Slavery Lives

The Christian Science Monitor has a bleak story on a problem that many assume is a thing of the past:

Slaves are cheap these days. Their price is the lowest it’s been in about 4,000 years. And right now the world has a glut of human slaves – 27 million by conservative estimates and more than at any time in human history. Although now banned in every country, slavery has boomed in the past 50 years as the global population has exploded. A billion people scrape by on $1 a day. That extreme poverty combined with local government corruption and a global economy that leaps national boundaries has produced a surge in the number of slaves – even though in the developed world, that word conjures up the 19th century rather than the evening news.

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AI282 to Dallas, now boarding…

One of the seminal “growing up ABCD” collective memories was the torturous trip back to India (during school vacations only!) to visit the relatives. I so vividly remember the lines, the waiting, the baggage weight limit horrors, bumped passengers, horrible food, non-existant customer service, ugh, basically everything.

One can only imagine what went through those bomb sniffing dogs minds as they encountered an aunty’s suitcase laden with 101 masala’s, spices, and vege’s.

Well, times might be a changing — US ready to open its skies to any Indian airline.

NEW DELHI, AUGUST 31: Building on its idea of an open-skies agreement with India, the United States has provided a detailed proposal listing far-reaching features of such an agreement, the first of its kind being considered by India. At present, none of the US airlines has direct flights to India, barring one which operates to Mumbai. In contrast: Daily, there are are 20 non-stop services to China, 13 to South Korea and an average of 51 to Japan.

The US govt official apparently has a stake in the matter – he’s desi! -

…US Assistant Secretary of Transportation for Aviation Karan Bhatia

The upside for us? Better service and lower fares -

The existing agreement allows only designated carriers to specific points. While Indian carriers can touch New York, Chicago, San Francisco and Los Angeles, US airlines can only operate to Delhi, Chennai, Kolkata and Mumbai. …

The US has argued that an open-skies agreement will also bring down air fares. While the distance between Washington DC and New Delhi is close to that from Washington DC to Seoul, the air fare to New Delhi is almost double that to Seoul. The US believes this is largely because of the open skies agreement it has with South Korea.

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Kal Penn defends ‘Harold and Kumar’

Just want to make sure everyone sees Kal Penn’s reply to criticism of his film Harold and Kumar Go to White Castle. (Or at least a comment by someone posting a long, careful defense under his name.)

A final scene IÂ’d like to clarify is the “Bag of Weed Dream Sequence”, in which Kumar fantasizes about, falls in love with, and marries a giant bag of weed. In a bout of post-marital financial hardship and depression, Kumar slaps the weed, calls her a “bitch”, and then apologizes… everyone should know that the scene is a parody of (and shot almost exactly like) a very famous scene in the Robert DeNiro film, “Raging Bull”.

It’s much like my point of view, though I missed the Raging Bull reference:

[T]he bit about slapping a bag of weed is intended to make fun of Kumar and is anti-domestic violence. Kumar is in an undershirt in a slummy apartment, chest hair showing, drinking crummy coffee. It’s enlightened society saying that Archie Bunker-like abusers are uncool troglodytes.

This all was prompted by Abhi’s post quoting South Asian Sisters’ criticism:

Harold and Kumar disappointed us. They represented Asian American men as being homophobic, spineless, sex-crazed misogynists.

Kal Penn’s site now has a new link to the anti-domestic violence org Narika and a page of links to progressive South Asian orgs.

‘Everybody Says I’m Fine’ playing in NYC

RahulBose.jpg KoelPurie.jpg Art film stud Rahul Bose’ new wave film Everybody Says I’m Fine returns to Manhattan at the Pioneer Theater from Sep. 1-8. The film, a thriller in English about a mind-reading hairdresser in Bombay, stars Bose (Mr. and Mrs. Iyer) and British desi Koel Purie (American Daylight, Road to Ladakh). Upper Stall pointed out why the film is innovative, part of a flowering of increasingly sophisticated Indian cinema which includes Dil Chahta Hai and Yuva:

ESIF is most unlike any other commercially made English film in India… The film is not intended for an international (read festival) audience. It is for English speaking Indians… Bose is certainly not trying to sell India with a typical portrayal of a kind of Indianess from a Western perspective… There is no deliberate indulgence in trying to woo a “crossover audience” (whatever that is.) It’s a good story to tell. And Bose has just happened to do it in English.

