I am looking at the latest issue of India Currents with lots of admiration in my eyes. The article “Exploring Cultures” (IC Aug 2002) is really well written. My compliments to all of you. Your publication has come a long way since I have known it.
Nirmala Guliani, Fremont, CA
This is in response to the article on interracial marriages by Alzak Amlani (IC Aug 2002). I felt as if it was written specifically for my wife and myself. I know this is not the case, but so closely did the rewards and difficulties you spoke of resemble our situation. I am a Caucasian, born and raised in San Francisco by my Filipino godmother. My wife is Korean, raised in a Buddhist temple where she lived as a nun for 11 years before we met in India in 2000. Since the marriage, I have experienced both the richness of the tradition which she brings with her, as well as seeing sides of her personality that are coming out as a result of living in San Francisco.
At times it has been difficult. I find for myself that the desire to have more time to myself, especially after work, is sometimes overpowering. I know that we both love and are committed to each other, but there are times where we have difficulty communicating to each other. I worry whether this will come back to haunt us in the future.
Peter Schurmann via the Internet
Alzak Amlani responds: Your cultural backgrounds and your wife’s as an ex-nun are interesting, bringing another layer of complexity. Regarding time to yourself, firstly, inquire if you are more introverted? Do you not get time apart from work and family? Or are you avoiding your wife or family? Second, what are some of the cultural or personality differences between you and your wife? Communicating about yourselves and the relationship leads to mutually satisfied individuals. There are good communication tools at www.wholeness-therapy.com. Click: relationships.
VIOLENCE AGAINST WOMEN
I found it very interesting that you chose a man, Rajeev Srinivasan, to air views on violence against women (IC Aug 2002).
In my opinion, a woman’s view would have been more valuable and interesting. An Indian woman faces more stress than her counterpart in other countries. We are pressured to get married early, pressured to have children soon after marriage, and more pressure to produce male children. There is no encouragement for higher education or careers. In fact, many women with careers are forced to quit when they get married. Most women have self-esteem issues. How could a man even comprehend what we go through?
Given this situation, it is not surprising that there are not many women present in government, professional offices, etc. That still does not justify men harrassing women “when their hormones act up,” as Srinivasan put it.
It is sad to note that Indians will worship Durga, Lakshmi and a myriad of female deities, but when it comes to treating our women right, we still have many millenia to go.
Deepa Pai, Sunnyvale, CA
Rajeev Srinivasan responds: The writer correctly notes that I couldn’t possibly experience what it means to be a woman. But then I can, and do, observe Indian and American women objectively, which a woman might not be able to do dispassionately. I find Pai’s stereotyping of the Indian woman’s plight simplistic. I could equally easily caricature middle class Indian women: spoilt brat, sleeps around in college, gets married, gains 30 pounds, never bothers to work, spends her time terrorizing her servants, eating sweets, watching Hindi soap operas. Ms. Pai shouldn’t generalize too much. Indian women have diverse experiences, and many are quite positive.
The front page of the Washington Post (Aug. 7) showed the serious threat of Islamic militancy in Kashmir. Nine Hindus were killed and 28 wounded in an attack launched by extremists. My thoughts and prayers go out to the victims of this cruel terrorist attack.
These attacks occur every time this trip is undertaken, and this year is no exception. The targeted attacks against civilians must stop before there can ever be peace in Kashmir. Pakistan must work harder to stop the infiltration of militants into Kashmir. These terrorists are not only trying to destabilize the upcoming elections in Kashmir, they are also targeting President Musharraf’s own regime. Only after Pakistan has rid itself of religious extremists and terrorist elements will the war on terrorism truly succeed.
Congressman Joe Wilson
We are saddened and outraged to learn of the murders of Bernadette Seajatan, Marlyn Hassan, and Sharon Yassim in Jersey City, New Jersey. Initial news reports indicated that the prosecutor believed these murders to be an act of domestic violence. Alim Hassan, the husband of Marlyn Hassan, has since been arrested and charged with the murders of his wife, his sister-in-law, and his mother-in-law.
In the past 20 years, over 56 lives have been lost due to domestic violence in South Asian communities in the U.S. Domestic violence is NOT a private matter—it is destroying our communities. We must break the silence about violence women face in their families and not keep it hidden. We must support women experiencing violence, and not turn our backs on them. We must take the stand that domestic violence is not acceptable in our communities.
Let us ensure that the deaths of Seajatan, Hassan, and Yassim were not in vain. By joining together, we can support women’s safety and create healthy communities for everyone. Manavi is dedicated to ending violence in the lives of South Asian women.
Soniya Munshi and Nadia Qurashi, Manavi, (732) 435-1414, email@example.com
DRAWN BY COMPASSION
I enjoyed reading the article Same or Saint (IC Aug 2002) because it reflected my state of mind even though I am in my early 60s. I am reconciled to the fact that I do not have the competence to judge Sri Sai Baba and saints like him.
I accidentally got a chance to see Ammachi and did darshan without much conviction. Why did so many thousands looked at Amma as an incarnation? I was aware that I was not singularly wiser than many of the devotees—among whom where were veteran Ph.Ds, surgeons, and physicians. It dawned on me that my questioning about spirituality was not getting me anywhere and my middle-class intellect could only ask questions but could not find any answers. What was certain in my mind was confusion.
I was never interested in miracles and it continues to this day. I read the book “Amma” written by Judith Corness as well as many other books. The compassion of Amma is something to be seen and perceived. What does she benefit from all this? Nothing personally. Her selfless service and spreading the message of love is the essence of all religions. And that is what God is all about.
S. Rajagopalan, San Ramon, CA