I wonder how many of you remember that old Hindi film ‘Anand’ in which superstar Rajesh Khanna played Anand, who is dying but loves people so much that he wants to touch the life of every single person that he meets. He stops strangers on the street, involves himself in their dilemmas and tries to bring some joy or connectivity into their lives.
Well, I can relate to that urge to connect! I’ve been writing about people since I was ten (honestly – getting 10 bucks from the Statesman newspaper in Calcutta for my articles) and I’ve always been curious about human beings and intrigued by the stories of their lives.
A history major in college in Delhi, I often pondered on what made people tick, and this led to experiments with fiction which appeared in Femina, The Illustrated Weekly of India and The Times of India. After living in India till the age of 23 I moved to Hong Kong where I won a short story contest in the China Mail.
Gradually I moved to non-fiction and after living and writing in Hong Kong and Africa, I came to the US. As an immigrant in America who returns home often to the Mothership, I am intrigued by There – and – Here, by people’s lives, and the journeys immigrants undertake as they remake themselves in a new world.
Over the years my work has appeared in 78 publications including India Today, Newsday, Hong Kong Standard, Asia Magazine, Asia Inc., Avenue, Bride’s, Art and Antiques, AM New York, The Week, Worth, Beliefnet and The Indian Express.
This has included regular columns in India Today and Hindustan Times about the immigrant life, over 70 stories in Newsday covering the South Asian community, and articles in several inflight and travel magazines.
I have been fortunate to meet so many unique, wonderful people through my interviews – from gurus to celebs to cabbies – and introduce them to readers whom I’ve never met. Now, thanks to the Internet, it is possible to be a virtual Anand, to connect with so many more people and share their stories.
So welcome to Lassi with Lavina! There’s no koffee around, and I’m no Karan Johar, but it will be fun to create a kind of Delhi ‘chaat’ shop ambience where we can share some virtual lassis, analyze people and passions, and discuss what’s on our minds! Every month I will be posting live interviews with ordinary and extraordinary people, as well as my new work appearing in international publications.
I also invite you to add your voice – I hope this will be a fun Tower of Babel, with many voices discussing many topics. In the beginning I tentatively bring one solitary voice – my own – and hope many others will join in.
As you all know, our community in the US is over 2.5 million strong, and millions more globally are just a mouse click away. We need no longer be strangers, ships which silently cross each other in the night, but Anand-like, wave out to each other as we pass, and sometimes even connect to each other…
Lavina Melwani (2009)