Girlfriends, Start Your Engines

To counterbalance my earlier post, I decided to blog about something more fluffy today. Reader Pauravi emailed this link to the bunker with the following message:

So finally, there is a calendar us South Asian women can feast our eyes on :) . Enough of the gawking at scantily clad women, check this out!

I was swamped at work on Friday so I had one of the monkeys take a look to give me his expert opinion:

The calendar is SO worth a looksie…I went through all 50 men and honestly I don’t have any drool left yet.

So what exactly is this calendar, you ask? Asiana Magazine — a UK lifestyle and bridal magazine for Asian women — has a feature on the “ultimate 50 single Asian men in Britain.” Each man’s photo comes complete with an interview and biodata such as age, profession, car that he drives, and salary range. (Am I the only one who finds the last two kind of tacky?)

I’m all for the objectification of beautiful brown men (such as this one, this one, and this one). But in this publication, I found the interviews much more entertaining than the photos. Take, for example, the priceless interview with Rehan Bhatt:

Age: 28 Drives: Lotus & BMW Biggest turn-off: Women that judge a man by the car he drives. Your ex would describe you asÂ… The greatest real dream she ever had. She actually said that! Pulling outfit? IÂ’m not that vain but jeans, crisp shirt and my pink g-string never fails! Most outrageous thing youÂ’ve ever done: I got randomly attacked once so I chinned the guy, only the guy turned out to be a butch lesbian.

Translation: I want a woman to like me for me. But in case any of you are wondering, I drive a BMW. I’ve also beaten up a woman. Call me. Continue reading

On Defending The Others

My friend Ansour forwarded me this beautifully written Anant Raut article which appeared in earlier this week. Raut is a corporate litigation attorney in DC who is representing five so-called “enemy combatants” in Guantanamo. He wrote his piece as an open letter to deputy assistant secretary of defense for detainee affairs Cully Stimson, who urged the corporate clients of Raut’s firm to take their business elswhere in response to Raut’s decision to defend these individuals.

According to the article, Stimson stated,

When corporate CEOs see that those firms are representing the very terrorists who hit their bottom line back in 2001, those CEOs are going to make those law firms choose between representing terrorists or representing reputable firms.

I actually don’t disagree entirely with Stimson. (Yes, you read that correctly.) Corporations do have a right to boycott law firms if they disagree with the causes that those firms support through their pro bono work. Similarly, I have a right to boycott Domino’s Pizza, since its founder, Tom Monaghan, is a philanthropist for causes that I disagree with.

That all being said, however, Mr. Stimson comes off as terribly paranoid. If you have to go as far as to bully law firms out of representing certain pro bono clients, it seems as though you must be afraid of those clients receiving a fair trial. Continue reading

My Neighbor, The Terrorist

I have never sat through an entire episode of “24″ before, but I felt compelled to watch the sixth season premiere after learning that Kal Penn would be playing a supporting role. So I watched all four hours of it on Sunday and Monday. And afterwards I felt pretty queasy. For those of you who missed any of it, I’ll give a you synopsis of what happens to Kal Penn’s character over those four hours. (If you have watched it, you can skip the next two paragraphs.)

Kal plays Ahmed Amar, a teenager living in suburban Los Angeles. A suicide bomber has just blown up a bus downtown. We meet Amar when the FBI arrives in the suburbs to take his father away for reasons unknown to viewers. A drunk neighbor, Stan, watches Amar’s father being taken away and proceeds to attack Amar, calling him a terrorist. The kind liberal Mr. Wallace, who lives across the street, witnesses the attack and intervenes, gently saying, “Stan, he’s no more of a terrorist than you or me.”

