deepad: black silhouette of woman wearing blue turban against blue background (Default)
2014-02-22 12:47 pm
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Three things regarding Anuja Chauhan

1. My social experiment seems to indicate that Anuja Chauhan's appeal does cross international borders, but also that her work especially resonates with other Asian-identity sharing readers. I've been updating the post linking to all the reactions to her books, so now there's quite a collection of people pleased by her - The Anuja Chauhan Reading Club.

2. The books have mostly left the US, and are winding their respective ways across Europe and Australasia. So if you are a non-US, non-Indian resident who wants in, and can promise to read the book in a month, write a review, and mail it on internationally, you can sign up for a turn here.

3. My friend [profile] troiroyaumes has generously bought a box set of all three of Anuja Chauhan's books, and donated them for the annual Con or Bust benefit auction. So if you'd like to get the books to keep, with no strings attached, and also support a good cause (that I personally benefited from), please consider bidding for them over here. (I haven't offered anything since I still owe blog posts from over two years ago, but if the bidding goes over some extravagant amount, I could consider doing a post-it notes commentary of the books like I did for previous auctions, if anyone would like it.)
deepad: black silhouette of woman wearing blue turban against blue background (Default)
2013-10-04 06:01 pm

Unwhitewashed Chasing Shadows Cover in the Wild!

I have been having one of the most stressful, unhappy weeks this year so far, and it doesn't seem to be headed anywhere good. HOWEVER, I needed to claw out time to make this quick update post, because of how much delight these pictures brought me.

See, when I designed my unwhitewashed (LESS RACIST!) cover for Chasing Shadows, I was kind of hoping other people would care about the issue too, that it might become a thing people talked about the way that other book covers that Racist Gremlins have attacked have become. But nope, people went on talking about how beautiful the racist cover was and how much they loved it, and I kept seething in my little corner.

Then [personal profile] kingrat commented asking if I had a hi-res version he could print off to use for his actual, physical copy of the book, and I was so stressed out with other things that I went a little nuts and spent three hours working on my dinosaur-age combination of Picasa and MS Paint to produce a full book jacket. Since I didn't have a copy of the actual book, or for that matter a printer, I just made wild guesses as to size and dimensions, but from that, [personal profile] kingrat managed to produce the glory that is...
deepad: black silhouette of woman wearing blue turban against blue background (Default)
2013-09-25 03:26 am

Judging a Publisher by Its Cover

Today is the day a book called Chasing Shadows officially releases. The book and I go a ways back, since the author--Swati Avasthi--is a friend, and I've talked about the novel with her and read it in draft. Because I make for a biased reviewer of the work, suffice it to say that I think she has maintained the complexity of character and plot that she displayed in her first book Split, which a bunch of you appreciated when I passed around an ARC of it. You might like it if you enjoy books about female friendship and grief and loss and madness and the importance of stories and scaling rooftops and superheroes in graphic motion.

This post, however, is about the cover.

TL;DR version, the publishers issued a racist, whitewashed version so I made my own. Want, Take, Have. )
deepad: black silhouette of woman wearing blue turban against blue background (Default)
2013-09-04 08:08 pm
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The Anuja Chauhan Reading Club

As the reactions to my Anuja Chauhan passing the parcel experiment trickle in, I'll update this post. When people have made public posts, I've linked to them, when they have emailed me their reactions I have quoted them here (with permission, obviously). Spoilers will go under a further cut.

The Zoya Factor (2008)
Blurb )

[personal profile] laurashapiro says:There were some awfully funny bits, and some bits that made me quizzical. )

[personal profile] oyceter says: "there's just something really fun about Chauhan's narrative voice, from the toinnnnngggg commercial to the two sports announcers and the assorted excerpts from gossip magazines.

[personal profile] troisroyaumes says: the other part of the story I found interesting was the underlying theme of superstition and luck.

[personal profile] glass_icarus says: I don't often read chick lit, but Chauhan's narrative voice is incredibly entertaining.

[personal profile] via_ostiense says: Zoya/Chauhan have great senses of humor, there were many parts where I cracked up laughing out loud. )

[personal profile] samvara says: I loved this, it's fresh and funny with believable and likable characters.

[personal profile] illariy says: The book is an entertaining romance; I really enjoyed both the lucky charm and the Nikhil/Zoya plot aspects.

[personal profile] rmc28 says: The writing is exuberant, funny, full of Indian English and Hindi slang, and I adored it.

[personal profile] glinda says: On the whole I'd recommend it if you like chick-lit, Zoya's job and relationships with both colleagues and family are well-drawn, I loved the code switching and the observations on the relationship between sports and the media.

[personal profile] kaberett says: The first time I burst out in delighted cackles was at the top of page two, and I kept on laughing all the way through.

[personal profile] delfinnium says: The author had a delightful turn of language command that not only flowed beautifully from standard English to Indian-English, but it seemed natural, and it was especially GOOD because I could FEEL and HEAR the culture in it.