As usual, the New York Times didn’t grok it. Continue reading

A. Roy–A Superstar of the Left

Znet has an interesting interview, dated August 31, 2004, with Booker prize winning author turned-global activist, Arundhati Roy here. And then here is a link-filled article about her recent talks on the Left coast.

In person, Roy is soft-spoken and nothing like a rabble-rouser. She seems to save her sharpest words for the printed page. For her public speeches in the United States, Roy usually reads essays she has written. In fact, Roy says, her onstage comments are really written for herself. That many people (especially liberal thinkers) agree with her statements is but a kind of bonus. “I think what probably drives me as a writer is a curiosity to understand and to keep understanding,” Roy says. “When I write, I write for myself, not just in order to let people know, because the writing clarifies things to me.”

Both make for interesting reads.

Jihadists deal a blow to America by striking … Nepal

Sigh.

DUBAI, United Arab Emirates (AP) – A Web site linked to an Iraqi militant group showed a video of what was purported to be the killing of 12 Nepalese workers by militants who had kidnapped them. The Nepalese Foreign Ministry said it could not confirm the report of the hostages’ deaths. The 12 had been reported kidnapped Aug. 20.

Nepal should respond by allowing the Gurkha’s to go medieval on their asses.

John McCain’s “black” child

Every time you hear the name of Arizona Senator John McCain this week, with regards to the Republican National Convention, you will hear in the same breath how he is helping Bush despite the fact that he really doesn’t like the man. Is it really true that McCain doesn’t like Bush? We may never find out until we see his memoirs, but their might be cause for the animosity. The ill feelings might have their roots in Bush’s Brain, the evil genius Karl Rove. Elanor Clift of Newsweek Magazine writes:

The Kerry campaign thinks it has succeeded in discrediting the scurrilous attack on KerryÂ’s military service, but Rove got what he wanted. Instead of talking about a failed war in Iraq and a new report that shows 1.3 million more Americans living in poverty, we’re debating what happened in the Mekong Delta in 1968. The strategy “came straight from the West Wing,” says the GOP staffer. “Nobody should be confused.” Asked to explain, this Republican says Rove is smart enough to keep technical distance. But all it takes is a well-placed wink to activate a web of Bush family hit men, confidantes and deep-pocket donors. “They know what to do–it’s like sleeper cells that get activated,” he says, likening the players to “political terrorists.”

They sprang into action in 2000 when Bush was running in the primaries against John McCain. After getting beat in New Hampshire by McCain, Bush’s first event was at Bob Jones University in South Carolina. Standing next to Bush on the stage was a veteran who went right at McCain, questioning his Vietnam service while Bush remained silent. A whisper campaign told voters that McCain had a black child. (The McCains have an adopted daughter from Bangladesh.) McCain lost the primary; the veteran became a Bush administration appointee.

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The brown bard: ‘Twelfth Night’ in India

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A London production of Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night reimagines the play by setting it in modern India. Stephen Beresford’s production opened Aug. 26 in London for a ten-week run, featuring a mostly desi cast for the classic gender-bending, mistaken identity tale.

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The production relies on notable actors including Kulvinder Ghir (Goodness Gracious Me) as Feste, Raza Jaffrey (fresh from London’s Bombay Dreams) as the duke, and Neha Dubey (the cutie in Monsoon Wedding). Shireen Martineau plays the androgynous female lead, Viola. Jatinder Verma from Tara Arts is advising; he previously put together an all-desi version of Moliere’s Tartuffe at the National Theatre in London.

Beresford said India was exactly what he was looking for:

…[M]odern people in a modern setting but living in a culture thatÂ’s rooted in its past, mysterious, religious and magical; a place where attitudes to sex, love and death are frank and realistic, but where women might veil themselves in front of strangers; a world of shrines and marriage settlements, where ancient music and ritual are a part of daily life… Once India had suggested itself, the solutions followed. Feste becomes a Baul singer, a Bengali tradition of nomadic minstrels and soothsayers… [A]n Elizabethan setting carries its own problems. If you want the freshness and sophistication of the play to come across, you set yourself an uphill struggle by kitting out the actors with ruffs…

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hell, i’d have perfect attendance

learning can be hicfun:

A school in Orissa becomes a liquor store after classes end every day.
This came to light after a police posse raided the school on Wednesday night and found people in large numbers consuming liquor in the premises. Police also seized about 150 litres of liquor from the school premises.
The school-cum-liquor store is actually a government primary school located in Kalajamuna village in the southern district of Ganjam. It has up to class five with over 200 students. The school has about six staff members, including the teachers.
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