Duke Kahanamoku, King of the Waves

21 01 2010
During the first half of the 20th century, Duke Paoa Kahinu Mokoe Hulikohola Kahanamoku — known to most as Duke or The Duke, and as Paoa to Hawaiian and long time island friends — “emerged as the world’s consummate waterman, its fastest swimmer and foremost surfer, the first truly famous beach boy,” wrote biographer Grady Timmons. Duke Kahanamoku is best known to surfers as, “the father of modern surfing. As a sign of Duke’s importance to the sport, one of his early surfboards, with his name across the bow, is preserved in the Bishop Museum in Honolulu.

Duke Kahanamoku came to be known as the father of international surfing, but the Hawaiian native made his first splash as a swimmer at the 1912 Olympics in Stockholm, Sweden.

Born in Honolulu in 1890, Duke  was named in honor of Prince Alfred, Duke of Edinburgh, and struck gold by setting a world record in the 100-meter free-style and earned a silver medal in the 200-meter relay. He won two more golds at the 1920 Antwerp Olympics, a silver at the 1924 Paris Olympics, and a bronze at the 1932 Los Angeles Olympics.

Kahanamoku’s swimming and surfing talents caught the attention of Hollywood, and over the course of nine years, he appeared in nearly 30 movies.

Kahanamoku went on to serve as sheriff for the City and County of Honolulu for 26 years. When the legendary swimmer and surfer died at the age of 77, he was remembered for his athletic talent and sportsmanship.





Sofia Servando Baig, Muslim Spoken Word Artist

7 07 2009

Sofia Servando Baig is a 21 year old spoken word poet from Montreal, Canada. She has recited her poetry at the ISNA (Islamic Society of North America) Conference held in Chicago, Toronto’s MuslimFest, and also took part in the Muslim HipHop tour “HipHop4Islam”.Sofia

Here’s what she said about her poetry in an interview:

All my poems are personal and are a reflection of how I feel as a Muslim, as a woman, as a sister, as a daughter, as a result of my place in society. I speak about what i know and I don’t speak about what I don’t know.

She was raised in a secular, suburban Muslim household, attended Catholic school, and was raised by her Pakistani father and Chinese-Spanish mother in Quebec, Canada.

Sofia was intervied on CNN in 2006 for the “Faces of Faith” topic.

“In truth, I am inspired by everything,but all my poems are personal and are a reflection of how I feel as a Muslim, as a woman, as a sister, as a daughter, as a result of my place in society. I speak about what I know and I don’t speak about what I don’t know.”

Daughter of the Sand – http://www.muslimgirlmagazine.com/web/audi…0the%20sand.mp3
My Weapon – http://www.muslimgirlmagazine.com/web/audio/my%20weapon.mp3

Contributed by Ami

Yao “The Walking Great Wall” Ming, Tallest Professional NBA Player at 7 ft 6 in, Author, Athelete

17 04 2009

Yao Ming is the world’s most celebrated Asian athlete and is from the most populous nation in the world, China.

Playing center for the Houston Rockets, Yao has recently overtaken the mantel of top NBA center over  Shaq and has shattered many stereotypes and silenced numerous critics along the way.

He has led Forbes’ Chinese celebrities list in income and popularity for six straight years, earning 51 million U.S. dollars (357 million yuan) in 2008.

A major part of his income comes from his sponsorship deals, as he is under contract with several major companies to endorse their products.

He was signed by Nike until the end of his rookie season; when they decided not to renew his contract, he signed with Reebok. He also had a deal with Pepsi, and he successfully sued Coca-Cola in 2003 when they used his image on their bottles while promoting the national team.


Before Yao’s first meeting with Shaquille O’Neal on January 17, 2003, O’Neal said,

“Tell Yao Ming, Ching chong-yang-wah-ah-soh”, prompting accusations of racism.

 O’Neal denied that his comments were racist, and said he was only joking. Yao, the bigger person,  also said he believed O’Neal was joking, but the comments led to increased media coverage in the buildup to the nationally televised game.

In the game, Yao scored six points and blocked O’Neal twice in the opening minutes, and made a game-sealing dunk with 10 seconds left in overtime. Yao finished with 10 points and 10 rebounds; O’Neal scored 31 points and 13 rebounds. Yao’s final averages in 55 games were 22.0 points, 10.8 rebounds, and 2.0 blocks a game. 




Yao is married to Ye Li, a women’s basketball player for China, whom he met when he was 17. Ye was not fond of Yao at first, but finally accepted him after he gave her the team pins he had collected during the 2000 Summer Olympics.

Their relationship was first made public when they appeared together during the 2004 Olympics closing ceremony, and on August 6, 2007, Yao married Ye in a ceremony attended by close friends and family that was closed to the media.

Both of Yao’s parents are former professional basketball players.  Yao was born in Shanghai, China and started playing basketball at age nine when he also went to a junior sports school.


At 13, he first tried out for the Shanghai Sharks on the junior team of the Chinese Basketball Association and practiced for 10 hours a day before he finally make the team. He played on their senior team for five years in the Chinese Basketball Association (CBA) and won a championship in his final year.

