The (r)Evolving Kominas

A belated Christmas present for all y’all for this #MusicMonday – our oft written about friends The Kominas have released an (almost) self-titled album called “Kominas.” If you thought the previous albums were too punk/too political/too “taqwacore” for you – then it is time to give the band a second chance – this album might just be for you. With a more Desi-rock sound, gritty riffs, lo-fi vocals and lyrics taking a back seat, the band’s path has turned and taken on a new sound. Gone are the sing-along playfully raunchy hooks, this album is all about the bass line and dirty drum beats.

The band members of The Kominas have shifted to not only to now include the duo from Sunny Ali and the Kid, but also in instrumental roles – three of the four bandmates take a turn on the mic for this album. With multiple talents acting as the driving force between music and lyrics, the album is eclectic and completely different sounding from anything previously released by The Kominas. People have been saying that their sound has “matured” but instead, I feel the new album better reflects the skills and sounds of the new band members trying collaborate and create a new cohesive sound (Basim Usmani is the only original band member that remains from 2005).

Don’t just take my word for it. Follow the link here to the megaupload site to download the album. And if you are too chicken to download the album before listening to a song – here’s the demo to Ren, a song off of the new album.

Frankly put, it sounds like our punks have evolved – they just may be growing up.

Scared for Her Life and Other Stories of Hate [UPDATED]

UPDATED Dec 21, 2011: Looks like Aisha Khan was found and that some of you skeptical commentators were right all along. We will keep you posted as the story develops.

According to Overland Park police, officers made contact with her Wednesday afternoon. She was not abducted or held against her will. Police said there is no criminal investigation. [nbc]

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Are you in Kansas? Pay attention to this photo. Her name is Aisha Khan and she’s missing.

I can’t shake the chills her story gives me. She’s petite, 19 yrs old, newly wed and a college student. Her sister dropped Aisha off at 10am on her college campus so that she could prep for her noon final. But she never made it to her final.

Aisha Khan … has been missing since Friday morning. That is when her older sister said she left frantic text messages with her about a drunken man on the Edwards Campus she described as “creepy.” Faiza Khan said she dropped Aisha off at the campus around 10 a.m. Friday ahead of a noon final. The text messages started arriving within an hour.

 

“There’s a creepy guy that just came up to me, and he was harassing me,” Faiza said her younger sister told her in a message. She told local media outlets that Aisha “was just freaking out at that time. She didn’t know what to do. I guess she pushed him and she slapped him.” [cjonline]

 

I can’t count how many times I’ve been creeped out by harassing men – it often feels that as a woman in the American public we have to brace ourselves for street harassment. But Aisha is a girl in hijab – I can only imagine that her harasser must have said something really islamophobic and sexist to have deserved a slap. Finally, there’s the voicemail message she left her sister.

“Oh my gosh it was so scary,” Aisha said in her voice message. “My heart is like pounding. I’ve never got this scared in my life. Pick up your phones. I am freaked out right now.”

Continue reading

‘Skewed Demographic’ Highlights Bone Marrow Disparity

The online art exhibit Skewed Demographic brings together artists to address the racial disparity in the bone marrow registry. Each piece in the online gallery is being auctioned off with proceeds going towards processing bone marrow testing kits.

Photographers Shirin Adhami and Sunita Prasad curated the show in honor of Photojojo founder Amit Gupta and other South Asian leukemia patients. Adhami first met Amit Gupta when both were undergraduates at Amherst College a decade ago. When Gupta first announced his diagnosis and his need for a bone marrow donor, Adhami was one of his many friends who rallied to action.

“Personally, I was working on doing drives and I was thinking of doing a more symbolic gesture,” said Adhami during a recent phone interview. “How could I reach an audience that maybe couldn’t donate marrow? How could it be more than a request for money?”

Adhami decided to put the call out to her contacts to see if they would be willing to donate their work to the cause. “The idea is photo-based, but the artists are not necessarily all photographers. The inspiration is really from Amit’s photo interest,” she said. “There were times that I have not even realized I was using one of his inventions until much later. He has really affected the photo world with Photojojo.”

Continue reading

Lowes Protects All Americans from Dumb Reality Shows

Dear Lowes,

I am writing to thank you for pulling advertising from TLC’s All-American Muslim. On behalf of myself and all other dumb-reality-television-hating folks, I want to express my gratitude for your efforts to make American reality television as transparent as possible. As a longtime Lowes consumer, I am proud to know that my hardware store cares enough about the community to influence the content of its television shows. You’re making history by taking home improvement to a whole new level.

