Archive | November, 2009

“There is Nothing Wrong with Change, if it is in the Right Direction”

18 Nov

Welcome readers to the new Roshni Magazine! Hope you like the new feel and look of the webzine which will continue to stay true to our mission statement: provide light and inspiration to you—the reader. A change was needed and inevitable for the site; much like we need it in our lives. In fact, change in itself brings with it a new road in life for which we always need some light and guidance. Ironically, the two, “Change” and “Light” both go hand-in-hand. I think back to all the changes I have introduced into my own life, past and present, and immediately I think of the good it has bought me. Granted that I need more than just mere candle flicker to get me through that path which naturally was tough, I walked with my candle on my way to Changeville looking for the extra light at the end of the tunnel. Putting things in perspective, making the change from R.M.’s the old avatar to its brand new one was not only tedious and hard, but confusing. Ensuring we maintained what we promised from the first edition as well as changing from simple to contemporary. Our consensus: Change is good. We hope you all agree and find the site easy to maneuver.

For the month of November, we are back with a bang! As usual we have a varied range of personalities who are bound to inspire and provide you with immense insight into their successful lives.

Enjoy!

Love and light,

Roshni M.

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Ajay Hotchandani

17 Nov

“The Even Stranger Case of Dr. Ajay & Mr. Hotchandani is easy to read and most will get a kick out of it” ~ Ajay Hotchandani

Ask me and Ajay Hotchandani could easily become a successful popular stand-up comic. But the doctor author who has recently penned “The Even Stranger Case of Dr. Ajay & Mr. Hotchandani” which he answers, in the most humorous of ways, the dreaded marriage dilemma faced by all Desi youngsters. The writer took on a different approach while researching for the book. Using his “alter ego”, Ajay posted dual profiles on a prominent matrimonial site only to contact the same women and record his interaction with them. The book also goes on to discuss the pressures young girls face when they reach of a marriageable age, community and religion concerns— all of course in the most hilarious of ways. The book went on to become extremely popular clearly making it a must read. Riding on the success of his first book, Ajay is now in the process of writing his next book which needless to say, will look at another aspect of the Indian community in an amusing light. If you’re not already convinced to order the book, take a read at Ajay’s interview with Roshni Magazine where he talks about his current and upcoming book, his alternate method of research and the realism associated with his writing. Oh and if you’re still not fully persuaded, check out the disclaimer that came with the book: “The Even Stranger Case of Dr. Ajay & Mr. Hotchandani is a book that was written while under the influence of chocolates, tacos, Bollywood music, and lack of sleep.” Enough said.

Alright Ajay, how does someone go from being a doctor to an author? Do explain.
I think the misconception is that a person cannot be both.  I have not gone from being a doctor to an author, I happened to be a doctor who writes something other than medical notes and articles. I got into writing without knowing it.  In 2002 I was living in England where I would write my friends and family these long emails filled with my daily activities and the nonsense that occurred, such as having a patient chase me down in the grocery store, or the German hairdresser who gave me a head massage while I waited for my food at the local burger place.  By some odd twist someone in Hong Kong got a hold of these emails and forwarded it to her cousin, Rachana Mipuri, who was starting the magazine Beyond Sindh.  Based on the emails I was asked to be the “Humor Columnist” for the magazine.  In essence I was awarded a job I didn’t apply for.  After two issues, I also started to write a health article, which means the guy who is giving you medical advice is also the guy trying to make you laugh with his antics couple pages later.

What prompted you to write The Even Stranger Case of Dr. Ajay & Mr. Hotchandani?
In 2004, while living in Chicago, I had the idea to do an article based on setting up two profiles and contacting the same girls, for fun and for an article, of course.  It didn’t take long before I realized that it wasn’t going to be that easy to do and I could do so much more with it, so I put a halt to the project.  In 2008 I had some time, and thought why not.

What message does the book give if anything? Why did you choose to take a humorous route on the topic of relationships, the trials and tribulations associated with them?
Initially when I wrote it, the purpose was suppose to be strictly humorous with no message.  Within a week of starting the book I realized that there were all these reoccurring themes in the profiles, such as girls ‘lying ‘about their weight, skin color and so on. That is when I started addressing it in a humorous way but at the same time I wanted to put on paper what so many of us talk about in an almost taboo manner.  By no means am I an expert on any of it, it’s merely my opinion and observation.  As for using humor, I feel it makes it easier to read and maybe even accept.

How close to real life are the situations depicted in the book?
A substantial portion is based on observation and interpretation of those observations so it’s safe to say that to some girls it might be as real as it gets while for others it may appear to be fiction.

How do you feel women will react when they read your book?
For those who were brought up in a culture similar to Indians they might read the book and be able to identify with it, where as those who aren’t, the book might make them aware of a world that exists beyond their boundaries.  Hopefully, most of them laugh while reading it that is a reaction I can hope for.

What do you hope readers will take away from your book?
Hmmm…(thinks) Boy, this is a tough one.  I guess for girls, I hope the book gives them some sense of empowerment or the knowledge of knowing that they aren’t the only one going through this situation.

Most of the topics and subjects you cover are actually good conversation starters. Do you think they may also be argument starters?
As long as people understand that the topics of marriage, relationship and culture and so on are opinion based, of which each person is entitled to their own, there shouldn’t be any arguments.  You see arguments are not a result of the topic but of the individual’s belief that their own personal opinion is actually fact.  As long as one is mature and respecting of another person’s opinion, even if they don’t agree with it, then there shouldn’t be any problems.

What did you find was the hardest to write about? And the easiest? And was it easy to find case studies to use for the book?
The hardest part of writing the book would have been trying to imagine what Indian girls go through when they start feeling the pressure of marriage. I once heard Jhumpa Lahiri speak and she said “sometimes, in my mind, I have to go to an unknown place” and I used that to try to imagine what it would be like.  The ‘easiest’ part would have been the wit or humor that just happened.

As per ‘case studies’, sifting through the hundreds of profiles were not the easiest task.  Funny thing, after the book was published I had friends who would talk to me about certain personal issues and half way through stop and comment “you better not be using any of this for your book!”, which I thought was pretty funny.

You’re Sindhi so does that mean the book is catered to Sindhi’s only?
No.  The target audience is Asian Indian girls between the ages of 18 and 45, however it’s a book that is easy to read and most will get a kick out of it.

How has the reaction been to your first book?
The reaction has been very positive. Friends and relatives will never be completely honest with you, so I only know the true reaction to the book when random people started messaging me telling me how that they were so relieved that for the first time someone understood what they were going through.  Several girls commented that they felt like I wrote their life story, especially the part concerning their volcanic relationship they had with their mother when it came to the topic of marriage.

