I See Delhi, I See Chennai…

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…I can see Sophia’s thigh!






Brimful brings yet ANOTHER brown fugging to our attention! This time, the fuggee is Sophia Hyatt Hayat, whom I am not so familiar with…but like I said before, that’s irrelevant when it comes to a good fugging. It’s totally possible to fug someone you don’t know. Sometimes, it’s even better. Anonymous fugging, if you will. Ah, I’ll stop fugging with you.

Unlike the previously blogged fuggings, this time Jessica was on top of things:

One of my basic rules of thumb is that, whatever you wear, you should make sure that it a) fits and b) covers your bits.

Solid.

And I mean that in the most fundamental way: this is not a screed against halter tops or mini-skirts or even (for once) shorts. I just mean that a mantilla is not a gown, and no one really wants to see your panties.

Stop hey, what’s that sound, everybody look what’s goin’ down…all us South Asians look alike, yaar. Thus, like Matthew Sweet once crooned, “Baby, we’re the same.”

This dress does not look alluring, nor does it make our Sexy Indian Hottie look like a mysterious flamenco dancer, or even like a contender for a role in Zorro 3: Zeta-Jones Doesn’t Do Straight To Video. It makes her look like she forgot part of her outfit.

As my beloved Father would have barked at Ms. Hayat, “GET A PETTICOAT!” Continue reading

ABCDownloaders: A Survey, of sorts

A comment on my Hindi film music post from Kush Tandon earlier in the week got me thinking:

Where do you buy India/ Bollywood music in electronic from? I have browsed Rhapsody, they seem decent. I could not find much on iTunes. Is there some other place too?

Or is it all pirated and/ or through buddies?

No one responded to the comment at the time — is it because everyone is in fact downloading pirated desi music and films over the internet, and they’re not sure they should admit it?

There are a number of good explanations for why downloading is popular. First, not everyone lives near an Indo-Pak grocery/music store, and a lot of Desi stores aren’t very serious about getting current music, or a broad range of it. Second, so much of the music is kind of crappy and derivative to begin with (Hindi film producers often borrow bass-lines and samples from western or Arabic pop songs), so why worry about making sure the artist is adequately paid for his or her work?

Third, there’s never been any attempt from Indian record and film companies to crack down on downloads of their stuff in the diaspora. Grocery/music/video stores that sell pirated material are often raided, but there’s no desi equivalent of the RIAA or MPAA suing online pirates, or shutting down BitTorrent/filesharing sites. (Note: Kazaa just settled with American record companies for $100 million.)

And finally, there’s no desi equivalent of Itunes, where you can legally buy MP3 singles from CDs and be assured that your money is going to the label and the artist who made the music (any entrepeneurs out there? go for it, buddy).

What are your thoughts on piracy? Do you yourself download pirated music (note: if you normally use your real name in comments, here I would recommend an alias)? What is your “piracy to legal consumption” ratio? Would you spend $1.00 a song if a desi version of Itunes were available? Continue reading

Desi Girls Gone Fugly

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Via our news tab, mutineer Rupa alerts us to this week’s SECOND sepia fugging on the popular (and brutal) Go Fug Yourself blog. While I don’t necessarily agree with Heather’s review of pretty Parminder, I think the girls at GFY are usually spot-on with their wit and crit.

Rupa’s tip was about Mindy Kaling, someone whom I will admit I don’t know much about because she’s on NBC’s lesser version of The Office, a show I have never been able to sit through for an entire episode. No matter. The genius of GFY is its focus on the outfit. I don’t need to be an Office-fan to grasp THAT. Or not grasp it, as is the case here…what is up with those boots?

From the knees up, she looks adorable, all set for a divine NBC-Universal booze cruise of clenched-teeth joy, where every toast to their wonderful fall schedule comes with paranoia from Jeff Zucker that people will figure out they’ve swapped the costly champagne and top-shelf liquor with well booze and sparkling cider.
But her shoes are pure “local theater revival of Xanadu.” They look like she stapled wallpaper scraps to her ankles.

