Enter South Asians for Hillary

Earlier today my friend Reshma emailed me about a fundraiser by South Asians for Hillary that will be held this Thursday night in NYC:

We invite you to celebrate Senator Hillary Clinton’s staunch support for the South Asian American community and our community’s lasting support for her.

Please join us on Thursday June 28, 2007 at a cocktail reception for South Asians for Hillary.

The reception will take place at Sortie, 329 W. 51st (btw 8th and 9th) , from 7:00-9:00pm.

The suggested donation is $20, and there will be a cash bar. Please RSVP at southasians4hillary [at] gmail dot com .

We hope to see you there and that you will bring many friends as we stand together in support of a historic Hillary Clinton presidency.

Also on an important note, we are hosting a bone marrow drive for Vinay Chakravarthy at the South Asians for Hillary event. So again please invite your friends to attend this event, and if they are unable to make it, encourage them to to go to www.helpvinay.org and register.

As some of you longtime readers might remember, Reshma was in charge of South Asians for Kerry in 2004. As a side note, I am very disappointed that the above event will not feature free henna tattoos (i.e., “Henna for Hillary”) as I wisely recommended in a previous post.

I’d like to point out that, as far as I know, this is only the second “South Asians for…” established for the 2008 election cycle (South Asians For Obama being the first). As I requested in my previous post, please let me know if you hear of such groups for any other candidates. So why is it that even though we have a slew of candidates already running for President, South Asians in large numbers only appear to be backing two candidates thus far? Well, South Asian voters are no different than any other voters in this regard. A new poll by CBS/NYT/MTV that targeted young voters between the ages of 17-29 (part of SM’s demographic as well) shows the following:

ARE YOU ENTHUSIASTIC ABOUT ANY 2008 PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE?

Barack Obama 18%
Hillary Clinton 17%
Rudy Giuliani 4%
Mitt Romney 2%
Fred Thompson 2%
Other 4%
No, none of them 45% [link]

According to this poll there are only two candidates in the race right now that young people are really interested in. The caveat here is that pollsters usually point out that young people never seem to show up on election day, regardless of what pre-election polls might say. In any case, I’ve heard a lot from the SAFO folks, let us know your impressions of the Hillary event if you go.

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Shalini Sparkles on “The Lot”

Okay, not sure how many of you are watching Fox’s kinda awful reality show “The Lot” right now, but I have to say, I’m actually glad I am. One of you let us know that our girl Shalini is up this week. This time, Shalini had to make a comedy, in just five days. Since she’s more of a documentary/serious filmmaker, this quite understandably freaked her out. However, once I saw the montage of her having trouble directing her short and then heard one of her actors disparage her, I knew she must have done a brilliant job, since that’s how transparent these stupid shows are.

Shalini’s film is called “Dr-in-law” and it made me do that “LOL”-thing those whippersnappers are always exclaiming. It really is funny– and extra awesome because the two main characters are both Asian…and neither of them are the doctor. I don’t require it, but if I can see myself in or otherwise relate to a piece of art, it’s that much more precious. Somewhere, a put-upon brown kid dreams of doing what she shot. ;)

Anyway, when the show is over, it will be time to vote– and if I’m not mistaken, there is just a two hour window after “The Lot” airs in your time zone in which to do so. Shalini went first, so her phone number will end in “01″ (and isn’t that fortuitous? I always feel like numbers ending in “01″ are superior, but I’m fobulous like that)…but who uses a phone these days, if there’s a way to do something online? What, you like your phone? Fine, dial 1-88-The Lot-01.

Some of us may be skeptical about Shalini’s skills, but compare her work to second, third and fourth the rest of the films in the competition (which, except for the last one, were all kinds of lame), and it’s hard to dismiss her talent; I found myself cheering at the TV repeatedly for the brown girl in the ring. It’s also hard to dismiss her glittery make-up, which inspired the title of this post. Feel free to discuss it (or her film, even) below. Continue reading

Rupees Are Worth A Lot These Days

rupee.jpgI’ve been watching with a mixture of excitement and unease this past year as the Rupee has edged up on the Dollar; earlier this spring, the Rupee/Dollar ratio reached close to 40:1 (right now it’s dropped back to about 41:1). Now, I understand this could have all sorts of implications for the Indian economy, some good (it’s a sign of a strong economy) and some bad (it could discourage foreign investment) — but I’d better leave it to the economists in the house to sort out “what it all means.”

