Daily Archives: June 14, 2013

This is probably why we shouldn’t let the local Democrats pick half our school board

Cult member Samarpana Tamm protests Mitt Romney, May 20, 2012

Cult member Samarpana Tamm protests Mitt Romney, May 20, 2012

(bumped)

They’ve announced their slate of new members for the BOE (under Greenwich law, residents don’t vote for these people, the party bosses do), and one of them is Samarpana Tamm, an assistant school librarian over in Darien and a woman our Democrat selectman Drew Marsullo describes as “highly qualified” and Democrat Chairman Francis Fudrucker calls “a fighter”. But a fighter for what?

Nowhere in the Greenwich Time’s reprint of the Democrats’ press release do we find out Ms Tamm’s position on school desegregation, the music hall project or indeed, anything of substance at all. More curious is the failure to mention that Samarpana and her husband spent decades under the control of and in a cult run by a local guru, Sri Chinmoy, and subjected their daughter to Chinmoy’s rule (odd the paper omitted this, because it knew about the Tamms’ cult in 2009, when they  interviewed their daughter).

I find it the height of arrogance that the Greenwich Democrats, guaranteed the power to appoint anyone they please to our school board, nominate a woman who is (a) a Greenwich Academy, not a public school parent; (b) a woman who submitted her life (marrying who the guru told her to is just one example) to a whacko, and far more important, allowed that guru to dictate how her child was raised. I’m sure Ms. Tamm is no longer a disciple of Sri Chinmoy – he’s dead, among other reasons- but I’d certainly like to know more about  why she stayed in guru’s thrall until at least the early 1990s, what influences she retains from that period of her life and whether she still believes that the best education for children is to indoctrinate and brainwash them so they will follow a charismatic leader. If she does, then the Democrats have their perfect candidate: the rest of us are not so lucky.

Our new Democratic appointee to the Board of Education lives at 5 Chimnoy Avenue (named after their guru)  with her husband Rudra Tamm. Here’s how their daughter Jayanti Tamm describes life with them and their Guru:

“According to Guru [Sri Chinmoy], my first dharshan, official blessing, occurred an hour after my birth. Guru walked up to the window and spotted me. I, like the other shriveled, stunned newborns, was asleep. Guru had brought with him my name. In Eastern traditions, a spiritual name means receiving a new life, a new identity. My mother, originally Kathleen, was given the name Samarpana by Guru, and my father, originally Tonis, was renamed Rudra. My parents would never have considered naming me themselves. I was Guru’s. He picked out the name, Jayanti, meaning “the absolute victory of the highest Supreme.”

The daughter (who attended Greenwich Academy), did not have an easy life,  as recounted in her book, Cartwheels in a Sari: A Memoir of Growing Up Cult reviews of which are here.

Here’s an excerpt from a Greenwich Time article written in 2009 (unfortunately, GT doesn’t permit access to older articles, so the link to the full review no longer works):

Greenwich Time Article 6/13/2009 Interview by Colin Gustafson
Greenwich native calls Chinmoy’s ministry a ‘cult’

When the late guru Sri Chinmoy came to Greenwich to lift an elephant in a circus-like street spectacle in 1984, former resident Jayanti Tamm, then 14, knew her secret was out.

“The next day, the newspaper had these breathless quotes from my parents, praising their spiritual leader (Chinmoy) for this feat (of strength),” Tamm said. “I was outed to the entire town.”

A graduate of Greenwich Academy, Tamm says she spent many years in Greenwich leading a double life. By day, she was a typical teenager, she said, attending class and playing sports at the all-girls private school.

At home, however, she led a secret life as Chinmoy’s so-called chosen disciple, along with her brother and parents, who were assigned by the guru to recruit disciples for his Queens-based spiritual ministry.