They actually look like chausses to me, but vatewer. Like expert Fugger Heather, I dig everything else she’s got going on, too. Her skin is glow-y, little black dresses are always money and the coral-red beads look great on her. But the boots…oy.

A few days ago, Brimful sent us the other GFY-related news item about Parminder Nagra getting fugged. In a delightful bit of connectivity, if you search SM for Mindy Kaling, Brimful’s comment about her here is one of two results you’ll find. If you can spin some sort of conspiracy theory out of that and the fact that both fuggees are on NBC shows, bring it. ;)

On to Parminder, specifically what GFY had to say about HER threads, since Fugger Heather and I already agree on the following:

Parminder Nagra is gorgeous.

Word. Where’s the “but”?

Which is why I wish heartily that she hadn’t gone and upholstered herself…Her body looks tense, as if she’s uncomfortable or uneasy in this confusing crosshatched fabric-store nightmare. I suspect it’s because no one expects the Spanish Inquisition — you have to maintain constant vigilence when you’re dressed as something resembling a Comfy Chair, because you risk being dragged unexpectedly into their brand of comfortable torture. From there it’s a short slide down to poking some old woman with the soft cushions and wondering, “How did this become my life?”

Owie. I don’t think she looks UPHOLSTERED, but I might be a little biased; I love green, plaid and wrap-dresses, so put Parminder Nagra in all of the above and I’m rather content. I know, it’s not her best look but if this is what “fugly” means

fug•ly (adj.)
frightfully ugly; of or pertaining to something beyond the boundaries of normal unattractiveness. Ex: “That ‘Kabbalists Do It Better’ trucker hat is fugly.”

…in that picture, she’s not fugly to me. :) Your thoughts? Continue reading

"…then you get tremendous joy"

Because I can safely be described as a masochist, I am always on the lookout for masochistic stories with a desi angle. This one comes to us as a tip from former SM heartthrob Apul. It seems that there is a race that takes place in New York called the The 3100 Mile Race. Allow me to explain:

The Sri Chinmoy Marathon Team is proud to offer the Ninth Annual Self-Transcendence 3,100 Mile Race. In this grand test of endurance and survival, a small group of athletes attempt to negotiate 5649 laps of a .5488 of a mile course (883 meters) in the time-span of 51 days- an amazing challenge. This is the longest certified footrace in the world; runners must average 60.7 miles per day to finish within the 51-day limit. The serious athlete must have tremendous courage, physical stamina, concentration and the capacity to endure fatigue, boredom and minor injuries. The predecessor of this very race was the 2700 Mile Race (held in 1996), in which five intrepid runners finished the distance well within the 47-day time limit. In 1997, Sri Chinmoy, race founder, upped the distance to 3100 miles. Two runners finished the inaugural 3100 Mile race in less than 51 days, showing that athletes indeed believed in self-transcendence. Last year nine finished 3100 miles out of 12 starters… [Link]

There are two things that I find particularly interesting about this race. The first is that the founder, Sri Chinmoy, doesn’t appear to have the classic runner’s build. See for yourself:

He looks like he is about to fall asleep

Second, I found the “route” to be sort of mundane. Imagine circling the same city block repeatedly for 3100 miles! After some inquiries in dawned on me that this would also be a great route if you were a pedophile. What am I implying? Nothing. It was just an observation.

Continue reading

Flying while anybody through Vegas

As you can tell from the meetups I will be attending, I’ll be doing a fair amount of flying in the next month (not as much as Vinod, but nobody flies as much as 3V). You can see why I read the following news story with some trepidation [via BoingBoing]:

No, that’s not me but we all look alike :)

Some federal air marshals say they’re reporting your actions to meet a quota, even though some top officials deny it. The air marshals, whose identities are being concealed, told 7NEWS that they’re required to submit at least one report a month. If they don’t, there’s no raise, no bonus, no awards and no special assignments.

“Innocent passengers are being entered into an international intelligence database as suspicious persons, acting in a suspicious manner on an aircraft … and they did nothing wrong,” said one federal air marshal. [Link]

Luckily, I’m not flying through Vegas, which is where this system is in place. It seems that what happens in Vegas stays … in homeland security databases. And even things that don’t happen at all make it there too.

