A Taste of Home for California’s Punjabi Truck Drivers

A while ago, we ran a feature “Amid a record driver shortage, Indian-American Sikhs are taking to trucking”

With thousands of desi truck drivers taking to Californian roads, a few dhabas are now catering to this niche. A recent New York Times article features a family-run Punjabi Dhaba  operating out of a truck stop in Bakersfield, serving simple fare, like parathas stuffed with a mix of vegetables, to a growing population of Californian truckers with roots in Punjab.

Punjabi_Dhaba
from yelp.com

The NYT article “A Taste of Home for California’s Punjabi Truck Drivers” features

Next to a truck wash and a repair shop, Punjabi Dhaba is reminiscent of dhabas in India and Pakistan, the absolutely-no-frills roadside restaurants that cater to truckers and others passing through with cheap, hearty dishes of chole — chickpeas soaked in a gingery tomato sauce — and slick parathas.

Punjabi Dhaba caters to the growing community of Punjabi truckers with ample space to park semi trucks and a stack of free Punjabi Trucking magazines, filled with bilingual articles and ads. (A green-eyed cat comes around and naps on this occasionally.)

The kitchen is run by several fast-moving, masterly women who chat among themselves in Punjabi, as well as to their clientele, while handing out sweet, freshly boiled chai in Styrofoam cups.

Most of the dishes are vegetarian, but they’re still road-stop fare: thick and rich with sauces of reduced tomato and cream, and generously seasoned and spiced. The butter chicken packs heat and smoke — it’s made from the dark thigh meat and cooked in a clay tandoor. All of the food is ideal for drivers who might find themselves craving something familiar on the road, away from home for weeks at a time, moving freight up and down the highways.

Punjabi_DhabaNYT
CreditRozette Rago for The New York Times

A sampling of reviews of the Punjabi Dhaba

Tripadvisor review:  Tasty Indian food off I-5 on way to Vegas or Los Angeles Tasty Indian food on way to Los Angeles Vegas in Bakersfield. Ample seating with tables and chairs dhaba style. They did have heaters during winter. Fastest service and all are made to order food. Nice short ride off I-5 across farms to reach this place and its worth it for the food here. Person at the counter is great. Will return back.

Yelp review: “A true Punjabi Dhaba experience in the US. If you belong to Punjab and ever miss eating at the roadside restaurants on the highways while traveling from one place to the other then this is for you. This is also great for people who have never experienced eating roadside in northwestern parts of India but want to taste the true Punjabi fare.  We were driving from the Bay Area to LA. I had heard of this place and when I mapped it out, we figured we would be driving about 10-12 miles extra. I really didn’t want to stop at a chain restaurant to pick the usual food so we decided to just drive the distance. It was so worth it!

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Indo-American Fair – New Jersey 2019

The South Asian Fair ‘Indo American Fair’ is back in New Jersey again this year

IndoAmericanFair

The announcers said “It gives us immense pleasure to announce that we are organizing 14th Grand Indo-American Fair on September 2019 – the Biggest and the best festival at Mercer County Park, West Windsor, NJ.
Indo-American Fair is organized to spread and share the art, culture and heritage of India amongst our American friends and other local and regional communities in the State of New Jersey. Indo-American Fair provides an opportunity to all that wishes to participate and present their various talents in this vibrant country without any monetary consideration. In view of the many facets of the Fair and presentation of varied art and culture activities during the festival, the Fair has essentially prompted the responsiveness of the needs of local, regional, and other communities seeing the influx to the Fair from thousands of people every year. Hence Indo American Fair has established itself as the premier cultural event in NJ among the community over the years. ”

Check out their website for details http://www.indoamericanfair.com/index.htm

Hindu Temple opens in Chesapeake, Virginia, featuring a Silver Tula, Indian Bagpipers, and a Peace Parade

Hindu Temple opens in Chesapeake, Virginia, featuring a Silver Tula, Indian Bagpipers, and a Peace Parade

Shree Swaminarayan Mandir (Temple) – Chesapeake, Virginia, at 4210 Dock Landing Road, celebrated its grand opening with prayers, scripture recitals, cultural and devotional dance performances, and a peace procession through the streets of the City. Visitors from the entire county and indeed many from abroad gathered to witness the inauguration ceremony being performed by His Divine Holiness Acharya Shree Purushottampriyadasji Swamishree Maharaj, who is the spiritual leader of Maninagar Shree Swaminarayan Gadi Sansthan, a worldwide organization dedicated to the progression of spiritual, social and cultural values.With the opening of Chesapeake Temple, Acharya Swamishree Maharaj has established yet another chapter in the USA towards his mission to spread the message of peace, unity and tolerance towards all.

TempleVirginia

Dignitaries attending to the opening ceremony included Dr. Richard W. West, Mayor of Chesapeake City Council. Expressing his delight on meeting Acharya Swamishree Maharaj, Mayor West said, “I can sense the aura of peace when coming to this place and meeting Acharya Swamishree Maharaj. I realize that he is a very special individual and I welcome him and you all to Chesapeake. I have attended many ribbon cutting  ceremonies, but nothing is as humbling as the event that I have the honor of seeing today.” A cheque towards the Mayor’s special charity appeal, and another to the Chesapeake Fire and Police Departments was presented by Acharya Swamishree Maharaj. The three day event also included a Peace Procession, through the
streets of Chesapeake, featuring the Shree Muktajeevan Swamibapa Pipe Band, North America’s first and only Indian American bagpipe band.

