‘Impossible is nothing’

faujaji.jpg“Gangster” Fauja Singh (as our much-adored Punjabi Boy dubbed him) is at it again– he’s not content with the myriad marathons under his belt, so the next item on the 94-year old rockstar’s “to do” list is some record-breaking. As in, eight of them.

…Asafa Powell might have to watch his back. The Jamaican may have the new 100m record, but Fauja’s after eight of them – in one day.
On Saturday, London’s Mile End Park Stadium will witness the great man attempting to set world bests for men over 90 in the 100m, 200m, 300m, 800m, 1500m, 1 mile, 3,000m and 5,000m.
The action starts at 10:30BST with proceeds going to charity and the event is in support of the London 2012 Olympic bid.

The Adidas poster boy swears by a regimen of daily training (eight-miles!), smiling, not smoking, avoiding glassy junction and lots of ginger curry. Wonder if that last item meets Manish’s stringent definitions for such a dish? Ofo, Vij-ji…if anyone merits an exception, it’s Fauja Singh. ;)

Nothing stokes public excitement like “beef”. Prepare the vats of ginger curry! Let’s get rrrrready to rrrrumble! :

coach Harminder Singh is trying to set up a showdown between Fauja and Japan’s Kozo Haraguchi – the new 100m world record holder for the 95-99 age group.

Haraguchi is hard-core…but I think our man Fauja can take him. :D

The BBC article I linked to asked when our running man might hang up his kicks; I totally dig his answer.

“When I die!” he laughs.

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Desi-fans @ Winds of Change; India-US Defense Pact

GEO_US_India_Flags.gifA fantastic, detailed, link-filled post from Joe Katzman of Winds of Change on the recently signed US-India mutual defense pact -

…the behaviour of its rising Islamists “is slowly forcing the US and India together over common strategic concerns.” …The United States and India signed a 10-year agreement paving the way for stepped up military ties, including joint weapons production and cooperation on missile defense. Titled the “New Framework for the US-India Defense Relationship” (NFDR), it was signed on June 27/05 by U.S. Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld and India’s Defense Minister Pranab Mukherjee. This is a big deal. A very big deal.

Joe’s post covers a fascinating amount of territory and proves that he’s no slouch in the Desi current events arena. Heck, he even uses the term Desi rather appropriately.

This post is part of a series of “enthusiastic” coverage on Indian geopolitics that are worth checking out. Continue reading

My Alyssa Milano fantasy is dead

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In the 80s, whenever I was asked the question, “Who’s the Boss?” I had only one answer: Alyssa! The perfect combination of spunk, smarts, and good looks. Or so I thought. My dream is officially dead. ExpressIndia.com reports:

SheÂ’s the fourth sexiest woman in the world according to FHM magazine and popularly known as the seductive Phoebe Haliwell of the witch trio in Charmed. But for the past four days, actor Alyssa Milano has shed her screen image to step into the role of UNICEFÂ’s ambassador to India.

Hair held back with a white crochet band, palms decorated with bridal henna she strolls out of a Chillout session with Cyrus Broacha at MTV’s Parel studio. ‘‘I’ve wanted to come to India ever since I was young,’’ says the Pandit Ravi Shankar fan, who also dabbles in Buddhism and Hinduism.

While in Los Angeles, the actor regularly visits a regression therapist who told her that in a past life, she was friends with Lord Krishna. ‘‘I was also completely at ease with my wardrobe here, because I wear a lot of kurtas back home as well,’’ says the yoga addict who read five books on Indian history in preparation for her visit.

With nine-hour work schedules, this was no pleasure trip. The only party she attended was a small do, attended by Rahul Bose and Farooque Shaikh. ‘‘I couldn’t believe actors from Bollywood were so short,’’ she laughs.

Ugh. Who will I lust for now? I hope Alyssa’s mom doesn’t sue me for this like she has others.

