“I was born with nothing; I was educated by the people of that village, and this is what I owe to them,” said neurosurgeon Dr. Kumar Bahuleyan, 81, about his donations to Chemmanakary, Kerala, the village where he was born. (“Buffalo neurosurgeon donates $20 million to his native Indian village,”The Buffalo News)
“As an ‘untouchable,’ Bahuleyan had to take a roundabout route to school because he wasn’t allowed to pass within a few hundred yards of the Hindu temple, even though he was born a Hindu.” In the 1930s he watched younger siblings die from waterborne disease and suffered from typhoid and smallpox himself.
After reaching the top level of a “lower-caste” school by age 12 or 13, a chance encounter between his father and a headmaster led to his education at an English-language school. After high school he attended medical college in Madras and neurosurgical training in Edinburgh, Scotland. Unable to land a job in his specialty at home, he went to North America and eventually ended up practicing in Buffalo, where he also earned a reputation as a shrewd investor.
His contributions to his birthplace began in a major way in 1989 when his charitable foundation built a small clinic, latrines, roads and a water supply for the villagers, and later on a hospital. In 2004 the foundation opened a spa health resort to help fund his charitable efforts. What’s next? The doctor told NPR that he plans to remedy the village’s landlocked state by building a bridge across the river.
Solo artist and founder of Carnatic jazz ensemble VidyA, Prasant Radhakrishnan invites you to a concert in Milpitas, California, on August 5, benefiting the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society and marking the release of his third Carnatic saxophone album, “East Facing.” (Buy tickets here or here. To hear the album, visit his music page and launch player.) The album’s title references the “tradition that the student must face East when bowing to receive the guru’s blessings with the intention of growing and moving forward.” Radhakrishnan’s musical guru is Padmashri Kadri Gopalnath (“Saxophone Chakravarthy”), “the man who almost single-handedly made the Indian saxophone respectable.” (India Currents.)
“I wanted to do something that was relevant locally but still had a universal message beyond something as simple as ‘a CD has been released,'” says Radhakrishnan. “LLS is a nonprofit that is dealing with a very relevant issue today, especially with the Indian community (see helpvinay.org and helpvinayandsameer.org). I have done many benefit concerts for things like AID and Asha, but had not done something so close to the community and also related to health. Reading about these issues, I really wanted to do something to get involved, however small.” Read the rest of this entry »
Megan Jacob didn’t make it.
Varun Bhaskaran didn’t make it.
Nirali Naik didn’t make it.
Neither did countless others.
In 2004, we first wrote about the lack of South Asian bone marrow donors, and we’ve continued to bring you updates and impassioned pleas. Today Vinay Chakravarthy and Sameer Bhatia are just two more South Asians who need our help. But there are dozens others out there, and they can all benefit from an increased number of South Asians on the National Marrow Donor Program registry.
If you haven’t already been registered, please do so. The easiest way is to attend a drive in your area. For a complete list of upcoming drives, visit the South Asian Marrow Association of Recruiters Web site. There are also drives listed on Vinay’s site.
If you can’t get to a drive in your area, request a donor kit from the NMDP. Don’t delay—you could help save a life.
The Daily Desi suggests that we run out to see Thukral & Tagra’s exhibit “Put It On” at Bose Pascia in Chelsea, Manhattan, while it’s still hot. Hosting the show until June 9, and established in 1994, the gallery was the first in the West to specialize in and promote contemporary and avant-garde art from South Asia.
New Delhi-based Jiten Thukral and Sumir Tagra work collaboratively in a wide variety of media including painting, sculpture, installation, video, graphic and product design, websites, music and fashion.
In their latest exhibition, “Put It On,” they channel their collaborative artistry into “arriving at a range of probable solutions for HIV awareness and vigilance through the visual arts.” The resulting works include stylistic and creative placement of pictures of proper condom usage throughout large-scale canvas paintings and mixed-media installations with custom-designed underwear and flip-flops.
Photos of Thukral & Tagra’s Everyday BoseDK exhibit in New Delhi last month; BoseDK Designs, T&T’s consortium of graphic designers, illustrators, film-makers and design-inclined writers. With e-zines.
If you think the term “reverse bird” has something to do with Thanksgiving, you’re going to want to keep reading.
With his debut fitness DVD Bhangra Beats, dancer and seasoned choreographer Jay Patel hopes to get you off the couch, and onto the (living room) floor. Moves like the reverse bird, the shoulder twist and (my personal fave) the pump, mimic the stuff of bhangra music videos and, Patel promises, will make for one helluva workout.
Patel, a University of Pennsylvania grad, used to head up the successful dance group Dhamaka while on campus (American Public Media recently featured the troupe here). Since graduating, he has joined the DC-based desi dance school and performance company Dhoonya.