What are some criticisms you received from readers? And were they mostly men or women?
The main criticisms were that there were too many profiles [50] and some would have preferred about 35 to 40.  The other main was that the editing was not done properly – which I am really annoyed with my editor, especially since I paid for the service.  But other than that I really haven’t gotten any other negative feedback.

And what do some of the happier readers have to say?
The unanimous sentiment was that it was really funny and finally there is a book that addresses some of the issues regarding what they go through.  What most of them were amazed at was that it was written by an Indian guy. Few people have told me they finished the book in one day, which was really surprising to me.

What is your next book about?
Since the first book was about women and maybe empowering them a little, I thought it was only fair I gave the guys something.  The second book is called “The Court of Man Law” and it is legal parody regarding actual laws that guys can make reference to when they get into trouble with their significant other.  It is an almost universally accepted fact that no matter what a guy says or does if he is in trouble he will continue to be in trouble regardless of his defense.  However, this book will change that as it will provide concrete laws to which the couple can make reference to when dealing with the situation at hand i.e. shopping, in-laws, and promises.

~ Roshni M.
(November 2009)

Nadiya Shah

17 Nov

“The only certainties in life are death and taxes! The only constant is change.” ~ Nadiya Shah

Nadiya Shah is one of the few people in the world who is the owner of a Masters in M.A. in the Cultural Study of Cosmology and Divination. What that means, you’re about to find out. But the most interesting facet owned by this well-known astrologist is her ability to easily fuse spirituality into her line of work. This in turn has given her a totally different outlook on life and even destiny. The young and talented astrologer not only read palms and makes incredible predictions, but is also a budding actress and is in the midst of writing her own book which will talk about weight loss and spirituality. She is extremely well-known for her detailed readings and accuracy. Vivacious and gracious for all her gifts that has been bestowed on her, Nadiya sat down with Roshni Magazine for a small tête-à-tête as we discussed astrology and destiny, Cosmology and Divinity.

How did you begin your career in astrology? Start at the beginning.

If I had to go way back to the beginning, I remember as a very young girl, I loved looking at the stars. I would feel them in my heart. They felt meaningful to me. I think this is an indication that I am doing what I am meant to be doing. More than that, I think it is that feeling that has stayed with me. That feeling that there is purpose and grandness in the world,  that the world is bigger than we know, that we are connected to all of it and each other, and that there is a lot of love in every movement. I think of astrology as divination, so I will start there. For decades in Toronto, my city, there is a big fair called CNE that marks the last 3 weeks of the summer. It is tradition among local students to go to the job fair there each year in hopes of employment. I went to the massive job fair. I got there late — Desi Standard Time, and so there were not a lot of jobs left. I took a card and went to see a potential employer. They looked at me and after two minutes of conversation hired me on the spot. They gave me a sheet of paper with the drawing of a hand with the meanings of several lines demonstrated. The next day I was working full time, 8-12 hours a day, everyday for the entire 21-day stint reading palms. I was 14 years old at the time.

I remember every day I would hear people tell me I was good. I would not just stick to the interpretations that were on that sheet, but would allow my intuition to make sense of what I saw. The time would go by quickly. I loved that experience. Shortly after that, my mother, throughout my teen years, would give me astrology books. She is not an astrologer, but is a very spiritual person. I always would ask her questions and we would talk about the nature of the Universe and other esoteric questions. She would tell me stories about the various esoteric people, the Sufi’s, in my family tree, and the things that they practiced, whatever she knew. I would, on occasion, grab someone’s hand and practice divination at a party or something, but it was not until I was 20 that two significant things happened. The first was that my aunt, Shireen, gave me a Tarot deck and said, “Here, you are good at this” and had me doing readings that night for her friends. The second is that the same aunt gave me a gift of a computer print out of my astrological birth chart. I read it and could not believe it; it was like reading myself, my story, my feelings, and my thoughts, in a computer-generated report. It was an incredible experience. I wanted to know more. Shireen and I would also have a lot of conversations about life, the nature of the Universe, and my ancestors, their practices. Astrology became something really fascinating and fun for me to do. I stayed with it. I remember working as a cashier in my early 20s and I would bring my fellow workers’ natal charts. Between customers, I would look at their charts and do readings. It started completely as a fun thing that I loved to do.  At 26 people began offering to pay me for readings. That is how consulting began, entirely word of mouth. A couple of years after that, a friend of mine, who knew how much I loved astrology, kept telling me that I should write horoscopes for his publications, and I honored the request.

I read that you are one of the few people in the world to hold a Masters in M.A. in the Cultural Study of Cosmology and Divination. What exactly does that mean and how do you use it in your predictions?
Astrology has recently begun to move back into western universities in this decade since the 18th century, with the advent of two MA/ PhD programs in the UK and two graduate programs in American Universities. So, for about 300 years, the subject of astrology in the academic world has been largely ignored or, dare I say it, vilified. The situation is different in India, which has continuously offered astrological education at the graduate level, but I am speaking about the western tradition here, which is the system I practice. This has left a huge gap in the number of people who understand astrology from beyond the strictly technical. My MA was taught with the Faculty of Religious Studies at the University of Kent in the UK, and as such, we took a largely historical and philosophical approach to it. In our non-formal time, we were able to discuss the more practical and technical stuff. It was an amazing experience, to be able to learn from people who’s work I had respected for so many years, to be immersed in a subject I love, and to just understand what I do from various perspectives granted me so much more respect for the reach and impact of this practice.  What the MA granted me, and how it has influenced my interpretations, goes beyond just the new techniques I learned. Cosmology means “world view” and Divination means “to divine one’s self”. I came to articulate what it is I am doing when I practice astrology, what I need to put myself in the right mind set to do an effective reading, and also, to take what I do really seriously, to respect it, and maintain its integrity. I am giving a person another worldview, a way to see their lives from a more symbolic and “higher” perspective. I also see my role as helping the client or reader of my horoscopes to move closer to some type of divine understanding of themselves and their place in the cosmos. I share much of what I learned in the MA with every single reading I do. Like any good educational process, it is not about the degree, it is about who you become in the process. My education changed me, and I feel fortunate that I get to share some of that with people who trust me.

