Drive East 2017 — Indian Classical Dance & Music Festival in NYC — Aug 21-27

A gathering of Indian storytellers share perspectives through diverse forms of Indian Classical Dance and Music: 50+ artists from all over the world come together to New York City for Drive East 2017

DE_2017_logo_orange_bg1.png

August 8, 2017: New York, NY: This August will see its fifth Drive East festival in Manhattan, from August 21 – 27, 2017. Promising to have an even more impactful and immersive experience this year, Navatman sets off its week long Indian performing arts festival at Dixon Place on the Lower East Side. While usually at LaMama, the intimacy of Dixon Place serves to accentuate a sense of inclusiveness and immersiveness as soon as you enter the space, making it an ideal venue for the to view and experience all the nuances of Indian classical dance and music. From widely acclaimed stalwarts to lesser known gems, Navatman bring NYC 20+ concerts in Indian classical dance and music.

“This year, Drive East’s curation has been a little more nuanced. For instance, our four bharatanatyam performers each come from vastly different styles, allowing the patron to understand some of the more delicate nuances of the form. On the other hand, every kathak performance features guest and collaborative artists – such as Jin Won working with Korean Drums, and Rachna Nivas and Rina Mehta of Leela Dance collective working with tap. Some nights are intended to give you a more traditional feel, like the solos on Tuesday evening, and others are intended on showing the more unique aspects of Indian dance and music such as Saturday night’s artists Rajasthani Caravan, Devdutta Sengupta, and Battery Dance Company. – Sahasra Sambamoorthi, founder and co-curator of Drive East and Navatman

In addition to the 20+ concerts, there are a slew of smaller events: rangoli designs that are planned to adorn the festival steps, official artist meet and greets post each performance, free storytelling sessions on Hindu mythology for families, and advanced intensives for adults in the mornings. Each day brings more than just the concert, but an immersive experience that takes you through every performance.

“We are excited to move to a space that really allows a lot of intimacy between the performer and the viewer. Every year, we’d get feedback that people really loved seeing the shows where the performers were no more than an arm’s length away, so we took that to heart when we decided to move to Dixon Place this year.” – Sridhar Shanmugam, founder and co-curator of Drive East and Navatman

Some of the exciting dance events this year include: the beautiful and brilliant Odissi danseuse Sujata Mohapatra who will be performing on opening night; co-founders Sridhar Shanmugam & Sahasra Sambamoorthi will be performing on stage together, Renjith & Vijna form a husband and wife duet team from Chennai, and Prince of Dance – a power-packed evening of full length concerts by male dancers that includes Christopher Gurusamy (Bharatanatyam) & Avijit Das (Kuchipudi).

This year brings an interesting mix of collaborating Indian styles with other traditional forms. We have 3 Kathak performances but each performance highlights a different aspect and commonality with another style. We have Kathak being set to Korean drums (Jin Won and Sue Yeon Park), and Kathak being juxtaposed with tap dance (Leela Dance Collective). In addition, we have rarer art forms like Manipuri (Devdutta Sengupta) gracing the stage this year.

Music brings us the eminent sarod player Aashish Khan, who will be opening the festival, and the melodious and lyrical music of sitarist Kinnar Seen. Carnatic music can be rarer to find in Manhattan, but Drive East has two soloists Shankar Ramani and Ananya Ashok, not to mention the firebrand Navatman Music Collective, one of the only carnatic choirs in the world. The brilliant Rajasthani Caravan troupe joins us from India, bringing with them unique the sights and sounds of folk music and dance.

A new addition to the festival, Navatman will also host Saturday Youth Day concerts. Youth concerts allow exceptional up and coming students trained by stalwart gurus a place in the festival as well, such as  Guitar Prasanna’s students who perform Carnatic music on electric guitars.

About Navatman:

Navatman, Inc was founded with an eye on creating a sustainable home for the South Asian arts in New York City and its surrounding neighborhoods, particularly emphasizing Indian classical music and dance. We are a game-changing organization dedicated to creating ground-breaking work in the South Asian classical performing arts in the areas of education, performance, and production. We are best known for our Manhattan-based classes, critically acclaimed productions, dynamic dance company, and stellar carnatic choir, all of which have received reviews in mainstream press including the New York Times, India Abroad, The Hindu, the Financial Times, and The Star-Ledger, to name a few. Navatman continues to see success in their goal to preserve Indian classical music and dance through democratizing these art forms by increasing their accessibility, and innovating on pre-existing business and organizational models to stay relevant, fresh and exciting.

