Vacant Seat of Leadership
As the recent American politics is no longer making sense to me, I can’t help but share an experience from earlier this week.
Nitin & I were seated next to a Brazilian family in this trendy, upscale restaurant on Rodeo drive. Our seats were so close to theirs that a conversation was very natural. Although at first I had wished that we should have asked for a more private, romantic table, I changed my mind as our conversation with them continued.
This Brazilian family of four, who was now living in Columbia, had previously spent few years in Switzerland and Brazil. The father, who was an executive in a multi-national company based out of Glendale, had come for work to LA with his fashionable wife, 8-year old son and probably 13 or 14 year old daughter. Unlike Nitin & me, this classy family assimilated perfectly into the creme de la creme of Rodeo Drive.
Myriad topics such as Rio-Olympics, politics (of course), world travel, etc. came up with the parents. Nitin & I also had a fun conversation with the two children who were very interested in talking about sports and international languages.
Finally the shy 8 year old popped a question to us – Are you for Trump or Hilary? To which the 14 year old instantly replied – Of course they must be for Trump! So the 8 year old turned to us and raised his eyebrows with a funny expression and in half disbelief said – are you really for Trump!
We were delighted and laughed at seeing that the 8 year old would believe anything the elder sister would say. The father was half-embarrassed and half-curious himself as he laughed nervously, but still awaited our response.
Nitin & I let the suspense build up for couple of minutes but the 8 year old had an almost disappointed look on his face that his new favorites had just done something that he quite disliked. So we broke the uncertainty and replied – Clinton. We expected a hurray from him. But instead the 8 year old groaned really loudly and said, Not Clinton! Ofcourse this surprised us given his previous sentiments and expressions. So we inquisitively asked if he would have preferred Trump? To which both the kids replied without wasting a second – No! Bernie!
We were incredibly Wowed by their declaration and were speechless as we did not anticipate that the children of their age would understand the difference in the various candidates, let alone have any interest in US political arena. We clarified that their question was to choose between Trump and Hilary. However. we too preferred Bernie and were very sad that he wasn’t in the race any more. But there was no more consoling to the kids. They were both dismayed that neither of the two candidates running for US Presidential election were up to the mark for the job.
Children and adults around the globe can see through the phony candidates that America is about to elect this year. This election is no longer about liberal versus conservative choices. It is a fake show and no one is buying this sh*t any more.
While growing up, I always wished that India would also become like America, in the sense that the people would have complete freedom, money, and equal opportunities. I believed in the ‘American Dream’. Although no-one had taught that to me, I knew it, wanted it and believed in it more than anything else.
Without any relation to America, I felt an akin like attachment to America, a country where honest, hard working, innovative and creative people are rewarded. I always carried the impression in my mind that in America there was no corruption, wrong were always punished and everyone was fairly treated. I felt like the American people were the most open minded in the whole wide world. And that only the really deserving leaders made it to the top here. It made up for me, in many ways what my own country could not do for me.
This is why I feel betrayed today. I am disheartened that the American politics is almost as corrupt as it is in my own country. Whether it was George W Bush before or Donald Trump now, they are as tacky, unpolished and vulgar as the rest of their kind elsewhere in the world. Whether it is the reason behind Black Lives Matter or Occupy Movement, my dream world is falling apart in front of my eyes.
With the change of scenery on the political battleground, I too feel as disconsolate as the two children from Brazil. I feel as if this world is sinking in a black hole, with no truthful, genuine leaders left any more to give me hope or to whom I can look up to for invoking peace, justice and prosperity.
The short book is written in the style of an earnest, poetic, forthright letter to his 15 year old. Never before have I read a book about someone’s life so much different than mine and it was an eye opening, enlightening and humane experience. I don’t know of anyone’s life to be as unfortunate in a developed nation as is the life of a person of color in America. (although I could see strong similarities in the challenges faced by the lower caste people and minorities in India). The letter is a narrative of his personal background and experiences, interesting and insightful stories from his own childhood, upbringing and youth, lessons he learnt from his life and the ones he wants his son to have the knowledge of.
There was no assuaging of emotions or mincing of words, he has written straight from the heart, a practical advice, that his son must learn how to live in this white-centric world where everyone is going after ‘the dream’. I personally agreed with his idea of of the dream as described in the book. (I myself came to the US seeking the same dream.) Racism exists and it has been institutionalized in front of our eyes. Ta-Nehisi initiates that perception for me, helping me see it in the slightest of behavior, action and words.
