The tree groom

Distraught after a marital tiff, an Oriya man took to a tree 15 years ago and remains there to this day:

That’ll show her

Kapila Pradhan, 45, a resident of Nagajhara village in the eastern Indian state of Orissa, left home after an apparent tiff with his wife… “However no amount of coaxing can make him leave his tree house…”

He recalls the terrifying moments when it rained persistently and the other trees in the forest fell one by one… However, more than the cyclone, it was the threat posed by wild elephants and monkeys that forced him to move to a tree closer to the edge of the forest, near a village…

His neighbours say Kapila’s wife, Tulasi, began having “illicit relations” with his younger brother Babuan. Soon after Kapila left home, Babuan moved in with Tulasi and they had a child a few years later. [Link]

The tree- or cave-dwelling renouncer of the world is, of course, a recurring theme in old-skool Hinduism. Here’s an excerpt from Hullabaloo in the Guava Orchard by Kiran Desai. Life imitates art imitating life:

… in the old orchard outside Shahkot, someone had climbed a tree and had not yet come back down… The man, he said, would answer no questions… ‘Arrange a marriage for him… You will have no further problems…’

Sampath looked down at the veiled woman standing underneath his tree and felt hot and horrified… The devotees raised the girl’s rigid, unwilling form into the tree… She was encased in layers of shiny material, like a large, expensive toffee. The cloth billowed about her, making her look absurdly stout… Her sari was pulled over her head and she held the edge of it between her teeth so as to keep as much of her face modestly covered as possible…

… the girl let out a faint cry. Losing her balance and her gold slippers, she tumbled indecorously towards the ground… and landed with a dull thump…

The signs for marriage were not auspicious. [Link]

Related post: ‘The Inheritance of Loss’

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Wrist friendly reads

Now that some kind soul has reopened Anna’s post on “A Suitable Boy”, I’ll use it as a segue to write a post about a few lightweight Indian books published recently.

Siddharth Chowdhury’s Patna Roughcut is an edgy, cynical take on the life of Ritwik Ray, a young journalist in Patna. Patna Roughcut uses a fractured narrative to trace the events and people that shape Ritwik’s life – from his childhood in Patna, to Delhi where he goes to college, and then his return to Patna with dreams of writing a book. It “is a story of love, idealism and sexual awakening” – a refreshingly different theme for a desi book. Chowdhury’s prose is delightfully unadorned – the rough, untrammelled writing is just what a book like this requires. This is by far the best book out of India I’ve read in a long, long, long time.

Chandrahas Choudhury, in his review at The Middle Stage says

… the last section of the book, “Waiting for Godard”, is one of the very best pieces of extended prose I’ve read this year. [...] Patna Roughcut is worth your money just for this section alone. [Link]

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Throw a dog a bone

First of all, let me say Kung Hay Fat Choy to all of our readers. Today marks the beginning of the Year of the Dog. The Washington Post has what I thought to be a very illustrative article on what holidays like the Chinese New Year mean to politicians who want the Asian American vote:

Most Maryland voters probably didn’t realize that Asian Americans were celebrating New Year’s yesterday, but Montgomery County Executive Douglas M. Duncan marks the date on his calendar every year.

Duncan, who is seeking the Democratic nomination for governor, crisscrossed Montgomery yesterday, attending two Lunar New Year celebrations and a gathering to commemorate the anniversary of India becoming a republic, on Jan. 26, 1950.

For Duncan and other elected officials, showing up at these events is part of a strategy to reach out to immigrants whose political influence remains relatively untested statewide even though their numbers are growing rapidly…

Pollsters and political consultants say it will probably be a few years before foreign-born residents are major factors in statewide elections. But candidates this year aren’t taking any chances. [Link]

So the picture remains the same. If you want the vote of immigrants from Asia (including South Asia), and the support of even some of their American-raised children, you don’t have to answer for any of your general policies, many of which might actually affect them pretty significantly. All you have to do is make a show of the fact that you respect their former nation and some of their traditions. It is a total waste of political power in my opinion, given the increased importance of our votes.

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Oooh, me so horny

Meet one of California’s most recent Indian American residents. Her name is Lali and she weighs about 180 lbs. MSNBC reports:

A “darling girl” named Lali stuck close to her mom but greeted other adults with curiosity during her first public outing this week.

The two-month-old rare Indian rhinoceros made her debut at San Diego Zoo’s Wild Animal Park Thursday after spending her first eight weeks in a private enclosure to allow bonding time with her first-time mother, Gari.

“She immediately was exploring meeting the other Indian rhinos, but most of the time she kept close to mom,” said park spokeswoman Yadira Galindo.

Zoo officials are keeping mum as to whether or not Lali’s mom has already arranged for a suitable alliance with the family of a young male rhino for when Lali comes of age. The San Diego Zoo community has long since cracked down on the practice of dowries so we thankfully won’t have to worry about Lali selling her horn to raise money.