What I’m interested in today is an entirely different kind of Rupee inflation, specifically the repurposing of Indian Rupee coins in eastern India. BBC reports that 1 Rupee, 2 Rupee, and 5 Rupee coins are being melted down and turned into razors, at which point they are smuggled into Bangladesh:

Police in Calcutta say that the recent arrest of a grocer highlights the extent of the problem. They seized what they said was a huge coin-melting unit which he was operating in a run-down shack.

The grocer confessed to melting down tens of thousands of Indian coins into razor blades which were then smuggled into Bangladesh, police said.

Our one rupee coin is in fact worth 35 rupees, because we make five to seven blades out of them,” the grocer allegedly told the police. “Bangladeshi smugglers take delivery of the blades at regular intervals.”(link)

The problem is worst in West Bengal and Assam, which border Bangladesh. The BBC article describes some of the details of the problem — touts who buy coins operate with impunity right in front of the Reserve Bank where new coins are issued. And the coin depletion problem persists, even though the Mint has now reduced the metal content of the coins. (You can see a nice group of diagrams describing the constitution of the coins at the RBI website. 1 Rupee coins are made from stainless steel, while 2 and 5 Rupee coins are made of a copper-nickel alloy.)

Normally the metal in coins is worth less than the cost of melting them down and turning them into something else; it has to be that way, for the system to work. But apparently that’s no longer the case in eastern India. Indeed, unless the market in razor blades made from Rupee coins becomes saturated, causing the price of razors to drop, I can’t see how or why the current black market in coins should lose steam. Continue reading

Maybe a DC Meetup This SUNDAY? [Updated]

Meetup Madness at Amma.jpg

[Instead of Saturday at noon, the meetup will be on SUNDAY at 12:30. It is still at Amma. Please be noting date and time change-- thanks. :) ]

But first, a rushed write-up of what went down last time:

  • Icebreaker: The battle of the Jessicas- who is hotter, Alba or Biel? There were two poultry-submitted abstentions.
  • Adorable Munish changed his vote when he realized he was, in fact, supporting an Alumna of Seventh Heaven: “I thought you meant the woman from Flashdance!”
  • Once we started playing, “Who has the tiniest apt” after one of you suggested having meetups in our homes, Jay said we should have used THAT as the icebreaker—“Hi, I’m ___ and I have 400 sq ft!”
  • It was the reverse of our college years– Southies Reprazent!
  • There was a minor TamBrahm crisis when we discovered that Amma had run out of vada, for the first time in nine years.
  • I was smacked. Thrice. By our waiter. You can’t put a price on that kind of abuse.
  • Two of the above three spankings occurred as THIRTEEN more people than the sixteen we expected showed.
  • Once we ran out of table space: “Start sitting on laps. Sigh. I guess I’ll begin.” Plop.
  • What is UP with the lack of RSVPing, meetup-crashers: “This isn’t a wedding, people!”
  • Murthy’s Law: Next time, we should reserve the entire restaurant. That way no one will show.
  • We actually had to turn people away, for lack of space. :(
  • Can’t make it to the bathroom to wash your hands? Use the “Indian Faucet” a.k.a. a poorly-approximated finger bowl via drinking glass
  • Subcontinental Drift (we love you!)‘s MySpace page might induce seizures.
  • Me to Jay (of the blog Weaselplasty) “All our friends are apparently stand-up comics (and they performed at SD)”
  • Said one, “Tortoise porn is available on YouTube.” Said the Terp, all dismissively, “I know about THAT”, as the rest of us exhibited the proper reaction to that statement, which is shock and horror.
  • One attendee confessed that while this meetup was fabulous, they had “hobbit envy” about Houston.
  • Library Science: it gets no respect
  • Second Best line of the meetup: “Why are men always giving me money and then leaving?”
  • A Tamil girl who was raised in Bombay tried to reconcile her identities by saying…she was like a “paneer dosa”
  • Paneer Dosa has said she will be at the June meetup; that way you can mock her for her metaphor in person! ;)
  • I ordered two Salt Lassis and four Madras Kappis.  I received ONE Madras Kappi.
  • Lemon Rice for me, dosas for EVERYONE ELSE
  • Best line of the meetup: “Your picture on Shaadi.com was so much better!”
  • More on Sunny Leone and the greatness of snuff films.
  • Despite our most obnoxious attempts to be porntastic in order to clear the restaurant, so more of us could be seated, the packed place wasn’t bothered at all by our antics. Contrast this with Heritage India, where we sent them screaming out the door. It would appear that South Indian families are immune to our offensiveness. :)

