Bombay’s Rainy Day (Updated)

bombay flood.jpg Bombay had 37.1 inches of rain on Tuesday, a national record. It’s led to lots of problems, including some deaths (as of this writing, 200 people in Bombay, 400+ people in the state of Maharashtra), as well as huge property damage.

Despite power outages, the Bombay bloggers have been whirring away. Dilip D’Souza, for instance, has been busy, with a column on Rediff and a series of posts on his blog. Amit Varma has a great piece called “Streets Like Rivers”, and a great number of links up here. Sonia Faleiro has an account of getting stuck at the airport, spending the night in the lobby of a hotel, and of the strange, almost inexplicable helpfulness of strangers in a catastrophe. Uma, of IndianWriting, has these pictures, and these links. Also see Gaurav Sabnis, here and here.

But the most interesting accounts of the flooding by far are not by bloggers (though I love the bloggers), but the first-person accounts that have been showing up on Rediff. Below the fold is an account that I found to be particularly moving, warts and all. Continue reading

Power and Beauty?

An anonymous tipster informs me that there is but a single South Asian amongst the 50 Most Beautiful People on Capitol Hill, and he’s #48. [Via Wonkette]

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The “50 Most Beautiful People on Capitol Hill” of 2005 is finally out and we’re not sure where to begin. We do notice that none of last year’s most beautiful made it to this year’s list. It’s a tough town, one year you’re young and gorgeous, the next you’re. . Denny Hastert.

Republican staffer Dino Teppara [previous mentions 1,2] seems to have made the cut. We HAVE to do better than just one for next year people. At least one Democrat, please.

If you are a jerk like me then you will soon be forwarding this link to all your friends who work on the Hill and telling them to start working out and dressing better for a shot next year. :)

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Notes from the Underground

SM reader Cicatrix forwards us this picture (on the left) presumably taken at a Tube Station in London [Via Gawker]. But seriously people. How many of us in a rush to go to work have time to actually READ a sign. I’m not telling Tube workers how to do their jobs but I would have made it into a drawing instead of a note so you could get the gist of it faster. How about something like the one on the right instead?

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Gandhi Was Right

September’s Atlantic magazine has a breakdown of how countries fared after the takedown of an authoritarian government.

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It is by now a truism that ousting an authoritarian regime is often far easier than sustaining freedom afterward. A recent study from the human-rights organization Freedom House argues that “people power,” rather than top-down reform or armed revolt, has the best chance of achieving that result. Researchers examined sixty-seven such political transitions over the past thirty-three years, and found that those countries in which regime change was brought about by nonviolent civic resistance were more likely to be “free” or “partly free” today than countries in which political elites alone had launched the transition or opposition groups had used violence to topple the government. Five of the forty-seven countries that experienced generally peaceful transitions are currently rated “not free,” compared with four of the twenty countries in which the opposition employed violence. As for Iraq’s future, the study offers no guide: only three of the transitions examined were driven by external interventions, with one state (Panama) currently rated “free,” one (Bosnia) “partly free,” and one (Cambodia) “not free.”

View the entire report “How Freedom Is Won: From Civic Resistance to Durable Democracy,” (pdf) here. Continue reading

The Pakistan Border…. again

One of my fav milbloggers – Belmont Club – takes up the ever so interesting story of “just WTF is going on in Waziristan?“. It’s got Mushie mad at Abizaid -

The Winds of Change reports that President Pervez Musharraf warned General John Abizaid against cross border operations into Pakistan. President Gen Pervez Musharraf on Tuesday warned Pakistan would not tolerate future violations of its frontiers and would thwart infiltration into its controlled areas on the pretext of war of terror. Talking to Gen Abizaid, the chief of US Central Command, who called on him at Army House in Rawalpindi, the president said Islamabad was offering every possible support and cooperation to the US and the international community for fighting terrorism and extremism, however it could not allow anyone to violate its borders under the pretext of anti-terror campaign.