What is Astrology and how can it help people make correct decisions in their lives?
I honestly do not think there is such a thing as making a bad decision. I have had countless examples in my own life or others lives where they did something and at the time thought “oh no!” and then later, because of that decision, so many amazing things came about. I am reminded of Arthur Miller who said that the point of life is not to avoid suffering; it is about finding the meaning and redemption within it. To me, that also means finding the opportunity within it. There are some things that we do that can be silly. This happens when we are not listening. However, even that, I am hesitant with declaring as wrong, because when I reflect on my own life and the things that have been incredibly challenging, I can appreciate how I am infinitely better for them. Mystical thinkers, going back to Plato, who is one of my favorite philosophers, influence some of the most significant concepts that have shaped my perspective and my current understanding of the cosmos. Though he did not write an astrological text, he did present a mystical understanding of the cosmos and creation in his text “Timaeus”, that influenced many mystics from a variety of traditions, including Ibn’ Arabi, and many more astrologers from the largely western or monotheistic traditions. The central understanding is that every single element in our physical universe is connected to some spiritual principle, some emotion, and some higher ideal. Everything is purposeful and meaningful and, ultimately, arises from a loving source. The idea of making a correct decision happens when we are listening to our lives and the messages it is sending us. I do believe that life, in many ways, is trying to nudge us in the direction of our lessons and opportunities. Observation and reflection as skills help to make a decision that has us working with our lives, our environment, and ourselves. Astrology is such a powerful and undeniable symbolic way of looking at our life and environment. It presents a mirror to us of where we are fighting the cycles of our life and where we can take greater advantage of what is on offer. Regardless of whether it feels difficult or easy, there is a love there. So sometimes, the correct decision is to surrender and trust a higher will, to go with the flow. At other times, the correct decision is to trust yourself and take aggressive action. The symbols are there that can allow clarity, but ultimately, as the foundational text to western astrology, Ptolemy’s “Tetrabiblos” states, we have a force and will that is equally powerful to the planets. This is assuming the planets have a force. I understand them as being indicators, but now I am getting way into the philosophical side of things.

What is the difference in the methods used to predict the future? Namely, numerology, tarot, and so on.
All forms of divination come from a variety of sources from around the world, in various cultures. Some cultures or historical periods had preferred methods that they developed more than others, but here is a general understanding. Astrology considers the movement of the cosmos and attempts to interpret it symbolically as to create relevance to our collective and individual lives. Astrology has its roots as a religious practice, and has many different schools and systems originating from around the world and from various times in history. I do think astrology pervades all forms of divination. It is the frame of reference, so each number, card, part of hand, whatever, usually has some cosmic correspondence in almost all systems I have come across. Numerology relies on sacred geometry, which is asserted as the foundation of all creation. All letters are broken down into numbers as well, and the significance of the vibration of numbers is considered. I can testify that numerology is so powerful. I have seen it repeatedly. People change their name, or even the spelling of their name, and their entire life changes. It is subtle, and the changes in life happen over a period of time, but it is powerful. Ilm e Jafer is a form of numerology practiced largely by Syed Muslims and is based on the Arabic alphabet. The type of Numerology I prefer to practice at this point in my practice is Chaldean numerology, which is influenced by a mystical Christian sect of the same name originating from the Middle East. Tarot cards consist of a deck of cards, with some symbolic significance assigned to each card, and through chance, or coincidence, relevance is ascertained based on what cards have been drawn. Similar to this is Oracle cards, which is also a deck of cards with assigned meaning to each card, but may not follow the established archetypal structure of a tarot deck. Tarot is a very popular form of divination in the west, largely because of the esoteric movements at the turn of the last century, though no one knows exactly where they originated from or how long they have been practiced. Some people say the Egyptians had a form of tarot, though that has been debated. There is some evidence that regular playing cards were used for divination going back to 18th century Italy, but again, no one is sure. What we do know is that around a hundred years ago there were a bunch of people into the occult in England who drew up tarot decks which utilized Kabalistic symbols and began to popularize them. I love Tarot cards. I use a deck with a lot of astrological symbols and incorporate my love of astrology into the reading. Palmistry, very popular in the eastern tradition, is based on finding significance in the lines of the hand. In our eastern culture, there is a notion that states, “it is written”, and I have heard many say it is written in the hands. But the lines on your hands change every 3 weeks, and I have seen clients who come back to me on a regular basis and do a lot of work on themselves not only make amazing changes in their lives, but the lines on their hands start to change also. This is true of my hand as well. These are my main divination methods I use, but there are others. I went through a phase where I loved using a pendulum. There is also srying, which requires gazing into something like a black mirror or bowl of water. Tea Leaf readings ask the client to drink a cup of Turkish or a similar thick coffee and then read the patterns and images that dry up in the cup. For Romans, they loved watching flights of birds to make all kinds of predictions. This method is called augury. The list goes on. Perhaps it is a part of human nature, to want to decipher and understand things symbolically, and also, of course, to know the future, to find comfort in foreknowledge. Up until the scientific revolution in the 18th century, people used a different mindset when viewing the world, called the “symbolic mind”. Everything in the external environment had personal relevance, pointed to something sacred. All forms of divination ask the practitioner to access this part of their mind. Whatever helps us access that part of our mind, utilize that type of vision, can be used as a form of divination.

How has technology helped the art of Astrology and aided your line of work?
Technology is amazing. With a bit of birth data entered into a computer or PDA, you can pull up all kinds of very accurate and detailed astrology charts in a matter of seconds. This has made charts much more accessible, and those who want to read them, can jump right into interpretation without having to learn a lot of formulas or math equations. Divination requires a certain intuition, an artistic disposition if you will. While some astrologers can be very scientifically inclines, many are not. The ability to pull up a chart instantly is great for those who like the artistic side of astrology and are drawn to it for that reason, and may not be so strong in mathematical areas. There is also a convenience factor. I know for myself, I could be in the moment of a reading, and be asked a question that requires a completely different technique. I can pull up a chart right away that serves the needs of the moment, in that moment. This accessibility that technology has provided is priceless. However, there has been an issue raised about this. Dr. Allie Bird wrote her PhD thesis on Astrology in Adult Education in the UK. She estimated that there are about 1500 people alive in the UK who know how to calculate a chart “raw”, using only an ephemeris, and doing all the mathematical calculations without a guidebook. This group is almost entirely old school, meaning, they had been practicing astrology for a very long time, before the popularization of personal computers. Most Medieval astrologers knew the movement of the planets and their cycles, so that if you told them your date of birth, they could make calculations in their head and start to visualize your chart, but even they had tools to help in calculation during that time period. She posed the question about the younger generation, of which I am a part. What will be lost when even fewer people can do these calculations? I know, having experimented with it myself, it is time consuming and today not even needed, but there is something to be said about the ritual of drawing a chart. It puts you into another mind space. The sacredness of the process might be at risk. I know this is debatable. I know that when I do a full consultation, I do draw the chart by hand. I rarely make the calculations myself, but just drawing the wheel, instead of just printing it out, is one powerful way of connecting with the person I am preparing to consult with. This process alone, considering how many techniques I use, can take 30 min, and that is with the help of technology. This may not be possible when I do events, where I have to read several people for 20 min at a time, back to back, for hours. If I am doing astrology readings for an event, then I have to have my net book with me. When I am doing tarot readings at events, I will ask for the birth data. I do keep in mind the major cycles and can visualize some things in that persons birth chart so that I can incorporate some major astrological themes into the reading.

