Archive for the ‘In the News’ Category

‘course it is. them’s real tears glenn beck is streamin’, don’t ya know? he’s crying over the state of this foresaken country, you shameless liberals! and all you cynical skeptic jerks out there…tsk tsk tsk. lemme get me my rifle…nah, hold up, lemme watch sarah on the box first, i need me a sweet dream tonight!

News like this makes me glad I don’t own a TV, so I don’t even flit by Fox even on accident. This line sure did make me laugh out loud!

Palin said in a statement that she is “thrilled” to be joining Fox, adding, “It’s wonderful to be part of a place that so values fair and balanced news.”


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With a new semester already wearing me down (in two days!), I think blogging will be a rare luxury. I’d love to write more about this initiative and this ad, but I think all I’ll be able to do is post it!

Definitely made me smile!

Off to a patient interview…eek!

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I loved the Oscars. I love the new structure…with previous winners congratulating each nominee and announcing the winner. I think that’s such a nice touch and it clearly means a lot to everyone nominated. I’m a devout Oscar-watcher but it was getting really tiring last year so it was good to mix it up. Hugh Jackman was great, but I’d have liked more funny bits. Some things I didn’t love this year was the shorter original songs (and wtf with the mix with John Legend and Rahman?) and also the absence of clips. Overall, this was the first year where I really agreed with almost all the wins. I though Lance Black’s speech was beautiful and the highlight, next to Sean Penn’s. Loved Rahman’s grace and eloquence, and everyone knows that Pookutty’s speech was great too. I jumped up and down when Rahman won! For me, SM is far from his best work, but just to see him recognized on an international stage and something that clearly means a lot to him was great. I was glad that the whole team came up on stage for the Best Picture win: the kids looked adorable! Overall, it was definitely India night and I felt proud. I don’t care what people will say about SM: you can have all kinds of arguments against it, but you can’t deny that this movie has made waves unparalleled to anything else on an international scale. Its very impressive, and you must laud them for at least the swear, toil and dedication it took to make this movie.

And as for “its a foreign movie, so why is India celebrating so much?” and all the arguments being made by certain bitchy, envious populations : that’s the stupidest thing I’ve ever heard. Firstly, isn’t the fact that one of the best music directors in India and the world is being recognized very important and worth celebrating? Or the deserving Pookutty? Or the lyricist Gulzar? You know why people are whining? Because the people who’ve dominated the industry are not associated with it. Big B is completely comfortable in roles centering around the underworld (because, of course, that isn’t the underbelly at all is it? Underworld must be a misnomer!), but suddenly a movie comes out which has Anil Kapoor reprising him on Kaun Banega Crorepati and its creating international waves and he’s not associated with it? Well, something has to be freaking wrong with it! Mukesh Bhatt isn’t giving the music for a movie that has the spirit of Bollywood? Oh no! It can’t be good! We can’t celebrate an Oscar for that now can we?! Disgusting. Secondly, dude, this country for once is celebrating instead of rioting against a movie which involves a Muslim boy falling in love and eventually getting a Hindu girl. That alone is a whole new cause for celebration. Even if its a shallow reason, people aren’t burning down theatres and screaming murder, and to me that’s a miracle. And, lastly, um, why bitch at a celebration at all? In times like the ones we live in, does it matter why you’re happy as long as you’re happy? Just quit whining already.

I thought it might be fun to make a post highlighting my favorite Rahman songs through the 16 years that I have followed him loyally. I haven’t had time yet but hopefully this weekend I’ll be able to sift through my giant Rahman library and make some difficult choices 🙂

On a completely different note, here’s a great reason to love a whole different celebrity who is thankfully the true King of Bollywood and who supported SM (or at least didn’t go around criticizing anything about it, and presented at Golden Globes), and who despite having a lot and being proud of it (some say arrogant, I say self-assured) never forgets who he owes it all to. The great Shah Rukh Khan. The reason I’m driven to post this video: this man just flew in into Mumbai Int’l Airport to the usual crowds. He’s due for major surgery in a few hours and hasn’t seen his family yet. He’s probably in great pain from his numerous problems and especially the shoulder injury he’s getting surgery for. Lest you forget, he is the biggest star in the country with a devoted (understatement), humongous (understatement) fan following. And the dude stands their answering dumb questions from reporters, genially and with good humor and patience, for a several minutes till he finally gently says he should get going for his surgery. And he asks for blessings and prayers and thanks them all, and even says that he takes his bodily breakdown as a payment for all the love he recieves for his work. I mean, how awesome is that. Few celebrities bother to stand for the paparazzi even for a few pictures, and he makes an effort to actually NOT be rude and give them time, and give eloquent answers. I remember him saying once that he doesn’t mind the media because they’re doing their job just like he does his, and the media makes him or breaks him, just like his fans. Clearly, he meant that.


