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Briefs/ Cricket in America: Minor & Major/ Rising to Great Heights in India/ Book Matters.

Compiled/ Written by Murali Kamma Email Compiled/ Written by Murali Kamma
April 2023
Briefs/ Cricket in America: Minor & Major/ Rising to Great Heights in India/ Book Matters.


Neel Moudgal won first place and $250,000 in the 2023 Regeneron Science Talent Search. The 17-year-old from Michigan was recognized for creating a computer model that accurately predicts the structure of RNA molecules using only easily accessible data. It holds promise for earlier detection and treatment of certain diseases. Also, Ambika Grover won sixth place and Seaborg Awardee Siddhu Pachipala won ninth place.




Raghavan Iyer, host of the Emmy-winning documentary Asian Flavors, is out with his final book, On the Curry Trail: Chasing the Flavor That Seduced the World. He doesn’t expect to survive what appears to be the final stage of colorectal cancer. His 660 Curries was the basis of a James Beard Award-winning video series. Born in India, he was a French teacher before he became an acclaimed chef and cookbook author in the U.S.


Mindy Kaling received a 2021 National Medal of Arts from Biden last month (Covid caused the delay). Kaling first drew attention with The Office, which is set in Biden’s hometown. She went on to make shows like The Mindy Project and Never Have I Ever. “[Her] work across television, film, and books inspires and delights—capturing and uplifting the experiences of women and girls across our nation,” the White House noted.



Karthik Subramaniam, a San Francisco-based software engineer, won the grand prize in National Geographic’s “Pictures of the Year” contest. His photo shows three bald eagles vying for a spot on a branch in Alaska’s Chilkat Bald Eagle Preserve. Titled “Dance of the Eagles,” it was picked from almost 5000 entries in four categories: Nature, Places, People, Animals. National Geographic magazine also picked nine honorable mentions.


Vimal Kapur takes over from Darius Adamczyk as CEO of Honeywell, the technology and manufacturing company based in Charlotte, NC. The Fortune 100 company, founded in 1906, employs about 97,000 workers globally. Most recently, Kapur served as Honeywell’s president and chief operating officer. Trained at Thapar Institute of Engineering and Technology in Punjab, Kapur also worked in India for Honeywell.




Kartiki Gonsalves, who grew up in Ooty, India, is the director and co-producer
of The Elephant Whisperers, the Oscar-winning documentary. It was made by Sikhya Entertainment, founded by Guneet Monga. Gonsalves, who specializes in wildlife and nature photography, is the daughter of a Goan father, who earned his PhD in computer science at Stanford University, and an American mother from Binghamton, NY


Parul Kapur Hinzen, an Atlanta writer who was born in Assam, won the 2023
AWP Prize for the Novel. Inside the Mirror, to be released next year by the University of Nebraska Press, is a debut novel about twin sisters who aspire to become artists in 1950s Bombay. “Crafted with elegance and precision, and heartrending in its exploration of family drama, this novel is a beautiful and ambitious work of fiction,” the judge notes.



Srinivasa Varadhan, a professor at NYU’s Courant Institute of Mathematical Sciences, is among the six recipients of the 2023 Padma Vibhushan, India’s secondhighest civilian award (nobody got the top award). Three are posthumous awardees, and the others are tabla maestro Zakir Hussain and politician S.M. Krishna. Varadhan is known for his work on probability theory and unified theory of large deviations.


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DesiWorld_10_04_23.jpgCan the Atlanta Fire pull it off this year? They couldn’t last year in the Minor League Cricket final at Church Street Park in Morrisville, NC. In an exciting (some would say heart-breaking) match, the Seattle Thunderbolts defeated the Atlanta Fire by 10 runs to claim the T20 trophy. Seattle also won the first and second matches in the series, while Atlanta won the third match by 96 runs. The 2022 tournament, which was America’s second T20 national championship, featured 26 teams and about 200 matches. This year, for the first time, all matches are being played on a natural turf or hybrid playing surface. No artificial or matting wickets will be used. The number of matches played is expected to rise by 60%, putting more pressure on the defending champs. The trophy comes with a $150,000 award.

Speaking of Seattle, another cricket team is coming to the city. Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella has announced a cricketing partnership with GMR Group, Delhi Capitals’ co-owner. Called the Seattle Orcas, the team will compete in Major League Cricket (MLC), a new T20 franchise league in the country. The Delhi Capitals (previously known as the Delhi Daredevils) is a franchise of the Indian Premier League (IPL). Like the Orcas, the Unicorns (San Francisco) and Freedom (D.C.) are appropriate names. As cricket lovers may know, six teams will compete this summer in the MLC’s inaugural season. So, is the Southeast being represented? Unfortunately, no—or not yet. The other five teams represent Los Angeles, Dallas, New York, San Francisco, and Washington, D.C. The season will kick off in mid-July at the Grand Prairie Stadium near Dallas. Hopefully, in the coming years, Minor League cities like Atlanta will also form Major League teams.

