An American Who Loved India

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An American who loved India

THERE ARE THOUSANDS of Indians who feel the United States if America is a land of opportunity, excellence and promise of great future; the land they love and adopt as their own.

There were also some British, like C. F. Andrews, Dr. Annie Besant and Sister Nivedita who identified with India and admired its ancient culture spirituality and wisdom.

Very few may be knowing that a British Nobel Prize winner in science Dr. J. B. S. Haldane, famous for his neo-Darwinism, chose to be an Indian citizen and settled down in Orissa at Bhubaneswar.

In mid-60s I ran into him at Nagpur railway station, clad in Khadi and looking for, of all things, a paan shop. He obviously liked paan – an Indian condiment with betel leaves and, sometimes, chewing tobacco. 

But Americans who loved India and identified with this country are fewer (but not unknown). I could only recall the American wife of MP and Janata leader the late Piloo Mody.

Then I learnt of Sharon Lowen, an Odissi dancer, trained since 1975 by Guru Kelucharan Mohapatra. She has, according to Wikipedia, performed and choreographed for Indian films and television and presented hundreds of concerts throughout India. 

images.jpegBorn in Detroit,USA, she learnt ballot and other  Western dance forms, puppetry and theatre. Michigan University graduate and Masters courses on South Asian studies aroused her interest in Indian culture and dance. She came to Indian and studied Odissi and other classical dances.She  wrote two books – ‘The Dancing Phenomenon: Kelucharan MohapatraOdissi‘ a book on her guru and ‘Performing Arts of India: Development and Spread Acrtoss the Globe’.  It was due to her efforts that the West came to know of Indian dance forms, especially Odissi. 

Yesterday was her birthday, according to a friend.who recalled how she became popular with a Telugu film ‘Swarna Kamalam’ and danced in several other films too, But what impressed him more was the fact that she became totally Indian, always wearing a saree and a bindi on her forehead. He said her expressions when dancing to songs in Telugu, Malayalam, Tamil, Odiya and even Sanskrit showed perfect understanding of the song’s meaning and love for India and its culture.

She says though America is her mother, India is her foster-mother. And there is always a greater attachment to one who brings you up.