Battle for Bittora (2009)
Blurb )

[personal profile] laurashapiro says: The author draws many memorable characters and indulges in the supposed sin of writing in dialect to excellent effect. )

[personal profile] troisroyaumes says: The whole novel works excellently as a satire of political campaigns, but like the best satires, it has a sincerity about the topic it parodies.

[personal profile] dorothean says: In short -- the funniest, most thoughtful, sweetest, and overall best chick-lit novel I have ever read.

[personal profile] afrikate says: I felt the book was very accessible to a Western audience )

[personal profile] oyceter says: Definitely recommended, and in case I made it sound serious and unfun, it is hilarious and includes a scene with Jinni putting a condom on a large wooden penis. For politics, of course.

[personal profile] glass_icarus says: As with The Zoya Factor, Chauhan conveys the feeling of being swept up in larger social currents incredibly well, but my favorite aspect of this book was the family dynamics.

Connie L. says: Overall, I thought the book was fantastic )

[personal profile] rmc28 says: I do appreciate the way the book sets up stereotypes and then shows It's More Complicated Than That, and does it all with the same humour and exuberance as I loved in The Zoya Factor.

Eve says: Jinni’s dynamics with the other characters, as much as the campaigning antics, were what kept me reading.

[personal profile] delfinnium says: Beautifully done!

Those Pricey Thakur Girls (2013)
Blurb )

[personal profile] troisroyaumes says: "It's been a while since I've come across a book so engaging that I've sacrificed sleep on a weeknight"

[personal profile] afrikate says: Overall, I think this book would need some more background for non-Indian readers. )

[personal profile] laurashapiro says: Overall this felt like Chauhan's most mature book )

[personal profile] oyceter says: This is my favorite out of all of Anuja Chauhan's books and feels very much like what I've been waiting for.

[personal profile] glass_icarus says: Family dynamics are probably Chauhan's best narrative strength. Also, there simply is no humor quite like the wacky family hijinks kind.

[personal profile] starlady says: It helps that the Thakurs are pretty hilarious, and that Chauhan has an eye for the telling and comedic detail.

[personal profile] rmc28 says: There is a large cast of distinctive, vividly-drawn characters. There's a lot of humour and witty dialogue.

[personal profile] kaberett says: I enjoyed this. I enjoyed this a lot.

[personal profile] via_ostiense says: its sense of humor makes it entertaining and affecting at the same time )

[personal profile] delfinnium says: wow, Thakur girls blew me away!
deepad: black silhouette of woman wearing blue turban against blue background (Default)
2013-03-09 01:42 pm
Entry tags:

A particular sound of heartbreak

It's funny how in a whole bazaar of inhumane and outrageous things, sometimes just one ordinary, seemingly small item can jump out at you and pierce your heart.

Nivedita Menon recently posted Gender Just, Gender Sensitive, NOT Gender Neutral Rape Laws on Kafila, which is a statement signed by so many people whose feminist work I admire.

And I am terrified that these, the voices of some of the most publicly liberal and radical feminists who represent my interests, so stridently argue against one of the core realities of rape culture:

Woman can be rapists.

Female-identified people can sexually assault and sexually coerce and sexually violate another person. Their victims can be child or adult, male or female.

And this is not even touching the appalling lack of acknowledgement of transgendered and transexual identities, which are even more vulnerable to sexualised violences by status as marginalised and oppression minority.

This is not even about becoming the thing you are fighting by taking a push-back against patriarchy so far.

This is about wanting to take away protection from rape survivors, and denying them the legal ability to name the experience they went through with a term that states it to be as non-consensual, as violent, and as obscene as the actions a male rapist perpetrates.

Rape is sexualised violence, and violence can be perpetrated by any human being regardless of their gender or sexual orientation. Female caregivers who have power over children or the elderly or the infirm, female prison wardens and policewomen and armed forces officers, female teachers and professors, these are all in positions of power that can be abused. Women who have sex with women can be abused. Men in heterosexual marriages can be abused.

There is so much these women have fought for, so long and so hard, that I am so grateful for: these endless battles against the patriarchy, against casteism, against communalism, against homophobia, against classism and capitalism and every other form of bigotry and systemic oppression that warps the world I live in. I have such a sense of solidarity and empathy and admiration for most of their words.

It hurts so much to be so divisively excluded from their cause right now.
deepad: black silhouette of woman wearing blue turban against blue background (Default)
2013-02-03 06:44 pm
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Nice White Lady Authors Take a Hike: 'Vacations from Hell'

A while ago (far longer a while ago than it should be) I rashly committed to writing ‘about a book (or movie) that I really, really, really did not like' for the noble cause of a charity auction for [personal profile] ephemere. Some people were kind enough to bid for it, and [personal profile] crossedwires, who won, was generous enough to say I could write about whatever I felt inspired to.

