Get subscribed to our newsletter
Get interesting updates to your email inbox.
Today, thousands of young professionals build their careers in cities where they were not born or raised. A study conducted by LinkedIn in 2014 found that Bangalore, Pune, Hyderabad, Chennai and Gurgaon are the top cities recruiting young talent from across India.
I hope such transplantation has led to greater exposure to and appreciation of different regional cuisines, customs and languages. In fact, many Indians who leave home for further study or job opportunities first experience India’s linguistic and culinary diversity on foreign soil.
Before leaving for the United States as a graduate student, I had never lived outside Kolkata. As a new graduate student in Florida, I experienced India’s diversity for the first time. What I write next is my personal experience. I have changed names and states of origin not because my friends can get offended but because my experience was not a unique one. Most students from India can attest to similar experiences.
India tends to rank second to China in sending student applications to graduate schools in the United States. The Wall Street Journal reports that in 2015, US schools received 676,484 applications from India. Most university campuses in the USA have Indian student organizations. Composed of students and led by students, these associations work as a cultural grounding for students who have recently left their country behind. The executive committees organize and celebrate major Indian festivals, like Diwali and Holi, and special days, like Independence Day and Republic Day. On the west coast of the US alone, there are two such organizations in Washington State, two in Oregon, and 16 in California. Members of the student organizations typically receive students from the airports upon arrival, make temporary accommodation arrangements with roommates, and help the new arrivals get their bearings in the first few weeks when the new country and a new academic system seem slightly disorienting.
In Florida, we were four girls from India and were all new to our new home. Excited and glad to be in our comfort zone (we’re all Indians after all), we sat down on the carpet in our yet unfurnished duplex apartment and tried to get to know each other.
What language would we speak?
Priya spoke Bengali. Chetana spoke Marathi. Sunita spoke Hindi. Gayatri spoke Telugu. English was the only common language. Everyone understood Hindi, but only one spoke it fluently.
According to the New World Encyclopedia, there are more than 400 languages in India and several hundred dialects. The Constitution of India recognizes 23 official languages. The currency is printed in 15 languages. Any job application form is printed in 3 languages–English, Hindi and a regional language. Most of the languages have their distinct alphabets, scripts, and vocabularies and can be as different from each other as English is from Chinese. (In later years, I have shared the meaning of diversity in the Indian context with my American friends and colleagues. Many of them working in college admissions offices can’t wrap their minds about the challenges such a range of diversity tends to pose.)
Now that English became the apartment’s lingua franca, as in urban India, we turned our attention to apartment rules and cooking turns.
Why not cook together?
Two are vegetarians and two are not.
Gayatri–a strict vegetarian from southern India–does not know the taste of onion and garlic. She has grown up eating dosa, sambhar and chutneys.
According to The Hindu-CNN-IBN State of the Nation Survey, conducted in 2006, 31% of Indians are exclusively vegetarians. Their food habits stem from “inherited cultural practice rather than individual belief.” While Brahmins in many states tend to be vegetarians, this study shows “regional location” often determines food habits; hence, coastal areas have more fish-eating communities than land-locked central and northern areas which have more vegetarian communities.
Since everyone ate vegetarian food in the Florida apartment, we decided to inaugurate our shared kitchen by cooking dal and rice on day one.
Once the dal was boiled and ready, each girl suggested spices for tadka, chhok, baghar, phoron… all meaning “seasoning” in their respective languages.
What would be the seasoning spices?
Gayatri suggested cumin and mustard seeds.
Sunita chose cumin seeds and green chillies.
Chetana brought mustard seeds and tomatoes.
Priya brought dry red chillies and ‘panch phoron’ seeds.
These were only four ways. If potatoes can be cooked in at least three hundred ways, as Shashi Tharoor writes in From Midnight to the Millennium, imagine the multiple seasonings possible to add flavour to an otherwise bland dal.
Soon enough Gayatri’s mustard seeds and Sunita’s green chillies locked horns. To dispel a gathering storm on the very first day of our comfort zone, Chetana and Priya called up Papa John’s and ordered a large all-veggie pizza with no onions.
Bhalo. Achha hain. Bagundi. Good. The evening ended well.
This was my first experience with the multiple ways an Indian identity can be understood. If language and food are essential traits of identity, then there are multiple ways of being Indian.
Credits: The Huffington Post
Facebook must pay a $4.75 million fine and up to $9.5 million in back pay to eligible victims who say the company discriminated against U.S. workers in favor of foreign ones, the Justice Department announced Tuesday.
The discrimination took place from at least January 1, 2018, until at least September 18, 2019.