He points out similarities in the experiences of the black people from the time of his parents, to himself, to his son’s, and this helped me grasp the frustration and anger. I understood much better the oppression and helplessness that his community deals with.
I liked his poetic ramblings. He derailed a bit into trivial details a few times in the beginning not adding value to the main topic but I found it entertaining. I was pleased that he extended the idea of ‘the dream’ to not only resulting in unfair conduct to a race of color but also to how we have started taking nature for granted and accelerated the destruction of it.
The book requires keeping an open, imaginative and non judgmental mind every time he talks about ‘the Dream’ or ‘the white-skinned people’. That was the only way to empathize and genuinely comprehend their angst and fear.
If there was one important thing that I had to share that I learnt from the book, it is that they are asking for justice, and justice equal to all those pursuing ‘the dream’ and to the ‘white-skinned people’.
It is a beautiful book and I highly recommend it to anyone seeking to understand the life of an African American from their point of view.
“I am Malala” paints a stunning, heavenly visual of Swat Valley (See pictures here, comparable to the beauty of Canada’s Banff National Park). It also describes blow by blow, incident by incident, the downward spiral of this beautiful place which ends up in complete havoc and destruction with Taliban’s encroachment.
Malala’s personal story is woven with multiple threads about the history of her family, of the Pashto community, of Swat Valley, of Pakistan and of Afghanistan. The stories of her friendships and squabbles in school and at home and their routine life under constant death threats is written with the backdrop of Jinnah’s vision, stories of various political leaders, the burgeoning power of Taliban, and inability of Pakistan’s leaders to tackle it all. The book gives a perspective of how their society transitions and deals with new kind of unforeseen and unprecedented challenges that they are unprepared to cope with.
Christina Lamb, a renowned foreign correspondent, has relayed informative facts about America-Pakistan love-hate political relationship, various barbarous acts carried out under Hudud law and jihadi movements, and the callousness of it all.
Malala’s story is also as much about her father’s as her own. His resolute desire to run a model school, educate students, and eradicate religious extremism has visibly had an influence on Malala’s personality. It also made him as much of a potential target as herself.
There are several conspiracy theories about Malala which reflect the dire state of mistrust in Pakistan. I felt like the book also helped clear those (for those who want to believe), although that was not the purpose of the book of course. Her contribution is difficult to grasp because it is immeasurable in tangible terms and unusual beyond belief for those of us who live a normal life. The book allows us a chance to empathize with the exceedingly uncommon and enormously fear-filled life situations that she and her family (also her countrymen) deal with. We know about the presence of religious extremism in Afghanistan/Pakistan through news/media, but hearing her story first hand is eye-opening and appalling.
If there is anyone who has lived up to her name, it is Malala as she is named after Malalai of Maiwand, a national folk hero of Afghanistan. Amongst all the millions of people and children in Pakistan, she was the only 11-15 year old who has repeatedly/loudly/clearly expressed the need for girls’ education and peace in the face of death and war with Taliban. (Note: Nobel Peace Prize has generally been full of controversies due to its political nature and it is awarded to qualified nominees from a limited pool of applicants) (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nobel_Peace_Prize).
Discussions of gender equality and War and development in the western world are very advanced where we take education and peace for granted. However, in her world, to even ask for Education and peace means putting one’s life on the line. It requires extraordinary courage and conviction, which she demonstrated at a very young age.
The last section of the book talks about her family’s journey from the time she was shot to their life in London. It was very intriguing to learn how and which political leaders got involved, who played what role in giving her a new life and all the extra-ordinary politics that went on behind the scenes. Highly recommend the book “I am Malala“ and also watch the documentary “He named me Malala“ (which complements the book).
Several months ago someone living in India dismayingly declared to me during a conversation – There are no poor people in India anymore. This was news to me because it is a commonly known fact that 70% of India’s population is quite if not abjectly poor. Talk about “what is on the periphery of our vision, continues to stay on the periphery and we don’t see it.” Just two days later he shared with us an absolutely adorable picture of his family in the verdant green fields of India sitting on a bullock cart driven by a very old, thin and frail man with white hair, chocolate colored skin, un-shaven, un-groomed white beard, with his skeleton structure showing through the dirty white tattered raggy kurta and cotton half pants, with a desi style topi, very much a part of this picture but my friend had clearly failed to notice or acknowledge as poor. Maybe it was the smile on the poor man’s face that disqualified him from being considered as poor. Or maybe in my friend’s world, rich people sometimes like to dress in rags and look so weak and frail.
