India’s First Bullet Train Project Launched

first_imgIndia’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Japanese PM Shinzo Abe laid the foundation for India’s first bullet train at Ahmedabad in Gujarat on Sept. 14.The Mumbai to Ahmedabad High Speed Rail project is expected to be finished within five years as the Indian government has set a deadline of starting the bullet train on August 15, 2022, which marks India’s 75th year of Independence.The bullet train project is based on the Shinkansen super speed trains in Japan. This project is mostly funded by a loan from Japan. Of the Rs 1.08 crore, Japan is giving a loan of Rs 88,000 crore at a minimal interest of 0.1 per cent for 50 years. The repayment will begin only after 15 years.In his address after the ceremony for the 508-km rail, Modi said that no country can grow if they don’t dream big. “To grow one needs to expand his dreams and decide his strength to achieve that,” he said. “It’s new India which has to fly high.”The bullet train, which has a capacity to accommodate 750 people and will travel at a speed of up to 350km/h, is expected to reduce travel time between the two cities from seven to three hours. It will stop at 12 stations, and the ones that have been proposed are Mumbai, Thane, Virar, Boisar, Vapi, Bilimora, Surat, Bharuch, Vadodara, Anand, Ahmedabad and Sabarmati.Railway Minister Piyush Goyal said this technology will revolutionize and transform the transport sector.“Many people criticized the introduction of Rajdhani but now it is the train everyone wants to travel in. This bullet train will be a symbol of brotherhood between people of India and Japan,” he told ANI.Abe arrived in India here on Sept. 13 on a two-day visit. (With IANS inputs) Related ItemsIndia First Bullet TrainJapan India trainModi AbeMumbai-Ahmedabad high speed railPiyush Goyal bullet train.Shinkansen Bullet TrainsShinzo Abe India visitlast_img read more

Half of Indians Believed to Have Joined ISIS are Members of Diaspora: Report

first_imgThe number of Indians who joined the Islamic State (IS) terror group make a very small figure, a home ministry official has said. Only 100 radicalized Indians have so far traveled to territories controlled by the group, the Times of India reported.Of the 100 Indians thought to have joined the outfit since 2014, 50 are Indian citizens while the rest are members of the diaspora, the report cited a home ministry official as saying.“The limited number of recruits that IS has been able to draw out from India, vis-a-vis other countries in the West, shows that its aggressive online propaganda has failed to ‘radicalize’ Indian Muslims to an extent that they are willing to leave their families and country and join its global jihad to create a ‘caliphate’. A hundred recruits, of which only 50 were Indian residents, is minuscule not only in proportion to the large Indian population but also as a percentage of the country’s large Muslim community,” the official said, according to the report.While the recruitment is low, the youth in states like Kerala, Andhra Pradesh, Tamil Nadu, Karnataka, Maharashtra and Jammu and Kashmir have interest in the online propaganda, central and state agencies found by tracking online searches.The United States intelligence agencies have sounded their Indian counterparts about a threat perception from the ISIS group during the Global Entrepreneurship Summit (GES) being attended by U.S. President Donald Trump’s daughter Ivanka in Hyderabad this week. The Intelligence Bureau and Telangana Counter Intelligence has been keeping track of 200 suspects in and around Hyderabad since the notification.“The U.S. has issued possible threat perceptions to the GES Summit and Ivanka. Though there is no specific alert, as advised by the U.S., we are working to prevent a possible lone wolf attack by IS-motivated individuals,” the Times of India quoted a top official of Telangana police as saying.While there have been instances where ISIS flags have been found in Kashmir, most of the Indians reported to have gone to countries like Syria, Afghanistan and Iraq have belonged to Kerala. In 2016, 21 Keralites went to Afghanistan’s Nangarhar. ISIS sympathizer Shajahan VK, deported from Turkey in July, had told the National Intelligence Agency that 17 others, including women and children, from Kerala were in Iraq-Syria.Intelligence officers are more worried about the influence of domestic groups like Popular Front of India (PFI), which is active in Kerala, Tamil Nadu, and Karnataka. It is reportedly expanding hold over Assam, West Bengal, Uttar Pradesh and Rajasthan. The government is working on a proposal to ban the organization.Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh had said last week, “Any Indian Muslim who believes in Islam would not allow any opportunity to the Islamic State to have a base in the country.” He made the comment after ISIS took responsibility for an encounter in Srinagar in which a terrorist named Mugees was killed and sub-inspector Imran Tak lost his life. Singh said that investigation was going on into the involvement of youth in Kashmir with ISIS. Related ItemsISISJihadTerrorismlast_img read more

California Sues Over U.S. Decision to Add Citizenship Question in Census

first_imgCalifornia, which has a large percentage of immigrant population, filed a lawsuit in federal court on March 27 against the U.S. Commerce Department and Census Bureau over the decision to reinstate the citizenship question in the 2020 decennial Census. The decision aims to help enforce the Voting Rights Act, the Commerce Department said on March 26, prompting California Attorney General Xavier Becerra to announce the lawsuit against the Trump administration in a bid to block the move.The U.S Census Bureau currently counts the total number of people in the country every 10 years, not the citizens. The Census count is used to redraw congressional districts so it can affect the makeup of Congress.The Census survey before 1950 asked citizenship questions consistently, the department said, adding that the recent decision was prompted by a request from the Department of Justice in December last year, as census block level citizenship voting age population (CVAP) data is not currently available from government surveys. The DOJ and the courts use CVAP data for the enforcement of Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act, which looks into minority voting rights, the statement said.The move invited immediate backlash from Congressional lawmakers, mayors and civil rights activists, who said that the move was designed to undercount immigrants and minorities, the USA Today reported.“This is not the time to parachute in and try to throw something in at the last minute, particularly something so incendiary that is likely to impact people’s willingness to participate,” Terry Ao Minnis, the director of Census and Voting Programs at Asian Americans Advancing Justice, was quoted as saying by the publication.Democratic Representative Grace Meng of New York said she “will now look to introduce legislation to stop this question from being included on the census,” according to NPR.Vanita Gupta, the president and CEO of the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, on March 26 said: “This untimely, unnecessary, and untested citizenship question will disrupt planning at a critical point, undermine years of painstaking preparation, and increase costs significantly, putting a successful, accurate count at risk.“The question is unnecessarily intrusive and will raise concerns in all households – native- and foreign-born, citizen and non-citizen – about the confidentiality of information provided to the government and how government authorities may use that information.”In response to the Justice Department’s request, a group of senators sent a letter to Acting Assistant Attorney General John Gore on March 15 asking about the involvement of the White House, and other entities, including himself, in adding the citizenship question. They asked Gore to respond to all of their questions by March 26, given the fact that the U.S. Census Bureau has to submit their questions to the U.S. Congress by March 31.In the eight-page memo released by the department, Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross rejected claims that citizenship questions, which he is looking to place last, have an impact on the Census. Ross said that the Voting Rights Act needs to have a tally of citizens of voting age to protect minorities against discrimination.He said: “The reinstatement of a citizenship question will not decrease the response rate of residents who already decided not to respond. And no one provided evidence that there are residents who would respond accurately to a decennial census that did not contain a citizenship question but would not respond if it did (although many believed that such residents had to exist).”When he conceded the possibility of it, he said, “There is no information available to determine the number of people who would in fact not respond due to a citizenship question being added, and no one has identified any mechanism for making such a determination.” Related ItemsCitizenshipU.S Census Bureaulast_img read more

