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Kalpana Mohan
Interests: weblogs, stimulating conversation, carnatic music, fiction and non-fiction
Recent Activity
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I reflect on the many things that have happened in my life in the last ten days. In a week buffered by two weekends, I flew to Cleveland to drench myself in music and hear my son sing, marveled over the lace and grace of a royal wedding, hopped over to Chicago to cheer my daughter as she danced, gasped at the meticulous annihilation of a much wanted man, presided over a terrifying week of AP exams in junior year and cackled with friends over a Mother’s day dinner. Our family had packed so much into the last many days.... Continue reading
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When I found out today that Tiger Mother’s cub made it to Harvard , I realized that Tiger Mother had gamed the system yet again. I’m at work on a book these days and I know that the main thing about the publishing world in the days of dwindling budgets is that marketing is now really in the hands of the authors and not so much in the laps of publishers anymore. It’s all about creating a buzz well before a book is out. It’s also about sustaining the buzz long after the book has peaked. Amy Chua had several... Continue reading
Ashish: Skimpy blouses can stress the heart and SAHC may want to factor that in the stats:-) Please go ahead and link it in, no problem. Thanks for getting back. My interview the afternoon of your lunch was very long (and with someone very important to my sari project. I dont know if you know Im working on a book around the iconic sari). Sujatha told me it was fun and that I missed an enjoyable lunch. Thanks for your note, Ashish. Kalpana
Raji, So many people have been touched by this disease in our community. Thanks for the kind words, hiking friend!
Rameysh: Thanks so much, I really appreciate the kind words. I try not to write the who/what/when/where/why stories. Enough of that was done post event. Its likely Ive offended a lot of the women who were strapped for cash (I mean they were wearing mere straps on their backs because they gave away so much cash) and I may be in danger of being unfriended. But I love them all and they know it. I DONT want them to change.
Jana, Thank you, as always. Appreciate your commenting right here. Most people tend to comment on FB and that is not as useful!
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When I got the call in December asking if I would co-chair the press and media segment of the South Asian Heart Center’s 2011 Scarlet Night Gala in March, I dithered for a few days. During the prior years, I’d heard that South Asians–those of us who trace our ancestry to India, Bangladesh, Pakistan, Nepal and Sri Lanka–had a fourfold risk of heart disease than the general population. I had seen enough friends affected personally by the reality of heart disease; it strikes South Asians at a much younger age and sneaks up on us without prior symptoms or warning.... Continue reading
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Kalpana Mohan added a favorite at Organic_Clothing
Mar 10, 2011
On this significant day, the hundredth International Women’s day, I must write an ode to one woman in Chennai, Pachaiyamma, who has made a difference in the life of my family in the last decade. She is one among the faceless, nameless women in India whose daily happiness depends on the essentials of life–needs that so many of us have graduated beyond–such as food, shelter and clothing. My father lives in Chennai. At eighty-six, dad works a seven-hour day on weekdays and manages to work half a day even on Saturday. He would not be able to do this without... Continue reading
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In October 1906, when the famous Indian painter, Raja Ravi Varma, passed away, his obituary in The Hindu praised his paintings, claiming that they "exerted a unique influence over the minds" of Indians. Over a hundred years later India continues to visualize women through his eyes. When I think of the women Ravi Varma depicted in his paintings of the late eighteenth century, I think of women who are comfortable with who they are–even if they are owners of child-bearing hips. Paintings of Raja Ravi Varma Varma's beautiful sari-clad women are not slim by any means. Many are proud owners... Continue reading
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When I lived in India, I never got a chance to visit the city of Ahmedabad in the northwestern state of Gujarat but I grew up hearing stories about the glorious past of this textile destination. As I began work on my book project, the first place I realized I must visit to begin my research (and I heard the same suggestion from every expert and saw many references in every book I read) was a place called the Calico Museum of Textiles which, I’m told, is a memorable trip through the world of Indian textiles spanning five centuries. I... Continue reading
