IS INDIA A COUNTRY OF ONLOOKERS?
The year for us Indians started off with a
shocking, offending, depressing and nauseating
rape tragedy. However, it was that incident
that left a ray of hope upon by the
brave victim herself, as the persistent efforts
of Indian youth, both men and
women, with candles and torches, did not let us down. While the violent
gang rape of a young female scientist in a moving bus is extremely
disturbing, more horrifying is the fact that after the victim and her
friend were thrown out of the bus they became objects of curiosity and
discussion by the onlookers. Lying on the road naked and bleeding,
they stayed that way for 40 minutes without no one even coming forward
to cover them with a piece of cloth! What kind of country is this?
Where will we go in the future? One excuse Indians give for noninterference
is that we are scared of getting into “cop” trouble. But at what
cost is this fear? Such escapism? So what if we die helping others? Is it
not worth saving another life? So what if the police harasses us a little
bit in the name of justice? (God that sure sounds ironic!) But at least
maybe that poor girl would have been saved. Maybe. Frankly until this
incident, I would never have believed that human beings can simply
stare at another human beings’ misery at no obvious threat to their
A strange incident happened recently (way before the Delhi incident
took place) which planted a seed of serious doubt about my Indian
clan. It’s very minor compared to what happened in Delhi but it gives
a glimpse of our average Indian psyche and how it happened here, in
It has been almost a quarter century since I have been to this country
and living in the US. In all these years nothing like this ever happened
to me from my fellow Indians. I planned a
mothers-and-daughters outing to go to a movie called Jab Tak Hain Jaan.
We were eight people in total and, as the kids wanted to eat before the
movie, I volunteered to go early and reserve seats at the IMC Mercado.
I was able to save great seats, and came almost one and half hours early
to do so. Unfortunately, my kids got late and were on their way. When
the hall was almost half full and the best seats were taken, came in a
young man of about 26 years of age who appeared to have just come
from India. He sat right in the middle of my reserved seats, removing
my jacket (or whatever I have placed to reserve) with a smirk on his
face and giving me a nasty look. I told him that I had reserved those
seats and had come almost two hours early to do so. He just smirks
and says “My wish, I’ll sit wherever I want, you go tell the management.”
I was shocked. I was tired after a long day’s work, standing in line
for this junk movie (my child loves Shah Rukh Khan) and now this
punk is threatening to take my reserved, most preciously held seats. I
got up from my seat and stood right in front of him and told him to
move away or I will ask my kids to just pull him away physically after
they come. He didn’t budge. I looked behind. A row of onlookers, a
little younger than me perhaps, were simply looking at the tamasha.
They too had seats reserved but I was the only one alone in my group,
so I had no support. I asked them, the onlookers, to help me and tell
the guy to go away. They just stared as if I have committed a crime.
They even laughed at me. I had the guts to ask their help. One of
them, a woman, by the way said, “Maybe if you had asked nicely, he
would have moved!” I was rooted in my spot with shock! I come here
like a good citizen, early, reserve my seats, and simply sit there minding
my business; comes in a brash loser, late, lazy and demanding to take
my seat. If he wanted a good seat all he had to do was come early. And I am supposed to beg him, cajole him and gently request him, ‘Bhayya,
please, I beg of you, please give me back my seat. It’s my fault I came
early. You are mahapurush, have mercy, please give me back my seat!” I
wondered what would have happened if that lady’s seat has been
usurped instead! I simply stared, too numb and shocked to respond.
My Bharat and my Indians are simply superb. At that minute it didnt
strike me that I am the editor of a magazine! All I could have done is
take a picture of the lady and the guy with my phone and publish their
faces along with this article. After all isn’t media the bane of all law enforcement?
Or maybe I should have at least threatened them to do so.
Finally looking at my tired yet angry face, the guy went away, throwing
me another of his precious smirks.