The problem was though (beyond my being the most incurably lazy creature in shoe leather) that I didn't want to read or watch something that I knew I'd hate! Subjecting myself to shitty media is not pleasant! I have spent a great deal of time and energy figuring out how to protect myself from it and avoid it! And while I enjoy reading an eviscerating rant or three when people expend the energy to write them… it's a lot of work having to justify the sentiment ‘this is a terrible book wot is terrible'.

So after having contemplated my list of pending commitments with squirming guilt ([ profile] con_or_bust winners, you have not been forgotten!) I decided that I needed to break down and ask for some help. Thus in the spirit of teamwork and This Oughtta Be A Drinking Game, I bring you the collective snark of [personal profile] noldo, [personal profile] delfinnium and [personal profile] marina, who were kind enough to suffer through my reread in group chat.

Together we bring to you: Vacations from Hell –YA Fantasy short stories by Libba Bray, Cassandra Clare, Claudia Gray, Maureen Johnson, Sarah Mlynowski (Harper Teen, 2009)

I should warn you, if you do wish to read the book (which, you know, I sincerely suggest you DON’T) that these are meant to be suspenseful mysterious twist-in-the tale-type of stories which the ensuing summaries and commentaries thereof will completely and thoroughly spoil for you.
[personal profile] marina: OH GOD IS THIS YA
[personal profile] marina: ARE YOU GOING TO MAKE ME READ YA
[personal profile] marina: o____________________o
[personal profile] delfinnium: YES SHE IS.
[personal profile] marina: DEEPA I ALREADY HATE YOU
[personal profile] deepad: also. MARINA. you missed the part about how a part of the books proceeds go to a non-profit that helps poor teens with college applications. And then we have a bunch of white college-educated ladies writing about white teenagers on vacations (except for one teenager who is not white but OMG. I will save that horror for the last). I feel like this book is sort of ironic. Rich kids go to vacations and presumably will buy this book for the poor kids who don't go to college.

Cruisin' by Sarah Mlynowski )

I Don't Like Your Girlfriend by Claudia Gray )

The Law of Suspects by Maureen Johnson )

The Mirror House by Cassandra Clare )

Nowhere Is Safe by Libba Bray )

In conclusion: Just donate directly to College Summit if you must. Because the writers of this anthology do not, for the most part, deserve any encouragement to go on producing this sort of awful, offensive drivel.

As a palete cleanser, here’s an organisation actually producing indigenous books for promoting literacy, if you’d like to support current and future non-white writers. And here is [personal profile] delfinnium flailing and squeeing about The Gameworld Trilogy, which are finally out in ebook format, and which I have been having tremendous fun talking about in chat.

[personal profile] crossedwires - Thank you for your support of the auction and apologies for the delay in posting this! [personal profile] delfinnium, [personal profile] marina and [personal profile] noldo thanks a tonne for doing this with me <3
deepad: black silhouette of woman wearing blue turban against blue background (Default)
2012-12-13 10:04 pm

Admission Tickets for gods and graves

Occasionally, Shrivastava’s research produced vivid illustrations of what was lost when a religious relic was smuggled out of India. He stumbled across a series of beautiful Matrika, or mother goddess, statues from outside Tanesar, a village near Udaipur. Originally, there were a dozen of the statues, each about two feet tall, carved from dark-green schist, and dating to the fifth century. They depicted graceful, broad-hipped women, each in a different stage of motherhood: one pregnant, one breast-feeding an infant, one cradling a toddler, one walking a child. An Indian archeological journal had published photographs of the Tanesar Matrikas in 1961. Sometime thereafter they were stolen and smuggled out of the country. In the late nineties, one of the statues appeared in a Sotheby’s catalogue, and in February, 2003, Shrivastava assembled some photographs of the sculptures and travelled to Tanesar.

When the police contingent arrived at the village, a crowd formed. Shrivastava’s men asked whether anyone remembered a series of statues of women that had once stood nearby. “We got hold of a person who was now eighty years old,” Shrivastava told me. “Long white hair. Old guy.” Shrivastava asked the man if he remembered the Matrikas, and after a moment the man said, “Oh, yes, I recall, seven or eight idols were there of a lady, a lady feeding her child.” Shrivastava took out the pictures of the Matrikas. The old man stared at them for a moment. Then he began to weep.

I asked what had become of the Matrikas, and Shrivastava told me that they had ended up in various museums in England and the United States. Today, one is at the British Museum, one is at the Cleveland Museum, and one is at the Met.

-- from this old New Yorker story
deepad: black silhouette of woman wearing blue turban against blue background (Default)
2012-12-12 01:50 pm

Ravi Shankar

92 years is a good long time to be around, and I'm grateful to have been able to seen some truly golden concerts. But it never seems like enough, when the taiyari and knowledge of the older generations seems to be getting diminished and lost. :(

Here's a lovely Raga Bairagi Todi from him, somber and contemplative.

And a video recording of him with Allah Rakha.

Maybe its time for that rewatch of Pather Panchali.
deepad: black silhouette of woman wearing blue turban against blue background (Default)
2012-12-06 01:02 pm
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TL;DR - Jeet Thayil would like 'Indians' to not read his book

Why do you think the Indian reaction to your book was so bad?

