The Memory Stick – Play Review


Set on an army base in Afghanistan in 2016, “The Memory Stick” by Irish playwright Donal O’Kelly, tackles some serious issues of right and wrong and moral obligation of soldiers when they see something unethical. The Memory Stick is a world premiere co-production between The Stage www.sanjosestage.org and the Arts Office of Dublin City Council, Ireland.  

Image result for "The memory stick", san jose stageTwo Native American soldiers Seth Shaw (John R. Lewis) and Jack Black Horse (Joseph Valdez), occasionally joined by Bridget (Lindsy Kail), begin a makeshift lodge while on an army base in Afghanistan.  Each of them relive their earlier memories and share ruminations that are deeply tied to their cultural identity. One of them has recorded some illegal data onto a memory stick about army’s unethical behavior and the discussion soon veers into the realm of morality and whether or not they should publish/leak this information.  The discussion weaves in many threads including systematic oppression of the Native Americans and events surrounding Wounded Knee as well as oppression of the Irish people and uprisings in Ireland. There is also a segment on Bradley/ Chelsea Manning that portrays Manning as a lonely hero.

This is an ambitious and bold play oddly reminiscent of Dostoevsky’s Crime and Punishment and takes the audience into deep recesses of morality and ethics. Is the true mantra for soldiers, “theirs not to reason why, theirs but to do and die” or as soldiers in the bigger journey of life, do we all bear responsibility to question the wrong when we see it, that every person can, as Bridget quotes from James Connolly, do “his duty according to his lights”? This play is about human soul and whistle blowers and how it puts someone concerned with doing the right thing sometimes in an incredibly lonely spot.  Indeed the play tackles too much and leaves the audience a bit rattled as well as unsettled.  It is heavy on dialog and while that can put you to sleep at times, yet under the chaos of multiple issues are larger questions about life and morality that are guaranteed to keep you awake at night.  Irish and the Welsh dialect is enjoyable and staging by Tony Kelly is sparse but perfect.

For tickets, please go to www.thestage.org .

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Soundwaves: The Passion of Noor Inayat Khan – Play Review


Image result for noor inayat khanEnActe Arts recently produced Soundwaves: The Passion of Noor Inayat Khan.  

Stories of India inextricably linked with that of its neighbors, the collective that makes South Asia, have always been fascinating and generate universal interest. En Acte Arts company founded by Vinita Sud Belani focuses on bringing these fascinating tales on stage, with multi ethnic cast and crew. Their recent production, Soundwaves: The passion of Noor Inayat Khan told the story of Noor who was born from a union of Indian father and American mother, in January, 1914.  

Image result for noor inayat khan
 Noor imbibed lessons of sufi tradition and during her formative years she focused on music and writing children’s stories. However, the rise of fascism and Nazi invasion of France altered her focus and she became a British spy in occupied France. Given Noor’s interest in music, the play’s heavy theme is beautifully blended with music and dance. This inspirational story is written for stage by Joe Martin. The play is beautifully directed by Vinita Sud Belani and Music composer was Randy Armstrong. Akaina Ghosh is clearly very talented actress and did an awesome job in bringing Noor’s character to life.

EnActe Arts has grown in stature and influence in the bay area. This was a bold production of telling an inspirational story with many twists and turns.  The play featured a large cast and EnActe did a fabulous job.  I will be watching for future plays from this theater company.  For tickets, go to www.enacte.org .

 

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Immunotherapy, Bioinformatics, Devices: EPPICon 2017 Preview


 

One of the latest most talked about buzzwords in cancer treatment is “immunotherapy” where body’s immune system is used to wage a war against the cancer cells. Cancer cells divide rapidly than ordinary cells and manage to evade the immune system. The focus of a range of immunotherapies is to put body’s immune system on high alert so it can easily locate and destroy cancer cells.

Image result for immunotherapy, bioinformaticsThis year, EPPICon (annual flagship conference at eppicglobal at www.eppicon.org) will focus on Immunotherapy, Bioinformatics, and Devices. Another recent buzzword, “bioinformatics” focuses on harnessing technological advances for management and analysis of data, for cancer immunology and immunotherapy.  The hope is that more reliable and comprehensive picture can emerge of tumor genomics landscape and that can point a way towards more effective personalized medicine.

