Hello Family and Friends!
We are excited to announce that the Sikh Monologues is coming to the Bay Area! We are putting together an entirely new cast to bring you the stories of Sikhs across America.
Thank you to SikhLens for the amazing opportunity to bring the Sikh Monologues to this creative arts space on the evening of November 22.
The event that was the first Sikh Monologues performance can only be categorized as the most satisfying night ever. I think it went pretty well for everyone who attended too! Haha. But honestly, the evening of June 15 brought together community on a national level. Sangat from the LA area came to share in the stories of people across the United States. And on a personal level, it was the well-worth culmination of a year’s worth of research and writing.
The event showcased 10 vignettes based on stories I collected through interviews with over 100 people from 15 different cities. Additionally, several photographs from my travels were displayed to give face and character to what I was actually able to see through my journey. The show took the audience through tides of emotions. Although I’d love to talk about each monologue, because I truly can’t pick a favorite, that would take too much time and give away too much about the show! So just a few highlights based on feedback I received from the audience:
“This is why I don’t shave my legs” is a nothing-held-back insight into many Sikh girls’ decisions about hair and wearing a dastaar. Rimmy Kaur told the story beautiful and with the perfect amount of sass!
“Cycles of Violence” takes us through several perspectives regarding one woman’s experience with domestic abuse – including the survivor’s perspective. It’s a story and a topic that needs to be talked about more and it will definitely be a staple at future Sikh Monologues performances. Birpal Kaur, Jassi Bhatia, and Khiven Sethi did a phenomenal job of taking on their roles, as difficult as they might have been.
Finally, perhaps the one topic I wanted to address most was that of judgment. Nandie Khahera embodied the persona of a man tired of being judged by his own Sikh community in “The Hollow Crown.” It was a showstopper. And it literally was the last piece of the show.
We had a few funny pieces thrown in there as well because, after all, Sikhs are a fun-loving, optimistic community. Chardi Kala (eternal optimism) is a real and tangible thing that I hope to convey even further in future performances.
The cast members who performed each of the ten vignettes were filled with energy. Many reflected afterwards that they felt I picked them specifically for the roles or that I wrote certain parts for certain people. Though that would have been very thoughtful, I cannot take any credit. Each of the performers grew into their roles over the month long rehearsals leading up to the performance. The connections cast members felt in their roles tells us something – these stories are shared stories. It doesn’t matter where in the US we may reside, there are certain emotions and experiences with which we can all identify, Sikh or not.
Thank you to all my cast and crew for a show that ran smoothly, professionally, and passionately. Thank you to everyone who allowed me to interview them for this show. Without the trust of my Sikh sangat, my research and the Sikh Monologues would not have been possible.
Thank you to those who believed in my vision from the beginning. I’m happy to report that this performance is only the beginning.
The next Sikh Monologues showcase is on November 22, 2014 at the SikhLens Film Festival!
Literally cannot wait.
Lots of love,
A beautiful hello to everyone!
The Sikh Monologues Project is proud to announce its very first performance! A journey that started off with just a vision of hope to more accurately represent Sikhs in America has turned into something real, tangible, and hopefully insightful for all of you.
This will be the first performance with many more to follow. We would love your support and attendance on June 15!
Here’s all the info:
June 15, 2014
Doors Open: 6:30pm
Show Begins: 7:00pm
Flintridge Preparatory School
4543 Crown Ave
La Canada, CA 91011
Please visit facebook.com/sikhmonologues and RSVP to the event here!
The sanity of writers and thinkers and strugglers often finds itself feeling most comfortable in the aromas, company, and silent encouragement that comes from coffee shops.
Unfortunately, the small town I call home is also filled with only Starbucks and Coffee Beans. What I’m looking for is the inspiration of local artwork sported by Portland and New York boutique coffee shops. The closest I have come is a place called It’s A Grind. It’s still a chain, but it’s a chain that has open mic nights every 1st and 3rd Friday of the month, so I’m sold! It’s this or driving the 40 minutes out to Los Angeles, so most days out of the week, I’ll be here.
