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Good Indian Girl http://goodindiangirl.com Fri, 01 Dec 2017 05:48:45 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=4.8.4 Album Review: Shilpa Ray’s Door Girl http://goodindiangirl.com/album-review-shilpa-rays-door-girl/ http://goodindiangirl.com/album-review-shilpa-rays-door-girl/#respond Fri, 01 Dec 2017 05:48:45 +0000 http://goodindiangirl.com/?p=8416 by Guest Blogger Samuel Allen New York rockers Shilpa Ray recently released their new album, Door Girl. It’s a raucous, energetic 12-track odyssey exploring the ups, downs, highs, and lows of life in the city in 2017. Ray, the band’s eponymous (and sole) writer, deftly wields wit and irreverence in describing the facts and feelings of that come with spending 17 years in New York. “Revelations of a Stamp Monkey” voices an everpresent “feeling of impending disaster” while her “heart went to making the rent”. “Add Value Add Time” depicts the constant grind and occasional dizzying anxiety of the day in-day out malaise in the five boroughs, with memories of panic attacks in hybrid cars and Whole Foods markets taking the place of dreams. It’s a wistful rumination on the nature of things never really seeming to get better, and of Ray’s resignation to the tedium of it all. Door Girl showcases Ray’s chops as a rocker and balladeer. The record opens with “New York Minute Prayer”, which glides along with a waltzy sheen and doo-wop vocals, before quickly shifting into the jangly, call-and-response pop of “Morning Terrors Nights of Dread”. The earlier-mentioned “Revelations of a Stamp Monkey” mixes percussive interplay with a spoken rap of Beck-esque lyrical collages and speeds into the scream-along verses of “EMT Police and the Fire Department”. All in all, Door Girl is a record that takes you on a journey with Shilpa Ray – through nights out, nights in, visions, desires, disappointments, aspirations, and tribulations. The songs are observationsread more

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by Guest Blogger Samuel Allen

New York rockers Shilpa Ray recently released their new album, Door Girl. It’s a raucous, energetic 12-track odyssey exploring the ups, downs, highs, and lows of life in the city in 2017.

Ray, the band’s eponymous (and sole) writer, deftly wields wit and irreverence in describing the facts and feelings of that come with spending 17 years in New York. “Revelations of a Stamp Monkey” voices an everpresent “feeling of impending disaster” while her “heart went to making the rent”. “Add Value Add Time” depicts the constant grind and occasional dizzying anxiety of the day in-day out malaise in the five boroughs, with memories of panic attacks in hybrid cars and Whole Foods markets taking the place of dreams. It’s a wistful rumination on the nature of things never really seeming to get better, and of Ray’s resignation to the tedium of it all.

Door Girl showcases Ray’s chops as a rocker and balladeer. The record opens with “New York Minute Prayer”, which glides along with a waltzy sheen and doo-wop vocals, before quickly shifting into the jangly, call-and-response pop of “Morning Terrors Nights of Dread”. The earlier-mentioned “Revelations of a Stamp Monkey” mixes percussive interplay with a spoken rap of Beck-esque lyrical collages and speeds into the scream-along verses of “EMT Police and the Fire Department”.

All in all, Door Girl is a record that takes you on a journey with Shilpa Ray – through nights out, nights in, visions, desires, disappointments, aspirations, and tribulations. The songs are observations and meditations with a frank, unabashed perspective of just how fucked up things can seem, and just how dulcet it can be to dream. In the album’s closing “My World Shatters by the BQE”, Ray belts out her intention to keep going with life in the city – “I’m sticking around now for the good times to come.”

Check out Shilpa Ray’s Door Girl on iTunes or Spotify.

Samuel lives in Austin. He likes riding bicycles, reading French, taking photos, and mixing old-fashioneds. Sam has been described as “decent on defense” by his fourth-grade soccer coach. His photography and more can be seen at www.sambiguous.com.

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Made with a Purpose: Handmade Bags from India http://goodindiangirl.com/made-purpose-handmade-bags-india/ http://goodindiangirl.com/made-purpose-handmade-bags-india/#respond Sat, 11 Nov 2017 21:40:32 +0000 http://goodindiangirl.com/?p=8389 Reshma is offering the Good Indian Girl community 20% off the Made With a Purpose handbags. Just use code GIG20OFF at checkout to receive your discount. Learn more Made with a Purpose below.  Reshma Thakkar witnessed the struggles faced by Indian girls and women firsthand on family trips to her native land. Born and raised in the United States, she felt compelled early on to do something for others who had not received the same opportunities she had. Fortunately, a highly-successful career as a healthcare IT consultant allowed her to sponsor the education of two young girls in the town of Vrindavan. After learning a relative of one of her girls was being forced by her parents to marry and leave school, however, she knew that something had to be done right away to keep others from the same fate. After a great deal of soul-searching and many sleepless nights, an afternoon spent helping her parents prepare for a move provided the spark she needed to begin turning her dream of helping others into a reality. On that day, Reshma’s mother mentioned being unable to decide what to do with the large number of old saris she had accumulated over the years. Reshma then recalled that the school her girls attended operated a center where local women could learn to sew to generate extra income for their families. Why not take the garments along on her next visit to see if they could be repurposed into useful, attractive items like bag and pouches to be sold overseas? Theread more

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Reshma is offering the Good Indian Girl community 20% off the Made With a Purpose handbags. Just use code GIG20OFF at checkout to receive your discount. Learn more Made with a Purpose below. 

