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  • 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
  • 10 Aug 2020 6:53 PM | Anonymous

    By Ragini Seth and Hemant Gera

    Yoga is a group of physical, mental, and spiritual practices or disciplines which originated in ancient India. There is a broad variety of yoga schools, practices, and goals in Hinduism, Buddhism, and Jainism. The term "Yoga" in the Western world often denotes a modern form of hatha yoga and yoga as exercise, consisting largely of the postures or asanas. Outside India, it has developed into a posture-based physical fitness, stress-relief and relaxation technique. Yoga in Indian traditions, however, is more than physical exercise; it has a meditative and spiritual core.

    At ISW, we offer yoga sessions as an added benefit to our members. We have regular yoga sessions at our cultural school for the children which is taught by one of our members Alka Yadav.

    We started regular yoga sessions on Thursday evenings at 6pm with spring and fall season sessions. Our very first instructor was Bharati Bhakta. All of her classes were very well attended by men, women and some children.

    Later Latha Rao took over to teach Yoga in the same time slot. She now teaches a Free Chair Yoga session for senior citizens at 10 am Eastern Time. Parents can join from India too. To view https://us02web.zoom.us/j/85302845677?pwd=WFU0YXlTN2RTaERxaWllTnV5WklLUT09

    Hemant Gera, a very enthusiastic ISW volunteer and member offered to teach a daily early morning session. We were very excited to see his commitment and launched the classes every morning from 6:30 to 7:30 am. Several ISW members attended, many stopping on the way to work.

    During the current Covid distancing, the sessions were offered remotely and it helped increase the attendance as it was convenient to attend from home, avoided extra travel time and was not hindered by the weather. Folks interested in joining should contact Hemant via email.

    We asked Hemant where he learnt yoga. He told us that he is a disciple of Bharitya Yog Sansthan. Sansthan has taken Human service as its goal by setting up its first center in Delhi on 10th April 1967. Bhartiya Yog Sansthan firmly believes in India's cultural heritage and draws its inspiration from India’s greatest human ideal ‘Vasudhev Kutumbkam’ which means “The entire universe is my family” as well as ‘Serve Bhavantu Sukhinah’ which translates into "May all be happy; May all beings rejoice in Joy and Happiness".

    Hemant has been practicing Yoga for 10 Years and has benefited from it in many ways including cure of cold, cough, chronic backache, body elasticity, reduction of weight etc. By keeping us healthy to carry out our routine duties successfully in the world, Yoga helps us benefit from the full potential of our life. We can quickly develop a balanced muscular system, elasticity of the bones, and proper blood circulation in the body.

    Yoga can also set right the nervous system, the most important in our body, the digestive and respiratory system Yoga can vitalize such important organs of the body like the brain, heart and kidneys, without which life is impossible. Anyone can get these benefits by practicing Yoga regularly for 40 to 50 minutes a day.

    We have received many positive comments on Hemant’s commendable commitment to keeping all of us healthy. Here are some of the comments from members who do yoga with him every morning. If you want to join please contact Hemant. More info here

    I deeply appreciate your dedication & selfless service in teaching us every day, Hemant ji! Thank you very much. Online becoming very convenient as rain or shine, we can attend the class. Hoping more people can take advantage of this yoga classes

    I've been attending Hemantjis yoga class. Healthy and regular. Many people attend now that it's online. Definitely online saves time commuting and 6:30 is an easier time than 5;45 I started yoga sessions to improve my mental and physical wellbeing. The classes start with warming up all muscles and joints moving to stretches through different asana including surya namaskar, standing sitting lying down poses. I tend to hold my emotions in tightened muscles, so I feel release of blockages when I do yoga. The classes end with pranayama. Hemantji's dedication is evident in having classes every day and the instructions and modifications are the best. He also explains the effect of each pose who can do and who can't. This rejuvenates us.

    Namaste Hemantji I salute to your commitment for early morning classes. It is great service to community. Thanks

    Thanks for your commitment Hemantji ... This is the best way to start the day

    Thank you Hemant ji for your your selfless dedication to our health. In this capitalist world, It is almost impossible to find someone like you who gets up every morning at 6.30 am just to ensure  we all are healthy. You ask for no money, no fame just our commitment. Thank you so much for spreading your goodness

    Dear Hemantji,  thank you for your commitment towards teaching Yoga. I really appreciate your efforts . Online class is really convenient too . Thanks a lot

  • 10 Aug 2020 6:48 PM | Anonymous

    By Ragoo Raghunathan

    During your professional transition, you may find yourself finding new avenues. You may find yourself following a different path from what you were trained. It is OK to pursue such passions and make a career out of it. This issue we talk to Dr. Rajaneesh Gopinath about how he pursued his passion in writing and communication after a PhD and postdoctoral research in the field of molecular and cellular biology.

