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Kavery Kaul on mission to explore ‘shifting sands of culture’

Kavita Kaul's documentaries tell stories that cross boundaries to explore the shifting sands of culture, race, class and belonging.

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Kavery Kaul Image: kaverykaul.com

New York: Kavery Kaul is addressing the engagement between people of different cultures and faiths via her film “Streetcar to Kolkata”. The filmmaker, who is a name to reckon with in the world of documentary-making, says she likes to pan the camera to mirror the “shifting sands of culture, race, class and belonging”.

Kaul shared that her journey from India to a different culture of the US turned out to be an inspiration for her to explore the film-making business.

“Every family has its own treasure chest of stories. I grew up with stories about India’s fight for independence from the British and the partition that followed. And then, there were stories of life at the sometimes-challenging, sometimes-comic, always-memorable intersection of the India my family came from and the America we came to. For all of us, the stories we’ve heard shape our beliefs, our practices and our perspective of the world,” span.state.gov quoted Kaul as saying.

Kaveri Kaul interview Image: Youtube
Kaveri Kaul interview. Image: Youtube

A graduate of Harvard University, Kaul has been awarded a Fulbright Fellowship, a New York Foundation for the Arts Artist’s Fellowship, multiple New York State Council on the Arts grants and two National Endowment for the Arts awards.

Also Read: Khundongbam: A young filmmaker who wants the world to know about Manipur

The Fulbright Fellowship gave her the opportunity to research and film her latest documentary “Streetcar to Kolkata”. Kaul teaches at Columbia University in New York, where her courses include works by people of different races, cultures, religions and genders.

Kaul, who picks up subjects like brain injuries, Calypso music, religion and Cuban art, added: “In my case, as a student at Harvard, I heard that a new and unusual course on the films of the Indian director Satyajit Ray was being offered by an Englishman on the faculty. How could I not be inspired by Ray’s nuanced stories of the human experience in the face of overwhelming social and economic forces?

“In those days, I also frequented New York City’s art-house theaters. There, I saw Sarah Maldoror’s ‘Sambizanga’, a film about the Angolan War of Independence against the Portuguese. It was such a strong, moving story of a struggle against colonial powers. These stories held resonance for me. These directors made me want to be a filmmaker too.”

Talking about cross-cultural themes, she said: “My documentaries tell stories that cross boundaries to explore the shifting sands of culture, race, class and belonging. Like the girls in ‘Long Way From Home’, I attended American independent schools and, later, an Ivy League college.”

As an advice to young Indians boarding flight to the US to pursue a career in the arts, Kaul says “Keep an open mind. Remember that America means Mark Twain and Toni Morrison, Junot Díaz and Jhumpa Lahiri. Take it all in. At the same time, hold on to who you are and the creativity that only you can offer as someone whose artistic vision stems from India, even as those roots mingle with your discovery of America.”(IANS)

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The Polar Vortex Disrupts The Life Of Daily Citizens

The agency said severe snowstorms may be more likely in a warmer climate because of the increased moisture in the atmosphere.

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USA, Cold
Commuters brave the wind and snow in frigid weather in Cincinnati, Ohio, Jan. 30, 2019. VOA

Millions of Americans are experiencing temperatures so cold that a burst of wind could cause frostbite within minutes — conditions that have caused the suspension of regional train service, work and school schedules, and even production of television and stage shows.

The National Weather Service said Wednesday some 25 million people will face temperatures that cause near-instant frostbite in New England (the northeastern United States) and the Midwest — states such as Wisconsin, Minnesota, Illinois and Michigan.

In Chicago, Amtrak canceled train service, and even federal mail delivery was suspended in many areas to protect the mail carriers, whose motto declares they deliver mail in almost any weather condition.

In some cities, bus service has been suspended because the cold can cause mechanical difficulties.

 

USA, Cold
A car passes an elementary school closed due to cold weather in Des Moines, Iowa, Jan. 30, 2019. VOA

 

The governors of Illinois, Michigan and Wisconsin have declared states of emergency.

With the wind chill, it was minus 32 degrees Celsius (minus 26 degrees Fahrenheit) in North Dakota on Tuesday and minus 52 degrees in parts of Minnesota. The high temperature in Minneapolis on Wednesday is forecast to be minus 25 degrees Celsius (minus 13 degrees Fahrenheit).

In the city of Chicago, renowned for its tough winters, the temperature Thursday is expected to dip near the record low of negative 32.8 degrees Celsius.

Mayor Rahm Emanuel is calling the weather “life-threatening.” Transit buses with nurses on board will be dispatched across the city to serve as emergency warming shelters for the homeless.

Churches throughout Detroit are also keeping their doors open for anyone who has no home and needs a place to keep warm.

At least four weather-related deaths have been reported.

The cold air will stretch from the Midwest to the East Coast and as far south as parts of Florida.

USA, Cold
Ice is seen on the side of the Great Falls National Historic Park as a couple takes in the sights during a frigid winter day in Paterson, N.J., Jan. 30, 2019. VOA

Meteorologists blame the weather on a breakup of the polar vortex — cold temperatures above the North Pole are being pushed south across North America because of a blast of desert heat from North Africa.

Global warming

Reacting to the weather, President Donald Trump tweeted Tuesday “What the hell is going on with Global Waming? (sic) Please come back fast. We need you!”

It is unclear if the president was joking.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, which is devoted to climate science and information, tweeted, “Winter storms do not prove global warming is not happening.”

The agency said severe snowstorms may be more likely in a warmer climate because of the increased moisture in the atmosphere.

Also Read: Extreme Weather Due To Polar Vortex Across The U.S. Causes Misery

NOAA denies any connection between the president’s comment and its social media posting.

“We routinely put this story out at these times,” the agency said in a statement. “Our scientists weren’t responding to a tweet.” (VOA)