Reshma Thakkar witnessed the struggles faced by Indian girls and women firsthand on family trips to her native land. Born and raised in the United States, she felt compelled early on to do something for others who had not received the same opportunities she had. Fortunately, a highly-successful career as a healthcare IT consultant allowed her to sponsor the education of two young girls in the town of Vrindavan. After learning a relative of one of her girls was being forced by her parents to marry and leave school, however, she knew that something had to be done right away to keep others from the same fate. After a great deal of soul-searching and many sleepless nights, an afternoon spent helping her parents prepare for a move provided the spark she needed to begin turning her dream of helping others into a reality.

On that day, Reshma’s mother mentioned being unable to decide what to do with the large number of old saris she had accumulated over the years. Reshma then recalled that the school her girls attended operated a center where local women could learn to sew to generate extra income for their families. Why not take the garments along on her next visit to see if they could be repurposed into useful, attractive items like bag and pouches to be sold overseas? The proceeds would provide the women who created them with fair wages, as well as help pay for materials and equipment the center needed to continue to operate. It seemed like a win-win situation: saris would be recycled, people would purchase beautiful and unique handicrafts, and women would acquire earning potential they might never have realized they had.

To learn more about Reshma and Made with a Purpose, please visit www.madewithapurpose.com or follow them on Instagram at @stitch4change.

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Good Indian Girl Goes to Japan (Part 2) http://goodindiangirl.com/good-indian-girl-goes-japan-part-2/ http://goodindiangirl.com/good-indian-girl-goes-japan-part-2/#respond Thu, 02 Nov 2017 15:57:56 +0000 http://goodindiangirl.com/?p=8380 Full of beautiful shrines and an dreamlike sense of harmony, you can’t help but look inwards (while looking outwards) when you’re in Kyoto. From breathtaking shrines on almost every block, dimly lit lanterns in Gion, to the cozy bars nestled up alongside the Kamo River, there are few wrong turns in Kyoto. If you’d rather spend your hard-earned yen on things like sushi-shaped erasers, we highly recommend purchasing a JR Rail Pass before you make your way to Japan. The commute from Tokyo to Kyoto is pretty straightforward via the shinkansen (bullet train), but can get extremely expensive if you plan on city-hopping throughout Japan. The train ride between these two major cities takes around 3 hours, and as an added bonus, on a clear day you can see the wondrous and majestic Fuji-san (Mt. Fuji). Paying homage to the Golden and Silver Pavilion. With temples abound in Kyoto, the most popular ones are the Golden and Silver Pavilion. The Golden Temple is perched over the Mirror Pond and is a breathtaking piece of Japanese history. The Silver temple can be found by making your way through the Philosopher’s Path, made famous by one of Japan’s most notable philosophers who was said to practice meditation while making this trek. After winding through cherry blossom trees, shops and vendors, you’ll be led to the temple entrance. In comparison to the Golden Pavilion, the experience is more extended (unlike the Golden Pavilion which is a quick loop). This temple allows for a more tactile experience, giving youread more

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Full of beautiful shrines and an dreamlike sense of harmony, you can’t help but look inwards (while looking outwards) when you’re in Kyoto. From breathtaking shrines on almost every block, dimly lit lanterns in Gion, to the cozy bars nestled up alongside the Kamo River, there are few wrong turns in Kyoto.

If you’d rather spend your hard-earned yen on things like sushi-shaped erasers, we highly recommend purchasing a JR Rail Pass before you make your way to Japan. The commute from Tokyo to Kyoto is pretty straightforward via the shinkansen (bullet train), but can get extremely expensive if you plan on city-hopping throughout Japan. The train ride between these two major cities takes around 3 hours, and as an added bonus, on a clear day you can see the wondrous and majestic Fuji-san (Mt. Fuji).

Paying homage to the Golden and Silver Pavilion. With temples abound in Kyoto, the most popular ones are the Golden and Silver Pavilion. The Golden Temple is perched over the Mirror Pond and is a breathtaking piece of Japanese history. The Silver temple can be found by making your way through the Philosopher’s Path, made famous by one of Japan’s most notable philosophers who was said to practice meditation while making this trek. After winding through cherry blossom trees, shops and vendors, you’ll be led to the temple entrance. In comparison to the Golden Pavilion, the experience is more extended (unlike the Golden Pavilion which is a quick loop). This temple allows for a more tactile experience, giving you the opportunity to hike through forests and rock gardens within the temple walls, ascending into a breathtaking view of Kyoto.

Sleeping in a Ryokan. Staying at a ryokan is a must in Kyoto. Ryokans are Japanese-style inn preserving Japanese culture by providing a traditional green tea ceremony, onsen (communal bath), and tatami mats (floor mattresses). Nishiyama Ryokan offers a reasonable price point (for Japan) and offers a traditional tea green tea ceremony in the morning, in addition to a relaxing private onsen for men and women. Upon arrival at the ryokan, you can change into a traditional robe and listen to the soothing sounds of a nearby pond as you rest in your minimal, but comfortable room.

Soaking up the Bamboo Grove The Arayashima Bamboo Grove makes you feel like you’re in a children’s storybook. Surrounded by ridiculously tall bamboo trees with nothing else in sight, walking through the grove feels otherworldly. Nature makes for its own temple, so add this to your list of shrines.