Layla and Majnun: Love, Ecstasy, Infinity

first_imgChoreographer Mark Morris’ much-lauded musicality often overshadows another important current in his work: the way it connects the individual and the universal. For Morris, love and universality are inextricable, and universal love is the ultimate good. Couples dances are rare in his work and usually occur within the context of the larger group. Harmony is greater than romance.There is no truer example of this than his staging of the Azerbaijani opera “Layla and Majnun” for his dancers and the musicians of the Silk Road Ensemble, coming to the White Light Festival at Lincoln Center this week.The opera, by the early 20th-century Azerbaijani composer Uzeyir Hajibeyli, is based on a story as widely known in the Middle East as “Romeo and Juliet” is in the West. Like Shakespeare’s tragedy, it tells of an impossible young love that leads to the lovers’ untimely deaths. But Layla and Majnun’s longing is never consummated. They pine for each other, over many years and long distances. Majnun becomes a hermit, composes poetry and goes mad; Layla is married off to someone else, but dreams only of Majnun. It’s only after death that they are able to come together.“It’s not about sex,” Morris said on a recent afternoon in his office at his company’s headquarters in Brooklyn. “In ‘Romeo and Juliet,’ the lovers have one night of fabulous teenage sex, and then they die, and that’s perfect. But this is beyond that. And that’s because God eludes them. In the end, they drop their bodies and become pure spirit. It’s about infinity.”In its many forms, the story, whose origins lie in pre-Islamic folklore, has spread across the Arab world, as well as to Iran, Afghanistan, Turkey, Pakistan and India. Over the centuries it has inspired innumerable works of art: epic poems (by the 12th-century Persian poet Nizami Ganjavi and 16th-century Azerbaijani poet Fuzuli); paintings (there are a few at the Metropolitan Museum); songs; movies; a ballet and even Eric Clapton’s anthemic “Layla.”Hajibeyli’s opera, the basis of Morris’ staging, is considered the first opera of the Middle Eastern world and is a product of the internationalism of its time. “Hajibeyli had this mega-project in mind, to integrate his nation into the rest of the world while keeping its heritage,” Aida Huseynova, a musicologist involved in the Silk Road adaptation of the work, explained via Skype.You could see it as an early example of multiculturalism. It was composed in Baku — the capital of Azerbaijan, then under Russian control — in 1908, a time of prosperity and foreign influence, the result of an oil rush. And it quickly became a classic — to this day it is performed yearly at the Baku opera house.The composition is a highly original hybrid of the usual operatic elements (orchestral passages, choruses and recitatives) with a native Azerbaijani style of sung storytelling, known as mugham, characterized by long passages of structured improvisation and ornamentation. The orchestration uses Western instruments alongside local ones like the tar (a plucked stringed instrument) and the kamancheh (a bowed one). For his staging, Morris drew upon a 2007 adaptation of the work created for the Silk Road Ensemble, which reduced the opera to less than an hour from three, distilling the story to its essence and shrinking the musical ensemble from several dozen to 10.Mark Morris, a choreographer, will be staging the Azerbaijani opera “Layla and Majnun” with his dancers and the Silk Road Ensemble. Photo: George Etheredge/The New York TimesIn Morris’ version, which had its premiere at Cal Performances in Berkeley, California, last fall, the two singers sit on cushions on a platform at the center of the stage while the musicians surround them in a semicircle. “This is how court poetry was performed in the 12th century,” explained Fatemeh Shams, a University of Pennsylvania professor and specialist in Persian poetry, “with minstrels and poets performing together.”The singers don’t move or act, they just sing — but their voices are at the heart of the performance. Alim Qasimov, who interprets Majnun, is a silver-voiced powerhouse and a riveting performer. “He’s a giant star!” exclaimed Morris. “People at the airport in Baku push Yo-Yo Ma out of the way to get to him.” Layla is sung by the equally distinguished Fargana Qasimova, his daughter.While they sing, the dancers interpret the story through movement. Four pairs represent the lovers at different stages. (This choice further depersonalizes their love. They represent Layla and Majnun and all lovers — and beyond that, love itself.) Behind them rises a striking backdrop of red and green brush strokes, an enlarged version of a painting by Howard Hodgkin titled “Love and Death.” They dance, in red and blue Azerbaijani-inspired costumes, on the floor in front of the singers and along platforms lining three sides of the stage.“I did it that way because it reflects the style of performance from that region of the world,” Morris said. (Mugham was traditionally performed in small gatherings at court or in upper-class homes.) “And I wanted it to be a group of people doing something together.”Because the singers are improvising (within limits), the dancers have learned to follow the Azerbaijani text and inflections of the voice so that they can adapt to the length of each mugham “aria” on any particular night; the singers and dancers take cues from each other.Some of the dancing is more abstract, others clearly gestural, meant to evoke specific situations (and even small details like a description of a flickering flame). Morris incorporated elements of Azerbaijani dance into his personal dance vocabulary, things like strong, rhythmic footwork and a very specific way of holding the hands, different for men and women. But the dancing also reflects more general Middle Eastern motifs like Sufi whirling.More than anything, Morris’ concept highlights the ecstatic and improvisatory style of the music. “That kind of singing is about what’s being spun out at that moment,” he said, “and with people who are great at that, like South Indian musicians and great jazz players and these great mugham singers, there’s nothing like it.”© New York Times  Related ItemsLayla and MajnunMark MorrisMark Morris Layla and MajnunSilk Road EnsembleUzeyir HajibeyliWhite Light Festivallast_img read more

Sarina Jain’s Kid Stuff

first_imgWhen Sarina Jain, the Masala Bhangra fitness expert, put out a casting call for kids for a bhangra workout video, 145 children turned up. This was whittled down to four kids – two Indian, one White and one African-American. Together the four kids do the bhangra moves with Jain (Yes, she’s been called the Indian Jane Fonda) in a new video designed to make children more active.“I decided to focus on kids for this video because there are too many kids becoming obese in this country and not doing anything about it,” she says. “I thought I would create a fun dance workout for them which they can do at home.  It is also a great way to bond with parents, friends and family, doing something active together.”Jain hopes the workout video will get children moving and learning some bhangra moves in the bargain: ” I loved working with the kids. They are like sponges and absorb everything adults do and if  it can be a positive influence on them, then that is great!” Since many of her clients are non Indians, she feels it’s a good way for children not only to stay active, but learn a new culture as well. What can one say to that, except balle, balle!  Related Itemslast_img read more

Air Melee

first_imgAir India has grounded the crew of an Indian Airlines Airbus after airline staffers traded blows in the cockpit and the aisles during a flight from Sharjah, UAE, to Delhi on Oct. 3.The cabin crew alleged that the pilots harassed a 24-year-old female stewardess, who filed a molestation complaint with the police after the flight landed in Delhi. The pilots, in turn, accused a male flight purser of physical assault that compromised flight safety, charging the molestation allegation was trumped up by the stewardess to protect her purser friend.Air India said the mid air scuffle did not endanger the 106 passengers on board and that “the cockpit was not left unmanned at any stage of the flight.” Related Itemslast_img read more

Sex Drive

first_imgIndia’s cricket coach Gary Kirsten is under fire for encouraging players to have sex to bolster their performance — cricket performance, that is. Gary Kristen is not the only one scratching his head over the disclosure that he counseled Indian cricket players to have sex to bolster their sports performanceA dossier distributed to the 15 cricket players participating in the Champions Trophy in Centurion, which was leaked to the press includes a chapter titled: “Does sex increase performance?” the pointed answer to which, it says, is: “Yes, it does, so go ahead and indulge.”The article explains that sex “increases testosterone levels, which causes an increase in strength, energy, aggression and competitiveness…. Conversely, not having sex for a few months causes a significant drop in testosterone level in both males and females with the corresponding passiveness and decrease in aggression.”Kirsten denies encouraging players to engage in sexual activity before a match, blaming his conditioning coach, Paddy Upton, for authoring the controversial dossier, ostensibly to provide background information on the topic: “I would like to state that I have never, and I repeat, never encouraged or told the team or any player to engage in any form of sexual activity. These allegations are absolutely not true and completely against my religious and moral beliefs.”  Related Itemslast_img read more

