. The customer was uncomfortable and wondered how long it would be. His clothes clearly were not local American. And he had a funny accent. British, mixed with another foreign one that she could not figure out. With him was a woman, maybe his wife, very pretty, carrying an infant maybe a few months old. The couple started talking in a hurried voice, in a tongue unheard of in Agawam, Massachusetts.

    She was urging him “to just get out of here and we’ll manage somehow”. He thought differently and was on the verge of arguing with her. The child was playful, wanted to get out of her hold, run around the store, and pick at items that looked bright, flashy, and colorful.

    The cashier finished with the next customer and the next… as they managed to squeeze past the waiting trio in the narrow exit aisle of Shop Well giving curious and rude glances.

    “Where the ** is the manager?” she muttered as she paged him again.

    “What seems to be the trouble?” said the manager as he came bustling down from the other side, obviously irate at having been disturbed from whatever he was doing. The cashier just glanced meaningfully in the direction of the strangers and barked at him “What took you so long?”

    “Can I help you?” he said rather too courteously but stiffly to the brown couple, who by now were ready for the earth to give way and be swallowed, if that could be arranged.

    “I was asking the kind young lady at the cash register if we may borrow the shopping cart for about half an hour,” stammered the young man. The manager looked them over once and tried to figure out what he had heard and what to make of the request.

    “You what??” his voice trailed off.

    “I am sorry, please forgive us. We need nothing. We will take care of our groceries. Thank you.”

    “You ain’t going nowhere,” he said, “wait here.” He rushed into his office, obviously to get reinforcements.

    The wife now was even more scared and pleadingly looked at her husband. In a low foreign voice she seemed to be asking him if they could just go home. Her husband had a vacant and worried look about him. The store manager returned with a security guard. The couple got even more alarmed when they saw an ordinary store guard carrying what looked like a gun on his belt, with his hand on it.

    Dismay turned to fear in the couple’s eyes. The little boy was squirming even more. His mother’s embrace around him tightened, and you could see the veins harden on her slim hands and face.

    “Come with me,” the manager said. He wanted to move the couple elsewhere, since a small crowd was beginning to gather. “Come to my office.”

    Thinking everything was now up to the divine and the store’s authority, the couple followed the manager with cart and baby in tow into the cramped office.

    “You want what?” another bark.

    “Excuse me sir, but I was asking the young…”

    His voice trailed off as the manger interrupted, “Yes, yes, I know what you asked her… I want to know why you want to take our cart.”

    “Sorry sir, I do not want to take your cart… what I mean is may I please borrow it for half an hour?”

    The guard was now even more curious. “What for?”

    “Just to take the groceries home.”

    “And where would that be?”

    “We live at the Manor Hall apartments.”

    “Can’t you take the groceries in your car?”

    “We don’t have a car, and that is why…” another sentence trailed off.

    “What? You don’t have a car?” The guard and the manager exchanged meaningful glances. “How did you get here?”

    “We walked”

    Another exchange of meaningful glances, with the guard patting his revolver and a smirk growing on his face. The apartments were about two miles away. They walked that.. hmmm …  right.

    The manager thought he could extend this game a bit. “Do you have a credit card you can leave with me?”

    “No sir, I do not have a credit card, but I can leave my wife and son at the store until I return it.”

    “No, no, I don’t want that. Just wait”

    Again the manager disappeared with the guard in is his office leaving the couple and the playful child who was still wriggling to get out of the iron embrace

    They saw him make a phone call in the inner office and come out in a little while.

    “Your story checks out. I called the super at the apartment and he vouches for you. Now tell me why you want the cart? Most people just take them and never return them?”

    “We just arrived and this is our first shopping trip. We do not have a car and we were hoping you would let us take your cart. We would push our groceries home. I will return the cart as soon as we unload the groceries”

    The wife was nearly in tears. The looks on the manager and the guard’s faces was that of softening incongruence. He finally said, ”No one has ever requested this before. I am sorry to give you such a hassle. Take the cart. You don’t have to return it tonight. It will take you too long to walk all those miles. Bring it back when you can.”

    “Thank you, we are ever so grateful. I will bring it back,” the man said, now fighting back some tears in his eyes.

    They all watched the couple navigate the child and the cart out of the store to start the slow climb up the hill towards their apartment.

    The guard coughed to clear his throat, and shouted, “Welcome to America.”

  • 22 Aug 2020 3:01 PM | Anonymous

    Congratulations to the 2020 Award Recipients!

    Academic Excellence

    Danush Chelladurai

    Divya Raghunathan 

    Accomplishment in Community Service

    Yashvardhan Chauhan

    Tanvi Manjrekar

    ISW would like to acknowledge the following sponsors for 2020:

    • Dr. & Mrs. Sahdev & Carolyn Passey
    • Mr. & Mrs. Raj & Shiamin Melville
    • Mr. & Mrs. Shaikh & Lucky Hoque
    • Mr. & Mrs. Rajiv & Preeti Dayal
    • Mr. & Mrs. Shri & Renuka Garg
    • Mr. & Mrs. Subramaniam Aiylam & Rashmi Pitre
    • Mr. Balki Chandrakasan & Mrs. Kavitha Balakrishnan

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