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Indian lingo in Bay Area shelves

The local libraries in the Bay Area have increased the number of publications, videos and DVDs in various Indian lingos, writes Shalini Narang.

india Updated: Jan 05, 2006 17:07 IST

To cater to the need for regular and updated literary and entertainment sources from or about India, the local libraries in the Bay Area have increased the number of publications, videos and DVDs in various Indian lingos and have been holding special programming on major Indian festivals.

Though the popular weekly or fortnightly publications from India have been a part of the magazine rack in the adult's section for some time now, the children's section of our local library recently also started subscription to a magazine titled Kahani. The quarterly magazine focused on the young South Asian readers in US includes stories, illustrations, poetry, festive and culturally specific write-ups about South Asian culture, history, people and other ethnically specific non-fiction accounts.

As a parent of a young reader, I am delighted to see a publication aimed at the prolific young south Asian readers in their habit forming years. The magazine's stories and illustrations are an attempt to provide the readers an association with characters similar to them not only in physical features but also having common familial and cultural heritage.

Though I hear my daughter use the term Google, as I would have used a dictionary or a thesaurus and internet has undoubtedly become a valuable source of data and is increasingly becoming the medium of information search and exchange especially for the technologically savvy, yet I sustain the old school thought that the precious habit of reading and enjoying a magazine or a book is best inculcated via traditional hard bound books that can be physically held, flipped through, re-read and treasured.

In January and February this year, the Oakland Public Library will commence its first "One City, One Book" programme featuring Chitra Banerjee Divakaruni's novel, The Mistress of Spices and include special programming on India's Republic Day including henna hand painting, discussion on historical Indian artefacts and games for children.

As a part of the One City, One Book programme, the East Bay library, participating Oakland bookstores and other organisations will host a series of free book discussions throughout the city and cultural programming featuring henna workshops, readings by other South Asian poets and writers, Indian dancing, and even an Indian jazz-fusion group.

The One City, One Book concept originated in 1998 by the Washington Centre when it hosted author Russell Banks for four days of programmes and discussions about his novel, The Sweet Hereafter. Since then, communities all over the United States have embraced the idea of creating civic unity through the reading and discussion of a common book.

Set in the city of Oakland in the 1980's and having been made into a movie, the book tells the story of a female protagonist trained in the ancient art of spices, running a grocery shop from where she administers curative spices to the local Indian community.

"The book has been selected for this special One City initiative because it is set in Oakland and has been made into a movie also filmed in the city. It depicts a South East Indian community that is steadily growing in influence in this region, and also reflects the rich diversity of Oakland in its description of other ethnic groups. We expect about 3,000 people to attend the various events and book discussions that are being sponsored throughout the city," says Kathleen Hirooka, Community Relations Coordinator at the Oakland Public Library.

She adds, "Our Golden Gate Branch Library offers Punjabi and Hindi collections, and has done most programming for South Asians. They have sponsored an annual Diwali celebration for about five years now, which has attracted audiences of over 100 people. We would certainly like to do more for this growing community."

Besides the South Asian Diaspora wanting to inculcate literary, cultural and culinary heritage of their land of origin in their genres, the general interest in India is on a rise especially with most mid-size and large software and other companies having operations in India. Libraries are filling the information niche by providing reading material about the varied aspects of life and times in the subcontinent.

Internet greetings more popular

Once again this year, I send and received more greetings for the New Year via my email inbox and instant messaging window than in my shiny brass mailbox. Is it the ease of use of the modern technology and a sign of the changing times that is slowly but steadily making the old ways obsolete?

Possibly so, and going by the trend, it seems this year will be an year of integration of the various connected and wireless tools and services that will make information dissemination faster, quicker and cheaper.

First Published: Jan 05, 2006 17:07 IST