At that time no gang rape nor protests had taken place in Delhi yet
- the discussions, the prejudiced comments of out leaders and swamis
blaming the victim see
and the dreadful night of onlookers-are not known. Now if I think
back, I realized how easily our desi men and women can sit or stand
simply looking at a horrifying scene or not so horrifying incident (in
my case), doing nothing but just blaming the victim. They simply can,
whether watching a simple seat-theft incident or a serious gang rape,
with same aplomb. In fact a Swami ji even said the same thing that the
woman advised me to do “If the victim had begged the rapist to show
mercy and call him bhayya, she would have been spared!” Blaming the
Why? I have no idea. If this seat-snatching happened to me by another
man/woman belonging to another country or race, I could have
found a hundred reasons to explain it away. But my own country persons!
Maybe it’s the fear, or imbedded in their culture (that preaches
dont meddle with other people’s issues even if they are dying), or
maybe we are a bunch of bad, mean people always wanting to usurp
other people’s belongings, be it dignity or kind, or even a seat!
What happened in India is horrific. But more horrific is the fact
that such incidents continue to occur if we remain a country of onlookers
with the “Rang de Basanthi” candle syndrome. India now desperately
needs people who can respond to a tragedy not merely by lighting
candles but by revolting, forcing the law into serious action, helping
victims and raising a loud voice at the culprit. Culprits should not be
feeling that they can get away with inappropriate behavior either in
public or private. For a country with one billion people, we are a meek
bunch–– swelling with false pride, stuck in prejudices and religious fanaticism,
making rounds to swamiji ashrams, and having no value to
human dignity at all.
I am ashamed to see a young Indian that usurped my seat with
such substandards. I would expect decent behavior from a young man,
who traveled all the way from India and living in a foreign country in
the hope of making a living and better his conditions, to at least be cautious
and kind. Forget about etiquette, most young men and women
coming fresh from India lack even the basic decency. They are so absorbed
with themselves. Now, it looks like they think rowdy behavior is
okay too! And we older generation just watch them, taking it in our
stride, sometimes secretly enjoying the other person’s plight and discomfort.
God! If two or three people in support of each other can raise
a voice against such ruffians, they will dare not repeat such behavior.
Interestingly, same ruffian will not behave so with a Caucasian or Chinese.
They know they cannot get away with it!
What we as a community of Indians should learn is that we cannot
tolerate bad, inappropriate behavior. And standing up to bad behavior
should not be considered deviant and out of place or honor. And most
of all support each other in times of need –– without fear or favor!
- Meena Yeggina
Being a Judge at the CCF Dance Competitions
Why me? Was my first thought. Why not? Was my daughter's query. My skepticism confused her. “You've been affiliated with dance since I was three. You know all the ins and outs, watched hundreds of performances, analyzed another million and learned, theoretically, several formats. You read so much about it. I think you can be a very knowledgeable judge,” she said analytically. “Anyways, I am not competing. So objectivity will not be a problem.”
I was not convinced. For the past three years, Vinod Patel, coordinator of the CCF Dance Competitions, has been sending me the application forms. Somehow though, I could not bring myself to fill it out. This is the question of giving knowledgeable judgement to tons of kids working so hard. Vinodji was confused with my hesitations: “Meenaji,” he said. “Why are you so hesitant? You will be given all the training that will make it very easy for you. We just want honest people. The guidelines will tell you how to judge accurately.”
I finally filled up the form with a lot of doubt, skepticism, and hesitation (I know they all mean the same, just trying to be categorical), but also with determination. My son, too, had assured me that I have a good eye for dance. “You were my worst critic, I mean the best are,” he said, hiding a naughty smile.
The dreaded day arrived. It was truly dreaded because a couple of months ago I signed up a booth at Ed Rev 2012, an event sponsored by the Parent Education Network, to distribute my magazines and take e-mail sign-ups, little knowing that it would coincide with CCF. This was happening at the AT & T Park, San Francisco. Unfortunately, I was supposed to report at CCF by 12:30 for the judges meeting. My daughter was going to perform a guest item at CCF and my husband was out of town attending his uncle's 70th birthday party, so no help from that end was provided. Being the stubborn woman that I am, I wanted to successfully attend both events and be on time for each one. Consequently, I woke up early, drove to SF by seven in the morning, got my table ready, placed my magazines, and worked a couple of hours at my booth. Feeling happy and motivated, I managed to come home by 11:30, get ready, get my daughter ready and rush to the CCF competitions. I was fifteen minutes late, and hurriedly ran inside the hall while stumbling on my silk saree. Subhash Desai, the judge coordinator looked at me from the top of his glasses as if I just committed an immense crime. “Another five minutes and we were going to look for an alternative,” he said. I felt like a child at the admonishment. Gosh, I am too old for this, I thought depressed.