You also are incredibly spiritual. How do you incorporate it into astrology?
It guides everything I do. Every astrologer, every single one, has their own cosmology, their own world view, that guides the way they see the stars and therefore the way they interpret their significance. My worldview is the same as my religious views as stated on facebook (lol), which is “Nothing happens by mistake, the Universe is very wise and loving, and the evidence is everywhere”. This statement is what guides my written horoscopes, and also the way that I serve the client who comes in for a consultation. It is the foundation to all I do, and astrology for me is a spiritual practice, one that places me in the moment of the reading and in the moment of the sky’s purposeful movement. This is something that I think has always been with me. When I fight this understanding, life gets hard. When I accept it, things flow much nicer. I think that my role as an astrologer is to deliver an omen that will help someone live more in the flow of a loving worldview.

When you are challenged by a skeptic, how do you defend yourself and the subject of astrology?
I honestly feel that when I am comfortable with what I believe, and myself I could care less. I think that is one of the greatest things of my education, that I understand what I do historically, religiously from a variety of traditions, and philosophically. At the end of the day, every one of us is just trying to find what is right for us, what allows us to feel comfortable with our selves. I have found something that works for me and it is really ok that other people have their own path. I think part of this stance comes from growing up in Toronto, a city with a lot of diversity and acceptance in religion, thought, culture, and spirituality. Therefore, it does not matter if someone does not believe. On the occasions where a viewpoint is expressed I can usually identify its source, in my own mind. Like, most arguments against astrology come from people like Cicero or Augustine, depending on the stance (Another benefit of my MA! Understanding what I do from various perspectives, including the critical). If they have a question than I can engage in a conversation, and I respect the various perspectives, I have researched them and studied them. I know for myself, the times in my life when I have felt weak is when I have been the most self-righteous. It is ultimately a form of insecurity. Sometimes people are critical because they want to be right, they need that at the point of life they are in. That has nothing to do with me. The more kind, accepting, and happy I am the better I can give that space to others and wish for them to experience the same. Practicing astrology gives me a personal relationship to my creator and allows me to connect to every religion, every culture. It is an act of solidarity and unity experienced in the moment. It is a powerful thing, as is any religious practice when approached with an honest heart. It is an important practice that allows me to honor my intellectual and spiritual ancestors. It is a loving thing and a good thing. I love being a part of that. I am proud of that.

When you make a prediction for a client, what part does belief and faith play?
What a great question! You are filled with great questions today! (Laughs) I am always mindful of the balance between empowering people with a greater sense of their own power, especially their power of choice, and understanding the inherent assumption that astrology represents, which is a fate based world view. Therefore, I try to be mindful of that balance because I take what I do seriously, and want it to be as loving as possible. I also try and bring about greater awareness to people by saying things like “ok, this vibration is coming up, and you can choose to have it go down this way if you take this stance, but if you fight it or do not understand the lesson, this is what could possibly happen.” I do this because this is what the integrity of my practice calls for, and it would be less than honest not to point out the difficulties. Its like if you see a storm coming, or someone is in the midst of a storm, you want to prepare them, but I also don’t want to scare them into thinking there is going to be a massive storm, because that can become a self-fulfilling prophesy. I understand life is not Pollyanna, but again, it is about how we interpret events that matters most. If I am going to facilitate a self-fulfilling prophesy in someone, I would hope it would be something positive. I do believe that, as many people have said before me, that we are all here to do something special with our lives, we are created to do something special that only we can do in our own way. I would like to impart that. However, I know sometimes clients, especially those with a more eastern frame of reference, might say, “just tell me what is going to happen!” I try and gently guide them to their choices, but I have to honor their frame of reference and answer their questions. For some people, the largely psychological explorations are most meaningful. For others, they want the more literal interpretations from older techniques. I use them all and find the balance as my intuition guides me is best for the client and also whatever they ask for.

What is your take on destiny? Can we change it?  If so how?
Absolutely we affect our destiny. We choose if we will learn the lessons that are presented to us, if we will grow, change, be better than we were before. The only certainties in life are death and taxes! The only constant is change. The modern understanding of astrology as articulated by contemporary thinkers in the last century has been that when we work challenges out on emotional or spiritual levels, then they do not have to manifest as external experiences in order to get our attention. I do not know if that means we can ever get to the place where difficulties do not arise, it is about not making it harder on our selves than it needs to be. However, sometimes I insist on learning things the hard way, anyways! And sometimes, the hard way is more fun, or at least, more eventful. However, if you are asking about fate, like, the goal of our lives, as I said before, I do think there is something special that each of us is meant to do. For some people, life is about harnessing their power to manifest it, for others, the lesson is about getting your own desires out of the way so that a higher plan can reveal itself. Yes, the astrology chart or a reading can reveal which is true for you, or what cycle of life you are in, but so can your life. So can listening to the messages. For example, I once heard it said, “if you get fired from you job, you are not supposed to be there.” I think that is so true, and destiny/ fate are like that. Sometimes challenges come up and they call on us to demonstrate more dedication. Other times, you hit a dead end. That means you are meant to go another way.

I also know that you teach astrology. What exactly does a tutorial entail and who would you recommend it to?
I teach in several ways. One is an online class. That has been very popular and attracted a lot of attention. It is most cost effective for most people, and allows a structured series of lessons, as well as email and message board contact with me and other students. This is good for people who thrive in that type of environment or want to learn in a structured way. I also give talks and teach workshops. That is always amazing because the learning happens spontaneously and in the moment for me and the participants. Lately, these have been largely sponsored by other organizations, which feel I have something to share. It is always so much fun and an honor. The tutorials involve personalized lessons. For example, someone may contact me and say they would really like to know what specific techniques I utilize in certain types of prediction, or they would like a lesson in Tarot or Numerology. They will tell me where they are now in terms of their technical understanding, and I will create a custom lesson based on what they would like to learn. I create a lesson plan and get on skype or in person with them.