Concert Line Up:

Monday, August 21st:

  • 7:15PM – 8:15PM Aashish Khan – Sarode Recital
  • 8:30PM – 10PM Sujata Mohapatra – Odissi Recital

Tuesday, August 22nd:

  • 6PM – 7PM Indrani Khare: Hindustani Vocal Recital
  • 7:15PM – 8:15PM Kinnar Seen – Sitar Recital
  • 8:30 – 10PM Janaki Rangarajan – Bharatanatyam Recital

Wednesday, August 23rd:

  • 6PM – 7PM Jin Won and Sue Yeon Park – Kathak Meets Korean Arts
  • 7:15PM – 8:15PM Navatman Dance, Feat. Sridhar Shanmugam – Bharatanatyam Recital
  • 8:30 – 10PM Shankar Ramani – Carnatic Vocal Recital

Thursday, August 24th:

  • 6PM – 7PM Pranamya Suri – Kuchipudi Recital
  • 7:15PM – 8:15PM Apoorva Jayaraman – Bharatanatyam Recital
  • 8:30PM – 10PM Ananya Ashok – Carnatic Vocal Recital

Friday, August 25th:

  • 6PM – 7PM Prince of Dance: Christopher Gurusamy – Bharatanatyam Recital
  • 7:15PM – 8:15PM Prince of Dance: Avijit Das – Kuchipudi Recital

Saturday, August 26th:

  • 2:30PM – 3:30PM Youth Concert Day: Shankhadip Chakraborty – Hindustani Vocal Recital
  • 3:45PM – 4:45PM Youth Concert Day: Carnatic Power – Carnatic Guitar Recital
  • 6PM – 7PM Rare Arts of India: Devdutta Sengupta Ghosh – Manipuri Recital
  • 7:15PM – 8:15PM Battery Dance Company – The Durga Project featuring Unnath Hassan Rathnaraju,  sponsored by State bank of India
  • 8:30PM – 10PM Rajasthani Caravan – Rajasthani Folk Music & Dance Recital

Sunday, August 27th:

  • 2:00PM – 3:30PM Navatman Music Collective – Carnatic Choir Recital
  • 3:45PM – 4:45PM Rachna Nivas and Rina Mehta of the Leela Dance Collective with guest artist Dormeshia Sumbry-Edwards – Kathak Recital
  • 4PM – 5PM Renjith & Vijna – Bharatanatyam Duet Recital

Educational Events:

  • August 21 – August 25: 5PM – 5:30PM – Free storytelling sessions on Indian mythology for children
  • August 26: 12:30PM – 2:30PM – Saturday Youth Day

You may also be interested in checking out Garamchai.com ‘s Art and Culture section with extensive listings of Indian Dance and Music academies around North America

Techie reaches mother’s flat on return from US, finds her skeleton

Here is a morbid story that is bound to send shivers down most of us, especially Non Resident Indians with elderly parents living alone in India.


Man reaches mother’s flat on return from US, finds her skeleton

When Rituraj Sahani arrived from the US and reached his mother’s Oshiwara flat Sunday morning, no one answered the door. He managed to enter the house with the help of a keymaker. On reaching the bedroom, he found his 63-year-old mother’s skeletal remains. Given the complete decomposition of the body, police believe she passed away at least a few weeks ago. They have registered a case of accidental death and are waiting for the post-mortem report. They believe she died of natural causes as no injury marks were found on her body and the door was locked from the inside.

Subhash Khanvilkar, senior inspector, Oshiwara police station, said, “Asha K Sahani had been staying alone at her 10th floor residence in Wells Cot society in Andheri’s Lokhandwala area since her husband died in 2013. Their son Rituraj, an engineer, had moved to the US in 1997.” “The last conversation between the mother and son took place in April 2016. At that point, Sahani had told him that she felt lonely. She had also asked him to get her into an old-age home,” the officer said.

Khanwilkar said that since the 10th floor has only two flats and both belong to the Sahanis, neighbours did not sense any foul smell. “In the bedroom, Rituraj found the body of his mother, which had decomposed to such an extent that only her skeleton remained. We suspect she must have passed away at least a few weeks ago.”

Police are now recording statements of Rituraj and residents of the building to find out when was the last time anyone spoke to her. “The post-mortem report, too, will give us some clarity on the time of death,” said an officer.

re-published from Indian Express

Other Articles on the topic:

Do US consular officers in India take bribe to offer visas to big Indian companies?

Do US consular officers in India take bribe to offer visas to big Indian companies?

This was an interesting question that came from an online forum recently. The person adds: “The reason for question is that I have seen some third party individuals claiming that “their” company has setting with the consular officers and hence higher acceptance rate etc.”

