Timothy Geithner’s India trip

I had no idea until the NYTimes reported it earlier this week that our Treasury Secretary once lived in India:

Geithner was born in New York City but spent most of his childhood in other countries, including present-day Zimbabwe, Zambia, India and Thailand where he completed high school at the International School Bangkok. [Link]

Here is a picture of Geithner when he was a kid in India. For the love of…why didn’t some local teach him some cricket??

And while in India, Geithner needed some ironing done. Why can’t we buy those big ol’ irons here? My shirts are never pressed as well as they are in India.

Actually, this man is the local ATM machine. Click on the picture for an explanation

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A more intimate look at the President’s spirituality

Yesterday I asked for help from SM readers (also known affectionately as the “Great Brown Horde”) to ascertain the identity of the man on Obama’s “lucky charm.” Thanks to an eagle-eyed reader we now have a definitive answer. It is Paramahamsa Prajnanananda, the current spiritual leader of Kriya Yoga International.

Paramahamsa Prajnananandaji is the president of Kriya organizations started by Baba Hariharanandaji Maharaj and the current head of a great lineage of Kriya Yoga Guru Parampara.

Paramahamsa Prajnanananda is based in Puri, India, and travels up to 300 days per year, holding seminars and retreats all over the world. He runs the main Kriya Yoga ashrams in Balighai, Cuttack, Vienna, Holland , Miami, and the centers world-wide. He is also the founder of Prajnana Mission, which provides free medical assistance units and centers, residential schools for unserved areas, and many other charitable and educational activities.

Paramahamsa Prajnanananda is known as a powerful and loving teacher, author and speaker on world religion. On August 10, 1998, the highest title, Paramahamsa, a designation reserved for monks and saints who have attained the summit of realization was conferred upon him by his Master Paramahamsa Hariharananda. [Link]

Here is a brief background on the history of Kriya Yoga (from Wikipedia):

Kriya Yoga is described by its practitioners as the ancient Yoga system revived in modern times by Mahavatar Babaji through his disciple Lahiri Mahasaya, c 1861, and brought into popular awareness through Paramhansa Yogananda’s book Autobiography of a Yogi. The system consists of a number of levels of Pranayama based on techniques that are intended to rapidly accelerate spiritual development and engender a profound state of tranquility and God-communion. [Link]

My post yesterday was meant to be light an humorous. Today’s is not. In posting this picture I am exposing an intimate detail that was probably (almost assuredly) never meant to be revealed. I feel like I am violating the President’s privacy. There is nothing more private than one’s spirituality. I have little doubt that some extremists that believe he is a Muslim, a socialist, a Nazi, etc. may just latch on to this as more evidence of his “otherness.” So what? In my view you cannot combat ignorance by hiding truth. I have made the conscious decision to shed light upon and pursue this and so now feel compelled to explain why…

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Caption This: Carnival Style

Over at the Boston Globe there is a beautiful array of images on this year’s Carnival. Image number 31 is the following (h/t Yoga Fire):

Rio Float.jpg

I wish the image had audio – I would have loved to hear what I can only imagine as Samba-bhangra-fication. I’m guessing it’s like Chutney music, but with more sashay, if that is possible. So have at it, Mutineers. How would you caption this image? Continue reading

Light skinned…with no dialect

Over at Wonkette today they were asking a real brain teaser. Which one of these is not like the others?

Hey, they do it in every single Bollywood movie or Indian channel serial drama. Why not the official Louisiana Governor’s portrait too? As a comparison, here is his official portrait from the 109th Congress (also seen in the middle left photo). Over at The Root they are wondering if Harry Reid was right?

Research strongly suggests that white voters do favor lighter-skinned black candidates. Political scientist Nayda Terkildsen studied the effect of skin color on white voting preferences in her 1993 paper, “When White Voters Evaluate Black Candidates: The Processing Implications of Candidate Skin Color, Prejudice, and Self-Monitoring.” In an experimental study, she presented a random sample of adults descriptions of “one of three fictitious candidates running for governor.” Each candidate was described in identical terms with the only difference being an attached photograph of either “a white male, a light-complected black male, or a dark-complected black male.” Terkildsen found a statistically significant effect that “black candidates were penalized by white voters based on the candidate’s race, skin color, and individual levels of racial prejudice.”

Put another way, when presented with otherwise identical candidates, white voters generally preferred the white candidate to the black candidates and the lighter-skinned candidate to the darker-skinned candidate. (Terkildsen’s analysis only looked at white voters, but perhaps Reid’s remarks will encourage someone to study the effect of skin color on candidate preferences among blacks, Latinos and Asians, too.) [Link]

I bet you, as alluded to in the last sentence, that studies will show that African, Latino, and Asian voters will either conciously or subconciously vote for the lighter skinned candidate too. Like I said, all I have to do is turn on Zee TV to prove this. So I am not going to be overly critical of Jindal for the lighting guy he chose. I am however, going to bow my head in disappointment.

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“In one drop of water are found all the secrets of all the oceans.”

I love this picture. I have no other reason for sharing it with you, other than that. I wondered if we might be able to use it for a caption contest, but I’m not sure how it would turn out (did I just diss your creative powers? I might have! Prove me wrong! 😉 Your Shot - Top Shots 2009 - National Geographic Magazine.png

Fantastic capture, isn’t it? It was taken by a Debasis Roy, of Asansol, India, and I felt like it deserved to be seen, in case you missed it when it was featured on National Geographic’s “Top Shots“. As for how the fishy fared, don’t fret about the poor pet:

While transferring fish from one bowl to another, science tutor Roy, 27, was inspired. He composed this scene–a baby guppy sustained by a single droplet, cradled on a grass leaf atop a wooden stool–then put the fish back. [link]

Beautiful. I sweat such talent and creative vision. A whale-sized thank you to the Barmaid, for showing me this magical image. Continue reading

Feather Meets Dot in a Brown Faced Way

For Halloween this year, I had an Indian friend dress up like an Indian (feather, not dot). She thought it would be ironic (in a way that I’m sure this man would not have gotten). No painting of skin tone was involved. I was thinking about her as I watched this.

