Tag Archives: culture

Lath Mar Holi – aka Holi gone Violent!

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Holi – the celebration of spring, the festival of colors originating in India is the festival that signifies good over evil as well as the welcoming of spring.  For many, it is a festive time to meet others, play, laugh, forget and forgive, repair broken bonds and spread happiness and positive vibes.

Different regions in India, as well as the diaspora, like to add their own unique twist to this colorful festival. Lath Mar Holi is a celebration in the towns of Barsana and Nandgaon, which are near Mathura in the North Indian state of Uttar Pradesh. This celebration takes place days before actual Holi.

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Lath Mar Holi translates loosely into something like “the hitting sticks Holi ” – A LATH/Lathi is a thick traditional type of stick. Mar (I think it should be spelled in English like MAAR, because Mar means to die) means to hit. You get me..

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According to legend, Lord Krishna visited his beloved Radha’s village on this day and playfully teased her and her friends (*insert eye roll* Siiggghhhhhhh!).

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Don’t even think about messing with me, Krish!!! I’m warning you….

The women of Barsana, taking offense to this, chased him away. 

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I don’t think much has changed in this day and age!

Keeping this tradition alive, the men from Nandgaon visit Barsana each year – and each year the women of Barsana await them, Lathi in hand! 

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(It’s like they never get it!)

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The men try to shield themselves as much as they can while the ladies attack them with the sticks – hahahah!

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don’t mess with me, homie!

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The unlucky ones are captured and then are forced wear female clothing and dance in public. (*I need that one emoji*)

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The festivities are held in the sprawling compound of the Radha Rani temple in Barsana, which is said to be the only temple in the country that is dedicated to Goddess Radha.

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Thousands gather to witness the festivities and watch the men get beat up by the women! And let me tell you, like any desi party, the crowd getssssss hysterical, sing Holi Songs and shouting out for their team!! Sri Radha vs Sri Krishna. It’s insane! It’s so insane, the women of Barsana start preparing a month in advance.

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Holi is one of the largest festivals in India. In general, it signifies the victory of good over evil, the arrival of spring and the end of winter. People typically throw kaleidoscopes of colored powder/water at each other playfully.

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Growing up in the US, I have fond memories of DANCE PRACTICE for Holi shows in school and within the community.  I used to do choreographed dances on stage for functions, as I think most kids in my generation did.

I hope you have a very kaleidoscopically colorful, joyous Holi – and ladies, please don’t go chasing any men with sticks – you most likely are not in Barsana and we have laws here! 🙂 HAPPY HOLI!

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-Karen Bahri

 

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A peak inside the Gem of Zanzibar – Stone Town!

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A peak inside the Gem of Zanzibar – Stone Town!

Stone Town is not just any town – it’s a delight for the senses not to be found anywhere else in the world!

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Stone Town is a city of prominent historical and artistic importance in East Africa. Also known as Mji Mkongwe (Swahili for “old town”), it is located in the old part of Zanzibar City, which is the main city of Zanzibar, in Tanzania.

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Its architecture, which mostly dates back to the 19th century, has STORIES to tell, as it reflects the diverse influences of Swahili culture – yet also giving a unique mixture of Arab, Persian, Indian and European elements.

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The buildings are honestly a feast for the eyes, despite their deteriorating condition. That only adds charm and character to the entire painting! Stone town was designated as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2000 due to it’s distinct archetecture.

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The most well-known feature of Zanzibari houses are the finely decorated wooden doors.

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You won’t find these giant wooden masterpieces anywhere else in the world! Elaborately carved with astonishing detail, the heavy doors in Stone Town are quintessentially ‘Zanzibar’, and served as a valuable glimpse into the homeowner’s place of origin, profession and economic status.

For example, the Indian doors were crafted by skilled tradesmen out of imported teak. The large brass studs have their origins in India, where they were once used as a defense against charging war elephants. In Stone Town, however, they were used only as decorative pieces and symbolic markers of wealth.

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Arab doors have intricately crafted frames with Arabic inscriptions at the top. The chain, lotus and pineapple are common and culturally significant motifs.

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The heart of Stone Town consists of a maze of narrow alleys lined by houses, shops, bazaars and mosques. The streets bustle along with bicycles and motorbikes as they are too narrow for cars. Stone Town can easily be explored on foot.