Here is the response from our editor, Mohan

Are US State department and embassy officials corruptible? Sadly, yes they too are humans as these news articles indicate [USA Today: State Department official indicted on bribery charge | ABC News: Embassy Officer Admits Taking $3M in Bribes for Visas ]

With this backdrop, here is the fact: These cases of corruption are too few and far between to be statistically relevant. The U.S immigration system and State Department have sufficient checks-and-balances to quickly identify bad-apples and make sure justice prevails.

Think; if there were allegations of ‘big Indian companies’ bribing US consular officers, Wouldn’t Mr. Trump have already tweeted about it?

Here is how the process works at top companies that apply for H1 visas – e.g Infosys, Wipro, TCS, Accenture, IBM etc

  • These companies have extremely strong ‘visa departments’ with efficient processes and people. The visa department representatives work with line managers and applicants to ensure the right paperwork is submitted accurately, with the right references, supporting letters, credentials etc.
  • The visa-departments and their consultants continually seek the latest updates on visa processing from embassies and consulates, and are quick to update their processes when new requirements are identified.
  • Visa departments also have a closed-loop with candidates to ensure they learn from success, and a few rejections.
  • Visa departments also work with line managers to plan ‘demand’ for resources, especially timed around the ‘H1 Visa’ lottery filing deadlines. These steps ensure an extremely low rate of rejection of visas (compared to rest of the applicant pool).

Hard, grunt work at a large scale is the secret of success, and not ‘corruption’ or ‘bribery’

How do I know? I experienced the efficiencies of Visa Department @Infosys many years ago.


Last week we also blogged about “Immigration Fraud: Indian to lose US citizenship after being convicted”

Immigration Fraud: Indian to lose US citizenship after being convicted

Cutting corners while applying for naturalization is risky and the penalty for doing so is harsh and the US government is very unforgiving as Balbir Singh alias Ranjit Singh discovered.

US citizenship is a privilege that many legal immigrants aspire to. It takes a lot of persistence and effort to be granted this right by the US government. Of-course the benefits of  a US citizenship are many and well documented (link USCIS). Cutting corners while applying for naturalization is risky and the penalty for doing so is harsh and the US government is very unforgiving as Balbir Singh alias Ranjit Singh discovered.

A person of Indian origin, Balbir Singh was recently convicted by US government for using fake identity to get US citizenship. He faces up to 10 years in federal prison, a maximum USD 250,000 possible fine, revocation of his citizenship and enforcement of his outstanding deportation order.

Here is the sequence of events as appearing in the media.

  • A few years ago, Mr. Singh was ordered deported but lied about it to seek citizenship.
  • Acting US Attorney Abe Martinez said Mr. Singh had previously attempted to obtain asylum under false pretenses.
  • When that asylum attempt failed, an immigration judge ordered his deportation from the United States, thus making him ineligible to ever become a naturalized US citizen.
  • Instead of leaving the country, Mr Singh changed his name, date of birth, the manner in which he entered the United States and his family history so that he could obtain lawful immigration status.
  • He later applied for Naturalization based on a marriage to a United States citizen. In his Naturalization application, Singh denied ever being ordered deported, seeking asylum or using a different identity.
  • After obtaining the citizenship, a fingerprint comparison established the man previously ordered deported from the United States (Balbir Singh) and the man who later became a naturalized citizen (Ranjit Singh) were one and the same.
  • US District Judge Ewing Werlein is scheduled to set sentencing for October 13.

Turns out, it is not just Indians who are guilty. Even US officials sometimes participate in such fraudulent activities. A recent articles stats: US attorney gets Pakistan aide married to Indian origin man for Green Card, charged with marriage fraud.  “A US attorney, who got an Indian- origin naturalised American citizen ‘married’ to his Pakistani assistant so that she could obtain a Green Card, has been charged with marriage fraud along with his woman aide.”

Bottomline: The penalty for fraud and providing false information in US immigration is hard and those attempting this will get caught.

Also check out USCIS process to report Immigration Scams 

News articles about the topic:

 

Expert committee on Non-Resident Indian (NRI) marriages and disputes

The Indian Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) under the leadership of Sushma Swaraj has set up an expert committee on Non-Resident Indian (NRI) marriages and disputes arising therein.

The Committee includes Chairperson, Delhi Commission for Women (DCW) Swati Jaihind along with representatives from the MEA, Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA), Women and Child Development (WCD) and other experts.

The Committee has been mandated to identify legal and regulatory challenges faced by Indian nationals on this pertinent issue and suggest amendments in existing legislations as well as new laws and policies to better resolve the disputes concerning NRI marriages.

The Committee is slated to submit its report by August.

DCW on its part has given certain recommendations and suggestions to the Committee to combat the issues relating to NRI marriages. Further, in order to propose effective and actionable recommendations to the Committee, the Delhi Commission for Women has requested the Committee to seek certain information from MEA and MHA.