What is your current book that you are penning about?
I recently completed a manuscript for a book. The working title is “Sweat the Truth”. My book presents a new way to consider weight loss, exercise, and new age spirituality as a holistic, integrated whole. Weight loss and exercise are important practices to utilize on the journey of self-knowledge and allows the immediate experiences of acceptance, embodiment, and truth. There are no menus or diet schedules. Rather, personal reflection, spiritual self-help, astrological philosophy, and mythology are drawn on to enlighten and inspire. There has been an idea perpetuated of losing weight as a formula of mathematics, and our bodies boil down to being a machine. However, we are not machines. We are complex in every way. There are aspects of our physiology that are still a mystery, that scientists are still researching, exploring, and desiring to know more about. Add to that the layers of complexity that involve the way our mind works, the depth of our emotion, and the way spirit infuses and influences matter. All these aspects of us are intricately tied to what happens to us on a physical level. This means that weight loss cannot be a matter summed up in a math formula. It also means that weight loss and a stronger physique does not happen according to a precise timetable, but that we become lighter physically in direct proportion to becoming lighter in all areas of our life, and these changes happen only when we are ready, in perfect time, and not a moment sooner. Exercise is done for its own sake and, in the words of Socrates, for the self-knowledge it grants in the moment of activity. It is very near and dear to my heart, of course. I think to write a book involves the heart. In “Sweat the Truth”, I utilize personal reflection and adapt philosophical ideas to my own life, considering I have lost and maintained a weight loss of 100 pounds. It is not directly related to astrology and prediction. It is a symbolic exploration, so it utilizes my formal education. It is in line with my personal mission of being a voice of hope in people’s lives, which incidentally, corresponds to the meaning of my name Nadiya, “The guide to the path of hope.” If your name determines or indicates your fate, than I am so living mine!
I was finishing my MA dissertation when the desire to start writing these understandings down came on pretty strong. I put it to the side and literally, the day I handed my dissertation in, I started to write. So now, I have what feels like a completed manuscript and have begun submitting it to agents and publishers, as well as my contacts. The response so far has been amazing. I trust that the book came to me for a reason, and when it is supposed to be out there, it will be. So far, everything in my life, where it comes to my spirituality and sharing that part of myself, has said that I am on the right path. I trust this is part of that vision.

Besides practicing astrology, you are also an actress. What films have you been a part of and what would you like to be a part of?
I went to theatre school in my youth, and did a lot of plays and independent films in the Toronto area, which has a thriving creative community. I have loved the art of acting because it gives integrity and voice to a story of someone’s life, even if it is a fictitious character. Emotions are honored and come alive in the moment of a scene. It is powerful and respects the fact that in our world, there are many stories and many realities, and they are all worthy of being told. The most meaningful recent experience I participated in was a show called Meri Kahani My Story (http://merikahani.ca). It was a powerful collective to be a part of and a great role for a South Asian actress. There was so much love and support for each of us as artists and the characters were powerful.

As far as film, I was in an independent film called “I ate the whole thing” which premiered at the Hawaii International Film Festival in 2007, I think it was. That was a film about women and body image. The Director, Ariel Len, was amazing to work with, and allowed me to translate some of my lines into Urdu, so that I could customize the role to myself.  Acting is a hobby; it is not something I actively pursue. Roles come up when someone, who knows me from a previous work, sends me an audition notice and suggests I be a part of it. Every role I have done has shaped me in some way. By getting out of the way and being of service to the character that has its own voice, and also by creating a connection with the character so that I go beyond empathy and actually become their voice and stand in their shoes, has made me more compassionate. It expresses and informs my spiritual beliefs. I do believe that there are some common human emotions and feelings that are shared by us all that define us as a collective. Acting is one way I get to express that belief.

What are some predictions that you have made and have come true?
Um…a lot! (Laughs) Actually, I am of the belief that if we work things out energetically and find resolution so that we learn lessons, then the universe does not have to always takes action through events to get our attention. Western psychological astrologers formulated this belief at the turn of the last century and those within the esoteric school of western astrology. I spoke about this earlier. So when I see something that looks difficult, I try and address it, get people to understand it, so that they can be better for it, sooner rather than later. Positive predictions, like about money, jobs, and love, I get emails saying I was right about something I said to a client. It is always wonderful and affirming. However, at the same time, I know it is not me. I was just giving voice to a symbol. I tell people what the symbol suggests and what they can do about it. They make their own choices, always, and I do believe that if something is for our highest good, if it is written for us, then nothing can keep that away. I know that my clients and readers will judge my effectiveness by my accuracy. That is the integrity of my tradition and I honor that. At the same time, I judge my effectiveness by how meaningful my prediction was, how much I was able to speak something that strikes as “truth” for that person in their heart and say something that moves them in a more loving, empowered, or hopeful direction, while staying true to the symbol that was presented to me.

How has astrology changed your life?
In every way! It gave me the deep appreciation that we are all, in our own individual lives, a part a very grand and magnificent plan. That is one of the most powerful statements that the existence of astrology makes, and why it is one of the oldest religious practices that is still a part of every culture. Astrology affirms the patterns and purpose of all things, and our deep interconnection to each other. Astrology means that every movement of our external environment is infused with spiritual energy. It means that the cosmos are alive and sacred, if the planets are sacred, then the earth must be sacred, and if the earth is sacred, then we must be also.  This belief guides my worldview and also gives me deep humility for the mystery, its grandness that I can only glimpse for moments. Those glimpses come in the midst of a reading or when writing my horoscopes.

Astrology gave me a direct way to pray experientially, meaning, a form of understanding who my creator is that is all my own. It taught me to honor my intuition, my inner voice of authority that knows what is best for me outside of the noise of other people’s expectations and pressures, outside of my fears or habits. It taught me to trust the cycles of my life, especially when they are hard, because they are designed to make me better. Astrology has provided me with so many opportunities, from a higher education, my own practice, a useful life, building a legacy, sharing all I am, past, present, and who I am growing into. Astrology gave me self –respect and it gave me a voice. It gave me the deep conviction that the universe is loving. It gave me myself. It has taught me that my perceptions and intuitions are worth being trusted, and therefore, I can trust myself and trust what brings me happiness. Self-trust is everything.