Magical Gion Gion district is adorned with magical lanterns at night that make you feel like you’re time-traveling into another era. This area is known for Geisha sightings, Kabuki theater and an adorable street alongside the Kamo river filled with bars and restaurants, where you can get cozy listening to jazz musicians singing late into the night.

Manga Museum Comic book lovers will rejoice at the Manga Museum in Kyoto. With three floors dedicated to manga (a type of comic book that is catered towards adults) the shelves are packed with Japanese manga books. The museum also hosts various events throughout the week, so if you want to attend a performance or even a cooking class, check out their schedule for updates.

Have you been to Kyoto? Share your favorite places to visit in the comments section.

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Good Indian Girl, Sort Of: Rohini Pandhi http://goodindiangirl.com/good-indian-girl-sort-of-rohini-pandhi/ http://goodindiangirl.com/good-indian-girl-sort-of-rohini-pandhi/#respond Mon, 30 Oct 2017 15:10:55 +0000 http://goodindiangirl.com/?p=8374 I currently reside in: San Francisco, CA What your favorite hangout in San Francisco: Anywhere where I can see the water! The bay is so calming, meditative, and relaxing. I love listening to the tide and watching the sun set behind the Golden Gate bridge. I currently work as a: Co-Founder of Transparent Collective, Startup Advisor, and Product Manager at Square. I do this because I: I love the intersection of tech and business. As a product person, I enjoy working on a broad set of problems that range from technical complexities to user psychology to product pricing, and everything in between. I also love learning about new solutions, technologies, and business models and enjoy advising startups that might not have the same accessibility as we have here in SF. That’s why I co-founded a nonprofit (Transparent Collective) which focuses on helping underrepresented founders access the resources they need to create successful companies. What are some Indian traditions you still follow? I have a no-shoes policy in my apartment. I have never understood the idea of keeping your shoes on and tracking all of those outside germs throughout the sanctuary of your home. Nope, not in my house. Bollywood or Hollywood, and why? Both! I love musicals and random dance sequences in the middle of an act. So Bollywood is right up my alley. Plus, there are a lot of great indie films being produced in India now, not just the “time pass” filmy options. I grew up watching Madhuri Dixit and Aamir Khan so if there areread more

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I currently reside in: San Francisco, CA

What your favorite hangout in San Francisco: Anywhere where I can see the water! The bay is so calming, meditative, and relaxing. I love listening to the tide and watching the sun set behind the Golden Gate bridge.

I currently work as a: Co-Founder of Transparent Collective, Startup Advisor, and Product Manager at Square.

I do this because I: I love the intersection of tech and business. As a product person, I enjoy working on a broad set of problems that range from technical complexities to user psychology to product pricing, and everything in between.

I also love learning about new solutions, technologies, and business models and enjoy advising startups that might not have the same accessibility as we have here in SF. That’s why I co-founded a nonprofit (Transparent Collective) which focuses on helping underrepresented founders access the resources they need to create successful companies.

What are some Indian traditions you still follow? I have a no-shoes policy in my apartment. I have never understood the idea of keeping your shoes on and tracking all of those outside germs throughout the sanctuary of your home. Nope, not in my house.

Bollywood or Hollywood, and why? Both! I love musicals and random dance sequences in the middle of an act. So Bollywood is right up my alley. Plus, there are a lot of great indie films being produced in India now, not just the “time pass” filmy options. I grew up watching Madhuri Dixit and Aamir Khan so if there are new movies with either of them in it, you better believe I’ll be watching. As for Hollywood options, there are great movies still being made, but we are in the golden age of television. So if there’s an option between going to the theater and binging on a new Netflix series, I’m going to choose the latter 99% of the time.

Favorite movie? I refuse to pick just one because as soon as I do, I’ll regret not thinking of some other amazing film. This is a lose-lose question and I’m not falling into the trap.

What’s your favorite thing about Indian culture? The food. I could eat Indian food from all regions (north to south, east to west) all day, every day. It’s a vegetarian’s dream cuisine!

What’s one piece of advice your parents have given you that should probably be or are abiding by? It’s not really advice, but my parents raised us with a strong sense of respect. Respect for ourselves, respect towards others, and (of course) respect for education. I think this idea is especially important in light of the current events happening all around the world. If we treat each other with kindness, compassion, and respect, then we can have reasoned discussions that become opportunities for us all to learn, grow, and progress together.

Good Indian Girl? I’m not sure how to answer this because I don’t think there is such thing as a Good Indian Girl. No judgment on what makes women “good” or “bad” because that’s what the patriarchy would want :)….sooooo, can I skip this question?

You can follow Rohini on Twitter and learn more about Transparent Collective and what they do and why they do it. You can also sign-up for their mailing list on transparentcollective.com.

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Good Indian Girl Goes: Iceland http://goodindiangirl.com/good-indian-girl-goes-iceland/ http://goodindiangirl.com/good-indian-girl-goes-iceland/#respond Thu, 26 Oct 2017 09:00:54 +0000 http://goodindiangirl.com/?p=8236 Iceland should rank high on every Good Indian Girl’s bucket list. Why? Because it is superb! And not the same superb your family uses to describe Govinda’s dance moves, but the actual definition of the word (impressively splendid, magnificent, impressive, etc). Flight: First of all, it is in close proximity to several US cities. For those of you living in New York City, it is a quick 5-hour plane ride, which gives you just enough time to fit in one Bollywood movie. Non-stop flights from John F. Kennedy Airport to Reykjavik run daily on Iceland Air. Depending on when you book your flight, a round trip ticket will cost you approximately $800 – $1,200. Exploration: From the Northern Lights to dramatic waterfalls, Iceland offers a range of beautiful places. Summer time in Iceland means nearly 24 hours of daylight, which allows you to maximize your exploration time (and really get the best bang for your buck). Here’s a few places to check off your list when traveling to Iceland: – Ring Road: Driving the Ring Road around the country is a popular option in the summer and takes about a week. Ring Road connects all the popular tourist attractions including Northern Lights and Skógafoss waterfall. The road is about 828 miles and takes you on a full circle around the country. – Northern Lights: Visit in September-April for the greatest chance of seeing Aurora Borealis, also known as the Northern Lights. Catching the Northern Lights can be tricky as there are a lot of factorsread more

