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A General Interest Monthly Magazine for South Asians in the U.S.

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COMMUNITY | News in Brief:

Desi Valentine’s Day in Sacramento | Community Celebrates Opening of Senior Center | Afghan Drama | South Asian Summit | Locke Named Secretary | Honoring Filipino Vets | Mommy & Me

Desi Valentine’s Day in Sacramento

Dancers at the finale of a South Asian Valentine’s Day event in Sacramento, Calif.

For around 600 South Asians and their friends who ventured to the Crest Theatre in downtown Sacramento, it was Valentine’s Day in the garb of desi culture as a Mega Bollywood Show awaited those who braved the wet weather and the traffic jams (10th Street was blocked off) to celebrate a night of love.

Arranged by the South Asian Cultural Association of America and EasternMpire Promotions, this Bollywood style event spearheaded by local physician Dr. Aslam Godil featured two young headliners Darshana Menon and Jeffrey Iqbal along with local singer Meera plus dances by young performers Kristina and Karina.  The emcee for the evening was Parminder. And last but not least the music of the Sargam Band added to what turned out to be a beautiful evening.

The diverse audience comprised of people originally from India, Pakistan and  Bangladesh (along with their American-born generation), and some curious locals who have recently been exposed to the "pelvic" dance moves (as Shah Rukh Khan recently described Bollywood dancing at the Golden Globe Awards).

Exposure of mainstream America to dance and music via the movie Slumdog Millionaire and its gifted song composer A.R. Rahman along with Sri Lankan origin M.I.A. has piqued the interest of many locals. We knew that the Oscars would honor Slumdog and we send our congratulations to A.R. Rahman for finally winning the worldwide attention that he so richly deserved. 

The Valentine’s Day evening started off with "Karam Ho Karam" by Meera. Jeffrey Iqbal appeared on stage with "Wallay Wallay" and Zohra Jabeen, a real crowd pleaser. Darshana Menon gracefully entered next and started off with a song of love "Kabhi Akhiyon Sey" and "Babuji" as dancers joined her on stage for a beautiful ballad. Jeffrey and Darshana sang many memorable Bollywood love songs on this wet Valentine’s Day evening.

Thanks are in order to the show sponsors, especially Dr. Aslam Godil and his wife Fouzia.

South Asia will experience many challenges (terrorism for one) and we in America can do little about it. But what we can do as Indian and Pakistani-Americans is to keep the delicate flame of friendships that we have, alive in this country.

(A Siliconeer report by Ras H. Siddiqui)


Community Celebrates Opening of Senior Center

Milpitas Vice Mayor Pete McHugh (r) handing a certification of commendation to BAYVP president Jogen Shah.

The Bay Area Indian community recently celebrated the inauguration of the Shreemaya Senior Center in Milpitas, Calif. The event, organized by Bay Area Youth Vaishnav Parivar, was well attended by city and county officials as well as other dignitaries from the community. With the establishment of the Shreemaya Krishnadham Cultural and Community Center in Milpitas, in the heart of Silicon Valley (which has one of the highest concentrations of Indian Americans) BAYVP intends to serve the large senior Indian American population who have few resources available to fulfill their distinctive needs.

Speakers noted that the Indian American senior population had some unique issues of their own – including certain linguistic, cultural, spiritual, emotional and social needs. Dr Divyang Patel, director of community services of BAYVP, announced that the organization would make a dedicated and focused effort to fulfill the void in services.

On hand for the inauguration and lighting ceremony of the Shreemaya Senior Center were Vice Mayor of Milpitas Pete McHugh, San Jose Councilmember Ash Kalra, Santa Clara County Supervisor Narendra Pathak and retired attorney Harikrishna Majmundar.

McHugh, one of the keynote speakers and guests, noted the commendable efforts of BAYVP in such short duration and complimented the organization’s initiative to expand services for the senior population. He presented BAYVP president Jogen Shah with a Certificate of Commendation from the City of Milpitas.

Jogen Shah, on behalf of BAYVP, thanked the guests and keynote speakers as well as the leader coordinator and team leads. He noted this center is an attempt to build a bridge between Indian American seniors and the younger generation as well as integrate them into the broader community.

More information on BAYVP activities can be found at www.bayvp.org.