Growing more disillusioned with Chinmoy’s teachings as a teenager, Tamm eventually rebelled against him and, at age 25, was kicked out of his ministry for disobedience. [Click here to read the rest of this review]

More detail  is found in the Beachcomber Review

What would you want to say about your childhood and upbringing after you emerged from its securities, insecurities and peculiarities into adulthood? Personal narratives may begin before birth, include the tumult of each person’s appearance and tell of family experiences that shaped the individual. If the story is one the narrator sees as unique, the challenge is both to speak honestly and to relate the extraordinary in a way others can share.
That is the task which Jayanti Tamm, an English professor at Ocean County College, has undertaken in her vivid memoir Cartwheels in a Sari, and the jacket cover of this handsome book gives a thematic preview with the words: “A Memoir of Growing Up Cult.”

While “How I Met Your Mother” is a familiar subject in any family story, that event starts this extraordinary memoir, with the cult guru directing each of Tamm’s parents to consider the other as part of life’s higher calling. The hand of the guru becomes and remains a paramount influence in Tamm’s upbringing.

Though asceticism is advocated as a life style for cult members, Tamm’s expected birth brings forth her anticipated role in the cult: a miracle child “descended from the highest heavens to be an exemplary disciple…a devoted, sacrificial being, selfless and tireless, pleasing the master unconditionally.”
Tamm’s unusual name, “Jayanti,” was chosen by the guru and means “the absolute victory of the highest Supreme.” While every child discovers parental expectations necessarily shape them, the views of the cult leader trump parental ones, at least in Tamm’s early years. Feeling adored and special is not that unusual for children, but the role the guru delineates for Tamm sets into motion both opportunities and responsibilities that make her story singular.

How can a person be-come an independent, thinking adult when the person’s society, religious rituals and education are prescribed by a cult leader who sees himself as the means for the perfection of that person and everyone else? The author traces the delights and traumas of her early years as well as a gathering sense that her own soul requires something more, something not in the array of gratifications the cult prescribes.

In a state of despair, Tamm left the cult in her early 20s and contemplated suicide [emphasis added] as the full impact of the severing of her relationship with everything and everyone she had ever known struck her. She managed to pull her life together and graduate from college, an accomplishment the guru did not want her to earn even though she had told him she could help spread the word of the cult if she became a journalist. He responded that college was for the mind, and his work was of the heart.

After Tamm left the cult, she married and gave birth to a daughter, the latter occurring on the same day Sri Chinmoy died.

Tamm’s parents, half-brother and aunt were all members of the cult at one time, and she was the first to leave it. Although her mother and father left eventually, her half brother and aunt still are cult members and have severed all connection to her and her parents.

Tamm writes color-fully and with attention to detail. Cult discipline reflected the idiosyncrasies of the guru: “According to Guru, none of his disciples could die without having Guru’s express permission. As long as someone remained a disciple, they were safe from a sudden death…. He made it clear that the past was dust, and the future was not our concern; all attention must be fixated on the present. Therefore disciples who fretted about notions of health insurance, life insurance or wills clearly were not full believers in Guru’s protective powers…. Those who became gravely ill or died obviously had not been good disciples, and as their lives withered and vanished, they were quickly forgotten.”

In other episodes, such as Guru’s peace meditations at the United Nations or his dining with Muhammad Ali or hosting Mayor Ed Koch, all of which elevated public awareness of his mission to promote harmony, she weaves together, in linear fashion, multiple narratives that draw the reader into the cult life she experienced. In incidents and examples, she chronicles her wind-ing path out of the cult, and when she sometimes deviates from a story she is recalling, she manages always to get back to the original personal storyline.

In her final chapter, Tamm uses her experiences of wearing saris and turning cartwheels in her cult life to add perspective to her chronicles and her choice of book title. “I knew what I wanted. And it was not contained inside the gym at guru’s circus…. I was through tumbling for him, done cartwheeling, dwelling upside down.” It is safe to say Tamm’s life is finally right side up.

