Tuesday, August 01, 2006

The Indian American

The arrival of our mail package from the US is an eagerly awaited event in our house. Among other goodies, Big N gets his National Geographics and V and I get our Time magazines and Business 2.0s.

Of course, there's also a load of mail we'd rather not get, but that's another story.

In the last two packages we received, we found issues of a new magazine, The Indian American, the premier issue of which was launched in May. Published by Universal Health Care Inc. out of New York, the bimonthly magazine,
... seeks to be a window into Indian American life and times, ... [and] also serve as mainstream America's bridge to understanding its new compatriots.

Even as it celebrates the intellectual, professional and material successes of Indian Americans, as it profiles the rich and famous, as it gossips about celebrioties and scoops their lifestyles, the magazine will not hesitate to investigate and examine the darker side of life - the pride and prejudices, the struggles and failures, the crimes and misdemeanors - to which Indian Americans are not entirely immune.
Publisher's Note, The Indian American, May-June 2006.

The premier issue features a beaming Dr. Sanjay Gupta on the cover with the tag, "CNN's Dr. Sanjay Gupta, Doctoring America". Other cover article titles include a hodge-podge of topics spanning politics, culture, gender issues, etc.: "Different Strokes: White Girls who Love Classical Indian Dances", "Embracing India: A New Axis Between New Delhi and Washington", "Abe's India, 'Czar' of the New York Times Remembers", "White House 2008: Politicos Discuss Their Choices", "Men! Single Women on What's Wrong With Dating Indian Men".

In addition to the Mail section, the contents include Speakeasy (a collection of gossipy tid-bits from showbiz, politics, fashion, etc. with commentary by Sunil Adam, the magazine's Editor and Art Director) Books, Movies, Music and Columns. The July-August edition has added Saree Sense, Beauty Tips and Quiz.

The magazine features the usual suspects among Desi Americans in its first two editions - Deepak Chopra, Dinesh D'Souza, Naveen Andrews, Zubin Mehta, all of the Desi anchors on CNN (Sumi Das, Aneesh Raman, Monita Rajpal, Zain Verjee), Ashok Bajaj (the Bombay Club in DC), Srinija Srinivasan (Yahoo!, Inc.), Jhumpa Lahiri, Thrity Umrigar, Indu Sundaresan, even the recently famous (or notorious, depending on how you want to look at it) Kaavya Viswanathan.

Considerable space is also devoted to the decidedly lesser known among us, which is a welcome aspect of the magazine. There are all the politicos, most we've never heard of, but are apparently very successful in the corridors of power. There are actors and actresses with parts in prime time sitcomes and cable shows. Then there are the "man on the street" variety of Desi Americans - women discussing their idea of an ideal relationship, young girls giving us the low down on their relationship with their parents, those who've chosen a career in the arts (considered a non-conventional choice among Desi Americans and therefore deserving of an article in a magazine).

The magazine is certainly an eye-opener. I read about people I'd never heard of before. It showcases the talents of this considerably influential and successful group (many of which are not immediately apparent) and discusses issues that affect us uniquely as immigrants.

Depending on how the vision for the magazine pans out over the coming months, I would even go so far as to say that it could serve as forum that brings together the diaspora. Given our uniqueness as an immigrant group (various languages, religions, areas of expertise), The Indian American could be a useful platform on which we can all gather.

It is precisely this aspect that could also box us into a corner and end up identifying us to ourselves and to the rest of the country as nothing more than "Indian Americans". I do hope that this will not be the case.

1 comment:

Unknown said...

Hi folks! Check out www.amaramoms.com. Its a cool website started in the San Francisco bay area, for parents living in the US with a link to India.