Note to Self: Adopt

…because any gloriously chubby baby who wants to crawl in to the kitchen to sneak dairy products is fantastic by me.

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Since I had to shrink it a bit, the caption at the bottom of the frame says, “Adopt: You never know who you’ll bring home”. If you click the picture, you can see a slightly larger version of it.

This is one of the sweetest things I’ve ever seen on my Facebook feed; I’m grateful that one of you took the time to post it, and say:

a surprise punch of cuteness from the BigB’s blog: adorable psa, especially for fans of TheButterThiefInChief. [link]

The Butter Thief in Chief? Loves it. :) I couldn’t keep all that cute to myself, so I decided to inflict it on all of you. Enjoy. Continue reading

A Virtual Visit to a Detention Center

I’m playing a new online video game today. It’s called “Homeland Guantanamos” and it has transformed me into an undercover journalist whose task is to unearth clues about the mysterious 2007 death of Boubacar Bah, a Guinean tailor who was held at a detention center in Elizabeth, NJ for overstaying his visa.detain.jpg

“Homeland Guantanamos” is the latest multi-media offering from Breakthrough, the human rights organization which uses media and popular culture to raise awareness here and in India. [Abhi covered their video game “I Can End Deportation” or I.C.E.D. earlier this year. ]

We’ve all heard stories about immigrants (illegal and residents) being detained without explanation or for prolonged periods of time. At the website, I got to see what life might be like on the other side of the fence. I took a tour of a simulated immigration detention center and collected clues to help solve the mystery of Bah’s death (he died of a skull fracture and brain hemorrhages). Along the way, I saw other detainees (eg: a pregnant woman kept in shackles during labor) and witnessed conditions of the facilities, including the solitary confinement room, the bathrooms, and the dining hall. Though this is a simulated experience, the content is based on factual sources such as news articles, court documents, and interviews.

Why call the site “Homeland Guantanamos”? According to Malikka Dutt, executive director of Breakthrough, “the Department of Homeland Security is violating the human rights of legal and undocumented immigrants” and some of the inhumane conditions of detention centers where these immigrants are being held are not all that different from the facility at Guantanamo Bay. Continue reading

The Caption Game: The “Pukka Baby” Edition

Avni and the idli.jpg

It is Monday, and that means it is time for a ridiculously-delayed (the last one I posted was last fall, I believe) edition of your favorite way to commence the day– The Caption Game. Since the vast majority of us are hungover, bleary-eyed, exhausted pensively contemplating our sure-to-be productive work week, captioning a funny (or in this case excruciatingly cute) picture is a gentle way to ease in to Monday.

This is little Avni and she is consuming an idli. Avni, idli, idli, Avni. Adorable, no? Avni’s mom was kind enough to allow us to imagine funny things baby might be thinking, as baby noms on one of my favorite South Indian foods. Blogger Neha Viswanathan of Global Voices Online inspired all of this when Avni showed up on her flickr stream. I thank her for securing permission from Mother, baby and idli, for this post.

Perplexed? Bemused? Hung-over? Consider previous editions of the Caption Game, awailable for your edification here: onnu, rendu, muunu, naalu, anji, aarru, erzhu , ettu, onpatu , pathu

p.s. Backstory re: picture, after the jump. :) Continue reading

Plushy Kali

Remember Ghee Happy? This was Pixar illustrator Sanjay Patel’s take on the Hindu Pantheon, done in a drawing style that was hipster crossed with the Powerpuff girls.

At the time, Manish observed that

… any kid-safe interpretation of Kali is bound to cross the line into kitsch. [Link]

Sanjay is now going from 2-D to 3-D. He has a mockup of a plush Kali doll [via BB], and is in the process of looking for a manufacturer. Presumably, he’s looking to market this as a children’s toy, although somehow I suspect it will end up in more hipster cribs than kiddy cribs.

This is where my intuitions fail me. The book and prints and apparel all seemed like things that might be purchased by (some) ABD Hindus. Certainly the remarks in the comments of the original post were pretty positive about Sanjay’s renderings.

Would the same be true about the plushy doll? If not, why not? Here, the fact that I’m not a Hindu gets in the way of my ability to imagine people’s reactions. Is there a difference between a children’s t-shirt and a doll? Hindu iconography has long been used for commercial purposes, is this any different? Is this something that you would buy?

Continue reading

NASA and the missing Indian children

When I saw this headline on Monday I couldn’t help but laugh a little: Four [Indian] Kids on NASA Trip Go Missing. I mean, I know NASA is occasionally accused by some crackpot (even well-respected crackpots) of covering up info about aliens, but the idea of foreign kids going missing on a NASA field trip is a whole new kind of conspiracy (wrong kind of aliens). Here is how things unfolded:

The authorities of a private school here have lodged a police complaint that two of its students, who went on an educational trip to the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) at its US headquarters, have gone “missing.”

The two students, Paramjit Singh and Kunal Bhandari, went as part of a 13-member delegation of the Dayanand Model School on July 22. While the other members returned, these two students did not come back. [Link]

Then there was this:

Four students from a school in Parowal village who went on a trip to the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) have gone missing in the US. One of the teachers accompanying them has also not returned as she reportedly got married.

Eighteen students of the CBSE-affiliated Doaba Public Senior Secondary School went to NASA for a project. While 14 returned, Arshdeep, Sumit Sahni, Dalbir Singh and Baljinder Singh have not come back. The four are aged between 14 and 15 years.