Anyway, that dialogue has inspired this post. Not everyone who is NOT begging or NOT starving to death, is NOT NOT poor. What I mean is, they don’t always have to look poor (especially as you imagine poor to look like) or always die of poverty in order to be or prove that they are indeed poor. In fact, most of the poor India are living a hellish of a life and ‘d be rather dead but are not. So they strive to live as best as they can.
Here is a pic of a (poor) lady who we commonly fail to notice or see as poor. I called her the invisible cook because her presence in our world is usually not noticed unless she doesn’t turn up before we get hungry. In my home, she is helping us out temporarily while mummy is resting after her surgery.
Saku-ben’s eyes are crossed but she looks beautiful to me in her delicate features and unassuming smile. Her skin is dry, stretched and rough but her spirits couldn’t be higher. She is a single mother with one daughter and grandchildren with a temporary roof over her head. She walks her way to every single home where she cooks in her ragged rubber slippers. Although thin and frail looking, she has the stamina of a sportswoman, that somehow constantly reminds me of a bamboo tree. She works non-stop and extremely hard from early morning until late night. She repeats her sari every second day. She uses the dreadful public bathrooms and yet she is always showered and clean. Her meals are the most simple and amazing Desi (Indian) ones I’ve ever had.
On the first day of my arrival, I complimented her cooking and then assumed that I had made it evident that I liked what she cooked. But since then she calls me to taste the food to check if it was OK every single time she cooks. Very soon I realized that it wasn’t whether the food was okay or not (because it was lip-smacking every single time and she also knew it, her shining face told me so) as much as the compliments that I gave her after tasting the food that she craved to hear. Just that one sentence I say, twice a day, probably, rather, most certainly, makes her day! (And now it makes my day too.)
Her curiosity is perky and really excites me. She likes to ask why for everything. I haven’t asked her why she asks so many whys all the time. That habit of hers irritates the heck out of bed-ridden mummy who wants to simply say “because I said so”, but I have a feeling, from the sparkle in her eyes, that this otherwise illiterate woman probably feels like she learnt something new every time her why is answered.
Yes she has a mobile phone, because it helps her stay connected with the families whose homes she has to go to work, but it is a luxury which is not misused for her family gossip or WhatsApp (like the rest of us people-with-money-and-time do) and it indubitably does not make her UN-poor.
Saku-ben, the invisible cook, is indeed poor, who can not afford to lose a single family’s work else her family will most likely go without a meal that evening.
Poor people like her, just like the rest of us, also want to look and feel normal. Nobody likes to feel poor, not even the poor people. They also desire dignity and self respect. And like her, they too wish to earn their way through this life through hard work and honesty. We just need to have a little more faith in people and show kindness in our behavior.
Beautiful Dirty Women
Don’t let a little superstition ruin someone’s (probably your beloved daughter’s) life.
Although I had read this a couple of months ago, the memory of a recent post on Periods (for (open-minded) Adults only) on Twitter is still very very fresh in my mind to the extent that I keep playing it over and over in my head at random times sheerly for the truth of it – her words couldn’t be more true – “I bleed each month to help make humankind a possibility. my womb is home to the divine. a source of life for our species.whether i choose to create or not. but very few times it is seen that way…”
Belonging to a “modern” world, living independently in US, earning my own way through this life, talking and thinking big things about women’s liberation and women’s equality, I am left shaken since a conversation on my first night in India some days ago (as I visit from California (sometimes when one starts living in a certain world, one might forget the truth of other worlds that exist in parallel)); as this young married but separated maid (living with her parents) who works at our home was packing left-over dinner for her younger brother and felt necessary to clarify to me that she was avoiding touching the food with her hands (hence the use of spatula) because she was in time and that she should not commit sin and bring bad luck and make the food inedible for her brother by touching it even by mistake during this time.
The manner in which she narrated those sentences (using 3rd person instead of 1st), it was clear to me that it was not something she understood but just something she had heard repeatedly over the years and she had simply recited those exact sentences to me like a parrot. It occurred to me that she must have been thinking about it in her mind when I walked in. She had been brainwashed to believe that she was dirty this time of the month. The irony of this thinking couldn’t be more obvious than now when she was bringing food on her brother’s plate and still made to believe she could be dirty at any time in her life.
