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!

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!

Lifestyle The Maharani of Patiala, with her daughters Else and Angela, named by English governesses who found Indian names hard to pronounce
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Jyotsna Singh, grand-daughter of the Maharaja of Patiala, recalls a bygone time: “Naniji was exceedingly beautiful and at a young age she was married to Maharaja Bhupinder Singh and had two daughters Elsie (my mother) and Angela (her younger sister). The English names were given by the English governesses who could not pronounce the Indian names of the children. And there were a lot – 52 siblings, a pack of cards my mother would tell me…..Though the mothers lived at the palace and spent time with the children, the children were really brought up by the governesses. My grandfather lived in the main Motibagh Palace with his wives and his older children.”

The Buzz Pardoning the Turkey! President Obama with his nephews
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For the last eight years we have seen President Barack Obama do this symbolic act of pardoning the turkey, though of course lots of turkeys are going to be eaten today! However, there is freedom and respite for these two lucky turkeys, Tater and Tot.

Food Articles Thanksgiving appetizers
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A no-turkey Thanksgiving should make both vegetarians and the turkeys very happy!
As each successive wave of immigrants come to America, they introduce their own well-loved foods to the Thanksgiving table and in the process create new traditions.

Food Articles Thanksgiving - an all-American holiday
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Did you ever hear of the arrival of the turkey on to the Thanksgiving table being heralded as the arrival of the ‘dulhan’ or Indian bride? For Sunita Advaney’s family fixing the 30 lb bird was like preparing for an elaborate Indian wedding. Trust desis to bring their own take on this American holiday, imprinting it with their own special flavor!

Food Articles Tandoori chicken Thanksgiving
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When Sunita Advaney, now married and settled in Forest Hills, was seven years old, she came home from first grade and asked her immigrant parents about Thanksgiving. Her father Lal Lakhati, who had migrated from India, didn’t just explain the holiday to her, he actually went out and bought a small rotisserie bird and all the trimmings and the family had a Thanksgiving dinner. In later years they did two turkeys – one traditional and the other a bright red, coated with tandoori spices, coloring and stuffed with biryani and boiled eggs. Says Sunita, “We need our chillies and it was a good way to ease people into turkey because turkey is not our culture.”

News Gov. Nikki Haley official portrait. Photos by Renee Ittner-McManus/rimphotography.com
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“We were the first Sikh family in Bamberg. It was a small town in South Carolina, a closed community at that time,” recalls Ajit Randhawa of the 70’s. “Our daughters Simmi and Nikki entered the Little Miss Bamberg contest but the school selected only a White Queen and a Black Queen. So Nikki and Simmi were not eligible as contestants. Nikki was five years old at that time and sang, ‘This land is your land, this land is my land, from California to New York Island’ and received a resounding applause.”

Fast forward to 2010 and Nikki Haley (nee Randhawa) is not only a contestant in the most powerful contest there is – US politics – but has won big time. Forget black and white, she has shown that an Indian-American can be a game changer where race and gender is concerned in the Deep South.

People Nikki Haley takes the oath of office, becoming South Carolina's 90th governor and the first woman to run the state. South Carolina Chief Justice Jean Toal administered the oath
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“As many of you will come to know in the weeks and months ahead, the door to my office has a sign for all to see every time they walk through my doorway. The sign says, ‘Can’t Is Not an Option.’

These are the words of Nikki Haley, nee Nimrata Randhawa, the feisty new Governor of South Carolina, the Indian-American daughter of Punjabi immigrants. Haley, 38, has gone from being an obscure Southern legislator to a nationally known rising star on the Republican circuit.

Faith Thanksgiving
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If Thanksgiving is a festival of gratitude, then Indians have been preparing for it their whole lives.

In India, take a walk down the Mumbai waterfront in the early morning mist, and you see ordinary citizens quietly feeding the fish and the birds. Their daily day doesn’t really begin until the deities in their home shrine have been venerated with fresh flowers and offered prasadam.
It is only after eating a little of this blessed offering does the family sit down to their meals. Many remember to keep aside a portion of the food for a hungry person or the birds. It is all about sharing.

Art Reception celebrating the signing of an agreement between the Government of India and The Metropolitan Museum of Art with the support of the Mellon Foundation for the Indian conservation Fellowship Program
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The Metropolitan Museum Of Art & India’s Ministry of Culture have renewed for five years the two-way partnerships with Indian museums for sharing knowledge and expertise.So over the next five years there will be 35 new fellowships; annual seminars and workshops in India; follow-up visits by host supervisors at fellows’ home institutions; visits by the directors of the participating Indian museums to the fellows’ host institutions; and meetings of the advisory committee to organize and plan seminars, workshops, and interviews.

Features Immigrant families
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New immigrants in ethnic enclaves tend to have a stronger support system but once they fly the coop into the prestigious suburbs and into Americanization, there is a chasm of distances to overcome between friends. We are monetarily richer but are we poorer in friends?

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