Indian reviewers don’t read books. They have two days to produce 800 words. They read the prologue and then skim a few pages, then they read all the other reviews. If the first two are negative, you can be sure they will all be negative. If the first two are good, the rest will be good. It’s that low-level, that pathetic. It takes a kind of confidence for a reviewer to have their own opinion about a book. And a lot of people here just don’t care about literary novels.

What do you mean by “literary”?

I mean the kind of novel that you have to bring something to: a novel that you have to put a little work into reading; a novel that doesn’t give up its secrets and its meanings straight away; a novel that maybe needs two readings. All readers are not equal. A lot of people are not moved, and those readers shouldn’t read certain books, which may sound like an arrogant thing to say, but I mean, f––– off, don’t read my book! Don’t quote that.


Actually, who cares? Say it.

But your reception at home in the UK was very warm.

I got the feeling that western critics had actually read the book, which at that point was a hugely emotional thing for me.

-- From this interview

[ profile] supriyan, [ profile] ActuallyAisha and [ profile] sridala, please apply for your phoren passports now, since clearly you are unindian reviewers.
deepad: black silhouette of woman wearing blue turban against blue background (Default)
2012-12-05 12:19 pm
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What does 40 USD buy for you?

I was re-downloading the trial version of Scrivener today and out of curiosity, clicked on the 'buy' link just to see how much it was. (I've been using Scrivener since it released public beta versions for Windows, and have liked it enough to stick through its initial crash-ridden betas to its free trial versions. The corkboard outliner has probably been the most significant gamechanger in the way I write since typing became easier than hand-writing.)

It costs $40, which is ₹2181 according to current exchange rates. The website actually offers a choice to be able to buy it in INR, and have priced it at ₹2,406.

Which is around half a month's rent for me. On the other hand, $40 was nowhere close to half a month's rent for me even when I was sharing a room in a pretty cheap apartment back in the US. (It was half a month's groceries, though.)

I remember when I first went to the US I would constantly convert all the prices to rupees, and in addition, try to figure out how much bread I could buy with the amount. It was a sort of easy comparison because at the time $1 = ₹45, which was around the price of a fancy whole wheat loaf of bread from a bakery in Delhi. On the other hand the only way I was able to get a similar price of bread in the US was scrounging in the past-expiry date bins at the co-op grocery stores, and even then I think the lowest prices were around $1.50 or $2.

I've been trying to read up on purchasing parity, and economic indices, and ways to compare wealth and lack thereof across different currencies and nations and economies and classes in a way that makes sense to me. So far the only way to make money seem real is to figure out what it can buy. In general, for instance, the same amount of money will get me a higher-end and more up-to-date electronic item in the US than it will in India. On the other hand, the amount of money with which I can buy a bunch of methi in Delhi will get me triple that amount of methi in my grandmom's village, but not even a leaf of methi in the US.

And then there's earning capacity to compare, which makes the whole thing even more hard to figure out, especially since I've never worked per hour in India the way I have in the US. (And being a freelancer means you have to factor in the days you don't work along with what you make in the days you do.) I was paid between $10 to $20 per hour depending on the job I was doing, which means $40 is between 2 to 4 hours work for me. (Remembering that this was between 7 to 2 years ago.) Minimum wage in the US seems to be between $5.15 and $7.25, so that means the software is equated to around 7.7 hours of work. Meanwhile in India we don't even have standard minimum wages, but going with the labour ministry's recommendations, that's a minimum of ₹166 per day. So it would take 25 days of work to be able to earn the amount needed to buy Scrivener. (Hah. This comparison becomes all the more farcical once you start thinking about comparative literacy rates, and also that there is no non-English Scrivener version.)

I know there are lots of sensible economists and whatnots who have probably written about this in many places (and if you have links or book recs I'd love to know), but especially when it comes to the anglophone internet which tends to price instantly deliverable stuff like software and music and ebooks in dollars, I'm very curious about what $40 means to people outside the US.

I know there are writers in the US who found Scrivener desirable but unaffordable, but I also know there are a lot of USian writers who have found it buyable, and not all of them are professional writers to the degree that they are living off of their writing.

I also can't think of a single person I personally know in India who I think would buy this software, though I know several professional writers and students for whom it would be potentially very useful. Some of them definitely have ₹2,400 to spare, and I can see them spending it on a dinner at a fancy restaurant, or jewellery, or some clothes. But paying for software is... not something I see the people around me often do. So I'm not even sure what affordable software really is; what price it starts and ends at. (See also, ebook pricing and my previous discussions thereof.)

What does $40, or ₹2,400 mean to you, where you live, in terms of what you spend on rent, or food, or, I guess, software? How many loaves of bread can you buy with it? (and is bread something found at every corner store, or one of those exotic things you have to locate a bakery for since everyone normally buys atta from the kirana shop and makes phulkas?)
deepad: black silhouette of woman wearing blue turban against blue background (Default)
2012-11-24 11:21 pm
Entry tags:

A new definition of normal

I spent a great deal of yesterday driving. An unexpected drive, with the back seat covered by hastily filled bags, familiar signs of the unplanned unhoming.

