Murder-Suicide in Silicon Valley Claims Five Innocent Lives

kalathat.jpg A heart-breaking story out of Santa Clara, in Northern California. Devan Kalathat took his own life– but only after shooting his wife, his two children, and three other relatives (including an 11-month old baby girl) who had just arrived from India.

A father is suspected of killing his two children and three other relatives before taking his own life in an upscale neighborhood of Silicon Valley where the family had recently moved.
Authorities were still searching Tuesday for a motive in Sunday night’s slayings, though they have said financial issues did not appear to be a factor. [Yahoo]
Everyone died except Kalathat’s wife, who remained in critical condition Tuesday with multiple gunshot wounds in her upper body. She managed to stumble outside and collapse on a concrete pathway, where she was found in a pool of blood by neighbors. Along with the bodies of five others, including his two children and niece, police found Kalathat inside with a self-inflicted gunshot wound. The two handguns were laying nearby. [SJMercuryNews]

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Save Ourselves, the Ameish Way

AMEISH – “Save Ourselves” from Secret History on Vimeo.

Straight outta Los Angeles, born and raised, 25 year old unsigned artist Ameish Govindarajan is hitting the hip hop scene by storm. Taking a unique ‘web 2.0’ tactic of dropping his first single Save Ourselves with a viral music video even before an EP is pressed and on itunes, Ameish is part of the new generation using the internet to spread the lyrics. I stumbled across this video in my inbox last week and was blown away. The visuals were clean and crisp, enhancing the smooth hip hop hook and lyrics. I couldn’t get the song out of my head all week.

I sat down (virtually) with Ameish to ask him a few questions about life. Here’s what he said.

I saw on your facebook profile that you graduated from UCLA with a pyschobio degree. That’s quite the change from hip-hop… How’d you first get involved with hip-hop? How do your parents feel about your musical foray?

Yes, that is kind of an unexpected background for an artist, I’ve been blessed to have the opportunity to be educated. Music has always been around me since I was young, but the first time I heard hip-hop was around ten years old. I picked up a tape off the ground, which I still have, Brand Nubian. And from there I fell in love with the beats and rhymes. I was an avid listener for five years, listening to everything from Ice Cube to Wu-tang. Me and my boys started rhyming at the age of 15. We used to record on a karaoke machine and rhyme on top of the radio, then on instrumentals. My parents are fully supportive of whatever my passions are.

I saw this video last week and thought it was really polished looking and you have a great sound. I’m surprised that you are still unsigned and that I haven’t heard of your music yet. Is this your first single?

Yes, this is my debut single off the “Save Ourselves” EP. There’s plenty more music to come.

Who did your music video?

The video was a collaborative effort from four parties. The directors were from the crew Secret History. They’ve done videos for other rap artists like The Grouch and Paris. The producers are Bucks Boys Productions who worked on Kanye West’s “Flashing Lights” video. The director of photography is from the ReelRoots crew, and Digital Gypsy provided the rest of the production.

I came up with the concept for the video as I wrote the song, and these productions companies were able to bring my vision to life.

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I Wanna Hold Your Hand

It’s become pretty old hat for us to find Bollywood rip offs of Western music and movies. Indian Superman is probably still my alltime favorite but this music video manages to chart new ground on an extremely crowded landscape.

Not only do they rip off the tune, they also rip off the band –

Not wanting to be left out of the fun, some Westerner’s gave the video the Tunak Tunak treatment. The result is below the fold –

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Russell Peters hosts the Junos again

Russell Peters isn’t just the biggest desi comedian in Canada, he’s arguably the hottest comedian period (no, he’s not Tamil). For the second year in a row, he was tapped to host the Juno Awards, Canada’s equivalent of the Grammys and the most popular award show north of the border. The Junos were held Sunday night at General Motors Place, home of the Vancouver Canucks.

Peters made a colorful entrance with a group of Punjabi dancers and two drummers.

