Tag Archive | "Dhiya Kuriakose"

[VIDEO] Mea Theodoratus: The Mexican-Greek Irish Harpist


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Ethnic America Goes to the Polls

Reporters from the New York Torch visited polling places in the New York City and Jersey City area to ask first-time voters from ethnic communities about their experiences, opinions and hopes for America.

Click on the pictures to know their stories.

Reporting by Mea Ashley, Yvonne Bang, Magdalene Castro, William Denselow, Shaukat Hamdani, Colleen McKown, Michael Orr, MaryAlice Parks, Nia Phillips, Griselda Ramirez, Rebecca Sanchez and Charlotte Stafford.
Edited by Jay Devineni, Lorelai Germain, Stephen Jiwanmall, Ntshepeng Motema and Christina Thorne.
Complied by Dhiya Kuriakose.

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[VIDEO] Sri Lankans on Immigration and the 2012 Election

Dhiya Kuriakose, Sri Lankan Beat Reporter~

Immigrants are an important part of the United States economy. Yet no political party has discussed immigrant issues this election. The Sri Lankan community told Dhiya Kuriakose what they thought should be done about immigration and why it should be an election issue.

Edited & Produced by Jay Devineni

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Being Bangladeshi in the Bronx

With Charlotte Stafford.

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All things bright and beautiful, all creatures, great and small

On a rainy Sunday morning in October, the Cathedral of St. John the Divine in Manhattan saw some unusual additions to its congregation. And many of them had four legs.

A camel towered over everyone in the church. A 25-year-old tortoise lay still in his hold as he was rolled down the aisle. A gorilla clung to her handler’s neck. A kangaroo jumped all the way to the church altar. A llama stopped midway and stretched her long neck. And these were just the more exotic animals. Dogs, cats, a couple of donkeys and even a pig walked down the aisle of the Cathedral on October 7th.

“I have to say although the camel was the most impressive in size; I found some of the smaller animals really fascinating,” said Dean Fogel, who was there with Daisy, his French mastiff. “A couple of the animals I’ve never seen before. I couldn’t even tell you what they were. The kangaroo was definitely impressive, so you know it was great.”

To commemorate the patron saint for animals, St. Francis of Assisi, the Cathedral of St. John has the tradition of opening its large iron doors on the first Sunday in October to bless any animals. Members of the congregation can bring their own pets and many do. The event is incredibly popular and the cathedral sells tickets for seats to the service.

The more exotic animals in the congregation came from Dawn Animal Agency for the event.

“This is an annual event that we participate in,” said Diane Katz, office coordinator at the Dawn Animal Agency. “Some of them are working animals; some of them are brand new babies. We had baby chicks today and a baby pig too.”

The Dawn Animal Agency is a talent agency that runs Sanctuary for Animals in upstate New York. They house over 1,000 rescued and abandoned animals. The animals participate in this procession every year and have for the last few years.

“Each animal has its own story,” Katz said. “We love having them in the procession.”

The yearly event brings thousands of people to the church, many with their own animals. The service is far from what would be considered a traditional Christian service. The music in parts of the service is specially adapted to be in tune with animal ears. The great arches of the cathedral resonated with what sounded like piercing wails to the human ear.

“It’s actually very calming to the animals,” Katz said.

Aside from the animals and the music that catered to them, there were dancers in the service.  And African musicians with huge drums and dancers in bright tunics and jewelry.

Ten-year-old Weston, a student at the Cathedral school, has been walking down the blessing procession for the past five years. His star is Rosie, a bearded dragon.

“I think Rosie had fun today.” Weston said. “She is cold because of the rain but she seems happy.”

Dwight Sole, a handler for Dawn Animal Agency, joked that the creatures seemed right at home inside the church. “You know a lot of people think that animals are people too,” said Sole. “And there’s nothing wrong with it, so why not celebrate it in church?”

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Cricketing across Countries

Dhiya Kuriakose, Sri Lankan beat reporter~

When Roshen Wallwattia left Sri Lanka for New York three years ago, he was carrying the typical anxieties that come with uprooting one’s life. How would he find a job? Would he make friends? Was moving to New York the right decision? Wallwattia found the answers to his questions in an unlikely place: a well-worn cricket field on Staten Island.

“I’ve played cricket with these guys since I got here. They were my first friends in New York,” said Wallwattia, a finance student at Columbia University. “They gave me my first job and they even supported me through my application to school.”

Cricket binds the Sri Lankan community in New York. Big matches regularly draw dozens of Sri Lankan cricket fans to local restaurants, giving them a taste of home. Many said that local leagues also act as a unifying force for the community.

“It’s just one time of the week we can come together to play a game we grew up with,” said Nalinda Persis, 33, who plays cricket every weekend over the summer in a park on Staten Island. “Less and less people play it but we still try to make it when we can. It takes us back to our childhood when we used to play on the streets at home. Nobody is bothered what they do as long as we can play together.”

Cricket’s popularity was on full display recently at a Sri Lankan restaurant in Manhattan. Inside Sigri on First Avenue, diners at three separate tables were passionately discussing the sport, debating their favorite players and predicting Sri Lanka’s chances at the T20 World Cup, the most prestigious tournament in the shorter version of the game.

Cricket is still a relatively unknown sport in the U.S., where it is greatly overshadowed by baseball. The two sports bear similarities but also feature striking differences. Cricket involves two teams that have batsmen, bowlers and fielders. Each team has 11 players. But unlike baseball, instead of four bases there are only two, in the center of a large round or elliptical field. The batsmen can decide when to run, and the fielding team has two bowlers, or pitchers, who operate from either end of the pitch, or infield. A run is scored when a batsmen strikes the ball and reaches the opposite end of the pitch, while his non-hitting teammate runs to his end. There are three formats that the game is played in, the shortest being around four hours and the longest running five days.

Despite its popularity back home, cricket is struggling to catch on with younger generations of Sri Lankans living in New York, who find it hard to resist getting swept up in more traditional American sports.

“My American friends don’t understand a game where the shortest time is half a day and the longest takes five days and sometimes without result,” said Chelaka Gunamuni, 29, who works at Sigri. “Even I don’t play cricket. I find it time consuming and frankly boring.”

“Did you know volleyball is our national sport? Nobody follows volleyball like this,” said Fernando, a frequent visitor to the restaurant. “When Lanka plays cricket we all play with them, we feel like we are there. Just imagine all the Sri Lankans across the world are cheering for one thing. You should know how rarely that happens.”

Still, Gunamuni, who arrived in the U.S. 12 years ago, conceded that whenever he meets Sri Lankans, their first conversation typically centers on cricket. “I know that if I meet a Sri Lankan anywhere in the world, we can discuss cricket and become friends.”

For V. Selvanathan, a 54-year old man who left Sri Lanka in 1992, cricket will always carry special meaning. He said the sport helped unite the island nation, which for 40 years endured a violent uprising by separatist rebels known as the Tamil, during its most tumultuous times.

“Every day when I opened the newspaper, the first page would talk about how Tamil terrorists were killing or being killed,” said Selvanathan. “Then I would turn to the sports sections and read about Muttiah Muralitharan who is the world’s most successful bowler. He was a Tamil and our favorite Sri Lankan player.”

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