Canadian Apology

first_imgCanada’s Prime Minister Stephen Harper has apologized to the families of those killed in an Air India terrorist attack for governmental and administrative failures.“I stand before you therefore, to offer on behalf of the government of Canada, and all Canadians, an apology for the institutional failings of 25 years ago and the treatment of the victims’ families thereafter,” Harper said. The Air India flight from Montreal to London exploded off Ireland on June 23, 1985, killing 278 people. The attack has been blamed on Sikh militants avenging a 1984 raid by Indian security forces on the Golden Temple.A public inquiry led by former Supreme Court Justice John Major excoriated the government for security lapses and for mistreating the families, who charged that because they were mostly immigrants, the government did not view them as real Canadians.In his mea culpa, Harper acknowledged: “This atrocity was conceived in Canada, executed in Canada, by Canadian citizens, and its victims were themselves mostly citizens of Canada. We wish this realization had gained common acceptance earlier.’’  Related Itemslast_img read more

A Certain Ambiguity

first_imgRitika banked hard right around a rickshaw, gunning the engine of her small Honda scooter so she could beat it to the turn. I hung on with one hand to the back handle, eating bits of her hair. She braked, hard, to avoid a fruit cart vendor wheeling his goods across the street. I was thrown forward, and my hands gripped her sides to hang on to the scooter; I pushed up her bra. There was nothing there, of course, to keep the bra down, and the garment and padding slid upwards. It hung awkwardly at an angle, rumpling her shirt. She fixed it with a sigh and pulled it down with both hands at a traffic light.Ritika is an anatomic male, a transsexual, from a lower middle class Sikh family. New Delhi is home, but none of its neighborhoods embraced her exotic identity with the casual indifference that Castro in West Hollywood does. Her refuge is little larger than a living room. She is a social activist and a sex worker, and a stoic recipient of the stares that focus constantly and unabashedly on her face and padded chest. The onlookers call her hijra, a term she has learned to wear with pride.The hijras have long existed in India as eunuchs and hermaphrodites. They were considered to have mystic powers, and by nature of the sacrifice of their flesh, a direct connection to the gods. They are found all over South Asia, and have historical roots that can be traced to court eunuchs in some of India’s earliest writings as well as the religious epics Ramayana and Mahabharata. Tolerated. because they are feared, the hijras form tight-knit and closed communities of their own. They live in families, led by a guru figure, who dictates the lives of her disciples.The hijras have turned their connection to the gods into a business; they subsist off what they are paid for administering blessings or curses. Their curses are considered so powerful that people pay monstrous sums to avoid them, or to pass them on to disliked neighbors. The hijras have made a habit of knocking on doors during critical moments — weddings, births, business deals — and the persecuted are forced to buy their peace and blessings. Everyone wants to keep them at a distance.The attitude toward hijras was apparent from the back of Ritika’s motorcycle. As a white man who travelled through rural India on a bicycle, I was used to stares, but I’d never seen stares like this. Pulled up at the red light, post-bra adjustment, I don’t remember a face in the line of sight that wasn’t staring. All kinds of emotion; there was little curiosity and much scorn. In past encounters, when villagers had stared at the weird tourist on his bike, they met my eyes and waved. When I looked at them now, nestled against Ritika on the motorcycle, they looked away quickly. It wasn’t fear, it was the kind of look one gives to escargot the first time it shows up on the dinner table. A few onlookers blared disgust in the eyes, but one or two also shone with lust. There were some desires long repressed in that mess of rickshaws and motorcycles, and perhaps some future customers of Ritika’s in brief fantasy or reality.In a country that is quickly modernizing, the mysticism of the hijras is disappearing, replaced by contempt. The problem is Ritika, and thousands like her, are joining hijra communities in India’s major cities. Ritika has never blessed a wedding, has never knocked on doors asking for money. She became a hijra because she wanted to be a woman, wanted to have sex like a woman, and the hijras offered a community of people like her. She stayed a hijra because she had to — she needed the protection and blessing of a guru for her sex work, or she would be beaten and thrown off the street. But Ritika could never have joined a traditional community. She is a prostitute, uncastrated, and has not abandoned her family. Her lifestyle violates the core tenets of the hijra code.Hijras like Ritika are products of a sexual and cultural revolution that is quietly spreading across India’s cities. The transgenders are the revolution’s most extreme product, and a society still rank with homophobia has struggled to absorb so different a people into its everyday life. Unwilling to hide, but with nowhere to go, this new generation of transgenders has found refuge, as they have for centuries, with the hijras. But they do not accept the harsh rules of the hijra code, and few have interest in the divine connections the sisterhood is supposed to bring. They come to find community and a livelihood in the growing industry of transgender prostitution. In the process, they are destroying an enigma, turning a group once respected for its mystic powers into one renowned as suppliers of vice. The new generation of hijras is throwing itself headlong into the lucrative business of sex, and the public imagination, which once dressed the group in fear and wonder, now views them with the disdain long reserved for prostitutes.Ritika ignored the stares that pierced us or dished out a flirtatious smile where she saw shining eyes. To the world it might have seemed she did not care, but when the traffic light was behind us and her hair was whipping into my face, the mask blew off. “Don’t all these people have something better to look at? They make me feel like a freak.”“But we… we don’t care! We’re free!” she laughed, and it rang hollow and forced.We were going to her house, at my request. I wanted to meet her family. She slowed as we approached her house in the Punjabi neighborhood, threw a wave to a few shopkeepers, then stopped in a darkish corner under a tree. Ritika began her transformation back into boyhood. The bra came off, and a hoodie went over her shirt, zipped to the top. She peered into her rearview mirror: mascara rubbed off on the back of her sleeve. She twirled her hair into a ball — she was Sikh, it had to be covered — and tightened a baseball cap over it. The shadow of its brim hid any last traces of makeup and her eyes.She was nervous. I might slip up and ask her parents the wrong questions. She wasn’t sure how much they knew about her life outside the home. It simply wasn’t discussed; it was ignored to create an unstable peace. It blew up in their faces fairly often.She shot me a last warning glance and we walked in. Her sister greeted us at the door and called out to Ritika, “Hello, Raju.”Her double life is another sign of the growing divide between the traditional and the new hijra communities. Joining a traditional community is not unlike becoming a Geisha. It means leaving family behind and submitting your body and life to the service of a guru.Ruppa is one of those who chose this path, running away from home when she was 16 years old to join a guru in Delhi. Uneducated and illiterate, the transgender had few other options. Her father died when she was 12, leaving her in the care of her mother, uncles, and cousins. They lived together in a large house in West Delhi. She was effeminate and so was teased and beaten by her uncles and cousins often, sometimes brutally. Her mother loved her deeply, she was her only son, but could not protect her from the men in the family.So she ran, to someplace she could be herself. It was the beginning of a 30-year career as a hijra, fraught with hardships. Ruppa moved into a three-story house with 14 other disciples, most of whom were illiterate, and her guru, who trained her in the skills of dance, blessing, and the special brand of extortion the hijra reserve for those that will not pay. The house became her universe, and the guru owned her.For almost two decades, Ruppa followed the same disciplined routine. She woke up at 7 am, and cooked breakfast or did chores. By 10 am, she and other disciples hit the streets. They worked in pairs or triplets, and split up the guru’s territory among them so that no street went unpatrolled.The patrol areas were large in Delhi, encompassing thousands of homes and businesses. She was on the lookout for telltale signs of people who would benefit from a blessing or suffer from a curse: new businesses, tenants, babies, newly wed. Business was easy. She knew her stomping ground well, knew who owned what. For everyone else, she looked for moving vans, boxes coming in and out of buildings, new toys or cribs on porches. The best tell-tales were the strands of yellow and orange flowers that Hindus hung over their doors and windows to bless new spaces.When she found