Author Lavina Melwani

Lavina Melwani is a New York-based journalist who writes for several international publications. [email protected] & @lassiwithlavina Sign up for the free newsletter to get your dose of Lassi!

Cinema Sunny Leone in Mostly Sunny
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Once upon a time there was a young Indian-Canadian porn star who decided to reinvent herself and see if she could make it in Bollywood, India’s vaulted film industry where heroines are chaste and where even a kiss is forbidden. Meet Sunny Leone!

Art The Badi of Western Nepal, traditionally a caste of roving entertainers, sang and danced through the hills of Nepal into the plains of India. For the Badi, service is a family affair, often conducted within the home. Western Nepal
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Some of the most poignant testimony of a culture in flux is Thomas Kelly’s ethnographic work of marginalized, landless communities. He has lived with the Badi people where the young women have had to sell themselves to keep their families out of poverty. Once they were singers and dancers and entertainers at weddings and other ceremonies – now these women have to use their bodies as a source of income.

Using a Gates grant, Kelly looked into the lives of fallen angels in various parts of Asia, from ‘maalish’ or massage boys in hotels to sex worker communities, analyzing what drove them to this work and how they could be helped by the organizations.

The Buzz Jorbasa Flickr via Compfight cc
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For immigrants in New York, there’s a particular comfort in being in the multicultural capital of America under the glow of Lady Liberty’s lamp. The city and state government has come up in support of all immigrants. “If anyone feels that they are under attack, I want them to know that the state of New York – the state that has the Statue of Liberty in its harbor – is their refuge,” wrote NY Governor Andrew Cuomo in an open letter to all New Yorkers.

Cinema Om Puri and Madhur Jaffrey
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Disney’s ‘The Hundred-Foot Journey’ is produced by Steven Spielberg, Oprah Winfrey and Juliet Blake and directed by Lasse Hallström; it has the music of maestro AR Rahman and the beauty of South of France; it’s a delightful comedy with enough gourmet food in it to get the mouths of all foodies watering, with Manish Dayal as the young culinary genius Hassan.
In this film Dayal gets to interact with topnotch stalwarts like the remarkable Helen Mirren – and the equally wonderful Om Puri, both embroiled in quite a rowdy Indo-French food fight. A report on the special tribute to Om Puri at the Museum of the Moving Image.

The Buzz Kamala-Harris-2
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A law degree has been the avenue for a number of Indian-American women who have done very well in corporate America and private legal practice. It has also been the building block for a handful of strong women who have entered public life via this route as judges, attorney generals and lawyers in the public sphere, this having an impact on the lives of ordinary citizens.

Features Leila Janah, founder of Samasource
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The scourge of cancer, the threat of a damaged environment, poverty and joblessness are some of the problems which endanger our world. However, instead of tales of gloom and despair, we share with you three wonderful stories of hope for our small planet.

Meet young entrepreneurs, all from California, who have come up with creative solutions to problems with their bold out-of-the-box thinking.

Features Mumbai Maharaja
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The dawn of 2017 – it’s the time for resolutions and advice from the experts! So here are New Year tips from Mumbai! No, not from the city but from the canine. This little bit of fluff, a Havenese, is as tiny as the megacity is big.
Mumbai’s philosophy of life is something we should all emulate – apart from chasing pigeons, that is. So usually you have Influencers and Movers and Shakers giving you their tips about living the perfect life in the new year. Well, let me tell you something – we all would be better individuals and have a better 2017 if we were all a lot more like Mumbai, the Philosopher-Dog.

Cinema Dev Patel in 'Lion'
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‘Lion’ is a wonderful film which shows us that even the most nightmarish journeys can end well and if there’s a will, there’s a way to recover the past, to return home. Based on the compelling true story of Saroo Brierley who was lost as a child, the film tracks the journey the five-year-old must undertake alone in a relentless, uncaring world.

Faith Madonna and Child by Roberto Custodio in 'A Matter of Faith' at RL Fine Arts in Manhattan
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At Christmas, some beautiful images from Roberto Custodio, all created from recycled materials and old magazine images. What could be more meaningful than an article of faith regenerated from the embers of the old and the discarded?