The blogs are a buzz with the latest from America’s Next Top Model, Season 13. The short girl season (all the girls are under 5’7), Tyra Banks takes them to Hawaii where she photographs them in a sugar cane field. The twist? She takes the pictures of the girls as “hapas.” Hapa is a Hawaiian term for people who are of mixed race. For the shoot, Tyra gives each of the girls two races that she wants them to embody in the photo. A race other than their own. She paints them all brown and gives them props to achieve it.

The racial mixes — Laura was Mexican and Greek, Erin was Tibetan and Egyptian, Sundai was Moroccan and Russian, Jennifer was Botswanan and Polynesian. and Nicole was Malagasy and Japanese. Who were we gifted with? The model named Brittany was given “East Indian” meets Native American i.e. feather and dot Indian. Fast forward to 6.29 to see Brittany get her face painted. Her picture after the jump. Continue reading

Penn Masala, DJ Rekha and the…White House? [Updated]

My jaw dropped when I saw this tweet in my feed today from the renowned DJ Rekha.

@djrekha Penn Masala performing at White House. Beatboxing and singing Ayesha in Hindi n English. Box of Diwali sweets on every seat.

I quickly jumped on the White House’s live feed to see if I could see for myself. Here, watch for yourself.

Penn Masala at White House.jpgWhat could be the occasion to bring DJ Rekha to the White House and get prime seating to see Desi a cappella group Penn Masala perform?

President Barack Obama is re-creating a federal panel to address concerns of Asian-Americans and Pacific Islanders and to work on improving their health, education and economic status…The panel was created during the Clinton administration. But it expired during George W. Bush’s presidency and was not reauthorized.

During the East Room ceremony, Obama also observed Diwali, or the “Festival of Lights,” a holiday celebrated across faiths in India.[ap]

I jumped online in time to see a maharaj sing ‘asato maah’ and Obama light the fire with a candle. Video from today found and posted above and the folks at AAPI Momentum have promised us videos from tonight’s celebration. I have a personal request for a photo of DJ Rekha, Penn Masala, and Kal Penn. Just FYI. Since I can’t show you the video of what Obama said, let me share excerpts of what he said (full text available here). Continue reading

Taqwacore. Documented. X2

With regard to one of the most well documented subcultures I’ve ever seen, there are two major Taqwacore events culminating in this month: a documentary and a photography book (Past SM Taqx post here, here and here). The first would be the Canadian premiere of the documentary full length movie Taqwacore: The Birth of Punk Islam. Documentary producer Omar Majeed in conjunction with EyeSteelFilm, follows author Michael Muhammad Knight and subsequent Taqwacore bands for four years to make this film.Taqx Doc Movie Image.jpg

In the first part of the film, Knight organizes a taqwacore tour of the U.S., bringing the Kominas, Vancouver-based Islamic riot-grrl trio Secret Trial Five, and a shapeshifting crew on the road. After documenting this Islamic twist on the typical hijinks and humiliations of the road, the chapter climaxes with an appearance at ISNA…The film’s second half is even more interesting, as Knight, Khan and Usmani travel to Pakistan, where their efforts to bring politicized rock to the people encounters a whole different form of opposition.

“To some extent,” [says Omar Majeed], “the reason I called the film The Birth of Punk Islam is because I saw this whole process as a kind of birthing. It wasn’t just that this was happening and I was filming it, but rather that by my being there and filming it, we managed to give birth to this thing. I think that kind of shows in the filmmaking, the way it’s put together. I’m not always rushing to get the other side of things, I’m not looking to be journalistic or fair and balanced. I’m really trying to tell their story in a way that I find relatable.”[montrealmirror]

The film has been well received at the Vancouver International Film Festival and The Kominas and Sarmust joined Majeed for the Montreal screening this past weekend. It looked like it was a huge success with a packed audience (watch the q&a here) and the film tour continues to Toronto this weekend. If you are in Toronto, go Saturday for the TaqwaToronto after the screenings with a fantastic line up performers including The Kominas, Sarmust, Secret Trial Five, and panel discussion including Knight.

GIVEAWAY: We have two tickets available to the October 17th Saturday night screening and TaqwaToronto concert in Toronto! Details after the jump… Continue reading

Images from the India Day…Protest

Blogger Roopa Singh has posted some pictures and a brief account from the India Day Parade in New York. The pictures seem to capture the spirit of those protesting the refusal of the parade organizers to allow gay and lesbian members of the community from a visible role in the procession.

Members of SALGA (the South Asian Lesbian and Gay Association) and allies met at Starbucks before today’s India Day Parade to create signs amplifying the discrimination that excluded a visible contingent of Desi gays and lesbians from the march. But good times were had by all, in the heat, in the shimmer of so many cultures right at our feet. We are all Indian, including the gays. We are all New Yorkers, all night and all day. [Link]

Credit: www.politicalpoet.wordpress.com

Her full Flickr album can be viewed here. If any of you were there please share your experiences in the comments section.

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Also from the streets of Jersey

If you get a chance, check out the full slide show of the parade from this past weekend in Jersey that I wrote about in the previous post. In one or two of the pictures I observed a level of militancy and jingoism that made me feel uneasy. I am pretty far removed from such sentiment so I am not sure how strong such opinions are in Indian Americans. I believe nobody should ever parade children this way:

I want to stress that most of the pictures in the set are of perfectly appropriate displays. This one really threw me off though.

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