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Of course, the beaches in Zanzibar are RAVISHING, but this UNESCO World Heritage Site is definitely worth a stroll at some point during your holiday in which you feel like exploring. Trust me, it’s worth it – It is utterly captivating!

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I hope this has given you a good glimpse of a little town you may never have even heard of! Stone Town has an interesting history. Everything about this place will make you feel alive – from the melting pot of African, Arab, Indian and European cultures; the vivid shades of every color imaginable; the textures; the vibrant energy of the seafront and markets; and the locals who greet you with a “jambo!” (hello) and “karibu” (welcome) everyday!

To add to your itinerary, if you have been following me for a while, almost a year ago I wrote about the most unusual and amazing place to check out on the Indian Ocean off Zanzibar (which got a lot of buzz, thank you muah!). You can check that here:

https://karenskaleidoscope.wordpress.com/2017/01/24/the-rock-a-luxurious-fairytale-in-the-indian-ocean/

And OF COURSE I’m sure the main reason for your holiday would be for the astonishing beaches, with a day or so excursion to Stone Town, so I don’t want you to forget what that beautiful pond looks like 😁 —–>

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-Karen Bahri

 

 

 

 

Shanti Stupa of Leh Ladakh

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Shanti Stupa of Leh Ladakh

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Shanti Stupa is a Buddhist white-domed temple on a hilltop in Chanspa, Leh district, Ladakh, in the north Indian state of Jammu and Kashmir. It was built in 1991 by Japanese Buddhist Bhikshu,Gyomyo Nakamura and part of the Peace Pagodamission.

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The Shanti Stupa holds the relics of the Buddha at its base, enshrined by the 14th Dalai Lama. The stupa has become a tourist attraction not only due to its religious significance but also due to its location which provides panoramic views of the surrounding landscape.

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The views – the stunning views over Leh in fact, are the greatest attraction! Sunrise & Sunset views are best viewed from here; and it is completely illuminated with lights at night time! One should make the breathless 15-minute climb up from Changspa when golden afternoon light still illuminates the city as the steps are already bathed in cooling shadow. Breath-taking! There’s a small, simple cafe at the top of the stairway where you can go sit, chill and take in all the glory.

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The Shanti Stupa features the photograph of the current Dalai Lama with the relics of the Buddha at its base. It was built as a two-level structure. The first level features the central relief of Dharmachakra (basically this symbolizes the teachings of Buddha) with deer on each side. A central golden Buddha image sits on a platform depicting the “turning wheel of Dharma” (Dharmachakra). The second level has reliefs depicting the “birth” of Buddha, the death of Buddha (mahanirvana) and Buddha “defeating the devils” while meditating. Both levels feature a series of smaller meditating Buddha reliefs.

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The Shanti Stupa was built to promote world peace and prosperity and to commemorate 2500 years of Buddhism. It was built by both Japanese and Ladakh Buddhists as it is considered a symbol of the ties between the people of Japan and Ladakh.

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-Karen Bahri

Stilt Fishing – a unique attraction on the shores of Sri Lanka!

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Stilt Fishing – a unique attraction on the shores of Sri Lanka!

Stilt fishing is a method of fishing unique to the island of Sri Lanka. The fishermen sit on a cross bar called a petta tied to a vertical pole and driven into the sand a few meters offshore. From this high position, the fishermen casts their lines and wait until a fish comes along to be caught. One may assume this to be an ancient practice with an engaging history, but stilt fishing is actually a recent tradition.

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The practice is believed to have started some 70 years ago during World War II; when food shortages and overcrowded fishing spots prompted some clever men to try fishing on the water. At first they started fishing from wrecks of capsized ships and downed aircraft, then some began elevating their stilts in coral reefs. The skills were then passed on to at least two generations of fishermen living along a 30 km stretch of southern shore between the towns of Unawatuna and Weligama.

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The practice is unlikely to last much longer other than as a tourist attraction as the catch is pretty much always meager. The 2004 tsunami that devastated much of the Indian Ocean coastline forever altered the Sri Lankan shoreline and reduced access to fish using this method. Fishing also stops entirely during the annual monsoons. The best time is when the currents are flowing in the right direction; which is mostly between October and December during sunset. And the sunsets are as beautiful as ever, which makes for amazing photographs!

