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"The Ballad of Narayama" is a Japanese film of great beauty and elegant artifice, telling a story of startling cruelty. What a space it opens…

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From India to America with a Russian name

From From Rubin Safaya, Dallas, TX:

Like Gogol Ganguli (Kal Penn) in Mira Nair's "The Namesake," my brother and I were born in India and our family emigrated here in the 70's. My brother was named Pushkin, after the Russian poet. Growing up, everyone used to mangle his name... Bushkin, Pushpin...

But this never deterred him from making a name and a place for himself here in America. We came in 1976 and lived in a shoebox-sized house in Grand Forks. My mother stayed at home while my father worked, earning with a Ph.D. at 33 less than one-quarter what I earn now at the same age. I have no idea how they did it... but each of us is now successful and educated in our own right.

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I think perhaps, as you note in your review of Nair's wonderful film, those who have the audacity to come here with nothing on their back also have the diligence and determination to make something from nothing. In that regard, Pushkin has done very well. Hard-working, conscientious to other's needs, sociable, generous and pragmatic, he has always been my greatest role model.

Sunday, he turns 40. And yet, to this day he is still his own worst critic. As one who criticizes for a living, what words of advice would you have for my brother as he enters this next phase of his life?

P.S. Not coincidentally, he and his wife chose to name their son Alexander.

As Morgan Freeman says in the film "The Bucket List," a man should be measured by his impact on those who value him the most. From what you say about Pushkin, he's doing things right.

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