them, Ruppa and her companions would knock on the door and start asking for money. The price of their departure depended on the door they were knocking on and the importance of the occasion. Weddings and births cost more than simply moving into a new home. The more luxury Ruppa saw in the home, the higher the price. A middle class family could expect to pay as much Rs 15,000 ($300) to the hijras for a new baby.The payment was painful, but expected; it was a hallmark of any rite of passage. Peace came at a high price. The hijras are persistent beyond belief, and there are only so many times the police can be called to send them away. Most people prefer to be affable and negotiate.For the visited who won’t open their wallets, the curses began. For those who won’t open the doors, the curses are even more flagrant, accompanied by noise and gall. First Ruppa started to clap and taunt. Hijras have their own brand of clapping: the fingers are outstretched, and they smack the back of their taut palms together perpendicularly. It makes the sound of thwacking flesh — unpleasant and suggestive, full of curses. Most of the time that is enough. The visited agree to a price, or give a little upfront and promise more money later.For the stalwarts, Ruppa had one last weapon. She would start to dance, then yell, and curse, curse curse, louder, louder! Then she would strip. Little by little, the saris would unravel. Refusing to pay the hijra bought you a striptease from hell. Everyone who didn’t have a guard paid eventually.When she returned home, Ruppa would carefully count her earnings and give half to her guru. Her day was not over. There were weddings to bless, chores to be done, and the harsh discipline of the house and its leader to face.The guru ruled the lives of her disciples. She was the liaison between households and between the hijra world and the outside community. She levied fines for breaking small rules, like missing certain chores or curfew, or beatings for major ones, like cutting hair without permission. Major infractions, like sex work, are punished with expulsion from the community and a shaved head. Expulsion can be disastrous; the family and the profession are removed with one fell swoop. Lastly, the guru is the enforcer of secrecy, because mystery is at the core of the fear that drives the hijra’s business. No one is supposed to talk about what happens in the house without the guru’s permission. I was denied several interviews by fearful tradition hijras. Most of all, I was never allowed close to the gurus of the traditional hijras, or told anything about their identities.Ruppa clashed with the discipline of her guru constantly. When she first joined in 1982, she faced enormous pressure to submit to a traditional castration. Ruppa refused. The process is agonizing. Fellow disciples would pin the hijra down and in three swift strokes, a dai would cut off the testicles and penis. No pain killers allowed.Ruppa was scared of infection, because the wound was normally treated with just compresses of hot water and oil. She was also scared of the pain. As soon as she had the cash, she had a sex change operation. But until then, she endured years of abuse for her refusal, including an episode in which her guru beat her on the head with an iron cooking spoon. There is a still a dent in her skull that I could fit my thumb into.Even after the operation, the rules were stifling. The guru was liberal in allowing Ruppa to see her mother, because she was an only child, but never more than twice a month and rarely for more than a half hour. They had to meet in public spaces, like a market. If she went home, Ruppa had to sneak in at night.Ruppa’s mother never gave up on her love for her son. With a secret stash of 5 kgs of silver, she bought an enormous piece of land outside Delhi to leave him. It would be worth Rs 1.3 crores ($260,000). She wanted to give her only son a way out of the life he had chosen. Ruppa’s recounting of this was the only time during our interview that her giggling stopped, and her mask fell off, and she cried.In 2006, Ruppa exited. She had fallen in love, found herself a 23-year-old boyfriend with a steady job. He was a shop owner, a distributor of ball bearings and shocks for Hyundai vehicles. He had cash to support her, and they could live in a house. The guru forced her hand, demanding the deed to her inheritance and prohibiting a boyfriend.She left and sold her land. With some of the money she invested in a new house, in the center of Delhi. The rest she stowed away carefully for harder times, with the exception of an investment in breast implants to make herself the perfect wife.Those breast implants became a path to her livelihood, her pride. They were her statement that she was a woman, a gift to the man who made her feel like a woman, who gave her a place in the world. The ex-hijra kept removing her shirt during the interview, insisting that I touch her breasts. They were big. The 46-year-old had found a new life as a housewife.As she left, I asked her what she thought would come of the hijra community. Her answer resonated with what I had heard from many other hijras. “Before there was a lot of respect for the hijras, because of the traditional lifestyle that they lead. Nobody understood who we were. Now, with the internet and the media, and all the sex workers, there’s no more mystery.” She thought for a while, and then finished. “My profession will not last. People aren’t afraid anymore.”A quarter century after Ruppa made her choice to run away, Ritika found herself in the same quagmire. She faced abuse at home and at school. She faced the torments and pangs of teenagehood, and the burning desire to be accepted, to be liked, to be part of a community, and the kind of loneliness that only the cruelty of classmates and the insecurity of youth can conjure. But her efforts to find a place for herself as a teen were almost quixotic. She could not define herself within even the most basic of categories — gender.Yet Ritika made a different choice than Ruppa, who sought refuge in the community of hijras. She chose to endure the strife with her family and schoolmates instead of leaving to find her own world. She held on to a shred of hope that Ruppa did not have in 1982. She believed that her dreams and her identity were not exclusive, that she would be allowed to contribute to society as she was, that she could find a way to be defined by more than just her transexuality. She believed she could find a community, and so, rather than leave everything, Ritika started to live a double life.From when she was a little boy, Ritika would paint herself in her mother’s makeup, or dress up in the prettiest silk saris she could find when she thought no one would find her. She tended to be friends with girls and from a very young age desired sex with men. She had her first sexual experience at 10 years old. The desires only grew, and she became alienated from her family and schoolmates with age. Her father would beat her when he caught her in makeup or women’s clothing; her schoolmates would beat her harder and call her vulgar names. At 16, she found a place and some independence by starting to walk the streets as a prostitute. “I started because it was the only way I could get the kind of sex I wanted,” she said. She also found people that did not hate who she wanted to be.Six years later, at 22, her two lives have almost separated into different worlds, and Ritika’s relationship with her family has settled into something guarded and tenuous. As we entered her home, Ritika gave little more than a cursory hello to his sister, who scuttled back into the kitchen to prepare food for me, the guest. She took a blessing from his mother, touching the bottom of her sari in a gesture of respect. The formalities were performed quickly, and space made on a bed for Ritika and I to sit without any conversation. The whole family was crowded together in a small living room, watching a soap opera on television. As we sat on the bed and waited for the food to be served, the family barely spoke. There was little light conversation and no laughter; as soon as a question was answered, eyes turned back to the soap opera. Ritika spent the time nervously asking me if I had any more questions, except for a moment when she played with her nephew, and tenderly held her baby niece.We were served a simple meal of chapati and potato curry, and Raju ate quickly. As soon as I had finished, he beckoned me out. There were no goodbyes, nor questions. I had only time to clasp my hands together and say thank you before we were back on the motorcycle and she was feminine again.Ritika’s relationship with her parents is based on an uneasy truce of non-confrontation. They had some idea of what she became when she left the house, of her double life. Most of the time, it simply lay simmering under the surface, a gorilla in the room that everyone tried to ignore after years of fighting. When the issue did surface, it did so violently, with a torrent of emotions. “My parents, sometimes they abuse me. They are very rude. They call me a whore, and often they throw me out,” Ritika told me. Her family is her home, and she loves them, but every night could be a night it all blows up in her face.Ritika looks for more stable sources of love and friendship outside her home, and there was none she was so giddy about as her boyfriend. She was head over heels. The lover was another Sikh, a call center employee. They’d met in a traffic jam while waiting to get past a police checkpoint. He’d approached her because he wanted to know what kind of woman was smoking a cigarette so openly. After a brief conversation, they bonded when she helped him get around the registration checkpoint. The police don’t approach the hijras unless they absolutely have to.The duo meet whenever they can get away secretly, once or twice a month. They never meet at the same location; it’s critical nobody knows where they are or that they’re together. He was straight, she told me. She wanted to give him everything, and offered to get a sex change operation, but he refused. He liked her exactly as she was, and his acceptance touched her deeply. He was on the other side, not an outcast, and that he loved her gave her stability and dignity.She blushed through her makeup as she pulled his picture up on her phone. “Isn’t he hot?” she giggled, and the corners of her eyes turned upwards.All over the phone was also the reason the relationship has no future. On either side of her boyfriend was an endless stream of porno photos: naked portraits shot in front of the mirror, penises of every variety, gay daisy chains that stretched across the screen. “I don’t think it will last,” Ritika told me sadly. “I am a sex worker and life gets in the way.” It didn’t help that the boyfriend wasn’t openly gay, and would have an arranged marriage that followed Sikh tradition.