On a more positive note, I have had the pleasure of revisiting and thus reliving my monologues journey through transcriptions of interviews! I remember the smiles, the laughs, the anxieties as I read through each line of text, trying to piece together themes and recurring sentiments. The more I read, the more focused I become. The more focused I become, the closer I get to sharing monologues with you!
peace to you,
I’m writing to you having visited Texas and New Mexico after my last post! Took a quick break over Thanksgiving and am back on the road in California.
As I am reaching the end of the interview phase of the project – I only have Portland, OR and a couple cities in CA left to go – I have a few observations I’d like to share with you all.
1. Community support. I am floored by the amount of community support I have received for the project. It started with Sikh Spirit Foundation granting us $5,000 to start off. During #DasvandhWeek, hosting by the Dasvandh Network, we raised another $5,000! We’re well on our way to making stage performances of the Sikh Monologues a reality.
But it’s not just about the money. Whenever I talked with people about my project – at the SALDEF gala in October or at an Akhand Paath in Ohio, or at the Sikhlens Festival in California two weeks ago – they were so interested and encouraging of the concept. To share the Sikh American story on stage – a medium scarcely used in the Sikh community – is something people are definitely interested in! And it’s a relief to know that.
2. Cha. Accepting offers to have cha (tea) at whoever’s house I am at is a given. I must always accept. Punjabi hospitality would not have it any other way. To not accept would be very rude. I decided I like my cha made made in a pot (not the kettle), with a lot of milk, and half a teaspoon of sugar.
3. The road ahead is not simple. Yes, I may be done with the arduous task of trekking around the United States and getting to visit states I would never have reason to discover otherwise (I am being completely sarcastic) – but now begins the hard stuff: writing. Writer’s block is real. I have experienced it before. And with a goal of writing 10 monologues by April, there’s a lot to be done. But I guess I just have to look back to point #1 to get me through it. I’m doing this for the community and I have the support of the community – or at least the 150 people I’ve interviewed already! So that definitely means something and is keeping me motivated =)
And here are a couple pictures I selected from the past couple weeks to entertain your eyeballs:
Peace to you,
Apart from consuming some of the best fried food ever, this past week, I was able to get some insight into the very small Sikh community residing the New Orleans area.
There is only one gurdwara. Individuals come from Baton Rouge – almost a 2 hour drive – and beyond to convene with their Sangat on Sundays or special occasions. And even then, only about 120 people come. It’s a small community. Everyone knows everyone, because you have to. Because community is important no matter where you go. The gurdwara, like many others around the US, started as divaans held once a month at different households. In time, the sangat was able to gather enough money to invest in a property for the gurdwara.
The need and desire of Sikhs – or perhaps any religious community – to congregate is real, small or large town. The gurdwara is a place of common ground. It’s a stepping stone to feeling at home in foreign land.
Now, first and second generation Sikhs are feeling disconnected to the Gurdwara. Is it because our need to connect with sangat has diminished? Is Gurdwara only about sangat? In New Orleans, many of the Sikhs community members only see other Sikhs on Sundays. That’s justdemographic fact of the area. In places like Richmond Hill, NY or Fresno, CA, gurdwara is not the only place Sikhs see other Sikhs. What purpose does Gurdwara serve in such areas beyond that of social gathering?
New Orleans Gurdwara
This past weekend, I had the pleasure of spending some time just outside Dayton, Ohio. The lifestyle out there was so different to the big cities I’ve been frequenting. Instead of skyscrapers, there were corn fields. Instead of spending time on a metro, I went for a hike. I was in suburbia, small-town style. There is an ease to the “midwest.” Less chaos, less rushing. More time to drive, to enjoy time with family, to live simply.
In Ohio, I learned something valuable. Something that seems obvious, but was clearly articulated through a couple of the individuals I interviewed. You really never know what life is going to throw at you. You never know what decisions you’re going to have to make. You never know what beliefs you might even have to compromise upon. 1984 challenged Sikhs. Moving to America challenges Sikhs. Being bullied challenges Sikhs. Each person responds differently depending on circumstances, on family, on location. The list goes on.
Life challenges us to recognize our non-negotiables – what we are unwilling to give up on – faith, family, job, happiness. Sometimes these things can conflict. Think about what your non-negotiables are.