The Commission has also decided to seek suggestions from public and experts in the matter, so as to expand its knowledge base as well as learn from field experiences. The Delhi Commission for Women is contacting certain NGOs to seek their opinion in the matter.

The DCW chief has also written to NRI Commission of Punjab, Kerala and Goa to seek data about number of cases arising in their states as well as their views on the matter. Similarly, she has written to chairpersons of women commissions across the country seeking their views on the matter.

The Commission has released a special email ID nri.dcw@gmail.com for people (especially NRIs, experts, NGOs) to share their suggestions on the issue.

The last date for submission is 23 July 2017 till 11 a.m.

Recent questions by Indian lawmakers on the topic include:

  • QUESTION NO.†*450 MARITAL DISPUTES OF NRIs (link) – The Ministry has received 2485 complaints about NRI marital disputes during the last three years and until 30 March 2017.
  • QUESTION NO.1609 INDIAN WOMEN DEFRAUDED BY NRI SPOUSES (link) – The Ministry has been receiving petitions from Indian women stating that their overseas Indian spouse has hidden the fact that he is already married or has a partner. Their petitions pertain to abandonment of the Indian woman by overseas Indian spouse either in India or in the foreign country after marriage. When the overseas Indian husband is summoned to attend court proceedings in India, Indian Missions/Posts have no means for enforcing the order abroad, except when the foreign country accepts the request for mutual legal assistance.

 




Recent stories on the topic include:

Man posing as NRI groom dupes South Mumbai woman of lakhs – The accused, whom the 30-year-old Nagpada-based woman had met on a matrimonial site, introduced himself as an NRI from England cheated her out of Rs 4.19 lakh

SoPs for NRI matrimonial disputes – The Hindu – There have been complaints of frauds, abandonment, domestic violence, extra-marital relationships, ex-parte divorce, being duped of money after promising marriage, forceful/illegal retention of children’s custody, non-maintenance of maintenance etc., from the aggrieved women, Ms.Venkataratnam who left for Delhi said. sThe Ministry of Women and Child Development realising the need, decided to frame Standard Operating Procedures (SoPs) providing details of legal recourse available for such women. It would also make available details of legal recourse for such women along with the procedure for accessing the same in consultation with the Ministries of Home, External Affairs, Law and Justice and National Commission for Women.

Q&A – Return to India Query

Advice for NRIs and Indians abroad on returning to India

Here is a recent online query on Returning to India.

I am a software engineer from India and I have spent my last 15 years abroad in various countries. Which place in India is best for an NRI like me to settle down on returning to India with a decent job?

Response from our editor follows

This is a great question, but there is hardy any information on your interests, personal situation, career goals or intent.

If you were unconstrained and had the resources, wouldnt you want to settle in Andamans ?

Image result for andamans
googled image

or Himachal Pradesh?

Image result for himachal pradesh
googled image

India is a vast, ever-changing nation so it is really important to focus on these:

  • Interests and personal situation:
    • Are you extroverted and outgoing and want an urbane social circle?
    • Do you have an extended family living in a certain region? Do you plan to socialize frequently with your family?

Your interests and personal situation will guide you on the city/region where you want to ‘settle down.’ For example, if your extended family is in Imphal, Manipur, wouldn’t you be better off settling closer in Imphal, Assam or Kolkata? Same goes for your interests. If you love the ocean, wouldn’t you want to settle in Mumbai or Goa?

  • Career goals:
    • Do you specialize in a very niche area. E.g AI or Big-data tool?
    • Do you plan to enrich your career with a move to India?

I am not going to assume whether you are an AI, Big-data or HANA consultant since most metros will have opportunities for these. If you plan to settle in a major metro, this may be a non-issue. However, if you are looking at settling in tier-2 cities, you need to reflect on your career goals and re-skilling too.

  • Intent:
    • Are you clear why you want to move back to India?
    • Are you prepared to accept the ways of life in a developing nation – traffic, pollution, regionalism etc?

Bottomline: Be clear of your intent and you will be better informed. Check out my recent post: “What were your experiences moving back to India after getting US citizenship? What are the best ways to make this move?

You may also be interested in Return 2 India Section of GaramChai.com 


‘Badass’ Vanity fair picture: Is this an attempt by @Deccn_Chronicle to bring ‘Global values’ to India?

Today’s Deccan Chronicle has a color picture of the visibly pregnant and naked Serena Williams showing her bump.

Sareena_DeccanChronicle1

Today’s Deccan Chronicle  has a color picture of the visibly pregnant and naked Serena Williams showing her bump. This appears on the cover page of the newspaper that kids, their parents and grandparents are bound to ogle at!

Is this an attempt to bring ‘Global values’ to India?