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saya-skogafossIceland should rank high on every Good Indian Girl’s bucket list. Why? Because it is superb! And not the same superb your family uses to describe Govinda’s dance moves, but the actual definition of the word (impressively splendid, magnificent, impressive, etc).

Flight:
First of all, it is in close proximity to several US cities. For those of you living in New York City, it is a quick 5-hour plane ride, which gives you just enough time to fit in one Bollywood movie. Non-stop flights from John F. Kennedy Airport to Reykjavik run daily on Iceland Air. Depending on when you book your flight, a round trip ticket will cost you approximately $800 – $1,200.

Exploration:
From the Northern Lights to dramatic waterfalls, Iceland offers a range of beautiful places. Summer time in Iceland means nearly 24 hours of daylight, which allows you to maximize your exploration time (and really get the best bang for your buck). Here’s a few places to check off your list when traveling to Iceland:

– Ring Road: Driving the Ring Road around the country is a popular option in the summer and takes about a week. Ring Road connects all the popular tourist attractions including Northern Lights and Skógafoss waterfall. The road is about 828 miles and takes you on a full circle around the country.

– Northern Lights: Visit in September-April for the greatest chance of seeing Aurora Borealis, also known as the Northern Lights. Catching the Northern Lights can be tricky as there are a lot of factors including weather, darkness, time of day and more, but if and when you do see it, it will certainly be one of the most magical experiences of your life.

– Waterfalls: The waterfalls of Skógafoss and Gulfoss will leave you mystified and feeling small in the world. It’s good to feel small. It’s good to take in the fact that you are just a tiny piece of this incredible gigantic world. In Thingvellir National Park near Reykjavik, you can see the massive rifts created by the shifting of the earth’s tectonic plates.

When visiting Iceland, each day you will think about the power of nature and what a wild force it is. The southern coast in particular is mesmerizing – from the nearly constant rainbows at Skógafoss to Jokulsarlon Glacial lagoon – it’s an Instagram #nofilter heaven.

Travel tips:
Food and alcohol are expensive here. And, after a long day of exploring, all you will want is food and alcohol. Being vegetarian in Iceland is also difficult, so plan out your restaurant choices in advance or make use of your Airbnb kitchen.

If you hate cold weather, re-read the name of this country before booking your ticket. Even in the warmest month of July, the low at night can be in the 40s.

Also, Icelandic people are tall. Very tall. You will be the shortest and darkest person at the bar, guaranteed. The good news is, in this country your 19-syllable last name doesn’t even hold a candle to Icelandic names. Do you remember the name of the volcano that exploded in 2010? No, of course not. Why? Because its name is Eyjafjallajökull.

Go to Iceland! Explore all the superb scenery, enjoy the amazing culture, and carry a flask to stay warm and on budget!

Saya Nagori is an ophthalmologist and Chief Medical Officer at Simple Contacts in New York City. She is fluent in five languages and once snuck into a VMA party. 

 

 

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All About the Aashirwad – How to Know When To Touch Someone’s Feet http://goodindiangirl.com/aashirwad-know-touch-someones-feet/ http://goodindiangirl.com/aashirwad-know-touch-someones-feet/#respond Tue, 24 Oct 2017 09:00:32 +0000 http://goodindiangirl.com/?p=8018 Remember a few years ago, when Obama met with Emporer Akihito in Japan? Being the culturally sensitive man that Obama is (yes, he even pronounces Pakistan correctly), he took upon himself to bow when meeting the Emperor.  However, there was an immediate frenzy following the meeting saying that Obama “bowed too low” and it was considered offensive. In India, it’s common for people to touch other people’s feet as a sign of respect and to ask for blessings (aashirwad). For Westerners, this can feel awkward and perhaps you don’t know when you’re supposed to “go in for the dive.” So in order to prevent a how-low-can-you-go situation like Obama, Good Indian Girl will try to explain why you do it, who you do it to, and when to do it. Why When you touch a person’s feet you are signaling to them that you respect them. This gesture symbolizes that you are willing to bow down and surrender to their age, wisdom and spirituality. In return, the elder generally places his or her hands on top of your head, blessing you. You might hear your elder say something along the lines of “May God be with you,” which simply means that he or she is praying that you will be free of obstacles and live a happy, healthy, and successful life. Sounds pretty good, right? Who Though it can be difficult to judge whose feet to touch, it’s never frowned upon when you touch someone’s feet. If the person whose feet you are touching insists thatread more

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touching feet in indiaRemember a few years ago, when Obama met with Emporer Akihito in Japan? Being the culturally sensitive man that Obama is (yes, he even pronounces Pakistan correctly), he took upon himself to bow when meeting the Emperor.  However, there was an immediate frenzy following the meeting saying that Obama “bowed too low” and it was considered offensive.

