Thursday, September 23, 2010

Canada: Counselling Couples, South Asian Style

Canada: Counselling Couples, South Asian Style

For South Asian couples who live abroad ... accessing professional counselling to tide over a rough patch in a marriage is often out of the question. Most couples would rather live through a bad marriage than seek professional intervention or a divorce.

Responding to [the] rather general conclusion - that the western model [of counselling] will not work for cultures where family is built into every aspect of an individual's life - is a project currently underway at York University. The project caters to the need of the South Asian community for an ethno-specific couple counselling.

The South Asian Couple Counseling Project is ... the initiative of Saunia Ahmad, a PhD student at the university's clinical psychology programme. Daughter of Indian immigrants, Ahmad opted to do research with South Asians because "there is not a lot out there in terms of counselling with people of my community and there is also not much research of what is most effective." What is known, she says, is that most are not using the services; and that there are culturally-specific value differences in how they experience marriages, making it difficult for professionals trained in western models to help them.

Dr Yvonne Bohr, an Assistant professor at York University, has worked extensively with the Chinese community, particularly, young parents. She says, "The available research shows that needs may be different when you come from a collectivist community - versus an individualist community as we are here - that influences your family system, parenting system, and so on. But most of the models we use are largely based on western research and they may not always be appropriate as over 90 per cent of infants today are born in non-western countries."

York University professor and Ahmad's supervisor, specialist Dr David Reid, who is a partner on this project explains, "Models developed in North America largely in the 1950s and 1960s do not have anything to say about traditional marriages, particularly those from other cultures. Times have changed and there are a lot of South Asians in the Greater Toronto Area (GTA), but we do not have models developed, tested or investigated with that particular group in mind."

Dr Reid says, "There is no doubt in my mind that what we may learn from working with South Asians may well benefit other cultures. We overemphasise personality, which is a very individualistic perspective, and we need to look at other factors, like culture. The idea is not to compartmentalise between ethnic and mainstream but to come up with an approach that is indigenous and built from people we work with."

Read the full article at this link: Counselling Couples, South Asian Style

Read Toronto Star's report (published July 10, 2008) on Sauni's work: A fighting chance for married couples

Here is a video report on Saunia's work

You can access the South Asian Couples Counselling website at or contact Saunia Ahmad at 416-736-2100 x33224 or saunia [at]

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

A Caged Bird to a Visitor: a couplet from Mirza Ghalib (126, 05)

qafas meñ mujh se rūdād-e chaman kahte nah dar hamdam
girī hai jis pah kal bijlī vuh merā āshiyāñ kyūñ ho
قفس میں مجھ سے رودادِ چمن کہتے نہ ڈر ہمدم
گری ہے جس پہ کل بجلی وہ میرا آشیاں کیوں ہو
क़फ़स में मुझ से रूदाद-ए चमन कहते न डर हमदम
गिरी है जिस पह कल बिजली वह मेरा आशियां कयूं हो
1) in the cage, telling me the events of the garden, don't be afraid, friend
2) the one on which lightning has fallen yesterday-- why would it be my nest?
Did this whet your appetite for some more Ghalib? For more Ghalib, head over to A Desertful of Roses: The Urdu Ghazals of Mirza Asadullah Khan "Ghalib", a site created by Frances W. Pritchett, Columbia University. Enjoy!
This post generated a fair amount of interest on my Facebook page. To help explicate the couplet here is what one commentator has to say about this couplet:
"This verse is so sharp and bleak and deadly-- who can encounter it without a wave of dread? It captures that first cold moment when someone is confronted with irreparable loss, when the knife is just being withdrawn. (And that someone could always be us, can always be any of us at any moment.) The fatal slash has already been made, so swiftly and deeply that the doomed person doesn't quite realize his doom. In a moment the blood will gush out, in a moment the victim will give a terrible, hopeless cry. That moment is not quite yet, it's still half a second away-- but how unbearably deep down it makes itself felt, how frantically the victim is fighting it off! The victim both does and doesn't realize his doom. He's desperately (and vainly) refusing to realize it-- and thus beginning the long and agonizing process of realizing it.
All this complexity of dread, denial, and acceptance is conveyed in two small lines. The lines aren't even informative speech, but (of course) are Ghalib's favorite inshaiyah performances. The first line consists of a command, the second of a question. And yet, ... the amount of background information conveyed by phrases like 'in the cage', and by the particular framing of the utterances is simply astonishing. It makes us realize afresh the value of a stylized poetic universe, full of images, tools, and devices that can make two tiny lines go on forever and contain the cosmos.
Like a mushairah verse, this one remains uninterpretable until the very end, so that the last unbearable question hits you all at once with the whole weight of the verse behind it. But whereas a classic mushairah verse is experienced and relished fully in that moment, this one lingers and lingers; in fact it's unforgettable. Its depths of anguish are all the more potent for being merely implied; they are even actively rejected by the apparent sense of the verse, which makes them all the more deadly.
The second line always seems to me also like an arrow aimed right at God. It's a fierce, unanswered, maybe unanswerable question. Maybe one deadly blow of fate is random, like my capture and imprisonment. But why another, why the lightning on-- out of all the nests in the garden-- my nest? We know, too, that God is not going to answer."

Twitter - a poem

Emerging narrative:
a hundred and forty
characters and spaces.
Text gone viral.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Free Punjabi Audio Bible Download

Faith Comes By Hearing (r) offers a free download of Punjabi audio New Testament. This is a dramatized reading of the Old Version with several voices reading the dialogues, and background sound effects.

Using their Audio Bible Download Manager you can download the entire Punjabi New Testament audio (mp3) files to your computer. (It is a 640 MB download so you might want to schedule it at an appropriate time. The software has an option to pause the download and then resume it later, but I have not tested this feature.)

Once you have the mp3 files on your computer, it should be easy to transfer them to your iPod or other mp3 player and carry it with you for your listening pleasure!

Of course Punjabi is not the only language FCBH offers - they have the New Testament in over 300 languages available, and a bunch of other products and materials. Their 31 Days of Wisdom and Inspiration are dramatized readings of a chapter from the Proverbs each day, and a daily selection from the Psalms - definitely worth a dekho.

Faith Comes By

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Online Punjabi Learning

The Advanced Centre for Technical Development of Punjabi Language, Literature & Culture (Punjabi University, Patiala, Punjab) offers a very helpful online Punjabi language learning site. My friend Scott tells me that it's the best online resource he has found for learning the language. (Thanks, Scott, for directing me to this resource.)

Beginning with the alphabet (you click on the alphabet to hear how a native speaker would pronounce it), you can progress through learning numbers, build up a vocabulary of common action words (the illustrations help but can sometimes leave you wondering...), learn to construct simple sentences - all supported with animated Gurumukhi script (so you can learn how to write it), sound, English meaning & transliteration and supporting pictures.

An excellent resource - do try it out if you are learning to speak, read or write Punjabi in the Gurumukhi script. Do remember though that this site is a work in progress - some parts of the site don't always work as expected, and more resources are being added as they are developed.

Here is the URL:

Happy Punjabi learning!