Posts Tagged California
Year-end Review & Greetings: December, 2017 — Theme: Silence Breakers & Truth Tellers
Posted by Darshana V. Nadkarni, Ph.D. in Year-End Reviews on December 22, 2017
This year has been a year of too much noise and everyone accusing others of spreading lies. Sometimes we have shouted louder for our truth to be heard and at times, we have spread deliberate and willful lies, all of it leading to great drama and divisiveness. World also witnessed Mugabe’s outster in Zimbabwe, Rohingya crisis on the border of Myanmar, Crown Prince Salman remaking Saudi Arabia, twitter war between leaders of N Korea and US, new daily revelations on #TrumpRussia scandal and more. In the US, as we focus inward and on “winning”, on “not being taken advantage of”, on frequent ritual of sycophantic praise of the head honcho, on taking care of the poor “wealthy” folks among us, perhaps we forget the cost of winning; winning at the expense of ignoring #ClimateChange (the impact of which will be felt for generations to come), winning small temporary #taxcut while giving the “poor” wealthy folks and corporations huge and permanent tax cuts (it may trickle down for a bit but will never ever be enough to offset and overcome the widening disparity), increasing deficit and leaving behind a humongus challenge for the next generation, with unnecessary stress on DACA dreamers and CHIP kids, questioning the very future that will have to be our savior some day.
This has also been a funny year with our finances. On one hand, economy continues to soar, on the other hand, we are looking into the abyss with absolute lack of clarity on long term impact of the largest tax overhaul in history; and this year has also cost us enormous money with weather related disasters. (By the way, India also had largest financial change with demonetization and as far as I know, the impact is still uncertain). With innocent sounding guests like Harvey, Irma and Maria bringing $200 billion in damage, 2017 hurricane season also became the most expensive hurricane season in history. Our forgotten brothers and sisters in Puerto Rico suffered most devastation. In a showdown of water and fire, in October, a series of 250 wild fires started burning across California and also proved to be most destructive, causing $9.4 billion in insured damages. Fires continued into November and engulfed Southern California in flames, later in the year.
This year however, was also a year of unity and hope, of people coming together with courage and having their voices heard (Colin Kaepernick), refusing to give on #ObamacareRepeal (and we learned that one voice, one vote can make a difference) . If we heard story after story of sexual harassment, if we felt a pervading sense of powerlessness, we also stood up to take our voices back. When I shared my story as #MeToo victim of harassment, I wasn’t just speaking for myself, I was also speaking for my sisters and daughters. The voices of the #SilenceBreakers were celebrated on the cover of Time magazine. But journey continues. There are more victims and more goals. Since the senseless and deadliest massacre in Las Vegas through barbaric semi automatic rifles, nearly 1000 more people have been killed and 2000 wounded in American gun violence. Journey continues into discerning between truth and lies. Who are the truth tellers? Perhaps there is deep debt of gratitude we’ll have to pay some day to those on the front lines taking the blows, being dubbed fake, just for bringing to the surface facts from a barrage of lies, with no personal gains. There are many who are trying to keep the focus on facts, in the midst of all the din, including late night hosts at Jimmy Kimmel, Stephen Colbert, Seth Meyers, Noah, Seth Meyers, Samantha Bee and others and many brave souls at CNN, NBC, CBS, ABC, MSNBC, KEQD, NPR, and major newspaper & magazine publications.
We sailed through all the drama of 2017 because of unity in the midst of diversity, courage when faced with powerlessness, hope that we can and we will leave the planet a better place for our children, and coming together in celebration that makes #America such a vibrant #democracy . Nothing brings us #Americans together like a shadow of darkness. Total solar eclipse in August brought us together in unimagined ways, as we hugged total strangers, with a feeling of glee. Here’s link to my eclipse poem http://bit.ly/2vXM4fv .
