Category Archives: Holidays
Diwali, the festival of lights is here. May there be light in both my ancestral and my adopted home which have taken a disastrous turn towards darkness in the recent years by electing leaders who maintain their grip on power by appealing to fear and by fostering hate.
We all need to do our bit to banish the darkness, so go vote, if you haven’t voted yet, go vote. Your country needs you, the world needs you. Your vote is your voice and your message. Vote for those who cannot vote to protect themselves, the children still separated from their parents sitting in cages, immigrants who pick your lettuce, the doctors who could potentially save your life after you have had a heart attack. The knowlege workers and other immigrants performing tasks large and small to keep the economy humming and the country running. The current president and the compliant legislature controlled by his party, the Republican party has declared a war on them by calling them moochers, job stealers, rapists and murders.
Vote to protect the future generations who will have to bear the brunt of the tax cuts for the 1% and ravages of global warming. Go out there and vote. People have died so you have the right to vote. I voted early, my first vote in a general election after becoming a citizen last July.
So light your lamp be a force for good and vote blue.
July 4th 2017, Old Sturbridge Village, Massachusetts,
A year ago I became a United States citizen. This is what I wrote the day after.
Yesterday, I swore the oath of allegiance to the United States and became a citizen along with 126 people from 47 countries on the village green of Old Sturbridge Village in Massachusetts.
“I hereby declare, on oath, that I absolutely and entirely renounce and abjure all allegiance and fidelity to any foreign prince, potentate, state, or sovereignty, of whom or which I have heretofore been a subject or citizen; that I will support and defend the Constitution and laws of the United States of America against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; that I will bear arms on behalf of the United States when required by the law; that I will perform noncombatant service in the Armed Forces of the United States when required by the law; that I will perform work of national importance under civilian direction when required by the law; and that I take this obligation freely, without any mental reservation or purpose of evasion; so help me God.”
The July sun was blazing, the sky was clear and there were no clouds, as I raised my right hand and repeated the words. Repeating the oath along with me was a slice of humanity, on my left was a man from Portugal on my right was my husband, to his right was a young Somali man, also in my row was a Catholic priest from Poland and a woman from Ghana. We immigrants, from every corner of the globe believed in the promise of America and were swearing an oath to uphold the principles it was founded on.
“Life, Liberty and pursuit of happiness for all”
The Federal District Court judge, who administered the oath urged us to do our duty as citizens by getting involved in civic life as he welcomed us as new citizens. He told us to vote and even run for office. He acknowledged our countries of birth, and how our upbringing had made us the individuals that we were. I was moved and I felt a sense of awe and wonder that I had not expected.
The entire naturalization ceremony reminded me very much of a wedding ceremony, there was a legal binding ceremony with a judge and an oath, there were witnesses. It felt like I had finally made my relationship with America official and permanent. There is no going back now. Our relationship is signed and sealed.
I believe in the promise of America, the power of the individual to change their destiny. That you are not limited by the circumstances of your birth. If you can dream it, you can do it. It was in early January that I decided that I would apply for naturalization. I sent in my application on January 19th. I had always felt like I belonged here, this was the time to make it count. Do my bit. The ideal that we were all created equal is a principle worth fighting for. The American ideal is worth fighting for.
If President Obama was Martin Luther King’s dream come true then the current president is that dream curdled into a nightmare. The latest pointless debate over whether his disparaging remarks calling countries with predominantly black populations shitholes makes him a racist, misses the point. The daily random insult generator in the White House has a one point agenda of hate.
During the Obama years, everything that happened anywhere in the world, was all Obama’s fault. From the genocide in Syria to the leak in British Petroleum’s oil well. For this President, nothing is ever his fault, he is not to be held responsible even for the words coming out of his mouth. Judy Woodruff of the PBS News Hour actually praised the President for his performance during a televised bipartisan meeting about DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals), where he seemed to have no idea what he was talking about. She was by far not the only one.The prestigious old media continues give the Republicans cover as they continue to destroy one democratic norm after another.
The sad thing is not that the President is a racist but that millions voted for him despite that or may be even because of that. Though they knew that he was the most ill prepared and ill suited candidate to ever run on a major party’s ticket. Even sadder is the fact that the party of Lincoln condones the bile he spews on a daily basis. It is they who made his rise possible and have given him the institutional support to thrive. They couldn’t care less that he pisses away our international prestige one outrageous statement and one discriminatory policy at a time.
They may make soaring speeches praising Dr. King now but Republicans have been single minded in their quest to overturn his legacy, the civil rights legislation. The Republican led Supreme Court under Chief Justice John Roberts gutted the Voting Rights Act in 2013. Tom Cotton and David Perdue’s goal is to do the same to the Immigration and the Nationalities Act. To them, the man in the White House is a means to an end. Now more than ever we need to do everything to preserve Dr. King’s legacy. Our very lives and what kind of country we want to be depends on it. Our enemies are formidable but we shall overcome.
