'Lucid Dreams And Distant Visions': A Diverse Representation Of The South Asian Community

'Lucid Dreams And Distant Visions': A Diverse Representation Of The South Asian Community

South Asian heritage takes the spotlight.

It’s strange to see myself reflected in the darkness of the charcoal portrait. Chitra Ganesh’s "Devika Rani (2012)," depicts a woman far too regal to encounter me. The subject features an elaborate headpiece, a bindi above her brows, and eyes that are hauntingly beautiful. Dressed in jeans and having just taken a final, my reflection mars her work. It is, however, an incredible feeling to find art I see myself represented in; there aren't many museums where I can find a portrait of a woman adorned with a bindi.

The Asia Society Museum, from June 27th to August 6th, 2017, features "Lucid Dreams and Distant Visions: South Asian Art in the Diaspora." Only a four-minute walk from the 68th Street stop on the 6 train, the Asia Society Museum exclusively displays traditional and contemporary Asian art. The current exhibit includes nineteen contemporary artists from the South Asian diaspora, all of whom now live in the United States, and possess work spanning four decades. Collectively, the group depicts the South Asian experience: socially, culturally, and with regards to the tensions in the international sociopolitical climate.

Though the exhibit only occupies the second floor of a relatively small museum, it is unassumingly powerful. I was emotionally overwhelmed once finished with it; its impact is difficult to put into words.

Anila Quayyum Agha's "Crossing Boundaries," is arguably the most 'Instagrammable' feature of the exhibit, but the laser-cut steel and light bulb installation reflects the contradictory qualities inherent in the immigrant experience. The geometric patterns of the installation are meant to mimic those of traditional mosques in Pakistan. Being a woman, Agha was excluded from these while growing up in Pakistan. The space that her art creates, however, is open to people of all creed, color, and belief.

There are incredibly diverse portrayals of the South Asian community: portraits of overlooked silent-film actors, paintings of Muslims in various fields of work, critiques of appropriated South Asian culture in Western Society, and short films about Tibetan refugees. While some artists provide very direct imagery of the social and cultural makeup of their homelands, others are more layered in their depiction of cross-cultural tensions and racial boundaries.

The impact of a place on a person's work is resonant throughout the exhibit. Ruby Chishti's "The Present is a Ruin Without the People," pictured below, represents the spaces that individuals have unwillingly left in times of conflict and war. Chishti attempts to demonstrate the relationship that forms between the personal experiences that immigrants encounter, and the singular narratives that are applied to them as a group.The numerous textiles she uses, like so many of the artworks displayed, prompt questions over the endless, and varied stories hidden in them.

Overwhelmingly, the exhibit combats the xenophobia and nationalism that flood our nation. The artists widen the narrative surrounding immigrants and attempt to rid viewers of their existing stereotypes, providing detailed individual stories and trials. They reveal how little anyone, (and even I, a child of South Asian descent), knows about history; people of color have been so severely overlooked.

Coincidentally, the exhibit meets with the seventieth anniversary of Indian independence from British rule. The art displayed celebrates the genuine expression of South Asian lives, in all of their duality.

For immigrants, the children of them, and anyone of South Asian descent, this exhibit is no less than a love letter to you. It ends on August 6th, 2017. Don't miss an opportunity to see your heritage take the spotlight.
Cover Image Credit: Sudeepa Singh / The Asia Society Museum

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Not To Be One-Upped By Hawaii, Japan Sends Out A False Missile Threat As Well

One's an incident. Two's a coincidence. Let's hope it doesn't happen a third time.

Wednesday morning, just three days after Hawaii's incident, Japan apparently decided to jump on the false missile alert bandwagon as well! Broadcaster NHK warned that "North Korea appears to have launched a missile" around 7 p.m. local time. Citizens were told to take shelter. Unlike the situation in Hawaii, however, which took 38 minutes to rectify, Japan took just under 10 minutes to assuage their public's fears. Interesting.

Obviously, these are two different situations. I'm not going to pretend I know much about our civil defense system or nuclear preparations or anything like that. I also do appreciate that there are measures in place to warn citizens were something like this to actually to occur. However, I find a little concerning that:

a) it took nearly 40 minutes to correct, and...

b) it's possible for an alert of this magnitude to have happened on accident.