At the end of last year, I was overwhelmed with grief. I lost my mother in December and before that I grieved with many the loss of Hillary Clinton in the elections. I continue to be inspired by my mother and all the powerful women who have been my friends and role models, as I charted new territories this year. I am inspired by men in my life as well but uniquely influenced by my wonderful women friends, this year. Also this year, I broke my own silence, in speaking up for integrity, fairness, transparency, and justice; in speaking up with courage, but also compassion. Earlier in the year, I visited four beautiful cities in Europe (here’s link to my blog post http://bit.ly/2vDcZjt), made a trip to Ashland Oregon Shakespeare Festival and enjoyed four incredible plays in three days, and later in the year, I went to India, with a goal larger than myself. I sought to bring together my extended family so we can put aside the differences and solve pending issues with integrity and fairness. Here’s link to my blog http://bit.ly/2j3I3At . I am enormously proud and thrilled with the achievements of my son Neil, daughter Neesha and my nieces Ria and Nika — little blessings like these remind us that future holds so much promise.
In looking back, 2017 has been a year of many “downs” and then some “ups” that vastly superseded the downs, made us stronger, more courageous, more focused, more united, more determined. I wish my readers, friends, and fans a wonderful holiday season and many blessings in the coming year.
Ending with this quote by Pamela Meyer: “Lying is a cooperative act. Think about it. A lie has no power whatsoever by its mere utterance. Its power emerges when someone else agrees to believe the lie”.
2 Pianos 4 Hands – Play Review
Posted by Darshana V. Nadkarni, Ph.D. in Play Reviews on January 23, 2015
Semi-autobiographical play, co-written by Ted Dykstra and Richard Greenblatt, “2 Pianos 4 Hands”, spotlights the agony and the ecstasy, in the pursuit of excellence. With two grand pianos the stage is set for two superb actors, who are just slightly less superb piano players. The production directed by Tom Frey, is a work of creative genius. Darren Dunstan and Christopher Tocco as Dykstra and Greenblat respectively, are funny, smart, and witty and play various other roles with great aplomb.
If you’ve ever pursued a creative activity then there must be times when you wanted to quit and perhaps someone might have told you these exact same words, “If you want to quit, you are free to do so. I am your father, I will always love you” and you must be quite aware that these words are really not meant as a permission to quit. On the other hand, when you decided to give your chosen creative activity, all you got, you might have also heard these words, “I am a little concerned you are so cooped up, you don’t have many friends. You need to get outside more.” Or perhaps heard this? “You are being obsessive and it isn’t healthy. The point is your grades are slipping. You used to be an honors student”.
This talented duo performs musical pieces from children’s renditions to adult performances of concert pieces and sonatas, as they take us through the trials and tribulations of pursuing creative excellence. They seamlessly weave various characters in this funny rendition, where two young pianists pursue big dreams. As they grow in the talent, they require different teachers, each teacher comes with different styles and different philosophies. The duo performs, they pass exams, they excel, they fail at some, they get deflated, they pick themselves up and on they go.
In the last part of the second half of the play, they come to the final reality check point. In the pursuit of creative excellence, there is a major gulf between the best and those who are just slightly less so. The best perform on the world stage, in concert halls; the slightly less so get to perform in bars. Greenblat acknowledges, “I feel guilty, when I am not performing, and I feel inadequate, when I do”. Moments of inadequacy also bring deeper soul searching around meaning of life, “I want to change the world. How am I going to do it, playing piano”? In the end, the two piano players give a fabulous world class performance; at least that is what it seems like, to some of us, slightly less discerning musical audience.
It is in the last performance piece that redemption comes. These two piano players are filled with joy and they give it their best and sometimes pursuit of creative excellence is its own reward, not to mention, sometimes you get to be the “best in the neighborhood” and in this neighborhood of the community theater, the audience revelled in their performance. The play is running at www.theatreworks.org in Mountain View, CA.
“Cesar Chavez” – Movie Review
Posted by Darshana V. Nadkarni, Ph.D. in Movie Reviews on March 31, 2014
Today is Cesar Chavez day, a state holiday in California, Colorado, and Texas. This holiday is in honor of one of the greatest community activists, in recent history, and it is intended to promote community service. Here is the review on the movie recently released on Chavez’s life and work.
