30 Mosques 2011

This year the 30 Mosques guys–Aman Ali and Bassam Tariq–continued their annual Ramadan journey that started out in NYC in 2009 and expanded across the USA in 2010. The duo is celebrating Eid after wrapping up their 2011 Ramadan travels that took them to mosques and Muslims around the nation. If you’re celebrating too, I wish you and your family a joyous holiday. Eid Mubarak!

Watch the full episode. See more PBS NewsHour.

In their PBS interview with Hari Sreenivasan, Tariq described the 30 Mosques trip as an opportunity to see how people are living the religion of Islam. Ali highlighted a Muslim community in San Francisco called Ta’leef Collective that impressed him with its inclusive attitudes and “come as you are” philosophy. Continue reading

Young the Giant Rocks Out @ VMAs

Young the Giant’s lead singer Sameer Gadhia strutted down the catwalk and got the crowd going at the 2011 MTV Video Music Awards tonight. The group performed “My Body.” Backstage before the show they talked about being the sole rock act to perform at this year’s award show. Watch their performance below.

Thanks for the tip Pravin Praveen!

Young the Giant canceled performances at Reading and Leeds festivals to make it to the VMAs. Gadhia explained why it was important for them to perform at tonight’s show in Los Angeles.

“We canceled Reading and Leeds [festivals] because of the VMAs,” frontman Gadhia shared. “I mean, we always watched them, ever since we were little … and we’re from Los Angeles, so we figured it would be a great opportunity. Hopefully people in the U.K. will forgive us. I know some people are already annoyed.” (MTV) Continue reading

Gonna Dress You Up in Pattu


People Magazine recently spotted Padma Lakshmi’s young daughter wearing a colorful, traditional outfit. Will celebrity-watching fashionista parents soon be on the lookout for tiny pattu-langas (apparently also called pattu pavada) at their local baby boutiques? Perhaps, though they might have better luck finding these children’s outfits at online bazaars.

I can’t remember my first pattu-langa, but there’s probably a picture of me in it in one of my parents’ photo albums. When we were growing up, my sisters and I, and more recently my niece, were dressed up in these silky, shiny outfits for special events or big family parties. The langa or skirt part of my outfits was longer, going down to my feet. But I also like the style worn by Krishna because in addition to its pretty purple hue, its shorter length looks like it could be easier to wear while toddling around as a baby.

Hit up YouTube for more pattu-langa cuteness.

Photo: desiVastra Continue reading

Back to the Roots: Growing Gourmet Eats from “Garbage”


Behind that stream of steaming hot coffee pouring into your cup is a waste stream of coffee grounds. Nikhil Arora and Alejandro Velez of Back to the Roots (BTTR) view the huge amounts of coffee grounds waste coming out of coffee shops as a huge potential for urban mushroom farming. The UC Berkeley students were in their final semester with corporate job offers in hand when they heard about growing gourmet mushrooms from coffee grounds and independently reached out to their professor for more information. (Read a Q&A with Arora after the jump.)

The professor put them in touch and they got to growing their business idea. They asked Peet’s Coffee for used coffee grounds and set up ten test buckets in Velez’s fraternity kitchen to try out mushroom farming. Only one bucket grew a crop of mushrooms.

They took the single success to a famous Berkeley restaurant, Chez Panisse, to get those mushrooms checked out–they were sautéed and deemed good. (If you’re wondering, mushrooms grown in coffee grounds do not pick up a coffee kick to their flavor.) The two budding entrepreneurs took the same bucket to Whole Foods and caught the interest of store employees. Their idea also caught the interest of their university, which awarded them a $5K social innovation grant.

Continue reading

Daydreaming With Danny Pudi

It’s summertime. That means no new episodes of Community featuring one of the best (and hottest) TV bromances to ever exist–Troy + Abed. But you can watch Danny Pudi, who plays the Abed half of that TV couple, in a cute and fun new music video from Raphael Saadiq. The video for “Day Dreams” from Saadiq’s Stone Rollin‘ album is directed by Arj Barker’s co-star from Flight of the Conchords, Bret McKenzie.

Previously: He’s Your Polish Dancer, Your Brown Actor for Hire Continue reading

Anjulie Remodeled

Remember Anjulie? The Guyanese-Canadian who’s 2009 single Boom prompted mutineer Amardeep to state, “I hear shades of Morcheeba and Esthero”? She just dropped a new single this week so I’m sharing for this week’s #MusicMonday (that’s right, I’m bringing it back…!) I can’t help but think she’s been Nikki Minaj-ed. Rihanna-ed. Lady Gaga-fied.

