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Showing posts from March, 2007

In the Making: Identity Formation in South Asia

A book of Meeto's essays has been published this month. I am sure the essays will be great.

In the Making: Identity Formation in South Asia

by Meeto (Kamaljit Bhasin-Malik)

This book critiques the taken-for-granted opposition of Hindu and Muslim as separate and cohesive categories, the frequent coding of syncretism as deviant, impermanent or tolerant, and moves towards a more nuanced approach. It questions the historicist preoccupation with incidents and processes of conflict, conquest, iconoclasm, and sets out to look at co-existence and peaceful interactions at the grassroots as equally crucial for the formation of identities. Written with perception and lucidity, it could be used profitably by scholars and by students, teachers, activists and the general reader.


Introduction by Kumkum Sangari

1. A historiographical essay on Hindu-Muslim relations
2. Composite Culture in Pre-Partition Punjab: Fractures and Continuities
3. The Historian and the Indian Census: Accounts of Religi…

Plastic Surgery and the Asian Community

Alternet has a story on the rise of plastic surgery in the Asian communities.

One only needs to open a Vietnamese magazine or newspaper in San Jose or Orange County to see the onslaught of ads for cosmetic surgery: eyebrow tattoos, dimple and split chin fabrications, laser treatments for skin blemishes, facelifts, breast augmentations -- you can have it all and with an easy-to-pay credit plan. But the most popular are nose and eye surgeries. In the online business directory of the Southern California-based Nguoi Viet Daily News, where the largest Vietnamese population in the United States resides, there are more than 50 local listings for cosmetic surgery.

Looking at these ads, I must admit that I find both the "before" and "after" pictures slightly disturbing. In the "before," which is often out of focus, the woman is displayed in a downtrodden, bereft look -- a mess of misery to go with her messy hair. But in the "after" picture, she is all smil…

a doll

Indian intellectuals

Peter Ronald De Souza writes in the Indian Express on the challenges of the Indian intellectual, and how they deal with the issues confronting them and the nation.

The first is the ‘if you are not with us then you are against us’, or what can be provocatively called the ‘camp follower’ syndrome, which divides the world of ideas into distinct camps — black and white, good and evil, right and wrong. Each side is infused with missionary zeal and its sole purpose is to vanquish the other, the enemy. All means are legitimate in this battle. There is no place for ambiguity here, no space for tentativeness, or the possibility of error, or even worse, the heretical thought that the other may actually have a point. This is the defining practice of the Left intellectuals in India and so, while it may have opened up many and valuable new vistas of understanding, it has no patience with dissent or intellectual openness. These are the enemies of an open society. It is indeed ironic that the religio…

President Musharraf, Dafur and Iraq

Chapati Mystery analyzes Mohsin Hamid's oped in the NYT about the lack of support for Pakistani President Musharraf.

The link to Hamid's article is here.

A great article by Mahmood Mamdani in the London review of books here. The article is on
the Politics of Naming: Genocide, Civil War, Insurgency.

The similarities between Iraq and Darfur are remarkable. The estimate of the number of civilians killed over the past three years is roughly similar. The killers are mostly paramilitaries, closely linked to the official military, which is said to be their main source of arms. The victims too are by and large identified as members of groups, rather than targeted as individuals. But the violence in the two places is named differently. In Iraq, it is said to be a cycle of insurgency and counter-insurgency; in Darfur, it is called genocide. Why the difference? Who does the naming? Who is being named? What difference does it make?

Tablighi Jamaat

B. Raman speculates that coach Woolmer's death might be at the hands of Jihadi group Tablighi Jamaat.

Did Pakistani cricket coach Bob Woolmer's criticism of the growing influence of the Tablighi Jamaat (TJ) of Pakistan, a jihadi organisation, on many players of the Pakistani cricket team contribute to his brutal murder after Pakistan lost to Ireland in the current World Cup Cricket Tournament in the West Indies?

Amir Mir paints a background of the influence of T.J. on some Pakistani players.