And what’s driving the incursions – the frustrating search for Bin Laden -

Operation Enduring Freedom may have given the impression that Pakistan was the highway to Afghanistan, the reverse may be true. Ahmed Rashid wrote in the International Herald Tribune of the tantalizing view southeast: Gone are the days when U.S. officials said vaguely that bin Laden was somewhere on the Pakistan-Afghanistan border. Vice President Dick Cheney and the CIA director, Porter Goss, have said that they know where bin Laden is and that he is not in Afghanistan – implying he is in Pakistan. Zalmay Khalilzad, the former U.S. ambassador to Kabul who is now the U.S envoy in Baghdad, has been more blunt and said that bin Laden is in Pakistan.

And the brilliant irony of these forces carried to a certain logical ends -

by threatening the areas of weakest governance, organizations like Al Qaeda have driven those beleaguered states into the arms of the only power with means and mobility to come to their assistance. It would be the supreme irony if radical Islam’s lasting contribution to history turned out to be the establishment of a global American power.

Previous SM coverage – 1, and 2Continue reading

Tinted Tilly

The August 1 issue of the New Yorker is la vie en sepia. It covers Charlie and the Chocolate Factory star Deep Roy, M.I.A.’s spinner Diplo and the Sri Lankan civil war. Roy is hilarious — I’ve never before seen an uncle in leather bellbottoms doing a KISS impersonation:

Inscrutable hybrids of Punjab and Marvin the Martian, their hair sculpted to resemble chocolate kisses, Roy’s Oompa Loompas are the film’s comic engine… As the Loompas, he sings, disco-dances, smashes guitars, and swims synchronically; he’s a chef, a barber, a shrink, a secretary, and exactly one hundred and twenty-one other things…

It took six months of fourteen-hour days to complete the filming of Roy’s four song-and-dance extravaganzas… Eugene Pidgeon, an actor and writer turned labor activist for dwarf performers [said]… “For every Deep Roy, there are a hundred and fifty of us who are forced to do wacked-out shit on ‘The Man Show…’ ” [Link]

Pop will eat itself:

[Wesley Pentz, aka Diplo] produced “Bucky Done Gun” for the British artist M.I.A.–it appears on her current album, “Arular”–and it consists in large part of chopped-up bits of a song called “Injeção,” by the Brazilian singer Deise Tigrona, which was recorded in da Matta’s studio. Both tracks incorporate a tiny sample of the horns from Bill Conti’s “Gonna Fly Now,” the theme from “Rocky,” to create a stabbing, jittery effect that is both thrilling and irritating… “Bucky Done Gun” … has now been remixed by da Matta himself… [Link]

The baile funk infection spreads. All your remix are belong to us:

Pentz cued up his own remix of Gwen Stefani’s “Hollaback Girl.” The song was already great–sharp-edged and minimalist–but Pentz had made it better, embellishing it with cantering, syncopated drums to create a swinging dance track. Under Stefani’s vocals, you could also hear snippets of baile funk–from “Feira de Acari,” a festive track that happens to have been produced by da Matta… [Link]

The Sri Lankan war article is not online yet, but it has a useful thumbnail summary of the war: The population split between the Sinhalese and Tamils in Sri Lanka is approximately 75%-25%, with Tamils concentrated in the north and the east of the island. Jealousy of the prosperous Tamil minority led to institutionalized discrimination: politicians reserved jobs and education for the majority and enshrined Sinhala and Buddhism as the country’s official language and religion. Tamils went from 50% of the medical and engineering students in the ’60s to 20% by the end of the ’70s. Discrimination against a prosperous minority is commonplace; in the Philippines, it’s erupted as a high rate of kidnapping of the ethnic Chinese, while we all know what happened to desis in Uganda under Idi Amin.