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Today, few fisherman are willing to pass their stilts to their sons, instead renting them to “actors” who pose as fishermen for photographers and tourists. Definately one of the many attractions to check out on the spectacular island of Sri Lanka!

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-Karen Bahri

Burano, Italy – walking through a Kaleidoscope of Colours!

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Burano, Italy – walking through a Kaleidoscope of Colours!
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Colorful Burano, Italy!

I know you all may be noticing a pattern on my last few posts, as well as some of my instagam photos so far this year. It’s all kind of collaging (or kaleiding hehe) into a huge “cute European village” type vibe. But hey! I’ve been discovering these places and they are toooo cuuuutttee not to share with my Kaleidoscopers, so why not, hey!

This time, I am taking you all to a little Island off the northern coast of Italy!

Grab some vino & leggo to BURANOOOOO!!! 

Burano is an island in the Venetian Lagoon, in northern Italy. Similar to Venice, it’s like an archipelago of four islands linked by bridges. The island is known for its chic lace work and brightly colored fisherman’s cottages!

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The island is situated 4 miles from Venice. You can take a “vaporetti”, which is a Venetian motorboat, and be there in about 40 minutes which adds to the thrill of visiting this vibrantly colorful, yet calm and happy place!

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The current population of Burano is about 2,800. There are many other small islands surrounding Burano as well, but out of them Burano has a high population density at more than 13,000 per square kilometer!That is more than twenty times the density of neighboring island, Mazzorbo. It’s also almost entirely covered by residential buildings, with very few small green areas.

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Burano’s small, brightly painted houses are popular among the artists circle. The colors of the houses follow a specific system originating from the golden age of its development. Therefore, if someone wishes to paint their home, they have to send a request to the government, who will respond by making notice of the certain colors permitted for that lot.

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Visiting this island is like stepping back in time. On the island’s meandering narrow streets, you will see laundry strung up between buildings, bicycles &  boats parked up, as well as many ladies sitting in the sun, chatting with their neighbors, while creating delicate Burano lace. Lace is part of the island’s history dating way back to around the 16th century.

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Don’t be fooled by the size of this charming little island! There is actually quiet a bit to do! The colorful houses and buildings make for a very picturesque, enjoyable stroll on these breathtaking streets and lots of brilliant photo taking! You can also  browse through one of the many lace shops, which some may be a bit on the pricier side, but definitely worth every penny.

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It’s key to note that while arriving in Burano, you will find yourself heading down a narrow street full of shops selling lace, including pretty umbrellas and fans. This after passing by one of the few green areas on the island, of course! These shops are highly attractive and very few people can manage to escape from this little street without being lured into one of the gorgeous shops full of colorful scarves, dresses and other such accessories and souvenirs.

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You can also pay a visit to the Museo del Merletto (Museum of Lacemaking). There are many lively shops, cafes, bars and even a cinema as well! As you wander across the many little bridges, you will notice the somewhat ominously leaning bell-tower of The Church of San Martino.

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The pictures alone speak for themselves – Burano is a charming, breathtaking  and enchanting island full of a kaleidoscope of colors for photography nuts and well worth the effort!

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-Karen Bahri

Christmas/Hanukkah staycation at the Innside Hotel!

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Christmas/Hanukkah staycation at the Innside Hotel!

As 2016 comes to an end, I can safely conclude this has been the worst year of my life. I was telling a friend the other day after much thought, I don’t believe that just because a new year is approaching doesn’t mean it’s necessarily going to be a new start or a better year. Its not like things are going to magically glow like Disneyland 😐. I live in a world of reality and I just don’t think so.

Anyways, because certain travel plans backfired followed by new travel plans that backfired (my medium friend told me it’s due to the mercury retrogade. Google it.) I created MY OWN PLANS. Because I obviously cannot depend on anyone besides myself, I decided to book a staycation!

Since I’m the most indecisive human being on the face of the earth, this took me about 3 days of researching a hotel 😂😂…I finally made the plunge and booked The Innside hotel. I’m definitely glad I made this decision! The Innside hotel is a part of the Melia hotels & resorts . If you have been to Miami Beach, I’m sure you have seen a hotel called “ME”, which I learned is apart of this hotel family.

