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Seema Azharuddin is Going Against the Flow

Seema Azharuddin deftly dons many hats. An actor, producer, journalist, philanthropist and soon to be an author, she is also president of the Jaldhaara Foundation, which provides safe drinking water to school children and local communities in Telangana and across India. 

Active in politics since her university days in India, she has kept those skills alive, her connections spanning administrations both in the US and India. Azharuddin was the spokesperson for the Indian diaspora for the presidency of Joe Biden. She has had an interesting journey and she shared it with SEEMA from her home in Maryland about her journey which started in a small town in Bihar, India.

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Advantage Sania

“‘Game, set, match,’ the chair umpire called. The match was over. They have won but that is not all…She saw her partner Martina Hingis running towards her to congratulate the new number one women’s doubles player in the world. Martina was smiling radiantly with her right forefinger up showing the No. 1 sign. Martina came and hugged her.

“Her entire tennis career flashed before her. She struggled to come to terms with the momentous reality. Injuries and surgeries; autorickshaw rides in the early mornings to reach the court…thrill of winning, disappointment of losing…all swam before her eyes. As if she was seeing her own movie in the court.”

(Courtesy: Ace Against Odds by Imran Mirza, Sania Mirza and Shivani Gupta).

She went on to become the most successful woman tennis player in India. The inspiring story of Sania Mirza could encourage generations of aspiring tennis players in cricket-obsessed India.

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THE TALES OF SAMIRA AHMED AND HER REVOLUTIONARY GIRLS

Reading Samira Ahmed, you would expect her to be someone who’s always been a published writer, as if she’d tumbled out of the womb creating historic and phenomenal characters and storylines. But it turns out, she published her first book at 46, after a long and rewarding career involving teaching high school English, working for non-profits and even fighting for equitable funding in NY’s public schools as a lobbyist. “Love, Hate, & Other Filters” was an instant bestseller.

Ahmed is the first South Asian Muslim woman to voice Kamala Khan, Marvel’s first Muslim superheroine. Like Ms. Marvel, her signature characters have always been revolutionary girls. Her “revolutionary girls,” as she calls them, represent an archetype of strength, insight and compassion, are usually Muslim and often Indian American.

Revolutionary girls don’t necessarily take up arms…sometimes the revolutionary girl is just taking control when others are falling down. And sometimes it means standing up for yourself when others want to muffle you.

Samira Ahmed

Ahmed ‘s latest young adult novel, “Hollow Fires” (on sale May 10, 2022; ages 12+), taps into the current and timely conversation about racism and its dangers and the terrible costs of misinformation. A topic so delicate and polarizing blooms fully through an innovative storyline and lyrical prose.

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Utkarshini Vashishtha’s Long Road to Vindication

Utkarshini Vaishishtha is one of a few female screenwriters in India whose film has grossed over Rs 100 crores (over $13 million), the gold standard of Bollywood. Her work on “Gangubai Khathiawadi” has helped see it become one of the most successful Bollywood film after the pandemic. The film is also receiving rave reviews for the performance of Alia Bhatt as the titular character.

‘Gangubai Kathiawadi’ is another of the long list of women-centric films made by filmmaker Sanjay Leela Bhansali, who has a legacy of making films based on strong female characters. His latest offering was in the works for 10 years, but kept taking a back seat to other projects, such as “Ramleela,” “Bajirao Mastani” and “Padmaavat.”

Vashishtha, a veteran of the television world in India and the Middle East, was working on a television reality show in India after finishing film school in New York when she was introduced to Bhansali, a judge on the show. Though she was part of the production team, she dreamed of getting into scriptwriting. Bhansali got wind of her plans and gave her “Mafia Queens of Mumbai,” a book by Hussain Zaidi, and asked her to read the story of Gangubai in it.

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horoscopes

Know your Horoscopes for April!

Farzana Suri is a Victory Coach who coaches people through their life’s challenges to take the leap to victory, using the science of numerology. See what your horoscopes have in store for you this month! ARIES  March 21 – April 19 Competition might try to bully you, but individuality and independence are your strengths. You…

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here are some aids to help to help you get fit

Get, Set, Workout!

This month, our team recommends fitness tools to help reach your health goals. Here are some great workout aids for you.

BlenderBall by Blender Bottle

I developed quite an affinity for protein shakes to not only get some nutrition but also to help with my fitness goal of bulking up a bit. I think the handiest tool to have is a blender bottle for your shake, easy enough to just dump your ingredients into and then mix around. The BlenderBall helps combine everything together. Plus, it’s like a shake weight, a little workout for your arm on the side.

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When Rhyme meets reason and poetry is spoken…

South Asia is a region of diversity with a peculiar cultural unity. Rich in history, languages, literature and philosophy, the region has explored humanity through religion, art, monuments, food, music, dance, and poetry. Increasingly, poetry today is becoming a striking method of self-expression. Spoken word poetry especially reaches out to a wide audience base and builds a powerful platform for artists to speak on various social issues through their own identities and experiences.

WHAT IS SPOKEN WORD POETRY?

It is a broad term that defines poetry intended for performance. It can contain elements of rap, hip-hop, storytelling, theater, along with jazz, rock, blues, and folk music. The main characteristics that encompass spoken word poetry is that it includes rhyme, repetition, improvisation, and word play. It can draw influence from music, dance, or other popular themes to connect with the audiences. Spoken word poetry doesn’t always have to rhyme, but certain parts can be rhymed to emphasize an image or give it a lyrical quality.

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Independent South Asian Publishing Houses

We’d never have books and the publishers who stand by them. And with South Asian publishing, rife with economic troubles, a dwindling readership and sometimes violence, the obstacles are great.

In South Asia, the independent publishing world is a bloodbath — and for some the risks are more than just financial. To put out work that can truly change the world, publishers often have to stand up to authoritarian governments and violent religious factions, sometimes risking their lives along with the authors creating such work.

Take for example, “Naxalbari,” a comic created by cartoonist Sumit Kumar, which talks about the history of the Naxal movement in central India. While it was being published, Kumar was nervous that the book would be seen as propaganda and insisted that his publisher print it in the dead of the night so as to avoid an altercation with the police.

As you will see in the stories below, some publishers in the five South Asian countries below have reason to worry for their safety. It’s a career promising anxiety, stress and immense financial pressure — yet, they show up to work in spite of the myriad challenges involved.

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Barkha and Floyd Cardoz (in chef attire) at the Hawaii Food Fest in 2015.

Barkha Cardoz is celebrating Her Husband’s Legacy

Working silently and steadily behind the scenes, Chef Barkha Cardoz was partner, wife, and mother, and played business collaborator and chef to her husband. The late Floyd Cardoz was a pioneering, New York’s Indian-born American restaurateur, who won Top Chef Masters Season 3 in 2011, wrote cookbooks, and was a mentor and philanthropist of note.

The Cardoz Spice Line Legacy

Floyd’s New York restaurants were known for food melding Indian flavors and spices with Western cuisine.

Barkha Cardoz says, “Floyd….started making garam masala for everyone with just a few spices so you can use it everywhere – in curries, of course, and I’ve used it to make apple pie and Christmas cake.”

Floyd Cardoz died in March 2020, shortly before he was to launch the Spice Line. He conceived the Spice Line in 2019. Barkha refused to let the project die with him.

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