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Killer Bees

The last two days there has been a bee stuck in my office. I fear nothing in this life except for bees. Everyone has a phobia. Mine can be traced to the honey suckle bushes surrounding my childhood home. The bees traumatized me. While learning martial arts in Tibet I thought of a career as a “Beeman” which would entail returning to the U.S. and fighting criminals as a vigilante dressed in a bee outfit. I would make my fear my enemy’s fear.

With the bee in my office I suffered a classic “fight or flight” response. The hairs on my neck stood up, my pupils dilated and my breathing shallowed. No joke. Coincidentally the same thing happened for an entirely different reason when I saw this obnoxious commercial last night while watching 30 Days.

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I can imagine Dairy Queen ad-executives now. “Umm, could you like…try and speak even more Indian-like.” The accents are so over the top and seemingly pointless that it makes you wonder what the hell they were thinking when they authorized this. “The bee concept is funny but do you know what would make it funnier?” In fact, I haven’t seen a caricature this bad since “Ben Jabituya’s” in the movie Short Circuit.

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Posted in TV

Queuing

If there’s one thing desis learn to do early, it’s to wait in line. Years of living in crowded countries make sure of that. You’d think Russians under communism would be the world champions of waiting. But Hindu mythology mentions sanyasis who went so deep into meditative penance, they were slowly covered by creepers and anthills.

Sanjai L. Shah knows the meaning of waiting. As Ennis posted earlier, he’s spent the last year camping out at the Nairobi airport waiting for British citizenship:

In 2004, Mr. Shah received a British passport and headed off to London. But he made a critical error. He bought a one-way ticket, raising the suspicions of immigration authorities at Heathrow Airport… Before he was put on a plane back to Nairobi, the ominous words “PROHIBITED IMMIGRANT” were stamped into his British passport. His Kenyan passport had already been cut by British consular officials in Nairobi… [NYT]

He feared if he tried to leave the airport he would be arrested by Kenyan police and imprisoned… His wife, Rashmita, and son, Veer, who have Kenyan passports, have visited him every few days, bringing food and clean clothes. [BBC]

But what’s in a year? To a religion which measures times in yugas, a year is less than the time it takes for Brahma to reach for His electric toothbrush in the morning. Now the Brits have poured a spot of tea, taken a puff from a pipe and said, ‘Really, old chap, is all this quite necessary?’ They just granted Shah full citizenship:

… now Mr Shah has been told by officials from the British High Commission in Nairobi that his application for a full British passport has been approved… A spokesperson at the High Commission said the decision had nothing to do with what he described as the pointless protest that Mr Shah has conducted for the past year. [BBC]

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Selling dreams, door to door

For many in India, their first movie wasn’t in an air-conditioned, terraced, multiplex, or on a TV screen hooked up to a VCR. It was shown to them by a travelling cinema, a truck with multiple aging film projectors bolted to its floor, and a team of projectionists who lived in it.

This was the opposite of a drive-in theater; instead of driving to the screen and watching from your car, the film came to you, but stayed in its vehicle.

Shashwati fondly remembers her experiences with this dying breed of entrepreneurs:

These companies were commercial ventures with ancient 35 mm projectors, they would go to where the audience was, set up a screen and show a movie. When I was in school, that is how films used to be shown to us. Mr. Movie Man (we actually called him that) would come with a projector and usually an ancient Tarzan movie. We would re-arrange our chairs, and take down the partition between the classrooms … 

Once, by mistake, Mr. Movie Man put in a French film, it was fading and probably from 1960. It wasn’t anything special. A woman in a long coat and sunglasses walked into a beach cabin. She sat there, and then a man came in. And he kissed her, on the mouth! After that first kiss, there was either deadly silence or a collective gasp, then the lady took off her clothes, not all of them, but enough for the film to be stopped and reel yanked out. Then we were back to seeing “savages” and a full grown man leaping through trees, something much more salubrious for our tender psyches. [Shashwati]

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Why Johnny can’t multiply

(But Suresh Venkatasubramanian can): Sunil Laxman says there are advantages to the desi approach of by-hearting your maths. Namely that you don’t look like an idiot when asked to multiply two small numbers.