I had a strong urge to make her sit right there and tell her otherwise. I thought of telling her that, in fact, we worship women who are in Time and that it was considered a very fortunate thing to happen and that in fact she should touch the food with her hand to bring good luck. But I knew better than turning her into a rebel at 11 PM on a random evening of her life as I did not know the consequences she might face had I taken that rash emotional step without thinking it through. What if she blurted what I told her back to her family and got beat up. That wouldn’t be helpful at all. I felt so stupid as I realized that I had never given a thought to what I would do if I experienced something like this (which is very common in India) first hand.
If anything had to be done about it, it had to be properly thought out, planned and implemented, not randomly try to change one person’s mindset without changing the environment they lived in and get them into trouble. For all the activist thoughts I have otherwise, in this one moment, I felt humbled as my heart truly sank while reality slapped me in my face.
As I am writing this blog, it is becoming more and more certain to me that although I am feeling helpless at the moment, I will do something about this when the time is right.
The morning after I wrote this blog, I got invited to a Goddess Puja at a neighbor’s home (We Indians are not only very religious, our religious beliefs are highly ceremonial and very frequent). My otherwise very kind and progressive mother gently reminded me that “I hope you are not in Time, otherwise you can not go for that Puja (for the fear of it being a sin)”. I had forgotten this cardinal rule ever since I moved to the US, where my life hasn’t stopped even once because of periods.
This is such a common superstition in our culture that even the most progressive women/people believe in it very honestly and staunchly. I rebelliously asked the same question to her that she has heard me ask for several years in my childhood – “But isn’t the goddess a female too Mummy? Haven’t the Gods made me like this?” She left me alone because she secretly agrees with me.
As a child, when I was IN TIME and my (highly religious and old) grandparents were in town, every one in and around my house, who had no business in my Periods, knew about my personal matter and I was asked not to enter the kitchen and kept away from all Gods because I was considered Dirty. Of course, it wasn’t just me who was subject to this funda, all women in the house were. Everyone knows this system in our culture, no-one has to be taught or told. All the Beautiful Dirty Women, in good intention, believe, accept and follow it very sincerely. Essentially, they have all accepted they are DIRTY when IN TIME.
It isn’t enough that we feel PMS-y, moody, in pain and sick during these Periods, now we also have to feel highly embarrassed, ashamed and shitty. It is a very subtle way of making women feel inferior.
I am about to share a secret as this seems like an apt time and space.
After I was past my 10th grade, I learnt how to hide my periods from my family and since then, I have lied shamelessly to everyone who reminded me about MY TIME. I have, in fact, gone to ALL the ceremonies and temples while having Periods that I wasn’t otherwise allowed to attend (and some times my mother knew but chose to act ignorant because I know in my heart, she agreed with me – Don’t ask Don’t tell). I can assure you through my first hand experience, NO bad luck was ever brought. I had secretly fought for my right.
This thought process and culture can and will NOT change, until every parent starts letting go of this superstition against women and is willing to take a chance. Sometimes bad things may happen, but I hope the educated, wise and intelligent people of our society will put a little mathematics to work and associate that random bad luck to probability rather than a woman in Time.
The only way to change this taboo is by worshipping the women in Time around you, especially inviting them to all special, religious occasions where they are otherwise uninvited and by treating them normally, with love and care. The only dirty thing about Periods is our taboo-ed thinking about it.
Bethlehem & Jerusalem
Reading some letters from 2008 on Israel-Palestine written to National Geographic in response to the article Bethlehem 2007 AD.
Some readers blame the Israelis, others blame the Palestinians. Given the history of Jewish sufferings and poor lives of muslims, maybe we should stop blaming either and start blaming the entire world for this never ending conflict and for not creating a more tolerant society.
I felt that this article explained the situation well.
"On Giving" by Khalil Gibran
You give but little when you give of your possessions.
It is when you give of yourself that you truly give.
For what are your possessions but things you keep and guard for fear you may need them tomorrow?
And tomorrow, what shall tomorrow bring to the overprudent dog burying bones in the trackless sand as he follows the pilgrims to the holy city?
And what is fear of need but need itself?
Is not dread of thirst when your well is full, the thirst that is unquenchable?
There are those who give little of the much which they have–and they give it for recognition and their hidden desire makes their gifts unwholesome.
And there are those who have little and give it all.
These are the believers in life and the bounty of life, and their coffer is never empty.
There are those who give with joy, and that joy is their reward.
And there are those who give with pain, and that pain is their baptism.
And there are those who give and know not pain in giving, nor do they seek joy, nor give with mindfulness of virtue;
They give as in yonder valley the myrtle breathes its fragrance into space.