After seating all 12 of us – three judges per category, thus creating a total of 12 – he stood in front again and gave us our categories. I am to judge Bollywood, both junior and senior groups. I breathed a sigh of relief. This is my forte.
With all of us seated, he stood directly in front of me while declaring the rules and regulations of how to judge properly. He detailed the judges' point system and how we should begin with 100 points and cut them down for every single mistake. He drilled into our heads information about CCF, honesty, integrity, and the hard work of all 700 kids. At that minute, I felt as if I was judging not dance competitions, but a case where I have to make a crucial decision about life and death. After his inspirational speech, we all had tight lipped, straight backed, well determined clipped faces that said, "We will do this right, come what may."
Eventually, Desai ended the workshop with “Remember, these kids worked diligently, and depend on each one of you to give them justice. And if I feel that any of your judging sheets clash with the others very evidently, I will have to remove your sheet and ignore your marks. And if I feel you are being partial to a specific group, I will have to ask you to not judge anymore.”
His speech not only inspired me to be extra careful and punctilious, but also a bit edgy. I hoped to God that I'll be able to do the right thing. I recapitulated the main points in my head: No discussing with other judges, no clapping, no showing any emotions and submitting points to Subash after each item with my name and item number on it.
We were given a sheet for each item with ten categories to judge for ten points each. The items were categorized so well that it was easy to judge accordingly. But still I was on pins and needles. This has to be done right, I thought, as so many kids worked hard and depend on this, at least for today, to make a difference in their lives. As my first item began, I focused, examining each dancer, observing each step meticulously, yet feeling comfortable in the fact that there are two more judges doing the same. Children danced in aplomb, and I did my job conscientiously. Still after each judgement paper I submitted, I dreaded making mistakes, worried that Subhash might come to me, tap on my shoulder and declare, “This is done wrong, I request you to please step out of your judgement chair!" Fortunately, nothing like that happened, and they all said that I did a great job. I finally sighed in relief of a job well done and to the best of my judging capabilities without any fear of favor!!
CCF is what it is because of its fairness, objectivity and strict observation for culture through dance. It is very prestigiously done and extremely well preserved in honesty and character. No wonder the CCF Raas-Garba competitions are top notch in the Bay Area and no other organization can come close to its credibility.
On that day, however, I realized that judging is not my cup of tea. So much pressure, so many hours of keen watching and observing, deciding on each point and to do it just right is too much to bear. I am sure being a legal judge and deciding the fate of one person would be easier than judging these sweet little kids who come in with each item with so much vigor, vibrance, skill, innocence and, above all, hope. No, definitely not my cup of tea.
- Meena Yeggina
Why Summer Camps Are Important for your Child!
It’s a very common notion among Indians here that summer camp is only for those kids whose both parents work! I thought so too, almost 10 years ago. I heard many moms say, “I dont work. So my kids need not join any summer camp. They can just relax at home. They had a tough school year.”
This notion has been proved wrong by many studies and expert verifications. Various studies seem to prove that kids at home during summer are more likely to play video games, watch TV or just lag before a laptop. With these gismos acting as their baby sitter (how long a mother or father entertain them?) kids lose study skills and physical stimulation. As neighborhood play is limited to arranged hourly structured sections, they are most likely to stagnate more and play less. Please see page 32 for an expert article on this topic for more information.
Summer camps need not be all study and no play. Fantastic camps which in addition to stimulating a child’s thought process are equally entertaining and fun. Destination Science, Bizsmart, Edventure More, Sara’s Science, Tech Academy, CDM, BADM are only a few very good examples. There are many more. Check this issue carefully foryour interests. These are not just ads but RESOURCES for your child. They are interested in you because they know what most of the Indian Parents want and expect from a camp. We here at the India Parent Magazine carefully selected camps that might be very interesting to all of us. Just us. Because we are very choosy. From music to dance, from science to art, we have all listed here to suit your needs.