A more detailed listing of Hindu temples can be found on GaramChai.com 

 

Casting Call – Indian Classical Dancer

Came to us via Shereen (Email: spinningthefilm@gmail.com)
CASTING CALL – INDIAN CLASSICAL DANCER  –  Production Title: Spinning
ANITA, lead role
  • Female
  • 17-28 years old
  • North American
  • South Asian descent
  • Must be trained in at least one of the following Indian classical dance styles: Bharatanatyam, Kathak, or Odissi
  • Contemporary, jazz, or ballet training is a plus

No acting experience necessary. Shortlisted candidates will be invited to audition.

 

This is a Toronto-based, independent, micro-budget, non-union project. Pay and dates TBD.

Interested parties, please send the following items to spinningthefilm@gmail.com with “DANCER ANITA” in the subject line —

  • a headshot or clear selfie
  • bio/resume detailing age, background, and dance/acting experience
  • a dance reel or performance video, if any
  • contact information

CASTING CALL

Harpreet Kaur: First Sikh Woman To Win EMMY Award!

In a proud moment for all the Sikhs present across the globe, well-known filmmaker Harpreet Kaur has recently bagged the EMMY award for producing stories for Maryland Farm & Harvest. Harpreet is a producer at Maryland Public Television, a member station of PBS, USA and the founder of Sach Productions.

The Emmy Award is the premier television production award presented in various sectors of the television industry, including entertainment programming, news and documentary shows, and sports programming. The awards are presented in various area-specific ceremonies held annually throughout the year, honoring excellence in television programming.

Meet Harpreet Kaur: First Sikh Woman To Win EMMY Award!

About Harpreet Kaur

A graduate from Pennsylvania State University, Harpreet was the first Sikh local news reporter in the Washington, D.C. before she turned filmmaker. For over a decade, Harpreet has directed documentaries shedding light on social issues.

Indians trolls discover that Boston Brahmins can be Black too!

A week ago, the famous Indian classical artist Sudha Rughanathan announced the wedding of her daughter Malavika, and the wedding invitation went viral on social media. The reason: the groom to be happens to be Black, an African American. Never mind the fact that Mr. Michael Murphy happens to be a well educated, Assistant Professor of Sociology at the University of Pittsburgh; a Boston Brahmin in his own right.

Ms. Sudha Raghunathan happens to be the latest victim of unsolicited public scrutiny and judgmental remarks and incessant trolling, hate tweets and racial taunts. What makes the trolling appalling is the fact that Ms Rughanathan is a well-respected classical musician who was conferred India’s highest honors –  Padma Shri in 2004 and Padma Bhushan. She has performed and collaborated with other artists all over the world, including performances at the United Nations, and the Théâtre de la Ville, Paris.

Image result for sudha raghunathan daughter malavika

Some comments have been especially personal and tangential. A few bigots and Hindu fundamentalists went as far as questioning “her decision” to allow her daughter to marry a Christian. Fundamentalists asked her to relinquish her rights to perform in Carnatic ‘sabhas,’ supposedly a privilege accorded to ‘Brahmins only.’

The comments posted against Ms Malavika proudly introduces her mother at a concert in the US “I cant see a carnati (sic) singers Daughter waring such bhikari dress”

The groom to be, Mr. Murphy seems to be acutely aware of racism, and Brahmanism as he writes in his blog

“There’s a long standing maxim in the African American community that if you want to succeed in this country, you’ll have to work twice as hard as anyone else. Everywhere that I turn I am accosted by images of greatness that continue to exclude the multitude of incredible human beings who happen to be marked by some—more often than not intersectional— difference.”

The trolling issue is sure to blow over soon and become a non-issue soon. As expected, the trolls were soon drowned out by an outpouring of support for Sudha Rughanathan and her family, and articles and columns in the media jumped in, calling for their privacy.

Bottomline: Incidents like this shows the deep-rooted sense of parochialism and bigotry that exists in modern Indian society. Relative anonymity accorded by tools of social media, including Facebook, Twitter and WhatsApp can enlighten the masses can also exacerbate and amplify such bigotry.

[Image and video posted from public sources]


Articles in the media:

Profiling Anuradha Bhagwati: First south Asian woman US Marine Corps Officer

At 24, Anuradha Bhagwati, become the first south Asian woman officer in the history of the US Marine Corps. At the time, the Yale graduate, daughter of eminent economists Jagdish Bhagwati and Padma Desai was proud to join the elite military force.

Image result for anuradha bhagwati marine

Bhagwati’s famous parents pushed her hard to be a good Indian girl and conform to the desi diaspora’s norms, but she rebelled.

Image result for anuradha bhagwati marine

Anuradha recounts in Unbecoming: A Memoir of Disobedience,

Yet once training begins, Anuradha’s G.I. Jane fantasy is punctured. As a bisexual woman of color in the military, she faces underestimation at every stage, confronting misogyny, racism, and astonishing injustice perpetrated by those in power. Pushing herself beyond her limits, she also wrestles with what exactly drove her to pursue such punishment in the first place.

Once her service concludes in 2004, Anuradha courageously vows to take to task the very leaders and traditions that cast such a dark cloud over her time in the Marines. Her efforts result in historic change, including the lifting of the ban on women from pursuing combat roles in the military.

Bhagwati’s book has also received rave reviews from critics:

“While reading a book to review, it’s usually useful to fold over a page’s corner to make it easy to come back, to reflect on each noteworthy passage…But then you find yourself folding down the next page, and another, and another, until more than half the book is folded down, rendering the tactic useless as a reference but testimony to the story’s potency.”
Los Angeles Times Book Review

“Bhagwati’s book stands out most as a chronicle of overcoming psychological trauma…The book is at its most powerful when she writes about who she became in response to the violence the military trained her to commit.”
New York Times Book Review

Image credits and more about Bhagwati on the website