Once the group disappeared, Peters showed off some of his other moves, amid roars from the crowd.

You can watch Peters’ entire monologue here (cue to the 5 minute mark).

At least one observer, Leah Collins of Canwest News Service, wasn’t crazy about Peters’ entrance or some of his jokes.

Maybe we’re just suffering Slumdog Millionaire fatigue, but Russell Peters’ Bollywood entrance was pure cheese — even by Juno standards. However, once he started popping and locking on the “grow-op” set, we couldn’t deny the comedian has some skills. If only the opening monologue was as tight. West-coast pot-head jokes? Sigh . . . You know what else Canadians are known for? Tired regional humour. [Link]

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When I watch Indian movies…oh, wait. I don’t.

The popular website PostSecret featured a brown-tinged confession this week (Thanks, Niki):

another brown secret

So far, three of you have sent this postcard in as a tip, which is hardly surprising; you mutineers love to discuss these secrets which have been expressed as art.

For those who are unfamiliar with the site:

PostSecret is an ongoing community mail art project, created by Frank Warren, in which people mail their secrets anonymously on one side of a homemade postcard. Select secrets are then posted on the PostSecret website, or used for PostSecret’s books or museum exhibits.
The simple concept of the project was that completely anonymous people decorate a postcard and portray a secret that they had never previously revealed. No restrictions are made on the content of the secret; only that it must be completely truthful and must never have been spoken before. Entries range from admissions of sexual misconduct and criminal activity to confessions of secret desires, embarrassing habits, hopes and dreams. [wiki]

When I first saw this, I oddly wondered if a non-Desi might have submitted it. I think my guess was inspired by the artist choosing to use the term “Indian” movies instead of “Bollywood”. Then again, maybe this secret-poster watches Tollywood, Mollywood or Kollywood fill-ums, but didn’t bother getting so specific, since they’re relatively obscure in the U.S. Part of me also thought “Bolly” because of the image used (is that Aamir Khan?). That’s all I’ve got. 😉

Meanwhile, the person peering over my shoulder hypothesized that whoever sent it in might be a second-gen American who is being pressured in to an arranged alliance. What do all of you think? Interestingly enough, in at least one instance, the person who created the postcard we wrote about was a reader who later de-lurked to debunk assumptions. I’m cool with that happening, too. Let the idle conjecture begin… Continue reading

Posted in Art

The Rapid Rise of Aziz Ansari

Comedian Aziz Ansari has, seemingly overnight, gone from being another Indian-American hopeful comic (in the same bracket as blog-friend Hari Kondabolu), to the next Desi TV star (potentially the same bracket as Kal Penn and Aasif Mandvi).

There is a great profile of him, which focuses on his unique style of comedy, in the Wall Street Journal today (of all places). Aziz has a starring role alongside Amy Poehler in the upcoming NBC show, Parks and Recreation. He’s also in the current “bromance” comedy, I Love You, Man, an upcoming Seth Rogen starrer called Observe and Report (another movie about a mall cop? really?), as well as in a Judd Apatow film called Funny People coming later this summer (where Aziz will apparently play a comic disposed to extreme profanity). From nearly unknown to three big comedies and a Prime Time TV show with one of Saturday Night Live’s biggest stars… Wow.

As a side note, I have also been following Aziz’s insane Twitter feed, for the past couple of weeks. At first I thought the man is simply out of his mind (he is currently on a “campaign” to save rapper Ludacris from drinking too much Mangosteen juice), but at some point I started to think that the whole thing is an elaborate in-joke. The closing paragraphs of the WSJ profile give a little perspective on what Aziz is up to:

Mr. Ansari moved to Los Angeles a year ago, and his comedy is often fueled by references to pop culture and celebrities. He has launched a Twitter feed, where he sometimes alludes to imaginary plans with famous people he doesn’t know. According to the feed, in recent days he has eaten brunch with the R&B band Boyz II Men, had sushi with “Blood Diamond” actor Djimon Hounsou and beaten World Wrestling Entertainment star John Cena in a push-up competition. None of this is true. He has made a few real celebrity friends. Last year, he got permission from rapper Kanye West to use Mr. West’s “Glow in the Dark Tour” as the tongue-in-cheek name for his own, far smaller stand-up tour. Mr. West came to one of the comedian’s shows, and the two struck up a friendship.(link)

I have my doubts about whether Twitter is just another social networking fad or something bigger, but at least from the Twitterers I follow (a rather limited number), Aziz definitely takes the art of the funny & surreal 140 character message to a whole other level.

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Posted in TV

Nano brings pride, but profit?

Monday was the debut of the long awaited Tata Nano, India’s answer to the Model T. Initial reviews are favorable, with reviewers impressed by how normal a car the Nano seems to be, given its small size, engine and cost (via anatha):

Even the green crowd seems accepting of the new vehicle. While Greenpeace protestors picketed the announcement of the car, Ratan Tata claims that the Nano is less poluting than many two wheel vehicles on the market and even UN Framework Convention on Climate Change executive secretary Yvo de Boer said,

“I am not concerned about it (the Tata Nano) because people in India have the same aspirational rights to own cars as people elsewhere in the world.” [link]

In addition, the Nano already gets 70mpg, and there are discussions of an electric model in the future.

So it’s a lot of car for the money and it’s green. What I don’t understand is the business side of the equation. Can Tata make money on this car? And if not, will the Nano and Tata motors survive?

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First they came after Paan, but I didn’t chew…

If you’re a race conspiracist, perhaps this is just the latest insult to fall upon the brothers in arms in Dubai. Going after paan is just an indirect, more politically correct way for the ruling elite to cram desi’s into an out-of-sight, out-of-mind box –

DUBAI, United Arab Emirates – Be warned: Spitting here could get you deported.

We’re not talking just any kind of spit. In this case, it’s the red-tinted juice of a popular Asian leaf that’s causing the fuss as Dubai tries to buff the image of its less-posh districts.

The crackdown — announced this week amid a broader effort to stem behavior deemed offensive — has stirred an unusual Arab-Asian culture clash in a city where the friction is often between Western ways grating against conservative Gulf sensibilities.

…”It’s like telling an Italian not to have an espresso,” said Pakistani security guard Munir Ahmed.

On the other hand, maybe paan spitting is just gross and Dubai’s officials really are trying to clean up the place. Though it runs against my usually libertarian sensitivities, I’m reminded of Lee Kuan Yew’s recipe for wealth in Singapore

The difficult part was getting the people to change their habits so that they behaved more like first world citizens, not like third world citizens spitting and littering all over the place.

That was the difficult part. So, we had campaigns to do this, campaigns to do that. We said, “Look, if you don’t do this, you won’t get the jobs. You must make this place like the countries they came from. Then, they are comfortable. Then they’ll do business here. Then, you’ll have a job. Then, you’ll have homes, schools, hospitals, etc.” That’s a long process.


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Posted in Uncategorized

Padma likes them “thick”

You know, I have watched every episode of every season of Top Chef. I love food and I love to cook which keeps me tuned in. I have always thought that Padma Lakshmi was miscast as the host. Don’t get me wrong, Lakshmi is not bad to look at, but she isn’t a very noticeable host, she just lacks a stage presence. She gets overshadowed by all regular judges and even some of the shy guest judges. Perhaps that is why she agreed to have sex with a hamburger on camera. At some point in every TV personality’s life you just got to shake things up a bit so people can imagine you in a different light:

The best part? Hardee’s named this sandwich the “Thickburger.” Don’t forget that was the same restaurant (Hardee’s and Carl’s Jr. are the same) that had a commercial featuring Paris Hilton doing it to a car. Also, rumor has it that she is going to add a burger to the mural featured here. Continue reading