Tamtini, anyone?

If you’re like me, sometimes you get a fever, and the only prescription is more tamarind.

A few months ago I found some mint in the fridge that was on its way to brown, and thought I’d salvage what I could and make myself a mojito. Unfortunately there was no lime to be found, so I decided I’d try with tamarind instead.

I took a lump out of a wet packet of tamarind (you know, the one that comes in plastic with the seeds), dissolved it in water, took out the seeds, and strained it. I muddled the mint, added a little sugar syrup, rum, and the tamarind. The result was… all right.


I asked my genius partner-in-crime for her opinion, and she thought the same thing – all right. Then she thought about it for a little while and said, “You know those little Thai tamarind candies? The ones with chili powder in them – make it taste like that.”

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Get That Man a Record Deal

New York Magazine posted the quintessential spontaneous New York Desi moment (h/t Sadaf).

Bhangra in the East Village from Derek Beres on Vimeo.

Do you recognize the deli? I It’s that one place on 1st street in New York’s East Village where all the taxi workers go. I went with The Kominas after a show last fall. They have great saag paneer. The man providing the beats in the video is Duke Mushroom (not Derek Beres as stated earlier), both of EarthRise SoundSystem. Continue reading

He’s Just Not That Into You

I started reading Slate’s “Dear Prudence” because it reminded me of a beloved Siouxsie Sioux cover from 1983 (and you scoffed when I said I was a Goth in high school); I continued to read Prudie because her work is quite interesting. Beyond composing her advice column, every week, Prudence (also known as Emily Yoffe) chats online via the Washington Post with people, “about their romantic, family, financial, and workplace problems”. Today’s chat included a doozy of a problem, starring an EVIL BROWN MAN! So very sad.

Q. Interracial Relationships: My long-term boyfriend recently informed me that, because I’m white and he’s Indian and Muslim, I could never be a good parent to children (that don’t yet exist) that are half his. Basically, he didn’t want to continue our relationship because he believes that Indian/Muslim children should have two Indian/Muslim parents, not one white parent and one Indian/Muslim parent (although if we had children, obviously half of their genes would come from me). When I tried to counter his arguments, he called me racist and said that I would never understand. I had to break up with him, but I’m still so enraged–I would be a great mom to any children, and I seriously think he’s wrong. I think he’s afraid to talk to his parents about our relationship (they have relatively firm religious beliefs, whereas he is nonreligious but values Muslim cultural traditions), so he decided that ending things was the best plan. How should I have reacted, and how do I react now, since he still wants to be friends? (Note: This isn’t about religion. He is quite firmly against organized religion, so he would never ask me to take up any religious beliefs, and offering to do that wouldn’t help the situation, as it would fly in the face of his beliefs about organized religion.)

A: I’m afraid that when someone says he finds you unsuitable as a potential mother to his children, he wins that argument by default. You are understandably enraged at the end of this relationship. But over the long run, you will be happier that you didn’t try to force someone to merge his DNA with yours just to show you how wrong he was. For some people, when it comes time to make marriage and reproduction decisions, their spouse’s ethnic or religious background doesn’t matter. Other people find it does. Of course it’s painful that your boyfriend has now informed you he’s in this latter camp after several years together. But since you want to become a mother, you have to move on and find someone else you can spend your life with. And for your own emotional health, that may mean taking a pass on his offer of “friendship.”

Oh, dear. I don’t want to seem unsympathetic to this woman’s complaints because, sister, we’ve all been there…brown, white, black, olive…who among us hasn’t been blue over love? As someone who spent the totality of her teens convinced that she would never, ever have a boyfriend and would never, ever be loved, I will always feel for anyone whose heart is aching. It’s pure awfulness with a chaser of real pain. There’s no denying how brutal rejection is, how it reaches in to your core and eviscerates you as if you are an extra in an extra-vile video game. It hurts. It hurts so very much. Continue reading

Mark Your Calendars for UNIFICATION 2010

Back in September, Taz planned a Boston meetup that attracted dozens of Sepia supporters. It was the first meetup Ravi and I attended on behalf of the Mutiny and we were humbled by the warm reception Boston’s mutineers gave us. That night, we met a lot of people, including BROWNSTAR REVOLUTION, a spoken-word duo composed of Pushkar Sharma and Sathya Sridharan, who Taz later interviewed for a post. Now, more than six months later, BROWNSTAR needs our help. The duo is in the middle of planning UNIFICATION 2010, a joint celebration of Pakistani and Indian independence in New York City and you’re invited.

Who: Join spoken-word duo BROWNSTAR REVOLUTION, NYC’s DJ Rekha, Boston-based punk rock band The Kominas, Hari the Comic, brother-sister singers Fair and Kind and other talented South Asian artists in Manhattan for double the independence day fun. Continue reading

Aseem Shukla’s Piece on the Gaza Flotilla

In his piece in The Washington Post’s “On Faith” column last Wednesday, Aseem Shukla, co-founder of the Hindu American Foundation (HAF), begins with the following:

Watching events unfold in the Middle East, I lose the hyphen in Hindu-American here and comment only as an American. I do not represent the Hindu American Foundation here, but represent the views of one stunned by the existential challenges in the Middle East (On Faith).