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With the majority of Indian men.

Jugni, by Rabbi Shergill (aka the only Indian male voice that I can bear right now)

This is an angry rant. A very, very angry rant. I’ve been nursing a headache all evening and sleeping, occasionally waking up and trying to understand what’s really bothering me to persistently cause my brain to hurt like this. Today was not an overtly tiring or busy day. I had a presentation in Tsim Sha Tsui, checked out progress on a suit I’m getting tailored, ran some errands and came home just as my head started to ache. But somewhere in the night I realized the same thoughts are running through my head and the same images, and the culmination of all of it has been so overwhelming that I’ve had to wake up to write this post and get it all out.

I realized that I’m pissed off because something that I never thought really got to me that much has finally gotten to me, and justifiably so. I am sick and tired of being leered at. I am sick of being stared at by every freaking South Asian man as I make my way through Tsim Sha Tsui. I’m sick of lecherous, creepy looks and of stares that make me afraid. I’m sick of ‘hello madams’ and ‘can i have your number’ and smiles that make my skin crawl, smiles from men who are clearly thinking at that very moment that they are the hottest stuff to grace the earth and this woman should be grateful they’re flashing this horrible smile at her.

I’m sick, disgusted and exhausted with it.

Let me make something clear for all the arguments that not-rape is all about (though I shouldn’t have to). For all those idiots who think that its about the way a woman dresses, let me tell you that I am a very conservative dresser by any standard. On most days I walk around the city in business clothes, full sleeve shirts and business cut pants and skirts. I don’t usually wear make up. I don’t walk around suggestively or smile at random strangers. Almost every time I’m in TST I’m running from a meeting or to a meeting, and I always have my headphones on to block the world around me. I’m not a gorgeous woman. By most standards, I’m quite plain in my looks, and my figure is very Indian in its curves.

None of that matters. South Asian men will spot me from a mile and give me a look, a wink, a smile, try to talk to me as I pass by. I may as well have transported myself to any town in Punjab, UP, or Bihar, or some village in south India.

And that bothers me even more. What do I worry about the most when I go back to my motherland? These men. These stares. The leering. The eve teasing and the smart ass comments as you simply walk down the streets. A big part of what made my trip back home uncomfortable last April (and in December) was this same thing. My brother would walk with me, fuming and bursting with anger at all these men, ready to kick the balls of each of these idiots, muttering in anger, until I made him stop telling me. Stop talking to me about it. Stop telling me how low this is, because I know. I could feel the eyes, I could feel the thoughts behind them, and it left me feeling abused. It left me feeling dirty and troubled and unhappy in my own birthland.

And the same thing happens here, when that same class of people get lifted and trans located, and the same mindset and thinking prevails. Its okay to stare at women like this, as long as they’re not your mother or sister. Its okay to behave this way. Who gives a damn what they’re feeling like? Its a consequence of a sexually repressed culture, and of much more that’s wrong with the country and the culture today, that I just can’t begin to explain and understand.

I am so amazed at the women who live like this day in and day out. What I value most about my life in the States is my relatively higher level of comfort in this aspect. Sure, these men exist there too, but as long as you steer clear of certain areas, you could walk out in a bikini and not be assaulted by a million eyes. And yes, the same problems exist there, but I don’t associate it with my culture directly. I don’t go to Little India in Houston or the Indian areas anywhere in the States and expect to be leered at or stared at or whistled at. For some reason, it just doesn’t happen. Is it the fear of repurcussion that’s greater? Is it the fact that in general the culture isn’t so sexually repressed? I don’t know. But I feel safe in the States. And I can’t imagine how women deal with this on a daily basis throughout the year and their entire lives.

They do, and then shit like this happens. The Mangalore pub incident is a perfect example of the hypocrisy of the country. Men are free to do whatever they like and behave in any rotten manner, but women must follow this ridiculous moral policing. Jug Suraiya discusses it in his column:

“Both radical Islamists and what might be called radical Hinduists, share one thing in common: their deep-rooted fear and antipathy to anything that smacks of the empowerment of women. Women going to schools, women getting jobs and becoming economically independent, women joining politics and become politically independent, women going to pubs and showing that they are – or at least, want to be – socially independent.”

