International Women’s Day 2017: #BeBoldforChange

Over the past couple of years, I’ve been highlighting an interesting, lesser-known woman on this particular day. Why? Mostly for the same reason that we mark this particular day: to celebrate the social, economic, cultural, and political achievement of women. The 2017 theme for IWD is #BeBoldForChange. So, this year, I’d like to share the story of Noor Inayat Khan — a bold, badass woman I read about last year. She was also featured on Public Radio International earlier this year as the “Indian spy princess who died fighting the Nazis.” She was a Muslim. A refugee. A princess. A guerrilla fighter, trained in bomb-making, sabotage and secret communications. But above all, she was a war hero. Continue reading International Women’s Day 2017: #BeBoldforChange

Booknotes: Mafia Queens of Mumbai: Stories of Women from the Ganglands

In Indian culture and society, a lot of the talk/news related to Mumbai mafia and gang violence/crime is mostly about the men–the ganglords, their aides, and their henchmen. Often, the only women we read of (or see in Bollywood movie versions) tend to be the virtuous, long-suffering wives or mothers, or the glamorous arm candy or objects of desire. Though Mumbai’s mafia men, the underworld, and organized crime have all been portrayed in movies over the decades, the cultural fascination truly took hold of the collective imagination with the 1998 movie, Satya, which was about a turf war between two Mumbai ganglords. So a book about the far lesser-known mafia women is irresistible for the primary reason that the authors offer in their introduction: “They are fascinating women because they push the boundaries of our dominant moral codes.” Continue reading Booknotes: Mafia Queens of Mumbai: Stories of Women from the Ganglands

Movie Review: The Truce (1997)

Originally posted on indiatopia:
On October 19th, 1945, Primo Levi, an Italian Jew and chemist, finally returned to his home in Turin, Italy after having spent 11 months at Auschwitz and another harrowing ~9 months on a circuitous, long journey via Eastern Europe and the Soviet Union. The Truce is a movie about that journey, during which time, he also began his writing career. Given… Continue reading Movie Review: The Truce (1997)

Weekend Poem: Abundant Hope by Maya Angelou

Originally posted on indiatopia:
Maya Angelou is a living monument. So, it was fitting that, when the Martin Luther King Memorial was dedicated in August 2011, she wrote a poem in his honor. With the 50th anniversary of that historic March on Washington coming up, let’s revisit that poem. Of course, with Angelou, it’s always better if you can find a video of her performing… Continue reading Weekend Poem: Abundant Hope by Maya Angelou

5 short stories

Top Five Short Story Reads from November-December 2016

Indian short films get, well, more short shrift in India and among the Indian diaspora the world over because Bollywood masala reigns supreme. Still, I am finding this to be a fascinatingly growing, evolving genre. There are some absolute gems to be found if you know where to look. Here are some of them, ranging from 8-30 minutes each, and written by Ritesh Batra, Rashida Mustafa and Suketu Mehta, Kaushal Oza, Leena Pandharkar, and Anand Gandhi. We have a street-dwelling shoeshine boy who wants to be a masterchef on TV, a woman who leaves her husband and child to be another man’s second wife, a Parsi widow trying to deal with well-meaning relatives, a 65-year-old Indian immigrant in the US trying to cope with early retirement, a cast of 15 characters connected across a single day by 2 sets of causal events that come full circle for the one who started it all off. Enjoy. I think all have English subtitles too. Continue reading Top Five Short Story Reads from November-December 2016