A Texas-sized SM meetup

Question: What is hotter than the Rodeo?

Answer: The first ever Houston, TX meet-up!

When: Friday, May 18th or Saturday, May 19th (TBD)

Where: Suggestions welcome

Who: Texas boasts the third highest concentration of Sepia Mutiny readers in the world after 1) California and 2) New York. I expect y’all to represent.

Why: Because you should never underestimate the South’s mutinous potential

This is the first time I am ever hosting a meetup alone. I have always had either Anna or Taz co-host with me. Sepia Mutiny’s Houston Bureau Offices have been up and running now for four months so it is time for the bureau chief to cease with his shut-in ways. Commenters, lurkers, randoms, all welcome. And remember…everything is bigger in Texas.

Check back at this post and our Events Tab for the final date and location. I will post another reminder a few days before.

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The Keys to the Bunker

Dear Readers,

Paul and Kunjan, Sepia Mutiny’s two website administrators, have done a great job keeping the Mutiny running for this past year. Now, however, we are looking for a group of people to take over the reins from them and guide this website to the next level. We are not just looking for people who are enthusiastic and got the skillz (Movable Type, PHP, etc.) to keep SM readers happy. In addition, we are looking for people with the TIME to actually implement their vision for what Sepia Mutiny could be. This should be a hobby that you are passionate about. Here is a partial list of the things we want to do in the near term (although the full list would blow your lenghas off):

  • A new News tab modeled after Digg with comments, comment rating, and registered users.
  • Website re-design. We want a cool new look.
  • User-submitted posts.
  • Great ideas that we haven’t thought of yet that will make us among the most innovative blogs on the block.

We are looking for people who can put in as much time and effort in running the site as the bloggers put in to writing posts. Paul and Kunjan will teach you the back-end of our current website and you can take it from there.

Please email me if you are interested and meet the requirements:

abhi [at] sepiamutiny dot com

If you have a technical question to determine if you are qualified then email Kunjan:

kunjan [at] sepiamutiny dot com

If you know someone who is perfect for this job then send them a link to this post.

Alternatively, if you have suggestions for how to improve our website then please click here to send it to us instead of leaving them in the comments.

Thanks all!

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Salt on wounds

I know I know that right now is the worst possible time for this story. I know we’re supposed to be all “ABCD-FOB Bhai Bhai!” but this is just too funny to pass up.

He said it, I just blogged it.

A mobile phone game … will be used to help international students cope with ‘culture shock’ and university life in Britain … The game – called C-Shock – is the brainchild of University of Portsmouth academic and games technology expert Nipan Maniar who, himself, arrived in the UK from India five years ago as an international student…
Nipan said the game would act as an ‘e-mother’ or ‘mobile mummy’ for new students. [Link]

When you hear e-mother you imagine a sort of Tamagotchi in reverse right? Something that nags you to eat enough, sleep enough, and call home? [Actually, you don’t need a mobile game for that, just a mobile]

“E-mother” could be expanded with modules to help explain how you do your own laundry, something my white American roommate could have used freshman year. (When asked how he had survived in summer camp he said he just looked clueless until a girl took pity on him and did his laundry, so he had never done a single load on his own. We mocked him mercilessly).

But no, Maniar means something else. He means the culture shock that comes from seeing people kiss in public and from seeing students (especially girls) drink:

The game’s opening scenario is a student’s first day at university in the UK. The student is shown a map of the campus and is given tasks to find specific locations. Clicking on images along the way warns the student about what to expect in terms of culture shock – for example, it is acceptable for students to drink alcohol and it is okay for people to display affection in public. [Link]

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Marriage And Food Are So 2002, Indian Artists Say

Convene to Discuss Problem

NEW YORK — Indian filmmakers, authors, dancers and other artists gathered Monday at the Asian American Writer’s Workshop to discuss the community’s ongoing obsession with arranged marriage and food.

The idea for the meeting, which attracted the who’s who of artists in the Indian diaspora, was borne out of the anger and frustration author Lara Mookhey-Schmid felt after thumbing through Sonia Prasad’s newly released The Exotic Arranged Marriage Spices Club at Barnes and Noble.

“Arranged, Re-Arranged, Aloo Gobi and Me, My Vegan Arranged Marriage, Mistress of Spices, I could go on,” Mookhey-Schmid said. “I noticed that desi artists are using food and marriage as culture symbols over and over again. It’s a cop out, and it’s getting old.”

Mookhey-Schmid’s recent book, This Book is Not About Indian Food and Does Not Involve Arranged Marriages, was shortlisted for the American Book Award. The award instead went to Farha Mirza’s book, My Chicken Tikka Masala Marriage: It Was Arranged!

Meeting attendees were not shy about expressing their views on the food and marriage issue.

The Exotic Arranged Marriage Spices Club is an intertextual study of how arranged marriage is enacted in non-Indian, non-Hindu spaces,” said NYU English professor Manorama Chugh. “Unfortunately, that’s all it is.”

