McHindi: Sunday Photo

Ask not what Sepia Mutiny can do for you; ask what you can do for Sepia Mutiny! The picture above is courtesy of tipster Ashish, who ran after a bus to take this picture for us. As he notes, it is an ad in Hindi, for McDonald’s. It was on a SamTrans bus in Menlo Park this summer. I intended to put it up back when he originally sent it, because did I mention he ran after a bus for us? and also the picture is cool? but now it is cold and grey and I am glad to have just recalled this and to be posting it now, because among other things it is a nice reminder of summer and running and outdoor things. (I hope those of you on the East Coast have power and are warm and safe.)

Anyway. Hindi on the side of a bus in America, for the quintessential American fast food chain, which is now selling various South Asianish foodstuffs, by which I mean mangoes and coconuts are involved. If you have tasted any of these foodstuffs, please revert.

UPDATE: from the crowdsourcing on my FB wall—since I am not a Hindi speaker—this ad references pineapple-mango smoothies made from real fruit (the word “real” didn’t make it into the photo, so that part’s an educated guess). The ad further informs us that these smoothies are cooler than the month of August in San Francisco. Thanks to Aruni, Salil, Oindrila, Sucheta, Sumita, Zain! Oindrila offers this review of the smoothie, which she had several times this summer: “It was too much pineapple and not enough mango imo. I like my exotic cliched fruit.”

Arun Gupta and The Occupied Wall Street Journal: Desis at Occupy Wall Street, Pt. 4

(h/t @vetoshield for Tweeting this video)

Speaking of desis at Occupy Wall Street, last week I chatted with Arun Gupta, one of the founders of the Occupied Wall Street Journal. Gupta, who talked with me on the phone from a road trip to visit different sites of protest, has been working with newspapers off and on for the past two decades, and writes for publications like AlterNet and Al Jazeera. He’s also been with the Indypendent for the past 11 years. He told me about making the first issue of the Occupied Wall Street Journal happen in under 24 hours.

(Time-sensitive note for New Yorkers: If you want to hear more from Gupta, The New Yorkers editor, David Remnick, is moderating a discussion about OWS tonight at Florence Gould Hall in NYC. 7 p.m. In addition to Gupta, the event features NYer staff writers John Cassidy and Jill Lepore, as well as former NY governor Eliot Spitzer. Online tickets are gone, but a limited number of free tickets will be available at the door.) And a BONUS read via Sonny Singh: Manissa McCleave Maharawal in conversation with Eliot Spitzer about OWS in NYMag, here. I blogged about Manissa earlier in this series.)

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White House Recognizes Vijaya Emani

Yesterday the President presented 13 Americans with the 2011 Presidential Citizens Medal, the nation’s second-highest civilian honor which may be granted to any United States citizen who has performed “exemplary deeds or services for his or her country or fellow citizens.” Vijaya Emani of Strongsville, Ohio, a single mom involved in so many different ways in her community, was one of the honorees. Emani, who passed away in 2009, was recognized for speaking out against domestic violence.

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‘It Was So Important That We Were All Together’: Desis at Occupy Wall St., Pt. 3

If you go to Zuccotti Park at 4 a.m., you will see them: a contingent from Occupy Wall Street’s People of Color (POC) working group, standing with others who are banding together to protect protestors from a city effort to clean up the space—widely viewed as a coded way to shut down OWS. Continue reading

I Want the World To Know

Today is National Coming Out Day and when I used to live in L.A., I’d join the annual parade of South Asians walking down Pioneer Blvd. chanting, “We ‘re here! We’re queer! We’re on Pioneer!” As you can imagine, the South Asian community is not quite so accepting of ‘The Gays” in the community. I supported as an ally because I wanted to be a supporting Desi face even when their family members couldn’t be.

But sometimes, coming out to your family may not be right for everyone. I came across a touching story from Nancy Haque titled Coming Out About Not Being Out from the Western States Center. It addresses the complexities of understanding your parents enough to know when and what to share with them. Despite the fact that mainstream LGBTQIA community may encourage coming out, it may not be the best thing for every family, particularly immigrant Desi parents.

I’m not out to my parents – the gold standard of being out. I haven’t done it and don’t actually plan on doing it. The truth is I have a very complicated relationship with my parents. I’m not particularly close to them and haven’t been since early childhood. I’m the youngest of four and was raised by my sister and two brothers as much as I was by my parents. I came out to my siblings 14 years ago and have always been supported by them. I love and respect my parents, but beyond my sexuality, they don’t understand the work I do, don’t know my hopes and dreams, don’t know the majority of my friends, and have never visited the home I purchased three years ago.

 

Yet my relationship to them is important. It’s important for me to be able to go home. I know in my heart my parents can never accept me having a female partner. It’s beyond their life experience to understand it. It’s not because they’re bad people, it’s just the way it is. I don’t feel like I’m living a lie because I’m not. Yet by not telling my parents, I’m taking a very unpopular stance in the general queer community…. I know that I’m not alone, that we all find our own ways to navigate our lives. I know that being queer and being raised Muslim is who I am, and it’s a complicated way to be. That’s why it was important to me to share my story… [westernstatescenter]

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Take Action In Elk Grove

The murderer(s) of the suspected hate crime against Surinder Singh and Gurmej Singh Atwal are still at large. Both elderly men were walking on their daily afternoon walk in Sacramento, when they were shot in a drive by shooting on March 4th, 2011. Seven months later and they are still looking for clues.

