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 Growing Up Smith - Brighton Sharbino, Roni Akurati, Anjul Nigam, Jason Lee and Hilarie Burton.
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‘Growing Up Smith’ will surely hit a sweet spot – almost every Indian immigrant child has a memory of being the only brown-skinned student in the class, the one with the unpronounceable name and a lunch box from which emanated curry smells. ‘Growing Up Smith’ is a love poem to all those little kids who struggled to become ‘American’ and tried to straddle two cultures.

Features On Valentine's Day interviews with choolatiers & pastry chefs. Here Divya Burman, creator of Guilt-free Chocolates with her husaband Amit Burman
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On Valentine’s Day we share some of the fabulous chocolates and desserts created by Indian pastry chefs, culinary experts and entrepreneurs – and to add some extra sweetness, we also unearth their personal romance tales, from New Delhi to New York! Meet Divya Burman, Shefalee Patel, Monica Bhide, Surbhi Sahni and Aarti Mahtani Raman – taste their chocolates and hear what Valentine’s Day mean to them. We ran this story last year – and this year it’s twice as sweet!

Food Articles Al Nassma Camel Caravan  chocolates
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Strolling through the Chocolate Show in Manhattan (and munching as I went) I thought I had seen it all – chocolates with a hundred different flavors, chili chocolates, chocolates mixed with bacon, even chocolate lotions, lip glosses and potions. – until I came to the most unexpected – camel milk chocolates!

The Buzz Morning in Delhi
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No matter which part of the world Indian immigrants live in, they each carry with them their special memories of India filed away in their heads and hearts. For these diasporic Indians, many now with hyphenated identities, India’s Republic Day does bring in a whole lot of memories and a feeling of pride in being a part of India, and India being a part of their emotional DNA.

The Buzz Homai Vyarawalla, Indian (1913 – 2012) Queen Elizabeth II at a fashion show organized by the wives of diplomats at the Central Cottage Industries in Delhi; 1961 Gelatin Silver Print Alkazi Collection of Photography
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This year on India’s Republic Day, we pay tribute to the wonderful Homai Vyarawalla, India’s first woman photojournalist (1913-2012) who captured the nation’s ups and downs in a series of remarkable photographs.

We are fortunate that the Rubin Museum of Art hosted a retrospective of her work right through January 2013, with free tours every day. Visitors could catch a glimpse of the India that was, and also see the work of a woman who captured history as it was being made. Her images include those on the historic meeting of Gandhi and the Congress Committee on the 1947 plan for partition, of a changing India as well as of many dignitaries who visited India including Queen Elizabeth, Ho Chi Minh, Zhou En-lai and Jacqueline Kennedy.

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.

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