    Thanks for taking the time to share your experiences with our audience. Having had an extensive experience in research you seem to have taken a serious turn in your career path. When did you decide to venture into science communication?

    I always had a flair for writing in my formative years as a scientist but hadn’t explored it thoroughly. Back in 2018, while trying to transition out of a postdoc job and work within the limited networking options I had, I met the CEO of GeneOnline. At the time, the company had already built quite a reputation as a fast-growing biotech media in Asia. They were looking to expand into the global market using their new English platform and replicate an identical growth curve. Although I was more interested in business development and similar such client-facing positions, I decided to give science communication a go. So, I began freelancing as a scientific editor and helped them curate scientific content. That was when I realized I could excel at this job and have fun presenting readers with a unique perspective.

    How did you end up as a business development manager?

    I would say it was great timing because my plans almost aligned with the ambitions of the company. GeneOnline was waiting for an opportune moment to initiate operations in the US. So when I decided to move to the States, the company proposed a tempting offer where I could work at the intersection of scientific editorship and business development. I just grabbed it with both hands. There is a bit of serendipity in all this, but I would also attribute that to clear communication. I made my interests known to the company right from the start and even took initiatives whenever possible.

    What did you learn from this transition, and how do you define success?

    I am fortunate to assume a position of leadership in my current role. Just like a scientist, I acquired different skills through trial and error. I have learned a lot in the past year, but the biggest takeaway for me is the realization that “done is better than perfect.” Most researchers are natural perfectionists, but “success” is adhering to deadlines and keeping clients happy, and I am still striving to master it.

    How do you find gratification in your job?

    I have slowly started innovating with visual storytelling. I am trying my hand at infographics and small videos to communicate science visually. I have also transitioned into a senior editor role where I try to enhance the scientific content that my team of writers come up with and help it become the best version it can be. There is an immense gratification in mentorship and giving. I hope it takes me closer to leading a team of science communicators who cater to people speaking different Indian and foreign languages.

    What advice would you give to aspiring writers?

    Writing is very similar to some forms of art, which gets better with practice. So, I urge aspiring writers to hone their skills as early as they could. There are several courses available for writers today, but there is no substitute for learning-by-doing. It’s also essential to handle several writing projects at once and adapt to the demands of each within a strict timeline. Therefore, an internship or voluntary work is worth its weight in gold. In addition to validating the individual’s decision to switch to science writing, a short stint informs whether one is suited to the lifestyle.

    How do you look back on your transition journey?

    I am glad that I transitioned and wish it could have been sooner. My role allows me to brush shoulders with eminent professionals from both academia and the industry. If I have to give a piece of guidance to my younger self, it would be that academic research is not the be-all and end-all of science. A scientific ecosystem exists outside of the academe, and one can find nobility working for the biopharma industry, or regulatory agency, in science policy or even public outreach.

  • 10 Aug 2020 6:42 PM | Anonymous

    By Pravin Trivedi

    Children are not afraid to try anything, including communicating. They have no fear of rejection, being laughed at or misunderstood. Dada, on the other hand, was very concerned of making mistakes, perhaps more so since he was a teacher. He had hardly learned a dozen sentences in Arabic in the nine months he had been there. They were perfect in all grammatical sense. He had them written down, in Gujarati of course. Most of the time he preferred to communicate by pointing and showing.

    Ba talked in Gujarati to all the school workers, even to shopkeepers and occasionally picked up some Arabic words in her vocabulary. Overall, she was faster in her broken conversational Arabic than Dada. She had to deal with two servants, Hassa and Ahmed, and the school bus driver, Burai. It was hilarious to watch, but she did not mind our laughing or correcting her. The three locals had to figure out what she wanted from her actions, mixed words, and the tone of her voice. Communication theory was in full swing. As we learnt many years later, this one sentence may describe it well.

    I know that you believe you understand what I said but I am not sure that you realize that what you heard is not what I meant.

    We siblings were more adventurous. My eldest sister Manju was the most conservative. Kiran tried out anything without fear. I tried to get my point across with whatever it took - words in any language, actions, pictures. Wherever we went, apart from the few Indians who spoke Gujarati, we had to communicate in Arabic.

    In India we spoke Gujarati at home. Hindi was spoken in offices and most of the movies and songs were in Hindi. Sanskrit was heard all the time in the temples and at weddings. Coming to Mumbai gave us exposure to Marathi as well. Living in The Sudan however, meant at least a third major language had to be included in our repertoire.

