Kumail Nanjiani’s Little America Apple series to look at immigrant life

During Apple’s livestreamed event on Monday, the company revealed a series of new services and products, including the TV Plus streaming service, which will present a slate of new shows including The Big Sick actor Kumail Nanjiani‘s new series Little America.

At the Apple event, Nanjiani revealed that he and his wife Emily V. Gordon are writing and executive producing the new show about immigrants in America. Little America will have episodes based on true stories featured in Epic Magazine, which are described on the site as “a small, collective portrait of America’s immigrants — and thereby a portrait of America itself,” according to Deadline. More about Apple’s announcement on cNet

 

Kumail Nanjiani is a Pakistani-American stand-up comedian, actor, podcast host, and writer best known for being a main cast member on HBO’s Emmy Award-nominated series Silicon Valley, as well as for providing the voice of Prismo on the Emmy Award-winning animated series Adventure Time. He starred on the TNT series Franklin & Bash and the Adult Swim series Newsreaders. Nanjiani also co-hosted the Comedy Central show The Meltdown with Jonah and Kumail. In addition to his television and film work, he hosted two podcasts: The Indoor Kids and The X-Files Files. In 2018, Time named him one of the 100 most influential people in the world.

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Navaratri and Durga Puja

This weekend culminates the nine-day festival of Navaratri, Dasara and Durga Puja, celebrated by Indians around the world.

Vijayadashami also known as Dasahara, Dusshera, Dasara, Dussehra or Dashain is a major Hindu festival celebrated at the end of Navratri every year. It is observed on the tenth day in the Hindu calendar month of Ashvin, the seventh month of the Hindu Luni-Solar Calendar, which typically falls in the Gregorian months of September and October. While the basis of the festival is similar – the worship of Godess Durga, Lakshmi and Saraswati, the mode of celebration varies across communities.

  • Gujaratis – Gujaratis are known for their large dance parties known as ‘garbas’. Many grounds in the city play host to these garba celebrations. “We wear a traditional garment called the ‘chaniya choli,’ which is similar to a ‘lehenga’ but made with cotton fabric.” Performances include songs in praise of goddess Durga. The highlight of their festival is the dancing and singing.
Image result for navratri in america
Students at an American university campus celebrating Garba
  • Marwaris – The Marwaris celebrate the festival of Navratri by worshipping goddess Shakti. The nine different forms of the goddess are worshipped on the rest nine days. “On the ninth day, there is a ceremony known as ‘Kanya Pujan’ where girl children are given traditional delicacies as a sign of respect to the goddess,” says Ekta Poddar, a student. Another ceremony called ‘havan’ is performed to mark the power and grace of Durga. The tenth day is ‘Vijayadasami’, the victory of good over evil, where idols of Ravan are burnt.
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Ram-Lila in Delhi
  • Tamilians – The Tamil community focuses on the ‘golu’ arrangement, or the doll display, during this time.The dolls are arranged on an odd number of steps and depict scenes from the Ramayana or even daily life. People are invited to the houses to view the dolls. The celebrations include singing and dancing.
GoluBombe
Golu, Bombe habba
  • Kannadigas – In Karnataka, Dasara or Vijayadashami is celebrated to commemorate the defeat of Ravana and Durga’s triumph over the demon ‘Mahishasur’. “We also have the practice of doll arrangement, called ‘Bombe habba’. We pay obeisance to goddess Saraswati and do ‘Ayudha Puja’ where we worship machines and other things that make our lives easier,” says Kavya, a resident on KR Puram.
  • Telugus – The community celebrates the Gombe Habba, the practice of setting up doll displays and distributes sweets to visitors. ‘Ayudha Puja’ and worship of the goddess Chamundeshwari on Dashami is also a part of their celebrations.
  • Bengalis – The Bengalis celebrate the festival for five days. On the sixth day, they conduct a ‘visarjan,’ the immersing of goddess Durga in water. The five days are celebrated with multiple pujas in the morning, followed by a community ‘bhog’ (lunch). Cultural programs are organised in the evenings.
  • Assamese – The Assamese people celebrate the festival of Durga Puja as a community. They set up statues of goddess Durga in large grounds, which also have food and gift stalls. Shivankar, a member of the Assam Association says, “On the last four days of the festival, we feast on homemade preparations. The maize crop that we grow is offered to the goddess.”

Book Review: Bollywood Kitchen

Bollywood and Indian food are perennial topics of conversation among desis in pardes. The Indian diaspora in the North America, Europe especially in the US and UK has done a great job of ‘importing’ wholesome doses of both.

Indian entrepreneurs regularly take over movie theaters across US and Canadian cities to screen latest bollywood hits. This continues to be popular despite the pervasiveness of Youtube, digital streaming and to some extent torrents and (illegal) movie file sharing. Watching a movie on the big screen and enjoying a nice dinner at a local Indian restaurant is a common pastime.