Now, after reading the merriment-filled minutes of our last meetup, who feels like getting together again for more? :) I’m craving dosa and you, well, after I published this post, I learned that you are ALL craving dosa, ALL the time.

WHERE: Amma’s Vegetarian Kitchen, 3291 M St. NW, Washington, DC 20007, 202-625-6625

WHEN: SUNDAY, JULY 1. 12:30 PM.

WHY: Because you nosy little monkeys want to pepper me for non-existant gossip about the Mutiny.

Think of it as a post-Subcontinental Drift “survivors’ brunch”. Kill your hangover with Madras Kappi and Rasam! :D

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As for New York…Maybe mid-late July? :)

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San Francisco? End of August, we’ll keep you posted. Continue reading

Summer is finally here. We’re going fishing.

…but we promise to throw back the fish and not hurt them for real.

Folks, we have been writing on this blog and ruining your work-day productivity for almost three years now. We’ve had over 8 million visits, 4500 posts, and 143000 comments (all moderated by a single intern who is just not looking too good these days). Most of us are totally and completely burned out. We have been cooped up in our North Dakota bunker for so long now that we don’t even know what an i-Phone is. This is no way to live. It isn’t even fit for our monkeys. Some of us really need to take a break and get out and see some action once in a while (errrr…by which I mean play sports and go on vacation or something).

You may have noticed that the number of posts on SM have decreased in frequency over the past couple of months as everyone takes a bit of time out for themselves. This slow burn will continue through the end of the summer. We might bring in some new faces and lose some old ones but the Mutiny is not dead. Our new site admins are also working on more community-based features and on ways to make the News Tab more interactive by allowing commenting and ranking of stories there.

Enjoy your summer and please say hello if you see any of us outside of North Dakota on our walkabouts.

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Kingfisher Airlines — coming soon to the U.S.

I always find it a little suspect when people try to do novelty airlines, maybe because I’m one of those paranoid people who, even after years of flying and hundreds of flights, still routinely thinks “We’re all going to die!” at least two or three times on any given flight. Thus, I will never fly the now-grounded “Hooters Air,” even if it does come back. (Guys, keep your eyes on the… cockpit? please?)

Kingfisher Airlines might end up as a better bet, but as might be proper in an airline that emerged out of a beer company, if I do ever fly with them I’ll still probably feel compelled to smell the pilot’s breath before I take my seat. Apparently, Kingfisher Airlines, one of India’s newer domestic carriers, has signed a deal with Airbus to buy several jumbo and superjumbo planes, with an eye to entering the international market. The move is part of a general boom in international travel to India (which has been up by about 40% this year alone).

The New York Times article about the event spends as much time talking about the lifestyle of Kingfisher’s flamboyant CEO Vijay Mallya, as it does considering the economic viability of the venture (they do note that Kingfisher Airlines has yet to turn a profit as a domestic carrier in India):

Mr. Mallya personally is the sort of unfettered corporate czar that many American boardrooms have not seen in at least half a century. He surrounds himself with a close group of longtime advisers, wears copious diamonds, holds business meetings at his house until 5 in the morning, winks at female journalists and flaunts the “good times” corporate motif in most aspects of his life.