The day before that I spent some time in a police station, talking about how a certain person was locked up inside a room by a certain other person, and that I needed assistance in getting them out.

I've spent some part of today, as I did yesterday and the day before, being told that calling in the police wasiswillbe an overreaction.

That's ok. I have manifest faults and failings, but if you are ever locked up, or restrained, or being thrown dishes at, or in any other way facing violence enacted on your physical person--unless you make a really compelling case otherwise--I'm never not going to do my best to stop it. No matter how many bystanders or well-meaning elders or loving mutual relatives tell me I'm wrong, this is what I will do. My dharma, take it or leave it, but you can't change it.

Of course, all these events have precipitated the usual messy introspective sessions about interference and advise, abuse and violence, etc and etc.

The right thing isn't always effective, and there is no one true right thing. In class 9 I went to my home room teacher and made a big fuss because one of the other teachers had slapped one of the other students; that student didn't care to back up my complaint, and nothing was ever done to the teacher. (I found out later that even parents had complained many times over the years and were told it was impossible to fire the teacher.)

And violence and abuse, when intimate, is always complicated... mediated by intersectional identities and previous abuse and hierarchical oppressions.

Those conversations around me these past few days, dismissing, waving away, minimising the throwing of dishes at people, the locking up of people, they have a point. There is a way of looking at those actions that makes them not such a big deal, that makes them not a breaking point, that makes them forgiveable and could be worseable. Physical violence may be my boundary, may be the boundary I advise people to draw when called on to give advice, but I well know its not everyone's boundary, either out of choice or necessity.

And I know I've been coming across as strident, as opinionated, as loud, and pushy in these conversations. It's good that I rarely freeze up in the face of someone else's crisis; but my action in response may not always be appropriate. I may have tried harder than other people in these conversations to educate myself about patterns of abuse, about statistics, about helpful scripts and psychological insights and tools to support and not victim blame and other vocabulary expanding things but that doesn't guarantee I'm of any help when my advice and my opinions run counter to what a person wants to hear.

Sure I can push people to talk about stuff not talked about, but as the person I was driving said, "I don't want strangers on the internet coming up to me and saying 'Your Deepa's [...] and that happened to you?" I've chosen silence so many times for so many things. It's perfectly understandable that someone might wish to say silent rather than endure a lifetime of reactions from people about a bruise that will soon fade, or a scratch that will heal.

Tell no one.
Tell everyone.

I kept bouncing back and forth between those two, these past three days, back and forth, two rubber balls battering at my temples both with the imperative of Doing Something.

And somewhere along the way, I came to a realisation.

This is normal.

That is, normal means statistically average, and much like rape if 1 in 4 or higher should be considered normal, then so is domestic abuse, domestic violence. So of course its understandable that people are normalising it. These things DO happen. They are just the way things are.

They're not ok. Never ever in my world, nor anyone around me's world as long as I can help it, will violence be ok.
Perhaps it will be bearable, because the human spirit's capacity to endure is remarkable.
Perhaps it will be tolerable, because the world contains many kinds of terrors, and people deserve the agency to choose which they will live side by side with.
Perhaps it will be minimal, because imagination or comparison offers worse.
Perhaps people will be ok, because why shouldn't people be, if they can, in spite of what may be done to them.

But violence will never be ok.

And my silence will always be selective.

You'll have it in the specifics, so that you don't have to deal with the shaming, the disapproval, the curiosity, the interference, the contempt, the mockery, the hundred and one pinprick reactions that people may fling at you if I told them.

You'll have it in the moment, when you have not asked for advice or opinion, but just me being quiet and being there.

You'll have it in the abstract, as I do my best not to judge your decisions and choices, and to remain open to your needs and desires.

But I'm never going to be silent about violence in the domestic sphere, because if it is normal and ubiquitous, then by god, it deserves to be as dissected as the weather and ill-health.

I'm never going to stay silent unless you are safe. That's me being normal right here next to you.
deepad: black silhouette of woman wearing blue turban against blue background (Default)
2012-11-14 10:54 pm

Zorana and Tanndell on Kali


The most important reason for why Kali became one of the most popular icons of the Savage Wildernesses that was India was because not only was she violent, female, darkly threatening, irrational and chaotic when blindly viewed without context, but she was also sexual. Kali also happens to be one of the patron goddesses of Tantra, a nuanced progressive sub-culture that examines negotiations between between Curses and Blessings, Violence and Wisdom, Control and Liberation, that Western Scholars happily brought down to its basics: TANTRIC SEX MOTHERFUCKERS! THEY DO IT IN GRAVEYARDS!