He entered the 2002 NBA Draft and was selected by the Houston Rockets as their first overall pick of the draft.

His rookie year in the NBA was the subject of a documentary filmThe Year of the Yao, and he co-wrote, along with NBA analyst Ric Bucher, an autobiography titled Yao: A Life in Two Worlds.




Guggenheim Fellowship, Author, Poet, Jhumpa Lahiri

6 02 2009


Jhumpa Lahiri was born in London and raised in Rhode Island. She is the recipient of a Guggenheim Fellowship, and author of two previous books. Her debut collection of stories, Interpreter of Maladies, was awarded the Pulitzer Prize, the PEN/Hemingway Award and The New Yorker Debut of the Year.

Her novel The Namesake was a New York Times Notable Book, a Los Angeles Times Book Prize finalist and was selected as one of the best books of the year by USA Today and Entertainment Weekly, among other publications.

Jhumpa’s real name is Nilanjana Sudeshna. When Jhumpa began kindergarten in Kingston, Lahiri’s teacher decided Nilanjana  was too difficult to pronounce and decided to call her by her pet name, Jhumpa.

She recalls,

“I always felt so embarrassed by my name […] You feel like you’re causing someone pain just by being who you are.”

Lahiri’s ambivalence over her identity was the inspiration for the ambivalence of Gogol, the protagonist of her novel The Namesake, over his unusual name. Lahiri graduated from South Kingstown High School, and received her B.A. in English literature from Barnard College in 1989.

Lahiri then received multiple degrees from Boston University: an M.A. in English, an M.A. in Creative Writing, an M.A. in Comparative Literature and a Ph.D. in Renaissance Studies. She took up a fellowship at Provincetown’s Fine Arts Work Center, which lasted for the next two years (1997–1998). Lahiri taught creative writing at Boston University and the Rhode Island School of Design.

In 2001, Lahiri married Alberto Vourvoulias-Bush, a journalist who was then Deputy Editor of TIME Latin America (and is now executive editor of El Diario/La Prenda, New York’s largest Spanish daily and America’s fastest growing newspaper). Lahiri lives in Brooklyn, New York with her husband and their two children, Octavio (b. 2002) and Noor (b. 2005)

As a popular young writer of Indian background, Lahiri is a representative figure for non-immigrant Americans who do not fully understand what it means to straddle the line between two cultures. Jhumpa Lahiri admits:

“I’m lucky that I’m between two worlds…I don’t really know what a distinct South Asian identity means. I don’t think about that when I write, I just try to bring a person to life.”

All these factors are what add to Lahiri’s popularity. Her poignant attitude is what draws her readers in and keeps them wanting more. Interestingly, with all the energy and intrigue her cultural status brings, she conveys it in a real way that her audience can learn from and understand. One of the main reasons for Lahiri’s success as a writer is because she writes for herself. She doesn’t have critics or peers in mind when writing; she just writes.

Lahiri is also able to draw her readers into the story not only through her detail but also by making them feel the emotional, physical, and mental needs of the characters. All nine of the stories in Interpreter of Maladies focus on the characters’ inability to communicate with people who are important in their lives. She continues her story by plotting her “motif of exclusion, loneliness, and search for fulfillment” (Mandal 18) as the central issue.

Jhumpa Lahiri’s career has just begun, one can only imagine what creative works she will stun the public with next.



Screen Actors Guild Awards, star on the Mangalorean Horizon, Freida Pinto

18 01 2009

16slid124-year-old Freida Pinto, the female star of the new movie, “Slumdog Millionaire” traces her roots to Mangalore. The movie, by British director Danny Boyle, has won the People’s Choice Award at the Toronto Film Festival. 

Freida Pinto traversed the modeling circuit in Mumbai [represented by Elite Model Management India] for two years before gaining her big break when director Danny Boyle picked her out in the audition process to play the female lead, Latika for Slumdog Millionaire.

Slumdog Millionaire tells the story of how Jamal, a contestant on reality show ‘Kaun Banega Crorepati’ uses this medium to contact his childhood love, Latika.  Dev Patel plays the male lead.  {my favorite movie for the year.}

Surprisingly, Freida, who studied at Mumbai’s St. Xaviers College, only began taking acting classes  after completing her debut film – when she attended a three-month workshop by Barry John, the veteran theatre guru.

Before this year, from 2006- to 2007, she anchored “Full Circle,” a travel show which was telecast on Zee International Asia Pacific. She went on assignments to Afghanistan, Thailand, Malaysia, Singapore, Indonesia, and Fiji among other countries.

Freida is trained in some forms of Indian classical dance as well as Salsa.

Who are your favourite stars?

I liked Charlize Theron in Monster. I also like Irrfan Khan, Rajat Kapoor, Aamir Khan, Jack Nicholson, Anthony Hopkins, Marlyn Monroe, Nicole Kidman, Shabana Azmi, Kevin Beacon, Johnny Depp, Smita Patil.