Immunotherapy often involves delivery of a cocktail of immune drugs to awaken the body’s immune system and put it in a “ready” mode to get rid of the cancer cells. Implantable devices can be used to provide regular dosages of medication for several days or everyday for a few weeks and can be used to make localized delivery.  This convergence of technologies makes it an interesting time for treatment of cancer and other diseases.  

EPPICon, EPPIC’s all day conference will be held on Saturday, March, 25th at Crowne Plaza, Burlingame, CA and has a fabulous lineup of keynotes, speakers, and panels.

Image result for Ira Mellman, genentechMorning keynote, Ira Mellman is VP of Cancer Immunology at Genentech and has an illustrious career in solving most profound health problems with strong research, grounded in science.  He spent 20 years at Yale University School of Medicine, prior to joining Genentech in 2007.  After the keynote, the conference program will continue with excellent speakers and panels with a special speed pitch session thrown in, where startups looking for funding will have an opportunity to pitch to a panel of investors and receive critical feedback, in real time. At the end of the day, 2017 “EPPIC Eleven” awards will be given out to chosen startups, from around the globe.

To register for the conference, please go to www.eppicon.org .

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“Calligraphy” – Play Review


Playwright Velina Hasu Houston’s “Calligraphy”, currently running at www.theatreworks.org  at Lucie Stern Theater in Palo Alto, directed by Leslie Martinson, is a complex family drama that tests dynamic family bonds from multiple angles.

Image result for theatreworks, calligraphyFirst, there are two cousins, one American, Hiromi (Mia Tagano), daughter of Japanese mother and African American WWII veteran, Eamon (William Thomas Hodgson) and the other, Sayuri (Elizabeth Pan) are dealing with challenges of caring for their respective aging mothers with physical problems ranging from limb fracture to Alzheimer’s to emotional issues like over-dependance. Second, intermingled with these challenges are cultural issues.  Third, while traditional Japanese culture is steeped in family obligations, and generational rules of etiquette mired in feelings of guilt, there is also an overlay of younger generations growing up with vastly different and sometimes Western values. Hiromi is raised by Japanese mother Noriko (Emily Kuroda) in America, albeit with Japanese values, and considers it her filial duty to take care of her mother in old age.  Meanwhile her cousin Sayuri is raised by her Japanese mother Natsuko (Jeanne Sakata) in Japan. Although Natsuko raises Sayuri with strict Japanese values, colored by external influences, Sayuri rebels and pursues Western attire as well as values of independence and freedom.  And finally, these cultural influences collide in interesting ways with individual personalities and temperament of the colorful characters.

Image result for theatreworks, calligraphyWhen the cousins Hiromi and Sayuri plan to arrange a family reunion of sorts and bring their mothers together after the distance of several  years and different continents, the cultural, generational, relational, and personality collisons occur with a noticeable bang. The two elderly sisters have been bitterly estranged over Noriko’s romance with a black GI and they have not since reconciled. Noriko was a beautiful young woman, married the love of her life, raised a responsible daughter and now afflicted with beginnings of Alzheimer’s, she often imagines the presence of her late husband, Eamon, forgets her whereabouts, but often remembers critical details of her childhood.  Meanwhile Natsuko is as intolerant of her wayward daughter’s choices regarding her filial duty, marriage, sex etc. as she was of her sister’s choice of marriage, years ago. And yet despite the intolerance and the drama, Natsuko too has a certain inner strength and a vision to live life on her own terms.

Within artful strokes of “Calligraphy”, these four beautiful women with their unique version of inner strength, stamp their own signature in their world, with bold strokes of personal choices. Calligraphy is not a play about A significant event but about high emotional stakes of ordinary living and these get amplified with beautiful acting by talented cast. I love Mia Tagano in all the diverse roles I have seen her perform. Kudos to Theatreworks Artistic Director, Robert Kelley for enabling ordinary life issues to take the form of art. Calligraphy will be running till March 29, 2017.  For tickets, go to www.theatreworks.org .