--From this post on Kali by [personal profile] zorana and [personal profile] tanndell

(God tumblr, if I don't have an account with you how am I supposed to tell people I have read their post and liked it? Are comments really an outdated concept?)
deepad: black silhouette of woman wearing blue turban against blue background (Default)
2012-11-07 10:11 pm
Entry tags:

It's like that time they kept reminding us they weren't Nazis

Anyone else side-eyeing all the euphoria over that dude who was given a peace prize for commanding drones out to kill kids in Pakistan?

It's like all the people who keep ignoring away the 1984 Sikh massacres by saying "would you rather have Narendra Modi as PM?"

On the other hand I was a little heartwarmed to hear from a friend in Minnesota who voted for the Green party. It's like the time when we kids all accompanied our dad to the polling booth and selected a suitable independent candidate for him to vote for since obviously the Congress and the Janata Dal and the BJP were all despicable and undeserving. I think we narrowed the choice down to a female name and a Muslim name, since it was pre-internet and there was no way to research anyone.

Ah optimism, that long-gone time of non-CNG autos and redline busses.

Does anyone else wish India had a write-in ballot system so we could all scrawl "Subhash Chandra Bose Lives!" across them? (He would only win because the runner up votes were divided between "Chanakya" and "Kautilya", thereby causing history teachers and sub-editors across the nation to headdesk in anguished unison.)
deepad: black silhouette of woman wearing blue turban against blue background (Default)
2012-09-25 10:40 pm
Entry tags:

Meme for the rest of us

Alright, I am in hiding since I have way way way too much work, but I snuck online to download a manual I need for work, and while the pdf was loading, I glanced over the reading list and discovered people talking about their kitchen contents.

Which amused me mightily, because one of the games I always played when I visited people's kitchens in the US was 'what is that thing?!' A peanut butter measuring cup! A knife specifically (and exclusively) for cutting bread! Chocolate-dipping tongs!

So anyway, modification to the meme:

Bold the ones you could never imagine owning, italicize the ones you've never heard of and are not sure you would recognise, strike through the ones you have because you use. Asterix the ones where you own something that you think fills the same purpose without the fancy name (and put the real name in parenthesis).

I wonder how many pasta machines, breadmakers, juicers, blenders, deep fat fryers* (kadhai?), egg boilers, melon ballers, sandwich makers, pastry brushes, cheese knives, electric woks, miniature salad spinners, griddle pans* (tava?), jam funnels, meat thermometers, filleting knives, egg poachers, cake stands, garlic crushers* (khalbatta?), martini glasses, tea strainers* (channi), bamboo steamers, pizza stones, coffee grinders, milk frothers, piping bags, banana stands, fluted pastry wheels, tagine dishes, conical strainers, rice cookers, steam cookers, pressure cookers, slow cookers, spaetzle makers, cookie presses, gravy strainers, double boilers, sukiyaki stoves, ice cream makers, fondue sets, healthy-grills, home smokers, tempura sets, tortilla presses, electric whisks, cherry stoners, sugar thermometers, food processors, bacon presses, mouli mills, cake testers languish dustily at the back of thethat there nation's cupboards.

And now tell me the ones you'd want to play with. Our kitchen is too small and basic for anything to lie around unused, although the taambe ka lota I keep meaning to use for drinking water is a little dusty. But I'll totally point fingers at my relatives' kitchens in whose cupboards idli moulds and modak moulds languish, languish I say! Oh also those things wot you squeeze out chaklis from. Oh, and I remember my parents had a boiled egg slicer from abroad but no one actually likes eating boiled eggs because shelling them is such a bitch, so I suspect that is probably lying around unused in their house somewhere. Have Americans invented a boiled egg sheller yet?
deepad: black silhouette of woman wearing blue turban against blue background (Default)
2012-08-25 07:07 pm
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Sigh. RIP Demonoid

I will always regret I was never able to bring my seed:leech ratio up to decent levels thanks to my broadband being less than ideal. You go along with your noble predecessors: Napster, Kazaa, Limewire, Megaupload, the Astatalk ebook fora...

Because I live under a rock, apparently, I just spent an hour catching up on the piracy and torrenting gossip going around. A few choice quotes from the torrentfreak blog:
Despite general opinion that Demonoid did not contravene Ukranian law, especially since it blocked all Ukranian IP addresses to avoid upsetting the locals, the site still attracted the attention of the authorities there. That, according to a source in the country’s government, is all down to the United States getting involved.
A source inside the Interior Ministry has informed Kommersant that the raid on Demonoid was timed to coincide with the very first trip of Deputy Prime Minister Valery Khoroshkovsky‘s trip to the United States. On the agenda: copyright infringement.
Ukraine had promised the United States that it would improve its attitude and efforts towards enforcing copyright and no doubt its Western partner will be very pleased indeed that Demonoid’s head has been presented on a platter. (Source)

A German law firm will hit a new low next week, even for companies engaged in the file-sharing settlement letter business. The company says that from September 1st it will begin publishing the details of individuals it claims have infringed their clients’ copyrights by sharing hardcore pornography online. To make matters worse, they’re threatening to target churches, police stations and Arabs first. (Source)

BitTorrent is the fastest way to share files with large groups of people over the Internet, and this is one of the reasons that prompted the Internet Archive to start seeding well over a million of their files using the popular file-sharing protocol. (Source)

And finally, this list of 15 things Kim Dotcom would do if he were president of the United States cracked me up, because it's adorable. (He's the Megaupload owner who got an anti-terrorist level raid and arrest a few months ago.) If this were a Simpsons episode, we would all be able to vote him in via write-in ballot sent on the backs of carrier pigeons or something. And then Anonymous would have to take him down because, whoops, the guy also says stuff like "Romney is simply the better bet for a free Internet". And it would be revealed that Maggie was (of course) one of the ringleaders.