What do You and Your Child Want?
This question may sound simple but explore options with your child carefully before you decide and discuss these questions with him/her before you make a decision For all you know a summer experience might change your child’s entire outlook.
What do you and your child want to gain from the camp experience ? Learn new skills, develop more self confidence, improving proficiency in certain areas, become more independent
What are other expectations of the camp experience
What are the special interests that your child wants to explore
Are there any physical, intellectual, or social limitations that should be considered
What kind of emphasis will your child profit from the most? For example: Is a lot of structure desirable, is social interaction with members of the opposite sex important, or does your child need a place where he or she is encouraged to develop at their own pace
You should take some time to consider what you can reasonably afford.
Ask for references of families who have had their child attend the camp. Speaking with these families can give you valuable insight about the camp and the families that send their children there.
Finally and more importantly, involve your child in the selection process. Review your child's preferences and let you child ask questions too.
We, here at the IPM office, sincerely hope that you find this Summer Camp Special issue helpful. Please send your feedbacks and suggestions and we will post them online at www.indiaparentmagazine.org.
An Exciting Year Ahead!
India Parent Magazine has entered in 18th year in business in March 2011. It’s been born along with my now college freshman son and continued to grow along with him, like a twin child. I started off as IndZine, my husband’s idea of mixing India and Magazine together and calling it IndZine. Even now, a lot of people remember it by that name and fondly talk to me about its contents. I changed the focus from general to parenting ten years ago, and began calling it India Parent Magazine.
These 18 years I remember every cover, every editorial, and every change. Just as my son, it has gone through ups and downs, lows and highs, joys and sorrows. Whatever the growth line of the magazine has been, one factor has remained consistent: Parents loved the magazine. The comment has always been the same: “Very informative, energetic and to the point. We love it.”
As an editor, I never felt bored or repetitive. I love my magazine and every issue is like a new-born baby. I cherished every cover and each e-mail in praise or in criticism. One of the first letters of praise I have received was from Harikrishna Majumdar, one of the most respected senior citizens of the Bay Area. I felt that was very nice of him, and highly objective. The letter gave me a strange sense of confidence. I was all geared up to make my publication informative and interesting.
Today, India Parent Magazine is a trusted and respected magazine and has about 52 private schools advertising in it. It had FOUR Open Houses for schools at Sunnyvale Hindu Temple with three Mayors of three cities in the Bay Area honoring each event and is gearing up for the FIFTH one in March 2012. It will be a fun-filled FREE event. Please bring your family and enjoy the schools, dances, speeches, and free gifts. Parents can come and check out several schools that are offering excellent curriculum for children. About 100 children perform in each of these events and about 45 private schools participate. Each previous event was a joy to watch and I was extremely proud. I am also very proud to say that India Parent Magazine is the only Indian Publication in the Bay Area to provide such events FREE to its readers.
The upcoming year is extremely exciting and eventful as well. The January issue will focus on informing the readers about several private schools and their Open Houses in the Bay Area. In February we will have a School Special featuring the Best of the Best private academic schools, Dance, Music and Swim schools in the Bay Area. In March, we will have Summer Camp Special, enlisting several Summer Camps that are interested in having Indian kids in their camps. So we do have an exciting editorial for 2012 planned for you. Please come to all these events and check out the Special Editions and utilize our FREE services as a “Give Back” to our readers. Also, In January we are bringing out TWO SPECIAL ISSUES in addition to the regular issue titled Health Professional Special and Realty/Mortgage Special. More than 40 professionals will be featured in each Special. These are copies to be kept and referred to when needed.
You can find a free copy of India Parent Magazine in any public library through out the Bay Area, most private schools, dance and music schools ( both Indian and mainstream) swim schools, YMCA’s and so on. We try to avoid Indian grocery stores for lack of proper placement in the racks available. If you have a favorite store/school/restaurant/learning center that you want to see IPM at, please inform us and we will be glad to add it to our distribution list.
We are Online Too!
Please visit www.indiaparentmagazine.org and check weekly updates on movies, calendar listings, coupons and even to just read the monthly magazine online. Read it in the privacy of your laptop.
