Book, 'hip guide to all things S.
Asian' in Boston, U.S.
Assistant editor says book applauds artistic endeavors across N. America
By Rohit Padgaonkar
BOSTON - Who are the prominent writers of South Asian origin in the country?
What's the art scene like across the United States and Canada? What are the
"cool" things to do in San Francisco, New York, Toronto or Boston? These are
just some of the questions answered in the new book "Shabash! - The Hip
Guide to All Things South Asian in North America, Version 2.0" that was
launched in Los Angeles in April and in Boston recently.
The glossy spread, produced by the Los Angeles based non-profit organization
Artwallah comprises 260 pages detailing the world of South Asian art, music,
dance, literature, film, religion, travel, and city-specific "to-do" lists
across North America.
The book is, however, much more than just a resource guide of what's trendy
in big cities. It also delves into South Asian subjects like Hindustani
music, yoga, and Ayurveda and provides a look at issues facing the South
Asian diaspora such as online dating, mixed marriages, religion and
"It's for anyone interested in the progressive and vibrant South Asian
community in North America," says assistant editor Ashwini Srikantiah. "The
book's name, 'Shabash' means 'bravo' and it certainly applauds the
contributions of South Asians making strides in the artistic arena in North
"Shabash! Version 2.0" was conceptualized as a result of the success of its
predecessor, "Shabash Version 1.0" that portrayed the best of South Asian
culture in southern California. Upon its release three years ago, the
editors were bombarded with requests to cover the ethnic art scene across
the country and come up with a national version.
"It took us a while to contact field reporters in cities across the country
who were 'in the know'" says Srikantiah, herself a filmmaker and singer.
Many of the correspondents were in fact personal acquaintances of the
editors including artists, filmmakers, poets and writers living and working
in cities across the country.
One such person was Boston contributor, singer and musician Manisha Shahane
who launched the book locally and also performed at the Johnny D's club in
The launch was a true amalgamation of South Asian talent with Shahane being
accompanied by Jerry Leake on multi-percussion, Blake Newman on base,
special guests Lance Martin on flute and Prasanna on guitar as well as DJ
Brother Cleve spinning beats. According to Shahane, Boston was nearly
omitted from the book as the authors did not know much about the desi scene
in New England.
Having lived in the area for a decade now, she felt that she had to give
back to a city that she had practically grown up in. "I know that the city
itself is not as large as some of the others covered, but our universities
and colleges provide numerous resources," she asserted. "Even outside of the
institutional education market, there is a field here in which artists and
musicians can plant their roots to grow and I wanted to include persons of
South Asian origin pursuing whatever artistic pursuits they so desire, as
well as those who have South Asian music in their hearts, regardless of
The essence of this book is really that very notion. "Art makes a community
stronger, one that we can all identify with, reflect upon and share in a
positive manner," agrees Srikantiah. And although the book's target market
is for those between the ages of 16 and 40, "Shabash" gives all South Asians
much to be proud of and non-South Asians a great deal to appreciate.
Although the research for the book is exhaustive, there are still areas,
ideas and activities were not taken into account. These may very well be
incorporated in the next version of the book, whose fate is yet undecided
and just may take shape in the form of an art catalog or a quarterly
magazine. Srikantiah is excited by this very fact. "Version 2.0 barely
scratched the surface of what's really going on," she says. "It's just the
tip of the iceberg - there's so much more that's out there and I do hope
that in the future, we will be able to include it all."
"Shabash! The Hip Guide to All Things South Asian in
North America. Version 2.0" is available for $15.99 and can be purchased
online at www.shabashguide.org.