He then questions the motives of the flotilla organizers, characterizing it as a political stunt rather than a genuine humanitarian effort (why are the two mutually exclusive?).

The flotillas insist on direct access to land controlled by the same Hamas thugs that are committed to destroying Israel and have purposefully launched thousands of rockets at Israel. These seaborne do-gooders could easily unload their supplies in Israel and have them transported to Gaza if their concerns were only humanitarian. But theirs were political, and they chose to protest, provoke and, yes, in a few cases, covet the perverse martyrdom of the extremist.

The problem with Mr. Shukla’s article, and the reason I find it disingenuous, is that though he claims to lose his hyphen, his argument fits neatly within the political framework of HAF.

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Teaching children the joy of sox … using Bhangra

This is from a Canadian-American TV show called The Backyardigans:

The show is an animated musical-adventure series aimed at children between the ages of 2 and 5.[4] In each episode, the show’s five friends–Pablo, Tyrone, Uniqua, Tasha, and Austin–rely on their vivid imaginations to transform their backyard into completely different worlds, in which they go through many sorts of stories and adventures…The episodes focus on music and dancing as much as they do on the stories, with each one featuring a different music genre [Link]

The Bhangra episode had three other songs (Socks, Wonderful Socks, That’s My Job, That’s My Job, and Gotta Get the Pencil) but this is the best one.

It doesn’t really make much sense to me, but then I don’t think that shows intended to amuse kids under five should really make sense to adults. Either you like it or you don’t, but trying to understand it … begs the point. Continue reading

David Davidar shown the door

Many of you are familiar with David Davidar. He’s the author of the best-selling novels ‘The House of Blue Mangoes’ and ‘The Solitude of Emperors,’ and was head of Penguin India for many years, before moving to Penguin Canada in 2004, a rising star in the publishing industry. Well, Davidar left Penguin abruptly this week.


Penguin Group vice-president Yvonne Hunter announced Tuesday that the charismatic CEO is leaving the company to return to his native India to “pursue his successful writing career and other projects.” [TOI]

At least that’s the spin the company initially tried to put on Davidar’s departure. Via Ashok Banker, I learned that Davidar had been essentially fired after Lisa Rundle, a former Penguin employee, filed a $523,000 sexual harrassment lawsuit against Penguin and Davidar.

The accusations are accompanied by quotations from several e-mail messages Mr. Davidar allegedly sent to Ms. Rundle during the period in question. Last year, he is said to have written that he “could do very little except think of [Ms. Rundle],” that she was “utterly gorgeous,” “a vision in pink sipping a champagne cocktail,” and that she should not be “stubborn” or “fight” him.

“Davidar over time became more and more intense with his persistent protestations of lust and desire for Lisa,” according to the claim, “and in return she became increasingly disturbed and afraid.”

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Real men do it barefoot

My friend Amit emailed me earlier today asking me if I thought this was the single greatest Wikipedia trivia fact ever. Ennis covered this back in 2006 but I think it is worth revisiting in greater detail:

India qualified by default for the 1950 FIFA World Cup finals as a result of the withdrawal of all of their scheduled opponents. However, they did not take up their place in the competition. The Indian players were unable to play as boots were required according to FIFA legislation, and the Indian players were not used to footwear and thus refused. The Indian football team was known to play barefoot during the period. In fact, Mohammed Abdul Salim one of the Indian football players played for Celtic F.C. barefoot.[2] The team has never since come close to qualifying for the World Cup. In the FIFA world cup 2010 qualifiers, India was eliminated in the first round by Lebanon. [Wiki]

I tried to do a bit of digging and found what I believe to be the oldest organized soccer club in India, pre-dating the 1950 World Cup. It is Mohan Bagan.

If you go to this site and look at some really old pictures you can get a glimpse of their feet. Sure enough, they play barefoot.

1911 IFA SHIELD WINNING TEAM (beat the Yorkshire Regiment)

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Monsoon Song Showdown: Do Bigha Zameen (1953) vs. Lagaan (2001)

I was recently chastised by a colleague for not ever having seen Bimal Roy’s classic Hindi film, “Do Bigha Zameen” (Two Acres of Land). The chastising was sufficiently harsh (“what’s wrong with you?! it’s on frikking YouTube, you have no excuse!!!”) that I felt compelled to actually watch some of the film. (Beautiful, even on YouTube.)

Watching the film, one thing that struck me was the similarity of one of the key monsoon songs to “Ghanan Ghanan” from Lagaan. Here is Hariyala Sawan Dhol Bjata Aya:

And here is Ghanan Ghanan:

There are similarities both in the structure of the songs and in the way the songs are filmed. Did A.R. Rahman or Ashutosh Gowariker acknowledge the debt to Bimal Roy after Lagaan came out? (They might have — I might not have been paying attention.)

The blog Dusted Off has a great list of “Top Ten Monsoon Songs”: here.

And one of the commenters on that post links to his own “105 Baarish Songs”: here. Continue reading