Long before the Islamists discovered their frightening zeal, Pakistani cricketers were considered a paragon of modern Muslims: they played flamboyantly, partied hard and didn't flaunt their religion publicly. They were the playboys of their times—suave, educated and dashing; they had their one-night stands, clubbed and tippled; as great exponents of reverse swing as they were ardent admirers of fine legs. They had the lifestyle only stars have—in any country, of any sport, of any religi…


Babble has an article on injections for infants. I thought it represented both sides pretty well.

Among well-educated, comfortably off parents, the ranks of vaccine-resistors are increasing. (Of course, plenty of parents fail to vaccinate their kids not by choice, but because they're poor and lack access to decent healthcare.) Some states with a large number of skeptical, alternative-minded people — Massachusetts, Oregon, Washington, New York — have seen, in the past six years, a declining percentage of children vaccinated against polio, diptheria, measles, mumps and rubella


first smile

how can you keep from smilin..

i love my daddy




food emporium

6 weeks old

arundhati roy's interview in tehelka

Arundhati Roy is interviewed by Tehelka.

You don’t have to be a genius to read the signs. We have a growing middle class, reared on a diet of radical consumerism and aggressive greed. Unlike industrialising Western countries, which had colonies from which to plunder resources and generate slave labour to feed this process, we have to colonise ourselves, our own nether parts. We’ve begun to eat our own limbs. The greed that is being generated (and marketed as a value interchangeable with nationalism) can only be sated by grabbing land, water and resources from the vulnerable. What we’re witnessing is the most successful secessionist struggle ever waged in independent India — the secession of the middle and upper classes from the rest of the country. It’s a vertical secession, not a lateral one. They’re fighting for the right to merge with the world’s elite somewhere up there in the stratosphere. They’ve managed to commandeer the resources, the coal, the minerals, the bauxite, the water …

Current TV, Rape in the Military & Iraqi Translators

I finally found a cable channel that I like, Current TV. It gets content from Google news, it's run by intelligent young people, and led by Al Gore. It has a section called V.C., which is viewer content, so people can participate by sending videos and podcasts. It's graphics are very contemporary and innovative, it's scope is global and it's politics progressive.
This is what Wiki says about the channel.

I read two good articles, one in the NYT magazine, about the women in the military, who have come back and complained about post traumatic stress disorder coupled with being raped by their superior officers. The distressing article by Sara Corbett is here.

She told Army investigators that the reason she did not report for deployment was that she had been sexually harassed repeatedly by three of her supervisors throughout her military service: beginning in Kuwait; through much of her time in Iraq; and following her return to Fort Lewis. She claimed too to be suffering f…

Hometown Baghdad

Hometown Baghdad is a series of videos on 20 something Iraqis, living in Baghdad.

Also there is a beautiful, extremely sad story in mothering magazine about a woman who gave birth to a stillborn child. I cannot find the link online yet, hopefully it will show up. It is called Charlotte's Grace.

Nana & Meeru

Wisdom is not the attribute of Brahman or the Absolute. It is very stuff or essence of Truth. It is the essence of Existence.

-- Sri Swami Sivananda

eating on the floor

authentic couscous algerian

Bob Woolmer

Pakistani cricket coach was found dead in a Jamaican hotel room, his death seems to have cast a shadow on the world cup and in the Pakistani cricket team and there supporters.
Australia's Herald Sun describes it here.

MYSTERY surrounds the death of Pakistan cricket coach Bob Woolmer a day after his disgraced team was bundled out of the World Cup.

The former English Test batsman was found by a maid on the floor in his bathroom of his Jamaica hotel room surrounded by vomit and frothing at the mouth.
Woolmer, 58, died in hospital two hours later.

Here are some feelings expressed on a website..