    Early one morning, Dada was getting ready for the day. He had some hot water in his shaving mug, and soap and brush to lather for a leisurely shave before having his shower. We really did not have showers since the tap water was so uncomfortably hot. One of my few chores used to be to fill two buckets of water an hour before his shower to cool it down for his use.

    Getting ready to shave, Dada realized that his blade was quite dull. We had a small Yemeni shop (run by people from Yemen) next to the school. It was a structure made of clay bricks with a straw and mud roof. They sold anything and everything. The shop owner knew my father well and was hoping to meet the rest of the family after we had settled in. Dada asked Kiran if she would go to there and get him a blade. Ever ready to run errands, she asked Dada how she would ask in Arabic. “Adina Moos,” Dada said. Nothing could be simpler. “Give me a blade.”

    Seeing my sister go to the main door made me curious. I knew she would not want me to ruin her solo act. So I followed her slowly to the door, slipped outside and ran after and joined her. She was not too happy to share the task, but glad to have company in case things went wrong.

    We both stood politely near the store, in front of his counter dwarfed by all the big containers and bottles containing sweets and candy. We were not that visible to the Yemeni who was digging some peanuts out of a large sack.

    Adina Moos” she said softly. He did not turn around. We waited for a while and realized he may not have heard Kiran.

    Adina Moos” I shouted. That got his attention.

    He turned around and saw nobody. He thought the neighborhood kids might have shouted and run away.

    Adina Moos” I shouted again.

    Now he came forward and peered over his counter and saw two new kids that came only halfway up to him. He cleverly deduced that we must be the teacher’s family and offered some peanuts. We declined, having been taught not to accept anything from strangers.

    He wanted to understand what we wanted. “Naam?” he spoke. In Arabic, that meant “Excuse me?”. In Gujarati it meant “Name?”.

    Very politely I said “Pravin”.

    There is no ‘P’ sound in Arabic, so he said “Baramil?”

    We laughed at this, confusing him further. We did not know it then but baramil meant a barrel in Arabic.

    He tried again. “Naam?”. My sister decided to take over and said “Kiran”.

    Now he was thoroughly confused. We gave our names a couple of times and then decided that we were getting nowhere. Knowing that Dada was lathered and waiting, we decided to leave. He kept on throwing a barrage of words at us, but we beat a fast retreat and told Dada that we had failed.

    On our heels, the Yemeni followed us to our house and asked our father what he wanted. As soon as he saw Dada’s lathered face, he understood at once. Dada asked us to follow the Yemeni back to his shop for the blades then and said it was fine to take the peanuts from him and say “shukran” (or thanks).

    That is how we made a friend for as long as we lived there. And, though I was skinny I was always baramil to him.

  • 10 Aug 2020 6:37 PM | Anonymous

    By Pradnya Cowlagi 

    Raksha Bandhan is a tradition that has been practiced in India for hundreds of years. Traditionally, the sister ties a piece of string (Rakhi) onto her brother’s hand, saying that the brother will protect his sister forever. It also signifies the connection that they share as brother and sister. Even long ago, in the times of the Mughal empire, Rani Karnavati sent a rakhi to Mughal emperor Humayun, asking him to protect her fort while it was under siege. Rakhi is one of the oldest traditions there is!

    My brother and I were both born in America, though our parents were born and raised in India. Raksha Bandhan is a way for us to stay connected with our culture, even here in the US, so far away from India.

    In our home, we usually change a few things. For example, we both give gifts to each other instead of the traditional version where only the brother gives a gift. We also might make an American sweet for the occasion, instead of a more traditional Indian one.

    This year, my new baby cousin joined us. Though he probably didn’t have the faintest idea as to what was going on, he was interested throughout the whole process. You could see that already at such a young age, our culture was already being introduced, and he associated it with an interesting experience.

  • 25 Jul 2020 1:35 PM | Anonymous

    By Ragoo Raghunathan

    Smiti and Abhinit are new residents to Shrewsbury, MA. During these COVID times, they have focused their energy on creating an alternative channel of entertainment and communication for themselves and their family back in India. I caught up with them to get a glimpse into their journey:

    Q: I know you recently started up a YouTube channel called FunIndians, and you are having fun doing it. Over the past few months, you have gained over 300 subscribers. We think that there may be other people in the community who might want to do similar things during these COVID times. Would you mind sharing some of your thoughts and experiences with us?

    For people who don’t know you, please tell us who you are and a little about yourself, when did you come to Shrewsbury?