Understanding how it happened does little to change the fact that it did happen, and it caused widespread panic.

I really wanted to think it was just a joke I was missing out on when I first heard about the false ballistic missile threat in Hawaii. After all, I'm the person who thought the whole "do you know da wae" thing was just a reference to a song I didn't know. I figured Hawaii just another news headline putting a spin on a story in order to get unsuspecting readers to click it. I mean, how do you accidentally send an entire state an alert about an incoming missile?

Unfortunately, however, the headline wasn't just clickbait. Apparently, a civil defense employee "pushed the wrong button" this past Saturday morning and triggered a state-wide alert about a "ballistic missile threat inbound to Hawaii." Wow. Considering the recently growing tension between leaders of the United States and North Korea, I'm more than a little worried. Need I remind anyone of this tweet from our dear president?

My social studies teachers in elementary and middle school all used to tell me that we learn history so that we don't repeat the mistakes of our past. Nowadays, I can't help but thinking the world we currently live in is eerily reminiscent of the Cold War in terms of the threats of nuclear warfare, as well as the suggestions of a nuclear arms race.

But, I digress. I'm sure Saturday's incident in Hawaii won't happen again and that Japan just made an honest mistake. While Japan's threat is still under investigation, the employee responsible for the Hawaii threat apparently "feels terrible," and now there will be a "two-person rule implemented for sending tests and actual alerts." After all, even Trump himself was so unworried that he figured his golf game was more important than letting 1.5 million people know they weren't facing their impending doom.

The internet, of course, is having a field day with the entire situation.

So that's it. If we're joking about it, it's all over, right? We can now continue carrying on like normal and playing the "What did Trump say about North Korea now?" game. Joy.

Cover Image Credit: Instagram / bjenningsuk

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The Ultimate Top 5 Reasons Why You Should Learn Another Language

Learning an additional language will be one of your best decisions yet!

I’ve always been fascinated by language. It gives us the ability to communicate our ideas with others and share what’s on our minds.

Globally, 66 percent of children are being raised bilingual. In the United States alone, 21 percent of the population speaks another language besides English at home, and the majority have learned it from there. In other words, one-fifth of the population in the United States are being raised as bilinguals.

More and more people are becoming bilingual. It is safe to say that more than half of the world is fluent in another language.

As a bilingual, I have seen many opportunities arise just because I know another language.

I see the advantages at work when I communicate with someone who doesn’t know the other language, at school when I get to help those who are struggling with it and in my daily life when I speak with my family and when I’m able to appreciate art in its original language, like reading a book in Spanish.

Some of us were born in a bilingual household, learned a language through school or by any other type of means. However, if you haven’t had the opportunity to do so, it’s never too late to get started!

Based on research and also through my experience and others, here are five top reasons why you should definitely learn another language.

1. More job opportunities.

In North America, 66 percent of recruiters say that for the next 10 years it will be of high importance to know another language.

Also, according to several studies, there is a 1.5 to 3.8 percent increase in salary for certain bilingual job positions, which adds up over time. Being bilingual can make you a better candidate for that job you are hoping to get!

2. Cognitive advantages.

Raise your hand if you want a healthy brain!

With the help of brain imaging techniques, researchers have detected which regions of the brain are activated when bilinguals switch in between languages.

In essence, with a bilingual mind or with attempting to learn a second language, there is an improvement in the performance of cognitive skills including reading, learning, reasoning, remembering, paying attention and thinking.

3. Connecting with culture.

If you grew up in a bilingual household, learning the language of your roots can definitely make you feel reconnected to your culture.

The same occurs if you are interested in cultures other than your own. Learning the language can help you understand those cultures better and have better travel experiences if you visit those countries.

4. Stronger relationships with others.

Research suggests that those who are bilingual have stronger relationships with their family, culture and community.

It also opens you up to a whole new community that you might not have been familiar with just by being able to communicate through different languages.

5. New Perspectives.

Learning new languages shapes our experiences and the way we think. It also involves the process of acquiring other cultures.

If we understand others’ cultures, backgrounds and points of view, our society could be more tolerant and be accepting towards each person.

I strongly encourage you to dive into the world of languages. You’ll be amazed by all the great things it can bring to your life!

Cover Image Credit: Pixabay

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