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Indian Culture for the Adoptive Family

Cultural Information (continued)

Indian Restaurants
There are many listed in the phone book, but some of our favorites are Mayura & Ambar India in Clifton, and Anand India in Sharonville. Anand India usually has a discount coupon in the Temple newsletter. A new one that has received good reviews is the Udipi Café in Roselawn. We hope to try it out soon.

 

Although Indian food has a reputation for being hot, you actually determine how hot it will be by telling the waiter your preferences. Mild means that they go light on the hot chilies, but it still has lots of flavor. Yogurt dishes are often part of an Indian meal, because yogurt tempers the heat of spicy foods. We always get a creamy yogurt drink called a “Mango Lassie” with our meal, because it’s good and it tempers the heat well.

One misconception about Indian food is that everything has curry in it. The word “curry” refers to a sauce, like we would say “gravy”. Some curries are spiced with curry, but most are a combination of many other spices, without a trace of curry in them.

Cooking Indian Food
Indian Groceries carry Patak’s curry pastes (concentrates for sauces), which enable the total novice to make great Indian food with very little effort. There are easy recipes on the jars, or you can just sauté vegetables/meats, and serve with a sauce made of the paste mixed with plain yogurt. We really like the Biryani, Mild Curry Paste, and Kebab. The pastes also serve as an exotic marinade for grilled chicken.

Deeps Grocery offers Indian cooking classes once a month. For information call and ask for Cathy (wife of the owner), 961-2699. Jungle Jim’s teaches Indian cooking classes every so often. Call to find out when one is scheduled.

Nita Mehta, a prolific Indian cookbook author, has many books available at the website: www.indiagreet.com. Her daughter and son in law, who just happen to live in Cincinnati, run the web site operation. They are very open to answering questions, which is good since Mrs. Mehta assumes that the reader has some familiarity with Indian cooking terminology. Have you questions answered at 474-3763 or email: corporate@indiagreet.com.

A variety of Indian recipes, organized by food type and by region, can be found on the website: http://www.indiaexpress.com/cooking/.

Books for Children
We have found an extensive collection of books on India at the public library’s Symmes branch. “Shiva’s Fire”, by Suzanne Fisher Staples, has been available through the Scholastic Book Club at school.

Regional Organizations
Kaveri, Association of Southern India
Family gathering at Fairfield High School, 3 or 4 functions a year, dinner and program. $15 - $20 per family per year.
Ankur Gujarati Samaj, Association of the State of Gujarat
Offers family oriented dinners, activities, holiday celebrations and educational programs at their facility in Blue Ash, 9502 Highland Ave. A newsletter lists all the activities throughout the year. A yearly membership costs $35 For details, call president, Bharati Noticewala at 563-2007.
The public is welcome to join the monthly fund raising dinners, which are prepared by association members. The dinners are on a Friday at 7:30. There are usually activities for the children after dinner.
Information and upcoming events: www.ankurcinci.org

Padma’s School of Traditional Indian Dance
Padma Chebrolu offers traditional Indian dance lessons. Call to arrange lessons or to hear their schedule of public performances, 230-5991.

Indian Movies
Rent Indian movies from the Indian grocery stores. India produces more movies than Hollywood does each year. They are full of song and dance, and are long, usually three hours. Two great movies, appropriate for children, are suggested here. Both offer a wonderful view of traditional Indian homes, clothing and culture.

"Lagaan”, a “must see” film with English sub titles, was nominated for an Oscar, in the international film category. The fictional story is set in 1893, in a rural Indian village under the thumb of British occupation. This is a heart warming, inspirational film where good prevails over evil, without any of Hollywood’s offensive violence or foul language. Although Laagan is almost four hours long, the music and captivating story make it worth every minute.

"Hum Dil De Chuke Sanam” is a particularly touching film. Although Hindi is spoken, you can follow the movie well by reading the English description on the movie jacket and using a little intuition. There is one intense part when the main characters accept a ride from a couple in a jeep, but it is graphically tame by American standards.

"Bend it Like Beckham” is the story of an Indian family living in England. The youngest daughter is a soccer fanatic who hides her participation in the sport from her disapproving parents. The clash of cultures makes for many hilarious scenes. It is a heart warming, coming-of-age romance, rated PG 13 because of some bad language. Film critic, Roger Ebert recommended Beckham very highly. Although it was produced by an Indian filmmaker, it was released in the USA. It showed at the Esquire theaters in April, 2003. You might find it at movie rentals in the future.