I have no information about whether or not similar quotas systems have been implemented in other airports. In Vegas at least, top management issued a memo in July 2004 saying:

“Each federal air marshal is now expected to generate at least one SDR per month”… A second management memo, also dated July 2004, said, “There may come an occasion when you just don’t see anything out of the ordinary for a month at a time, but I’m sure that if you are looking for it, you’ll see something.” [Link]

An SDR is a “Surveillance Detection Report,” a secret government document with some very serious consequences.

What kind of impact would it have for a flying individual to be named in an SDR? “That could have serious impact … They could be placed on a watch list. They could wind up on databases that identify them as potential terrorists or a threat to an aircraft. It could be very serious,” [Link]

Hmmmm … imagine you’re a Marshal, under serious pressure to say you observed something fishy. Who do you think you’d write up? A white grandmother? A congressional staffer? Or a swarthy young male with a beard, even if he’s really handsome ?

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Temper Tantrums at the WTO

Bernard Gordon at the Wall Street Journal criticizes India’s trade representative, Kamal Nath, in a recent Op-Ed:

Surprise, surprise, the WTO talks in Geneva are “suspended.” But in truth, hardly a surprise, since in May France’s agricultural minister said, “I would prefer that the negotiations fail rather than . . . raise questions about . . . agriculture.” At the G-8 summit this month President Jacques Chirac backed him up: “Only Europe has moved [and] gone to the extreme limits.”

Both were responding to America’s insistence that Europe do more to match its offer to cut farm subsidies — in order to break the logjam at the heart of the now-collapsed Doha Round. But Europe had a partner in its “my way or the highway” approach. India’s Commerce Minister Kamal Nath, presumably speaking for the developing nations, said more “flexibility” was needed, and then gave his definition of the word: “We can’t negotiate subsistence and livelihood . . . we should not even be asked to do that.”

Mr. Nath had walked out of earlier trade talks, arguing “there was no point” in continuing, which prompted the press at home to fault him for throwing a “temper tantrum.” Not a bad label in this case, since India in 2004 accounted for less than 1% of world trade. And speaking after the collapse, which Mr. Nath characterized as “between intensive care and the crematorium,” he sharply singled out the U.S. as the sole culprit: the “mind-set” of the Americans was “inverted . . . they’re thinking only of market access.” (link; subscription required)

(Note that he’s not inventing the phrase “temper tantrum,” only citing the Indian media’s use of the term approvingly.) Gordon goes on to try and poke holes in Nath’s criticism of the U.S. for the fact that the Doha round has gone aground. Gordon mentions that the Brazil representative was actually more critical of Europe than the U.S., and cites President Bush’s promise to reduce U.S. farm subsidies by 60% in keeping with the opening of U.S. markets.

While the intricacies of world trade agreements and the workings of the WTO are, admittedly, not my area of expertise, one does note that Kamal Nath actually has plenty of company in blaming the U.S. primarily for the collapse of the talks. Continue reading

Spice! Body Art! Fun!

The weekend is upon us, almost, perfect for a festival of some sort. Something like MASALA! MEHNDI! MASTI!…Y’ALL! In its sixth year running, M! M! M! is going large and fabulous at Exhibition Place (Toronto), starting with the opening reception tonight and continuing on till people are dropping with dance fever (for real, this happens) on Sunday. The incredibly varied programme brings together artists, authors, performers, instructors, and anyone I’ve left out from Canada, USA, UK, France, New Zealand, Trinidad, Guyana, and India.

This year’s headlining act is Trickbaby (of Bluffmaster fame) as part of the Brit InvASIAN showcase, which is presented yearly courtesy of the British Council. And if you Taraana Mutineers were wishing you could have gone to see some Rajasthani folk music tonight then hold up because Kerap is going to be on stage this Friday evening. I love me some Marwari music. Strangely enough they are also “from France!” The “Chillin’ in Your Brown Skin” seminars are back facilitating dicussion on different social issues. A spoken word fest (with Leah Lakshmi Piepzna-Samarasinha, Sheniz Janmohamed and Muslim Rizvi) and book readings galore. There’s even a couple Laughter Yoga Club sessions on Saturday and Sunday afternoon. Need I say any more? Check the listings for your fix.

