As the car sped away from the hustle and bustle of San Francisco International Airport towards the serene suburbs, her first thought was: where are all the people? This was immediately followed by the thought: why is it so quiet? And thereafter: where are all the colors?
This could be me. This could be you. This could be any of the thousands of Indians who grew up in the vibrant chaos of our beloved subcontinent and then found ourselves in sunny California. As we made this land our home, we began to appreciate the ever sunny days, the mild and beautiful weather, the blue skies and maybe we even started getting used to the Bay Area traffic!
But still something was missing. We missed our gatherings. We missed the feeling of camaraderie over a cup of chai. We missed the adda (chatting) sessions late into the night. Most of all, we missed our neighbors and friends.
Slowly we started arranging small gatherings to commemorate some of the key festivals and holidays in India. We invited our Indian and non-Indian friends to celebrate with us. We didn’t care that all of us didn’t share the same language (India has hundreds of dialects), we didn’t care that all of us didn’t share the same food (so many cuisines in India!). What mattered was sharing ourselves and our culture with each other.
Over the years Baybasi has organized many cultural functions such as Holi (the festival of colors), or the autumn and spring celebrations. We have brought together thousands of Bay Area residents to share food, fun but most of all to share laughter and make memories. We do hope you’ll join us at our next event.
“Bay-Basi” – the word literally means “those who live around the Bay”. In a way, that is exactly what it is, just a group of people living around San Francisco Bay. And in that context, the naming is apt. But really, is that all there is to it? Bay-Basi, in reality, means a whole lot more to many among us. In it’s true essence, Bay-Basi is a way to connect. Connect amongst ourselves, connect to our pasts, connect with our memories and our souls.
It is a living, vibrant community that connects the thousands of humans who have made this beautiful land of California our homes but refuse to let go of our roots. It’s a place where people come together to celebrate Indian and Bengali culture. In this place, one can be from literally anywhere in the world and can celebrate the very core of India and Bengal through our music, our theater, our dance, our poetry, our literature, our “adda” and our delicious cuisine. This is a platform where our children and youngsters get a chance to understand and truly feel what it means to be part of a “paara”, what it takes to come together as a group and celebrate the unique tradition that defines us.
So, come one and come all. Bay-Basi welcomes you to our Autumn festival where you can connect to something that’s utterly beautiful and make some wonderful memories that will last for a very very long time.
It was while turning back and waving for the last time before entering immigration in the airport that I realized, the reality of immigrating to an entirely new country, new surroundings and far, very far from friends and family.
Memories of those yesteryears also brings back images of many kind loving individuals who brought warm food on your first day here, helped you set up your apartment and hold your hand when you yearned for your family back home. I appreciated the kindness of the community I was a part of.
From the various events over the years that Baybasi Inc. has organized in our community, one thing we have held close to our heart is the inclusivity and diversity within our Indian community here in the Bay area. The cultural events, festivals, volunteer events for a cause has brought us together to share our stories, strengthen our commitment to give back to the community.
The platform that is being provided to the youths with various programs will give them the opportunity to reach their greatest potential, engage with the larger community and fully contribute their talents.
It is again that time of the year we all look forward to. As we are enthusiastically preparing for the autumn festival next month, we hope you come and join us, connecting with friends, sharing your food, smiles and laughter, making memories with family. We will meet you there.
It’s been 24 years that I’ve called US my home. Over the years, I’ve learned to love the place where I live, learned to deal with feeling homesick for Kolkata. I realize that now when I’m traveling and I feel homesick, it’s for my home in Foster City – and a huge part of that has happened because I belong to the wonderful community of Baybasi.
Baybasi has brought together wonderful individuals and families who share same love and sentiments about the life we left behind in India. While embracing our new lives in the Bay Area, through different activities of Baybasi, we have learnt to enjoy the rich Indian and especially Bengali cultural and philosophical heritage we hold so close to our hearts.
Our children get the opportunity to observe, learn, participate and volunteer in cultural, educational and humanitarian experiences related to our heritage, and they feel proud to embrace it as Baybasi has created and enabled this platform for the community.
From helping out early morning on pujo prep for Baybasi’s festivals, to participating in many cultural events, and volunteering at Baybasi youth initiative carnivals to raise funds for fire victims, Baybasi brings us all together enabling us to celebrate our culture, friendships and sense of belonging.