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દીકરી તો પારકું ધન – ગુજરાતી કહેવતો અને મોટેરાની દીકરીને શિખામણ – Daughter is another’s wealth – poem


On this women’s day, I am reblogging a poem I wrote earlier in Gujarati, this time with English translation below. This poem is actually a compilation of a bunch of sayings (so it may appear disjointed) about a daughter and is a tribute to my mother. My mother was not educated and lived at a time when daughters were considered a huge burden of which parents would be relieved when they marry her off- these below sayings is what she was told. But my mother told me that she prayed to have daughters.  After a long gap after her sons, when she got two daughters, she was thrilled and she resolved to give them all advantages in education – very unlike what these expressions below say about girls. All it will take for the world to change and for women and men to stand together as equal partners is for mothers (like my awesome mama) to vow to make it better for their daughters. Mama, you not only gave me precious life, but gave me dreams and equipped me with resources to make my dreams come true.  English translation is below the Gujarati poem.

 

Image result for Indian village girl with motherમારી માં મને કેતી, ઘર ચલાવતા શીખ
દીકરી તો જાય જ્યાં વિધિના લેખ

હું કહું, શું માં, ઘર કઈ ગાડી છે જેને ચલાવવાની
કઈ દવ છું હા, હું કોઈના ઘર માં નથી જવાની

દીકરી તો પારકું ધન ને અમારે માટે સાપનો ભારો
તારા ઘરે જઈને શોભાવજે તુલસી નો ક્યારો

અરે તું જે ઘરમાં જાય તે જ તારું સાચું ઘર
અમે તારા રખવાળા, પણ આમ તો પર

નીરાત એકવાર થાય કે તને તારા ઘર ભેગી કરીએ
છોકરીને અને ઉકરડાને વધતાં કઈ વાર ન લાગે

ખીચડી હલાવી બગડે ને દીકરી મલાવી બગડે
હૈયું બાળવું તેના કરતા હાથ બાળવા સારા

ઘરનું ઘરેણું થઇ ને રહેજે, પારકા ને પોતાના કરી
પિયરની પાલખી કરતાં સાસરિયાની સૂળી સારી

એટલે તો કહેવાયું છે, દીકરી ને ગાય
ગમ ખાઈને રયે ને દોરે ત્યાં જાય

તું જે ઘરની વહુ બને, તેને દિપાવજે
સાસરે, સાસુજીના ઢાળમાં ઢળજે

કહેવાય છે કે વહુ જ્યાં ઉઠે પ્રભાત પહેલા
તે ઘરમાં અંધારુ ક્યાંથી છવાય ભલા

સુજે પતિના પગ દાબીને, સાસુની સેવા કરીને, છેલ્લે
પણ જાગજે સુરજના જાગ્યા પહેલા, સૌથી પેલ્લે

બરાબર ઉછેરજે, જો તારા કમભાગ્ય હોય અને જન્મે દીકરી
ભાગ્યશાળી હોય ને મોટા ના આશીર્વાદ હોય તો મારી છોડી

Image result for boy made of goldતારા નસીબે લખાણા હશે જો દેવ ના દીધેલ દીકરા
તો લહેરથી ગાજે, મારા છગન-મગન બે સોનાના, ગામનાં છોકરાં ગારાના
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Daughter is another’s wealth 

My mother told me learn to run a home for sure
Daughter must prepare to go where fate guides her

I rebelled, home is not a car that I can run
And I’m not going to to a stranger’s home

For us daughter’s like a pile of snakes, that’s our measure
She can decorate her own garden, for she’s another’s treasure

The home that you marry into is your true residence
We are your guardians but otherwise strangers

When we get you to your own home, we’ll feel relief
Daughter and trash dosen’t take long to grow  beyond belief

Too much love spoils a daughter
Too much attention spoils the broth

To luxuries of parents’ home you should prefer miseries of your own home
Become a piece of jewel & win others over with love at your home