“Life” is her night job and the guru that makes it possible. Her guru is what made Ritika a hijra. But Ritika’s guru is more of a pimp than a head of household. She runs a stretch of road and only her ladies are allowed to sell their bodies there. “I have to be a hijra. If I come out in long hair, looking feminine, dressed in women’s clothes, then the other hijras will come out and beat me if I don’t have a guru.” Ritika pays her Rs 4,000-5,000 a month to ply her work. But the guru shares some functions with those of a more traditional hijra: she enforces community rules, like those against hair cutting, and provides help or shelter if one of her disciples is in need. Unlike a pimp, she does bring in customers, but Ritika has no shortage of demand.Her phone beeped constantly while we talked. As she scrolled through her text messages on a smartphone, there were thousands of separate conversations. There were pricing requests, pick up lines, more penis photos. A text came in every 15 minutes or so. Facebook messages came too: Ritika had to open a new account because she’d passed the 5,000 friend limit. Calls came in frequently, and one came in while she was showing me her phone. She was brief and direct. She quoted him Rs 3,000 (about $60) for an hour of “fun” with him and his friends, but turned them down because they didn’t want to use protection. Fifteen minutes later, another man sent her a text message. He’d had sex with her the night before and wanted to buy Ritika’s panties. Ritika couldn’t stop laughing.The 22-year-old has seen everything. She sees between 10 and 15 clients a week and the amount she charges them depends on the kind of car they drive; the best prices are for those who show up on scooters. Sex happens wherever it has to, including in a client’s car or simply in the park, but Ritika also meets clients who call ahead in a small apartment she rents for the purpose. The others pick her up roadside.The whole affair is pure business, services rendered for payment. She became a prostitute at 16 because she wanted the sex, and wanted to find people who liked her because she was a hijra. She stayed a prostitute because the money is unbeatable, and because, she confided, she still enjoys the sex. But the streets are too cruel to offer community, or the acceptance she craved when she first stalked the night six years ago. Sometimes clients are rough, or the police come and beat her with bamboo sticks. Her guru is demanding, and Ritika calls her for help only when absolutely necessary. The greatest reminder of the danger is Ritika’s name. Two hundred meters from where she waits for clients, her boyfriend’s sister was stabbed to death by an enraged lover. His sister’s name was Ritika, and Ritika took the name as a tribute to her love.But Ritika is not a victim. She is a sex worker by choice and it funds her life as she chases bigger dreams to be a social worker. She spends her days working at MITR Trust, an NGO dedicated to helping New Delhi’s LGBT community, or at school, where she’s halfway through a bachelor’s degree in social work. Her dream is to help build the community she worked so hard to find.On the second floor of the plain cement building where MITR Trust houses its offices, that community is flourishing. It was a simple space — mats on the floor, a few worn out speakers, and a clinic in the back for free STD testing. A rainbow flag hung on the balcony, over the dirt road and tea vendors below. In the five times that I visited the offices, it was never empty. It was there that I met Ruppa, and had my most honest interviews with the hijra.MITR is the refuge the city doesn’t offer. It is a place where the hijras — and many gay men — can let their hair down. On Wednesdays there are community meetings, and all the mats are filled. When I went, everyone was passing around tea and samosas and seemed to be conversing with everyone else. When Ritika introduced me, half the group crowded around to sit next to me, and though a few spoke English, all smiled and then came over to pose for a photo. Then they started blasting Katy Perry and danced like mad.It was in this space that I saw Ritika in her element, laughing or dancing or just sitting with the group. She knew everyone by name — where they came from, what their story was, what kind of problems they were facing. During the weekly meetings, she would often lead group conversations. When attendance was sparse, she would sit and talk with whoever came through the door. At night, when the work was finished, she would give haircuts or curls or do makeup for other hijras. She could come to work decked out in whatever she wanted and wore bright scarfs and her stuffed bra and low cut short and a hairstyle that bunched her long hair in a playful ball on one side.It made one wonder whether Ritika would walk the streets at night if she could find the sex she wanted without it, if there were a community of openly gay males who could openly say they cared for her. Perhaps in such a situation her love for her boyfriend would have a chance.But it wasn’t the case, and instead Ritika found what she wanted through furtive night visits with anonymous faces, organized online. The second floor of MITR Trust was the full expanse of her refuge, and it was there that the carefree worlds of the traditional hijras, the millennial transsexuals, and the closeted gays melded and ended. Nobody would even follow me out into the street for a photograph; we had to shoot on the roof.But things are improving.If Ritika and Ruppa had been born at the same time, they might have followed the same paths. Thirty years ago, there were few options for a transsexual male. You became a hijra, or you hid. But attitudes across India’s cities have changed. Hijras can find places to relax that are not in a guru’s house, like MITR Trust. They can use the internet to find others like them and the refuges where their womanhood can erupt from within them unrestrained. The web has given them freedom and a way to broker services to those who desire what they have to offer. The modern city — powered by mass transit systems and remote communication — has also given the hijras and their customers anonymity. It is the perfect recipe for a booming sex industry, a new option for transsexuals. But it is also the foundations of their integration into society’s formal economy. Though they still face intense discrimination, opportunity is there where it wasn’t before: they can get education, they can get jobs. One hijra I spoke to worked full time as an electrician, others worked in call centers, and it was a hijra who served me the cup of McCafe that helped power the writing of this piece. They would not have found those jobs when Ruppa ran away.One of India’s most closed and mysterious traditions is evolving because of the twin forces of economics and social progress. It will die, eventually, because the fear of the hijras and the belief in their mystic powers will completely disappear. It will die because gurus, at the heart of their hidden culture, are no longer needed to broker transactions or provide a community. They remain there as a force of tradition, or as pimps — providing some security against the violence of the streets the new hijras walk by night. It will die because hijras can now find work and independence without abandoning their transexuality.The story of the Hijras speaks to the dizzying change that is happening in India. As the nation’s young generation migrates to the cities to find work, they enter a cosmopolitan culture vastly different from what their parents had experienced. Old class divisions are starting to fall away and the economic boom has brought opportunity to many who never had it before. The urban youth feels empowered, optimistic, and is starting to speak the rhetoric of a more egalitarian India.It will take a while, because the shift is not being driven by legal change, and requires a cultural shift. But the stares will start to disappear and the accepting community that Ritika is striving so hard to find will find its foothold. It will be the last breath of the hijras. Related Itemslast_img read more