“Teacher Meenu Sharma sent an e-mail to the school authorities, requesting them to extend her leave by a month as she got married,” a source said. [Link]

Continue reading

The “Lingo Kid”

Everyone knows by now that I love bringing news of “freakish” (in a good way) little Indian kids to SM (see here and here as examples). SM reader Taara tipped us off to this little linguist via our tip line:

It looks like the Videographer returned a few years later to find a “grown-up” Ravi who has added even more languages into his arsenal:

Seriously, this little kid should be doing something other than selling Peacock feathers near the Hanging Gardens!

Continue reading

Leaving Uganda

We’ve talked about it here before: In 1972, Idi Amin gave all 80,000 Asian Indians living in the Uganda 90 days to pack up and leave. As the BBC reported on August 7, 1972, “Asians, who are the backbone of the Ugandan economy, have been living in the country for more than a century. But resentment against them has been building up within Uganda’s black majority. General Amin has called the Asians “bloodsuckers” and accused them of milking the economy of its wealth.”

A new young adult novel Child of Dandelions by Canadian author Shenaaz Nanji sheds much needed light on the upheaval of Asian Indians in Uganda. It’s worth checking out, even if you don’t have a young adult in your household, or don’t normally pick up books for younger readers. dandelions.jpg

The protagonist of Child of Dandelions is fifteen year old Sabine, a girl whose comfortable life is torn asunder on August 6, 1972, the day that Idi Amin issues his expulsion order for all Indians in Uganda. Shaken by the protests she walks into while window shopping in Little India, Sabine turns to her parents for protection.

Sabine’s mother is afraid and eager to leave Uganda, but her father, a wealthy Ismaeli businessman and landowner, is determined to ignore Dada Amin’s orders:

“Nonsense!” Papa laughed his conch-shell laugh, and her little brother echoed it. … “We are even more Ugandan than the ethnic Africans. Not only were we born here, but we chose to be Ugandan citizens when other Indians remained British…

Sabine agrees with her father. She is different after all. Her best friend Zena is African. They’ve grown up together like “twin beans of one coffee flower” and Zena is just like her sister, even if others (like her Indian friends) don’t see it that way.

Narmin …Nasrin … Sabine’s hands clenched at the names of her classmates. They were prissy prunes. She’d had a big fight with them after they called Zena goli. Mixing her African and Indian friends was like mixing oil with water.

As the 90 day countdown continues, Sabine’s optimism is drowned out by the growing chants of “Muhindi, nenda nyumbani! Indian, go home.” Amidst reports of violent attacks against Indian families, the mysterious disappearance of her favorite uncle, and strained relations between her and Zena (whose uncle is a general and crony of Idi Amin), she is forced to reexamine her understandings of race and class.

The novel is what Nanji calls Faction, a mix of facts and fiction. Continue reading

Smells Like Teen Entrepreneurial Spirit

Cool kid alert: Teen entrepreneur Anshul Samar, age 14. This fiesty entrepreneurial spirit will be one of the key speakers at tomorrow’s Second Annual Teens in Tech Conference, sponsored by Sun, Microsoft, HP, and others.

Anshul is the founder and CEO of Alchemist Empire, Inc. He has created a fantasy role-playing chemistry board game, Elementeo: “Our aim is to combine fun, excitement, education, and chemistry, all in one grand concoction! We don’t want to create a fantasy wizard world or create a boring education textbook world, but combine the two where fun and learning come together without clashing!” [more]

MSN recently featured Anshul in “Whiz Kids: 10 Overachievers Under 21″ (thanks to newstab posters garbanzobean and anmdavadi). How did he get started? In in his own words:

Entrepreneurship is cool, and so is chemistry! Both have lots of actions, reactions, explosions, experimentation, and most importantly, the joy and excitement of creating something new! Creating a company has been on my mind for a long time, but it was only in the 5th grade when the idea of a chemistry based card game struck me. I must have created and thrown away dozens of prototypes to get just the right concoction of education and fun. … Elementeo is a game where you create compounds, combat elements, and conquer chemistry… A game of battle, chemical reactions, and powerful scientists… And a game that kids, teenagers, college students, teachers, scientists, parents, and grandparents can all play and have fun.

The excitement Anshul has poured into his maiden entrepreneurial voyage (the game will be released this month!) is evident at his company’s homepage which is very much written in his voice … and in this video from Mark Coker of VentureBeat, taken at the 2007 TieCon conference in Silicon Valley.

Here’s to his motto of “Create, Combat, Conquer!” Continue reading

I.C.E.D better than GTA-IV

I really wish I could have been playing the new video game Grand Theft Auto IV this week. Unfortunately I don’t own a gaming system. I used to be an obsessive gamer as a kid so its best that I don’t go near one now that I have real responsibilities (like blogging). I can however, get my fix online. I’ve been trying my hand at a game that looks similar to GTA-IV. Instead of smacking hos and jacking cars, I’ve been learning about “my” rights as an immigrant child. The game is I.C.E.D. (I Can End Deportation):

Breakthrough’s video game, ICED, puts you in the shoes of an immigrant to illustrate how unfair immigration laws deny due process and violate human rights. These laws affect all immigrants: legal residents, those fleeing persecution, students and undocumented people.

ICED has been featured in overwhelming amounts of press including: MTV News, Game Daily and has been covered on popular blogs including, Gothamist and The Huffington Post. To get a full list of media, please look at the left-hand tool bar.

How do you play?

THE OBJECT OF THE GAME IS TO BECOME A CITIZEN OF THE UNITED STATES

Game Play:
As an immigrant teen you are avoiding ICE officers, choosing right from wrong and answering questions on immigration. But if you answer questions incorrectly, or make poor decisions, you will be detained with no respect for your human rights. [Link]

Is your knee jerk reaction that you think this game might exaggerate the plight of immigrant kids, especially those brought over by undocumented parents? Think again. More about that later, after the fold. Continue reading