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Yearly Archives

2008

My Grandfather’s Funeral

Today was Papa Ji’s funeral. His wisdom and love made me who I am — and inspired Divided We Fall. I stood before his casket adorned with flowers, where his face shone regal in a red turban, and gazed out at a hundred people who had gathered in the small chapel. I never write down what I will say before an audience, but today, I knew I needed to draw courage from words on paper.  I clutched the pages and spoke through the tears: My Beautiful Papa Ji, In the beginning, there were sounds: your voice at my childhood bedside, teaching me to […]

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Election Night 2008

Today marks a new era of possibility for America and the world. After seven years of despair in the shadow of September 11th, the election of Barack Obama as President throws wide open the doors to the future, and I am left blinking in the light. September 11th was the nightmare from which we could not awake; the election ushers in a new era of possibility I keep mistaking for dream. The world unites again, this time in hope and celebration, that a visionary may be elected president of the most powerful nation on earth. “This victory alone is not […]

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The DWF Campaign

Starting today, 80 cities across America will hold screenings of Divided We Fall and hold deep community dialogues about race, religion, and renewal during the seven-year anniversary of September 11, 2001. To find a screening nearest you: http://dwf-film.com/tour After two years on tour with Divided We Fall, my director Sharat Raju and I sat with our circle of friends and volunteers this summer to talk about what how to release the film. In 100 screenings and events around the world, we had discovered that the film had remarkable power to rip open a space for deep dialogue among our audiences. […]

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Tubman Middle School – Augusta, GA

Today, I was invited to present at Tubman Middle School in the inner-city of Augusta, Georgia. The students live in a depressed part of Augusta where textile workers used to live before the mills shut down. They have grown up with gang violence in their neighborhoods and go through routine weapons inspections at schools. These kids know violence. I have taken the film to middle-class kids at public and private schools but never inner-city kids with these kinds of experiences. I did not know what to expect. I had three sessions that lasted an hour and a half each with groups […]

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The Space Between – Detroit, MI

In the last week of January, my co-producer Sharat Raju and I traveled with our film Divided We Fall around the state of Michigan — from a screening at Wayne State University in Detroit, to a workshop at the South Asian American Network conference at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor, to a day at an all-girls Catholic high school, the Academy of the Sacred Heart in Bloomfield. Our audiences were diverse, but a central theme seemed to rise throughout our visit: young people learning to own the space between. In my childhood, I grew up in what I […]

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Dr. King and I – Ann Arbor, MI

On the celebration of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s birthday, it was snowing in Michigan. Like most schools, the University of Michigan had given its students a day-off. Unlike most schools, it had created an ambitious month-long symposium in honor of Dr. King so rich and impressive, that even the snow couldn’t keep more than 300 people from packing the auditorium to standing-room-only to watch Divided We Fall. My director and I take the stage to thank everyone, especially our hosts the University Libraries, for choosing to reflect on Dr. King’s message through our film. “He would have been here […]

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To Be Afraid of Hope

The new year begins in blood. Kenya is seized by violence. Benazir Bhutto is assasinated and Pakistan is consumed by riots. More soldiers are killed in Iraq. And here at home, terrible news spreads through the Sikh community — two Sikh brothers are shot to death at their restaurant in Richmond, California: Two men shuffled down San Pablo Avenue on a wet December night. They passed a burger joint and doughnut shop before pausing at the door to Sahib Indian Restaurant. One banged on the window. “You open?” he mouthed to his quarry inside. It was a few minutes past […]

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Why Do We Fall?

It has been nearly a year since I wrote here last, and yet 2007 was my most public year yet. I traveled the country on a national film and speaking tour, living out of my suitcase, moving from city to city, encountering stories and people and ideas like never before. If writing is my primary way of understanding my experiences, why did I not write? I was asked over and over again, and now in this new year, when I’m returning to myself and the world, I feel I must come clean. It begins with a story, as it always […]

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