Vivek Shraya: Connecting the Dots

first_imgWhile a shipment of children’s books gifted by first Lady Melania Trump to libraries was spurring public debates in elementary schools across the United States this weekend, Vivek Shraya was oblivious of the part she was unwittingly playing in the saga. Shraya’s book, The Boy & the Bindi, was among the titles that Cambridgeport Elementary School librarian Liz Phipps Soeiro thought Trump should have gifted to the school, instead of Dr Seuss’ works that she said were steeped in racist propaganda.“Truthfully, this interview is the first I am hearing of this, so thank you for the heads up!,” Shraya told Little India in an email interview.The Toronto-based writer-musician-artist — she sees herself as a multidisciplinary artist — added that she was deeply moved by Soeiro’s letter and glad to have been made aware of the charge of racism in Dr Seuss’ books. In her letter to Mrs Trump rejecting the 10 works by Dr Seuss, the Cambridge, Mass., Librarian Soeiro wrote that “Dr. Seuss’s illustrations are steeped in racist propaganda, caricatures, and harmful stereotypes.”Shraya said, “Like so many children, I grew up reading his books, and his rhyming style inspired the format of The Boy & the Bindi, so this connection coupled with Soeiro’s list feels perfectly subversive.”Shraya, who grappled with issues related to gender and ethnic identity for years, is no stranger to feeling complex, intense emotions. She was bullied in school for being brown-skinned, and effeminate. After years of solitary struggle, she finally told her mother about her sexuality at the age of 21. And found the source of strength she needed.“I turned to my mother, who was one of the few people to celebrate my differences in my childhood,” Shraya tells us. Not that it was easy. Shraya brooded over her mother’s possible response for years, before finding an open window to broach the subject one day, she recalled in a previous feature that she wrote on BuzzFeed:“So, you’re gay?” my mom asked, without skipping a beat.“Yes?” I often wish I had said, “No, I am bisexual,” instead, because it would have made my subsequent coming out about dating a woman a bit smoother.“Well, some kids have cancer. Some people are paralyzed. You are our child. We love you no matter what.” Not quite the PFLAG-mom response or fanfare, but I was mostly happy to not be kicked out of our home and that she didn’t, to my knowledge, have a jagged little breakdown.Shraya later paid a touching tribute to her mother through Trisha, a much-applauded project involving a series of photographs, old and new, in which she replaced her mom as the subject to recreate the vintage images. The stunning imagery is accompanied by equally moving prose. Shraya addresses her mother at one point: “You had also prayed for me to look like Dad, but you forgot to pray for the rest of me. It is strange that you would overlook this, as you have always said ‘Be careful what you pray for’.”Religion provided a recourse to Shraya too, just like it did to her mother, who went through challenging times when she moved to Canada from India after marriage.“I turned to religion,” Shraya tells us. “The non-denominational form of Hinduism we practiced seemed to have space to hold my gender creativity in a way that Western masculinity did not.”Shraya, who announced on her 35th birthday via Facebook that she is now using the pronouns she and her, says owning her femininity wasn’t born from a singular event but was rather the product of years of trying to undo teenage trauma. “When I first came out, it did feel like a huge weight had been lifted, but soon this weight was replaced by continued concerns for my safety and the expectation to perform femininity in a normative way.”The deep imprints that these experiences etched on her personality seep out in her works. The themes of skin color, gender politics, and divisive opinions emerge as a recurrent pattern in her works, be it the short story collection God Loves Hair, her recent album Part-Time Woman or her debut poetry collection, even this page is white. “They are deliberate focuses in my art,” she says. “I can’t strip my race or gender from my experiences and my perspective.”It’s, however, a double-edged sword, that often cleaves her award-winning works in favor of her transgender identity. Shraya finds it unfortunate that her sexuality is talked about more than her creations. “I identify as an artist more than any other label,” she says. “I think this is also quite common for racialized, feminine and/or queer artists, where focusing on our identities is also a way to undermine the value of the art itself. White and straight artists are ‘artists,’ and brown and queer artists are ‘activists’.”The world needs both, so carry on, Vivek Shraya.Librarian Liz Phipps Soeiro’s List of Recommended BooksAuntie Yang’s Great Soybean Picnic written by Ginnie Lo; illus. by Beth Lo.The Boy & the Bindi written by Vivek Shraya. illus. by Rajni Perera.Drum Dream Girl: How One Girl’s Courage Changed Music written by Margarita Engle. illus. by Rafael López.King for a Day written by Rukhsana Khan; illus. by Christiane Krömer.Mama’s Nightingale: A Story of Immigration and Separation written by Edwidge Danticat; illus. by Leslie Staub.My Cold Plum Lemon Pie Bluesy Mood written by Tameka Fryer Brown; illus. by Shane Evans.Red: A Crayon’s Story written and illus. by Michael.Separate Is Never Equal: Sylvia Mendez & Her Family’s Fight for Desegregation written and illus. by Duncan Tonatiuh.Somos Como Las Nubes / We Are like the Clouds written by Jorge Argueta; illus. by Alfonso Ruano; translated by Elisa Amado.Two White Rabbits written by Jairo Buitrago; illus. by Rafael Yockteng; translated by Elisa Amado. Melania Trump’s List of Recommended Books by Dr SeussSeuss-isms!Because a Little Bug Went KaChooWhat Pet Should I Get?The Cat in the HatI Can Read with My Eyes Shut!One Fish, Two Fish, Red Fish, Blue FishThe Foot BookWacky WednesdayGreen Eggs and HamOh, the Places You’ll Go!  Related Itemslast_img read more

Myths And More

first_imgIndian epic Ramayana has been interpreted by many in myriad ways, inspiring a host of productions that often add a tinge of their own interpretations as they weave their art around it. German performer and choreographer Felix Mathias Ott, who is bringing his play Ramanaya (not Ramayana) to Bengaluru this weekend, is no different.The epic has never ceased to capture the imagination of people, says Ott. And it is this fascination with mythology that draws him to them each time.“I have always been fascinated by mythology and fables. I traveled to India in 2013, with my production, Odyssey Complex. It is then that I started a conversation with Bangalore-based artist’s collective, Sandbox Collective, about working on something in India,” he says.Odyssey Complex was an experiment that explored the multiple connections that people have with a myth or an infinite object. Choreographed by Ott, it was an effort to navigate through the many myths and imaginations that have crept into the minds of people. The performance was crafted to transport the performer and the spectator from a normal situation to one strongly connected with various narratives like animalism, gods, strengths, sexuality, and energies of the cosmos.For his next production in India, Ott chose to explore the Ramayana. He has added his bit of colors and creativity in it. Ott explains that the production is not a reproduction or an adaptation of the epic.Felix Mathias Ott“We use the Ramayana as a playground and enter a world that is huge and sacred. Through a playful approach we find new ways of reading the story, and search for a platform to find new interpretations and new questions,” Ott elaborates.He is a man who wears many hats. Ott is an experienced stage designer, video artist, author, director. His collaborations with artistes all over the world either for his own creations or with other initiatives has made him dabble with many concepts and ideas. His performances are supported in various countries by the Goethe Institut.The 35-year-old Berlin-based artiste is known for his stunning choreography in the field of contemporary performing arts. Inspired by his father, a German actor, Ott developed a huge interest in theater and later decided to study stage design to get a better know-how of the craft of theater. His work creates reflexive spaces where the spectators are free to explore their creativity, traversing through different ideas.The artiste notes that his work often poses questions to the audience, compelling them to think. This is what makes his stories stand out in the crowd.Artistes working with an epic often face challenges while weaving their plays and productions around it. Ott’s experiences were no different, more so as he had to bridge several cultural gaps. The greatest challenge was working with a story, which is thousands of years old. Also, it is a subject that has been explored numerous times. The challenge for him was to connect with it.“Especially because I come from a different cultural background. Unlike most Indians, I did not grow up with the Ramayana, but I found parallels to other stories and fables from my own background, in the end they all speak of the same thing,” he notes.He and his team constructed a map, which is similar to a playground that involves different media such as film, music, dance, lights and stage design. “The audience is confronted with a complex construction from where we all need to find our own path. There are infinite possibilities of reading an epic like the Ramayana, it is open to interpretations and our work is to ask questions and open it out to those interpretations,” Ott explains.Yet another of his acts that he conceptualized in collaboration with artiste Bahar Temiz, and performed in, was M.A.R.S. The two artistes examined the fundamentals of moving together, and tried to reinvent themselves through this act, while they moved from one situation to the other.For now, the multifaceted artiste is excited about his show and taking it to different cities across India and exploring the different sides of the country while touring. “I’m sure there will be several collaborations with this team in the years to come,” says Ott. “This feels like the first chapter of a book and there will be lots to look forward to.” Related ItemsGermanyTheaterlast_img read more