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My husband and I make an antiquated couple. We take years to adopt new technology. While friends are trading news on droids, we taxi in, like GE aliens landing in the midst of a 4G subculture. Then we whip out a phone like the Samsung SCH-A690 (which, by the way, one can sell for $3 out on the internet) and unabashedly talk into it while our nextgen friends and family cackle like demons around us. We are a downgraded version of homo sapiens in this fast upgrading Silicon Valley culture. That’s why I didn’t believe it was at all possible... Continue reading
When a year trundles to a close, most of us tend to measure our progress by the number of milestones that we reached during the year. In my case, I’ve been forced to measure my progress by the number of bridges–literally and figuratively–that I’ve crossed in the last twelve months. In 2010, I faced, head-on, my greatest fear of the last several years. Over one year, I forced myself to conquer an anxiety that snaked into my life earlier in the decade–an inexplicable fear of crossing a long span of a bridge that, my doctor explained, may have been triggered... Continue reading
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When I wake up this December Sunday at 9 am, it is a summer day. The sun has set our living room on fire. The curry leaf plant basks in the golden beam warming the front window, its green lush against the flame of the Japanese maple outside. Everywhere the color splashes and swells after weeks of the gloom that’s typical of fall. I think about my last week, the one in which I’ve sailed through a rainbow of emotions. On Monday, there’s the face-off with my husband over Facebook. When I drop him off at the airport, our marriage... Continue reading
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I was nauseous the bleak January day I landed in America. Nauseous, not because America had a smell to it the way India or Hong Kong or Paris or Dar-es-Salaam has when you first get off the plane. For someone flying in from India–which always smells of a bottled-up mix of powdered sandalwood and phenyl, and curried potato and curdling milk, and jasmine garlands and human feces–America is appallingly sterile. A lack of smell can also make you nauseous in the way that eating mud can make you gag. But the root of my nausea lay in Singapore Airlines lying... Continue reading
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I knew that women could be mean to one another but I didn’t know how catty, until last week, when a charming and good-natured friend invited me on a walk up in the hills of Cupertino. We wanted to meet because we hadn’t seen each other in over a year and so I suggested that we go for a walk somewhere–you know, chat and be out in the sun simultaneously–at which point she said she had a nice walking route in mind for us. “You can do a little uphill, can’t you?” she asked before we set out. We walked... Continue reading
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I was reading about the training of the New York bomb suspect in the New York Times this morning when I stepped out of my front door to pick up a postcard I'd received in the mail. It screamed: “Hello, Bombshell!” I've been called many things, including "aunty-grandma", by my niece's two lovely children. But no one, not my husband, not my many male friends, no one, has ever, ever addressed me as "bombshell". In five minutes, I went from feeling anxious about the potential threat of a "bomb" blast in a public thoroughfare to feeling lightheaded about the word's... Continue reading
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“You’ve never come home. I’d really like you to visit us tomorrow evening with your family. Can you?” The tone at the other end of the line last October was warm and friendly, with a sparkle, a fullness and an echo that rings only in the voices of some people. My husband and I made it a point to visit her home the following evening. Cars packed the roads leading to her sprawling home. Peals of laughter rose into the night air. The tinkle of glass and metal warmed the growing chill of a fall evening. Sandals lined the porch... Continue reading
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The last time I used public transportation, I was in Paris where, for a whole year, I rode the bus and the metro, standing shoulder to shoulder and toe to toe just to go about my daily life. ...And then, convinced that the man was calling out to some other woman in the vicinity, we just crossed, a little shaken, right by where the cable car stood clanging, and walked on towards Saks Fifth Avenue, to begin window shopping, on an elastic budget of about $2000, for a new Mother's day wardrobe. Continue reading
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What better place to celebrate an “over the hill” occasion than a winery in Napa Valley? A girlfriend has aged gracefully. While she is crushed that the female members of her clique are younger than she is, we remind her that the male counterparts are just about ready to harvest their social security and that she is a long time away from that even though her AARP membership is about to arrive in her mailbox. This is the first beautiful weekend since the year began. Napa valley is baking. The barbecue smell of August skewers the spring afternoon. The same... Continue reading