Why I finally stopped being stubborn & embraced the ebooks

Karo reading on the IPAD

Anybody who knows me knows that I love books. I felt nostalgic when I looked at a gigantic pile of paperbacks and hard covers, new and used, scattered on the floor. Every book did not just contain valuable information within its pages, but also carried with it a baggage of experiences—my experiences. Read more at DotComplicated

A love affair & fallout with culture: a lesson from my students

A blind man plays an instrument & begs for moneyLike a mother or Mather Earth, Culture can be nurturing. We are born into a given culture and don’t even realize, until later, how much immersed we are in our native customs, beliefs, and ways of communication. There is nothing wrong with this scenario so long as we follow the “harmless” traditions, such as cooking certain foods or performing certain dances. But what do we do when the culture is harming people? E.g. by imposing the female genital mutilation (FGM) on women or humiliating people with disabilities?

In my MLA and then the PhD program, I had a love affair with any cultural anthropology/ ethnography class that came my way. I was in a trance when I listened to lectures or took part in the discussions about the origins of traditions, rituals, ways of perceiving the world. With my enchantment, however, came reverence–all cultures were untouchable, not to be critiqued, tiptoed around so as not to influence or offend them.

However, there came the day when I was asked to co-teach a course about breaking socio-cultural taboos to a groups of students from all over the world. The topic was fascinating, but could I tiptoe around the issues I was not comfortable touching? Would it be fair to the students to not tackle the FGM, the discrimination of people with disabilities, the discrimination of women, of people of color? And on a personal level, how could I talk to them about breaking taboos when I could not break free from my own beliefs?

As I was pondering these questions, I leafed through an anthropology magazine and came across an article written by a woman anthropologist who was doing her fieldwork in India. She described an incident in which she was beaten for trying to expose an issue that some members of an ethic group she had been studying, did not want her to expose.

This ended my pondering and I resolved that no matter how the students would react (and they could be offended that their culture was being criticized), I would speak out against the mistreatment of anyone on the planet, regardless of the cultural norms he/she was born into.

To my relief and joy, most people, especially women, became very engaged in the class discussions and did not shy away from looking with the critical eye at their own cultures. They later said it was life-changing for them to do that.

My students taught me a valuable lesson: to not be deterred to critique something we find disturbing, for we might change someone’s life around for the better. And I thought the time has come to pass this lesson along to all of you, my Readers!

Sending love and peace,
– Karo

First they came for the activists, and I did not speak out: My voice for Ukraine

sunAs I was reading I am Malala: The girl who stood up for education and was shot by the Taliban by Malala Yousafzai and Christina Lamb today, this quote got stuck in my head:

First they came for the Socialists, and I did not speak out–
Because I was not a Socialist.

Then they came for the Trade Unionists, and I did not speak out–
Because I was not a Trade Unionist.

Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out–
Because I was not a Jew.

Then they came for me–and there was no one left to speak for me. Continue reading »

Romance with Akashic Records: A Romantic poet’s perspective

pink heartToday was a very special day. I celebrated 14th wedding anniversary with my soulmate, and dived, with the help of an expert, into the Akashic records. Never heard of them? No worries– they’re not a part of the mainstream curricula at mainstream academic institutions, so they do not make up the core knowledge base, the way a theory might, even if it is false or short-lived.
Continue reading »

The de-lights of winter solstice

Winter Solstice lights

Winter Solstice lights

Winter Solstice lights










Even though I grew up celebrating Christmas, I am now more comfortable acknowledging the winter solstice, since it is the time that’s carved out by nature, not manmade (with their agendas).

For millennia, people have lit bonfires and then lights in order to celebrate the coming of light and the unbreakable cycle of nature. Symbolically for me, the Solstice is the time of hope–the proverbial light at the end of the tunnel, the happier times that come after the sad ones.  Continue reading »

Coloring the outlines of Ukraine: Conjuring images of beautiful humans like ourselves

The day– all shades of sand
Adornments– rusted beads
So as not to haggle with a beggar
about a pail from Thebes or the Mount of Kadam
you need to become a barbarian

This is the beginning of the poem by a wonderful Ukrainian poet, Olenka Huseinova. I include it in this blog post because of the sad, Continue reading »

A brighter & lighter side of life

Karo Caran

Credits: Tabbi2 at http://survivingpaloalto.wordpress.com/2013/10/24/now-this-is-the-way-to-layer/comment-page-1/#comment-354

So I was walking to meet Victor at the train station, and my thoughts wondered thousands off miles away, where my mom lives. We had had a long chat today, the content of which made me feel sad and sorry for her current circumstances. So imagine my surprise when Tabbi2, an artist and blogger came up to me and asked if she could feature my photo on her blog. She really liked the way I matched my clothes, she said. Continue reading »

Beyond words: Attempts at describing loss

blooming roses

No matter how many times you lose someone or something that you dearly love, the grief is profound and hard to describe. As a writer, I challenge myself to describe various life’s scenarios, some of which I went through, some of which I did not. And I find that describing loss is one of the most difficult things. In the moment of grief, words fail me; in the same way, they fail me when I need to infuse grief into a story. Continue reading »

Petals on a bough: The portrait of the poet & us

Flowers in bloom

The apparition of these faces in the crowd;
Petals on a wet, black bough. — Ezra Pound

“Faces in the crowd” is one thing, but “the apparition of faces in the crowd” is something entirely different: less direct, more refined and fragile. The “apparition” makes the faces look just a bit blurred, just a bit more ephemeral and momentary. Continue reading »

Rekindling embers to fight taboos




There are images and metaphors that have inhabited my mind long after I finish reading a book. Such is the case with Sandor Marai’s “Embers.” Throughout his beautifully written, lyrical novel, he conjures the image of memories that have not been talked about for many years and thus have gathered dust and overgrown the living space like a fungus. Here is a sample:  Continue reading »