In India, it’s common for people to touch other people’s feet as a sign of respect and to ask for blessings (aashirwad). For Westerners, this can feel awkward and perhaps you don’t know when you’re supposed to “go in for the dive.” So in order to prevent a how-low-can-you-go situation like Obama, Good Indian Girl will try to explain why you do it, who you do it to, and when to do it.

Why
When you touch a person’s feet you are signaling to them that you respect them. This gesture symbolizes that you are willing to bow down and surrender to their age, wisdom and spirituality. In return, the elder generally places his or her hands on top of your head, blessing you. You might hear your elder say something along the lines of “May God be with you,” which simply means that he or she is praying that you will be free of obstacles and live a happy, healthy, and successful life. Sounds pretty good, right?

Who
Though it can be difficult to judge whose feet to touch, it’s never frowned upon when you touch someone’s feet. If the person whose feet you are touching insists that it is unnecessary, he or she will generally help you up and give you a hug instead. Grandparents, aunts and uncles, parents, parents-in-law, non-shady priests are all fair game. We say just decide who you respect and whose blessing you want, and that should be a good enough compass.

When
For us, the timing always throws us off.  Do we do it when we enter? When we leave? When they sit down?  Do we do it all the time or just on special occasions? Awwwkward. This really comes down to personal preference.  We know some people who do it every time they see their grandparents, we have some people who do it only on special occassions, and we know some people who don’t do it at all.  Generally, the best time (from our own awkward trial and error experience) to touch feet is when you are entering or leaving an elder’s home, celebrations (birthdays, graduations, festivals, weddings, etc.), or anytime you feel like you generally feel like you have extra some love to give.

It’s really flattering when someone makes the gesture, so even if it feels awkward, the gesture in it of itself is a huge compliment. Have any awkward feet touching stories? Share them with us!

For our full site, please visit www.goodindiangirl.com. We promise there won’t be any more feet pictures on there.  

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An Interview with Funny Indian Rajiv Satyal http://goodindiangirl.com/interview-funny-indian-rajiv-satyal/ http://goodindiangirl.com/interview-funny-indian-rajiv-satyal/#respond Mon, 23 Oct 2017 15:17:12 +0000 http://goodindiangirl.com/?p=8356   After logging several years at Procter & Gamble (or as he lovingly refers to as “Punjabis & Gujaratis), comedian Rajiv Satyal broke free from his corporate gig in the Midwest and ventured to LA to pursue a career in comedy. Rajiv started off his comedy career by sharing his astute observations around pop culture in general, then focused specifically on being Indian in America, then went introspective with a very personal set about his dating life, and then graduated to taking on a topic far larger than himself – music. In his 90-minute delivery, accompanied by singer/songwriter Taylor Alexander, Satyal closely examines what he calls the “Powers-That-Be”–invisible forces that have impact on the way we think and operate. “I tend to have ideas for what I’m going to do. All comedians have certain themes whether it be say dating or being Indian. For me, music was one of those themes. I love music and I’m always quoting it and referencing lyrics. For years, I was scribbling down different observations which turned into 17 pages on Tom Petty (Rest in Peace), Beyonce, and several other artists that have affected my life in some way.” In what felt like a combination of a TED talk, live music concert, comedy show, and history lesson, Satyal examines these influences and how they have impact on our thinking. “The show explains how the Powers-That-Be use music to control the people. Does music have influence on how we divide or unite? Does it have subliminal messages that push us closerread more

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After logging several years at Procter & Gamble (or as he lovingly refers to as “Punjabis & Gujaratis), comedian Rajiv Satyal broke free from his corporate gig in the Midwest and ventured to LA to pursue a career in comedy.

Rajiv started off his comedy career by sharing his astute observations around pop culture in general, then focused specifically on being Indian in America, then went introspective with a very personal set about his dating life, and then graduated to taking on a topic far larger than himself – music. In his 90-minute delivery, accompanied by singer/songwriter Taylor Alexander, Satyal closely examines what he calls the “Powers-That-Be”–invisible forces that have impact on the way we think and operate.

“I tend to have ideas for what I’m going to do. All comedians have certain themes whether it be say dating or being Indian. For me, music was one of those themes. I love music and I’m always quoting it and referencing lyrics. For years, I was scribbling down different observations which turned into 17 pages on Tom Petty (Rest in Peace), Beyonce, and several other artists that have affected my life in some way.”

In what felt like a combination of a TED talk, live music concert, comedy show, and history lesson, Satyal examines these influences and how they have impact on our thinking. “The show explains how the Powers-That-Be use music to control the people. Does music have influence on how we divide or unite? Does it have subliminal messages that push us closer or farther apart?”

It's here! Our summer comedy tour promo video: TAKING A STAND.Enjoy!

Posted by Rajiv Satyal on Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Regaling us with sounds and stories of what felt like more optimistic times, Rajiv and Taylor took us on a chronological journey, giving shout-outs to the peace-promoting ’60s and the drug-heavy ’70s, but starting in earnest in the upbeat 80’s, down through the grunge ’90s, up to the current shoegazing times. He poignantly, if not caustically, pointed out that “tragically, many pessimistic ’90s rock stars are dead whereas a lot of the happy ’80s rock stars are still alive.”