“I started teaching these bhangra workout classes and they really took off. People loved it,” Patel tells Nirali. “The classes were very diverse, men, women, different ethnicities and races. That’s when I started thinking ‘there’s potential in this’.”
“I wanted to give people a fun way to exercise and feel good about themselves.” Read the rest of this entry »
Shilpa Shetty is front-page news again, this time for being on the receiving end of some serious lovin’.
Shetty joined Richard Gere at Seena Taan Ke yesterday, an AIDS awareness event in Delhi. The stars, speaking to members of India’s truckdriver community, dispelled the myth that HIV can be transmitted through the act of kissing. Gere, who looked “dizzy” according to some reports, made his point by, er, smothering the Celebrity Big Brother star.
Shetty was visibly uncomfortable and told the audience so (“Yeh thoda zyaada ho gaya,” she said: “This was a bit much”).
Watch the video here.
In partnership with the South Asian Heart Center at El Camino Hospital, award-winning Palo Alto restaurant Junnoon launched a HEARTier choices prix fixe menu earlier this year, featuring “flavor rich, cardio-protective recipes that are low in saturated fat, low in simple carbohydrates and high in fiber content.”
Ashish Mathur, executive director of the Mountain View, California-based heart center—the first nonprofit, community-supported center in the world devoted to the prevention of coronary artery disease in people of South Asian descent—says that heart-healthy meals low in cholesterol and fat are especially important for people from the Indian subcontinent, who are four times more likely to have a heart attack than the general population (Palo Alto Daily News).
Noted by Esquire magazine as one of the “20 most exciting places to dine” nationwide in 2006, Junnoon is Harvard MBA Sabena Puri‘s first restaurant venture. Its culinary team includes Floyd Cardoz (of New York’s Tabla) as consulting chef.
Diners won’t have to put up with bland or boring food on the special menu, which includes a pomegranate, peanut and fresh sprout salad. “It’s not diet food,” explains Puri. “Our food gets its appeal from the use of varied spices to enhance flavors as opposed to adding oils and fats.” (Daily News). Puri, having family members who died from heart disease at a relatively early age, was eager to do what she could “to help the South Asian Heart Center in its mission to stem the epidemic.” (Siliconeer).
But not SO busy that he can’t also be on faculty at Harvard Medical School, contribute regularly to the New Yorker, be awarded the MacArthur “genius” grant, be a dad, husband, and National Book Award-finalist author.
The New York Times featured Gawande yesterday, giving us insight into the 41-year-old’s upbringing (his parents are both doctors; he was raised in Athens, Ohio) and musical taste (he listens to The Killers in the OR. We forgive him). “This idea that a bright Indian kid is supposed to be a doctor — I resisted that,” he says. “I wanted to be a rock star. I played guitar and wrote songs and even had a couple of club shows. I was just terrible.”
Go here to read the full feature.
It’s a story about brutality, humiliation and the horrors of domestic violence.
Aishwarya Rai, Nandita Das and Naveen Andrews star in the much-anticipated film Provoked, due to be released worldwide this Easter weekend. Directed by Jagmohan Mundhra, the movie is based on the life of Kiranjit Ahluwalia, a woman who, after being abused physically and sexually by her husband for 10 years, murdered him in their Southall London home in 1989.
Ahulwalia was sentenced to life in prison—a conviction she would later appeal with the help of the Southall Black Sisters (SBS), a non-profit that helps women who are victims of gender violence.
“SBS has shown Asian women the road to independence and self-confidence,” Ahulwalia has said, “What they did for me could have been done by no-one else.They have brought light into my darkness.”
According to India’s National Crime Records Bureau, a crime is carried out against women in India once every three minutes. More locally, a recent study suggests an astounding 40 percent of the South Asian women living in the Boston metropolitan area have been victims of “intimate partner violence” at one point or another.
Look for a longer story on the film in an upcoming issue of Nirali.
The University of Kentucky-grad spent the week in India, meeting some of Mumbai’s sex workers on Monday. “The empowerment of girls and women is an essential tool to preventing the HIV/AIDS emergency from exploding any further,” said the actress, adding “There is a common problem worldwide and there is also a common solution.”
Judd, a YouthAIDS Global Ambassador, was visiting the country as a Population Services International board member and representative.”What makes Ashley’s trip to India so special is not only the fact that she cares so deeply for the AIDS cause,” Bollywood actress Sushmita Sen told reporters. “It is also because she is coming all the way to our country to raise funds for this cause.”
Almost six million people in India are currently living with the HIV virus.
Population Services International: India
Ashley Judd’s travel journal from 2005 humanitarian trip to Africa
Richard Gere meets with Indian sex workers
Oxfam goes glam
Ralph Fiennes visits India to raise AIDS awareness