    I am Smiti Nagar. I married Abhinit in January 2019 and came to Albany, NY where my husband was a Ph.D. student. We moved to Shrewsbury in November 2019 when my husband got a post-doc offer at UMass Medical School. I’ve pursued an MBA (HR) in India and am currently on a F2 visa. As my visa’s restrictions prevent me from working in the US, I’m currently a homemaker.

    Q: When and how did you figure out you wanted to start a YouTube Channel? What message do you want to convey thru this effort?

    As I cannot work in the USA, I was planning to enroll in some diploma course. Unfortunately, due to Covid pandemic the whole country went on a lockdown and I postponed my study plans for one more year. During the initial period of lockdown, I realized that it was going to be a very depressing time for people like us who love to travel. I have an inclination for videography and as a result wherever we have travelled in the past year, I would shoot small clips. Also, I love cooking and would occasionally make videos of something new that I would try. The purpose of these videos was to send it back home so that my grandmom could try the same. When I was going through all these videos during lockdown, I decided to start a YouTube channel. I named it FunIndians as “Fun” is the common element in all my videos, whether it is about cooking, travel or anything else; and “Indians” obviously to denote our origin. Initially, I was posting our old videos which matched with my theme (Fun, Travel, Food) but now I have switched over to posting weekly vlogs. There is an interesting story behind this switchover, which I have described briefly below.

    One day my husband received his Ph.D. diploma and found out that it was all wet as the delivery guy left it outside on the porch (it rained all night). So, to cheer him up I decided to cook for him. As a habit, I recorded a video and later decided to post it on YouTube. Surprisingly, I got an overwhelming response for that video. From that day onwards, I decided to post-daily/weekly vlogs as people are interested to see the life here. I want my videos to be a window through which everyone can view how life in the US is different or similar to one in India. Also, through these videos I wish to convey the feelings of every Indian living in the US to their relatives back home.

    My goal is to spread happiness and to motivate people to show the world their creative side, their inner child and to ignore the surrounding negativity even during such a grim situation like this pandemic. My vlogs are mostly in Hindi, so that it can connect with most of the people back home.

    Q: What drives you to keep going and what is your long-term goal?

    I see my YouTube channel as a medium which teaches me some basics of videography and motivates me to expose myself to new software. In these three short months on YouTube, I’ve learnt so much. The happiness and satisfaction that I get from the love that my subscribers show me is another factor that keeps me motivated. At times I’ve got pings on our FB page (FunIndians) when I got delayed in posting my videos. My long-term goal is to create a few more channels where I can specify the contents (like cooking, art of homemaking, tips on getting on to YouTube etc.) It will be a long journey and I hope to reach there soon. Apart from all this, this channel provides me the platform to save our memories forever. So, twenty years from now, when we would like to cherish our memories, I know I’ve to just tune in to our YouTube channel and hit play on our playlist.

    Q: How do you define ‘success’?

    For me success is never ending. I feel success is when you achieve what you have aimed for whether it is small or big. With this channel, I’ve aimed to share the happiness with the world and connect with people back home. Once these goals are achieved, I would call it a “success” but that would give rise to another set of goals and hence would start another race for “success”.

    Q: What advice/tips would you give to an aspiring YouTube enthusiast?

    I would suggest that just keep things simple in your mind and do what your heart says. It is useless to worry about getting subscribers, rather focus on the quality of your content. Ignore any criticism you get and focus on people who are liking your vlogs. These are the people who are going to watch your videos, so focus on their likes and dislikes. Once you see yourself growing and maturing, you will be motivated to continue this forever.

    Q: Anything else you would like to add?

    Be happy and try to make others happy. I would like to end it in YouTube style, if people like you, they will definitely subscribe to your life and share it with others.

    Feel free to check out our vlogs at https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCtrlMXJ8Mt1Zdx2ncIWPjzg/


  • 24 Jul 2020 1:42 PM | Anonymous

    By Pravin Trivedi

    The bus was just resting, like many of its passengers. This station was a lunch break on the way to Amdavad. There was a small Hanuman Temple where the elder folks went to pray. Many monkeys, including a really naughty one, were hanging around for handouts, trying to get gifts from the believers and to play with the kids. Dev was, as usual, selling cookies and staying away from the policeman. Chachi, his cigarette and tea selling buddy was also selling his wares. He too was staying away from the policeman.

    Chachi was also playing with the cover of a biscuit box to reflect sunlight on anyone or anything interesting. The monkey liked to watch him do that as he liked shiny things.

    The policeman standing by was gently twirling his handcuffs. They too were shiny and also caught the monkey’s attention. Chachi shone the biscuit box cover on him and on the handcuffs alternately. Once he was sure the monkey was engaged, he speeded up the shining game driving the monkey wild. No one else was aware of what was transpiring.