“I noticed a distinct racial divide between the music by white men and black men. Starting around 1991, music by black men shifted to a strong focus on making money and showing it. And music by white men became sad and downbeat. I also noticed music has become more individualistic. Hippies felt like there was a chance at world peace and after Watergate, Kennedy, Vietnam, there was a noticeable decline in faith in government (which is certainly one of the Powers-That-Be).”  

“Anyone can make jokes, comedy can be easy, but adding an additional layer of theory or hypothesis. It’s not just jokes–I want it to be fun, and get people to think about things differently.”

Check out Rajiv Satyal’s website FunnyIndian.com for a list of upcoming performances or follow him on social media for jokes delivered right to your News Feed.

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Good Indian Girl, Definitely Sort Of: Joti Singh http://goodindiangirl.com/good-indian-girl-definitely-sort-joti-singh/ http://goodindiangirl.com/good-indian-girl-definitely-sort-joti-singh/#respond Sun, 15 Oct 2017 07:26:43 +0000 http://goodindiangirl.com/?p=7957 CULTURAL WARRIOR, BHANGRA BADASS, AMERI-DESI-GUINEAN   I currently reside in: San Francisco What’s your favorite hangout in SF: Little Baobab African restaurant/club/dance studio. And on a sunny day, definitely Dolores Park. I currently work as: I’m the Artistic Director of Duniya Dance and Drum Company, which I founded in 2007. Duniya performs and teaches traditional and innovative performance pieces from Guinea, West Africa and Punjab, India, to cultivate respect for traditional forms, foster cultural exchange, effect social justice and engage in community building. We did a show called “Half and Halves” about the Punjabi-Mexican communities of California. In a few weeks we’re premiering a performance about Sekou Touré, the first president of Guinea, and in August we’re doing a show about the Ghadar party, of which my great-grandfather was president. And recently I got a grant from the American India Foundation to travel to Punjab and collaborate with their students working on art and activism. Along with my husband Bongo Sidibe, and some other amazing folks, we recently built the Duniya Center for Arts and Education in Conakry, Guinea. The school helps artists to gain skills to help them make a living from their art, and also has a space for concerts and events, a cafe, and a general store. I do this because: I got my M.A. in South Asian Studies at UC Berkeley.  I was on track to do a PhD, but decided that instead of studying other people’s dance companies, I would start my own. It allows me to be creative, be my own boss, andread more

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CULTURAL WARRIOR, BHANGRA BADASS, AMERI-DESI-GUINEAN

Photo by Kegan Marling

Photo by Kegan Marling

 

I currently reside in: San Francisco

What’s your favorite hangout in SF: Little Baobab African restaurant/club/dance studio. And on a sunny day, definitely Dolores Park.

I currently work as: I’m the Artistic Director of Duniya Dance and Drum Company, which I founded in 2007. Duniya performs and teaches traditional and innovative performance pieces from Guinea, West Africa and Punjab, India, to cultivate respect for traditional forms, foster cultural exchange, effect social justice and engage in community building. We did a show called “Half and Halves” about the Punjabi-Mexican communities of California. In a few weeks we’re premiering a performance about Sekou Touré, the first president of Guinea, and in August we’re doing a show about the Ghadar party, of which my great-grandfather was president. And recently I got a grant from the American India Foundation to travel to Punjab and collaborate with their students working on art and activism. Along with my husband Bongo Sidibe, and some other amazing folks, we recently built the Duniya Center for Arts and Education in Conakry, Guinea. The school helps artists to gain skills to help them make a living from their art, and also has a space for concerts and events, a cafe, and a general store.

I do this because: I got my M.A. in South Asian Studies at UC Berkeley.  I was on track to do a PhD, but decided that instead of studying other people’s dance companies, I would start my own. It allows me to be creative, be my own boss, and create work that is meaningful to me and hopefully to others. My work is pretty much never boring and each day is completely different from the day before. I also get to travel to cool places and meet a ton of people.

What are some Indian traditions you still follow? A big part of my job is teaching Bhangra and Bollywood dances, so those are the traditions I follow most. Other traditions I follow are: valuing family, always welcoming guests, and taking my shoes off in the house, although those aren’t only specific to India. Plus, I got married in a Gurdwara which I think counts for a lot.

Bollywood or Hollywood, and why? Bollywood for the dancing. Hollywood if I want to actually watch an entire movie

Favorite movie? Anything with Daniel Day-Lewis.

What’s your favorite thing about Indian culture? Is it too superficial to say the food? A close second would be the dancing and music.

What’s one piece of advice your parents have given you that should probably be or are abiding by? Have a retirement plan. As a self-employed artist, I haven’t exactly gotten around to it. I know I know, I need to.

So are you a Good Indian Girl? Definitely Sort Of. Depends on how you spin it. I teach Indian dance, make Indian food, I went to the right schools, I care about people and a good part of my work is social justice oriented. Those are the Indian values my parents taught me. But I’m a dancer for a living, I also teach and perform West African dance with my West African drummer husband. I am not immaculately groomed, and I have not mastered the art of making a chapati.Keep changing the world, one dance move at a time, Joti. And being immaculately groomed is overrated, anyways! To learn more about Joti and her amazing work, please check out their website at http://www.duniyadance.com/. Check out our full site atwww.goodindiangirl.com