Like I said, M! M! M! has gone big this year with an impressive corporate sponsor (Rogers) and a spangly new venue, much needed after they hit the 100, 000 people mark last year. Admission price is still a big juicy zero, thanggod. So go forth and machaao-fy some dhoom dhaam, it’s a brown town this weekend (well, actually, every weekend, but this weekend especially so :-) Continue reading

The coolest sandbox in the world

SM reader “busybee” posted an absolutely fascinating link on our News Tab yesterday. It seems that somewhere deep within China, near a village called Huangyangtan, is a 900 x 700 m scale model (you need Google Earth to open this file) of a mountainous region somewhere on Earth. People…that is a model 9 x 7 football fields long! A model anywhere near this scale is usually only constructed when trying to train one’s soldiers how to conquer/hold the terrain in question.

So the million dollar question becomes, “what region on Earth could this be a model of?” Such an answer seems impossible to answer on its face, but sure enough someone with way too much time on their hands was able to solve this puzzle. We have to remember back to the 1962 Sino-India war:

Don’t, however, spend the next three days scouring the world’s mountain ranges trying to find a geographical match: the legwork has already been done for you by this enterprising Google Earth Community member who correctly identified the model as representing this [you need Google Earth to open this file] disputed area on the Chinese/Indian border.

Here’s a comparison of the Chinese model and the Google Earth image of the region in question… [Link]

It’s of territory occupied by China but claimed by India, north and south of the east end of the Karakoram range. The borders in this region are shown in red rather than yellow to indicate the dispute. [Link]

Continue reading

More meetups – meshuge!

Since all the cool people are doing it, I thought I would announce one meetup, and the promise of more. Vinod and I will be holding a San Fransisco meetup on:

Sunday August 6th, 3 PM at Chaat Cafe in SOMA, SF.

We considered holding it at Greco, but figured it was bad enough to hold a SF meetup without Anna that we didn’t want to add insult to injury. That, and we wanted to make Brimful happy .

I will also try to take my anonymous kundi to the NYC meetup on August 13th, for those of you who miss me on the right coast. This meetup will have both Anna and live music, so there’s no reason for anybody not to be there.

Lastly – I’m thinking about a Chicago meetup in the middle of September or so – are there enough Midwestern Mutineers that we can hold down a table at one of the Devon Ave dives? This would be the first meetup I’d be hosting solo, so be gentle y’all

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Ismat Chughtai’s Short Stories

Though her life wasn’t as drastically messed up as that of her friend and contemporary, Saadat Hasan Manto, Ismat Chughtai was definitely a born rebel. She lived her life the way she wanted, and wrote the truth in her many stories, novels, and nonfiction essays. ismat chughtai.jpg

Chughtai’s most famous story is “Lihaf” (The Quilt), which deals with a lesbian encounter within an all-woman setting (Zenana) in a traditional Muslim household. It’s a funny and scandalous story (read it here), but actually, my favorite short story by Chughtai is called “Sacred Duty.” I came across it in a recent collection called The Quilt and Other Stories. It’s been beautifully translated by Tahira Naqvi, who has been Chughtai’s committed translator and one of her great champions.

“Sacred Duty” is not online anywhere, so perhaps I should briefly summarize it and quote a little. Samina, who comes from a respectable Muslim family in Delhi, is engaged to be married to a respectable Muslim boy. However, the day before her wedding she runs off with her boyfriend with Tashar Trivedi, a Hindu whose family lives in Allahabad. Samina accompanies Tashar to Allahabad, where converts to Hinduism and is married to Tashar in a Hindu ceremony. When her parents get Samina’s note explaining her disappearance, her mother’s first reaction (the story is told from her parents’ perspective) is “Let’s go to Allahabad and shoot them both!” Lovely. Continue reading