So, anyone able to hook me up to the places the cool kids are seeding these days?
deepad: black silhouette of woman wearing blue turban against blue background (Default)
2012-08-21 12:45 am

Eid Mubarak

I was all set to write about the adorable young man in the bus seat in front of me today in a resplendent kurta with gold and silver zardozi and pearl beads as accents, redolant of rose ittar who was clearly on his way to a very happening Eid par-tay. It reminded me of the bus ride I took seven years ago, all decked up, to attend my own first Eid dinner. But then I had some unpleasantness on the way back home at night while waiting for the bus that has left me feeling rather... unsettled.

So instead I shall observe cynically that every single fellow Hindu person I wished Eid Mubarak to today looked at me in surprise before responding back. It's a national holiday. You can't even do online fund transfers from one bank to another. Even greetings for Pongal or Chat Pooja or Gudi Padvah aren't greeted with this sense of uneasy unfamiliarity.

Also, I happened to be in a room with a TV a few days ago and saw that Ek Tha Tiger was advertising itself in its promo with the "This Eid, watch Salman Khan blah blah". I hadn't realised Bollywood had picked up that custom from the West (There may come a day when a Sooraj Barjaatiya film is marketed with 'This Karvachauth, watch..') but it's pretty disgusting to see the industry notice Muslims only when they need to make some money, and throw them a bone in the form of a Muslim actor who has only been allowed to play a Muslim character thrice in the span of a 20 year career. (Sanam Bewafa is about tragically feuding Pathans, Tum Na Bhool Paayenge ends with him leaving his life as Ali to become Veer Singh Thakur, and Saawariya is a guest appearance.) And according to Sahil Rizwan's erudite review I conclude that Ek Tha Tiger features a Hindu spy saving the country from the Pakistani lady spy, who, of course, falls in love with him. I leave it as an exercise to the reader to name a Bollywood film where a Muslim man successfully romanced and lived happily ever after with a Hindu woman.

Anyway, since thinking about Salman Khan in particular or Bollywood representing Muslims in general is distressing, here's a naat instead. Madiney Mein by the mellifluous Ali Hamza from the wonderous band Noori.

Eid Mubarakan.
deepad: black silhouette of woman wearing blue turban against blue background (Default)
2012-07-19 03:50 pm
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Pay to hear me be 'a bully'

I've been feeling mega guilty for not offering anything up for auction in aid of [personal profile] ephemere who is an internet friend whose words and art I deeply admire, and has been dealing with some extremely stressful and frightening situations these past few months.
[community profile] help_for_ephemere is "a fundraiser to benefit [personal profile] ephemere, with the aim of supporting her in the wake of her losing her job, home, and good relations with her family due to homophobia. The idea of this fundraiser was conceived by friends of [personal profile] ephemere, and is being run with her permission. Funds will go to rent, utilities, food, and medical bills."
The auction closes Saturday, July 21 at 21:00 GMT

I was going to get over my guilt and just post this tardy signal-boost, but then I came across this recent contretemps involving some authors setting up a website to out and harass reviewers of their books, whom they claim are bullies for the clearly despicable act of publicly posting negative opinions of their precious textual babies.

Now, I love negative reviews, the snarkier the better, and even if I do come across a nasty review of a book I love which makes me think mean, supercilious thoughts of the reviewer's intellect or lack thereof, the arduous tedium of clicking away is completely offset by the delight in finding posts where someone has taken the time and effort to viciously and ruthlessly rip apart a book that thus far I had despairingly believed to be loathed only by me.

I don't do book reviews normally because of previously mentioned incompetence, and I've learned something about the perils of writing negatively about the words of living authors that has left me wary about stepping into similar imbroglios again.

But, in support of negative reviewers everywhere, and for a good cause - please sponsor a post where I will wax at length about a book (or movie) that I really, really, really did not like. I'm open to the possibility of writing about something the winner wants me to review, but though I can't promise it, I do know that [personal profile] ephemere will, at least, be entertained by whatever I write about, so bidding for me will be doing a doubly good deed.

Bid for me here!