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South Asia and Giving Back: Your Guide to Getting Started http://goodindiangirl.com/south-asians-giving-everything-need-know/ http://goodindiangirl.com/south-asians-giving-everything-need-know/#respond Tue, 10 Oct 2017 17:30:22 +0000 http://goodindiangirl.com/?p=8128 by Sharmila Rao Thakkar, @sharmilart How do you know where and how to give best when donating back to South Asia? It’s that time of year when many individuals and families are making their year-end contributions and perhaps starting to plan where they will focus their giving in the coming year. How many times have you written a check because a friend asked, or given at the check-out counter when asked, or dropped some change into collection box or responded to an appeal letter from a nonprofit.  In some cases we give because someone has asked, and that is enough.  In others, we give because we have a self-identified interest in a cause or passion for an issue. But, how do you know if your contributions are being directed appropriately as you intended? And how do you know if the dollars are being put to good use and making a difference? Here in the United States, we have multiple ways to check on our donations and the impact our dollars are making, including reviewing financials and federally-verified information and even going to visit the organization and meeting staff and those benefitting from the support.  We have a process by which the Internal Revenue Service verifies the nonprofit status of organizations and continues to monitor their work and reports on this. There are several organizations through which donors and patrons can conduct research on their interests and organizations and attempt to make sound-funding decisions, for example: Guidestar, Charity Navigator, Givewell and Great Nonprofits. But, what ifread more

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2209292_8d1dbceb85_zby Sharmila Rao Thakkar, @sharmilart

How do you know where and how to give best when donating back to South Asia?

It’s that time of year when many individuals and families are making their year-end contributions and perhaps starting to plan where they will focus their giving in the coming year.

How many times have you written a check because a friend asked, or given at the check-out counter when asked, or dropped some change into collection box or responded to an appeal letter from a nonprofit.  In some cases we give because someone has asked, and that is enough.  In others, we give because we have a self-identified interest in a cause or passion for an issue.

But, how do you know if your contributions are being directed appropriately as you intended?

And how do you know if the dollars are being put to good use and making a difference?

Here in the United States, we have multiple ways to check on our donations and the impact our dollars are making, including reviewing financials and federally-verified information and even going to visit the organization and meeting staff and those benefitting from the support.  We have a process by which the Internal Revenue Service verifies the nonprofit status of organizations and continues to monitor their work and reports on this. There are several organizations through which donors and patrons can conduct research on their interests and organizations and attempt to make sound-funding decisions, for example: Guidestar, Charity Navigator, Givewell and Great Nonprofits.

But, what if you want to direct your dollars abroad, to organizations based in South Asia? According to a 2011 Give2Asia report “Enabling Indian Diaspora Philanthropy” Indian non-governmental organizations received almost $740 million from private donors in the United States!

Here are some key things to keep in mind when it comes to donating (anywhere):

  1. Align your values with your donations: What do you care about and why?  Are there particular issues or challenges that you would like to help address?  Look for organizations that are working on those, with missions that match your own.
  2. Conduct your own due diligence so that you can make an informed decision: That means review the organizational materials including annual reports, financials (is there a deficit, how much cash do they have on hand), origin history, leadership quality, staff capacity, current programs as well as future plans. Do you trust that the organization can carry out its work?  What’s its track record? Are you satisfied with the results they report?
  3. Have open and honest communication with the organizations: Confirm how and how often they will provide updates and ask for the information you are seeking.  If they don’t know or can’t deliver, try to understand why before discounting the work and use of your support

Here are some key things to keep in mind when donating abroad:

  1. Is there a cause or population you care deeply about?
  2. Is there a specific location (South Asian country, city or village) that is close to your heart?
  3. Is there a particular organization you would like to support?
  4. How do you identify which of the plentiful organizations working on the ground so far away are qualified, competent and well-performing?
  5. How do you guarantee your dollars are well-spent?

In recent years, several searchable databases and trusted intermediaries have evolved to help provide guidance and carry out credible giving to South Asian efforts on behalf of donors. You can enter criteria on their sites and review the options.  Currently, the preferred ways to give to organizations based abroad include:

– Giving through an intermediary – a locally-based foundation for example.
– Giving to a locally-based organization incorporated here with nonprofit status that may raise funds from US-based donors and is doing work abroad on a specific issue (child welfare, literacy, women/girls, education, environment) such as,  America India Foundation, Pratham USA, Akshaya Patra, Share and Care, Child Relief and You, Save a Mother.
– Giving directly to an organization doing the work on the ground through another source.
– Giving directly to an organization, such as a university or larger non-governmental organization (NGO), that is set up to accept foreign contributions, though that may mean not being able to claim a tax deduction here in the US.

Helpful Databases:

GuideStarIndia:
GuideStar India (part of GuideStar International) was launched in 2010 to help donors and  others such as foundations, corporations, and students connect with local non-governmental organizations that have been vetted and access the information needed to help them make their funding and engagement decisions. As India’s largest, free, searchable database of reliable and comparable information on more than 4,200 non-governmental organizations by issue area and location, GuideStar India also houses offline information on another 70,000 NGOs and other due diligence tools.

India Giving Network:
The US-based Silicon Valley Community Foundation has partnered with India Giving Network, a project of Guidestar, that provides due-diligence resources for donors and allows individuals here to fund organizations and issues abroad in an easy, transparent and efficient way via an online giving portal.

GiveIndia:
GiveIndia is another donation platform that allows individuals here to support a cause of their choice from about 200 NGOs that have been vetted for transparency & credibility according to certain criteria.  Donations are tax-exempt as they are made via the GIVE Foundation, a registered nonprofit in the US.