I fervently hope you are the first in a long line of businesses to protest the Kim Kardashianesque shows that constitute American programming. (I mean honestly, if All-American Muslim mother-daughter Lila and Suehaila get into any more wedding-planning shenanigans about Shadia’s nuptials, I’m gonna scream.) For far too long, ‘reality television’ has been attempting to force-feed us citizens a brand of dumbed-down reality that simply doesn’t exist.  I admire you for taking a stand and saying, ‘No more fakery! No more family drama! No more idiotic reality shows!’

When I learned that the Florida Family Association sent out an email alert on December 6th that stated, “All-American Muslim is propaganda that riskily hides the Islamic agenda’s clear and present danger to American liberties and traditional values,” I never imagined you, my hardware store would cave in be influenced by the voices of a small number of ordinary Americans.   Continue reading

Ear Blasting Beats for the Pyar

I love when “world music” actually fuses into transnational worldly sounds that blend together melodically and intensely. This week’s song does that. Today’s #MusicMonday is a DJ Rekha & Dave Sharma (of Sub Swara) remix original - “Pyar Baile.” Though the single has been making the rounds since last year, the remixes (there are four) dropped in an EP form on Itunes a couple of weeks ago, which you can download here.

The single features Zuzuka Poderosa & Meetu Chilana and samples “Pyar Karne Wale” from the Bollywood movie Shaan. Twitterverse shows that DJ Rekha spun this at the Brooklyn Bowl this past month. I’m really digging this kind of a sound and looking forward to hearing more of this new sound from DJ Rekha. In the meantime - I’ll be listening in to DJ Rekha’s weekly podcast “Bhangra and Beyond” for a leak of her next ear blasting tune.

The Undocumented Story of Minhaz Khan

I’ve been following closely the case of Minhaz Khan, a 24 year old undocumented Bangladeshi-American from the Inland Empire who, on Nov 4th, was required to put on an ankle bracelet and present a one way ticket to Bangladesh to the authorities. It had been 20 years since he’d been to Bangladesh and when his father was deported after being denied political asylum, he was murdered for his political affiliations in Bangladesh. DreamActivist.org had a petition out to support his case and his case garnered local media coverage. His case officer read  the coverage and removed the bracelet last week and Minhaz last Tuesday was granted a temporary stay.

Minhaz Kahn — the UC-Riverside alumnus who last week had to show immigration officers that he bought a one-way ticket back to his native Bangladesh — learned Tuesday that he doesn’t have to return home just yet. He will be able to stay in the country for another three months…[T]op federal counsel told a group of American Immigration Lawyers Association attorneys in a meeting last week that they will not automatically grant a stay for all other DREAM Act eligible immigrants who are awaiting deportation, says AILA attorney Leah Price. [SFWeekly]

 

I had the chance for a virtual sit-down with Minhaz right after the ankle bracelet was placed on him a couple of weeks ago. Here’s what he had to say.

When and why did your family come to the United States?

My family came in 1992 to flee danger. My dad left entrepreneurial success and political influence to work at gas stations and my mom left a teaching career and lost all significance her Master’s held, so to anyone who says immigrants come here to take anything from anyone is missing what many people have to leave behind for safety and the possibility of a better future.

Why wasn’t your father able to seek political asylum? What happened after he was deported?

I’m not completely sure why he wasn’t granted asylum. I never got to see the judge’s decision, but I think he missed an interview or something due to a lawyer not notifying him. After he was deported in 1997, he died (or in my whole-hearted belief, murdered) a couple of years later. Continue reading

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.

Los Desi Kung Fu Monkeys

Today’s #MusicMonday comes from Tijuana, Mexico via a tip from my friend Sasha. I’m surprised I’ve never heard of them, especially given that the band opened for Voo Doo Glow Skulls over the years. Los Kung Fu Monkeys is a ska band w/ two Pakistani brothers (Hassan and Tarek) that was formed in 1997, has six albums under their belt and has toured with Vans Warped Tour. AND, they sing bilingually in Spanish and English. Take a listen, what do you think?

To me, the sound is classically Southern Californian ska punk, with a little bit of tequila thrown in. I’m a sucker for punk covers (Me First and the Gimme Gimmes anyone?) and am really digging this Boys Don’t Cry cover. According to their facebook, they are working on their latest demo and have an international tour planned for early 2012. Follow Los Kung Fu Monkeys here on Facebook and on Twitter.

Also, I do realize there are South Asian diaspora migration stories of every kind, and I’m really curious as to how the Pakistani brothers ended up in Tijuana, Mexico. Is there a big South Asian population in Mexico? Anyone know?