What Is It Like To Give?

The countdown clock ticks down ominously on www.amitguptaneedsyou.com, counting down the 22 days left of finding a perfect donor bone marrow match for Amit Gupta, who I blogged about before. The bounty for a match (just a certified match, not a donor) is up to $30,000 generously donated by his friends. Amit has now been interviewed on CNN by Sanjay Gupta and his campaign is gaining national traction, with a bone marrow sign up table at almost every Brown event.

It’s surprising to me after all this time that there are still people not registered in the bone marrow registry. At last week’s San Francisco Subcontinental Drift, I eagerly convinced my friend to sign up to the bone marrow registry at the back table, surprised that he hadn’t done so already. “I’ve been in the registry for 7 years,” I told him. “All it takes is 4 simple cheek swabs and you are in.” Within minutes, he was in the registry too.

But what is it like to actually donate? That I didn’t have experience in. I do know that if I ever get the chance to donate, I’ll be 99.9% willing to step up to the call of duty. I decided to interview two South Asian American women who had the opportunity to donate bone marrow, Kristeen Singh and Darshana Vakharia. Here’s what they have to say:

Congratulations! When did you do it and what was the overall experience like?

Kristeen: Almost a year ago (Dec 14, 2010), I donated bone marrow for a seventeen year old boy with Leukemia. I was told that the recipient was the same age as my nephew, so it was natural I wanted the same for this boy. As a donor it feels like yes, we are doing it, and yes we are life savers.

Darshana: I donated in January 2004.  When I donated all I knew was that it was for a little girl who was 9 years old.  My oldest daughter was exactly the same age at that time.  Needless to say I couldn’t do the procedure fast enough.  All I remember right now is how lucky I felt that I was a match and was actually donating.

When you got the call that you were a bone marrow match, what was your decision making process?

Kristeen: I was in disbelief that I was actually called. It wasn’t until I had my blood tested that confirmed I was the best match that, I believed it. I was excited that during the holiday season, I would get to share the gift of life. Continue reading

Strings Sing With Violinder

This past Friday, Mandeep Sethi hosted Bhangra, BBoys and Breakbeats here in the East Bay, a show where bhangra dancers were dancing to hip hop, B-boys were breaking to bhangra breakbeats and there were an incredible line-up of Desis taking the mic, turntables and tablas. It was a great showcase of talent and one talent that totally blew me away is today’s featured #MusicMondayViolinder. He doesn’t sing, but he sure does make his violin sing!

A Bay Area based second year college student, I first heard about Raginder “Violinder” Momi when he performed at the 5K for the 5Ks Walkathon a couple months back. Looks like he has performed w/ Bhangra Knights before and got his start doing devotional music. He’s good at what he does unplugged too.

Keep an eye on this one – at this rate he’ll be touring with Kanye West in no time.

Of Writings, Marriages and Giveaways

(L-R) Hisham Matar, Amitava Kumar and Zohra Saeed at the “War and its Representations” panel discussion at last Saturday’s AAWW event. Photo Credit: Preston Merchant

Today is exactly six days after Sugi sent me to the Asian American Literary Festival and four days into National Novel Writing Month. What better than a poetry contest with a literary giveaway and some photos of your favorite Asian American writers to inspire you fervent scribblers?

Here’s the deal. This week marked the end of a pop culture era. I’m talking about the anti-climactic marital misadventures of E! darling Kim Kardashian. Frankly, my dears, I don’t give a damn. But Sir Salman Rushdie obviously thought it worth a Tweet or three. Here’s his limerick about the sex-tape starlet:

“The marriage of poor kim #kardashian / was krushed like a kar in a krashian. / her kris kried, not fair! / why kan’t I keep my share? / But kardashian fell klean outa fashian


But guess what, mutineers. You can do better. Leave your entries in the comments along. Winner gets a copy of Amitava Kumar’s award-winning book, A Foreigner Carrying in the Crook of His Arm a Tiny Bomb. We’ll announce a winner in the comments next Friday, November 11th.