By now all of us should know that Bob Wolmer, the pakistani coach, has passed away. These two days have been the lowest point in Pakistan Cricket and I pray to God that good days are in the near future. A few things I would like to point out are; when Pak lost to Ireland, every member in this site was expressing their hatred towards wolmer, quoting that he was a bad coach, he should be replaced. …

india lose to bangladesh in cricket

Bangladesh Beat India
In the end, it was a demolition job, professionally executed. They deserved to win because they bowled better, fielded better and batted better. They simply out-performed a complacent and listless India. A confident, composed and calm Bangladesh made short work of Indian bowling after initial prospects of an Indian fightback -- when three Bangladesh wickets had fallen at 79 -- proved to be shortlived.

The Bangladesh chase of India's 191 was largely built around the three contrasting 50s by Tamim Iqbal, Saqibul Hasan and Md Raheem -- three players still in their teens, with ages ranging from 17-19. And it was perhaps this fire in the belly of the youngsters, tempered with perfect discipline and no sudden rushes of blood that ensured smooth sailing for test cricket's youngest entrants. If their victory in 1999 World Cup against Pakistan had been treated as a fluke, there was no such element of fluke today. They just played better. Or, perhaps, it was the In…

alice walker and rebecca walker

NYT discusses the evolution of a feminist daughter.

Today, however, Ms. Walker, 37, has become what she called a new Rebecca, one who has a male partner, a child and some revised theories about the ties that bind, which she explores in a new book, “Baby Love: Choosing Motherhood After a Lifetime of Ambivalence” (Riverhead), to be released on Thursday. A review appears in The Times Book Review today.

Its inspiration? Her son, Tenzin, 2, who is named after the Dalai Lama. (Ms. Walker’s father voted for Chaim and lost.)

Ms. Walker and her partner, a Buddhist teacher named Glen (whose last name does not appear in the book), have been living in Maui, where Tenzin plays amid the lush landscape and is pushed about in a Maclaren stroller.

“I feel like I have arrived in myself to where I want to be and who I want to be,” Ms. Walker said in a telephone interview.

Motherhood, she writes in “Baby Love,” is “the first club I’ve unequivocally belonged to.”

The book explores the usual pregnancy topics l…

Khalid Shaikh Mohammed

KSM's sudden confession of having undertaken so many terrorist attacks appears suspicious. I wonder how much torture he underwent.

Newsweek, Mar. 15, 2007

How Not to Win the War on Terror

The KSM case points up what's wrong with the way the Bush administration fights terrorism. How the next president can do better.


By Michael Hirsh

The abrupt reappearance of Khalid Shaikh Mohammed—and his brazen comparison of himself to George Washington—four years after the alleged 9/11 mastermind was captured in Pakistan should provoke some serious self-examination in the minds of Americans. The first question we need to ask ourselves is: Does the Bush administration have any clue any longer how to fight the "war on terror" legally? The next question should be: Can't our next president, whoever he or she turns out to be, do any better than this?

Let's hope so. Because if there is even a shadow of a doubt that the United States is losing the battle fo…
We study the mind because we want the harmony of peace to prevail,
because we need the joy of love in our hearts,
because we care about the quality of life our children will inherit...
To be attentive requires tremendous love of living.

~ Vimala Thakar, a living Indian sage

Alberto Gonzales list of falsehoods

U.S. Attorney General Gonzales is under fire, here are a list of reasons. The source is Scott Horton.

First, Gonzales said, under oath, that the seven of the eight U.S. attorneys were fired for performance reasons. It now turns out this was a falsehood, as the glowing performance evaluations attest.

Second, Gonzales said that he would 'never, ever make a change for political reasons.' It now turns out that this was a falsehood, as all the evidence makes clear that this purge was based purely on politics, to punish prosecutors who were perceived to be too light on Democrats or too tough on Republicans.

Third, Gonzales said this was an 'overblown personnel matter.' It now turns out that far from being a low-level personnel matter, this was a longstanding plan to exact political vendettas or to make political pay-offs, involving the president, his personal counsel and his principal political advisor.

Fourth, Gonzales stated that the White House was 'not really involved…


my friends

delilah the cat

Meeru with her furry friends

Nanak image changed in Califonia

NYT explains it here.
ContraCosta times explains it here.