What words of wisdom can you offer the readers of Roshni Magazine?
You ask me for wisdom, and two thoughts come to my mind. The first is, I know that people come to me for insights and a spiritual understanding of their own lives. I understand that is part of my role as astrologer, and it is a part of my style in interpretation. So I would love to go with my intuition and just share something things I believe. Second, and this is important to say, I am learning too! Lol I am just like everyone reading this. I am fortunate enough to share some of the things that life has taught me, but I am still learning, which is another way of saying I am far from perfect. Sometimes the learning comes easy. I feel I am living in a flow, in partnership with life. I feel powerful and strong in those moments. However, other times that is not the case. We are not all meant to feel strong and purposeful all the time. When faith is real, it wanes. Listen to your life. Trust the cycles and the way things are right now, and within that, you will find your power to be a force of change of anything you wish to change. There is something special that all of us are created to do, I believe that, and that includes the person reading this right now. Whatever that is, it will feel right in your heart, and there will be something natural about it. That does not mean there may not be hard work, and sometimes the hard work involves facing our selves, our fears, and our beliefs that can hold us back. Ultimately, listening to life means listening to you. Your inner voice will lead you to whatever lessons you need to learn, the places you need to be, and whatever it is that you are supposed to be doing right now, preparing you for the next cycle. Above all, astrology affirms that we are all part of a very loving plan. That includes your individual life, you dreams, your hopes, your yearnings, your aches, your desires, your challenges, and your joys. It is all a part of love. All things pass, the good and the difficult, and in the end, if you honored yourself and made conscious decisions to the best of your ability, you can say that your life was truly your own.

~ Roshni M.
(November 2009)

Ribkat, JosyB and Biju

17 Nov

“The goal of our group is to unite all different cultures in the world through positive innovative music along with a positive uplifting free spirited message” ~ Ribkat, Josy B and Biju

Each of the following artists have individually made a name for themselves because of their unique contribution to Desi music on an international platform. Ribkat for starters, is a part of the popular band Fort Minor which also houses the likes of Linkin Park band mate Mike Shinoda. He was then joined by Josy B and more recently the ultra talented Biju. Collaboratively, the group have come out with a great blend of Hindi and English lyrics in their new album. Ribkats music has been a part of many television commercials and even the Oscar nominated film The Wrestler. However it is still early days for the talented group who are keen to make it big globally. All three artists took some time out of their busy recording schedules to chat with Roshni Magazine. Read on to found out more about their varied music and the different cultures they have bought together using music as an outlet.

Tell us about how you developed your liking and interest in music?
Ribkat:  I was constantly surrounded by music as a child. Words can’t even explain the amazing feeling it gave me as I grew older throughout the years. My brother “Bilal” was a huge pioneer in the early years of Hip-Hop, from launching his career as a “DJ” for “Kurtis Blow” to producing music for “Cypress Hill”, “House of Pain”, “The Alkaholiks”, Dr. Dre and more.

Josy B: Growing up in a Puerto Rican family music is a big part of our culture and a main part of our everyday life. My family is very musically inclined; some play guitar, piano and even the conga which have all been incorporated in musical groups that have had great success in Puerto Rico.

Biju: My mother was very much into music, which was a great start, all my siblings and I used to sing due to her encouragement and became a member of the choir, at church in India and then continued in Chicago.

What makes your group unique to any other music group?
Ribkat: I strongly feel and believe that we fill a void in the music world today with an innovative twist of Electro/Pop, a strong backbone of pure raw Hip-Hop with a splash of 80’s music influence in a way that’s created like no other.

Josy B: I believe our music is universal and is appealing to any race or age. No matter where you live in the world, our music is full of color and will inspire you.

How do you stay close to your roots and use India in your music?
Ribkat: I appreciate all cultures of music, one of them being Indian music. I am a huge fan of drums and percussion, and there’s nothing like the percussion drum swing in an Indian song, along with the unique and graceful melodic vocals of all Indian artists.

Josy B: Being Puerto Rican I love my culture, and there are so many cultures in the world. Indian culture has always been one my favorites with their beautiful traditional clothing, jewelry all coming together with their melodic music and dance.

Where do you draw your influences from and which artists do you draw your inspiration from?
Ribkat: Although I’ve established myself as a well known Hip-Hop artist worldwide in groups such as “Styles Of Beyond” and “Fort Minor” with Linkin Park member “Mike Shinoda”, I’ve Ironically drawn the majority of my influences from several 80″s Pop Artists such as “Talking Heads”, “Human League”, “Duran Duran”, “Tears For Fears”, “Culture Club”.

Josy B:  My influences are so wide because I grew up listening to salsa in a Puerto Rican household, but living in California as a child my influences were 80’s music Michael Jackson, Madonna, Cyndi Lauper, Tears for Fears and so on.

Biju: I draw my influences from all genres of music, from Indian Classical to Pop and try to fuse it with Western. Listening to new and old from yesteryears music to present A.R. Rahman inspires me tremendously. Being a performer, I update my collections of Indian music, and stay connected to my roots.

Your music was featured in the Oscar nominated film The Wrestler. Tell us about that experience and how you became a part of the film?
Ribkat:  I’ve produced and written many songs that have featured in several TV networks such as MTV, ABC, FOX, ESPN, TNT and blockbuster films such as “Transformers”, “Don’t mess with the Zohan”, “The Wrestler” and more. I was asked to submit one of my songs for “The Wrestler” which at the time was being featured at several Independent Film Festivals and to my surprise, the movie got picked up by “Fox Searchlight” and they loved my song and wanted to place it in the film.

What would you say is the goal of your group?
Ribkat: The goal of our group is to unite all different cultures in the world through positive innovative music along with a positive uplifting free spirited message.

Josy B: Our goal is to reach out to all of the people in the world, and deliver across a positive, fun message that will inspire listeners

What are some of your most precious achievements till date?
Ribkat: One of my most precious achievements period, was traveling the world, being introduced to many different cultures living my dream, and performing for them. Another would be producing and writing my entire first solo project entitled “Theory Of Addicts”  featuring the Puerto Rican Queen notoriously known as “Josy B” scheduled to be released late fall 2009, which is something I’ve been wanting to do for years.

Josy B: My most precious achievements have been being able to experience my dream as a singer, pursuing what I loved and never looking back. I’ve been very blessed and fortunate to have worked with very talented artists, producers and writers who’ve all contributed to where I stand today and believe in what I stand for as an artist.

Biju: My most precious achievements was singing for the legendary Gazal King, Mr. Jagjit Singh and the legendary  Padmabushan Honouree Dr. K.J. Yesudas as well as opening for Bappi Lahiri in 2007. Listening to their music from a young age and singing for my idols that I admired is an honor for me and a dream come true. What more can an artist ask for?