At home, a Mercedes, a Ferrari and a Bentley are parked in his driveway. His ornate living room is filled with silver gilded furniture and art objects like a marble statue of a nymph-like woman, as well as a Picasso sketch. His CD collection includes dance, lounge and party music.

A group of largely silent young women clad in white deliver drinks, answer phones and clean up ashtrays. (link)

Kya baat hai. Vijay Mallya seems to be a mix of new-school Indian self-confidence and ambition (this is a huge endeavour), and a kind of old-school, “ladies’ man” absurdity that seems to have come out of some 70s Bollywood movie. Even the attractive female flight attendants are a big part of the company’s marketing campaign, which seems like an obvious Vijay Mallya touch (see this article).

In general, I have to say that Kingfisher’s “keep the good times rolling” marketing campaign simply isn’t appealing to me. From an airline I really want the boring things — professionalism, competence, and yeah, safety — not so much “party time.”

But is he perhaps appealing to a real demographic, one that’s a bit less stodgy and paranoid than me? Are people really going to fly Kingfisher “Good Times” Airlines to go to and from the Desh? Continue reading

Touchdown

Sunita Williams has returned safely to Earth after setting the record for the longest time in space by a woman.

Praying for a safe Earth entry

“Welcome back,” Mission Control told Atlantis. “Congratulations on a great mission.” Controllers praised the crew for providing a “stepping stone to the rest of NASA’s exploration plan…”

Astronaut Sunita “Suni” Williams returned to Earth on Atlantis after spending more than six months at the space station. She set an endurance record for the longest single spaceflight by a woman at 195 days. During her stay, she also set the record for most time spacewalking by a woman. [Link]

More cute pictures after the fold.

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Sensually Flawed (But We Know It)

Yay, more Kama Sutra.jpg

Look what I found in my GMail this morning!

The Dance of the Kama Sutra
Get this sensual dance fitness video two months before it’s available anywhere else. [Borders]

I hate wincing before I’ve had my morning kappi. When I went to get my normal small-drip-with-egregious-space-for-cream, I sighed and said, “make it a large”. I need all the energy I can get to deal with potential exotification.

Here’s what I discovered about the sensual fitness video which will be released on July 31:

Follow-up to the fun, top-selling Bollywood Dance Workout; Offers a unique workout with sacred sensual moves for your body and soul
Acacia announces the July 31, 2007 DVD release of Dance of the Kama Sutra with Hemalayaa, offering an exciting new program using meditation and playful movements from Indian dance to help women cultivate their sensuality.
The Kama Sutra, an ancient Indian text, promotes the cultivation of sensuality as a sacred duty. The need to cultivate and reconnect with our sensual selves—the goddess at the core of every woman—remains as strong as ever, but the din and rush of modern life make the opportunities all too rare. Through playful movements and heart-centered meditation, yogini and Indian Dance expert Hemalayaa takes you on a journey of discovery. Find the freedom and fullness of expression that come from embracing yourself and your body, just as you are. Join Hemalayaa, creator of The Bollywood Dance Workout, in a dance of love and laughter that instills confidence, joy, and poise. Gesture by gesture, swish by swish, we remember that we are—and have always been—divine dancers. [link]

Swish by swish, even!

The “ick” was at a roiling boil within and I cynically wondered who was behind this project…and yes, it’s true, I did not think it was someone brown. Just who was Hemalayaa?

Hemalayaa teaches yoga and Indian dance in Los Angeles and offers frequent workshops and retreats around the world. The daughter of Indian parents, Hema’s yoga training began at home at an early age, and she went on to study yoga, philosophy, and meditation as well as asana. Hema’s in-depth study and practice of classical Indian dance informs how she teaches yoga. A life devoted to yoga and dance animates Hemalayaa’s playful spirit. Many of her retreats and workshops culminate in a night of dance. Hema loves turning her students on to the vibrant styles of Indian dance, from the classical to the latest moves from Bollywood, bhangra, and Indian MTV. [link]

Oh, snap. She is desi. And I’m uber-fond of people named Hema, too. I felt vaguely ashamed, because I was aware of how I had immediately cut her a bit of slack which I clearly wouldn’t have extended to someone unbrown. I am teh suck. The flawed, biased suck. At least I know it, right?