Indian Football League to Have More Foreign Players

first_imgWith the news of I-League, previously known as the National Football League, tweaking rules that can aid addition of more foreign players on squad– Indian football scenario is seeing enormous changes. I-League is India’s first domestic football league and the increase in number of foreign players has sparked a debate.According to sports magazine Goal, the number of overseas players an I-League club can sign up for, in the upcoming season, has been raised to six from four. Out of the six, two of them are required to be from an affiliated country of Asian Football Confederation. Previously, only one player should have been from an affiliated country.Overseas PlayersThe new rules also state that no more than 5 foreign players can be on the starting eleven. This rule is shared by Indian Super League, a relatively new football league in the Indian scenario. Interestingly, an Indian Super League (ISL) team can take on a maximum of eight overseas players.This move of fielding more foreign players was backed by Kolkata clubs- Kolkata East and Mohan Bagun, who had been pushing for it with All India Football Federation (AIFF). The idea behind their proposal was to raise the profile of the struggling league to make it more competitive and make it at par with more popular ISL. This became especially important because I-League and ISL will be running parallel in the next season– so the same players cannot be rotated between both leagues.Ignoring Local TalentHowever, the move has not been welcomed by other teams in the league. Says Ranjit Bajaj, owner of Minerva Punjab FC in New Indian Express report:“The I-League has just gone backwards, just when the ISL was thinking forward by reducing a foreign player. This decision has really taken us by surprise, as we expected the status quo to be maintained. These foreign players are going to take the place of an Anirudh Thapa or a Vinit Rai. Obviously, when you have the choice between an 18-year-old kid and a foreign player on the bench, you are going to opt for the latter.”The other concern the teams have is that only big clubs such as East Bengal and Mohun Bagan can afford foreign players of a certain quality. The rule change will impact budget of these clubs as well– considering there were plans in investing resources in developing local talent.Says former Indian football player CC Jacob to Times of India, “Identifying local talents is key to making football a popular sport in the country. Though teams have five overseas and six Indian players, it should also have at least three local players based on the region where the tournament is being played.”With the new rules in place, it remains to be seen how the football scenario in India would play out. Related Itemsfootball clubs in Indiafootball in IndiaForeign players IndiaI-LeagueIndian Super LeagueLittle Indialast_img read more

Of Marriageable Age

first_imgElizabeth Gilbert, in her well-acclaimed book, Eat, Pray, Love: One Woman’s Search for Everything Across Italy, India and Indonesia writes: “A girl got married at the dinosaur age of 28, which is not frequently heard of in Indians.” Gilbert, who is well into her 30s, goes on to weigh the odds against her if she were to marry in India.It is an apprehension with which growing numbers of Indian Americans can relate. Marrying at the “right” age, which is decidedly before 30, is still considered exceedingly important in the community and those hovering at the magic number sense the pressure.Poorna Jyotula, 29, a software engineer from New Britain, Conn., calls the entire procedure of finding a partner and the matrimonial situation a “mess.” He had a long telephone conversation with his parents in India one Friday evening.When he re-joined his friends at their weekly get-together, he had thrown in the towel: “It was the usual. I just said ‘yes’ once again to all their arguments about getting married. I’ve told them time and again that 30 is not the end of youth, but they don’t seem to agree.” A few years earlier, he would argue with his parents. But increasingly he realized that it was not of much use, so he gave up.Karan Chopra (name changed on request), a financial analyst in Stamford, Conn., says that parental anxiety that their children marry is driven from psychological considerations.“When their child is living very far away, it is a comforting thought for them to know that once he or she is married, there is someone to take care of him. The way there are different stages in a life, parents feel that 30 is a good baseline for their son or daughter to tie the knot,” Chopra says. He tied the knot early this year just before he turned 30.Societal pressureThe pressures for marriage can come from other quarters too. Relatives and friends (sometimes even friends of friends) get into the act as well. Darshana (last name withheld at request), a mental health professional from Poughkeepsie, N.Y., says she feels irked when relatives sometimes make her parents feel that they have failed because their daughter is almost 30 and single. “My parents don’t deserve this kind of treatment. They have raised me to be an independent person. So it is hardly fair that they are at the receiving end of such comments,” she says.Adds Chopra, “I have noticed that parents in India face a lot more questions about their child’s marriage than they themselves maybe deliberating about. That scenario is not here in the United States.”Ritu Singh (name changed on request), a post-doctoral student at University of Louisville in Kentucky, echoes her sentiments: “Sometimes relatives make the marriage situation more problematic for parents than it already is. They keep questioning parents about prospective grooms and more.” Poorna Jyotula: I’ve told them time and again that 30 is not the end of youth, but they don’t seem to agree. Singh says marrying between 25 and 28 years of age is ideal, not for psychological or societal considerations, but rather for scientific and biological reasons. “Since motherhood is easier before a woman turns 30 (because of hormones and other factors), I would feel that 25-28 years is ideal to tie the knot,” Singh says.Harpreet Kaur, an SAS programmer in Somerset, N.J., says she would have preferred to marry around the age of 25. “Call me old-fashioned if you want, but I feel that 24-25 is ideal to marry. That way you have enough time to know your partner before you have kids.” As she nears 30, she says, the frequency of her parents urging her to tie the knot has grown. “But I don’t feel pressured by it,” she says.The biological considerations also weigh on men. Jyotula, who deferred marriage for years himself, says that marrying before 30 allows a couple to enjoy life together before starting a family. “Not only do my married friends also suggest marrying before 30, I too would tell others to tie the knot earlier than 30,” he says.Friends said so…It’s a sentiment Chopra hears frequently from her friends too: “Most of my friends told me to settle down before I turned 30. There were very few exceptions who said that although I was nearing 30, I still had time and could enjoy.” Harpreet Kaur: My friends never fail to remind me of my days as a single person in a positive manner. They tell me to enjoy them to the fullest as I will never get them back.Kaur, on the other hand, has received more tempered advice: “My friends never fail to remind me of my days as a single person in a positive manner. They tell me to enjoy them to the fullest as I will never get them back.”Some friends who have been married for more than five years also advice her that marriage requires a lot of adjustments and growing up. She explains that while a 23-year-old woman may desire only five qualities in a prospective husband, one who is 30 would be seeking 10 or 12.Darshana remains unfazed: “Since I am 30 now, I feel that I have crossed some invisible line and I am now in the ‘Oh my God, she is still not married’ land. But I try to enjoy the ride.”   Related Itemslast_img read more

