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  • 4 Oct 2020 3:24 PM | Anonymous

    By Priya Vaidya

    "Do what you love and love what you do!" -- The best quote, yet so fleeting and it cannot be a reality for all. Many of us are not lucky to have the kind of career that encapsulates our passions, life purpose, personal essence, and technical skill all in one sweet package—allowing us to exercise them simultaneously in one forty hour work week while making a living and quenching passion’s thirst. 

    I happen to be an engineer by profession, which is very enriching and satisfying, yet, when I’m doing my office work, my body still aches for creativity. The itch to create something fascinating "for myself" does not go away. The artist in me never sleeps and is waking me up at odd hours to create something wonderful. Together with the aspiration to make a difference in the world, these are both fundamental desires within me that are critical for making me feel complete and whole.

    It took years of introspection and self-discovery before I realized what I needed to do to provide the "oxygen" for my personal satisfaction and happiness. It was only then that I realized I had to dedicate time outside my day job to channel these desires in a way that I had not done before. My creativity was my need. Eventually, I was able to find that balance. It not only fueled my creative thirst but also ended up helping the community and non-profits through my creative outputs, which was the most desirable outcome.

    I thought I would share some of my tips with you to help you find your own passion, to ignite it and keep it burning. You will find the warmth to be satisfying to you and it will spread to your family, friends and community. Keeping yourself positive, engaged and happy is of utmost importance especially during the current unprecedented COVID19 times.

    1. Think and Act

    Reflect on the things that have been part of your essence, your being, your truth since you were a kid. Is it playing an instrument? Travelling? Hiking? Dancing? Playing soccer? Yoga? Creative writing? Find groups, guilds, reach out to like-minded people. Take a short evening class. Check out library offerings, online groups, and social media forums. Perhaps there are variations of these activities or hobbies that may better apply to you now that you are a working adult. Give yourself the time, reflect and then act on it.

    2. Be True to Yourself

    Sometimes we do certain things because we think we should do them. Maybe someone told us to do them, our parents forced us or just because they are trendy as our friends are doing them. Ignore all that noise. Listen for the inner voice nudging you in a certain direction instead of focusing on what you think you should be doing. It is okay to do things that are outside your box or other peoples’ boxes. It is okay to try something wacky or weird or offbeat because it piques your interest. Remember: Self-actualization doesn’t come from people-pleasing; it comes from being you, which sometimes requires finding you first. Another aspect is not to stop if others don't appreciate it. Remember you are doing this for yourself not for others. Become your own judge and keep pushing yourself.

    3. Time-management

    This is by far the most essential skill to have. Once you start with the creative process, time will seem to fly. Always keep your priorities in balance. In your mind jot down a list of your priorities in whatever order works for you. For example, your kids, your husband, parents, job, friends, passion, social events and so on. Never mess up on your priorities while pursuing your passion. Remember you want to stay happy! 

    4. Allow Passion to work for you

    You may have a dormant desire of publishing a book, acting in a stage show, being part of the singing crew, or sculpting a mural for a museum. Whatever the end goal, keep an eye out for opportunity. Take some calculated risks. Believe me, it is possible, and a sustained effort will get you there. Your passion will carve out a way. Share ideas within your social circle. Eventually something somewhere will click.

    5. Give it time to grow

    Don't beat yourself up. If you nurture passion, it will grow; if you wait for it, it will eventually speak up. Keep a few things on the back burner for a few days, and they may call you back on their own. Patience is key, and creative spurts come and go, wait for the right one.

    In closing, for many of us—especially those with a lot of creative drive—balancing our career and pursuing our dreams are critical to leading a full, enriched life. Good luck and hope all of you have an enriching experience with your passion, like I have!

    About the Author:

    Priya Vaidya is an accomplished engineer who has pursued her passion of writing, with three published books as well as painting, baking and many other pursuits.

  • 4 Oct 2020 3:20 PM | Anonymous

    By Pravin Trivedi

    She loved to be told stories, especially at bedtime. Her favorites stories were the ones in which she was the star. The story did not have to be anything special except that she had to be in it.

    “Once a time,” he started to make up a story for her one day.

    “NO, no, no,” she said, “you have to start the story the right way.”

    “And so how should it start?” Dad acted as if he had forgotten.

    “’Once UPON a time’, that is how you begin a story,” she reminded him.

    “Oh, I  see. Well here goes. Once upon a time,” he tried to restart.

    DING DONG was the noise outside.

    “The ice cream van is here”, she said and was out of the room in a jiffy.  

    The ice cream guy knew where the kids lived as he slowly made his way down the street.

