A Father Like This

As Ennis reported, there’s anarchy in the UK. I’ve been following twitter feeds coming out of England closely and though there is mixed feelings on the “insurrection” of the people, one thing is certain, everyone is fearful that the riots will come to their community. Last night, the rioters came to Birmingham.

Haroon, Abdul Musavir, 31, and Shazad Ali, 31, were mowed down as they stood on the pavement protecting their mosque and businesses in the community. Today, a 32-year-old man was being questioned on suspicion of murder.

The father said he was standing round the corner as the car mounted the pavement and knocked down the three young men. He said he acted instinctively and helped – without realising his boy was one of the trio who were fatally injured. Mr Jahan said: ‘The car came up on the pavement for God knows what reason and I was standing nearby. ‘I heard it happen and I turned round and I saw three people on the ground and my instinct to help and I started CPR and someone told me that one of them was my son.’ [dailymail]

Some moving words from Tariq Jahan, father to the 21 year old Haroon Jahan.

I’m not condoning the violence, but clearly the situation has reached a critical moment in the UK and the people believe things have got to change. Mass media is billing what is happening in the UK as a “race” riot or a “youth” insurgency – but the victims in this case were South Asian youth. The #UKRiots goes far deeper than that. Continue reading

Navin Weds Navin in NY

heart_20110725024657_18371.jpgYesterday hundreds of gay couples got married in New York as a new law called the Marriage Equality Act went into effect making the state the sixth in the nation to legalize same-sex marriage. Marcus and Freddy got married, Nancy and Yolanda got married, and wearing shorts and dapper bow ties, Navin wed Navin in Manhattan.

The desi couple of Murray Hill, together for six years, was one of 20 newlywed pairs whose portraits appeared in The New York Times. An audio recording of their comments on the joyous occasion published along with their portrait included the statement, “This feels so right to us.”

Aseem Chhabra covered the Navins’ New York nuptials at Rediff news, reporting that the couple held a commitment ceremony in California last month, prior to lining up on Sunday morning to have their marriage officially approved by the state of New York. Continue reading

Seeing Lal

prerna Lal.jpgThis weekend, Desi youth will be convening in Oakland, CA and Washington DC for the primary purpose of getting activated and politicized. DCDesi Summer will be holding it down for the East Coast, and I personally have been involved in getting Bay Area Solidarity Summer (BASS) off the ground here on the West Coast. Not only am I excited about the FUNraiser we have scheduled, I am particularly excited about the opening keynote speakers for the weekend – author of Desis in the House Sunaina Maira and dream activist Prerna Lal.

I met Prerna Lal last summer at Netroots Nation in Las Vegas. I quickly learned that she was a quite the firecracker. Desi via Fiji, Prerna is a founder of DreamActivist, a current law student, a writer, a SAALT Changemaker, queer, an activist and… is undocumented. Her journey as a struggling youth trying to navigate the broken immigration system is one she is very vocal about sharing, whether on blogs or on twitter. Her tenacity is one to be admired and bravery is one to be inspired by.

Just a few months ago, Prerna was served deportation papers – but being who she is, she’s not leaving without a fight. Here’s what she had to say.

Taz: What made you tweet this?

Prerna: It’s how I feel on most days. We are always asked to prove our worth to our countries. But I have yet to have America prove its worth to me.

T: What is your legal status?

P: Out of status, allegedly accruing unlawful presence that could lead to a 10 year bar from the United States if deported.

T: Where are you from? How did you end up in the US?

P: Fiji Islands. Father brought me here when I was 14, kicking and screaming.

T: Your grandmother is a citizen, your parents are greencard holders and your sister is a citizen. How is it possible that you are considered undocumented?