    The policeman put down the handcuffs on the chair near the tea stall in order to get to the tobacco pouch in his shorts pocket. Very slowly the monkey came down the tree and approached the tea stall. Then, when he was close, in a flash, he darted at the table, grabbed the handcuffs and ran up the tree with his new toy. By the time the policeman realized what had just happened, the monkey was flashing his newly acquired toy from halfway up the tree. The policeman was beside himself. His immediate reaction was to reach for his revolver. He was about to pull it from the holster but slowed down. It would not be right to use a gun in such a public place.

    “And not against God in god’s house,” said the priest.

    He calmed down and patted the holster instead. “But I’ll be the laughing stock at the police station,” he painfully dragged the words out of his mouth.

    “May be the monkey will get tired of the new toy and throw it down soon,” said the priest, being hopeful and helpful.

    “He will throw it away and I’ll never find it, and it costs a hundred rupees,” cried the policemen. “That is almost a week’s salary,” he kept on lamenting.

    The priest took him by the hand and nudged him to the door of the temple, saying “May be there is a way to reason with the monkey”.

    Calming the policeman down was the first step. The policeman was always mean to the boys selling things at the bus stop. He expected free cookies from Ved and tea and cigarettes from Chachi. The policeman was always rough on Ved and Chachi. The kids were afraid of him but could not figure out what to do.

    Chachi said that with the priest’s help they had a plan. The priest got hold of Chachi and they went into the temple with the policeman. Chachi signaled to Ved and pulled him in too. A few minutes later they all came out and dispersed.

    Life went on as usual until next day when they all gathered at their respective stations. All seemed normal except the policeman had his handcuffs in his hands and seemed happy. He was buying cookies and cigarettes from the boys and paying them money. Everyone seemed content. Chachi and the monkey were making faces at each other. Even the monkey had a shiny cover of the cookie tin high up in the tree.

  • 11 Jul 2020 10:38 AM | Anonymous

    By Ria Deshpande

    Ragini Seth is an involved member of our community, and has played an incredibly active role in the India Society of Worcester for over twenty years now. Beyond ISW, she has always been actively involved in her local communities. Prior to ISW, Ragini founded and was the first president of the Golden Club, a cultural club for elderly South Asians that provided a venue for senior citizens to share their common issues and an outlet for fun activities. Ragini is also an enthusiastic member of the Northboro Junior Woman’s Club. She volunteered to be the Recording Secretary for NJWC for two years, was co-president and also was the Corresponding Secretary for the club. She is never shy about volunteering her services when the need arises. After September 11, 2001, Ragini co-founded the Indo-American Solidarity Foundation and was its President. The organization raised funds and held a vigil to show support for the victims. This same aspect of her character can be seen with all the work she has done for ISW. She is always ready to help in any capacity, whether it be initiating a new event idea or introducing new people to the ISW community. With her support, ISW’s Garba, Karvachowth, and Hindi Kavi Sammelan events have really thrived and become a great success. Through it all, she always brings her positive attitude to brighten all those around her.

    As she now moves onto the next chapter of her life in Texas, I had the opportunity to ask her a couple questions about her experience with ISW. Read her story below!

    How did you first get involved with ISW?

    I get involved with all organizations through Shiamin, my sister. Though I came here before, I used to commute to Boston so I didn’t get the chance to be involved with any community organizations until Shiamin introduced me to ISW in 1996.

    Throughout the years, what aspects of ISW were you involved with?

    When I first joined ISW, I joined the executive committee as a member at large for four years. After that, I was Vice President for four years, then Assistant Treasurer for four years, and then finally President for two years. I am now a member at large again. With this, I was also a Hindi language school teacher throughout the years. I first taught older kids, and now I teach elementary school kids.

    What will you miss most about ISW?

    I will really just miss being a part of ISW. I enjoy giving my time to the community and I have loved being part of this volunteer organization. One of my favorite memories has been going to all the sports games. We first went to a Red Sox game in 2008, and one of our community members had a chance to sing the National Anthem at Fenway - that was really exciting. A couple years later, we had the opportunity to have our dance team perform at a Red Sox game but unfortunately, the game was cancelled due to rain! I felt so bad that they could not perform after practicing for hours and hours, so I called the Celtics and asked if our dancers could open one of their games. They agreed, and since 2010, ISW has been attending and performing at TD Garden! I have had so many fun memories with ISW, and truly I’ll miss it all.

    (Photo credit: Ragoo Raghunathan)

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