    “Mom can I have a quarter please?” the little girl asked her mother.

    “No, I don’t have one,” said her mother.

    “I have one,” said Dada, her grandfather, who was standing by. She ran to him and he held a quarter in his hand. She jumped, grabbed the quarter, and ran to the cart still four houses away.

    “You spoil them. Ice cream is not good for them,” she said.

    “It is only once in a while,” said the grandfather, “besides there is nothing else I give them.”

    ‘Why is your mom so worried. It is only a quarter and it is so hot today,” the other children muttered.

    The ding dong cart came around the corner and down the street, making a beeline to the siblings who had run out on the hot street without their shoes.

    “Would you like sprinkles with that?” he said.

    “Sure,” she said without thinking.

    “That will be an extra nickel,” said the ice cream man holding on to her ice cream cone. She had forgotten about that extra bit and she did not want to ask mom. However, as she turned around dejected, she saw grandpa behind her.

    He had his hands in his pocket and pulled out a bunch of change.  She took a nickel and ran to get her ice cream.

    What would little girls do without grandpas?

    And that is how the summer went.
  • 4 Oct 2020 3:02 PM | Anonymous

    Partner Profile

    With this issue we introduce a new section profiling partner organizations that have worked closely with ISW. Contact newsletter@iswonline.org to add your organization's profile.

    A conversation with Indian Circle of Caring Director and former ISW Board of Trustees Chair, Hemant Shah

    ISW and the Indian Circle for Caring (ICC) have had a long relationship together. Many of ISW members have turned to ICC during times of crisis or bereavement for support and services. Founded by Girish Mehta in 2007, ICC is a volunteer non-profit organization focused on providing urgent or emergency guidance and support for our fellow community members and their families as they may encounter unplanned and unexpected events such as serious sickness, hospitalization, accidents, family crisis, and death / bereavement of a loved one.

    ISW and ICC have had a long mutually beneficial relationship. Its strong collaboration with ISW and its Crisis Committee has made a huge difference to our community members where both organizations have stepped up to selflessly serve our community. Recently ISW lost one of its stalwart volunteers, Dr. Mandalaywala (known to ISW friends and colleagues as Dr. Lal).  His son Amol shared his thoughts about ICC’s support during this time.

    “Earlier this year, I received a recommendation to contact Mr. Girish Mehta when my beloved father, Dr. Mandalaywala, passed away. Mr. Mehta was compassionate and helped in making arrangements from the funeral to the requisite rituals in the challenging times of the pandemic. Our family is extremely appreciative for his help.”

    We spoke with Hemant Shah, former Chairman of the ISW Board of Trustees and Director at ICC about their work.

    While many ISW members might have heard of ICC at a time of extreme stress, what are some of the other services that ICC provides?

    Today ICC offers several services in 14 states that can briefly be described in three areas:

    • Emergency Support Services to individuals and families
    • Educate and empower individuals and families to be prepared for eventualities
    • Lifestyle Management – a Transformative new initiative to mitigate high risk of heart disease and diabetes for South Asians from Indian subcontinent. We have two free webinars about this specific area coming up in October.
    To clarify to our members, is there a fee for these services and how can one request help?

    ICC services are free for all community members. You can request help on the ICC home page via an online form, or you can call the ICC voice mail: 641-715-3900, ext. 87891. The voicemail is immediately channeled to appropriate members of the ICC team to address the issue.  Communications are monitored during “waking hours” and our aim is to respond as soon as practical.

    What are some of the programs under these umbrellas?

    In addition to helping families during their time of need during an unexpected crisis or situation, ICC embarked on programs that educate and empower community members. One of those programs is preparation of “Health Care Proxy and Living Will” through the FIVE WISHES® document. You can download a read only version of the document from our website at http://ouricc.org/health-proxy-living-will/ It is available in English, Gujarati, Hindi, Bengali and Urdu.

    Other educational programs include:

    • Retirement Planning: A new initiative to broaden the awareness and provide meaningful resources for preparation before and while retired.
    • Planning and preparing children or adults with special needs in the family:  We offer workshops to help families plan for how to manage the special needs of their child
    • Arthritis Exercise Program and Arthritis Educational Seminar:  A twelve-week, 24 session Arthritis Exercise program for improving quality of life despite this chronic illness.
    • Community Initiative for TB Education (CITE):  To increase awareness and educate our community about risks of TB while we live in the United States.

    Tell us about the latest initiative that you have launched?