P: That’s simple. I aged out at 21. You see, when a visa petition is approved, a family has to wait many years to actually get a “priority date” in order to immigrate legally. I was 24 by the time my parents received their priority date. Regardless of the fact that my name was on the original visa petition filed for my family, I was automatically castigated and separated from my family. My parents were no longer considered my “immediate relatives.” I find it morally repugnant, but I’m sure there are many young adults who have experienced the same horror of family separation due to an arbitrary age out of our control. Continue reading

You are your own best confidant

2518493456.jpgIn the wake of the Hermon K. Raju affair, it is a strange coincidence that a young woman named Beejoli Shah has also had a problem with the viral nature of the internet. A letter to 15 friends came back slam her in the face. Ms. Shah is not manifestly odious from what I can tell. If you want to read the blow-by-blow, check out The Superficial for the full email she sent. Basically Beejoli Shah had a kinky sexual encounter with Quentin Tarantino which she just had to tell all her friends via an email draped in thick descriptive prose, along with pointers to biographical context.

It turns out that the Cal graduate has a job at a Hollywood public relations firm. Or perhaps more accurately, she had a job at a Hollywood public relations firm. I don’t feel sorry for how this turned out because of her professional aspirations. You don’t spill the beans until after you’ve made it big. On the other hand, the more general issue is rather disconcerting. Who hasn’t said something stupid or embarrassing? You can make sure to only talk to people about things, and avoid written communication, but now there are relatively easy technologies with which you can record people. Nothing is the off the record in theory. And perhaps soon in practice. I find that rather sad.

As an aside, I checked Google News for the full range of media reaction. It’s an interesting window into cultural differences. India Today has the headline “Quentin Tarantino’s Indian trick”, which I thought was kind of offensive. Does “trick” not have the implication in India that it does in the United States? Continue reading

Rollin’ with the Bhangra Queen


Meena’s news post shares the info that popular DJ and repeat White House guest Rekha Malhotra will perform live at the White House’s largest annual event, the Easter Egg Roll. The event’s theme this year is “Get Up and Go!” promoting health and wellness and encouraging kids to be healthy and active as part of First Lady Michelle Obama’s Let’s Move! initiative to combat childhood obesity. DJ Rekha will be on the Ellipse with other musical performers, bringing her blend of bhangra and hip-hop beats to get people moving.
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Five Rivers to Five Boroughs

bhangraagainstbush.jpgI’ve been obsessed lately with political posters. Particularly artwork depicting struggles of the Desi diaspora. So obsessed that I created Mutinous Mindstate on tumblr to curate the various important images and artwork I’ve come across over the years. In fact, it was DJ Rekha that first responded to my tweet asking for Desi political art with an image of PardonMyHIndi designed event poster for Basement Bhangra Against Bush in 2004.

Five Rivers.jpg

Along very similar vein, DJ Rekha is also involved with an art show that premiered in New York City this month at 92YTribeca. The Soho Road to Punjab is an exhibit inspired by bhangra music and has exhibited overseas in the UK over the past few years. This NYC-angled exhibit, title Five Rivers to Five Boroughs, is the first time the exhibit will be shown in the U.S.

The exhibit will showcase behind-the-scenes photography, album sleeves, promotional art, and rare prints from South Asian media. The exhibit also highlights individuals who have helped the Bhangra scene progress.

The exhibit’s story refers to the impact New York has had on the spread of Bhangra. Brooklyn-based DJ Rekha, a musician and curator, named Ambassador of Bhangra by the New York Times, shares her personal collection of material for the New York version of this project. [facebook] Continue reading

February 11

riot girl small.jpg

I couldn’t have been alone in this, but it was only after the news of Mubarak’s departure that I watched for the first time the video of Asmaa Mahfouz making her appeal for the gathering that became the protest action of January 25. That video, when posted on Facebook, became a rallying cry. As I learned a bit later from this interview with Mahfouz, January 25 was chosen because it is observed as Police Day in Egypt, and she was interested not in honoring the police but in pointing out that they were the arm of oppression. In the video you see this twenty-five-year-old woman speaking with great anguish of the three Egyptian men who had set themselves on fire to protest. It is humbling, and so wonderfully inspiring, to realize that such a tumultuous movement, one that has moved the entire world, could have had such small beginnings. Continue reading

