Way To Go, Anika / A Speech for Libraries

This is a video of 14-year-old Anika Tabovaradan giving an impassioned speech about the need for libraries in Toronto. It is 2 a.m., she hates public speaking, she’s been waiting for four hours to talk, and a bunch of Toronto officials–including Mayor Rob Ford–are watching her. AND SHE IS AWESOME.

Way to go, Anika. You reminded me how much I love libraries, librarians, and community space.

(Here’s the related article in the Toronto Star, and a tip o’ the old hat to Romesh H, who pointed out the vid in the first place.) Continue reading

Sid Sriram: Killing Those Covers Softly

sid2.jpgSid Sriram sings some soulful covers. He sings his own songs too, like the smooth and mellow sunny single Limitless and Farther, Closer. But it was various twitternet raves about his latest cover, an emotional rendition of We All Try by Frank Ocean that first made me notice the singer. Sriram skillfully covers a range of artists from Adele to the Beatles. He seems to be getting great response on YouTube, where I noticed multiple marriage proposals alongside praise for his vocals in the comments for his videos.

Sriram was born in Chennai and moved to northern California as an infant. His musical training started in Carnatic music at a young age. He became interested in R&B vocals in junior high and currently attends Berklee College of Music, where he majors in music production engineering and vocal performance. The EP “Be Easy; The Acoustic Sessions” contains five acoustic arrangements of his original material.

This talented young vocalist replied to a few questions, and his answers are posted below. He continues to perform classical vocals as he pursues singing and songwriting in the contemporary urban/indie genre. An announcement for a vocal concert, a past performance in San Francisco, highlights his background from the classical tradition: Continue reading

On Being Othered in an Enlightened Elevator

3089136578_c9dfc6e152_b.jpgI trudged into the elevator, miserable with stomach cramps and a half-assed fever which made my body the same temperature as this 100 degree day. In my hands, an austere haul from Whole Paycheck: a four-pack of Reed’s “Extra Ginger” Brew and a wheat baguette. I have food poisoning, the worst case I’ve had in years.

My body was still in revolt as of 3 am; I slept for four restless hours and then forced myself to get up for work. In exchange for not calling in sick on my third day back after two months of medical leave (which allowed me to walk again), I allowed myself to wear my “Are they or aren’t they”-yoga pants. No, they are not from NuNu Nimbu. I don’t know where they are from, but they are clutch as hell. From five or six feet away, they look like pants. I have them in charcoal, too.

I calculated that no one would be scrutinizing my lower half based on my hideous reflection in the bathroom mirror. Black under-eye circles, dazed red eyes, green skin. Merry goth Christmas! If anyone made it past my face, the black Alternative Apparel v-neck which makes my boyfriend look like a euro-trash hipster would distract my coworkers. On me it looked like the raiment of a round woman who had given up on life. At least I’d be comfortable as my innards putrefied.

As I reached for an elevator button with a shaking hand, manicured fingers swept past my sallow skin.

“Oh! You got it before I could.” The innocuous comment was punctuated by a curious smile.

I slowly turned my head, reflexes dulled by…well, you know.

It’s why my spider sense didn’t tingle in time, either.

“You have…very interesting…skin.”

The way she paused before uttering “skin”. It was almost as if she hadn’t decided exactly what she would choose to “compliment”. It was an awkward moment to hesitate. Does she mean “color” because I’m greenish toda-

“Where is the origin of skin like that?”

Uh? Continue reading

Subramanian Swamy Tells it Like it Ain’t

On July 16, Swamy, the leader of the Janata Party in India, contributed a shining example of vitriolic filth to DNA India:

Fanatic Muslims consider Hindu-dominated India “an unfinished chapter of Islamic conquests”. All other countries conquered by Islam 100% converted to Islam within two decades of the Islamic invasion. Undivided India in 1947 was 75% Hindu even after 800 years of brutal Islamic rule. That is jarring for the fanatics…

The first lesson to be learnt from the recent history of Islamic terrorism against India and for tackling terrorism in India is that the Hindu is the target and that Muslims of India are being programmed by a slow reactive process to become radical and thus slide into suicide against Hindus…

We need a collective mindset as Hindus to stand against the Islamic terrorist. The Muslims of India can join us if they genuinely feel for the Hindu. That they do I will not believe unless they acknowledge with pride that though they may be Muslims, their ancestors were Hindus. If any Muslim acknowledges his or her Hindu legacy, then we Hindus can accept him or her as a part of the Brihad Hindu Samaj (greater Hindu society) which is Hindustan (DNA India).

So to recap, despite the overwhelming diversity that defines Hinduism, and despite the glaring social inequities that find their roots in the religion, Hindus in India need to privilege their religious identity above everything else because the Muslims around them are being infected by the suicide bomb bug. Did I miss anything?

Continue reading

KP & NPH: Together Again (Updated)

Actor/political liaison Kal Penn, who previously left his White House position to film A Very Harold and Kumar Christmas, will be making another trip back from the Beltway to Hollywood. TVLine reports that Penn will appear in a recurring role on the Emmy award-winning TV comedy How I Met Your Mother, set to premiere its seventh season on September 19.

