Good for your teeth

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Shaheen Sheik is dropping her album Rock Candy on Sunday, May 1st. Now if I was a proper music reviewer I’d paint a picture for you about what her music sounds like. I’d say something clever like “Norah Jones meets so and so” and I’d use music industry words like “mellifluous.” I am not a Rolling Stones writer though. I’m just a humble blogger. I can only tell you that when she sings my feet tap and my head bobs and I think pleasant thoughts while oblivious to distractions. Besides, I’ve always thought of music the way I think of paintings. I don’t like people putting thoughts in my head of what I should expect to hear when I can simply listen for myself. Go listen to some songs off of her new CD here and decide for yourself.

Her record release party will be on Sunday night at the Knitting Factory in Hollywood for those who might be interested in seeing her perform. I’ll be there of course :)

Also see previous post here.

[disclosure: Shaheen is a friend] Continue reading

Villaraigosa panders to South Asians

L.A. Mayorial Candidate Antonio Villaraigosa has pandered to pretty much every ethnic minority in L.A. in his bid to unseat incumbent Jim Hahn. Why not South Asians? Indiawest reports:

If elected mayor of Los Angeles in the May 17 election, city councilman Antonio Villaraigosa pledged that, in making Los Angeles more “open” to South Asians…His administration would also seriously consider making appointments from within those communities

In fairness though, you have to excessively pander in L.A. to win. Continue reading

Irshad Manji has plenty of enemies

Reza Aslan has been making rounds on the talk show circuit recently to hype his book “No God, but God.”

In No god but God, Aslan challenges the “clash of civilizations” mentality that has distorted our view of Islam and explains this critical faith in all its complexity, beauty, and compassion.

Irshad Manji (born to Indian and Egyptian parents) on the other hand takes a different approach. USA Today reports:

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Irshad Manji has plenty of enemies among her fellow Muslims. Her critique of Islam is frank and fierce. She defends the invasion of Iraq. She sympathizes with Israel. She’s a lesbian and doesn’t try to hide it.

“Then there is the hair,” she adds, referring to the spiky highlights that sharpen her live-wire manner.

What has brought this Uganda-born Asian-Canadian to prominence is her book, “The Trouble With Islam Today,” just out in paperback in the United States where she has been touring and talking.

As you can imagine, a practicing Muslim with such unique views might be a product of an unusual background.

Continue reading

Tribal marriage

The tribal model of marriage:
It’s thoroughly depressing that some Indian girls are still being married off by age 12… suspiciously coincidental with the age of menarche. The obsession with female virginity obscenely reduces half the world to a box of disposable tissues with a faulty seal:

[A]s Thomas Aquinas once noted, the generative power of the Holy Ghost pierced the Virgin’s hymen ‘like a ray of sunshine through a window–leaving it unbroken.’

… Today the NYT reminds us Neanderthal marriage customs are not a uniquely desi shame, they’re tribal:

More than half of Kyrgyzstan’s married women were snatched from the street by their husbands in a custom known as “ala kachuu,” which translates roughly as “grab and run.” … at least a third of Kyrgyzstan’s brides are now taken against their will. Kyrgyz men say they snatch women because it is easier than courtship and cheaper than paying the standard “bride price,” which can be as much as $800 plus a cow.

This in particular is reminiscent of desi village culture:

Once a girl has been kept in the home overnight, her fate is all but sealed: with her virginity suspect and her name disgraced, she will find it difficult to attract any other husband… “Every good marriage begins in tears,” a Kyrgyz saying goes.

It’s always bothered me the way the doli / vidai in a Hindu wedding ends in tears… At its heart it’s a submission ritual: the baraatis have stormed the gates, the bride has been caught, the doli is her broken surrender, carried off in a palanquin to the conqueror’s harem. ’Dilwale dulhaniya le jayenge’: it’s Alexander entering Babylon, Hulagu entering Baghdad.

M.I.A. now a role model?

The Voice thinks M.I.A. needs to coin a genre:

Fannypack are like M.I.A., who hops her own scotch and shakes her own jumprope, and they’re in a similar predicament, which is that they don’t quite fit pre-existing genres, dance or hip-hop… Fannypack and M.I.A. should hold a joint press conference and simply declare themselves a genre, invent some name, Jumprope or Streetrope or Boohall or Favela Bratty Beats or Bow-Wow Booty Bop or something… M.I.A. and Fannypack are in dance-club bohemia, which means on the one hand that they’ll be surrounded by preciousness, but on the other that, being bohos, they might stick to their vision, keep doing the jumprope not just for fun or for the moolah but for the art of it, persist long enough and obstinately enough to still be jumping when the world is finally ready to jump with them…

On the Internet, nobody knows you’re a decorator

Budding interior designers now have a new way to decorate: have your custom furnishings made in an Indian factory:

[Cornelia] The other fusion element–the Swedish-looking candleholder that I found. I wanted to get 40 made for our wedding. I sent out an Internet request to a consortium of Indian manufacturers: “Can anybody make these?” A man with a factory outside Delhi e-mailed: I can do it!

[Mikael] We use candles a lot in northern countries… We’re a pale people.

A Mathematical Model of Edison, NJ

With Edison, NJ in the news, this article from the the good folks over at GNXP is rather timely – a mathematical model for the formation of ethnic enclaves -

…Natural Intelligence has developed an application called the “Ethnic Simulator” that models the residential behavior of people in the hypothetical ethnically diverse city of Metropolis. …The premise of the Ethnic Simulator is that ethnically distinct groups have a modest preference to live among their own kind. In Metropolis there are five ethnic groups –- Blues (the majority), Greens, Reds, Grays, and Yellows. The application allows the user to set the percentage of preference of each group for its own kind.

Outcome? Regardless of how “racist” the majority Blues are, the minority Yellows end up in “ghettos” if they express even the most minor preference for being near each other…. Intuitively obvious perhaps, but interesting to see mathematically modelled. Continue reading

Le Carre in Tamil

Karthik tells a droll story about borrowing a library book in India:

“Do you have The Spy Who Came in From the Cold?”
“Who is the author?”
“John Le Carre.”

… she scribbled something in the note, and left it on her desk… Stuck to the notice with cellophane tape was the make shift post-it note. It said, in Tamil:

Karthik
John
Book with a long name

Sobhraj’s daring escape

Shashwati explains murderer Charles Sobhraj’s escape from a Greek prison:

One day he managed to purloin a syringe. He drew some of his own blood, and spat it out during an inspection, and collapsed feigning illness… While in hospital, he lay his hands on a bottle of perfume… Charles and some other inmates were put in a van to be taken back to the prison… Charles threw the perfume on a bunch of oily rags and lit it, starting a fire in the van… Sobhraj escaped in the confusion.