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The world’s highest rail bridge is opening in India. Dubbed the Chenab Bridge, the structure made of steel and concrete rises 1178 feet above the Chenab River in Jammu and Kashmir. With a 1805-feet arch that weighs 10,000 metric tons, the bridge—weighing about three times as much—covers about a third of a mile across the river, connecting Kauri and Bakkal. When the 70-mile Udhampur-Srinagar-Baramulla link is completed, there will be uninterrupted train service between Srinagar in the north and Kanyakumari in the south. The world’s highest motorable road is in India as well. Stretching for more than 32 miles, the Chisumle-Demchok Road in Ladakh reaches 19,000 feet at Umling Pass. At the highest point, it is higher than Mount Everest’s base camp and higher than Siachen Glacier, said to be the world’s highest battlefield.

Then there’s the world’s tallest statue, which was inaugurated in India in 2018. Standing at a height of 597 feet, this Statue of Unity, a monument to Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel, is located in Kevadia, Gujarat. Designed by sculptor Ram Sutar, and built at a cost of $422 million, it has five zones that include a memorial garden, a museum, and a viewing gallery. Trivia buffs know that India doesn’t have the world’s highest mountain or river. However, if you go to Kolukkumalai, close to Munnar in southern India, you’ll see the world’s highest tea estate. Rising 8000 feet above sea level, it’s also one of the world’s oldest, with a 1000-acre plantation and a tea factory that’s been operating since the early 1900s. No fertilizers are used, and the plantation’s traditional labor-intensive process yields about 12 tons of tea each month.

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Western Lane (Farrar, Straus and Giroux), by Chetna Maroo. Grief needs an outlet, and for this tight-knit Indian family in the U.K., it comes in the form of sports—or squash, to be exact. Eleven-year-old Gopi, who has two teenage sisters, is good at squash, though it’s hardly an obsession. Their mother’s death changes everything. Thanks to the father, a self-employed electrician who thinks playing squash will help the family cope with their loss, they end up spending time on the courts of the rundown Western Lane sports center. Only Gopi, it becomes clear, is talented. But competing in a tournament—or hanging out with Ged, Gopi’s equally gifted friend—is no substitute for parental care. Not to mention, the girls’ childless aunt and uncle, living elsewhere in the country, hope to raise one of them. “Melancholy is only one of the moods of this short but brimming book,” writes Sam Sacks in The Wall Street Journal. Maroo, who lives in London, won the Plimpton Prize for Fiction.



A New Race of Men from Heaven (Sarabande Books), by Chaitali Sen. In the title story of Sen’s collection, which won the Mary McCarthy Prize in Short Fiction, the reader meets a half-Indian young woman named Sasha. Her father is dead and the mother has little interest in Sasha’s Indian heritage, leaving holes in her life. Sasha is drawn to a co-worker, but will she face indifference in her love life as well? In “The Immigrant,” the search for a missing boy diverts the attention of a businessman who’s trying to write a letter in a restaurant. How can he make his parents in India accept his attachment to a woman from another religion? “North, South, East, West,” in a different way, is also about alienation. In “Uma,” a recently widowed Indian woman, after moving to the U.S., makes an unexpected connection with her three-year-old nephew, who hasn’t learned to speak yet. The eight stories are “about the anxieties and amnesias of our time, how strange and essential we are to each other,” says Elizabeth McCracken.



The Great Escape (Algonquin Books), by Saket Soni. This complex true story, touching on migration, natural disasters, greed, forced labor, mistreatment, economic injustice, inequality, and organized resistance, will be familiar to some readers, at least vaguely. What this lauded book does is flesh it out, and the author is none other than the lead participant. Soni, a community organizer, was just 28 when he got a call in 2006 from a migrant worker stuck in Mississippi. He was one of 500 workers recruited from India by Signal International, though not for IT jobs. They were pipe fitters and other oil rig workers, brought to the U.S. with false promises and confined to a prison-like camp in unsanitary conditions. These trafficked workers had to pay $20,000 each for their passage. They ultimately won their freedom, but only after a long and difficult battle, which included a weeks-long hunger strike by 60 workers. Soni is the founder of Resilience Force. “Right till the end, this extraordinary work is as absorbing as a great novel,” according to Amitava Kumar.



The Laughter (HarperVia), by Sonora Jha. Ruhaba Khan, a Pakistani American junior law professor, works with African American women who have been incarcerated. Enter Oliver Harding, an older white professor who’s head of the English department at the same university in Seattle. English is far from popular as a major for undergraduates, but that doesn’t stop Harding, a conservative and an ardent defender of the Western canon, from belittling minority voices and multiculturalism. Things are not what they seem, however, because the divorced Harding and Khan form a friendship, which gets more complicated when Khan’s 15-year-old nephew, visiting from France, enters Harding’s orbit. Everyone has secrets, including Harding. And then there’s the unsettling demand for more diversity on campus. “Examining old prejudices, new fixations, and the sting of unrequited love, Jha offers a complete triumph,” notes Booklist in a starred review. Jha is a journalism professor in Seattle.


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