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8 Things About Bollywood You May Not Know

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[Note: the following post is a kind of indirect response to Turbanhead, from a couple of days ago]

Writing about Bollywood is incredibly difficult for an amateur fan. Many people are mainly interested in the latest filmi news and gossip, and watch current films to see whether they liked the heroine’s outfits. Rani Mukherji’s colorful outfits are scrutinized closely, but the quality of the film in which the outfits appear is somehow overlooked.

Then you have the retro-hipsters and nostalgists, who note the decline of the industry from its golden era in the 1960s and 70s, when both actresses and actors were impressively plump, and everything was fabulous, in that kind of “Amitabh’s pants are way too tight, but the sequins on his orange vest are oh so bright!” kind of way. Yes, I concur: dishoom, dishoom.

Some retro-bollywood fans will even argue that in the old days the films were actually objectively better, which doesn’t seem terribly plausible to me. There were of course some things that were better in the high-class productions from the old days. In particular there were beautiful song lyrics (many of the writers were professional Urdu poets) and the language -– one thinks especially of ‘courtesan’ movies like Pakeezah — but often it was just as bad as it is today, and for the same reasons it is often bad today: very low budgets, hurried shooting, and the privileging of star-power and profit over artistic integrity.

That said, there have been some interesting changes in the Indian film industry in the last 10-15 years, which are in my opinion worth noting and appreciating. The industry is still far from perfect, but it is evolving. Continue reading

Mutineer Meetup in SF– Wess Siiiiide! (updated)

I’m going going back back to Cali Cali, in preparation for BlogHer, a conference dedicated to amplifying women’s voices. I’m just giddy. What a privilege to represent this blog (and all of you!) on a panel at an event that features DOOCE. ;)

What IS BlogHer? What, the cool use of “amplify” didn’t do it for you?

Where are the women bloggers? We’re right here. . . www.blogher.org
BlogHer Conference ’05 will be the first of its kind, an opportunity for the female blogging community to meet in person. It will set the agenda for future BlogHer networking and enhance women’s influence in the blog community.
The event will include onsite mixers and informal meet-ups for attendees seeking to network in their areas of interest. BlogHer will even set aside a “Room of Your Own” to enable attendees to form impromptu sessions. A pre-event mixer will be held in close proximity to the conference site the evening before. Also, BlogHer will designate space for vendor demonstrations, where bloggers can explore which solutions work best for their needs.

Word.

Speaking of mixers, I’d love to mix with some of our Northern California-based Mutineers. If you missed Manish and Vinod in New York, come hang out this Sunday, though I’m a sad consolation prize in comparison to the man who was featured at our right-coast line up. :D

What say you? I’ll be exhausted, but on fire from BlogHer and I’d love to give you all the dirt from Saturday’s conference–in person. Who’s in?

TIME: 5pm
SPACE: Caffe Greco
PLACE: 423 Columbus Ave,San Francisco,CA Continue reading

Gridiron Guru?

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Knowing that I am a lifelong die-hard 49ers fan, my friend Sandeep S. tips me off about the ambitious young Paraag Marathe. Who is he and how did he end up in the 9ers front office at the age of 28? The San Francisco Chronicle reports:

Anyone following the 49ers’ upheaval the last month [NSFW] ran across the name of Paraag Marathe. The assistant to the general manager’s rapid ascension within the 49ers caught the notice of the rest of the league during the team’s recent shakeup.

Who is this 28-year-old whiz kid? How did this man with an MBA from Stanford with little grounding in football become one of four people choosing the 49ers’ next coach and establishing the direction of an organization adrift? Because nobody knew the answers to these questions, Marathe became a lightning rod for the general dismay with the organization among columnists, radio talk-show hosts and even the NFL set, who openly wondered what he was doing in the team’s brain trust.

Marathe (pronounced mah-RAH-tay) became the unwitting victim of what many perceived as co-owner John York’s NFL ignorance. It’s a fact this business consultant from San Jose, via Cal and Stanford, impressed York after then- general manager Terry Donahue brought him in and was a big influence on the coaching search. But he is not expected to play a major role, as yet, in the organization.

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