It makes me so angry. My blood boils when I think of the different moral codes a**holes have set up in India for the genders, and how these incidents show a very low, absolutely illiterate, disgusting side of India to the world. Quit complaining and whining about Slumdog and whatever underbelly it shows the world. How about we first see just a simple day when a woman can walk in the street in six yards of cloth and not be raped in the mind of almost every man she passes? Men can treat women as objects of lust wherever whenever, but as soon as a woman steps into a bar she’s verbally and physically abused? Or the policing gets far enough to control who she talks to?

What kind of messed up, deranged world is this?

Every Indian woman I am friends with has stories to tell. We have stories to tell of childhoods marred by incidents of eve-teasing, molesting, behaviors that would make any father’s and brother’s blood boil. We have stories to tell of teenage years whose innocence was destroyed by men who made sleazy comments, committed lewd acts, who stalked and whistled and winked and leered at every corner. They vary in their extremity, but we all have a story to tell of how we were routinely made to feel low and dirty in our own country, by our own countrymen.

I know that in my anger I am generalizing and stereotyping all men. I wish I could be more rational about it, but unless you’ve been in the sandals of an Indian women, you could never understand. You can’t understand how it feels. After finishing a meal with a group of American friends I left a restaurant and as I was leaving a middle aged South Indian man gave me a lecherous stare I will never forget. I quickly averted my eyes and started talking frantically with a friend ahead of me. She’d noticed, however. She asked me if I had and when I nodded with frustration she said “you should have stared back at him girl! Shown him how it feels!”

Would that have helped? I don’t think so. I think in the sick, deranged mind of this man, my bold stare would have just added to his feelings of self confidence. It would have fed his ego so he could continue to taunt other girls in this way. Whenever I’m walking anywhere in TST with any of my friends, I suffer the same embarassment. I don’t have to look to see the stares, I feel them, and I also know of them by the sympathetic glances my American friends give me. By their occasional “wow, that creep was really staring at you! eww,” or their quick realization that I want to get away from this place as soon as possible. The other night a friend and I were returning from a meeting in Wan Chai and stopped for the light to change. A group of Indian men stood outside one of the bars negotiating prostitutes for the night (I kid you not). We stood about five feet away and as we discussed with each other how uncomfortable the situationalready was, it became ten times worse as, and I could have predicted it, the men glanced over at me with a defiant look. The light changed and we rushed across.

Just as I would never travel or live alone in India, or let any girlfriend of mine do it, I don’t walk alone in TST. I avoid walking in any Indian-concentrated areas in HK alone at any time. And I think about how sad that is, that I should have to avoid my culture and my people like this. A walk into the Chungking Mansion to get groceries is troublesome. Not just for me, but for any young South Asian girl. She could be wearing a burkha and they would still be leering and trying to catch a glance of her face. I have walked past masjids with its crowds of Muslim men (who should stare at no woman in this manner) and have noticed no difference in the behavior (which reminds me of a joke by a female Muslim stand up: “In Mecca I felt someone grab my ass and told myself: I’m in Mecca, surrounded by my Muslim brothers. It must be God.”) I have been in mandirs and had the same experiences.

And some days it just gets me. Days like today, it overwhelms me and it swims through my brain, the images and the sounds and the words. On days like these, all the stories come back to me and flood my brain, and I’m thinking back to my mother, to my aunts, to my cousin sisters, to my girlfriends. I’m thinking about my daughters. I’m thinking about my future and about how the men who repel me the most in the world are men from my culture. I worry about this anger and this hatred within me, and I feel helpless. What can I do? Seriously, someone please tell me. How do you deal with this? The Indian men who pass by here who DON’T think I’m an irrational, exaggerating bitch who’s just dissing all Indian men, and who actually UNDERSTAND and KNOW (I know there are some out there, because I have family and friends I love and trust, but who I just don’t place in the same world that these men must come from), what should a woman do? How should she deal with this? How should she protect herself, what should she tell herself to handle this?

Because I’ve done the most obvious: just avoided it. I’ve also just tried to banish these incidents from memory (doesn’t work). I’ve tried walking with blinders on, in a sense, looking down or straight ahead, my music loud and my eyes refusing to flit around, but I tell you that is not easy. And you still can’t avoid it. I’ve tried the stern, cold, bitchy stare. I’ve tried the shocked, disgusted look. But how do I help myself? Do I block these memories with effort and continue to do that at a regular basis? Even if I do that, what about my fear and my repelsion of my own countrymen?

