Exxxxxxxxtreeeeeeeeeeeeeeeme Yoga!

Hello mutineers! I’ve been holed up in my east-coast satellite bunker for a while now, perfecting my Gleeson Grip, watching test cricket and savagely turning my back on a lacto-vegetarian upbringing.

I have been trying to keep up, however, and came upon this little gem of an article via our newstab (thanks Brij), relating the life of a peculiar kind of Yogi–one who may be tempted by “Extreme” branded potato chips.

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Nrityagram: Hoping to Swoon at Such Stylings [UPDATE]

nrityagram_2webb.jpg As somewhat of a Bharatanatyam supremacist, I often fail to appreciate the grace, economy of movement and a whole host of other subtleties that dancers of Manipuri, Mohiniattam, Odissi, Kathak, Kathakali and Kuchipudi display in such abundance. It’s also been far too long since I’ve seen a live dance performance. Well, the wait for dance-starved patrons/critics/dancers is over (at least in my neck of the woods.) The very renowned Nrityagram dance ensemble is currently touring the US.

The troupe recently performed at the Joyce Theater in New York (encores performances to follow), which earned yet another mildly positive yet utterly clueless review from the Grey Lady (which I will dissect later), and will continue on to the following locations: Feb 19-24, 2008 – The Joyce Theater , NYC

Feb 29, 2008 – World on Stage, Stamford , CT

Mar 2, 2008 – UNC Chapel Hill , NC

Mar 3-5, 2008 – Modlin Center for the Arts, VA (I’ll be at the performance on the 5th)

Mar 6-9, 2008: Arts and Culture Center of Hollywood , FL

Mar 13-14, 2008: The Florida Theater, Jacksonville , FL

Mar 21, 2008: Savannah Music Festival, Savannah , GA

Mar 29, 2008: Aspen Santa Fe Ballet, Santa Fe , NM

Apr 1-4, 2008: UCSB, Santa Barbara , CA

Apr 13, 2008: Stony Brook University , NY Continue reading

Saffron Servitude and Kipling’s Unbearable Burden

One of the many standard narratives populating accounts of the desi experience in the US is the difficulty in explaining the vast numbers of ‘servants’ performing a vast litany of semi-skilled labor in homes all over south asia. In the context of the American D.Y.I mentality (definitely eroded by our service economy), it seems incredibly strange to employ somebody for the purpose of cooking or taking one’s children to school–an unjustified expense when one has the time and the means of transportation to complete the task. NPR correspondent Eric Weiner entered this discussion as a result of being posted in Delhi and summarized his interactions with his ‘servant,’ “Kailash” in the New York Times. Cultural relativists, as critics of the post-modern regime in the humanities are wont to remark, do a disservice to academia when they uncritically accept what they see as a ‘cultural practice’ on the grounds of it simply belonging to a culture different from the observer’s own:

A few days later, the servant loped upstairs and reported for duty. He was skinny, alarmingly so, with mahogany skin and sharp features. His name was Kailash, and he was 11 years old. This was a cultural difference that I was not prepared to accept.

Weiner clumsily avoids the relativist’s folly by boldly going where perhaps a million other travel writers have gone, “It’s strange to me and feels wrong, so I can’t accept it.” But, like many before him, Weiner must eventually capitulate:

I started downstairs to confront the landlord, but then hesitated. I rationalized that if this boy, an orphan from a neighboring state, didn’t work for me, he would work for someone else, and who knows how that person would treat him? Washing my hands of Kailash seemed like a cop-out, or so I told myself.

It was at this point that I remembered a similar strain of teeth-gnashing from a writer of yesteryear:

Take up the White Man’s burden– Ye dare not stoop to less– Nor call too loud on Freedom To cloke your weariness;

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Arun Gandhi: A Saffron Finklestein?

It seems rather obtuse for someone to resign from a foundation which bears their name, but in some circumstances it seems entirely justified. This is the tack taken by University of Rochester president Joel Seligman in a terse statement, describing his reaction to the recent resignation of Arun Gandhi from the M.K. Gandhi Institute for Non-Violence (which is now situated at the University of Rochester):

I was surprised and deeply disappointed by Arun Gandhi’s recent opinion piece in the Washington Post blog, “On Faith.” I believe that his subsequent apology inadequately explains his stated views, which seem fundamentally inconsistent with the core values of the University of Rochester. In particular I vehemently disagree with his singling out of Israel and the Jewish people as to blame for the “Culture of Violence” that he believes is eventually going to destroy humanity. This kind of stereotyping is inconsistent with our core values and would be inappropriate when applied to any race, any religion, any nationality, or either gender.

University presidents are a curious breed, in large part tasked with finding big donors and implementing ‘big picture’ programs across entire educational institutions. As a result, they are sometimes easy targets for backlash–I remember the former President of my own alma mater, declaring at a commencement speech that all previous graduating classes amounted to “mush in, mush out” and was hounded from that post (directly into a cushy job in the Business School). It seems unlikely, however, that Mr. Seligman will face any sort of flak for his official statement on Arun Gandhi’s resignation. Continue reading

IPL: Unofficial Team Naming Galata

You may have noticed that SM covered an upstart, professional cricket league’s launch last year. It was the brash, confident, cheerleader-laden counterpart to the then ephemeral IPL (which even then boasted an incredible array of current and former international players) Well, it’s finally time for the BCCI and ICC approved version to commence it’s own charge at the most amazingly cricket-mad market in the world. Continue reading

Nandi Ethics: When Newkirk Found Jallikattu

For those who are aware of it, this past week (specifically January 14th and 15th) was generally a time for celebration–Thai Pongal Usually, in my own family, this just means pongal rice, a “Happy Thai Pongal, darling!” from various overseas relatives and thus it remains one of those ever-dwindling, absolutely pure links to my childhood. Or so I thought. Another part of the festivities in India, aside from thanking Bhumi Devi for the year’s bounty, involves the snatching of treats and trinkets from the body of a bewildered bull by people one could only describe as foolhardy. Continue reading

Portraying Monkeys Is Paramount in Preserving Our Culture?

Greetings Mutineers! I am Nayagan and I am guest-blogging here to fight the good fight for pittu, sodhi and the thosai which embraces us all in it’s fermented glory.


Listen up desi parents: Bina Menon, a classical dance teacher from West Orange NY, has the magical cure to all your ‘heritage preserving’ needs. Indeed, according to the New York Times, a turn in one of her stage productions (portraying an animal of the forest) will do wonders for lifting the Vestern pop-culture cloud which descended over your child’s eyes as soon as he/she exited the womb.

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