What do you think of the remodel? I gotta say, I was a big fan of “old” Anjulie with the song My Thrill being my favorite. But if her new album is reflective of this single, I dunno, I dunno… Continue reading

Another Perspective–Himalayan American

himalayan.nasa.jpgSapana Sakya was born in Nepal, grew up in Thailand and came to the US for college. She has a background in filmmaking and journalism and works at the Center for Asian American Media. Sakya shares her thoughts on identity in an interesting post for CAAM called I Think I’m Himalayan American.

When I was 5 years old my family migrated to Thailand where I attended an American international school in Bangkok. I was the only Nepalese person in my school. To be anything other than Thai, Chinese or Indian – the majority of the student body, was to be looked down upon or considered an exotic “other” so I learned to keep my ethnicity to myself and didn’t correct people when they assumed I was Thai or Indian.

She conveys mixed feelings about using the term South Asian.

Until now, I categorized myself as South Asian but I always felt that the term South Asian represented the dominant group of that subcontinent, India. I am South Asian and Nepalese; the Nepalese language is similar to Hindi but Newari, my ethnic language, is closer to Tibetan and Burmese. So Himalayan is a more accurate descriptor of my culture and ethnicity. Continue reading

A Father Like This

As Ennis reported, there’s anarchy in the UK. I’ve been following twitter feeds coming out of England closely and though there is mixed feelings on the “insurrection” of the people, one thing is certain, everyone is fearful that the riots will come to their community. Last night, the rioters came to Birmingham.

Haroon, Abdul Musavir, 31, and Shazad Ali, 31, were mowed down as they stood on the pavement protecting their mosque and businesses in the community. Today, a 32-year-old man was being questioned on suspicion of murder.

The father said he was standing round the corner as the car mounted the pavement and knocked down the three young men. He said he acted instinctively and helped – without realising his boy was one of the trio who were fatally injured. Mr Jahan said: ‘The car came up on the pavement for God knows what reason and I was standing nearby. ‘I heard it happen and I turned round and I saw three people on the ground and my instinct to help and I started CPR and someone told me that one of them was my son.’ [dailymail]

Some moving words from Tariq Jahan, father to the 21 year old Haroon Jahan.

I’m not condoning the violence, but clearly the situation has reached a critical moment in the UK and the people believe things have got to change. Mass media is billing what is happening in the UK as a “race” riot or a “youth” insurgency – but the victims in this case were South Asian youth. The #UKRiots goes far deeper than that. Continue reading

Community action in Southall, then and now

Yesterday, news agencies all over the world carried stories of Sikhs in Southall standing guard outside of Southall Gurdwaras to protect them from the rioters who had attacked neighboring wealthy Ealing the day before. It was a feel good story with great visual appeal, captured nicely by this picture:


Two things got missed in this simple story, however. First, the story of community self-defense is much larger than just Sikhs or Southall. All residents of Southall worked together, across religious lines, to guard each others’ places of worship (Gurdwaras, Mosques, Mandirs) and businesses. Nor was Southall the only place where this happened. Bangladeshis mobilized in Whitechapel, Brick Lane, and Bethnal Green; three desi men were killed while defending their neighborhood in Birmingham.

There’s another layer here though, which is about a deep mistrust of the police, dating back over 30-40 years. Southall was a place where white supremacists could murder a desi teenager and not get prosecuted, where cops could engage in brutality, and where, in 1979, peaceful protesters fought back after being viciously bludgeoned by mounted police. One protester was killed by police, but nobody was ever held responsible for it. This video clip tells the story well:

So when the police issue warnings against “vigilantism” to discourage community self-defense groups, it’s likely falling on deaf ears. Members of the community will work with the police, but they’re not about to stand down and trust the police to protect them. Continue reading


Last year, I joined Vivek, Ennis and Cicatrix at UNIFICATION, a fun, fantastic production brought about through the efforts of BROWNSTAR to commemorate India and Pakistan’s respective independence days. Will I be there again? You betcha. And you should come too.

From their press release:

The third annual UNIFICATION will again celebrate the end of colonial rule in South Asia while showcasing the talents of prominent and rising South Asian American performers. Beginning on August 14 and ending after midnight on August 15, UNIFICATION 2011 literally unites the Independence Days of the two most populous nations in South Asia, Pakistan and India, and serves as a demonstration for peace across the region.

Featuring performances by:
Bushra Rehman
Sunny Ali & the Kid
YaliniDream & Arooj Aftab with JenDog Lonewolf
Zerobridge Continue reading

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