What now? My exoti-dar was still going off, though it had been significantly muted. Should I be happy that homeslice was doing her thang? Or was it okay to cringe, at the title and over the audience this was intended for, if the demographic I was imagining was accurate? What’s your take? Continue reading

Another, More Tragic Namesake

…women are more likely to be killed at home by their spouse, ex-boyfriend, or some other intimate… [link]

That statistic was made in reference to this country, but I think I’ll be forgiven for wondering if it is applicable everywhere. SM reader 3rd Eye submitted a story to our News tab; it does not have a happy ending. It involves a couple named Shah Jahan and Mumtaz, though this Mumtaz wasn’t anywhere near as adored as her namesake.

Shah Jahan Ali, in his late forties, has been arrested on the charge of murdering his wife after he found her drinking with two young men at home late last night.
Neighbours at Dinhata’s Village I, who often joked about the couple’s names, said Shah Jahan suspected the comely, 30-year-old Mumtaz of cheating on him.
The murdered woman had one thing in common, though, with the Mughal queen remembered with the world’s most famous monument to love. Neither was born Mumtaz, both being given that name by their doting husbands. [link]

The victim, a divorcee, was born “Khaimala Roy”. She received her new name after converting to Islam, to marry Shah Jahan, her second husband. He sounds like a real catch:

The already married man would spent some five days a week with Mumtaz at Village I and the remaining two days with his first wife in Navina.
“I knew Mumtaz was a woman of loose morals. Still, I fell in love with her. I had told her there will be no affairs, but she didn’t listen,” Shah Jahan is believed to have told the police.
Yesterday, the youths had fled at the sight of him and the couple had then quarrelled through the night. The police said that in the early hours, Shah Jahan slit Mumtaz’s throat. [link]

Then, he went to his first wife’s home, where he was caught after Mumtaz’s family reported the heinous crime.

Shah Jahan punched a sub-inspector and tried to flee. After the police caught him, the villagers gheraoed the force and tried to free him. [link]

Can I get a hearty “WTF” for that last, bolded bit? I know, I know…a woman’s life is worth so little, especially when she smells like dishonor.

In case you didn’t know about the original Mumtaz:

Empress Mumtaz, whose real name was Arjumand Banu, too, was Shah Jahan’s second wife and the favourite among the nine he ultimately married. They lived in wedded bliss for 19 years before the 38-year-old Mumtaz, while delivering her 14th child, died in 1631. [link]

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Off Topic (and yet not, considering this suddenly bookish thread): I liked Mumtaz until I read The Feast of Roses. Then I found her annoying. Nur Jahan, all the way. Continue reading

America’s Got… Kashif, Hai Hai

America’s Got Talent is kind of the summer replacement for American Idol. For the most part it’s awkward amateurs getting “gonged” by the judges — with the occasional semi-professional dance/martial arts troupe showing up to keep the audience awake. (Oh, and Jerry Springer is in there, just basically being Jerry Springer.) Toward the end of last night’s episode, my jaw dropped when they put this guy on:

What’s your reaction to this? I don’t think it could be rated very highly as a specimen of Bollywood dance, though Kashif is pretty committed to those Hrithik-esque moves he’s doing. He seems very simple and pure; maybe that’s why the judges think he’s charming?

Unfortunately, the innocent-foreigner thing can only take you so far; I think Kashif should show up at the callbacks in Vegas with a flashy B-Boy outfit and a massive diamond necklace (courtesy of Jacob the Jeweler) that says KA$HIF. Otherwise, those shirtless pseudo-martial arts guys (tacky as they are) will eat him for breakfast. Continue reading