GlobalGiving:
GlobalGiving is a charity fundraising website that gives social entrepreneurs and non-profits from anywhere in the world a chance to raise the money that they need to improve their communities. Donors can make a tax-deductible contribution to projects of their choice in countries including Bangladesh, India, Nepal, Pakistan and Sri Lanka, and will receive email updates from the project to see how their gift is making a difference.

Give2Asia:
Through Give2Asia, donors can similarly select projects that have been found to be effective and led by grant recipients who are accountable. Activities are monitored and needs of those benefitting as well as donors are addressed.

Regardless of the route you choose in making your investments in a cause further from home,  understand your values and take the time to identify causes and organizations that align with your personal philanthropic mission, know that you have a right to know how your monies are being spent, be patient and then feel confident that you’ve done good.

May these tips serve as a guide as you begin or deepen your philanthropic journey abroad.

Sharmila Rao Thakkar directs grantmaking and operations of a Chicago-based family foundation and also serves as a director of the nonprofit online resource South Asian Philanthropy Project. She has been working and volunteering in the nonprofit/philanthropic sector for about the past 20 years. From her early days as a grade school hospital candy-striper to tutoring children as a teenager and now mentoring young professionals, she has a keen passion for building community, leadership development and resourcing folks to help all access a better quality of life and peaceful balance while pursuing dreams and innovative ideas to create something positive for our future generations.

Photo Credit: https://www.flickr.com/photos/turningpoint/

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Good Indian Girl, Sort Of: Aarti Virani http://goodindiangirl.com/good-indian-girl-sort-aarti-virani/ http://goodindiangirl.com/good-indian-girl-sort-aarti-virani/#respond Sun, 08 Oct 2017 17:33:58 +0000 http://goodindiangirl.com/?p=7972 BORN & BRED IN JAPAN, ACCIDENTALLY AMERICAN, HINDUSTANI AT HEART Name: Aarti Virani I currently reside in: Hoboken, NJ What’s your favorite hangout in Hoboken: The Elysian Cafe. It’s my city’s oldest bar and rumored to have survived prohibition by morphing into an ice cream parlor. They boast a sinfully indulgent macaroni gratin, the fizziest champagne cocktails and live acoustic guitar on weekends. What’s not to love? I currently work as: A freelance arts, culture and entertainment writer, contributing to a range of publications including Vogue India, The Wall Street Journal and Travel + Leisure. I do this because I: To quote the writer Douglas Adams, “I love deadlines. I love the whooshing noise they make as they go by.” In all honesty, though, I’ve been writing since I was 10 years old: my first piece was a personal account of The Great Hanshin Earthquake, a disaster my family and I experienced while living in Kobe, Japan. It was the only way I knew to make sense of the tragedy. I haven’t stopped writing since! What are some Indian traditions you still follow? I’m a committed herbivore, something I trace back to my Gujarati roots. Bollywood or Hollywood, and why? It entirely depends on the day. My current Netflix cue is a frenetic mix of Yash Chopra blockbusters, geeky food documentaries and Friday Night Lights episodes. Favorite movie? Lost in Translation What’s your favorite thing about Indian culture? Its ability to absorb international forces and transform them into phenomena that are distinctly Desi, from paneer on thin-crust pizza to the creationread more

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BORN & BRED IN JAPAN, ACCIDENTALLY AMERICAN, HINDUSTANI AT HEART

aarti viraniName: Aarti Virani

I currently reside in: Hoboken, NJ

What’s your favorite hangout in Hoboken: The Elysian Cafe. It’s my city’s oldest bar and rumored to have survived prohibition by morphing into an ice cream parlor. They boast a sinfully indulgent macaroni gratin, the fizziest champagne cocktails and live acoustic guitar on weekends. What’s not to love?

I currently work as
: A freelance arts, culture and entertainment writer, contributing to a range of publications including Vogue India, The Wall Street Journal and Travel + Leisure.

I do this because I: To quote the writer Douglas Adams, “I love deadlines. I love the whooshing noise they make as they go by.” In all honesty, though, I’ve been writing since I was 10 years old: my first piece was a personal account of The Great Hanshin Earthquake, a disaster my family and I experienced while living in Kobe, Japan. It was the only way I knew to make sense of the tragedy. I haven’t stopped writing since!

What are some Indian traditions you still follow? I’m a committed herbivore, something I trace back to my Gujarati roots.

Bollywood or Hollywood, and why? It entirely depends on the day. My current Netflix cue is a frenetic mix of Yash Chopra blockbusters, geeky food documentaries and Friday Night Lights episodes.

Favorite movie? Lost in Translation

What’s your favorite thing about Indian culture? Its ability to absorb international forces and transform them into phenomena that are distinctly Desi, from paneer on thin-crust pizza to the creation of an unofficial Hinglish dictionary. As a culture, its global appeal lies in its constant quest to adapt, evolve and innovate.

What’s one piece of advice your parents have given you that should probably be or are abiding by? The concept of I.S.T. (Indian Standard Time) was virtually non-existent in our family – my parents are the most punctual folks I know. As someone who now interviews people for a living, I’m super grateful they instilled that seemingly small trait in me, it goes a long way.

So, are you a Good Indian Girl? All my solo attempts at draping a sari  have ended in multiple safety-pin injuries, though I do brew a killer cup of mint and lemongrass chai – I’d say that puts me squarely between Sort Of and Maybe!

You can follow Aarti Virani on Twitter@aartivirani and visit her site at www.aartivirani.com. Check out our full site at www.goodindiangirl.com.

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