If in the Sacramento area, please join the Jakara Movement and the local community as they blanket the neighborhood talking to the community and posting reward bulletins. For more information and to RSVP, please visit the facebook page.

Amit Needs Your Brown Bones

The internet world frenzied with bone marrow call outs this week when word spread that entrepreneur Amit Gupta, founder of  http://photojojo.com/ discovered he has acute leukemia and needs a bone marrow transplant.

Two weeks ago I got a call from my doctor, who I’d gone to see the day before because I’d been feeling worn out and was losing weight, and wasn’t sure why. He was brief: “Amit, you’ve got Acute Leukemia. You need to enter treatment right away.”

 

I was terrified. I packed a backpack full of clothes, went to the hospital as he’d instructed, and had transfusions through the night to allow me to take a flight home at 7am the next day. I Googled acute leukemia as I lay in my hospital bed, learning that if it hadn’t been caught, I’d have died within weeks.

 

I have a couple more months of chemo to go, then the next step is a bone marrow transplant…. [M]inorities are severely underrepresented in the bone marrow pool, and I need help. [amitgupta]

 

We’ve told you before of numerous cases where bone marrow donors are needed -  for Sonia Rai, Maya Chamberlin, Vinay & Sameer, Bevin Varughese, and more. For the most part, these stories have ended tragically. The sad thing is, they did not have to end the way they did. The health disparity is stark: There are 9.5 million people in the bone marrow registry; only 1% of them are of South Asian descent; that means South Asians have a 1 in 20,000 chance of finding a match.

What are you waiting for? A simple (FREE) cheek swab can save a life. Continue reading

The Color of the Call: Desis at Occupy Wall Street, Pt. 2

a video about people at the protests one week ago, courtesy of Thanu Yakupitiyage

“We must not miss the chance to put the needs of people of color—upon whose backs this country was built—at the forefront of this struggle.”

—from CALL OUT TO PEOPLE OF COLOR from the #OWS POC Working Group

How Hena Got There

Two Thursdays ago, after Troy Davis had been executed, Hena Ashraf protested his killing at a rally in New York City. The group that she was with didn’t have a particular plan, she says, but “we ended up on Wall Street.”

It was her first time at Occupy Wall Street, a movement that’s rapidly gaining steam and numbers. And a week ago, by her fourth time there, Ashraf had become a game-changer: one of a group of desis who stood up and insisted that the movement’s primary declaration edit language that referred to racism, sexism, and other forms of discrimination as though they were things of the past.

“We definitely stood out,” Ashraf told me. At that point, she explained, the protests were still overwhelmingly white. (We spoke on the phone Sunday night; she was two blocks from Wall Street, heading back to the protests.) But, she added, over the course of her visits to the site, she’s seen them become more diverse.

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Desis Take Action At Occupy Wall Street

 video courtesy of Thanu Yakupitiyage

I no longer live in New York, and I was following the Occupy Wall Street movement only vaguely when last week, something on FB caught my attention… and kept it. It was a lengthy note by Hena Ashraf, chronicling how she and a few other desis had gone down to Liberty Square on Thursday night and argued to change some of the language in Occupy Wall Street’s primary declaration.

I recognized some of the names in her story from my own time in New York: Sonny Singh (of, among other things, Red Baraat) and Thanu Yakupitiyage, an immigrant rights activist who is also a Lanka Solidarity member. And another, whom I didn’t know: Manissa McCleave Maharawal. These four, it seemed, had formed the posse primarily responsible for the intervention that had me riveted.


Here’s how it looks in the Occupy Wall Street notes:

Block 4—Grievance in supporting a document that claims that my oppression on the basis of gender, sexual orientation, religion, and things not mentioned on this document are something that happened formerly and not in the present day.

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D.C.’s First Drift Elemental

It all started with a Kickstarter campaign months ago. They raised enough money and now it’s finally here. This Friday, Subcontinental Drift  will be hosting D.C.’s very first South Asian hip hop show: Drift Elemental.

The concert will take place at Liv Nightclub, located upstairs at the historic Bohemian Caverns. Doors will open at 8 p.m. with the show beginning at 9 p.m. A dance party featuring Drift Elemental’s DJs will follow. … The aim of Drift Elemental is to present South Asian artists in the context of old school hip-hop’s four elements, which include rapping, DJ-ing, graffiti art and breakdancing. The concert will feature acts from Washington, D.C. and New York. [subcontinentaldrift]

 

The show will be featuring local east coast hip hop artists who I am excited to have on my radar. The first is Navid Azeez other wise known as Navi the Swami, a member of the Whole Damme Delegation.

The second is Baltimore based Koushik Chatterjee, otherwise known as Ko the Timeless. Inspired by his Bengali music performing parents and indoctrinated into hihop with the lyrics of Tribe Called Quest, Ko’s first mixtape The Subway High Life can be downloaded here. Continue reading