Meliá Hotels International was founded in 1956 in Palma de Malorca, Spain. That being said, there are a lot of Spanish guests at this resort! Holaaa! 😉 It is one of the largest hotel companies in the world and the largest in Spain in both resorts and city hotels! The company currently operates more than 370 hotels in 43 countries and 4 continents under its brands! So lets get straight into my weekend and my overall thoughts of this hotel!

Located on the border of Chelsea & Flatiron, which happen to be my favorite neighborhoods, the building is big & beautiful! They play nice jazz music as you enter and they have outdoor seating for their restaurant in the front. It’s got a see-through cover for these cold months. Upon entry you walk into this glamorous space with perfect lighting! Looking straight you’ll find some couches, to the right you have the bar/lounge area and to the left is reception. Front desk is very friendly and total New Yorkers, so that’s good for tourists! 😂 Check in was easy so lets move on to the next topic: THE ROOM.

Initially I called them and they gave me a free upgrade to a King room with a view! I verified that, and just because life in the past month has been everything bad…and worse…I just figured something had screwed up..so naturally I had my game face on 👺! But all was well, ain’t nobody screw up my king room with view upgrade, gurrrl! So up to the 15th floor I went! The hallway was SO CLASSY!! Full length mirrors next to every door!! What a girl needs!! The walls were a clean black so it was a nice contrast! I opened up my door to find a very open, modern, bright, clean, amazing room!!! Bathroom right next to the front door, huge room with flatscreen TV, minibar, wine bottle opener, espresso machine…..And…….a…… VIEWTODIEFOR!!! I had the BEST view of the Empire State Building!!! I was soo happy! Three days of indecisiveness turned out to be a great decision!

I think the only 1st world problems I complained about in my head was half the TV stations didn’t work and the room was pretty cold. I even had the maintenence guy come look at the thermostat but nothing. Oh well! Next time I’ll bring my portable heater!

That evening I ended up making plans and we started off at the hotel lobby bar and had a great convo with our bartender! Very friendly, cool staff! The hotel also has a gym and meeting rooms. Would have been nice if it had a pool or spa but hey, we can’t have it all! 🤔😄

All in all, it was very peaceful, I took nice videos, snapchat filtered way too much & a small amount of pics, it was relaxing and it was nice being IN the city. Even though I’m a ten minute train ride away, it still makes a big difference! So I totally suck! I took numerous videos & snapchatted nonstop, but not as many pictures, except for my view! So the website is below, containing photos. I am adding in the few pics I did take and will try to screenshot from my videos. Those will be blurry just FYI lol. I’ll try to upload videos but they take forever and seem to always crash :/ But check the pictures out on the website! The hotel looks exactly the same! Happy New Years to all! And may you travel tons and your travel plans not get screwed up in 2017!

https://www.melia.com/en/hotels/united-states/new-york/innside-new-york-nomad/index.html
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My perfect view! Blue & White for Hanukkah and Red & Green for Christmas! #blessed
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Happy Independence day, Mother India!!! 8/15/1947

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Happy Independence day, Mother India!!! 8/15/1947

Happy Independence day India! India celebrated its independence from the British Empire on the 15th of August in 1947. The holiday is observed throughout India with flag-hoisting ceremonies, parades and cultural events. There is a national holiday and schools and government offices distribute sweets but no official work is done….parrtayyy!!!

India is a country of “Unity in Diversity” where people from different religions live; however any national occasion, they celebrate it together!

Here are some quick, interesting, fun facts about our colorful, diverse nation:

  • First Independence day of India was celebrated in 1947, 15th of August by hoisting tri-colored flag.
  • India has never attacked any other country in the last 100000 years of history.
  • There was no any National Anthem during the time of Independence of India.
  • India is the world’s largest Democracy, with 1.2 billion people.
  • Police in one non-identified state in India get a slight pay upgrade for having a moustache……………………………..
  • India has the world’s lowest meat consumption per person.
  • Hinduism is one of the oldest religions in the world. It was developed about 5000 years ago. Hinduism is a colorful religion with a lot of rituals. People who follow this religion believe in a lot of Gods and Goddesses.
  • 70% of all the world’s spices come from India.
  • One woman dies every hour in India because of dowry-related crimes.
  • In India, there is a vigilante group called the “Love Commandos” that offers protection from harassment to couples from different castes who fall in love.
  • There is a gypsy tribe in India that celebrates death as one of the happiest events in their lives, while treating births with great grief.
  • The Golden Temple in Amritsar feeds a vegetarian meal to over 100,000 people a day regardless of race, religion and class.
  • Global warming ‘solved’ a land dispute between India and Bangladesh:
    the island in dispute disappeared.
  • 74% of young Indians prefer an arranged marriage over a free-choice one, a 2013 survey found.
  • Only about 1 in 100 marriages in India end in divorce, one of the lowest rates in the world.
  • India has more people using the internet than the entire population of the U.S.
  • The people of North Sentinel Island, India, are among the last people to remain
    virtually untouched by modern civilization.

  • There’s an experimental township in India founded in 1968 and called Auroville, where citizens are from all over the world and there’s no money or religion.
  • The first Bollywood movie was released in 1899, where as the first Hollywood movie released in 1907. Bollywood is older than Hollywood!

Well folks, there you have it! Have a safe, wonderful pandarah (15) August 🙂

 

 

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What India do we have without the KING of Bollywood himself – Mr. Shah Rukh Khan!!!

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Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus bus terminal in Mumbai lit up gloriously!!!

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El Barrio – Spanish Harlem!

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You are going to see a theme guys. It’s summer in NYC so I’m in the mood to blog about the many glorious neighborhoods that make up the greatest city in the world! I still need to tell you all about my UK trip I went on in the spring but right now I want to cover east harlem aka Spanish Harlem aka El Barrio aka Nueva York!

Imagine being transformed a liiitttlle back in time. Imagine being transformed to the islands – Puerto Rico, Cuba, DR and maybe sort of Mexico too (only bc there’s a lot of Mexican joints in the hood!) But with a twist! That’s the beauty of this neighborhood. It’s not crazy different from other parts of the city but the ethnic makeup is vibrant and alive! Latin beats surround the streets and people seem to know others from around the block, as you see them all hanging out on the block, playing ball, blasting Latin or reggae beats chillen on the porch or hanging around a bodega.

El Barrio encompasses the area north of the upper east side (UES) and east 96th street to about 140th street. You know you are in the right hood when you see the big hill slope down (if you are walking down from Lexington ave) !

Unfortunately, it has a reputation for the highness unemployment rate, teen pregnancies, AIDS, drugs and homelessness. On a positive note, it’s notable for its contributions to Latin freestyle and Salsa music!!! What up JLo!!! There is an abundance of beautiful, beautiful art everywhere, as you will see from my pictures. Another fun fact: in February 2016, it was featured in the New York Times for being the next hot neighborhood!!!

I don’t need to tell you more. I need to SHOW you more. Check out some pics from my trek the past weekend:

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Punjabi’s in Mexico?!?!

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You never know what interesting facts you may end up discovering while researching the destinations you are planning to travel. I was heading to Mexico about a year ago and as I was doing my research, I decided to be weird and research if there happened to be any of my ethnicity in Mexico. I’m Indian (Arab, not Cherokee as some idiot once asked me as a “clarification” smh)

I googled “Punjabi’s in Mexico” and actually found out there IS an Indian population, specifically from my part of India, Punjab, in Mexico City! The population IS small but have a temple and everything! The article was quite interesting on the journey and immigration from Punjab to Mexico. I was def pleasantly surprised.
Here are some articles on it:

http://www.sikhpioneers.org/mexhindu.html

http://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Indian_immigration_to_Mexico

http://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hinduism_in_Mexico

I also find it interesting that there is an Asian population in Jamaica. And Brazilians in Italy, Russians in Southern India. I’ve also seen many Jamaicans in England and I’ve always wondering what brought them out there (well, jobs of course) but they chose England instead of America which is closer with a lot more opportunities, so I still do wonder.

Old fashioned mindsets would never think that a Venezuelan would decide to settle in say China. This day and age one has more opportunities to explore and create a different life in a different country with a different culture. Why not?! It’s a challenge far and few may not choose, but for those who can and have, I will be the first to cheer them on!