Infant Jesus of Prague is a famous statue located in the Church of Our Lady Victorious in Mal Strana, Prague. Thousands of pilgrims pay homage to the Infant of Prague each year. Claims of blessings, favors and miraculous healings have been made by many who petitioned before the Infant Jesus.
We wish all our readers a Merry Christmas and peace in the New Year.

Faith Lighting the lamps at an Indian Hanukkah celebration
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At Hanukkah, Indian-Jews remember the homeland which nurtured their faith. “India has been the only country in the world where Jews have never been oppressed or suppressed or discriminated against,” says Romiel Daniel, who is Jewish-Indian-American. Indeed, India has been nurturing home and haven for generations of Jews whose ancestors fled from persecution centuries ago. At its peak there were about 37,000 Jews living in India. “Discrimination is something that has never happened in India for 2000 years and that is something we are very proud of, and that is why we go back to India so often,” he says.

Lifestyle Adoption is still a difficult issue in Indian communities - here three couples tell their stories about adoptiing children from India
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Some stories have so much power – and there’s such a need for them! I had done this in-depth story on adoption four years ago & I’m amazed readers who are looking to adopt come to it even today for information. So I thought I’d share it again and would love your input and personal experiences with the process of adopting children from India. I do intend to revisit this topic in the coming months and would love your insights.

Faith Indian Christmas
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While Christmas is important to Indian Christians as a celebration of faith, many non-Christians enjoy it as a secular holiday in ways small and big. Indeed, Christmas is such a huge, high voltage commercialized event in America that few can escape its allure, be they Christians or not.

24/7 Talk is Cheap Indian Christmas feast
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What can be better than going home for Christmas, especially if home happens to be warm and sunny Goa? Chris and Beverly D’Souza with their young son Luke visited Goa, their hometown, far away from the cold of New York. This story is a Christmas tradition on Lassi with Lavina!

Cinema Madhuri Dixit, the Bollywood superstar, with her husband Dr. Sriram Nene
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She’s out of sight but not out of our minds – we’re talking of none other than the bubbly, ever vibrant superstar Madhuri Dixit. Well, here are some nuggets from a brief but fun interview she gave to me during her New York visit. What comes through is her warmth and easiness as she adapts avidly to a very un-Bollywood lifestyle.

Travel Cow in tailoring shop
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How many Indias are there?

As many as the eyes that perceive it.

Each visitor sees a different India, bringing in their own experiences to the encounter. British photographer Clive Limpkin has a lively new book ‘India Exposed: the Sub-Continent A-Z’ which shows the results of his brush with India. His camera, however, returns time and again to what really moves him: the human connection. As he writes: “When friends ask for one good reason to visit, I offer them a billion – it’s the people.”

Cinema Meena Kumari
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We’ve all known and loved her – Meena Kumari, the tragic beauty who brought so many wonderful films to life. Many of us have seen her films in crowded theaters in India while another generation has experienced the power of her work via videos, catching on to her life after it was already over.

Most of us don’t know that she was a poet too, writing in Urdu. Now her words have been lovingly gathered into a book, ‘Meena Kumari, the Poet – A Life beyond Cinema’, and fans, poetry lovers and the merely curious will be able to see what made her tick, what were her innermost thoughts

Food Articles Haldi's offerings
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For most Indian immigrants the two most mouth-watering words in the English language are “Indian Food”. Last summer I enjoyed a great culinary journey back to India: I visited Anjappar, a noted ‘military hotel’ in Chennai famous for its non-vegetarian Chettinad cooking , and also the iconic Sarvanna Bhavan beloved for its dosas, uttappams and other vegetarian delights. I next ate my favorite street foods at Kailash Parbhat, my family’s favorite Sindhi eatery in the by-lanes of South Mumbai. Final stop was of course the classic Moti Mahal in my hometown of Delhi where I’d first tasted the divine makhani murg or butter chicken in my childhood.

Yet you’ll be surprised to know that I visited all these treasure troves of regional cuisine without ever boarding a flight or stepping out of America!

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