The below is my response to a prompt (“new beginnings”) in a writers’ group. Joining the group was, in itself, a new beginning for me. As such writing often does, it crystallized something about this particular moment in my life.
I see new beginnings as opportunities to reinvent myself. To try a new activity, to meet new people, to be introduced to new ideas. New beginnings are also opportunities to discard things that no longer fit who I now am or who I am trying to become.
Over the course of my life, I have chosen new beginnings with some…
When my children were about ten and six, one evening during dinner, they kept asking me which one of them I loved more. I said that I loved both of them equally. They refused to accept the answer. I then turned the question around. “You have a right hand and a left hand. Can you tell me which hand you love more?” They refused to engage with that question and continued to demand an answer.
Finally, my answer came to me. “I love more the one who is not with me.”
“Why”? They insisted on knowing.
“Because I know how…
On Nov. 3 Stephanie Gruner Buckley published an essay in Modern Parent that went viral. As of this writing it has earned 23K claps and almost 300 comments (most of which are positive and supportive). Titled, “My daughter was a creative genius, and then we bought her an iPhone,” the essay is a heart-wrenching and radically honest account of Stephanie’s struggles with her 14-year-old daughter’s obsession with her smartphone. As the below paragraph indicates, maybe “addiction” is a more appropriate word.
I try to remain good-humored. But some days I get so angry, I rage against the phone. I say…
What we can learn from pre-scientific societies’ responses to the risk of contagion
Last week, I came across a video of a heated argument between an unmasked woman and store employees. While the woman sounded fed up and defiant about all the restrictions that have become the new normal, the employees were rightly concerned for their health and their livelihood. On my daily walk, if I see someone walking towards me, I cross the street in the interest of keeping a safe distance . When crossing the street is not an option, I stand still with my back to the…
Human beings have a deep need to find meaning in their lives. They feel an intense need to know that they matter and that their struggles have a larger purpose. In diverse societies across the world and across time, organized religions filled this need to find meaning. They did so by articulating values (what is good), offering a sense of agency to practice those values (how to be good), and providing a community which reinforced those values and whose network effect multiplied the individual’s agency.
However, traditional religions have certain traits that are at odds with the tenets of modern…
I published “Radical Spirits: India’s First Woman Doctor and Her American Champions” on March 8, 2020. I chose that particular date because March 8 is International Women’s Day and the story that my book tells is about women’s empowerment. I had the freedom to choose the date, just like I had the freedom to choose every aspect of my book’s appearance and content, because I am an independent scholar, author, and publisher.
In this essay, I describe the opportunities and challenges inherent to being an “indie” and why I highly recommend it.
After almost ten years, my deeply researched biography of the first Indian woman doctor is about to be released!
Advance praise from biographers and historians.
n 1883, an eighteen-year-old Indian woman named Anandi Joshee sailed alone from Calcutta to New York with the goal of becoming a doctor.
At the time there were no schools for girls in India. Also, the few doctors (who were all male) could not treat female patients.
Having witnessed the suffering of women, Anandi hoped to help create a culture that saw women as deserving and capable of equality with men.
The below was published in The Biographers Craft, the newsletter of Biographers International Organization (BIO).
If you are researching people or events that took place in the 18th and 19th centuries, Google Books is a great resource in addition to library holdings and newspaper archives. It is possible to accomplish a lot without having to travel (with the attendant time and expense) or search through stacks of books. I was able to write a 100,000-word biography using primarily online resources.
I recently completed the biography of Dr. Anandi-bai Joshee, the first Indian woman who became a doctor. The research and…
When I first started writing, it was out of a desire to record my experiences. I did not expect to share them with anyone, much less publish what I was writing. At the time writing it down was a way to not forget the journey.
I soon got hooked on writing because I started enjoying the process. Writing well required deep thought, authentic feeling and articulate expression. It was not about ego or about proving myself right. …
One December when my daughter was home on college break, we ate at a Thai restaurant at her urging. I confess I did not enjoy the food at all. Having grown up in a vegetarian family (in which even eggs were considered a “non-veg” item), I find South East Asian food quite challenging. The smell of fish-based sauce is hard to ignore, let alone like. When I told the server to make sure no fish or oyster sauce was used, my daughter gave me a disapproving look.
“You are at a Thai restaurant. Why not just eat the food the…