Others are not so diplomatic.

“I’ve read this crap twenty times before,” said UCLA history professor Vinay Pal. “Enough!”

Participants acknowledged the growing problem, and decided to place a moratorium on weddings and certain foods.

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Skin deep

Last week I was standing in a bookstore, looking for something trashy and utterly mindless to buy. I picked up Deborah Rodriguez’s “Kabul Beauty School: An American Woman Goes Behind the Veil.” and read the first chapter, which was around all I could handle.

I realize that I was far from the target audience for such a book. I’ve never had a haircut in my life, and I’ve never been to a spa. I’m not a very sympathetic audience for stories about how the women of Kabul felt better inside because they felt more glamorous outside (well, inside their burkas). Furthermore, I am a guy, and this was a tremendously girly book:

When Deborah Rodriguez arrived in Kabul in 2002 as part of a charitable aid mission, what she saw appalled her… It was a land of bad haircuts, poorly applied makeup and no styling gel. To Rodriguez, a Michigan hairdresser with a can-do attitude, task No. 1 was obvious: get these poor people some beauty salons. [Link]

Despite my lack of personal experience with the topic, I was willing to suspend disbelief and work with the book’s basic premise, namely:

…hairdressing … is one of the few truly viable options for would-be female Afghan entrepreneurs. There’s a huge demand for such services, as many Afghan women sport elaborate hair and makeup styles under their burqas. At the same time, it’s work that can be done entirely in female company – a necessity in a segregated society. [Link]

My problem was not the subject but the condescending tone of the book. It was “City of Joy” meets “Steel Magnolias,” the usual story of somebody in the first world who finds their calling “helping” people in the third world, where the only purpose of the poor and unfortunate is to serve as a backdrop to the protagonist’s journey.

For example, the opening chapter tells of “Roshanna,” a friend who had been raped and thus was no longer a virgin. Roshanna was terrified of her wedding night, when eager crowds await a bloody rag — the telltale sign of virginity.

Ms. Rodriguez sprung into action, whipping out nail clippers, cutting her finger, dripping blood on a handkerchief and instructing Roshanna to place it under a cushion. When the time came, she could swap it with another one. The next morning, she writes: “When I rush into the hallway, I see that Roshanna’s mother is wailing for joy. ‘Virgin!’ she shouts at me triumphantly, waving the handkerchief stained with my blood. ‘Virgin!’ “… [Link]

C’mon now. Afghan women have never figured out how to fool their husbands with chicken blood after thousands of years? It took a spunky hairdresser from Michigan with a can do attitude to come up with this? Roshanna’s mother didn’t help her, and was even fooled by the simple deception? As if!

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“Reheated Naan & Curry” — A Brief Review

You normally don’t want to call your project something like Reheated Naan & Curry, deejay om reheated naan and curry.jpg because you’re setting yourself up for some clever critic (or blogger) to take the reference and turn it into something ugly, along the lines of: “‘Reheated Naan’? Sorry, Just Stale Bread.” (This game could be extended — if you wrote a highbrow novel called Ennui, a reviewer would surely title his or her review something like, “Ennui, Another Name For ‘Boring'”).

In this case, Deejay OM’s new releasee, which is being released this week on the Galapagos4 label, should be safe from “clever” put-downs by the likes of yours truly, because it’s pretty good. People who listen to a lot of retro Bollywood might in fact find the concept somewhat familiar (reheated, if not rehashed), as Deejay OM seems to be mining samples from forgotten scores from old Hindi films, and recontextualizing them with hip hop beats and loops. As such, Reheated Naan & Curry reminds me a bit of the 1998 CD by producer Dan Nakamura, Bombay the Hard Way — but for most people the approach taken by Deejay OM may nevertheless sound pretty fresh.

The standout track on the record has to be “The Arrival,” which you can hear at Deejay OM’s Myspace (if that doesn’t work, the song can also be listened to at NPR). You can also hear samples of other tracks at Amazon.

Of course, this music is just beats, and I’m often left thinking what these tracks could sound like with great rappers or singers on them.

One final thought: in case you were wondering, Deejay OM has no “substantial” connection to the Indian subcontinent — as far as I can tell, he’s an Italian American DJ and producer from San Francisco who is sampling the old Bollywood sound to create a particular effect. (That appropriation mostly isn’t an issue for me, as long as the beats are interesting. Though I suppose one could object to the revealing use of the word “curry” in the title of the CD — the incorrect western term for all Desi khana. And are there readers who also object to the use of the word “OM” in Deejay OM’s name?) Continue reading


Koffee vith Preity.jpg

“Original” Sonia posted a link to some new AbhishwaryaPalooza pics which proved that TMBWITW really was happy on her wedding day; O.S. (like OG, but so much more hard kaur) hooked us up via last week’s “caption game”-post, which featured a picture of the Bollyest bride and groom ever looking…interesting. Since you have affirmed your love of interpreting and misinterpreting photographs AND one of you swears the reason why Little B looked so forlorn at his shaadi was because his Koffee buddy wasn’t the one on the dais at his side (scandalous! meow!), I thought you catty kittens would take to this captured moment like it was Nepeta cataria.

