Tilak Rishi's weblog

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Tilak Rishi, born in India, has been working as a career corporate executive, after doing his MBA. Passionately pursuing his hobby for writing, he also remained a regular contributor to newspapers in India and the U.S. Many true happenings and characters he came across in life, including interaction with former president Bill Clinton, inspired Paradise Lost and Found, his first novel. A family saga, it starts from Kashmir, when this paradise on earth is lost for the tourists who thronged in thousands every year to enjoy its scenic splendor. Terrorists have turned it into one of the most dangerous places in the world. The family is not only a witness to the loss of this paradise, but also to another tragedy of much bigger magnitude. In the aftermath of the partition of India, along with millions uprooted from their homes in Pakistan, the family leaves behind all that it has in Lahore. Starting from a scratch on the difficult path to progress, it still has many joyful moments when along the way it makes a difference in many a life. The survival-to-success story climaxes in California where the family finds the paradise that was lost in Kashmir.

Wednesday, February 09, 2011

Broadway That Is Different!

Manhattan is the jewel of New York with Broadway at its center. Early settlers of the island of Manhattan were amazed by the amount and the diversity of the wildlife and the beauty of the forest. Lobsters as long as a man's arm were stacked upon the ocean floor, and fish jumped freely into canoes.
Obviously the natural diversity is gone these days, yet diversity remains in the people who walk the streets of New York. Broadway, as the name implies, is a wide avenue in New York City, which runs the full length of Manhattan and continues into the Bronx. It is the oldest north–south main thoroughfare in the city, dating to the first New Amsterdam settlement. The name Broadway is the English literal translation of the Dutch name, Breede weg. The Dutch explorer and entrepreneur David de Vries gives the first mention of it in his journal for the year 1642.

In 1866, "The Black Crook" was the first staged Broadway musical. The show ran for over an astounding five hours and for 474 performers. For decades, audiences made up of all nationalities, races and backgrounds have enjoyed coming to see a Broadway show filled with dance, song, laughter and tears. Some of the longest-running Broadway shows include "Cats," "The Phantom of the Opera" and "The Fantasticks" with each having over 7,000 productions. Broadway musical theater history is rich in shows that range from dramas to comedies to witches to lions, all which are unique and special to each of their fans.

In the 1920's Broadway blossomed and began showing the true colors of what it would come to be in the later half of the 20th century. Broadway was the hangout for most of the famous people in the 1920s-the gangsters, like Owney Madden, rubbed shoulders with celebrities like Charlie Chaplin. If the 1920's are known for being modern society's answer to the prudery and uptight nature of the Victorian age, Broadway is the antithesis of polite society. Yet people fell in love with the beautiful girls and beautiful shows. Fashion was taken for granted, Broadway was full of beautifully dressed dolls and dapper sultans. Getting dressed for a Broadway Show meant a great looking dress for the woman, and a well fitted men's suit. As anyone who has ever gone to a Broadway show knows, the real history of Broadway New York lies in the characters who graced the streets as well as the stage. America fell in love with the black and white morality of the law of the Broadway. Most American cities started to have a "Broadway" of their own.

In San Francisco, Broadway is an east-west street that runs from The Embarcadero to the Cow Hollow district. The neon-lined stretch of Broadway through North Beach is the city's home to strip clubs and other adult businesses, as well as many nightclubs and bars, and has been featured in several films and television shows. The Broadway Street is a thriving street that is referred to as the "red light district" of San Francisco. The street is bustling with people after dusk when several hardcore clubbers come together to spend a night of excitement, drinks and dance. It has some of the City's best gentlemen's clubs. The Broadway showgirls cabaret sets the standard for the quintessential evening out-- a limo service, a five star restaurant with a chef that takes requests, wine and champagne to tempt every palate, plush atmospheres, VIP lounges and even a shoe shine service. A major Broadway feature is the dramatic 12th century Spanish palace, the Orpheum Theatre. Built in 1926 as a showcase for theatre magnate Alexander Pantages, the Orpheum has featured vaudeville, silent films, motion pictures, musical comedy and other theatrical entertainment. The Orpheum has since been named a San Francisco Historical Landmark. All year round, the Broadway Street plays host to several local events like the New Years' Eve, Halloween parties and block parties among others.

Twenty miles away, Millbrae downtown Broadway is the dream-street of culinary arts, especially of the Chinese cousin. No matter what your tastes are harking for, you will find something to satisfy that craving at the best of eateries – American, Asian, Bar & Grill, Barbecue, Bistros, Breakfast & Brunch, Burger, Cafes, Chinese, French, Italian, Mexican, Pizza, Seafood, Steak and Vegetarian. Broadway is amongst the distinguished downtowns where Starbucks competes with Peets, Safeway with Trader Jo's, Baskin and Robbins with Yubi, Kohls with Dress Barn, and where you have 24 hours Walgreen and Fitness. It makes Millbrae so opposite of the neighboring Hillsborough where “zoning law” forbids any kind of commercial activity, including banks and postal services. Even with all these businesses to boast of, Broadway is all the time having major makeovers going on with installation of numerous streets-cape improvements, including street trees, street plantings, banners, decorative paving, street lighting, street furniture, holiday decorations, and installation of community benches. A farmer's market on Broadway? That's right. This is held on Saturdays in the early morning till about 1 p.m. or so. The peaches are delicious in the summertime, and the grapes, navel oranges and all the rest are just as scrumptious. There are also a good amount of flower stands and veggie stands. The veggie stands bring their vegetables fresh from Fresno and sell them for super cheap, cheaper than even the Dean's Produce, the most popular destination for daily purchase of fresh vegetables and fruits.