My wife went to the bank yesterday to make a simple cash deposit… in two $100 bills, and nine $20 bills…

“Hey John, what’s 9*20? There’s some problem with my computer.” My wife’s standing there, and her jaw drops… Meanwhile, John’s breaking into a sweat.

“Uh….I’m not sure….9 times 20 is….”

My wife’s getting impatient… “One hundred and eighty,” she says.

John looks at her in awe, and says, “I think you’re right! You must be really good with numbers…”

I’m in awe of the cashiers in little, obscure banks in India (State Bank of Mysore, anyone?) who count faster than you can key in the numbers into a calculator.

This kind of innumeracy is my father’s favorite story about the American education system, right after ‘we were multiplying six-digit numbers in first grade’ (which he inflicted on me) and a Ramanujan-like story where he nearly solves an unsolvable problem, awing the textbook author over parcel post.

Of course, the genius of America is that its systems are so good, you can run a bank with tellers who can’t do math ;)

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Brownout in TO

The Mistress of Spices and Deepa Mehta’s trilogy finale will premiere at the Toronto Film Festival in September (thanks, DesiDancer). Mehta’s filming was blocked by protests, but that’s just Water under the bridge:

Filming on Water in India had to be abandoned five years ago after protests over the pic’s subject. It concerns an 8-year-old child bride, sent to an ashram after her husband’s death, who forces the other widows to question their culture and faith. Pic stars Lisa Ray and John Abraham. The Hindi- and English-language film eventually was shot in Sri Lanka under the name River Moon, a moniker selected for its cheesiness, producer David Hamilton said. An “anti-publicist” was hired to keep word of it out of the media…

Now they say desi artists are picking cheesy titles? Here’s one: Mistress of Spices is exoticism buzzword bingo. And Padma Lakshmi’s cookbook title, Easy Exotic, is exactly the two things which desi women don’t want to be known for.

Also making its world premiere will be Mistress of Spices about an Indian woman (Aishwarya Rai) running a spice shop in San Francisco whose magic fails her when she falls in love. Pic is from Paul Mayeda Berges and Gurinder Chadha, the team behind Bend It Like Beckham…

How’s the art film actor with washboard abs doing? Everybody says he’s fine:

Indian filmmaker Buddhadev Dasgupta’s Kaalpurush will world premiere. [The] pic, starring Rahul Bose, follows a man struggling to come to terms with the memory of his powerful father…
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It’s time for ARTWALLAH!

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The 2005 Artwallah Festival is just one week away. If you are near Los Angeles between July 7th and 10th and have a pulse and a reasonably warm body then you will be labeled hopelessly un-cool if you don’t make an appearance. Why should you come? Let me break this down for you by taking you on a multimedia tour of the largest South Asian Arts festival in the U.S. I have spent a couple hours hunting down the web-links to the works of the artists in this post that will be at the festival. Click on the links to experience something new. I provide samples of the goods only. For the full rush you can buy a ticket from me. That’s right. I’m your pusher. If you have a cousin who lives in California and you’ve always thought they should get out more, send them this post. If your roommate from college subsequently moved into their parent’s basement and still hasn’t left, send them this post.

First up, The Blend. Its on a grass field on the grounds of an art museum overlooking Hollywood. When the sun touches the horizon, the music starts.

THURSDAY (7/7) THE BLEND

FESTIVAL KICK-OFF PRESENTED BY ARTWALLAH AND MTV DESI

An outdoor concert under the stars showcasing a array of South Asian musical talentÂ…

8:00 – 11:00 PM

Anand Subramanian – Retro Pop, Guitar Nourished Electronica

Jason Joseph & Shaheen Sheik – Soulful and Sultry, Funk and Pop-Rock

Lovely – Lush British Indie Sound with a Rock Edge

Calcutta – Electrically Charged Riffs and Guitars

DeLon – Unity Driven Hip Hop that Makes It Crack

The Dhamaal Collective – South Asian Instrumentation, Experimental Beats



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