SreeRao
Extract from the book

A recent program ‘Getting to know Bollywood, one meal at a time’ in the popular NPR program, Marketplace, features the new book “Bollywood Kitchen: Home-Cooked Indian Meals Paired with Unforgettable Bollywood Films.” In the interesting interview, the host Kai Ryssdal interviews the author Sri Rao.  The Indian-American author talks about working between two film industries, being part of the first generation of American-born Indian-Americans and what his mom said when he told her he was writing a cookbook.

Rao describes his background and the reason for bringing Bollywood and Food together in the book

Yeah, so I’m from a small town in central Pennsylvania, and I was one of very few nonwhite kids in my community growing up. Every day after dinner, my parents would pop a tape into VCR and we would watch these fantastic Bollywood movies, and that’s how I learned the language. That’s how I learned about the music and the culture and so many of the traditions of where my parents came from.

The Indian food in America is now its own thing. And as people like me are starting to come of age now — you know, I’m one of the oldest American-born Indians in the country. Immigration from India was only legalized in 1965. At that time in 1965 when immigration was opened up from India, there were only 10,000 Indians in the entire country, my dad being one of them. And now there are over 4 million I believe, something like that. And so you’re starting to see us as a group come up and sort of find our voice in various fields. So people like, you know, Mindy Kaling and Aziz Ansari in entertainment or Kamala Harris and Nikki Haley in politics. And then in the world of food, this is one of the first or one of a few cookbooks that have been written by someone born in America who is of Indian descent.

Check out the book, Bollywood Kitchen: Home-Cooked Indian Meals Paired with Unforgettable Bollywood Films, on Amazon:

 

Image from the book

 

 

The reviews thus far have been quite flattering

publishersweekly.com

Readers expecting wildly complex preparations and nothing but showy musicals will be pleasantly surprised on both fronts, as Rao offers a refreshingly diverse set of movies as well as recipes that are easily sourced without sacrificing flavor or requiring too much time to prepare.

Houston Chronicle

In “Bollywood Kitchen,” Rao gives new meaning to “dinner and a movie” by creating menus inspired by classic Indian films. Example: Keema (ground beef curry), rajma (kidney bean stew) and naan crisps that are evocative of the lavish melodrama “Devdas.” Masala-crusted salmon, rice and lentils, grilled asparagus and mustard seeds, and mint/cilantro chutney drawn from the Oscar-nominated “Lagaan.” Pan-seared cod with curry leaves and lemon rice with lentils, peanuts and chile for “Guru,” the rags-to-riches story of a self-made billionaire and the woman he loves.

Our editor, Mohan, posts on Amazon Just what a desi mom ordered! 

Sri’s new book touches on the heart of two things that keep desis in pardes going: Bollywood and desi food. For those like me of Indian origin, who grew up on a steady diet of desi movies and food, the book is a walk down the memory lane.

The illustrated book has brief movie reviews and recipes interspersed with glossy photographs from bollywood movies. If you are looking for an Informative and entertaining primer on Bollywood and some Indian-American recipes, this is the book for you.

India has Public Toilets for Transgenders #LGBT

India is a country of contradictions and diversity. The title of a Washington Post article sums it up best: India has outlawed homosexuality. But it’s better to be transgender there than in the U.S. (link)

Picture of the day: Public Toilets for Transgenders #LGBT

Transgender_toilet_Bangalore
Picture of Toilet for Transgenders in a Public Bus stand in Bangalore

 

Book Review: Kindle eBooks of Indian origin

Here are a couple of Kindle eBooks that are currently FREE for download on Amazon.com

Amish Tripathi’s Raavan (A Preview): Orphan of Aryavarta

Raavan (A Preview): Orphan of Aryavarta by [Tripathi, Amish] Book Blurb:

3400 BCE, India

The mighty Lord of Lanka, Raavan, sets out to avenge the insult of his sister, Shurpanakha at the hands of the younger prince of Ayodhya, Lakshman. Aware that the Ayodhya royal trio are in exile he flies to Dandakaranya in the Lankan military aircraft, the Pushpak Vimaan. His mission? To capture the Vishnu.

For far will Raavan go to seek revenge?

Review by our Editor  on Amazon: “Nice preview” 

I downloaded this free-kindle version of the ‘booklet’ from Amish Tripathi hoping it was a novella. The author’s note in the first section clarifies “This booklet is being distributed only among a select few. If you are reading this, you are one of those who get a peek into the story I am still writing!”

The booklet of few pages is certainly readable and perhaps a taste of the book-3 – Orphan of Aryavarta.

Maha-bharata The Epic of Ancient India Condensed into English Verse

Maha-bharata The Epic of Ancient India Condensed into English Verse by [Dutt C.I.E., Romesh C.] Book Blurb:

This book was converted from its physical edition to the digital format by a community of volunteers.

You may find it for free on the web.

Review by our Editor  on Amazon  “Nice, readable translation of a great epic”

Ramayana and Mahabarata are classic Indian epics that have been studied, translated and transcribed for generations. This kindle version is yet another addition to the wide selection out there and should be useful for English speaking readers interested in Mahabharata.