Every year, the last unofficial weekend of summer brings large crowds to Millbrae for one of the Bay Area’s biggest Labor Day weekend events, transforming its delightful Broadway street into a resplendent sea of people and colorful tents. They stroll, browse, relax and enjoy a friendly and vibrant street fair with two days of stellar live music, gorgeous handcrafted work by 250 talented artists, fabulous food and wine, and the best family entertainment value around. Millbrae retains its "small town" feel, while undergoing a major revitalization, especially on its Broadway that is different.

Tuesday, February 01, 2011

The Right Answer!

The world seems to be increasingly polarized. We can see it clearly in the USA where the political discourse is being dumped down or whipped up. Looking at the last elections, marked by angry protests and mud-slinging campaigns, it's easy to believe that American politics has become insanely, politically polarized and the political climate has gotten so ugly as never before. In the hysterical “us” against “them” world we are living in, it is increasingly difficult for people to allow themselves to see the other person’s point of view. Instead of reasoning that the other person must have a valid reason for thinking the way they do, the tendency is to paint the other as insane, stupid or evil. Living in a culture where other points of view cannot be tolerated and people who hold them must be denuded of their human capacity to think, means living in a culture where cognitive functioning is impaired and mental health in general begins to suffer.

"A cocktail of political and technological trends have converged in the last decade that are making it possible for the idiots of all political stripes to overwhelm and paralyze the genius of our system. Those factors are: the wild excess of money in politics; the gerrymandering of political districts, making them permanently Republican or Democratic and erasing the political middle; a 24/7 cable news cycle that makes all politics a daily battle of tactics that overwhelm strategic thinking. Finally, on top of it all, we now have a permanent presidential campaign that encourages all partisanship, all the time among our leading politicians. I would argue that together these changes add up to a difference of degree that is a difference in kind — a different kind of American political scene that makes me wonder whether we can seriously discuss serious issues any longer and make decisions on the basis of the national interest."
-Thomas Friedman
New York Times September 29, 2009

People can often overcome political differences, because they like one another and give each other credit for good intentions. But it is the media environment where both sides treat each other with suspicion. There's no more sort of 'noble opponent,' where we differ on things, but we all have the same goals. But is there really any sanity, or at least any moderate views, left in American politics? According to political scientists and psychologists, the answer is yes. You're just not likely to see it on television -- or in Congress, but if you look at the American public as a whole, there is a "vast middle" of unengaged people who aren't very polarized. People are mostly quite social, as proved by the immense popularity of social networks. What is most important to most of us is our relationships. We are affected by others’ behavior toward us and what they say about us. We adapt to others and they adapt to us. We develop a way, or ways, of relating to others in different situations. We can see our lives from one point of view as adapting to and influencing others. I may learn something of great importance from you or impart some information that is helpful.

“It is unwise to be too sure of one’s own wisdom. It is healthy to be reminded that the strongest might weaken and the wisest might err.” - Gandhi.

The united part in the United States seems to be endangered as we watch partisan politics play out in Washington. Our legislators believe that voting with their own political party and against the opposition is more important than seriously considering the merits of the bill. Are they not putting partisan politics ahead of the national interest? We have become a nation of people so disrespectful of others' beliefs that we have lost the habit of respecting those with whom we disagree. Rather, we prefer to demean others so as make ourselves look better. The hostile climate and the nasty tone of debate dominates today’s policy-making environment. Statesmanship has given way to anger and scoring. The losers are the American people. So given our differences and our psychological impulses to divide and conquer, is there hope for a return to national political cooperation and goodwill? Can political parties and the media ratchet down the drama to better reflect the electorate?

The answer lies in the explanation of Senator Olympia Snowe (R-Me.) why she was supporting the Senate Finance Committee version of the health care bill. As she remarked so succinctly: “When history calls, history calls.” While admitting she had qualms about the Committee’s bill, Snowe — unlike all her Republican colleagues on the Committee — clearly understood that her job was not to obstruct the law-making process, but to negotiate ways to make it happen. She understood that, among other things, as a U.S. senator she had to find a way to help 45 million U.S. citizens get health insurance, as opposed to denying President Obama a political victory. Let us wish there are many more Olympia Snowes ready to step into the breach. To quote John F. Kennedy:

“Let us not seek the Republican answer or the Democratic answer, but the right answer."