Thank You, and have a wonderful and prosperous New Year! -
A New Direction
This month in India Parent Magazine, you will see a wide range of ethnic groups advertising and writing in the magazine. Indian- Americans, Caucasians and Asians showed open interest in Indian Parents and wanted to share/acquire knowledge from each other. This I felt is a great achievement hat only India Parent Magazine, a primarily Indian-reader based magazine is able to achieve. Sharing and needing other cultures is not a new trend. It has happened throughout history through amalgamation and assimilation. What’s new now is the deliberate intention to share without losing your self: By acknowledging the need and importance of each other’s (ethnic groups) existence in the well being of the other. This is an amazing trend.
I am especially very impressed with the Chinese community who are truly professional to the core. I met people like Simon who is in insurance business, young, dynamic, kind and eager to do business with the Indian community. Gone is the prejudice among each other cultures. So is Jevons Feng, an extremely soft-spoken and highly sophisticated realtor, who is always available to his clients. He impressed me most with his soft spoken yet gritty manner. Also meet Chaochin and Helen. They are highly qualified and one conversation with them will drive away any stereotypes you might ave had about Asians not liking Indians.
Another gentleman I met who is an Indian – an old, traditional kind of way Indian: Samuel Victor. One need to meet him just to know what true Indian gentlemen are made of. Who wouldn’t want to do business with him? Or a Guy Caputo, a humorous lawyer who knows all the mannerisms of Indians and knows xactly how to work with them.
As a publisher of this prestigious magazine called India Parent which is acting as a bridge connecting a wide variety of cultures, I am floored to meet all these mind-blowing people who along with their business are making us aware of their culture and its true nature: Enrichment through ssociation.
India Parent Magazine
Website : www.indiaparentmagazine.org
Phone : 408-964-8708
Fax : 408-929-0593
Celebrations Represent Unity and Joy
Come Fall and along with back-to-school business, Indians are also busy with celebrations and festivities. Beginning with Lakshmi Puja and Rakhi in early August and September, and then Ganesh Chaturdhi in mid September, we all get warmed up for the major celebrations in October––Navrathri, the festival Kali, as well Diwali, the Festival of Lights. Diwali is celebrated by all Indians with gusto in one way or another. In this fashion, Diwali, like Holi, is an all-India event irrespective of the religious base of those participating in it. Like Christmas, Diwali in the past few years has become an internationally celebrated event too, due its joyous nature involving lights and the arrival of good days. During Christmas, we, again irrespective of our religious base, put up a tree with lights, invite families over, and exchange gifts. Christmas acts more as a celebration of good times than as a religious event.
Festivities, more than the religion and religious ceremonies that they represent, act as a unifying force. They bring families and groups together, which is and should be the underlying factor of any celebration. God in any form, however, will always be there, in any celebration, lurking as a strong force in whatever form––Allah, Ram, Jesus––having fun in all the festivities.
Long time ago, in our native land where we have shared and enjoyed such festivities without any bomb scares and religious bigotry, sharing our sweets with our neighbors and friends, it was definitely not religion we were thinking of, but of the joy such events bring in sharing that is intensely and exquisitely fulfilling.
Now here in the US, in our second home, which most of us have subconsciously made it our first, it’s with that same joy and happiness we await this festival season. In addition, almost all the cities here in tha Bay Area celebrate Diwali, or the Festival of Lights. From the City of Cupertino to Fremont, several cities come forward to join in the fun. At such events, more than religion, it is the culture and unity that makes these events so special.
This year, for the first time, the Children Discovery Museum of San Jose (CDM) joined hands with the Indian community to celebrate Diwali in its premises with much fanfare. In addition to story-telling, dance, music, fashion show and classical performances, CDM, in association with ICC, is also having a food gallery exhibiting Indian delicacies, dandia stick-decorating, dandia dance step-learning and other craft extravaganza. A not-to-miss event, this Diwali celebration at CDM will be an excellent family get-together and stroy-telling time, a time to share and enjoy. It’s on Oct 9, from 1 to 5 pm, and you all should try not to miss it.
I am proud of my roots and can never forget my culture. However, it gives me extra joy and pride that my second home also takes pride in my culture and is equally happy to share and enjoy it. -Meena Yeggina