Newton: Is India’s Oscar movie entry

‘Newton’ will be India’s official entry to the Best Foreign Film catgory at the Oscars next year, says a Film Federation of India official.

The Amit Masurkar movie, starring Rajkummar Rao, Pankaj Tripathi, Raghubir Yadav and Anjali Patil, tells the story of polling officer Newton Kumar, who is bent on conducting free and fair elections in the conflict-ridden jungles of Chhattisgarh.

 

What’s the movie Newton about?

According to IMDB “A government clerk on election duty in the conflict ridden jungle of Central India tries his best to conduct free and fair voting despite the apathy of security forces and the looming fear of guerrilla attacks by communist rebels.”

Some reviewers are declaring Newton to be “one of the finest political satires we have seen in the last couple of years. It refrains from taking sides and offers a humorous take on state versus the Maoists bloody battle.” (HT)

A bit of controversy about the movie:

By Saturday, some people on social media started talking about the similarities between Newton and Iranian film “Secret Ballot”.

Both the films have a protagonist who wants to conduct a free and fair election. It’s Rajkummar Rao in Newton and a female election officer in Secret Ballot. They both are accompanied by a soldier rather a military personnel who doesn’t have much faith in the electoral system.

 

 

Yoga for Kids in America

Yoga is being promoted for holistic, well being. People in India are taking to Yoga in a big way for a number of reasons: to beat the stress of daily life and grind.

The concept of Yoga is also being promoted for holistic healing in the West.  You may be interested in checking out GaramChai.com Yoga section.  Here is a Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) of interest:

Why should kids do yoga?
Yoga is a technology and technology is for everyone & anyone.  Scientific research & evidence is rising daily for what many have long said: that a practice like meditation and yoga can help us address many issues that our society is facing.  It’s a technology whose benefits are innumerable when applied and learnt from an authentic source.

A few of several benefits for kids to do yoga:

  • Concentration: Kids learn to focus on their breath during meditation. They learn to
    tune into what’s happening on the inside rather than focusing on what’s happening
    on the outside. This tremendously helps them in reading, taking tests, completing
    homework, and gets them ready for tasks that are required both at school and at
    home. And enables them to tap into their creativity.
  • It’s FUN: A kid’s body is more open and receptive. Children who are introduced to
    yoga at an earlier age have access to some distinct advantages as they grow up and
    move through life. Yoga helps them to become more joyful. They learn that
    everyone falls and everyone gets up. There is no competition.
  • Enhances flexibility: Yoga promotes physical strength as kids learn to use their
    muscles in new ways. It helps the kids to become more aware of their body and
    helps them build a deeper understanding of knowing how it functions.
  • Self-acceptance: Kids will learn to cherish and accept themselves as they are. We all  live in a society which is becoming extremely competitive, so it has become very
    common to send messages of inadequacy, yoga teaches kids to stay with stable
    foundation and have the clarity and energy to be competitive & yet not stress over
    its outcome.

All this understanding & more, automatically comes to them from their own experience while doing the practice. If given an opportunity for them to learn the scientifically proven ancient yogic  practices & meditation – kids will naturally have the tools to fight the increasing  feelings of self-doubt, inadequacy that come during the years and beyond.

Reading:


 

You may also be interested in YOGA NEBULA

Upcoming Children Program
Start: August 19 @ 9:00 am  || End: August 20 @ 12:30 pm  || Cost: $200
Contact: Samir Lal / contact@yoganebula.com / 201-696-7597

kidsYogaProgram

“Our classes at Yoga Nebula are taught with great care and precision to create a  conducive atmosphere for learning the subtle science of Hatha Yoga in New York City/New Jersey. Taught in an intimate group setting, classes are designed to  gradually introduce students to yoga practices through verbal instruction and  demonstrations. We also feature informative videos that provide intellectual insight  into the processes taking place. Unlike many modern yoga studios, we avoid playing  music, using mirrors or props, talking while demonstrating, or physically touching participants during the classes. Many students comment on the depth of their  experience as a direct result of this inward oriented teaching format.”

Hatha Yoga stems from a deep understanding of the mechanics of the body, and uses
yogic postures, or yogasanas, to enable the system to sustain higher dimensions of
energy. By practicing this profound science, one can change and enhance the way they
think, feel, and experience life. Hatha Yoga is about creating a body that is not a hurdle
in your life. The body becomes a stepping-stone in the progress towards blossoming
into your ultimate possibility. Developed by globally-renowned yogi, humanitarian and enlightened master, Sadhguru, the Isha™ Hatha School of Yoga has been established to revive the ancient science of Hatha Yoga, with programs taught to millions worldwide.
“Hatha Yoga is about creating a body which is not a hurdle in one’s life. The
body becomes a stepping stone … in one’s progress of blossoming into his
ultimate possibility.” – Sadhguru