What will be coming out of the group in the coming future?
Ribkat: We will be releasing our debut album “Theory Of Addicts” late fall 2009 along with a scheduled overseas tour in the UK, Asia and India. For more updates you can visit RibkatandJosyb.com. Be sure to check out our new single “REVERIEZ” Feat. Biju Mathew, free downloads are available at soundclick.com.

Biju: I am looking forward to collaborating with Ribkat and Josy B, with a few Hindi and English version of songs, which are upbeat and unique. They will stand out from the rest of the Indian Rap songs you have heard of in films and from other musicians. Working with Ribkat and Josy B, was a great pleasure. It was an honor for me to be featured on their album “Theory of Addicts” in the single Reveriez— the Hindi-English version. I will be collaborating with Ribkat and Josy B, fusing Indian music; I must say it is going to be very exciting time for all of us.

~ Roshni M.
(November 2009)

Ajay Dani: Ajaxxx

17 Nov

“Ajaxxx is uncut, raw, and doesn’t hold back” ~ Ajay Dani

Ajay Dani is no newbie to the rapping world. From the tender age of 13, he began to write his own lyrics and sing, or rather rap to his own music. After rapping for over six years, the rapper has also won a radio contest, is a five-time open mic champion, as well as being a prominent performer and emcee at local clubs in the Florida area. While him and his music have gained much popularity in the USA, Asia will soon be treated to AJAXXX, what he is fondly known as, as he continues to record more Desi inspired music. The rapper has also recorded television commercial that was featured on national channels all across the U.S.  Dani has also collaborated with well-known deejays in the U.S. who have realized that the artist is clearly one to watch out for. On a personal level, Ajay is definitely one friendly dedicated and talented musician who is headed for the skies with his innovative style and forte. The artist simply states on his website, “I’m not trying to get famous or anything…I’m just trying to make music that people can feel and enjoy…And while I’m at it, I’ll wipe out the competition.” Read on as the up and coming rapper speaks exclusively to Roshni Magazine about breaking into rap, being unique and keeping his daytime job.

Let’s start at the top. How did rapping begin? I read that there is a story behind your reason to rap.
Well, let’s see now. I was in middle school when it all started; I used to recite lyrics from other rappers, usually mimicking what I’d hear in some of my favorite songs. That eventually evolved into me freestyling my own material. Somewhere along the way though, and I wanna’ say it was towards the end of middle school or the beginning of high school, I started writing everything down. It was always me just messing around, but when I started writing, I really started to take it more seriously. I think one of the main reasons I got into it was not just because it was “fun”, but because I was so drawn to the feeling that music gave me. I’ve had songs inspire me, sadden me, and move me, and I wanted to be able to recreate that feeling for others. So, I studied the craft, tackled different topics, and even recorded some bad-quality stuff too! (Laughs) Let’s hope nobody ever hears those old tapes!

Who would you say are some of your inspirations? International and Desi.
Well, when I think of the word inspiration, I think of what I want to do firstly and then who embodies those characteristics. Through my medium, I want to make someone believe something and feel it…and I have to evoke that emotion through words. Someone like Gandhi, therefore, is a huge inspiration to me. He was able to move people through his ethics. He preached a message of unity without violence, and that’s powerful to me. Not to say I’m a flag bearer of nonviolence or anything, although it’s a good thing, but I preach a positive message in a lot of my songs. I always think about how we’ll be remembered. I’m also inspired by women like Indira Gandhi, who persevered in a society where women aren’t always respected the same way that men are. She impacted India in such a huge way, and broke down many barriers for women. Benizir Bhutto is another woman who fought an uphill battle, yet accomplished so much. People that go against the grain like that to make a difference have always moved me, because I can identify with them. I’m inspired by Obama. Here’s someone who was doubted, written off, and laughed at time and time again during his run for presidency. Despite the adversities, however, he endured. Despite his unusual name, the opponents he faced, and the race barrier, he managed to continue. He’s inspirational because he remained focused and believed in something even when not too many shared his views. If you were talking within the entertainment industry, I’d say someone like Jay-Z or Russell Simmons. They’re such advocates of hip-hop and preserving the culture, yet they’re all about their business too. Deepak Chopra has also impressed me. And of course, anybody within the scene that’s making moves – they inspire me to keep on too.

Were you surprised when you first album was received so well? Especially since it is normally perceived as rather difficult to gain little if any recognition in the western music world.
I don’t think I was necessarily surprised at how it was received, only because I was confident that I was making good music. Not just that, but I was surrounded by a lot of talented musicians who helped me along the way with the recording process. It’s important to keep people like that around you. I was more surprised than anything at the feedback I received. A lot of people liked different songs for different reasons, and that really interested me. Like, some people enjoyed my “darker” songs, whereas others thought I really shined on the uptempo, party tracks. It was like everyone had a different favorite song. If anything, it was a learning experience that would end up helping me a great deal in the future. It’s definitely difficult at times to gain recognition in our world, but that’s one of the fun parts of it – the challenge. I wouldn’t be doing music if it didn’t present challenges to overcome. I mean, what’s the fun in that, right?

Absolutely! What do most of your fans say to you when they get the chance to meet with you?
“Oh Ajaxxx, will you sign my bra strap for me?” (Laughs) No, no! I’m just kidding! Oh damn, I hope I don’t get in trouble for that one. But yeah, a lot of times when people meet me they express how they like my music and they might single out a specific song. It’s an amazing experience when someone tells me about a song and how it might’ve touched him or her or inspired them in any way. That’s the kind of stuff that makes it all worth the while!

How easy or hard is it to break into the music scene and what would you say it takes to become a successful rap artist?
It’s ridiculously difficult and that’s putting it lightly. It’s hard for me to give advice on this since I’m still an up-and-comer myself, but I do realize that I’ve come pretty far. And, I realize that most of my successes have come from hard work…as cliché as that sounds. I’ve put in countless hours on music, whether it is writing or rewriting or recording or rerecording or designing or rehearsing or whatever else. I think those things help with the process, but it’s also important to network like crazy too. And of course, that goes for any industry. One thing I realized is that you can’t do everything by yourself. It’s impossible. You need to be collaborating with other artists, working with different producers, linking with DJs, and communicating with different press and media outlets. Those are people that have helped me to get as far as I’ve gotten, and who’ll continue to help too. And of course, make yourself seen!