Something is very wrong with my culture and my country. When a woman can be respected as a Goddess in one breath and brought down to the level of a slut with a look that matches that same breath, then there is something very wrong with the very moral fiber of this country. When a woman gets unwarranted attention and fears for her safety and her well-being just taking a normal walk in a busy place in broad daylight, then there’s something that needs deep change. Indians have lost perspective somewhere. How can Bajrang Dal and Hindu fundamentalists or Muslim fundamentalists focus on policing the women when men can’t take two steps without being aroused by every woman that walks by? How can the males not need any moral policing? Azar Nafisi discusses in Reading Lolita in Tehran how the Taliban’s rules worked: the nape of the woman’s neck and even her wrist is arousing to men. Ergo, a woman must cover these up. If she doesn’t, if it peeks out and comes to the attention of any man (who, poor thing, is aroused), then SHE must be punished. Its HER fault he was aroused. A man behaves in a disgusting, degraded manner, and the woman is to blame. What freaking justice is that? The same that requires women to sit behind men in certain temples (and follow after men in all the rituals), because if women sat ahead, they would ‘distract’ the men from prayer.

How can ANYONE find these arguments sane? How can anyone support them? I can’t fathom this kind of reasoning and I don’t understand what my sisterhood can do when this kind of fantastical rubbish becomes reality!

When you really begin thinking about it with all this in perspective, the women of the Amazon tribe really were onto something. I hope they really did exist, and to be honest, I can completely understand why they would.

(This rant makes me feel better, but thinking about another unavoidable afternoon in TST tomorrow doesn’t.)

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Finally, Inauguration Day is here! I’m watching it right now and its so beautiful I might cry. Change has come! His speech is so great, so simple but profound, not philosophical mumbo jumbo but straight, powerful words that he pronounces so well and speaks so strongly. He makes such a tremendous impact. I love his jab on Bush “We will lead once more!” :))

Other favorite parts…

“We are a nation of Christians and Muslims, Jews and HINDUS! And NON-BELIEVERS!”

He mentions Hindus! He mentions non-believers! Yes, yes, yes! That means so much to me, I can’t explain it.

“We will extend a hand if you are willing to unclench your fist”

“A man whose father 60 years ago could not stand in a restaurant, can stand before you to take a most sacred oath”

So many more! I still have to take it all in and calm my heart. Here’s to hope! Here’s to change! Congratulations to citizens of America! Congratulations to all Obama supporters world wide!

EDIT: Last I checked this is my space, and no one is dragged here to read and comment against your will, right? While I am glad to hear any comment contrary to mine for the sake of debate, I won’t tolerate it if its rude and idiotic and baseless. You don’t have to agree with what I support or write, and if you make an intellectual argument I’ll respect that. But this is not for anyone to spout groundless and nonsensical rubbish dripping with the type of sarcasm used by the hopeless. That is not an argument, its petulant complaining by narrow minded fools who are throwing temper tantrums because they didn’t get their way. And this is not a platform where you can throw that kind of anger around. I will feel no obligation to keep those comments.

To the revellers: Happy Inauguration Day! Happy new President! The full text of his speech is now available on CNN…

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For What Its Worth, Buffalo Springfield, from the OST of Lord of War

There’s battle lines being drawn/Nobody’s right if everybody’s wrong

A brother of mine just sent me two speeches by Dr. Nurit Peled-Elhanan, who is a peace activist and professor at Hebrew University. I did some more searching and found some essays that speak more strongly about a subject I recently talked about myself: what about the children? I know this is a controversial subject, but what should not be a controversy is the belief that a child cannot be killed for the sins of a nation. The murder of a child is cruel and unjustified and terrible, regardless of the reason behind it. It can never be right.

Perhaps people are shocked by Dr. Elhanan, perhaps they listen more because of her background, perhaps they are incensed, perhaps they open their minds to the idea of peace…I’m not sure. I for one am filled with deep respect and admiration for this woman, I am grateful that voices like these exist and speak out. Dr. Elhanan lost her daughter in a suicide bombing incident in Israel (she is Israeli) and she speaks for peace. She speaks for Israel-Palestinian peace, for the children of both sides, for her sisters and brothers in both Israel and Palestinian. She minces no words and she makes no apologies: she is strong, courageous and clear, and she is right. She knows the pain, the anger, the shock and loss of what Israelis feel, and she also knows that that is how each Palestinian feels: it is no different, and the solution does NOT lie in war.