Cabagnot, San Miguel weather Meralco comeback

first_imgBI on alert for illegally deployed OFWs to Iraq Photo by Tristan Tamayo/ INQUIRER.netANTIPOLO — Coach Leo Austria described Meralco as San Miguel’s first test in the 2018 PBA Philippine Cup.He was right as the Beermen barely escaped the Bolts, 103-97, Wednesday night at Ynares Center here.ADVERTISEMENT Asian shares slide on weak Japan data; US markets closed ‘Excited’ Terrence Romeo out to cherish first PBA finals appearance PLAY LIST 01:30’Excited’ Terrence Romeo out to cherish first PBA finals appearance00:50Trending Articles00:50Trending Articles01:29Police teams find crossbows, bows in HK university01:35Panelo suggests discounted SEA Games tickets for students02:49Robredo: True leaders perform well despite having ‘uninspiring’ boss02:42PH underwater hockey team aims to make waves in SEA Games01:44Philippines marks anniversary of massacre with calls for justice01:19Fire erupts in Barangay Tatalon in Quezon City Brace for potentially devastating typhoon approaching PH – NDRRMC Read Next June Mar Fajardo was in his usual dominant self, unloading 26 points and nine rebounds while the guards, led by Alex Cabagnot, fired on all cylinders that kept Meralco at bay.Cabagnot led all scorers with 29 points that went with seven boards, and four assists, Marcio Lassiter got 18 points built on four treys, with five rebounds and three dimes, while Von Pessumal shot 3-of-8 from beyond the arc to wind up with 11 markers on top of five rebounds.FEATURED STORIESSPORTSWATCH: Drones light up sky in final leg of SEA Games torch runSPORTSMalditas save PH from shutoutSPORTSLillard, Anthony lead Blazers over Thunder“I’m so thankful that we ended the year with a bang,” said Austria as his side shot 13-of-29 from rainbow country. “With this win, I think this will motivate us to play better next time.”The victory almost slipped from the Beermen’s grip as a late charge from the Bolts, who trailed by as much as 22 points, threatened and came to within, 102-97, after Mike Tolomia drilled a trey with 38.9 seconds remaining. MOST READ Do not bring these items in SEA Games venues 8th Top Leaders Forum assessed the progress of public-private efforts in building climate and disaster resilient communities Meralco had a chance to trim the lead further, but Nino Cañaleta’s three went in and out as Fajardo secured the rebound and Chris Ross iced the game with a split at the free throw line with 5.3 ticks left.Tolomia dropped 21 points on a 5-of-9 clip from threes, to go along with four rebounds and six assists.Cañaleta added 17 markers and nine boards, while Reynel Hugnatan had 16.The Scores:SAN MIGUEL 103 — Cabagnot 29, Fajardo 26, Lassiter 18, Pessumal 11, Ross 9, Santos 8, Mamaril 2, Lanete 0, Heruela 0, Ganuelas-Rosser 0.ADVERTISEMENT Cayetano: 4 social media groups behind SEA Games ‘sabotage’ LATEST STORIES Kammuri turning to super typhoon less likely but possible — Pagasa Typhoon Kammuri accelerates, gains strength en route to PH MERALCO 97 –  Tolomia 21, Canaleta 17, Hugnatan 16, Newsome 13, Lanete 10, Bono 8, Amer 7, Baracael 2, Ballesteros 2, Caram 1, Faundo 0, Sedurifa 0, Salva 0.Quarters: 30-18, 59-41, 81-73, 103-97. Don’t miss out on the latest news and information. Revilla puts past behind with Phoenix win over former team Kia View commentslast_img read more

‘Room for more’ as Ronaldo wins another Globe award

first_imgKris Aquino ‘pretty chill about becoming irrelevant’ Real Madrid’s Portuguese forward Cristiano Ronaldo is seen on a screen after the announcement of his reception of the “Best player” award during the Globe Soccer Awards Ceremony at the end of the 12th Edition of the Dubai International Sports Conference on December 28, 2017 in Madinat Jumeirah Resort in Dubai. / AFP PHOTO / MAHMOUD KHALEDReal Madrid star Cristiano Ronaldo was Thursday named Globe Soccer’s Best Player for the second year in a row and the fourth time overall although he wasn’t present in person to receive his trophy.The Portuguese international also won the prize, organized by the EFAA (European Association of Football Agents) and ECA (European Clubs Association) in 2011, 2014 and 2016.ADVERTISEMENT View comments Read Next LATEST STORIES Trending Articles PLAY LIST 00:50Trending Articles02:27Another ‘ninja cop’ dismissed from service01:46US defense chief agrees it’s time to take another look at defense pact with PH01:29Police teams find crossbows, bows in HK university01:35Panelo suggests discounted SEA Games tickets for students02:49Robredo: True leaders perform well despite having ‘uninspiring’ boss02:42PH underwater hockey team aims to make waves in SEA Games01:44Philippines marks anniversary of massacre with calls for justice01:19Fire erupts in Barangay Tatalon in Quezon City Brace for potentially devastating typhoon approaching PH – NDRRMC “It was an amazing year, we won a lot of trophies collective and myself individual, so I’m so glad. Thank you for the people who voted for me — next year, do the same!”Real were also named best club of the year and Zinedine Zidane was best coach.“It’s an honour for me and for the club to receive this award,” Zidane told the audience.“It means things have gone well and worked well.”In other awards, Francesco Totti and Carles Puyol received player career awards, Marcello Lippi was handed a coaching career award, Spain’s La Liga was best league of the year, and Jorge Mendes named best agent.ADVERTISEMENT 8th Top Leaders Forum assessed the progress of public-private efforts in building climate and disaster resilient communities Do not bring these items in SEA Games venuescenter_img MOST READ Asian shares slide on weak Japan data; US markets closed Kammuri turning to super typhoon less likely but possible — Pagasa Djokovic to face Bautista Agut in Abu Dhabi comeback Ronaldo appeared by video link as he received the award from Italy’s Alessandro delPiero.Despite his numerous awards, Ronaldo joked that he still has plenty of room to expand his personal trophy cabinet.FEATURED STORIESSPORTSWATCH: Drones light up sky in final leg of SEA Games torch runSPORTSMalditas save PH from shutoutSPORTSLillard, Anthony lead Blazers over Thunder“Don’t worry my friend, I have a lot of space,” Ronaldo, who inspired Real to the Champions League last season, told the show’s host.“For me it’s a special moment and I feel very happy to receive this award. I have to say thank you to my teammates, to my coach, to Real Madrid. BI on alert for illegally deployed OFWs to Iraq Don’t miss out on the latest news and information. Typhoon Kammuri accelerates, gains strength en route to PHlast_img read more

New year brings new hope for Alaska after disastrous 2017

first_imgBI on alert for illegally deployed OFWs to Iraq Kris Aquino ‘pretty chill about becoming irrelevant’ 8th Top Leaders Forum assessed the progress of public-private efforts in building climate and disaster resilient communities Read Next After contending for practically every season since its inclusion in 1986, the Aces faced incredible uncertainty in 2017 when they experienced their worst losing streak in history at 14 straight games between the two import conferences.After a fairly decent All-Filipino Conference finishing with a 7-4 card, Alaska went into free fall in the Commissioner’s and Governors’ Cups tallying a combined record of just 7-15.FEATURED STORIESSPORTSWATCH: Drones light up sky in final leg of SEA Games torch runSPORTSMalditas save PH from shutoutSPORTSLillard, Anthony lead Blazers over ThunderThe Aces also ended the year with 106-98 loss to TNT on Friday, but head coach Alex Compton wants his players to just let of everything that had happened in 2017.“For us as a team, the year 2017 wasn’t that pretty,” said Compton in Filipino Friday at Cuneta Astrodome. “There will always come a time that you will face challenges in your life.” Leo Austria, SMB wary of ‘more experienced’ Hotshots ahead of PBA Finals rematch PLAY LIST 01:33Leo Austria, SMB wary of ‘more experienced’ Hotshots ahead of PBA Finals rematch00:59Sports venues to be ready in time for SEA Games01:27Filipino athletes get grand send-off ahead of SEA Games01:29Police teams find crossbows, bows in HK university01:35Panelo suggests discounted SEA Games tickets for students02:49Robredo: True leaders perform well despite having ‘uninspiring’ boss02:42PH underwater hockey team aims to make waves in SEA Games01:44Philippines marks anniversary of massacre with calls for justice01:19Fire erupts in Barangay Tatalon in Quezon City Do not bring these items in SEA Games venues MOST READ LATEST STORIES Still, Compton remains positive that they can turn things around and start on a winning note after starting the new season 0-2 in the Philippine Cup.“Then again I’ve told them to enjoy the New Year, celebrate the New Year with their families and flush everything bad down the toilet because 2018 will be the new hope.”center_img Asian shares slide on weak Japan data; US markets closed If there’s one year that Alaska would like to forget in its storied history in the PBA, it has to be 2017.ADVERTISEMENT Griffin returns to lead Clippers past Lakers Don’t miss out on the latest news and information. Brace for potentially devastating typhoon approaching PH – NDRRMC Kammuri turning to super typhoon less likely but possible — Pagasa Typhoon Kammuri accelerates, gains strength en route to PH View commentslast_img read more