Cure Sonia – Bone Marrow Donor Needed

cure_sonia_rai_2010.jpgWhile visiting Boston on business, I learned some shocking news this past weekend. My good friend Sonia was diagnosed with Acute Myelogenous Leukemia (AML) about 10 days ago. She is currently undergoing chemotherapy. She is 24 and in urgent need of a bone marrow transplant. I am still in shock and having a hard time absorbing this. Since I have known her, I cannot imagine her as being anything other than the cheerful, always smiling, bollywood-movie-loving, happy and positive person that I have known her to be. She is an active member of the South Asian community and many may recognized her contributions as a board member of NetSAP Boston. I pray she finds a donor soon.

Team Sonia – Sonia’s brother Sumit Rai, family and friends are organizing drives today and in the next few weeks. Please take the time to help spread the word about the drives and join the NMDP registry if you have not already done so. You can visit www.curesonia.org, or visit their Facebook page.

As you may be aware from our previous posts on the topic, the National Bone Marrow Registry (NMDP) is in dire need of more ethnic donors. South Asians, as well as any minority, and especially people of mixed ethnicity are needed. Sonia is currently receiving excellent care at Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston, but in order to survive beyond the next few months, she requires a bone marrow transplant. Most matches occur within ethniticty and increasing the number of South Asians registered as potential bone marrow donors will help Sonia as well as many others who are searching.

Among the 7 million registered donors currently, approximately, only 2% are South Asians. Ethnic Minorities have a 30-40% chance of finding a match from the existing NMDP registry. Caucasians have an 80% chance of finding a match from the existing NMDP registry [link]. Continue reading

Team Coco in India

Outsourced should take a page out of this Conan O’Brien promo – this is how you do a gora guy in India and make it funny. And charming. But of course they won’t. Outsourced is an NBC show and NBC pathetically fired Conan off of The Tonight Show early this year after a meager 7 month run.

I think the promo is witty and gorgeous. I’ve been trying to find out who and where it was made, but came up empty. I did find the following.

Amex has been trying to lure Mr. O’Brien into appearing in a commercial since the company sponsored his comedy tour earlier this year. Several weeks ago, Mr. O’Brien said he was finally convinced by a funny script created by WPP PLC’s Ogilvy & Mather, as well as American Express’s past ads.

Playing on Mr. O’Brien’s obsession for detail, the new ad shows the comedian taking a trip to India to search for the finest materials to make curtains for his new show. Mr. O’Brien is seen using a loom to weave the fabric; stomping on flower petals to make the dye and having a gossip session with the local washing ladies as he dyes the material.

A person familiar with the matter said AmEx paid Mr. O’Brien more than $1 million to do the commercial. [wsj]

Conan is making his return to television, only this time it’s on TBS at the 11pm time slot. The show is called, “Conan” and his return begins tonight, November 8th. Continue reading

Commercializing the Dahi Handi festival

The BBC South Asia had a video short last week about the Dahi Handi festival (each September) in Mumbai. Click on picture for video:

The charming local gentleman they interview in the video vociferously makes the case that they $hould commercialize the heck out of the festival. You know, like La Tomatina in Spain.

Dahi Handi generally takes place on the second day of Janmashtami. An earthen pot containing a mixture of milk, dry fruits, ghee is hung around 20-30 feet high in the air with the help of a rope. Silver coins are hung along with the rope,which are later distributed as prize to the winners. Enthusiastic young men, form a human pyramid by standing one on top of the other, trying to break the pot. Onlookers throw water on the young men in order to prevent them from breaking the pot. Breaking of the pot is followed by prize distribution. Devotees believe that the broken pieces of earthen pot will keep away mice and negative powers from their homes.

Dahi Handi is celebrated with fervor, especially in the twin cities of Mathura – Vrindavan, Dwarka and Mumbai. Young men in Mumbai yell ‘Ala re ala, Govinda ala’ during the ceremony. [link]

What say you? Shall we put together a team of Sepia Mutiny readers?

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