Its been seventy years since India got its independence from the British. Its birth was accompanied by the traumatic cleaving into two of British India and the traumatic loss of the Father of the Nation, Gandhi only five months later. Yet, India under its first Prime Minister, Jawaharlal Nehru embraced a democratic and inclusive vision for India. This vision is under serious threat right now, but that is a post for another day.
I am going to celebrate this milestone by blogging about India. The highs, the lows and everything in between, over the next two weeks. I plan to cover movies, science, history, geography of the original melting pot.
I leave you with national anthem written by Rabindranath Tagore, performed here by its preeminent and beloved artists, representing India’s tremendous linguistic and religious diversity. First there is an instrumental version, then a vocal one, both arranged by A. R. Rahman, an example of India’s many cultural strands come together to form a unique whole. This version is from 2000, many of the performers featured here are no longer with us, like Jagjit Singh and Bhimsen Joshi.
Happy Birthday 67th Maharashtra. The Sanyukta Maharashtra* Samiti (United Maharashtra Organization) succeeded in their quest for the formation of the state of Maharashtra with Mumbai as its capital. Because many of the leaders of SMS were labor leaders, they chose May 1 to commemorate their victory. It took a bitter struggle of over five years and the blood of more than a hundred martyrs. The ruling party at the Center under Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru wanted Bombay to be a centrally administered area. Ramachandra Guha has a more detailed background of the struggle here.
Photo Credit: Sameer Markande
By two_kittehs (Picture by: cvf)
Happy Gudi Padwa, the first day of spring and the New Year. Its time to welcome spring and the new year by celebrating love. Starting the new year in spring makes much more sense than the dead of winter, isn’t it?
And now a celebration of love.
I heard this today, from the recently released Phillauri. I think I am in love. The very last lines, slay me.
Tere bin saas be kaanch si kaate re,
Zindagi raakh si laage re
Translation: Without you , every breath cuts like glass
Life feels like ashes.
ETA: Check out Diljit Dosanjh, you won’t be sorry, Anushka Sharma, too looks radiant.
Streaming Alert: If you’re a cable TV subscriber, Turner Classic Movies (TCM) should have this available for streaming on their WatchTCM website and app for at least another couple of weeks.
It’s Christmas Eve, so Merry Christmas to those who celebrate it, and Happy New Year to those who don’t (we can all agree that the year ends on December 31st, right?) This holiday film is one of my all-time favorites, though it’s a “Christmas movie” in the same way that, say, Die Hard (1988) is a “Christmas movie,” because it takes place during that season while not having anything to do with Santa Claus or Jesus or “the magic of the season.” The Shop Around the Corner (1940) involves two parallel stories about the beginning of one romantic relationship and the painful end of another, which lends it that air of melancholy that all of the best Christmas movies have. We can appreciate the happy ending our main characters have because we know the potentially sad ending years down the road.
We start with Ernst Lubitsch, one of the few directors in classic Hollywood who was so well-known, he had his own tagline: “the Lubitsch touch.” Of the films he made under the censorship regime of the Production Code, this is one of the best examplars of how he was allowed to handle themes that were supposed to be strictly forbidden (like suicide and adultery) because the censors trusted him to use his “touch” to make the audience empathize with the characters rather than using the themes for cheap sensationalism.
(For a glimpse of what Lubitsch was capable of under less restrictive censorship, take a look at one of his greatest films, Trouble in Paradise (1933), covered by yours truly over at my Pre-Code films blog.)
This film was very personal for Lubitsch because the character of Mr. Matuschek (played by Frank Morgan in probably his best performance) was partially based on Lubitsch’s own father, who was a similarly tyrannical shop owner in Berlin while Lubitsch was growing up — the young Ernst even worked at his father’s store as a teenager. It was based on a Hungarian play about a perfume shop and adapted by one of Lubitsch’s regular screenwriters, the great Samson Raphaelson. It has been adapted several times as a film (including In the Good Old Summertime (1949) and You’ve Got Mail (1998)) and even a Broadway show (She Loves Me), but none of the remakes has ever equalled this simple story of Matuschek and Company, “just around the corner from Andrassy Street – on Balta Street, in Budapest, Hungary.”
1. Labor Day, to truly celebrate Labor Day government policies should not favor businesses that treat workers like expendable widgets. This more than any other factor has contributed to the rising inequality. What is good for Wall Street has not been good for Main Street.
2. Ganesh Chaturthi*, It is start of the 10 day Ganesh celebrations. Bal Gangadhar Tilak, the leader of India’s freedom struggle before Gandhi, is credited with popularizing the annual Ganpati celebration,in the public square aka Sarvajanik Ganesh Utsav. Tilak tapped into the popularity and affection people felt for Ganesha and harnessed it for grass roots organizing and public meetings against the British rule. India won its freedom in 1947 but the Ganesh festival in the public square still endures post independence.
3. Freddie Mercury gets a shooting star named after him on what would have been his 70th birthday. Like a shooting star leaping through the sky he graced our lives with unforgettable music.
*Chaturthi == 4th day of a fortnight. In the Hindu Lunar calendar, each month is made up two fortnights.