It’s said daughter and cow goes where guided
They eat their hurt and swallow their pride

 

Bring light to the home you wed
Get molded in your MIL’s mold

It’s said where DIL wakes before dawn
Darkness never comes to that home

Tend to your husband and MIL and sleep last
Before the sun’s rays hit, wake first

Bring up your daugher well, if your bad luck delivers you one
But if you are lucky and get a son then my precious one

If fate delivers you sons straight from God
Then sing, other kids are made of dirt, my two from gold

 

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“Airport Insecurity” – Play Review


Current play “Airport Insecurity” written and directed  by Vikas Dhurka is NAATAK company’s (www.naatak.org, Twitter @naatak) 56th production and features a comedic yet horrifying tale of an Indian immigrant on work visa, who loses his passport, wallet, and mobile phone at the airport, in a foreign, unfamiliar country, while in transit.

Image result for airport insecurity, naatak
No one wants to be stuck in an indefinite limbo in transit, but Vijay (
Varun Dua) has especially urgent need to return home to the US where his wife Priya (Devika Ashok) is about to deliver in what is turning out to be a high risk pregnancy.  Vijay gets caught in a complex bureaucratic labyrinth where he cannot travel anywhere without a passport, US is not responsible for his “situation” since he is not a US passport holder, Germany will not allow him entry since he does not have a passport on which a temporary visa can be stamped, and his home country India requires that he travel to India where a new passport can be issued to him. In order to travel to India without a passport, he has to jump through multitude of forms and submit to background checks that can take upwards of 30 days or more, while spending days in Lufthansa lounge at the airport and spending nights in the airport travel area.  

As Vijay makes several calls to the Consulate General of India offices in various cities and while he encounters usual tactics of evasiveness, comments regarding inconvenient timing, Vijay then encounters a kindly Indian official from the CGI who meets Vijay at the airport and explains to him, “here are some forms to fill out; most of them are necessary but not important”. India has inherited such a stupendous bureaucratic procedural system, a legacy of the British rule, that navigating one’s way through the system can be a nightmare but also creates a comedy of errors and that regaled the audience. Indeed, India has made a huge progress but we still have ways to go. I will describe my own experience of losing my passport below.

Meanwhile, Vijay also meets kindness and compassion along the way.  In the end, the solution comes from his own ingenuity and from a country that relies on fairness and swift solutions, where you don’t need to know someone important to get a resolution, where compassion is built into the system, where no one needs to suffer endlessly without reason. I may have misspoken — err solution came from a country that was all that and more but in its quest to make itself “great”, it may lose the status of being the best; a country where an Indian immigrant techie caught in the current hate rhetoric is now more likely to lose his life in a little bar in Kansas, and incredulous Indian parents may be less likely to enable their children to go a country where struggle may not be about climbing the ladder of success but about staying alive and finding tolerance.

This comedic tragic tale is also relevant in the context of what happened to many hundreds of people caught in wake of the current administration travel ban. Caught off guard, caught in transit, caught at airports that denied them entry after draining long journeys, many people encountered a surreal situation of being neither here nor there, of not belonging, unable to hug and find comfort and solace with their loved ones. Nation that evoked and inspired the best, left splintered families in a state of “airport insecurity” limbo.  NPR has discussed this not-to -miss play, relevant in the current context. See link https://ww2.kqed.org/arts/2017/02/24/silicon-valley-theatre-scene-bristles-with-political-edge-in-the-age-of-trump/ 

Great kudos to playwright and director Dhurka for showing one man’s incredible and true story with an appropriate dose of humor; kudos also to producer, Gopi Rangan and to NAATAK company for bringing 56 incredible plays relevant to the South East Asian community in the bay area. Over 60,000 attendees have enjoyed their shows, performed by over 850 artists. Get your season passes at www.naatak.org .  See below my own short story of loss of passport.