So? What do you think is going on between Preity Zinta and Karan Johar in the image above? You might find it amusing to learn that I wouldn’t have been able to identify these two for you had Chic Mommy not helpfully pointed out who they were under where she posted this pic on her blog. Anyway, mutineers…start your hatin’ imaginatin’! Continue reading

Allergic to Hypocrisy?


A tip about this photograph was posted on our News tab a few hours ago by “namantra” under the title Dehli ad on Metro. It was their description of the link which interested me:

The same country that often frowns down upon public displays of affection has billboards that openly use curse words.

I must say, I was slightly surprised to see one of my favorite blue words gettin’ dropped so blatantly, but I know nothing about advertising in the Motherland. Does this ad signal a coarsening of Indian culture? Or did it not raise the threaded eyebrows of those of you who are familiar with such things? And are we comparing jack fruit with ambarellas; does one have nothing to do with the other? Continue reading


When I first agreed to delve in to the World Cup for the mutiny, I did so because I knew it was important to South Asia, our diaspora and several cute commenters here…but I had no idea how powerful the sport truly is, until now.
Go Sri Lanka.JPG Apparently cricket can do what diplomacy, prayers and tears cannot (all quotes via Reuters, Thanks Karthik):

Cricket fever has gripped Sri Lanka after their team secured a place in the World Cup final, diverting attention — at least for the time being — from a worsening civil war.
Cricket-mad fans sat glued to their television sets until the early hours of Wednesday morning to watch Sri Lanka defeat New Zealand by 81 runs in Jamaica.
The success of the cricket team in the Caribbean has provided a welcome distraction from the worsening military conflict between the government and Tamil Tigers, which has left a 2002 ceasefire agreement in tatters.
The two-decade civil war, which has claimed around 68,000 lives, has intensified in the past year with almost daily battles, denting business confidence and contributing to spiralling inflation.

One higher power, many paths; one fervently-desired wish, many prayers:

Multi-faith religious ceremonies are being planned in the lead-up to Saturday’s big game to bless the team, and President Mahinda Rajapaksa will even fly to Barbados for the final.

Yo, this is serious:

The Excise Department has even delayed the start of an alcohol sales ban for Buddhist Wesak holidays by one day. It will now come into effect after the World Cup final.

I got my hopes up…

Even many Tamil Tigers, who control swathes of land in the north and east of the country and are fighting for independence, are watching.
“There are people in the controlled areas watching,” rebel military spokesman Rasiah Ilanthiraiyan said by telephone.

Then felt them sink, even though I’m not Sri Lankan, Tamil, or particularly conscious of this violent, on-going tragedy:

But he added: “Our activities will not change because of these matches. These matches are not going to make any difference.

I hope he’s full of it. I stupidly and naively hope that cricket really will do for Sri Lanka what nothing else has been able to– give diverse communities a reason to stop killing each other, at least for a little while. As far as I know, it’s difficult to cheer effectively if you’re holding a gun. Yes, that was paneer-laden…but I’m serious. In 1996, Sri Lanka destroyed Australia to win the World Cup; I hope they do so tomorrow, too. If ever there were a country which deserved some cheer… Continue reading

Might as well be hanged for a sheep as for a lamb

It’s almost the weekend, so indulge me a bit of crankiness leftover from the work week. I had been avoiding mentioning the arrest warrant against Richard Gere until I realized it rankled. For those of you who have managed to avoid it:

A court issued arrest warrants for Hollywood actor Richard Gere and Bollywood star Shilpa Shetty on Thursday, saying their kiss at a public function “transgressed all limits of vulgarity”. [Link]

So what, right? So some busybody in Jaipur gets his or her nose bent out of shape and files a complaint “charging that the public display of affection offended local sensibilities” [Link] and finds some judge who agrees, saying that the incident was “highly sexually erotic” and violated India’s public obscenity laws. We blogged earlier about how Ajmer had prepared a booklet instructing tourists of the opposite sex not to hold hands or touch. It’s just more of the same.

Part of my annoyance stems from the fact that this frivolous suit will further clog a court system that can’t handle urgent matters in a timely fashion.

But mainly I’m annoyed at Shetty’s lame ass response to the incident. Instead of telling people that it was just a peck on the cheek, she replied:

I understand this is his culture, not ours. But this was not such a big thing or so obscene for people to overreact in such manner… [Link]

Was I the only one who expected her to follow that sentence with a list of activities on stage that would have been far more obscene?

Honey, just a little bit obscene is like being a little bit pregnant. Show some backbone! An embrace and a smooch on the cheek is tame compared to stuff in Bollywood lately. Why pander by arguing that it was kind of obscene but not … you know … not such a big deal.

Shetty compounded the lameness of that response by also saying:

I understand people’s sentiments, but I don’t want a foreigner to take bad memories from here. [Link]

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