The coming decade for South Asians

For the past week, in addition to creating a list of modest New Year’s resolutions (oh how I miss the days when my resolutions were wildly ambitious!), I have been thinking about how the “South Asian American experience” will change and evolve during this decade. For instance, in 2004 when we started this blog, South Asian Americans were still “outsiders” in many respects. Now, we’ve given up noting much of what was quite notable back then (e.g., every actor, politician, musicians). So here is my list of top 10 predictions involving South Asian American society for the next 10 years:

1) The United States will have its first South Asian senator

2) Entrepreneurs will be the new doctors in terms of finding a respectable marriage match (e.g., “oh you should meet their son Ravi, he is having new start-up company”)

3) South Asian reporters on the scene will replace Asian reporters on the scene

4) Every other instance of a NYTimes wedding announcement featuring a South Asian person will be in the context of an interracial couple

5) Movies directed by M. Night Shyamalan will no longer mention the director as part of the movie ad campaign.

6) All South Asian American bloggers will go the way of the Dodo.

7) Slumdog Millionaire will be derided for having won best picture (e.g., really, we thought that was best picture that year?)

8) Americans in the media will pronounce South Asian names correctly…well almost. Much much better at least.

9) Yoga will be the new Starbucks

10) A South Asian American author will write an amazing work of fiction (maybe even one that will be turned into a movie) with almost no hint of any South Asian themes

11) There will be a headline grabbing sex scandal involving a South Asian American

Ok so there are 11 not 10. But only because I believe one of these won’t happen.

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Why Desi Mothers are Superior (Or Not)

If you haven’t already, I suggest you take a good, long look at the article “Why Chinese Mothers Are Superior,” which appeared last Sunday in the WSJ by Amy Chua, a Yale Law School professor. The piece, an excerpt from her forthcoming memoir, describes Chinese parenting techniques in relation to those of “Western parents.” Chua cites her personal experiences with her two daughters, Sophia and Louisa, and all the activities she doesn’t allow them to do– like “have a playdate” or “choose their own extracurricular activities.” Sound familiar? If you grew up in a desi household, it probably does. And Chua’s recollection of a particular situation, where her seven-year old daughter Lulu had trouble learning a difficult piano piece, may also strike a chord, no pun intended:

I threatened her with no lunch, no dinner, no Christmas or Hanukkah presents, no birthday parties for two, three, four years. When she still kept playing it wrong, I told her she was purposely working herself into a frenzy because she was secretly afraid she couldn’t do it. I told her to stop being lazy, cowardly, self-indulgent and pathetic.

I rolled up my sleeves and went back to Lulu. I used every weapon and tactic I could think of. We worked right through dinner into the night, and I wouldn’t let Lulu get up, not for water, not even to go to the bathroom. The house became a war zone, and I lost my voice yelling, but still there seemed to be only negative progress, and even I began to have doubts.

Now, I consider my own mother to be a very good mother. Edit. I consider my mother to be an excellent mother. As a childhood elementary education major, my mother could be quite rigid when it came to rules, but she gave us siblings room to pursue our own interests. As long as I pulled in semi-respectable grades, I was free to audition for the school play, write for the school paper, etc. Continue reading

Jai Ho for Jai Paul

Jai Paul.jpg

Is it a mohawk or a mullet? With a mo-mullet haircut like that, you can be sure that anything coming out of this 21 year old Brit is anything but average. #MusicMonday for today comes from my latest musical obsession – Jai Paul and his song BTSU (h/t Abhay).

BTSU starts with the tiny, pretty whisper of Don’t fuck with me, though it soon explodes from its small man/big mouth beginnings into a synth storm. Then the squall settles again, back to lazy snare snap and his little coo. At some point there’s smooth saxophone, just a touch. [thefader]

You can download the track here (via Abeano) and keep tabs on Jai Paul on his myspace to see what he comes out with next. Continue reading

We Are Those Lions

Photo by simonm1965

Jayaben Desai passed away recently at age 77, leaving an extraordinary legacy in labor history. With a handbag in one hand and a bullhorn in the other, she led a two-year strike in the mid-1970s protesting the unequal pay and poor treatment of workers at a North London Grunwick film processing factory. The factory’s workforce consisted mostly of desi immigrants from East Africa, and many were women.

Before she walked off the job one day in 1976, the diminutive Gujarat-born Desai who came in at under 5 feet tall and immigrated to England by way of Tanzania, had a few words for her manager Malcolm Alden.

What you are running here is not a factory, it is a zoo. But in a zoo there are many types of animals. Some are monkeys who dance on your finger-tips, others are lions who can bite your head off. We are those lions, Mr manager. Continue reading