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The time when I lost my passport in India

I had meant to write a blog but it never happened. Here is a short saga of my own loss of passport. I had my passport and my purse stolen while traveling in India. It is a great  blessing to be an American citizen, if this were to happen to you. I traveled overnight to Mumbai and as I entered the American consulate, I stepped into an incredibly efficient and welcoming zone. I told them I wanted quickly a temporary passport that would enable me to travel back home. They issued a passport within 2 hours, while I waited in their comfy room. They also handed me a letter addressed to the Indian commissioner of Police stating that I had lost my visa with my passport and that India should immediately grant me a visa to leave the country and beseeched  them to “extend all cooperation for speedy permit to enable this American citizen to return home”.

That is where my saga begins. I was informed by the Indian office of police that they needed to do background check and it could take up to 30 days. I had to fill in all the forms online and then go to the office with forms printed in triplicate and wait for hours to get an appointment. When I asked why they needed forms online and in print and whether they followed automated system or manual system then I was informed that they followed “automated manual system). 

I was asked to first go to the police station in the locality where theft happened. When they said there was no one who can write a report, I requested that they give me the typewriter and I offered to write it up on their behalf and they allowed me to do that. Then I had to go the local police office in the area where I resided for 15 days as a tourist. Local office asked me to produce electricity bill where I resided. I had to request that from the owner of the property who took his own time to produce it. When I was asked to pay Rs. 3,000 in cash, I handed over a big bunch of Rs. 100 notes. They brought out a foolscap sheet of paper and asked me to write down the number of each note before standing in a line where they received payment. It took 7 days of going back and forth between police stations and offices before I was issued a small note that said it was okay for me to leave the country. Later at the airport, I noticed that the validity of this little document was expiring that very day. If for any reason I were to miss my flight or weather or technical or some other delay would occur than that little note obtained after such hard work would be invalid.

But then there were two things in my favor. I was an American citizen (brown skinned or not) at a time when America was still the best AND I wasn’t in transit, but rather in my home country, a country that I love and am proud that every day it is progressing in its quest to be better, more efficient, and more compassionate.

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“Disgraced” – Play Review


Ayad Akhtar’s Pulitzer prize-winning play “Disgraced” playing at San Jose Stage theater, takes the audience on a deep dive into the complexity of identity formation, change and dynamism of identity, and also identity destruction.

The entire drama plays out in a tastefully decorated, beautiful Manhattan apartment, occupied by Pakistan born, Amir Kapoor (Damien Seperi) and his caucasian wife, Emily (Allison F. Rich). Amir is quickly climbing the corporate ladder at his Manhattan law firm and has so wholeheartedly embraced the American dream with its trappings of wealth and success that in order to get a better acceptance, he passes himself off as an immigrant from India, when a partner assumes him to be from India. That is an early peek into the close cousin of identity and the complex arena of stereotypes, where Pakistan generates stereotypes of terrorism and India of engineers and education.  If Amir may be embracing fiscally conservative values, his wife Emily is a bleeding heart liberal. While Amir is hiding aspects of his identity and rejects everything Islam, Emily seeks out liberal causes and implores her husband to stand up and fight for what is just and on behalf of those falsely accused of terrorism related activities, in the aftermath of 9/11.

Image result for disgraced, san jose stageEmily and Amir are hosting a dinner party for their elite, high-powered friends, Jory (Kathryn Smith-McGlynn), a lawyer from Amir’s firm and her husband Isaac (Jonathan Rhys Williams), a curator at the Whitney Museum. Just as Amir denounces everything Islam, Emily constantly contradicts his criticism of faith and insists on finding “beauty and wisdom in Islamic tradition”. Her paintings draw on Islamic art and she insists that the Muslims gave the world a “visual perspective”. She has created an Islamic piece of art and is hoping that she will get her big break through Isaac.  Isaac is Jewish but critical of Israel’s military actions in the region. His wife Jory is African-American and is fully aware of the impact of racial profiling.

As the story advances, through various twists and turns, a complex picture and many questions emerge. Do people feel pressured to renounce their “other” cultural identities in order to gain mainstream acceptance and climb the ladder of success in America? Do people suppress rather than erase, sometimes with bitterness, their primary identity, even as they embrace mainstream values? Amir shares the story of growing up Muslim where his mother not only wanted him to embrace his culture and religion but also taught him prejudice against “others”. Albeit he embraced mainstream values but deep inside he felt rage.