(A Siliconeer report by Pravin Desai)


Afghan Drama

San Jose Repertory Theatre is getting ready for the world premiere of the stage adaptation of Khaled Hosseini’s international best-selling novel, “The Kite Runner” – a haunting story of friendship and redemption in modern Afghanistan. Adapted by Bay Area resident Matthew Spangler and directed by David Ira Goldstein, artistic director of the Arizona Theatre Company, “The Kite Runner” runs from March 21-April 19 at the San Jose Repertory Theatre in downtown San Jose.

“The Kite Runner” is a tale told through the lives of two boys growing up in Kabul in the same household, but in two starkly different worlds. Amir is the son of a wealthy yet emotionally distant businessman, while Hassan is the son of Amir’s father’s servant, a shunned ethnic minority. Despite the disparity in social positions, the two grow up inseparable until Amir and his father flee the country during the Soviet invasion. Years later, Amir returns to Afghanistan to seek out his old friend and atone for his youthful cowardice. But fate, global politics and historical tragedy threaten Amir’s ability to make amends for his past.

“The characters in The Kite Runner all struggle with the most basic of human emotions: love, envy, fear, joy and guilt,” observes director David Ira Goldstein. “In Amir’s struggles, we all recognize our own failings, and in his redemption, we discover a hopeful way forward.”

“Its epic structure – spanning the continents and nearly 30 years – its powerful moments of high drama and its engaging characters make this an ideal story for live performance,” states playwright Matthew Spangler. “I fell in love with the book and knew right away that it would make an excellent play.”

Tickets are available at the San Jose Rep Box Office at 101 Paseo de San Antonio or can be purchased online at www.SJRep.com or by calling (408) 367-7255.


South Asian Summit

The 2009 South Asian Summit will be hosted April 24-26 at American University in Washington, D.C., by South Asian Americans Leading Together and the South Asian Law Students Association at the Washington College of Law, American University, as part of the Founders’ Day Celebration (a series of events over a three-month period to commemorate the founding of the Washington College of Law).

The summit is an opportunity for organizational leaders and community members to engage with policymakers as well as government agencies and to participate in a a learning environment to strategize around best practices, common principles, and emerging issues of concern in our community and country using a progressive, social justice framework.

The summit’s goals include creating forums for advocates and students to learn about emerging issues affecting the community through workshops and discussions, and to identify collaborations and creative idea; raising awareness around civil and immigrant rights issues affecting the community; building skills of new advocates working in social justice organizations; meeting with DC-based governmental and legislative liaisons who outreach to immigrant communities; and discussing how South Asians can affect policy change in the new administration.

More information is available at www.saalt.org


Locke Named Secretary

Secretary of Commerce Gary Locke

President Barack Obama has officially nominated former Washington Governor Gary Locke for U.S. secretary of commerce, according to a White House press release. In this key role on the administration’s economic team, Locke will work to foster and promote the nation’s economic development at home, and serve as an influential ambassador for American industry abroad.

The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act will save or create three and a half million jobs over the next two years, and 90 percent of these jobs will be created in the private sector. As Secretary of the Department of Commerce, Locke will ensure American workers can prosper, businesses can thrive, and the economy can grow. 

“Gary will be a trusted voice in my cabinet, a tireless advocate for our economic competitiveness, and an influential ambassador for American industry who will help us do everything we can – especially now – to promote it around the world,” said President Obama. “I’m grateful he’s agreed to leave one Washington for another, and I look forward to having him on my team as we continue the work of turning our economy around and bringing about a stronger, more prosperous future for all Americans.”

“Our nation’s economic success is tied directly to America continuing to lead in technology and innovation and in exporting those products, services and ideas to markets around the globe,” Locke said. “The Department of Commerce can and will help create jobs and the economic vitality our country needs.”

Locke was elected Washington governor in 1996, making him the first Chinese American governor in U.S. history and the first Asian American governor on the mainland.  In 2000, Locke was overwhelmingly re-elected to a second term.

A champion of American products, services and jobs, Locke broke down trade barriers around the world to advance American products while governor of the nation’s most trade-dependent state. 

Recently, Locke has been helping U.S. companies break into international markets, particularly in Asia.

He served as chair of the Democratic Governors Association and gave the Democratic response to the State of the Union address in 2003.


Honoring Filipino Vets

Members of the Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus Feb. 13 applauded the passage of H.R. 1, the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, which includes one of CAPAC’s top legislative priorities: Compensation for Filipino World War II Veterans.

The act includes authorization of one-time compensation to Filipino World War II veterans who fought alongside American soldiers. Funds for the authorization were already appropriated in the 110th Congress.