Do you feel it would be easier to break into the music scene in India? It can’t be easy to find a niche in the western music…or is it?
What an interesting question. Hmm…(thinks)  It’s hard to say. I think in India, you’re more likely to break into the music scene if you know how to act and dance too. Oh wait, am I getting this confused with Bollywood? (Laughing) Nah, but seriously, no matter where you go, I think you have to have a distinct and original sound to set you apart from everyone else. If you have that, it doesn’t matter where you are. I think that my kind of music may be more difficult to break through in India, especially since hip-hop is bigger in the U.S. than anywhere else in the world. At the same time though, I’d be interested to see what kind of reception I’d get. So Roshni, does that mean you’re coming with me to India to find out? (Laughs) Okay, moving on….

(Laughs) Right Ajay, moving swiftly along! How do you incorporate your roots into your music and into the lyrics which you also pen right?
Well, I try to “represent” as much as I can. By that, I mean I try to remind the listener on every CD that I’m Indian and incorporate a few Indian-flavored songs too. I try to rhyme over Indian beats, collaborate with other fellow Desi artists, and I’ve even started to tackle some Indian topics. I think each of my CDs have a few songs like that. I’m currently working on a project that’s entirely Indian-themed, and that’s going to dig extremely deep in my roots. I’ve done a lot of research on my heritage and lineage, and I plan on incorporating all of that. Of course it’s still early, but I’m looking forward to teaching the rest of the world about Sindhism.  And yes, I pen all my lyrics.

Individually your songs all have a distinguished message. Is this intentional and which song do you feel has had the greatest impact on you and your fans?
With every song I write, I like to have a topic and concept. Not to say I don’t have my party songs or anything, but I have a lot of music that takes on different messages. I think it’s stupid to do music if you don’t have anything to say. That’s the sad reality of the industry though – too many people try to do music, yet have nothing to bring to the table. I feel that I have a story to tell and the world should hear it. So, when it’s my notebook and me, I try to channel that as much as I can. I think the song that’s had the great impact on my fans is “Walk With You.” The song was about the school shootings that we’ve witnessed over the last few years and the need to do something about it. I wrote the song to the friends and families of the victims, because in my mind the real victims are the friends and families – they’re the ones left behind. After the song was released, I started receiving e-mails from different people about how much the song meant to them. A few people told me that the song made them cry, while others informed me that the song lifted their spirits. And whenever I performed that song live, people would come up to me and express their sentiment towards it. Anytime I can share that emotional connection with someone, I’m reminded why I’m doing this in the first place.

What are some common running themes through are present in your music?
There’s a lot – love, struggle, friendship, loneliness, fear, focus…and so on, and so on. I’ve probably written a million rhymes about love though. Whether it’s the strength in it or the complexities in it, it’s a topic I always come back to for some reason. I’ve got a song on the new CD about heartbreak. It’s one of my most personal songs yet. I also have a lot of tracks about going through obstacles and overcoming them. Songs like “Field of Dreams”, “Yes We Can (And We Did)”, and “As I Stand” all talk about being doubted or enduring pain, only to get through it. I think I constantly return to that theme because I want to remind my fans to be optimistic, but also because it’s something that I’ve constantly gone through in my own life. All I can do is tell people what I’ve experienced.

Any intentions to rap in Hindi or Sindhi even?
(Laughs) Well let’s just say if I did, you’d wish I hadn’t (Laughs) Okay, okay. I don’t have any intentions of rapping in Hindi, simply because I’m not the best speaker in the world. As far as Sindhi goes, I’ve thrown the idea around many times. I’ve had many relatives ask me to, but at the same time I don’t want to segregate my larger fan base which knows me for my English rapping. So, I think for now I’m gonna’ stick to English. But who knows, I may visit it in the future. I just have to do it in a creative way where I can have everyone onboard.

You’re a successful rapper now. Why have you chosen to keep your day job at the same time instead of fully indulging yourself in music?
I hate to say that I’m successful, because I still have so much I wanna’ do and accomplish. Even though I’ve been doing this for a while, I feel like I’m just getting started! I’m a naturally creative person. I love the arts, and I love to express myself through them. Graphic design, web design, animation, drawing, you name it. I love to create. So, I don’t think I’d feel complete if I restricted myself to only music. I hate to use the word “restrict”, but that’s how I’d feel if I weren’t able to do everything. So, I kept the day job as a designer to allow me the opportunity to be creative. Plus it pays the bills! (Laughs)

What is coming up for you next?
Well right now I’m working on two CDs simultaneously. I’ve got “Something to Prove” coming up next, which is the album I’ve been working on for the last couple years. I’ve got a pretty crazy range on there, from party songs to hardcore songs to lots more. I’m really excited to let people hear it. It’s a reflection of my evolution with some of my most introspective songs. I’m also working on the Indian-themed CD that I mentioned to you earlier, which is also coming along well. That one’s definitely down the line, but it’s shaping up to be very eclectic and innovative. It tackles some pretty serious topics, but still has the typical fun catchy stuff you might expect to hear from me too. And outside of the CDs, I’ve been redesigning my website Ajaxxx.com which I hope to launch soon too! And of course, you and I are still taking that trip. Right? (Laughs)

(Laughs) You are one persistent rapper! What would you advise aspiring artists?
Well, again, I’m reluctant to give advice to someone in the same boat as me. That’s like me teaching the fisherman how to fish. But, I will say, I’ve gotten this far by prioritizing and committing myself. Initially, I don’t think anybody believed in me. But, after dropping three CDs, pressing up my own t-shirts, launching my own website, filming and editing my own videos, hopping on different mixtapes, and building my own recording booth, among other things, people realized that I’m for real about this. The game isn’t what it used to be. There are so many new outlets for artists to explore, and many more ways to connect to fans too. The internet is such a valuable resource. I’d exploit everything.

And before we let you go, explain the Ajaxxx factor. What does your stage name mean?
I like the way you say that – “the Ajaxxx factor” – sounds like the name of a TV show! (Laughs) Well, “Ajax” was a name given to me when I was growing up. A lot of family called me that, and kids actually used to call me that to tease me. Can you believe that? Yeah, neither can I!  Anyway, I was going by a couple of different “rap names” initially, but eventually decided on the name because it had been my nickname for a while. The only thing I did was add the three x’s to it to give it an edge. “Ajaxxx” is uncut, raw, and doesn’t hold back. And so, that’s what he decided to call himself. And, I have no idea why I’m talking in third person (Laughs). Thanks for your time and for sitting down with me, Roshni! So, can I interest you in some chai while we discuss our trip?

~ Roshni M.
(November 2009)