Nrityagram: Hoping to Swoon at Such Stylings [UPDATE]

nrityagram_2webb.jpg As somewhat of a Bharatanatyam supremacist, I often fail to appreciate the grace, economy of movement and a whole host of other subtleties that dancers of Manipuri, Mohiniattam, Odissi, Kathak, Kathakali and Kuchipudi display in such abundance. It’s also been far too long since I’ve seen a live dance performance. Well, the wait for dance-starved patrons/critics/dancers is over (at least in my neck of the woods.) The very renowned Nrityagram dance ensemble is currently touring the US.

The troupe recently performed at the Joyce Theater in New York (encores performances to follow), which earned yet another mildly positive yet utterly clueless review from the Grey Lady (which I will dissect later), and will continue on to the following locations: Feb 19-24, 2008 – The Joyce Theater , NYC

Feb 29, 2008 – World on Stage, Stamford , CT

Mar 2, 2008 – UNC Chapel Hill , NC

Mar 3-5, 2008 – Modlin Center for the Arts, VA (I’ll be at the performance on the 5th)

Mar 6-9, 2008: Arts and Culture Center of Hollywood , FL

Mar 13-14, 2008: The Florida Theater, Jacksonville , FL

Mar 21, 2008: Savannah Music Festival, Savannah , GA

Mar 29, 2008: Aspen Santa Fe Ballet, Santa Fe , NM

Apr 1-4, 2008: UCSB, Santa Barbara , CA

Apr 13, 2008: Stony Brook University , NY Continue reading

Barack Wins Bharath

A quick follow-up to Abhi’s post about how American voters who happen to be abroad get to participate in the white-hot brown-hot race to official candidacy [Thanks, Devendra]:

[click to enlarge]

That’s right, Bharath Obama took his namesake nation, 71% to 28 [PDF]. Obama also got 100% of Pakistan’s five votes. Bangladesh proved a bit more challenging, but he still won, though the split was a much more competitive 58/42. Meanwhile, he cruised in Nepal: 73% to Hillary’s 27. Considering these results, SAFO truly lives up to its name.

These votes aren’t trivial, since members of the Democratic party who are overseas count as a state under party rules– a state with 22 delegates. Accordingly, the candidates did not take these Americans who are abroad for granted. Obama’s campaign in particular was recognized for being “dedicated” and “extraordinary”. Looks like their efforts paid off. Continue reading

What’s God Got To Do (Got To Do) With It?


First off, a belated thanks to the Mutiny for letting me stay a month longer. I’m excited to be here, and even more excited that my topics now know no bounds. Brace yourselves. Huddle in the bunker.

You all know I love to write about food. And I love Sri Lanka. So what would make me sadder than anything? (Subtract conflict in Sri Lanka from consideration.) This piece about a Sri Lankan restaurant, from the Village Voice.

My friend K sent me this. (Thanks, K!) There’s so much wrong with it that I hardly know where to begin. But what struck me most was something I’ve been seeing more and more in coverage of Sri Lanka: gratuitous inclusion or overemphasis on religion. There’s enough carnage in Sri Lanka that I suppose people feel compelled to cover or mention the country. At the same time, they feel that they ought to smush news or writing about it into the Religion v. Religion WWE format currently favored by those discussing 9/11 and its aftermath. Continue reading

Obama Takes on Outsourcing

Hey folks – I’ve been overseas for the past few weeks so I haven’t been totally on top of things on this side of the pond. Still, I can say for sure is that over there, they’re generally rooting for Obama to win the election.

Unfortunately, electioneering brings out some of the whackiest, most populist, and thus must economically-deranged policy proposals from otherwise intelligent candidates. Obama – for all his credits – shows that he’s not immune to the bug; this time taking on outsourcing

Barack Obama on Monday made an aggressive pitch at Ohio’s blue-collar workers by proposing a “Patriot Employers” plan that would lower corporate taxes for companies that did not ship jobs overseas.

…Mr Obama’s plan would lower the corporate tax rate for companies that met criteria including maintaining their headquarters in the US, maintaining or increasing their US workforce relative to their overseas workforce, holding a neutral position in union drives among their employees and providing decent healthcare.

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Posted in Uncategorized

LA Meetup Saturday March 1st

I will be travelling to the City of Angles (when you’re that skinny, the only curves are silicon) over leapday weekend, and thought a meetup would be in order, hosted by yours truly and Taz. I’ve heard stories about the LA meetups, so here’s your chance to show me that you can party better and harder than your brethren and sistren in NYC, DC, SF and Chicago. The meetup would most likely be on the westside, at a location TBA.

Please RSVP so we have a sense of how many people will be coming, and also suggest good venues. I’m not from LA, and Taz is hyper-busy with the election season and all, so while we’ll be there with bells on, we need your help in choosing a location and getting a head count.