    ICC has embarked on a transformative new initiative to mitigate high risk of heart disease and diabetes for South Asians from Indian subcontinent. Did you know? Indians make up less than 20% of the world population but make up 60% of the people suffering from heart disease worldwide. This is independent of where they live in the world. Similarly, Indians make up a far larger share (over 25%) of the people in the world that are afflicted with diabetes. What’s worse is South Asians have heart attacks at much younger ages, despite being mostly vegetarian, nonsmoking and non-obese.

    As part of the Lifestyle program, you can register for two FREE webinars in October on the ICC website.

    • Introduction to Meditation, Sunday, on October 11, 2020 at 10:00 AM EDT. Dr. Bindu Vyas, Director Indian Circle for Caring USA Inc. (ICC) will discuss the science of meditation and how you can use your mind and body as a healing mechanism together with some basic meditation techniques.
    • Heart Disease in South Asians: A cause for alarm and call to action on Saturday, October 17, 2020, 10:00 to 11:30 AM EDT. Dr. Harshad Sanghvi, MD. FACC and Medical Director, Lifestyle Program, ICC will discuss the scope and impact of heart disease; review the traditional and emerging risk factors in South Asians leading to the emerging epidemic of heart disease in South Asians and show how to crack the Indian Paradox and plan an effective preventive strategy

    That’s a wide range of programs and offerings. How does ICC manage these efforts?

    ICC offers these services through a network of over 200 volunteers who serve clients directly, with a few that help run the organization administratively. It has over 8000 members supporting all the ICC activities and programs as well as helping to spread the word about ICC to friends, family, and others who may need assistance. ICC also partners with organizations like ISW focused on social, religious/spiritual, professional, services and media/entertainment) as well as other state, local, and private support organizations. While ICC covers most of New England, Sewa International has replicated the ICC model with our support to 12 additional cities across the US.

    ICC has been recognized for its work by the India New England Choice Award for Best Non-Profit Organization in 2019. It also was one of 130 local nonprofits chosen from among 738 applicants to receive $100K over 4 years through Cummings Foundation’s Grant Program in May 2020.

    ISW and ICC have had a long mutually beneficial relationship. Our strong collaboration with ISW and its Crisis Committee has made a huge difference to our community members where both organizations have stepped up to selflessly serve our community. ICC is also grateful to have Mr. Yogesh Parikh, ex-ISW President and Hemant Shah, ex-Chairman of the BOT, as Directors of ICC bringing the ISW connection, experience and community needs to ICC’s planning and execution processes. We look forward to providing our services to the ISW community in the future. For more information, to request help or to join as a member of volunteer, check our website at www.ouricc.org

  • 19 Sep 2020 3:10 PM | Anonymous

    Regardless of which candidate or party you support, voting is a civic responsibility that was hard fought over the years. Today, as US citizens, all eligible voters have the right to vote regardless of race, gender or ethnicity. That wasn’t always the case. Keep these important dates in mind.

    Register to vote by October 24th, if you haven’t already done so. You can do it online, in person or by mail, if postmarked by Oct 24th.
    Election Day is Tuesday, Nov 3rd!
    In addition to in person voting on Election Day, This year you have two additional options

    • You can request a ballot by mail by Oct 28th and mail your vote no later than Nov 3rd.
    • You can avoid the rush and Vote Early in person from Oct 17th to Oct 30th.

    More info at: https://www.sec.state.ma.us/ele/eleidx.htm

  • 19 Sep 2020 3:05 PM | Anonymous

    By Venkat Kolluri

    A lot of us have resorted to working from home and taking calls from home. How do you prepare yourself and not make it a disaster? Here are some tips via an infographic.

  • 19 Sep 2020 2:42 PM | Anonymous

    By Ria Seth, Grade 4

    Covid-19 is a scary time. Schools and stores are shutting down. This is bad for everyone. Almost 200,000 people died in America because of this virus. People say it was China's fault, but it isn't; it's our fault, we made it happen. We always eat meat and there are viruses in it. It started with pigs, then cows and every other meat until a bat from china. The first death happened in Massachusetts by an 87-year-old man. This virus is hard to beat but some people are taking it seriously while other people are going to parties and bars. This is why Covid is still here. Covid is going out for kids and elderly.

    Schools are online or they’re going face to face. (Mostly private schools are going face to face or shutting down). My school is giving me an option for nine weeks. The options were face to face or online. Some people picked face to face or some people picked online. This pandemic is hard for parents, kids and grandparents.

    My personal story about this pandemic is that since I moved to Houston from Massachusetts, my friend and I talk and play Minecraft. We played in Massachusetts, and we still facetime and play. I'm lucky to have some assistance with girl talk. A lot of people are bored in this pandemic so you got to stay healthy and entertained. I hope everyone in the world is being safe and being healthy.

  • 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.

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