Am I the only one that didn’t know that India even had rhinos? I mean, I always hear about tigers in India (like many I’ve been on a tiger safari there), and everyone knows about the elephants, but I just can’t remember a time when I have heard about an encounter between Indian villagers and a rhino.

The Indian rhino formerly occurred from the foothills of the Hindu Kush in Pakistan, across the sub-Himalayan region, to the India-Myanmar border on the eastern edge of the Brahmaputra watershed. By the late 19th century, the Indian rhino had been eliminated from everywhere except the Chitwan Valley (Nepal), lowland Bhutan, the Teesta Valley (west Bengal, India) and the Brahmaputra Valley (Assam, India). For most of the 20th century, known populations have been concentrated in southern Nepal and northeastern India. [Link]

Of course, as with most megafauna, the Indian rhino’s days appear to be numbered.

Lali, which means “darling girl” in Hindi, is one of about 2,550 Indian rhinos in the world, 150 of which are in parks and zoos. The species is considered critically endangered because of human encroachment on its native habitats in India and Nepal and because the rhinos have been poached for their horns, which some believe have medicinal value.
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Spit, don’t swallow

Chennai these days is littered with hoardings.The large ones have all been taken up by advertisements for saree stores and cell phones, and so the quirky ads have been relegated to occupying the small amount of space on top of bus shelters. Once such advertisement that is all over the city is for a brand of cooking oil, featuring a rather healthy looking film actress suggesting mysteriously that for a healthy life, people should practise oil-pulling. I was consumed by questions. Pulling oil? From where? Is it fun?

Unable to bear the anxiety, I asked my dad what in the world oil-pulling was and he handed me a magazine that featured a six page advertisement on the benefits of oil-pulling therapy. That’s right, therapy. And it is not fun.

The advertisement was not really an advertisement. It was a study on the benefits of oil-pulling commissioned by the oil manufacturer and conducted by a doctor who was featured on the front page of the spread. The results of the study can be summarized thus:

A group of people were asked to take a couple of teaspoons of pure, unadulterated sesame oil, and pour into into their respective mouths. After this, they were asked to swirl the oil in their mouths for a period of fifteen to twenty minutes. Care had to be taken to suck the oil through their teeth.

Eww. The ad continues.

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Oy, I’m Getting Farklempt…

Tawk amongst yourselves. I’ll give you a topic.

The Mutiny is neither mute nor tiny, discuss.

Fine, you want that I should give you another topic? Discuss what’s…below. ;)

porno ikea.jpg

Yeah, I’ll BET it’s “easy to take home”. Oh, it’s just too easy to keep going with this…[Thanks, Dinesh] Continue reading

Maybe the Grammys won’t suck this year??

A few weeks back several news sites reported that the Grammy Awards next month will feature a performance by an Indian American pop singer (who I had never heard of) named Reggie Benjamin:

Keep your eyes above the waist please.

Pop singer Reggie Benjamin, the first Indian American to win a Hollywood deal, is all set to perform at the Grammy awards next month.

Benjamin, who has also filmed a music video in Hugh Heffner’s fabulous Playboy Mansion, said his success was a lucky coincidence, coming as it did with an increasing American interest in Bollywood.

“Suddenly, it is cool to be Indian,” Benjamin, who hails from Andhra Pradesh, told IANS.

To become a Hollywood pop singer was an unusual career choice for Benjamin who was studying to be a chemical engineer. His persistence paid off when he was signed on by music industry mogul Kerry Gordy. [Link]

Here is the thing though. I can’t find any mention of an impending Grammy performance by Benjamin, either at the Grammys website, or his own. Diligent readers, am I missing something? Is this some kind of scam? You can check out some of Benjamin’s music here.

What I do know however is that an Indian Buddhist monk named Ngawang Tashi Bapu is nominated for a Grammy in the ‘Best Traditional Music Category,’ and that the Grammy website backs it up:

Devotion his sole purpose, he chants for the ideal he reveres. And now this Buddhist lama’s divine melodies have transcended the walls of his monastery in the remote Dahung township of Arunachal Pradesh to bring peace to audiences far away in the West.

Ngawang Tashi Bapu, who has been nominated for a Grammy in the ‘Best Traditional Music Category’, says he is surprised. “But when it is fate, you cannot avert it,” he told The Indian Express over the telephone from Dahung. ”I consider myself lucky.”…

Popularly known as Lama Tashi, the 38-year-old Tibetan Buddhist monk is based at the Centre for Himalayan Culture and Studies at Dahung, about 350 km from here…

Finding an eager reception in the US, the Lama’s chants are collected in Tibetan Master Chants, a CD produced by US-based author Jonathan Goldman, who has written the book, Healing Sounds. [Link]

I can’t help but wonder what the video would look like if Lama Tashi and not Benjamin had filmed his music video at the Playboy mansion.