On why she thinks “Slumdog” was a success: 

I think it is a success is because it is based on a universal topic. It is about an underdog who has a dream and he goes gunning for his dream, won’t stop at anything until he gets what he wants. So it’s a universal theme. You struggle in life, you literally fall flat on your face many times and then finally you pick yourself up and get what you want, after a lot of struggle. It is a very inspirational story and most people can relate to it which is why everybody is going crazy, because the film has perfect comic-timing, a love story and a class struggle, deceit, redemption. It’s also got a very interesting ending to it. 


On her quick rise to fame from Bollywood to Hollywood, Freida Pinto exclaims, “It just came to me. I just wanted to act, and so when Bollywood came to my door, who am I to shut the door and say “No”? So when Bollywood came to me, I just accepted the role!” 

Freida is a great example of someone who helps shed light on a place in the world most Americans may not know about. (She is from Mangalore.) Mangalore is the chief port city of the Indian state of Karnataka and is bounded by the Arabian Sea and the Western Ghat mountain ranges.

Her words of encouragement? “Go for your dream, believe in yourself and it will happen.”




Image from: http://www.daijiworld.com/news/news_disp.asp?n_id=53994

Indonesian singer/songwriter, Anggun Cipta Sasmi

30 12 2008

To date, Anggun Cipta Sasmi has become the most successful Asian artist outside Asia. She has sold approximately 3 million copies of records worldwide and  her success has spread throughout Europe as well as several parts of Asia. 


Anggun says, 

I dreamed of an international career, but the American and English record companies weren’t going to come to Indonesia looking for a new talent, when there is so much available in their own countries. So, I had to bring my talent to the West. 

Anggun Cipta Sasmi is an Indonesian singer/songwriter with French citizenship. Having already had tremendous success in her homeland Indonesia since she was 12, she decided to pursue an international career and left Indonesia in 1994.  After a year in London, she settled in Paris, France and met producer Erick Benzi, who later helped her sign a record deal with Sony Music France and recorded her first French album, Au Nom de la Lune, in 1996. Her name means “A grace born out of a dream” which is definitely a true statement about this remarkable singer.

Anggun left Indonesia in 1995 and started her singing career in France, where she recorded her first french album, in 1996 ,called Au Nom de la Lune. In 2005 she released her new last album Luminescence. Her first single from the French album is Etre Une Femme and the second single Cesse La Pluie (translated asSaviour) was featured in the film “Transporter II”

Today, Anggun has sold about 3 million copies of records worldwide and has become the most successful Asian artist outside Asia; she is particularly well known in Europe .
Anggun has been involved with several charities and received several awards such as “Best International Artist” at 2006 Indonesian Music Awards.

Recent news:
As I heard from my sources, Anggun is working her way over to make it big in America so keep a look out!

Official Website

Tony Award-winning playwright, Screenwriter, David Henry Hwang

21 12 2008

david-hwangTony Award-winning playwright, David Henry Hwang, is known as the preeminent Asian American dramatist in the US. His breakthrough play, M. Butterfly—a complicated story of espionage and mistaken sexual identity—received a Tony Award in 1988 and a Pulitzer Prize in 1989.

Born in Los Angeles to a father who worked as a banker and a mother was a piano professor, David himself is educated at Stanford University, from which he earned his B.A. in English in 1979. He became interested in theater after attending plays at the American Conservatory in San Francisco and quickly gave up his marginal interest in law.

David Henry Hwang has been awarded numerous grants including fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts, Guggenheim and Rockefeller Foundations, New York State Council on the Arts, and Pew Charitable Trusts.

How did he get started?

David Henry Hwang had written and produced his first play, FOB (”fresh off the boat”) by his senior year. He talks about immigrants being expected to abandon Chinese identity if they are to fit into mainstream American culture. Portraying major characters as figures from Chinese mythology, and produced by Joseph Papp at New York’s Public Theater in 1980, David Henry Hwang still attributes much of his success to Jean.

It’s important to realize that when F.O.B. was produced at the Public, I was twenty-three […] Joe said that he would produce anything I wrote, and subsequently he was quite good to his word and produced my next four plays. To have that sort of context and that confidence from a producer so that one is not working in a vacuum is a wonderful luxury for a developing writer. […] Always having had the resources of the Public, knowing that I would have access to actors and a stage and directors since a very early age and a very early point in my career, I think really helped me develop as a playwright.

Educational Pedigree 
After a brief stint as a writing teacher at a Menlo Park high school, David Henry Hwang attended the Yale University School of Drama. Although he didn’t stay to complete a degree, he studied theater history before leaving for the professional theaters of New York City.

David Henry Hwang is best-known for his play M. Butterfly, based on Giacomo Puccini’s opera Madama Butterfly. Soon after premiering on Broadway in 1988, he became the first Asian American to win the Tony Award for Best Play. He has since pursued interests in opera, film, and the musical theater.

David Henry Hwang is also at work on a new musical —Bruce Lee: Journey to the West, with music and lyrics by David Yazbeck— as well as the screenplay version of the novel Across the Nightingale Floor.