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


#Bornonthisday: Susan B Anthony (and her ‘Homes of Single Women’ speech)

Susan B Anthony, women’s rights activist, slavery abolition activist, and educational reformer, was born today in 1820. If it wasn’t for her and her many cohorts, we women today, across the world, would not be enjoying the many freedoms we take for granted. Having grown up in a patriarchal world, I constantly remind myself of these words of hers: “. . .many young people think that all the privileges, all the freedom, all the enjoyments which woman now possesses always were hers. They have no idea of how every single inch of ground that she stands upon today has been gained by the hard work of some little handful of women of the past.” Continue reading #Bornonthisday: Susan B Anthony (and her ‘Homes of Single Women’ speech)

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

Five Commencement Speeches From 2016

‘Tis the season for commencement/graduation speeches. When I first moved to the US and came across this annual tradition at universities and schools, I was somewhat impressed and a tad envious. That was in the days before Youtube and social media, so one only heard or read about the best such speeches in print news, which did not cover them quite as much or as effectively. Still, reading about the odd speech always made me wish that some famous and accomplished person, who many looked up to, had also visited my school/college/university to share hard-earned life lessons and critical words of wisdom. Beyond the pep-talkiness and dramatic eloquence of it all, what drew me in was the sense of an important ritual or a rite of passage being observed and celebrated. Continue reading Five Commencement Speeches From 2016

zadie smith

Zadie Smith’s Note to Readers

A novel is a two-way street, in which the labor required on either side is, in the end, equal. Reading, done properly, is every bit as tough as writing – I really believe that. As for those people who align reading with the essentially passive experience of watching television, they only wish to debase reading and readers. The more accurate analogy is that of the amateur musician placing her sheet music on the stand and preparing to play. She must use her own hard-won skills to play this piece of music. The greater the skill, the greater the gift she gives the composer, and the composer gives her. Continue reading Zadie Smith’s Note to Readers