UPDATE: but wait, there’s more! Here’s Greenwich Magazine:

Throughout the 1970s and ’80s, a secret world existed right under the noses of the well-heeled, well-educated citizens of Fairfield County. The Connecticut branch of a notorious religious cult was invisible to the outside world, and the few who did know of its existence—by dining at its Love and Serve Natural Restaurant, perhaps—thought it benign. In recent years, however, there have been shocking and disturbing accusations involving sexual improprieties perpetrated by their leader, Sri Chinmoy. Now deceased, Chinmoy controlled every aspect of cult members’ lives for forty years from his world headquarters in Queens, New York, including his following in Fairfield County, which at its peak numbered 175 members.

This self-proclaimed guru had a Chosen One, a soul he claimed to embody his most exemplary disciple. This girl, born to two of Chinmoy’s devotees, grew up in Norwalk and Greenwich and graduated from Greenwich Academy. By day she donned the school’s hunter-green kilt, but at night she would change into a sari and participate in cult activities. None of her teachers or classmates had a clue about her secret life. But two years ago, after much therapy, Jayanti Tamm was finally ready to share her story with the world, and she has written a powerful memoir, Cartwheels in a Sari, about “growing up cult” in Fairfield County.

92 Comments

Filed under Uncategorized

Flood costs aren’t restricted to Greenwich

"At the Church of the Holy Polar Bear, we must all sing from the same hymn

“At the Church of the Holy Polar Bear, we must all sing from the same hymn sheet.” Greenwich Town Planner Diane Fox (annual salary, $142,657)

The WSJ reports on the mess. Sounds like we should import us some southerners with backbone to stand up to our own loonies here.

MIAMI—Many coastal communities in the U.S. are grappling with how best to protect low-lying areas from flooding as sea levels rise, but some of those efforts are generating disputes over costs, government regulations and the validity of climate-change studies.

Over the past century, the global sea level has risen about 8 inches, according to a draft climate report released earlier this year by a National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration advisory committee. Many scientists say the rate of rise is accelerating as sea temperatures warm and ice caps melt. But some argue the rate has remained constant or is even decelerating. The climate report projects that sea levels will climb an additional 1 to 4 feet, and possibly higher, this century. If that happens, it could have deep implications for the 5 million U.S. residents who live in areas less than four feet above high tide, half of whom are in Florida, according to a 2012 report by Climate Central, a research organization that aims to measure the local impact of climate change.

In North Carolina, the Coastal Resources Commission, a state agency that establishes policies on coastal development, issued a report in 2010 that predicted a sea-level rise of as much as 39 inches by 2100. That inflamed some coastal residents and business leaders who feared the projection would lead to higher insurance rates.

A nonprofit group in the state called NC-20, which focuses on coastal development from an economic perspective, challenged the commission’s findings, citing researchers who contest that sea-level rise is accelerating. After intense lobbying by the organization, the state enacted a law last year that effectively barred use of the 39-inch prediction for regulatory purposes.

“It’s about preventing damage to the economy from excess, egregious regulation,” said Tom Thompson, NC-20’s chairman. Environmental groups countered that it was an attempt to legislate away reality.

In South Florida, more-frequent flooding during high tide in some areas and other effects of rising sea levels have stoked a public debate. Four counties—Miami-Dade, Broward, Palm Beach and Monroe—formed the Southeast Florida Regional Climate Change Compact in 2010 to coordinate research on weather change and develop responses to it at a government level. Last year, the group released an action plan with 110 policy recommendations, including determining which utilities may need to be reinforced or relocated as a result of increased flooding threats.

The problem is that estimates of sea-level rise span a wide margin, said Nichole Hefty, chief of Miami-Dade’s office of sustainability. “If we knew for certain it was going to rise a foot in the next 30 years, we could say, ‘OK, let’s look at a capital improvement plan,’ ” she said. Instead, officials are left with a tough choice: How much should they invest now to defend against a still-imprecise threat?

Up the Florida coast, another conflict flared recently over a regional planning group called Seven50 that includes seven southern counties, from Monroe to Indian River. The group, which includes public and private entities, aims to boost the area’s economic competitiveness and in part is addressing the effects of climate change.