Image result for disgraced, san jose stageThe fascinating aspect of this play is that it centers not just around Amir’s story. Jory has her own identity battle, as does Isaac and in fact, Emily has her own identity issues.  At an individual level, there are multitude of factors that contribute to a person’s identity, including geographic location where one grows up, one’s religion, one’s peers, parents, teachers, siblings, as well as one’s personality and temperament.  However, when others perceive an individual, they tend to simplify and often judge or assume someone’s identity based on one or two factors that matter to the perceiver. At societal level what creates infinitely amazing kaleidoscopic reality is how diverse identities of multitude of people collide and intersect at multiple levels, especially when invited to focus exclusively on identity, as in the current political environment.  

And finally, constant and extreme pressure to prove oneself, to suppress one’s innate identity and everything it meant in one’s formative years; real or imagined pressure to renounce one’s faith, religion or culture in order to fit in, to prove oneself, takes an incredible toll on a person. The stress can manifest in diverse ways including depression, addictive behaviors, violence, and irreversible adverse impact on health. At least one or two of these are manifested in this story.

San Jose Stage Theater (www.thestage.org)  has always brought bold and relevant productions and participated in raising important questions and promote crucial dialog in our society and this play is immensely pertinent in the current political, cultural environment. Great kudos to the production team, to Ayad Akhtar, to Director William Ontiveros and the entire creative team.  

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A Journey of Raagas in Hindustani Music


 

Image may contain: 3 people, indoorDarshana Bhuta Music Academy gave its 9th annual recital at JCNC, Jain Temple in Milpitas, CA.  Darshanaben, a mother and grand-mother is a highly accomplished artist.  Her accomplishments include numerous music Bhajan albums and a Hindi album with the title “On My Own” with lyrics by Rajesh Johri and music composed, arranged, and conducted by Shree Ashit Desai. Her other albums, “Amrit Bindu” and “Mere Praan Anandghan” were distributed by Venus Records. A woman of many talents, Darshanaben runs a highly successful music academy and her 45+ students range in age from 5 years to 85 years of age. All her students together gave an outstanding performance blending information, aalap, music and songs that included bhajans, ghazals, and Bollywood songs.

A raaga consisting of at least 5 notes, refers to the melodic mood in Hindustani classical music and is a central feature of Indian classical music, providing basic musical framework. There are 36 raagas and each one has emotional significance and is considered to be associated with season, time of day, and mood and each raaga is believed to have an impact on nature and is said to impact the emotions and mood of the audience. It is complicated to talk about raagas in this way but in this event it created an atmosphere of fun anticipation and adventure for the audience.

This entire program was organized around classical raagas that are considered suitable for different hours in the day. This incredible journey of raagas began with raaga Bhatiyaar that is sung in the first “prahar” or first hours of the day, between 4 am to 6 am. This raaga is said to possess healing qualities and to calm and console a grieved mind.

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Madhviben Mehta and Asimbhai Mehta gave commentary and performed the role of MC. Wife and husband duo are immensely popular musicians in their own right and enthrall audiences with their wonderful voices in various genres including geet, ghazals, bhajans, semi-classical songs and are bay area’s beloved raas-garba singers. They both have a number of albums to their credit which are available on iTunes and on Amazon music store.

Raaga Bhairav sung during the second prahar of the day between hours of 6 am and 12 noon, depicts peaceful, serious, and serene mood. The song from this raaga that Darshanaben had chosen was “Jago Mohan Pyare” from film “Jagte Raho”.  Raaga Charukeshi also sung during these hours, is newly adapted from Karnatik music to Hindustani music and is very melodious. The audience was enthralled listening to “Syam teri bansi pukare Radha naam” from the MC duo themselves, Madhviben and Asimbhai Mehta. Raaga Ahir Bhairav, is also sung during the second prahar of 6 am to 12 noon and depicts meditative mood of early morning hours. From 1963 film, “Meri Surat, teri ankhen”, the singers sang these beautiful lyrics…
Na kahi chanda, na kahi tare
Jyot ke pyase mere, nain bichare
Bhor bhi aas ki kiran na laayi
Pucho na kaise maine rain bitai

During the next prahar, from 12 noon to 4 pm, considered 3rd prahar of the day, raaga Bhimpalasi offers mood of bhakti and the singers sang Meerabai’s bhajan, “ari me to prem diwani”.  Also sung during this prahar, is raaga Brindabani Sarang that creates romantic and mystical mood.