The move would have Penn play Kevin, a possible love interest for Cobie Smulder’s character Robin Scherbatsky. Working on HIMYM would reunite Penn with a co-star from the Harold and Kumar movie franchise, Neil Patrick Harris (Starship Troopers, Doogie Howser, M.D.). NPH plays breakout character and hypocritical womanizer Barney Stinson, credited for much of the show’s success. The Washington Post’s entertainment blog Reliable Source comments on Penn’s unusual career path. Continue reading

Posted in TV

Navin Weds Navin in NY

heart_20110725024657_18371.jpgYesterday hundreds of gay couples got married in New York as a new law called the Marriage Equality Act went into effect making the state the sixth in the nation to legalize same-sex marriage. Marcus and Freddy got married, Nancy and Yolanda got married, and wearing shorts and dapper bow ties, Navin wed Navin in Manhattan.

The desi couple of Murray Hill, together for six years, was one of 20 newlywed pairs whose portraits appeared in The New York Times. An audio recording of their comments on the joyous occasion published along with their portrait included the statement, “This feels so right to us.”

Aseem Chhabra covered the Navins’ New York nuptials at Rediff news, reporting that the couple held a commitment ceremony in California last month, prior to lining up on Sunday morning to have their marriage officially approved by the state of New York. Continue reading

Activist, Poet Ifti Nasim, 1946-2011

KXB’s news post brings to my attention the passing of Ifti Nasim, an out and outspoken gay Pakistani poet who was based in Chicago. Dustin Nakao-Haider’s short film about Nasim captures a bit of his vibrance and humor, at his work as a radio host, at an interfaith community event where he talked about being Muslim, and ends with the poet reciting his How To “Kill” Your Brother With Kindness (Especially If He Is Homophobe).

Continue reading

Is Suzy Singh the Next MasterChef?


Have you seen the Gordon Ramsay-produced cooking show that takes 100 amateur and home chefs and attempts to turn one into a…MasterChef? I watched a few episodes recently and thanks to comments here and stories from the news tab, realized that Chef Suzy must be [Suzy Singh](http://www.suzysingh.com/), a neural engineer from Chicago. Singh, who participated in a brief Q&A posted below, made it into the 100 with a [signature dish](http://www.fox.com/masterchef/recipes/signature-dish/recipe-16) of Tandoori Cod en Papillote with Chai- and Saffron-infused Couscous, and she’s still a contender for the title of MasterChef on the show’s second US season now that the pool of 100 chefs has been whittled down to fewer than 10.

Singh is interesting to watch on MasterChef because she has skills, brings a real enthusiasm for cooking, and wears her heart on her sleeve, leaving no doubt as to how she’s feeling about her chances, her competition or the judges’ comments at any moment. Her style is also on display in videos which introduce viewers to the world’s largest holy kitchen at the Golden Temple and Kesar Da Dhaba in Amristar, Punjab.

Continue reading

The decade of the brown

Via the newstab a data heavy piece in Little India:

Census 2010 data shows that the Asian Indian population ballooned 69 percent from 2000, to 2,843,391. Thus far, the Census Bureau has released Asian Indian data only for those who reported a single race. When multiracial Indians (those who reported multiple racial identities) are factored in the Asian Indian population will top 3.2 million, according to Little India analysis.

Nearly 12 percent of the Asian Indian population in the 2000 Census was multiracial. Little India projects that the final count for the Asian Indian population, including multiracial Indians, will fall between 3.2 million to 3.3 million. The Indian population may well have touched 3.5 million, but an estimated 150,000 to 200,000 Indians returned to India in recent years after the U.S. economy was jolted by the global financial meltdown.

The multiracial issue touches upon a debate that I had with two of this weblog’s co-founders ~2003: the demographic assimilation or involution of the Indian American “community.” I use quotation marks because I think that though there are commonalities and similarities it’s clearly a rather heterogeneous collection of communities, in the plural. Continue reading

Seeing Lal

prerna Lal.jpgThis weekend, Desi youth will be convening in Oakland, CA and Washington DC for the primary purpose of getting activated and politicized. DCDesi Summer will be holding it down for the East Coast, and I personally have been involved in getting Bay Area Solidarity Summer (BASS) off the ground here on the West Coast. Not only am I excited about the FUNraiser we have scheduled, I am particularly excited about the opening keynote speakers for the weekend – author of Desis in the House Sunaina Maira and dream activist Prerna Lal.

I met Prerna Lal last summer at Netroots Nation in Las Vegas. I quickly learned that she was a quite the firecracker. Desi via Fiji, Prerna is a founder of DreamActivist, a current law student, a writer, a SAALT Changemaker, queer, an activist and… is undocumented. Her journey as a struggling youth trying to navigate the broken immigration system is one she is very vocal about sharing, whether on blogs or on twitter. Her tenacity is one to be admired and bravery is one to be inspired by.

Just a few months ago, Prerna was served deportation papers – but being who she is, she’s not leaving without a fight. Here’s what she had to say.

Taz: What made you tweet this?

Prerna: It’s how I feel on most days. We are always asked to prove our worth to our countries. But I have yet to have America prove its worth to me.

T: What is your legal status?

P: Out of status, allegedly accruing unlawful presence that could lead to a 10 year bar from the United States if deported.

T: Where are you from? How did you end up in the US?

P: Fiji Islands. Father brought me here when I was 14, kicking and screaming.

T: Your grandmother is a citizen, your parents are greencard holders and your sister is a citizen. How is it possible that you are considered undocumented?

P: That’s simple. I aged out at 21. You see, when a visa petition is approved, a family has to wait many years to actually get a “priority date” in order to immigrate legally. I was 24 by the time my parents received their priority date. Regardless of the fact that my name was on the original visa petition filed for my family, I was automatically castigated and separated from my family. My parents were no longer considered my “immediate relatives.” I find it morally repugnant, but I’m sure there are many young adults who have experienced the same horror of family separation due to an arbitrary age out of our control. Continue reading