The movie chronicles the civil rights struggle of Chavez, and his steadfast commitment to securing fair living wages and decent work conditions for farm workers, through civil disobedience, and other non-violent means. The story begins in 1962, in Delano, CA. Chavez worked in the fields until 1952 and then became an organizer for the Community Service Organization, a Latino civil rights group. In 1962, Chavez left the CSO and co-founded the National Farm Workers Association (NFWA), later called the United Farm Workers (UFW). Very early in the struggle, Chavez insisted that they would challenge the growers and rich lobbyists strictly through non-violent means. Despite the boycotters facing many challenges, including arrested under false pretext, getting beat up by the police, getting shot at by the growers, and being doused by pesticides, Chavez insisted that under his leadership, they will not resort to violent means. “You always have a choice”, he said. And yet when people resorted to violence, he went on a fast, insisting that he would only break his fast, if every single member would sign a pledge of non-violence. He also realized the strength in numbers and says, “we need an army of boycotters”. Chavez also realized that if divided the farm workers will succumb to the growers, but with collaboration and unity, they will succeed. He supported Filipino American farm workers and won their support.
This is a beautiful movie that chronicles his struggles that inspired millions of Americans to stand up and fight for social justice. When the growers decided to bypass the American market and sell to England and countries in Europe, Chavez traveled to Europe and made his case directly to the people there and won their support in boycotting grapes from the US. Chavez’ ultimate triumph in getting growers to the table and get them to accept the demands from the workers, for social justice and fairness, is indeed a heartwarming testament to the tenacity, commitment, and power of one individual to change the world.
Michael Pena is fabulous in his role as Cesar Chavez. America Ferrera in her role as Cesar’s wife, Helen Chavez, packs quite a punch. Helen Chavez supported her husband’s struggles but she was also torn between this struggle and her role as a mother. When her son, Fernando (Eli Vargas) was getting picked on, in the school, on account of his father’s struggles, she became a lioness, coming to the rescue of her son. During his teen years, Fernando Chavez, alienated from his peers, due to his father’s struggles, blamed his father and turned away from him, which deeply pained Chavez.
Cesar Chavez has left a giant legacy and he has been commemorated in a number of ways. He has been a recipient of many awards, including the Presidential Medal of Freedom, and there is a portrait of Chavez in the National Portrait Gallery, in Washington, D.C. There are books on Cesar Chavez, colleges named after him, parks and roads named after him, and postage stamps and navy ships named in his honor, and more.
This movie beautifully tells the story of the intensely challenging reality of the American farm workers’ lives, during 60’s and 70’s, and Chavez’s role in getting the society to acknowledge the harshness of their life and agree to certain fair wages and living conditions. While there is an important history lesson embedded here, there isn’t a single dull moment in the movie. Director Diego Luna has done a marvelous job of capturing the essence of Chavez’s long civil rights struggle and balancing it with a peak into how his struggle impacted other workers and his own family. On a scale of 1 to 5, with 5 being excellent, I rate this movie a 4.8 and I assert that it should be must-see movie for students of American History.
Other Desert Cities – Play Review
Posted by Darshana V. Nadkarni, Ph.D. in Play Reviews on August 31, 2013
The 2013-2014 season has just begun and I am declaring “Other Desert Cities” currently playing at www.theatreworks.org as an absolutely “must watch” play of the season. Playwright Jon Robin Baitz was a Pulitzer Prize finalist and received a Tony nomination for Best Play. “On the edge of the sea”, in Palm Springs, California, in the land of “endless sunshine”, lives a patriarch of the family, a kind, affable man, Lyman, who is professionally the GOP chair, his wife Polly, the matriarch of the family who embodies Republican values in words and deeds, and is fiercely disciplined and demanding of perfection, from her family, and her sister Silda, who is a writer and a liberal. James Sutorius, in his first Theatreworks appearance as Lyman, and Julia Brothers as Silda, are absolutely fantastic, and Kandis Chappell, who has appeared in over 30 productions, in the Bay Area, carries her role as Polly, with marvelous perfection. They are joined during Christmas holidays, by their two children Trip and Brooke, superbly played by Rod Brogan and Kate Turnbull.
The family drama that unfolds when two extremely liberal grown children join their highly conservative parents and a liberal aunt with problems of her own, is a reflection of the broader cultural and political divide, in the country, where each side is often determined to impose its vision of America on the other, where each side fiercely believes that their vision for the country is ethically and morally superior, and any compromise would be akin to betraying these deep moral standards. And yet, in this family, under highly contentious and razor sharp retorts, there is deep love. The complexity of issues is so intense, depth of characters is so masterful, the dialogs are packed with so much punch, that this is a play that can be watched more than once.