Indian Music and Radio
As you would expect, a wide selection of both traditional and contemporary Indian music is available at the Indian Grocery stores, but you’ll also find a decent selection at Joseph Beth Bookstore in Hyde Park. For traditional Indian music try Ravi Shankar, Ananda Shankar, and Anoushka Shankar. Contemporary Indian music comes from the vast movie industry. Our favorites are from the movies Lagaan and Gadar.


If you have access to the internet, go to the website www.live365.com. Under “Complete Genre List” click on “more”, then “international”. Try “Hindi Love/Sad Songs” on the first page and any of the stations with the word “Telugu” in the title. Our favorite is “4 indians - Telugu Music” on page 5, although they are all good. This web site is a real delight for anyone who loves music, with stations offering every kind of music imaginable, from every corner of the earth.
WAIF, 88.3FM has Indian music, news and upcoming events every Sunday from 11:00am - 2pm.

Henna Painting, Mehndi
Henna painting is the intricate, lacelike design work that is temporarily tattooed onto the hands and feet for special events. Henna leaves are ground with oil into a green paste that stains the skin as deeply as walnut hulls do. The paste is allowed to sit on the skin for at least a couple hours, and then is washed off to reveal a deep cinnamon colored pattern. The effect can also be created with “temporary tattoos”, like those found inside bubblegum wrappers, which transfers to the skin with water and a little pressure in less than minute.
The Northside library has offered classes on henna painting in the past. Materials for henna painting or the temporary tattoos can be purchased at Indian groceries, or Jungle Jim’s.

Red Dot on the Forehead, A “Bindi”
The bindi is symbolic of the spiritual eye. Our regular eyes see that a friend is wearing a red shirt, but our spiritual eye sees that he is happy or sad. Beyond the obvious physical world is a much deeper, soulful world that we see with our spiritual eye. Honing this vision keeps us in touch with our inner spirit, makes us more sensitive to others, and makes for a richer, more meaningful life. Bindis come in both an adhesive backed, stick-on form, and as a container of red paint.

Advocating for Your Child Through Education
Whenever I was in my daughter’s first grade classroom, the other children would ask me questions about India. One day the teacher asked if I’d consider putting together an educational talk for the entire class. The following is a list of the activities I put together.

1. I set the mood by putting on Ravi Shankar music and burning incense. I was dressed in a salwar kameez.

2. I showed a large world map that had been mounted on foam core. I showed where India was. Then I had each child come up, I gave them a push pin with their name and one country in their heritage on it. (The teacher had sent home a flier requesting the information two weeks earlier.) The child then put their name tag on their country of origin. Only one child had Native American heritage. It became very apparent that although we call ourselves Americans, we all (almost all) came from somewhere else.

3. I showed a series of posters that I had made from pictures in books. Each poster featured a different topic such as schools, food, festivals, shopping, transportation, entertainment, etc.

4. I showed clothing and jewelry, and gave all the girls a bindi.

5. I served a variety of treats that I had both made and bought at the Indian grocery. I also offered pieces of nan (bread), which was surprisingly the favored item.

6. I left the kids with a picture of a traditional floor painting and sidewalk chalk to create their own during recess.

Indian Culture Out of Town

Chicago
If you’re ever in Chicago, check out its “Little India” on Devon St, just north of downtown Chicago. It is a wonderful collection of fine restaurants, small cafes with great food for little money, and shops selling every sort of Indian apparel and jewelry imaginable. Be sure to try Hemma’s Kitchen (the spelling might not be exactly right). It’s favored by Indians (quite an endorsement) and the prices are very reasonable too. Be sure to haggle over the prices in the shops, or you’ll pay too much.

Culture Camp in Colorado
Colorado Heritage camps, Inc. offers summer camps for internationally adopted children and their families. Their country specific camps focus on a different theme each summer, all designed to enrich adoptive families’ understanding of their child’s homeland. They can be reached at:

Pam Sweetser, (camp founder)
Colorado Heritage Camps, Inc.
2052 Elm St.
Denver, CO 80207
www.heritagecamps.org
info@heritagecamps.org.

Spice Camp I’ve heard that there is a culture camp near Pittsburgh, PA, but I haven’t been able to reach anyone who can give me information. If you have any leads, let me know.

Pages 1,2,3

To read more, please visit: www.india-culture.com


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