Fourth prahar of the day begins towards the end of the busy day, from 6 pm to 8 pm. Raaga Bhopali sung at this time, known as Mohanam in Carnatic music, tends to be among the basic raagas of Hindustani music. Singers sang beautiful, melodious “jyoti kalash chhalke”. Raaga Yaman, also one of the  basic raagas, is sung during this fourth prahar and creates mood of bhakti and shringar, when a lover looks forward to welcoming the beloved. The halls reverberated with two beautiful melodies, “jab deep jale aana” from film Chitchor and “chandan sa badan” from 1968 film Saraswatichandra.  Raaga Madhuvanti also sung in the 4th prahar of 6-8pm, expresses gentle loving sentiment and all students sang together to honor this raaga.

The fifth prahar in the 24 hour cycle, takes us in the early  hours of the night between 8 pm and 10 pm. Raaga Kedar sung at this time, is offered in melodies to Lord Shiva and is therefore placed on a high pedestal in Indian classical music. Next, all students joined also by their Guru, Darshanaben and the MCs, together sang “Vande Mataram”, the national song of India, in Raaga Des and rightfully created a mood of compassion. Raaga Khamaj, also sung during these hours, creates light and enthralling mood and is sung in thumris, thappas, and bhajans. Singers sang Gandhiji’s favorite, Meerabai’s bhajan, “ Vaishanav jan to tene re kahiye”.

Raaga Kirvani creates a somber and romantic mood and raaga Bageshri creates a mood of “virah” or longing and are sung during the hours of 10 pm to 12 am when night is still young for lovers, especially for lonely lovers. As melodious song “Radha na bole re” was sung, it had just that effect.

The seventh prahar, between 12 am to 2 am offers two raagas.  Raaga Malkauns is one of the oldest raaga and renders serious and meditative mood, befitting the midnight hours. This raaga is believed to have calmed Lord Shiva and the group sang “pag ghungharoo bandh”. Raaga Darbari is a popular raaga sung deep in the night and is said to have therapeutic effect and to cure insomnia.  Audience revelled in the lulling melody “tora man darpan kahlaye” sung in this raaga. Literal translation of these lyrics is Your mind is the mirror. That reflects both good and bad, It watches the flow and reveals to all!

Last or eighth prahar in a 24 hour music cycle occurs between the hours of 2 am and 4 am. Raaga Kalawati is said to to create a pleasant, serene and welcoming mood for the new day, in the early hours.  The MCs sang beautiful composition “Shubh Swagatam” that was a welcoming song in recent Asian games opening ceremony. Shree Ashit Desai conducted Pandit Ravi Shankarji’s orchestral compositions for this song.  Raaga Bhairavi offered at the end of this beautiful journey of raagas is said to create an atmosphere of piety and amicability. When the group sang Zaverchand Meghani’s “kasumbino raang”, honoring the motherland, it had a truly mesmerizing effect on the audience.

img_20170204_194545123.jpgSuch an outstanding program not only speaks very highly of our beloved Darshanaben but also of the community of parents and singers in the bay area who support the academy and graced this occasion. A very special mention goes to the chief guest Shree Alap Desai who made a special journey from India, for this event. There aren’t words to describe this amazing young artist, singer, and composer. Born to artists and recipients of numerous distinctions and awards, Shree Ashit and Hema Desai, Alapji began his musical journey at a young age of 3 and has never looked back. He offers originality in his music and enthralled the audience with two beautiful songs, a bhajan, “baje muraliya baje” and a ghazal, and ended the program to a standing ovation from a packed audience.