The Wallace family takes Amar in. Ironically, Amar then receives a phone call from (gasp) an evil Muzzie terrorist, Fayed, the cartoonish archvillain of the show. Amar proceeds to hold the family hostage, demanding that Mr. Wallace deliver a package to Fayed. (He can’t do it himself, because he’s injured from the hate crime.) When Mr. Wallace’s teenage son asks, “Why are you doing this? We’re friends,” Amar responds, “We’re friends?! You can’t even pronounce my name. It’s not Aw-med. It’s ACCCCCCH-med.” (And it’s not Kal Penn, it’s Kalpen Modi.) Mr. Wallace later proclaims, “Stan was right. You are a terrorist.” Mr. Wallace then leaves to deliver the package. A little while later, counter-terrorist agents enter, killing Amar and saving the Mrs. and younger Wallace. But it’s too late. The delivered package helps set off a “suitcase nuke,” presumably killing hundreds of thousands of people in the process. Continue reading

Posted in TV

On “Saving” Someone From An Arranged Marriage

The New York Times Magazine published a Chandra Prasad article (thanks, Tamasha) over the weekend on her quest to save her cousin from an arranged marriage in India. Her solution? Arrange her cousin’s marriage herself. To an Indian American, that is.

Let’s do a play-by-play of Prasad’s reasoning, shall we?

Even among my many pretty female cousins in India, bright and lovely Neet stood out. Like most of my father’s relatives, she lived in Bihar, a volatile region in the northeastern part of the country, and at 23 was sheltered in ways that I, born and bred in the U.S., had trouble comprehending. Neet never left the house alone; she had never even shopped for her own saris. But she had studied rigorously, earned a master’s degree in computer science and was working as a software-development intern. When I asked her by phone if I’d have to start calling her “Dr. Neet” soon — a nod to the possibility of a doctorate — she laughed and said, in her tentative English, “I like the sound of that!” In truth, further educational aspirations were at odds with Neet’s circumstances, and when I learned last year that her parents were considering arranged-marriage options, I felt sorry for her.

Fair enough. Sounds like Neet may risk missing out on enjoying her independence. But then Prasad writes:

A Connecticut-bred Yale grad, IÂ’m not really an advocate of arranged marriage.

Right. Because as we all know, Iowa State is just bursting at the seams with arranged-marriage advocates. Then the article just gets absurd:

But it occurred to me, and to my like-minded father, that we might be able to bring Neet into the U.S. and broaden her opportunities if we could find a suitable Indian husband for her here. With her parentsÂ’ permission, we set to work.

This is where Prasad lost me. What is it exactly that Prasad is trying to do? Is she really trying to “broaden” Neet’s opportunities? Because if that were the case, she wouldn’t try to hastily arrange her marriage, she would encourage her to apply to graduate school and continue her studies in the States. Continue reading

As American As Amit, Aasif, or Barack

Like many other browns I know, my name seems to bring out the worst in other people. When I taught elementary school in Brooklyn, an older colleague insisted on calling me “Ms. R.” “I don’t mean to offend,” he explained, “but if I try saying your last name, I know I’ll just sound silly.” Well, now you just sound like an idiot, I thought. A similar encounter occurred during my first week of graduate school, when the Dean approached me and introduced herself. I told her my name, and she asked, “Why couldn’t your parents just name you Molly or Jane?” Yes, I know, Naina Ramajayan…so difficult to pronounce, that even I just call myself ‘The N.’ It’s all pretty ironic, actually; considering that I’m a southie Hindu, my name is about as simple as it gets.

Thankfully, the baggage that comes with my name is fairly harmless, and I’m able to laugh it off. No one has ever looked at my name and suggested that I be targeted for homeland security. Some of my friends from college, however, haven’t been as lucky. When my friend Rahul Shah introduced himself to his co-worker a while ago, she responded, “Like, as in, the Shah of Iran, that Holocaust denier?” (Oh yes, she did.) Another friend felt pressured to start using his middle name at work because his boss joked that his first name, Amit, sounded like ‘Ahmed.’ And so what if does? “Dude,” he explained, “Three of the 9-11 hijackers were named Ahmed.” Amit, Ahmed, Shah, Iran…looks like the code is finally getting cracked.

I used to think these issues concerning names were a burden only for us brown people. But then I learned that Senator Barack Obama of Illinois is in a similar predicament. CNN did a nice story a few weeks ago (you can view the clip here) on the “controversy” surrounding the Senator’s name. Since Obama rhymes with Osama, Barack rhymes with Iraq (and Chirac), and Hussein is his middle name, he’s evidently a newly-discovered threat to the United States. After watching that clip, I felt guilty for thinking my buddy Amit was just being paranoid of his boss all these years. In fact, now I’m even more paranoid than I ever was before. Of rampant stupidity, that is. Continue reading