“Today, we’ve reached a significant milestone in honoring the service of the Filipino World War II veterans,” said Rep. Mike Honda, D-Calif., and CAPAC chair. “Finally, through this funding, our government gives some recognition and thanks to the Filipino soldiers who fought under the Stars and Stripes and helped rid the world of tyranny and fascism. This token of gratitude for their service is long overdue. I thank Democratic leadership for their critical efforts in supporting the Filipino veterans.”

Sen. Daniel K. Inouye, D-Hawaii, said: “Today is a great day for Filipino veterans of World War II.  With passage in the House this afternoon, and expected passage in the Senate this evening, the Filipino veterans will receive their long-overdue compensation from the United States government. While I believe that this action should have happened long ago, I hope that these veterans will now know that the people of the United States truly appreciate the great sacrifices that they and their fallen comrades made for our country.”

Rep. Anh “Joseph” Cao, R-La., added: “As a matter of honor, I think it is time the United States makes good on her word. I would have preferred to not include the authorization language in the stimulus bill, but the commitment to our Filipino vets is more than 60 years overdue. I feel honoring our commitment to our veterans is of utmost importance while they are still alive. And we have to always be mindful of the way we treat all of our veterans regardless of background. I am extremely proud of the way American citizens of all ethnic backgrounds have fought for this country and for freedom.”


Mommy & Me

Mommy & Me winners with Jayesh Mehta (3rd from l) and Nikhil Shukla of DirecTV (r).

AUM Events Mommy & Me, Pre–Teen Diva & Teen Star pageants organized by Jayesh Mehta was hosted Feb 21 at Chutney Manor in New Brunswick, N.J., according to a press release from organizers. Around 40 contestants from all over New Jersey were selected for the final pageant sponsored by DIRECTV and co-sponsored by Geetanjali Singh of Khubsoorat Collections.

All the participating Mommy & Me, Pre–Teen Diva and Teen Star contestants presented their respective talents along with the two catwalk rounds – Indian / Traditional wear & Western wear along with question and answer round by judges. 

Jayesh Mehta choreographed and emceed the show.

Amrit Narwal and her daughter Kriti won the title of Mommy and Me 2009, 12-year-old Pooja Singh was crowned Pre–Teen Diva 2009 while 16-year-old Vaibhavi Bhavsar was named Teen Star 2009. The show was organized to highlight the talents of young girls and mothers.

The winners were crowned by Nikhil Shukla of DIRECTV, who also acted as one of the judges of the contest. All the winners were presented with certificates, sash, trophies and prizes by Aum Events. 

Other winners were mom Sapna and Nidhi Shah. first runners-up; mom Rujul and Neerja Dave, were judged second runners-up; Best Catwalk award was given to mom Shirley and Raveena Samtani; mom Jenni and Ria Patel were named Miss Congeniality, mom Shruti & Anisha Kakar were awarded Perfect Bonding. 

Jayesh Mehta, organizer of the pageant, said that he would organize similar pageants in other states in coming months that will finally culminate in a national pageant of Mommy and Me, Pre – Teen Diva and Teen Star 2009 at the end of the year.



Click here to read the Current Issue in Pdf Format

Bangla Festival: NABC 2009
The 29th North American Bengali Conference will bring together some of the top Bangla artists from West Bengal and Bangladesh. A Siliconeer report.

Memories of Holi:
Festival of Love

Poet and folklorist Ved Prakash Vatuk reminisces about a time in his childhood when Holi in the village was a colorful, culturally rich time of celebration.

Who Wants to be PM?
Tomorrow’s Leader

Rahul Gandhi, Mayawati and Narendra Modi are leading contenders to be the next prime minister in India, writes Priyanka Bhardwaj.

81st Annual Academy Awards
A Siliconeer Exclusive Photo Essay

IIFA Awards 2008
A Siliconeer Exclusive Photo Essay

EDITORIAL: Celebrating Bangla
AWARDS: ‘Slumdog’ Slam Dunk
NEWS DIARY: February
SUBCONTINENT: India’s Gas Boost
HEALTH: Battling Heart Disease
COMMUNITY: Remembering Ekushey
CINEMA: Asian American Film Fest
ESSAY: Stage-managed Feminism
TRAVEL: France, Morocco
AUTO REVIEW: 2009 Toyota Venza
BOLLYWOOD: Review: Billu
RECIPE: Vegetable Jalfrezie
TAMIL CINEMA: Siva Manasula Sakthi
COMMUNITY: News in Brief

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