Writer’s block? Check out another lovely photo from the Asian American Literary Festival below from the Mutiny’s own Preston Merchant along with some writing advice. (Thanks Preston!) The accompanying quotes were tweeted on the day of the event through the SepiaMutiny account. Continue reading

Anti-Hindu idolatry is not a good wedge issue in 2011

If this was 2004 (when this website was first created), the incident described below wouldn’t surprise me at all.  But in 2011?  Really?  Via TPM:

Gov. Steve Beshear (D-KY) is heavily favored to win re-election in a vote next Tuesday, with leads of roughly 2-1 in all the publicly released polls. Now his Republican opponent, state Senate President David Williams, is launching an attack against Beshear on a new front: Beshear participated in a Hindu religious ceremony!

This past Friday, Beshear attended a groundbreaking ceremony in Elizabethtown, Kentucky, for a new factory run by FlexFilm, a company based in India that makes materials for packaging, printing, insulation and other purposes. The plant represents a $180 million investment, and is expected to create 250 jobs in Kentucky.

As the local newspaper the News-Enterprise reports, the groundbreaking included a Hindu ceremony, the bhoomi poojan

What exactly did Williams utter?  It was pretty clearly bigoted:

“He’s there participating with Hindu priests, participating in a religious ceremony,” Williams said during a campaign stop in Shelbyville. “He’s sitting down there with his legs crossed, participating in Hindu prayers with a dot on his forehead with incense burning around him. I don’t know what the man was thinking.”

Beshear’s campaign spokesman called Williams’ remarks “pathetic and desperate.”

“Gov. Beshear is proud that 250 new jobs are coming to Elizabethtown,” campaign spokesman Matt Erwin said in a statement.

 

Continue reading

A conversation with Kal Penn: Harold and Kumar, the White House, NPH and more

Kal Penn and John Cho star in A Very Harold and Kumar 3D Christmas

Kal Penn surprised many of his fans two years ago when he put his acting career on hold to join the Obama White House as a mid-level staffer. After a two year hiatus, Penn returns to the silver screen this weekend with the release of A Very Harold and Kumar 3D Christmas. I recently spoke to Penn about his new film, working at the White House, and Asian Americans in the media.

Tell us about the new film. This obviously isn’t your typical Christmas movie.

In a lot of ways it is a traditional Christmas movie. What was cool is that a lot of things you see are traditional. Santa Claus is in the film- Harold accidentally shoots him in the face. There’s family, friendship, and love [in the movie]. What’s different is that it’s in 3D, and it is vulgar.

This is your first film since leaving your job as an advisor to the White House. I just read this great quote of yours from an interview you did with the LA Times: “When you’re working there, you always think, ‘What is the best time to tell the president that you played a stoner who escaped from Guantanamo Bay?’ Did Harold and Kumar or any of your other roles ever come up in conversation while you were at the White House?

The nice thing about working in the White House is that almost everyone has put a private sector career on hold. There isn’t a lot of conversation about what people put on hold, it’s more about working together to push the president’s agenda.

Currently you are also guest starring on How I Met Your Mother, which means of course that you are working with Neil Patrick Harris again. Is working with him on HIMYM different from the Harold and Kumar movies?

Neil is incredible. I don’t know if you’ve ever had the chance to see him on Broadway, but he’s a legit Broadway actor. He subs for Regis on Regis and Kelly. There’s really nothing that guy can’t do. Continue reading

Mindy Kaling on The Daily Show

There are no actual questions about her new book on the Halloween night episode of The Daily Show featuring guest Mindy Kaling. But you’ve probably already read excerpts and other slightly more substantive interviews if you’re interested in Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me. So sit back and enjoy a six-minute segment (I would embed it here in addition to the audio book excerpt above if WordPress allowed it) in which Kaling and host Jon Stewart joke about Halloween costumes, Dr. Sanjay Gupta and her FOX News-watching, Sanjay Gupta-loving parents.

Kaling also stops by The View this morning at 11 a.m. ET/10 a.m. PT/C.