A number of Indian River residents decried the organization’s work as an attempt to quash private-property rights by imposing sustainable-development initiatives on municipalities. Seven50’s blueprint for economic prosperity is “a socialist document,” said county commissioner Bob Solari.

He and fellow commissioners voted to withdraw from the group last December, after nearly 200 opponents of the effort packed a commission meeting to express concerns. The next month, the city council in Vero Beach, part of Indian River, did the same.

1 Comment

Filed under Uncategorized

Priorities

"Grand Central, last stop"

“Grand Central, last stop”

New Haven Line bridge stuck again, tying up commuter traffic, again.

STAMFORD — A 117-year-old rail bridge carrying the busy New Haven Line over the Norwalk River got stuck in the open position Friday afternoon delaying commuters for more than an hour.

The South Norwalk swing bridge became stuck at 3:40 p.m. and remained open until 5 p.m. throwing the entire Friday evening commute in jeopardy.

Due to the age of the state’s rail bridges, Metro-North requires at least 10 people from the department’s various operations to stand by to ensure a bridge functions properly when it is required to open to maritime traffic, Anders said.

Anders attributed Friday’s malfunction simply to old age.

But why maintain a rail line 120 years old? That’s old fashioned. Instead, Democrats, led by Malloy, have committed to spending (at least – overruns happen) $263 million to build a spanking new high speed train from New Haven to Springfield, Mass. “Well of course no one will actually use the damn thing, ” Dannel admitted, “but ‘high speed rail’ is sexy; ‘commuter line’ is just so boring. Besides, our entire tax system is designed to suck money out of Fairfield County and spread it around the rest of the state – what does it profit a pol  to send that money back?”

14 Comments

Filed under Uncategorized

Yes, houses are still selling

Here are three, reported today:

174 Cat Rock Rd

174 Cat Rock Rd

174 Cat Rock, $1.550 million. It last sold for $1.555 in 2004, the sellers tried for $2.295 in 20087 and pulled it when that price drew no buyers. It came back on earlier this year at $1.650 and that seems to have done the trick. My clients and I thought it was dated, awkwardly laid out and sited o marginal land but obviously someone disagreed with that assessment.

8 Dartmouth

8 Dartmouth

8 Dartmouth (off Cat Rock) has a contract – asking $1.795, 1,137 days after starting at $2.395. I thought this was an interesting house but it has no usable yard, unless your into mountaineering, and needs a lot – a lot – of work.

74 Old Orchard

74 Old Orchard

74 Old Orchard, $2.4 million, also has a contract.

185 Old Mill Rd, $1.395, had a contract as of last May but no longer does. Owner paid $1.6 million in 2004, listed it in 2009 for $2.375, took it off eventually and returned it 400 days ago at the current price. 1800 house on an acre, I thought it would be a great house for the right buyer, but it seems Mr. Right has, after a brief appearance, retreated.

9 Comments

Filed under Uncategorized

Ah, that darn internet!

Next year in Jerusalem!

Next year in Jerusalem!

Muslim hate preacher demands that the Sun remove pictures it posted of him boozing it up back in college.

On Monday, The Sun published pictures of the radical Muslim preacher Anjem Choudary partying while in college at Southhampton University, and now he wants these pictures removed from the Internet. Little does he know that folks don’t much care what radical preachers want.

Now busy founding extremist groups, calling for Sharia in America and refusing to condemn terrorist attacks, old Choudaray used to spend his days parting it up….

Anjem should lighten up; after all, lots of criminals have overcome their sordid past and gone on to accomplish great things, even becoming the president of the United States.

Obama-smoking-Total-Absorption

10 Comments

Filed under Uncategorized

“Especially that suspension of habeas corpus thing”

After me, the greatest president to lead our country

After me, the greatest president to lead our country

Obama: Lincoln is my favorite president. This may not be reassuring, depending.

10 Comments

Filed under Uncategorized

And they’re off!

WSJ: Refinances plunge as interest rates rise. Not to worry, though: banks are expected to make plenty of money on mortgages s they jack up the rates.

Comments Off on And they’re off!

Filed under Uncategorized