I conclude with recs of three negative reviews by bloggers that brought me joy and delight:
Supriya Nair on the book 'The Watch':
Roy-Bhattacharya’s most significant choice in reconstructing the old play is to liquidate the duel of protagonist and antagonist, abstracting the conflict so that Creon, the enforcer of law, comes to stand for an unseen “system” which has put all these individuals in an uncomfortable position. Greek fatalism may work well for The Wire, but in a story about a war with ideological roots in American ideals of individualism and freedom, this is a little too slack.
There will, of course, be those readers who think the worst thing about the US occupation is the toll it takes on troops, and revel in the intimacy of Roy-Bhattacharya’s depiction of how war warps soldiers (and, by extension, societies). Others can only be amazed that, in a war where, reportedly, the president of the US himself shepherds a “kill list” of those terror suspects he wants eliminated on a particular day, American art and literature can continue to focus, with such determination, on the hard lot of the aggressors.

[ profile] anonandon on photographer Vikram Kushwah:
Coming back to Kushwah. So, India — the country in which he has lived, presumably, for the better part of his existence — doesn’t appear in his work at all, but there’s “so much” to “soak up” in London, his new home. And the English countryside takes him back to the books he read in school. However, the Himalayas he had around him during his boarding school years haven’t impacted his imagination. The culture he was born into hasn’t influenced his work. Instead, he tries to establish connections between himself and that decidedly English, Pre-Raphaelite painter, John Everett Millais.
This kind of valiant attempt at blanching one’s brown-ness annoys the bejesus out of me. It’s not just the fact that he says India hasn’t influenced his work, but also that he seems to take pride in this. He feels none of the doubt that Don Lee articulates or even a smidgeon of hesitation. Why? Because he’s essentially more of an Englishman, with the pastoral landscapes he imagined as a schoolboy and the affinity that he feels for London. Not a dude from Delhi. Of course not.

And, Sahil Rizvan on the movie 'Cocktail':

Rock on, you bullying so-and-sos paagal chamkeele heeras.
deepad: black silhouette of woman wearing blue turban against blue background (Default)
2012-07-09 06:44 pm
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Words you'd want to be mainstream

I just had an editor question me on using the word 'metatextual' in a piece I wrote. Previously, another editor struck out 'heteronormative'. Both editors are friends, and I trust them to know their jobs and their audiences, so I understand why they made the choices they did. But in the fantasy world of ideal audiences, I really want those words to be as commonplace as 'capitalism'.

Other words I'd like to see showing up in the leisure sections of newspapers:
'rape culture'
and, because Indian English Zindabad - 'prepone'.

What about you? What words do you want to drag out of the niche blogosphere or peer-reviewed journals into the op-ed and, dare I hope, hard reportage pages?
deepad: black silhouette of woman wearing blue turban against blue background (Default)
2012-07-06 03:30 pm
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This is a brief interruption of my regularly scheduled silence to point out that my girl Kuzhali (in the sense that one says, my man Teju or my bro Jay Smooth; meaning Someone On The Internet you regard with much admiration and affection and are not actually chuddi-buddys with) who blogs at [ profile] thirdworldghettovampire, is writing stories for reader prompts over at Mint.
Every month, Kuzhali Manickavel’s column will feature an original short story inspired by prompts submitted by readers. To submit a prompt (a word, phrase, quote or brief idea), mail Kuzhali at or tweet it using the hashtag #kuzhalistories.

I will also take this opportunity to point out to the phirangs amongst you that her collection of short stories is available as an ebook! (Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Lulu) So everyone who pouted at me about my inability to review and rec books and all can consider this an unqualified rec.

Ok wait, by unqualified I don't mean her stories are perfect. What I mean is that there are so many moments in her stories that I love, that all the bits I don't get (and the parts where I want to shake the story and say 'where is the rest of it') don't matter. Her writing is completely off-the-wall weird and strange and like a chipkali which is actually not so bizarre despite being neon coloured because it catches flies and so is actually quite gharelu and ordinary. And her blogging persona is the sort I would draw hearts around except for how UnIndian and Not Done that is so instead one must demonstrate affection by forcefeeding her laddus or something.

::contemplates what kind of prompt I can get away with sending her::
deepad: black silhouette of woman wearing blue turban against blue background (Default)
2012-06-22 01:55 pm
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::facepalm:: in all directions

Dear OTW,

I am as apt as you are to assume the default (online, LJ/DW-based) fan to be female, but over in your latest link round up post you've wrongly pegged Rrishi Raote as 'she'. Was it the 'name ending with an i' that made you assume? Because in spite of Gargi and Maitraiyee, I have never heard of a female proper noun Rishi.

Might I suggest, when ya'll don't have time to check, to go with a gender-neutral 'they'?

Yours etc.

Dear Rrishi,
Considering you were the one who linked me to Draco Dormiens way back in the dark ages before it got kicked off for plagiarism, I find it especially ironic that I am now saying this to you:
'the turbid ocean of fanfiction'?! Seriously. Seriously? Have a care, man, your superciliousness is showing.

But I guess you didn't want to claim any resemblance to us bizarre aberrational fangirls, huh?

Yours. etc.