Let Our Children Live

When they become soldiers, they see nothing wrong in killing Palestinian children “before they grow.” But Basam and Salwa and all of us–Jewish and Arab victims of the Israeli occupation – want to live together rather than die together. We see our children sacrificed on the altar of an occupation that has no basis in law or justice. And, outside, the enlightened world justifies it all and sends more money to the occupiers.

If the world does not come to its senses, there will be nothing more to say or write or listen to in this land except for the silent cry of mourning and the muted voices of dead children.

A Speech to Women in Black

But I, who lost my only daughter, know that the death of any child means the death of the whole world.  “Satan has not yet devised a Vengeance for the death of a young child” said the Jewish poet Bialik, and that is not because Satan has no means to do so, but because after the death of a child there is no more death for there is no more life.  The child takes the war and the future of the war into his little grave to rest with his little bones.

Today, when there is almost no opposition to the atrocities of the Israeli government, when the Israeli peace camp has evaporated into thin air, a cry must rise, a cry that is as ancient as man and woman, a cry that is beyond all differences of race or religion or language, The cry of motherhood: Save our children.

2005 International Women’s Day Address to European Parliament

We are all the victims of mental, psychological and cultural violence that turn us into one homogenic group of bereaved or potentially bereaved mothers. Western mothers who are taught to believe their uterus is a national asset just like they are taught to believe that the Muslim uterus is an international threat. They are educated not to cry out: `I gave him birth, I breastfed him, he is mine, and I will not let him be the one whose life is cheaper than oil, whose future is of less worth than a piece of land.`

All of us are terrorized by mind-infecting education to believe all we can do is either pray for our sons to come back home or be proud of their dead bodies.

Living in the world I live in, in the state I live in, in the regime I live in, I don’t dare to offer Muslim women any ideas how to change their lives. I don’t want them to take off their scarves, or educate their children differently, and I will not urge them to constitute democracies in the image of Western democracies that despise them and their kind. I just want to ask them humbly to be my sisters, to express my admiration for their perseverance and for their courage to carry on, to have children and to maintain a dignified family life in spite of the impossible conditions my world in putting them in. I want to tell them we are all bonded by the same pain, we all the victims of the same sort of violence even though they suffer much more, for they are the ones who are mistreated by my government and its army, sponsored by my taxes.

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A fellow blogger (News You Can’t Use, which ironically always has news I can use) made a great post that caught my attention and led me to this hard hitting article on the “Not Rape Epidemic” All women must read it. All men must read it. Everyone must read it. As Deepak states so well,  “it has transformed into a social menace,” a global social menace, and the only way to make the world safer for mothers, daughters, sisters, wives, friends…is to wake up and pay attention. Latoya Peterson writes excellently and makes some very clear, startling points, and also provides some very solid advice on what one can do to fight this war we are all fighting.

This is how the Not Rape epidemic spreads – through fear and silence, which become complicit in perpetuating the behaviors described here. Women of all backgrounds are affected by these kinds of acts, regardless of race, ethnicity, or social class. So many of us carry the scars of the past with us into our daily lives. Most of us have pushed these stories to the back of our minds, trying to have some semblance of a normal life that includes romantic and sexual relationships. However, waiting just behind the tongue is story after story of the horrors other women experience and hide deep within the self behind a protective wall of silence.

In this next quote Latoya talks about something that is possibly one of the most frustrating and painful aspects of the process: the second rape of a victim. Women do this to women, men do this to women, the legal system, the social system, we’re all criminals when we become accepting of the rape culture and start blaming the victim. That WILL NEVER BE OKAY. Regardless of what she wore, who she was, where she came from, what she did: NO MAN HAS A RIGHT TO VIOLATE A WOMAN. I would say vice versa, but these factors seem to come in more when the victim is a woman than a man. This culture is enabling sexual violence against women everywhere, and it is sickening. Just as you cannot blame the Jews for the Holocaust, you cannot blame a woman for violence done unto her!!

What happened in the courtroom is a byproduct of rape culture – when what happens to women in marginalized, when beyond a shadow of a doubt still isn’t enough, when your past, manner of dress, grade point average or intoxication level are used to excuse the despicable acts of sexual violence inflicted upon you by another.

Thank you to Deepak for bringing this article to my attention.

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