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Ideation – Play Review


“Laugh about it, cry about it, but a job is a job”. But is it really, and at what cost of personal credibility and supply of #alternativefacts does one maintain a job with questionable ethics?  In “Ideation”, playwright Aaron Loeb addresses the issue of morality and ethics, through a group of corporate consultants working together on a mysterious, exciting, well paying, and ethically ambiguous project.  Hannah (Lisa Mallette) is the in-house corporate executive and most senior member in the room.  Her job is to facilitate and drive the project but more in a conciliatory manner than by controlling.  She is joined by external consultants, Brock (George Psarras), Ted (Tom Gough), Sandeep (Sunny Moza).  Additionally Scooter (Max Tachis) is a young intern, pushed by Hannah’s boss JD to do odd jobs like take notes, get coffee, get required supplies and get the room ready.

Image result for ideation, citylights

While extremely short dead line creates some serious pressure, super secret hush-hush project with obscure mission about disposal of dead bodies lands the group into giant quagmire of ethical dilemmas.  As the group questions the morality of the tasks, goal, and strategy, suspicions emerges about who might be in charge of the project, could there be several such projects, could each team be privy to only limited amount of information, and who would bear moral responsibility for such a mission.  The paranoia quickly escalates to break down the team, as the members begin questioning who in the team has how much information and who could be a plant from the top and the ethical dilemma begins causing cognitive dissonance regarding their role in the entire affair.

Image result for ideation, citylightsDirected by Mark Anderson Phillips, the play is thought-provoking, devilishly dark, and infuriating (because most of the answers never come), but also funny.  In Trump era, marked by secrets and lies, it is also very timely. The interesting and thought provoking idea is that when a head honcho, someone at the top of the food chain refuses to be transparent and share the vision and properly considered tactical steps then there is a cascading feeling of paranoia and eventual breakdown in the team. Several times the team decides to stick to the project at hand and adhere to logic. But quickly the resolve evaporates in the looming cloud of suspicion, because logic and transparency go hand in hand, and in the absence of one, the other cannot be sustained.

Great kudos to Director, Phillips and the entire creative team, to production manager, Ron Gasparinetti and Executive Artistic Director, Lisa Mallette, for bringing such timely and bold productions to San Jose, CityLights. For tickets, please go to www.cltc.org . Ideation will run till February 19, 2017.

 

 

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JOBS – January, 2017


img_20160913_221405.jpgAll US based opportunities require valid US work visa and prior experience in biomedical industry.  If interested in any opportunities below, please send me an email (resume as an attachment) at wd_darshana at hot mail dot com and include position title in the subject line.  Please include in the email, how well the description matches your background and where the gaps are, if any.  If you identify the position that correctly fits your experience & geographic preference and include in the email details on how it matches your background, your current comp and comp expectations, then it will get my first attention.  All leads or referrals are greatly appreciated.  More details on all opportunities below will be posted soon.

Director of Clinical Studies: Stealth Mode CHD Startup – Palo Alto, CA
There is a very exciting opportunity in a stealth mode startup being advised by a veteran entrepreneur with huge prior success.  Right candidate is someone who knows how to develop protocols, organize operational and quality conformance aspects, conduct the study, close it out all the way to final report, has regulatory interaction experience, and all of this in the arena of medical devices for coronary and peripheral vascular interventions.
This could be an associate/director of clinical development level position.More details will be posted soon).

Head of Asceptic Manufacturing for Drug Device Company – San Jose, CA

Chief Commercialization Officer (with background in Immunotherapy & BioInformatics) – Mountain View, CA

Senior Mechanical Engineer w/ background in Polymers & Catheter Engineering  – San Jose, CA

Senior Electrical Engineer w. Implantable Electronics Analog Design Medical Device Experience – San Jose, CA

Cardiovascular Clinical Studies Design Engineer – Redwood City, CA

Senior Electrical Engineer w. Implantable Medical Device Electronics, Digital Design Experience – San Jose, CA

Senior Engineer w Injection Molding Experience – San Jose, CA

Senior Technician w Medical Device Implantable work experience  – San Jose, CA

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