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  • 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

    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
  • 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.

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