Polly, the matriarch, demands a lot from her family, but also holds her family together, and is like a rock on whom everyone leans for support. When she says, “the only way to have someone not be an invalid is to not treat them like they are invalid”, it evokes a sharp retort from her liberal sister, Silda, “and there you have it, entire GOP platform, in a nutshell”. Her children, especially Brooke is constantly at odds with Polly. In response to her children’s sharp retorts, Polly says in exasperation, “Why is it that children are allowed endless series of free passes in life”. This play contains so much and offers so many thought provoking issues. There is family drama, political divide, mystery, intrigue, cultural and ideological war, razor sharp wit, humor, tragedy, love that tugs at the heart and love that holds the family together, in its divided state. I laughed and I cried and thought and rethought and I am ready to see the play again.
Theatreworks and Artistic Director Robert Kelley deserve the kudos for bringing the most awesome plays to the Bay Area. Director, Richard Seer has done a superb job. Stage Manager, Radall K. Lum, Assistant Stage Manager, Emily Anderson Wolf, and Scenic Designer Alexander Dodge have done a masterful job in the set. The stage reflects a multi-million dollar Californian home and the many symbolic elements on the stage include a beautiful free standing fireplace that gives the chills, when the air in the room gets too heavy, and the characters get lonely in their own home.
If you love theater, you must watch this play. If you are not sure about the power of live theater in touching you deeply, then watch this play. If you are a liberal, you will love the wit and the humor. If you a conservative, you will enjoy the characters of Lyman and Pollie who despite the potshots directed at them, create a loving and supporting home. If you enjoy unraveling the mystery, dialogs that make you laugh, dialogs that make you cry, then watch the play. For tickets, go to www.theatreworks.org.
Fabulous Opportunity to hear Gavin Newsom & Moira Gunn @HealthTechForum Conf.
Posted by Darshana V. Nadkarni, Ph.D. in Biotech - Medical Device - Life Science - Healthcare on April 30, 2013
Health Technology Forum connects people worldwide, with an aim to make affordable and quality healthcare accessible for all people. Recently, at Innovation Conference, under the theme of “Platforms for the Underserved”, many prominent physicians and others interested and working in this arena, gathered to discuss and advance the agenda of affordable healthcare. Below are highlights from inspiring keynote by Gavin Newosm, Lieutenant Governor of California and panel session moderated by Dr. Moira Gunn, host of National Public Radio program, The Tech Nation.
Gavin Newsom – Keynote at Health Tech Forum Innovation Conference
“Once the campaign is over, we politicians stop listening to you”, said Gavin Newsom in his luncheon keynote address at Health Technology Forum www.healthtechnologyforum.com conference. Newsom peppered his talk with crisp sound bites, and made a case for thriving, in what is “no longer a connected world, but a hyper connected world.” Much can be achieved if people get together with determination and commitment. “Organized people are whole lot more powerful than organized money”, said Newsom. Proud of his moral and ethical stand on issues, Newsom said, he voted to oppose death penalty, legalize marijuana, rescind the three strikes rule, and in support of gay marriage. “You may not agree with me,” he said, “but I sleep well.” He urged people to exercise their moral authority, to step up and say what they believe in, to be authentic, stand by their principles, to shake things up. “The world demands it”, said Newsom and brought the house down. Newsom concluded by quoting Churchill, “Success is the ability to go from one failure to another, with no loss of enthusiasm”.
Dr. Moira Gunn of NPR’s Tech Nation at Health Technology Forum Conference
Dr. Moira Gunn, Host of Tech Nation, moderated the luncheon panel. Dr. Jessica Evert, Executive Director at Child Family Health International, said, humility and technology are both essential in improving health on a global scale. Asset based community development model is based around deploying technology and coordinating around existing cultural and geographic strengths, not around deficiencies. Dr. Gary Heit, cofounder of AMCANI, an organization that seeks to support modern neurosurgery in developing countries, concurred. During his numerous experiences in developing countries, he has observed, that often they are not lacking in skills or intellectual capacity but in equipment and resources. Dr. Mainul Islam is COO of Medic Mobile, a company focused improving health care in challenging settings, through the utilization of technology. Islam shared about their work in 16 countries. Gunn applauded all these efforts to make a difference.