The Justice Department said Facebook "routinely refused" to recruit or consider U.S. workers, including U.S. citizens and nationals, asylees, refugees and lawful permanent residents, in favor of temporary visa holders. Facebook also helped the visa holders get their green cards, which allowed them to work permanently
In a separate settlement, the company also agreed to train its employees in anti-discrimination rules and conduct wider searches to fill jobs.
The fines and back pay are the largest civil awards ever given by the DOJ's civil rights division in its 35-year history.
"Facebook is not above the law and must comply with our nation's civil rights laws," Assistant Attorney General Kristen Clarke told reporters in a telephone conference.
"While we strongly believe we met the federal government's standards in our permanent labor certification [PERM] practices, we've reached agreements to end the ongoing litigation and move forward with our PERM program, which is an important part of our overall immigration program," a Facebook spokesperson said in a statement. "These resolutions will enable us to continue our focus on hiring the best builders from both the U.S. and around the world and supporting our internal community of highly skilled visa holders who are seeking permanent residence." (VOA/RN)
Keywords: Facebook, Employment, Justice Dept., Recruitment
Tomatoes are a staple in the Indian diet, be it a vegetarian or a non-vegetarian dish. It has to be a part of each meal in some form. As puree, paste, flavour, or diced into the dal. This tangy, sweet, and juicy ingredient was not always Indian. In fact, it did not even grow in India until the British sanctioned it. It is a product of colonization and has come a long way to become part of our everyday meals.
Originally, the tomato was considered poison. Its actual native is debatable. Some say it is European while others argue that is came from indigenous parts of Spain and Portugal. Either way, it is a plant species that is associated with the legendary Nightshade. It looks very similar to this poisonous plant that tomatoes were not even harvested for a long time, for fear of picking Nightshade instead. It was believed that Nightshade caused the blood to turn to acid and that tomatoes had the same property. Later research proved that the plant itself may be poisonous but the fruit is not.
The fruit if the woody nightshade plant Image source: Wikimedia Commons
Tomato is considered a fruit instead of a vegetable because it is cooked. But this theory has an interesting tale behind it. in the United States, in 1887, a tax was levied on the transport of vegetables, but not on fruits. By then, tomatoes had become a huge part of the American diet and traders could not afford to pay the ten percent duty. So, they began to call the large loads they transported fruits, just to avoid the tax due. In time, this is how the tomato came to be regarded. Some scientists went even further and stated that it is a berry. Botanists claim that since it is a part that grows from the flower's ovary and contains seeds, it is a fruit and not a vegetable. But this is a debate that will never end.
Incorporating tomatoes into the Indian diet must have happened so long ago that people do not remember a time without tomatoes, considering how it is the fundamental ingredient of most cuisines. The tomato has a name in every language as well, so the trading between nations, the voyages that brought them to India, and the decoding of the fruit-vegetable must have taken place far earlier than our ancestors remember. Or, perhaps we liked it so much that we decided to use it everywhere and make it our own. Nonetheless, it has been a delightful addition.
Keywords: Tomato, Fruit, Vegetable, Nightshade, Voyage, Staple
Every child who grew up in the 90s and the early 00s has certainly grown up around Tom and Jerry, the adorable, infamous cat-chases-mouse cartoon. The idea of naughtiness and playing mischief had the standards that this particular series set for children and defined how much wreckage was funny enough.
The show's creators, William Hanna and Joseph Barbera initially named their characters Jasper and Jinx. They did not plan for the fame that Tom and Jerry brought them when they released a movie by the name of "Puss Gets the Boot". This movie featured a certain cat and mouse who were a notorious pair, named Jasper and Jinx. When the movie became a hit, the names of the characters were changed and the show shot to fame.
Tom and Jerry became a go-to cartoon for children in the early 00s, and it was one of those shows with a firm foundation, that had already been in the running for decades. The original template had been planned nearly 80 years ago, and the makers did not change it. The music that was played in the many episodes, made a breakthrough in its own way. It is the most easily recognizable melody with utterly nostalgic associations.
Today, Tom and Jerry is still a household name in homes where children love cartoons Image credit: wikimedia commons
A set of supporting characters were defined for the show, to occasionally take the focus off the original pair. There was a large, black woman named Mammy Two Shoes and a bulldog who took Jerry's side. Mammy Two Shoes was discontinued because her character portrayed racist tendencies. A tall white woman replaced her, who was kinder and loved mice. Either of the women's faces was never revealed.
Today, Tom and Jerry is still a household name in homes where children love cartoons. There are a host of other shows besides this that aim to replicate the same aspects of the cartoon but do not come close at all. Despite the immense amount of violence in the show, it is a beloved pastime of parents and children alike.
Keywords: Tom and Jerry, Cartoon, Hanna and Barbera, Television