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.”

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‘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.”

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A conversation with Unladylike’s Radhika Vaz

In her one-woman show Unladylike: The Pitfalls of Propriety, comedian Radhika Vaz tackles subjects like “proper” female behavior, modern relationships, and the ubiquity of bikini waxes. Having recently returned from touring India, Vaz will be performing Unladylike at the The Producers Club in New York City on Friday, December 9 (more details below). I recently had the chance to ask her a few questions about the show.

What inspired you to write Unladylike?

I had been doing improv for a really long time and then I started writing monologues. I always wanted to do a one-hour show on my own for a few reasons. I was auditioning for parts and wasn’t getting anything. You know, I am practically 40. I am Indian with an Indian accent, I’m not even an Indian with an American accent, so I wasn’t fitting into any of the roles. Writing the show was what really pushed me out there.

Stories about your husband and family often appear in your work. Have any of your relatives ever told you that something was off-limits?

No, they haven’t. I definitely do believe that I have to at least show them the piece before I post it to my blog. Most of my pieces start out on the blog, I usually post it before it is performed.

I remember I posted something once and my husband was like, “You really should have shown me this before you posted.” If it is something related something like alcohol abuse or anything embarrassing, I show it to them. When writing about my friends I change names a lot.

Do you consider Unladylike to be a feminist show?

I hope it is. I am certainly not the first person to talk about these things, but I definitely hope that people look at it that way. To elaborate a little bit, I definitely think that I speak a lot about the wide disparity in the way that men and women are viewed.

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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.

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.

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.”

Is Chippy Nonstop Swag?

I’m slipping in a #MusicMonday in right at the last minute – because Tasneem hit me up on gchat with a (crude) gem of an Oakland artistChippy Nonstop. She’s named Chippy cuz she likes to eat chips, no kidding. And she’s Desi. She’s like a Desi-fied version of Kreayshawn meets Peaches.

I kind of the dug the sound above. Then I started finding her other videos. And then, well… I’ll let you be the judge of that. Here’s her latest with Andy Milonakis. And since it’s with Milonakis, you better know it’s NSFW.

And then there’s this video. With the Desi languag-ed hook and the (overused) multi-handed dance move. Continue reading

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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