Through the hands of such as these God speaks, and from behind their eyes He smiles upon the earth.
It is well to give when asked, but it is better to give unasked, through understanding;
And to the open-handed the search for one who shall receive is joy greater than giving.
And is there aught you would withhold?
All you have shall some day be given;
Therefore give now, that the season of giving may be yours and not your inheritors’.
You often say, “I would give, but only to the deserving.”
The trees in your orchard say not so, nor the flocks in your pasture.
They give that they may live, for to withhold is to perish.
Surely he who is worthy to receive his days and his nights, is worthy of all else from you.
And he who has deserved to drink from the ocean of life deserves to fill his cup from your little stream.
And what desert greater shall there be, than that which lies in the courage and the confidence, nay the charity, of receiving?
And who are you that men should rend their bosom and unveil their pride, that you may see their worth naked and their pride unabashed?
See first that you yourself deserve to be a giver, and an instrument of giving.
For in truth it is life that gives unto life while you, who deem yourself a giver, are but a witness.
And you receivers… and you are all receivers… assume no weight of gratitude, lest you lay a yoke upon yourself and upon him who gives.
Rather rise together with the giver on his gifts as on wings;
For to be overmindful of your debt, is to doubt his generosity who has the freehearted earth for mother, and God for father.
Nine Decades of Subjugation
An excellent fact-based presentation with photographs (likely not seen before) providing chronological milestones on “Nine Decades of Subjugation for India’s Women” as the title indicates.
It provides quick excerpts and also sound bites on the various less known Acts passed in India to help improve the lives of women.
For the uninitiated, it gives a glimpse into the broad array of hindrances faced by the Indian women.
Norman Finkelstein on Gandhi
Norman Finkelstein’s candid take on Gandhi, Non Violence and the Occupy Movement.
A very interesting one hour spent this weekend.
No need to say anything more, he says everything that has to be said.
Let him that would move the world, first move himself.
India Friends Association is a Non Profit organization based in Camarillo, CA. I have been involved with them since 2009 through my husband Nitin. It has been a significant life changing event.I have not become an activist all of a sudden and do not intend on becoming one. But I will not subscribe to the hype, the lies, the spin in the words of Tarun Tejpal. There has only been one, single change in me. I have opened myself to the truth of the world.
Many of us have accepted status-quo due to lack of imagination or simply out of laziness; I have decided not to do so. Some take pride in apathy; I find it silly. Many have found happiness in self indulgence; I find it to be a narrow perspective of life. Development is being defined by ability to earn or create more and more luxuries; this may be a lovely dream created by those who profit out of it, but by no means a reality.
Dibaker Banerjee, director of Khosla ka Ghosla, Oye Lucky Lucky Oye and Love, Sex Aur Dhoka said in one of his recent interviews ” If you think you are not a part of politics in the post-World War II democracy era, you are a fool. All of us are a part of politics; which means either you are a part of the reasons or consequences, or you are the victim or beneficiary. The success of a citizen in a politically-defined society depends on how much s/he can be a part of the reasons, rather than being at the receiving end of the consequences.”
I fully agree with him.
You are lying if you say that you really cant do much; the one thing you can surely do is become an aware individual.
In only a few Google searches, you will find that….”there are more poor people than rich although there is enough money for all to have a satisfactory life; hundreds of hungry people can be fed from the food you throw away; when floodlights are turned on for playing ‘cricket’ at night in the stadiums of metropolitan India, electricity is taken away from thousands of villages for several hours which results in people not getting proper treatments in hospitals, or they not getting work due factories having to shut down.” The ice at the poles is melting, global warming is real and it will impact you. There are several wild species at the verge of extinction today due to urbanization. Food is becoming more genetically modified than ever before and it is not healthy. We can not ignore these realities.
Gandhi had said, “there is sufficiency in the world for man’s need, not for man’s greed.” The world has become global not just because of internet and ability to fly across the globe in less than a day, rather because for every action in your life, there is a reaction in someone else’s and vica-versa. This earth, this nature, all the resources in it, are in our hands. We do indeed have the power to influence the future.
At IFA, the founders decided to use their valuable time and money to support Projects and Fellows in India on two fronts: 1) At the Grassroots level, working directly with the marginalized poor, educating them about their rights and empowering them to improve their lives 2) At the Top level, influencing the Members of Parliament in India to bring about strategic Policy changes and introducing new bills that will bring about greater common good.