The state Board of Education voted Thursday to ask a publisher to remove from a seventh-grade history textbook a picture of a Sikh religious leader that many followers said was offensive and inaccurate.

The board agreed to the recommendation from state Department of Education officials and the textbook's publisher, Oxford University Press, to remove the historical portrait of Guru Nanak, the founder of Sikhism, from "An Age of Voyages: 1350-1600."

The controversial image shows Guru Nanak wearing a crown and with a close-cropped beard. The depiction runs contrary to Sikh faith, which requires observant men to wear a turban and not to shave their facial hair.

Guru Nanak also was a man of the people and would not have worn an ornate crown, more than a dozen members of the Sikh faith testified Thursday.

The image is taken from a 19th-century painting made after Muslims ruled India. The publisher used it because it complies …

Kirpans made in China

Kirpans are now being made in China according to the Times of India.

In the rows of kirpan shops lining the Golden Temple complex, China has made an incursion unknown to most who carry with them one of Sikhism's five symbols. Mintai, a brand from comrade country, is doing particularly well and local kirpan manufacturers are not at all happy about it. Till recently, the annual turnover of Amritsar's kirpan market was estimated at Rs 50 crore. But the hold it had on global kirpan markets seems set to change, thanks to made-in-China entrants.

Shopkeepers said Indians prefer to go for things cheaper and the kirpan is no exception. "A well-crafted medium-sized Chinese kirpan costs Rs 50-100. A similar local kirpan is priced at Rs 150-300. Also, youngsters prefer the foreign variety," one of them said.

Mira Nair

NYT has an overview of Mira Nair's career in films. Her next project is an adaptation of the book Shantaram.

Beneath its starry high profile, though, “Shantaram” engages issues that have obsessed Ms. Nair throughout her career. For immigrants and their children, what is home? What is family? How do you forge a new cultural identity?

“He is a man who disappears into the fabric of another place,” Ms. Nair said about the Depp character in a recent conversation. Explaining the lure of the novel, she added: “The theme I’m most interested in is, can a foreigner be a native? I’m interested in the seesaw of it, because I’m not sure that in the deepest way that’s possible. Ultimately you have to understand where you came from. Otherwise you’re lost.”

The Namesake

I saw this wonderful movie and recommend it highly. It’s beautiful as it deals with issues of leaving home, bringing up children in a foreign country, dealing with love, loss and finally coming back. The cinematography was mesmerizing, juxtaposing colorful Calcutta with a wintery new York. Irafan Khan and Tabu gave excellent performances. The director Mira Nair, has created an even more emotionally dense movie than Monsoon Wedding.

Sepia Mutiny reviews it here.

“I don’t want to raise him in this lonely country,” says Ashima (Tabu), soon after the birth of Gogol Ganguli in Mira Nair’s new movie The Namesake, opening in a limited release today. Based on the critically acclaimed and commercially successful
novel of the same name by Jhumpa Lahiri, the movie proves to be a remarkably faithful adaptation. Raise him here, of course, she does, but those words remain a rare break in her composure, a heartfelt expression of homesickness and fear.

In the Country of Men Hisham Matar

This is a powerful first book about Qaddafi’s repressive Libya, seen through the eyes of a nine year old boy, Suleiman. The book is focused on the private world of his father, his mother and his friends in the neighborhood. But this world becomes public when his friend Kareem’s father is imprisoned by the government and then hung in a basket ball court among a cheering crowd.

Kamila Shamsie reviews the book in the Guardian here.

And whatever his subject, Matar writes beautifully. In describing the world of seas and mulberries he is a sensualist; when writing of executions and arrests he is a nuanced observer with a gift for conveying both absurdity and raw emotion. His description of a public execution is an exceptional piece of writing - he is not afraid to bring in details that seem entirely incongruous with the setting, yet serve to give it an air of greater verisimilitude. A man trying to resist being taken to the gallows reminds Suleiman of "the way a shy woman would res…