We’ll be meeting at 7PM @ the Redwood Bar and Grill

The Redwood Bar and Grill
316 W. 2nd Street
Los Angeles, CA 90012

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Look Out Begum, Here Comes Rose

We’ve sometimes blogged about the Pakistani TV host, Begum Nawazish Ali, a drag queen who hosts a variety show on Pakistani TV. rose-venkatesan-20chennai_6.jpg

Now Tamil TV (thanks, Shalini and Literary Safari) will have something similar, in Rose Venkatesan, who is not merely in drag for the TV show, but actually transgendered (meaning, she identifies as a woman socially):

“The sari is the most flattering garment,” he added, as he touched up her makeup minutes before the cameras started rolling. “It disguises manly shoulders, takes attention away from a masculine neck.”

A complex procedure even for experienced hands, the process of tying a sari is particularly hard for Rose, who was raised as a boy, and used to be known as Ramesh Venkatesan. Her mother never taught her the skill and refuses to see her wear one. Even so, the outcome was flawless.

When it is broadcast on Vijay television to an audience of up to 64 million people in the southern state of Tamil Nadu later this month, “Ippadikku Rose” (“Yours, Rose”) is expected to cause a sensation, introducing India’s first transgender celebrity to television. (link)

I like the bit about the sari as a flattering garment for transgendered women (will have to keep that in mind…).

Rose has, I gather from the rest of the article, always been effeminate (and I mean that non-pejoratively), though she’s only ‘become’ a woman in the past four years. She has a degree in biomedical engineering (!) from Louisiana Tech:

Rose said attitudes were no less hostile in parts of the United States, where she had spent three years studying at Louisiana Tech University. “There, people were aggressively homophobic,” she said. “America is very hypocritical when it comes to its stand on sexual minorities. Historically, India was very progressive about this until the British came and imposed a Victorian sense of morality, which still remains.” (link)

Interesting — a slightly different twist on the narrative we might have expected (i.e., where someone who doesn’t fit in in India finds a measure of liberation and acceptance abroad). In Louisiana, Rose encountered homophobia; in Chennai, she will be a star.

(See Ennis’ post below for video clips of both the Begum and Rose.) Continue reading

Posted in TV

Victory for the Pakistani people?

It looks like Musharraf’s party lost pretty badly in Pakistan’s elections there on Monday. So is this a good thing that will somehow change Pakistan for the better as many in the blogosphere seem to hope? Probably not is what I have asserted in the past. Vinod followed up with a great post about the dangers of an illiberal democracy. From an American perspective I find myself suddenly much more concerned about Pakistan now that Musharraf is in a weakened position there. I do not see this as some great victory of the people. Rather, it may just be a step out of the frying pan:

Early results showed a “big gain” for Mr Sharif and Ms Bhutto’s parties, Mr Azeem told the AFP news agency.

“If the results are confirmed we will play the part of the opposition as effectively as we can,” he said.

Most official counts will not be declared until later on Tuesday, and correspondents caution that it is still to early to be sure of the overall trends.

But high-profile victims of the poll were reported to include party president Chaudry Shujaat Hussain and his close ally, Railways Minister Sheikh Rashid.

They were among the PML-Q losses in Punjab, the country’s most populous province and a key electoral battleground.

“The result will be the voice of the nation and whosoever wins we should accept it – that includes myself,” said Mr Musharraf. [Link]

In Vinod’s earlier post he wrote the following (partly an analysis of a Zakaria article):

…the naked pursuit of Democracy – so the argument goes – becomes a sort of Cargo Cult pursued by well intentioned, often outside reformers with potentially tragic results. In an incorrigibly tribal or sectarian context, elections can merely result in one group gaining the bludgeon of state power to loot the assets and trample the rights of another.

Before Zakaria, the Founding Fathers famously used the aphorism “Tyranny of the Majority” and the diktat “People Get the Government They Deserve” to describe exactly such a breakdown. The implication is that in our politically-correct, post-modern world, while criticism of the government flows easily from our lips, perhaps criticism of the “governed” doesn’t flow quite enough. [Link]

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Some music for your Monday

A couple of quick music notes for SM readers. Up first, Chee Malabar has released a few songs he has been working on as an internet mix tape titled “Unearthed Hurt and Other Disappointments.” From my past reviews you guys know that I dig his stuff. You can download the songs for free here (.zip file).

A friend of mine also tipped me off to a new Hindi-ish song by Timbaland (he who just remixes other peoples stuff) with “Amar & Jim Beanz.” The song is titled “Bombay” and although there is no video for it yet, you can at least listen to it in the Youtube clip below:

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