Showing posts from May, 2007

The Infidel Ayaan Hirsi Ali

Shakira Hussein has a wonderful review of Ayaan Hirsi Ali's book, Infidel. I heard Hirsi Ali speak a few years ago and was not very impressed with her analysis of Islam.

Her rejection of Islam is well known, yet her critique accepts many of the basic tenets of Islamic extremists. She says, for instance, that Islamic extremists are right: violence against women is justifiable in Islam. It does not seem to occur to her that by validating this interpretation, which is rejected by large numbers of Muslims, she is reinforcing the power of misogynist men. In contrast, Muslim women scholars who teach that domestic violence is un-Islamic seek to deprive wife-beaters of moral authority.

Hirsi Ali claims to have joined a conservative anti-immigrant party because left-wing multiculturalists had allowed Muslim men the licence to subject women to genital mutilation and honour killing. But although there have been failings on the Left, I do not accept that the shameful neglect of abused Muslim w…

in thought


The Colors Of Domestic Violence

Benetton, the clothing company has done a powerful set of ads, on domestic violence

The Reluctant Fundamentalist, Mohsin Hamid

I had high expectations of the book before reading it, since I had enjoyed reading Hamid's earlier book, Moth Smoke. This 200 page book was a quick, but disapointing read. The language with it's Sir this and Sir that, got irritating, and the story did not get anywhere. His attempt at love with Erica was bizzare, and the connections between his two worlds that he was trying to reconcile were not clear. At times I felt he was describing his life to Daniel Pearl before murdering him.

Sin has an interesting take on the Reluctant Fundamentalist. Sin also describes the insane violence in Karachi, with graphic images.
Salil Tripathi reviews it here, and Amitava
Kumar reviews it here.

Changez is from a family with feudal trappings but no real wealth other than an appreciation of etiquette. His place in Princeton and later in corporate America is marked by self-doubt. A woman that he falls in love with, Erica, is from a wealthy family. Erica, like the America of which she is quite literal…

rethinking childbirth

Vancouver Doula has this wonderful post from her daughter.

From the desk of Jacquie's daughter

Growing up surrounded by my mum's work in childbirth, I had a slightly different introduction to the subject of reproduction than most children. Instead of reading "Where Did I Come From?" I looked through a plethora of illustrated Sheila Kitzinger and midwifery texts. I thought it was fascinating that the egg that was fertilized to make me was in my mum's ovaries when she was born, and was thus formed inside my grandmother! Wild. When she taught prenatal classes, I would come along and play with the infant-sized dolls in her teaching materials, using the plastic pelvis as a cradle. Then, as she began to do more labour support, I would act as her secretary and run into the kitchen to intercept calls before anyone else, often to hear a flustered dad drop the phone, with his wife moaning in the background -- "Mum, it's for you."

It was only a matter of time bef…

Looking for literature in Tehran

AZADEH MOAVENI writes in the NYT book review about reading in Tehran. Most of the books are self help books dealing with Indian spirituality and feng Shui. After reading Lolita in Tehran, i imagined there to be a big reading culture existing there.

When I moved to Iran in 2000 to work as a journalist, I aspired to belong to a literary circle not unlike that of the engaged women of Azar Nafisi’s “Reading Lolita in Tehran,” who found relief from their authoritarian society in the imaginative world of novels. That bookstores did not exist as such — there were only bookstore/stationery stores, or bookstore/toy stores — was the first sign my plan might not work. I initially mistook Tehran’s most popular bookstore, with its windows full of weathered copper pots and other bric-a-brac, for an antique shop. Inside, the floor space dedicated to books was roughly a quarter of that taken up by kilims, cactuses and Lego sets. “I’m embarrassed to call myself a bookseller,” one store owner told me re…

Pen World Voices

Pen has some great lectures that one can download.

flying birds




Garhi artists at Triveni


Crackdown on bloggers and academics in Iran

CM details the recent crackdown on Iranian bloggers Kian and Ali. Also U.S. Middle East analyst Haleh Esfandiari has been imprisoned by Iranian authorities.

Mere speech against some injustice, against some regime of intolerance or hypocrisy, for some right, for some freedom is considered dangerous, radioactive and inimical by totaliarianian agendas. Such speech normally resulted in the state condemning and imprisoning the speaker and swiftly creating an apporpriate counter-narrative for the publics [Faiz is in prison because he is a hedonistic commie who hates Allah!]. Speech silenced, injustice obscured, the machinery hummed along barely noticing the press releases or annual reports issued by the good people at Amnesty or Human Rights Watch - the world rather inattentive.

And while such speech still results in imprisonment, those times of inattention are now largely over. The crackdown on bloggers and websites in Iran, Pakistan or China is motivated by the state’s panic at the rapid ra…

anti-anxiety medicine for women and big pharma

Alternet has an article on how big pharmaceutical companies are influencing healthy women to take drugs that they do not need.

Selling anxiety sells medicine. Drug companies know this and profit by it. But are women benefiting as much as the industry's bottom line?

The pharmaceutical industry spent much of its $4.2 billion direct-to-consumer advertising budget in 2005 on ads targeting healthy upper-income, middle-aged people. A common underlying message was this: you appear to be healthy, but a deadly heart attack, hip fracture, or other medical catastrophe could occur at any time. Therefore, you should take a prescription drug to prevent such problems.

For example, a long-running Merck ad featured an older woman with this message: "See how beautiful 60 can look? See how invisible osteoporosis can be?" and recommended that women ask their doctors about bone density screening. As a result, many women started taking Merck's drug Fosamax, even though the benefit may not ou…


Outlook has a good analysis of the recent Sikh on Sikh violence in Punjab.

Losing Their Religion?
There are an estimated 9,000 deras in Punjab, each headed by a baba or a sant

Dera Sacha Sauda is among the largest, with 40 lakh followers

About 80 per cent of Punjab's population patronises these deras, which are believed to corner 90 per cent of religious donations in the state today

All political parties woo the deras, which can influence large numbers of voters. In the recent assembly poll, the Congress' 12 seats in Malwa are credited to Dera Sacha Sauda

The deras sprang up in the aftermath of militancy, and their spiritual heads amassed enormous wealth when they got funds to rebuild gurudwaras

They make a special effort to woo lower-caste and illiterate Sikhs, and project an inclusive image

Deras now pose a major threat and challenge to the Sikh religious establishment

pondicherri is closing july 31 2007


the end of an era Pondicherri is closing


nyc rainbow








tree trunk


thumb nearby if needed






Pehen taking a sip


Guru Nanak's meher bhara hath may you always be protecting Mira






free electricity


Boza Aunty


Neena Masi




Toshi Masi