They provide assistance and cooperation in building self sufficiency, not charity. They support projects such as rural healthcare, supporting women’s rights, at risk children, educating people about their rights through Acts such as Right to Information, National Rural Employment Guarantee Act, halting Illegal mining to preserve natural resources and many others.
Every year, for past 18 years, IFA has held an annual Fundraiser called “Archana and India Festival” which is a colorful extravaganza of India’s culture, dances, songs and stories at the respected Civic Arts Plaza in Thousand Oaks. There are more than 1200 people in the audience. More than 100 volunteers perform at this event. IFA could have easily hosted outside professional performers or a Black tie event for the fundraiser. But in keeping with their philosophy of Community development and Personal involvement, this 2-3 hour professional program is fully performed, managed, and hosted solely by local community volunteers. And it is a super hit. I had never thought that sitting in Southern California, I would enjoy children’s performances on Indian songs, Kathak, Bharat Natyam, Odissi – Indian Classical dances, and Drama on Indian folk tales, etc. It engages individuals of all age groups (from age 3 to 60+) and makes this event an unforgettable part of everyone’s lives.
In May 2011, Nitin & I were highly inspired by this Event, by the Founders and by the Intellectuals and Change-makers of India whom we met through the IFA Speaker series such as P.Sainath, Jean Dreze, SR Hiremath, etc. We felt the need to do something out of the ordinary. We believe that this world can become a better place. We have a responsibility to give back to the society what we take from it. Hence, we began the IFA Young Professionals (YP) chapter. In May 2012 we complete our first anniversary. Hence I am posting this article this month.
We have, since then, felt enlightened through our experiences and journey of reading, discussions, debates and sharing of thoughts, ideas and beliefs. Life is no longer the same; we can not undo what we now know. Perception of life has changed forever. The beauty lies in the fact that we have barely scratched the surface of knowledge pool available to us. So we have a long exciting journey ahead of us. The quality of time spent has remarkably improved.
There is a constant realization that everything and anything we do in life has an impact on someone else in the world (whether visible to us or not). This has brought about some sort of accountability towards the world. It is a wonderful feeling of liberation.
Below is a beautiful article on IFA-YP that Nitin wrote for the Archana Booklet of 2012.
India Friends Association (Young Professionals) or IFA-YP is an experiment born out of hope to extend the extraordinary ideals shared by core IFA members. Sure, the team ran half marathons to raise funds for IFA, hosted public speaking events, debated over bills & regulations proposed in the Indian parliament. But, more importantly, YP group today symbolizes that increasingly rare tenet of commitment to community and a deep curiosity of an engaged citizenry.
IFA-YP team met for the first time in Woodland hills in May 2011 with a group of 8 like-minded individuals & quickly turned into a full-fledged chapter (monthly meeting) with 8 to 12 members each assigned a unique task as per his or her liking & proficiency. Our clarion call to encourage new members revolves around creating awareness that most of us unmistakably possess X amount of disposable income & time. One simply needs to find avenues to share that valuable asset (volunteer time more than monetary commitment) with our community. IFA-YP offers that opportunity and we invite anyone interested to attend IFA team meetings to further this process of contribution to community.
Another constant theme in IFA-YP meetings is the willingness to learn about the world in general and India in particular. All members seek to understand the activities of IFA supported fellowships and projects and critically analyze how they are impacted by new bills and revolutionary changes occurring in post-liberalization India. Others are more engaged on US domestic policy in the light of 2008 financial crisis. Some were active participants in occupy wall-street movement acutely aware of the sharp income inequality despite their own privileged financial position.
It is not only the cerebral side that we engage with; many of our members are proud owners of a passionately creative spirit. This has resulted in development of concise and snazzy trailer-version of longer, detailed documentaries showcasing IFA activities in India, designing of new newsletters, development of website or painting and coloring of banners to encourage marathon runners.
That brings us to the physical commitment shown by youth members in order to support IFA. 14 runners, bikers & walkers came together to train for 3 months for half marathon (13.1 miles) or bike race (26.2 miles). It is noteworthy that most participants were first timers and came from as disparate locations as San Diego to Santa Monica and Woodland Hills to West LA. We would track our progress on Google docs & fancy phone apps during the week and then run together at Santa Monica beach on weekends. One member made creative videos of runners to assist in fundraising while others came down as cheering squads for the race day. This remarkable synergy resulted in vigorous fundraising and tenacious racing. All runners and bikers completed their race, many in record time. In that moment of accomplishment, lifelong bonds were formed. The group had forever integrated. India friends association – Young Professionals group had veritably come into being.