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NYC Meetup Writeup

Been WAY too busy to write up detailed notes since the NYC meetup last weekend (since NYC, I’ve been in San Diego, Kansas City, SF and am on my way to Hawaii & Barcelona over the next 2 weeks – work can be a beeyatch sometimes).

Manish trying to hide his obvious jealousy of Anna…

Luckily, some of the loyal friends of the blog have stepped in to fill the gap.

Last Saturday’s NYC meetup was the largest meetup so far (~25ish people over the course of the afternoon) and brought in a lot of new blood, new bloggers, lurkers and almost pulled in a few anonymous patrons at Kati Roll.

The effervescent Jane of All Trades (who, BTW is currently reading one of my recent fav books – David Mccullough’s 1776), posted a good writeup, hints at an interest in a caste-no-bar mutineer 4some & put up handful of her picts.

Our own Suitable Girl blogged, fotolog’ed and flickr’ed the event & some of its aftermath.

Some of the other folks in attendance (reconstructed from my + Manish’s hazy memories of the event… apologies in advance if I missed anyone)-

True to form, the Mutiny family continues to amaze and the people at the meetup were each interesting specimens of the desi diaspora. And they certainly have no trouble striking up a boisterous conversation with folks they’ve just met. Some folks were nothing like their blog / comment persona’s. Some were exactly like them. Others were bigger. One thing we all agreed on – while the blogposts brought ‘em in first, it’s obsessive comment checking 15 times a day that really destroys the @work productivity. We heart all the Mutineers.

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Bold billionaire still hungry

What is it with desis and competitive eating? Lakshmi Mittal, the world’s third-richest man, launched a surprise bid today for his nearest steel industry rival:

While Bill Gates and Warren Buffett–numbers one and two on last year’s Forbes Billionaires list– engage in a genteel game of bridge, Lakshmi Mittal is ripping apart the world’s steel industry and reshaping it to his liking. This morning, his Mittal Steel… launched an audacious bid for Arcelor… Mittal Steel, the world’s first-largest steel maker, is seeking to pay 18.6 billion pounds ($22.7 billion) to buy the world’s second-largest producer. [Link]

By buying Arcelor, billionaire owner Lakshmi Mittal would control about 10 per cent of the global steel industry, more than three times as much as his closest rival. The purchase would be the biggest ever in the industry… creating a company with 320,000 employees and annual sales of more than $69 billion. Arcelor supplies steel to every second car in Europe… [Link]

… if successful, [the deal] would bring together the world’s number one and number two steelmakers and create the first producer capable of generating more than 100 tonnes of steel a day. [Link]

Mittal, who lives in London, floats Mittal Steel in the Netherlands and maintains Indian citizenship, has lost a couple of recent deals:

Mittal lost a relatively minor deal for a Czech steel mill to a Russian group, despite having the higher bid. And a foray outside steel into the world of oil ended in frustration when Mittal Steel’s joint bid with Indian oil company ONGC for PetroKazakhstan was topped by China National Petroleum Corp. [Link]

But his drive sounds very Roarkian:

He looked at a streak of rust on the stone and thought of iron ore under the ground. To be melted and to emerge as girders against the sky. [Link]

Azim Premji and the Ambanis clock in at numbers 38 and 60 on the Forbes list.

Related posts: World’s biggest steel company will be desi-owned, Bill Gates, Warren Buffett and…, Forbes names India’s richest, Midnight’s oil

(Comments are off: every single comment last time was someone trying to hit Mittal up for a job or cash, or someone else flaming said lamers.)

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The sixth deadly sin

A San Franciscan named Nalin helped his roommate and six friends snarf down 100 hamburgers at one sitting in Vegas last Halloween. The greasy exploit is photoblogged here (via Boing Boing):

Throughout the weekend, Andy kept on saying: “We should go get a 100×100 at In-N-Out”… [The fast-food workers] were shocked. They said the biggest order they had before this was the 24×24… It’s one set of buns and ONE HUNDRED meat patties and ONE HUNDRED pieces of sweaty-oily cheese in between the buns. Clearly, the worst part of this experience wasn’t the meat… it was the sweaty cheese…

I think I ate about 20. I think Nalin ate about 20 as well (including the raw ones)… Number of people who barfed: 1… In-N-Out use to be one of my favorite things in the world. Now the thought of it makes me sick… [Link]

Beelzebub is the dæmon responsible for the cardinal sin of gluttony. Let’s hope Nalin isn’t Xtian Bro, as a mass moo assassin, you ain’t coming back a Hindu in your next life. And that next life might begin any day now — deadly sin is right. The good news is, you may be Takeru Kobayashi’s competitive eating nemesis.

I’m not sure why I’m surprised by this story. There’s nothing unusual about one tasty pair of buns surrounded by a hundred sausages and sweaty seas of cheese. That about sums up the college desi scene.

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