Tuesday, March 28, 2006

Ouch, so insensitive!

Confidential to the Cancer Control Cell, Directorate of Health Services of the Delhi Government:

Concerning the ad run in the Indian Express Delhi edition, page 5, March 28, 2006, which reads, "Do you know...Promiscuity leading to human papilloma virus infection is the major cause of uterine (cervix) cancer in women" -- could you be LESS politically correct?

I mean, have you ever considered that you are creating a causal link between promiscuity and cancer, which is absolutely inexcusable? Has it ever crossed your collective minds that perhaps these women are married to men who are promiscuous and were infected with a SEXUALLY TRANSITTED DISEASE by the man with whom they are exclusively having sex?

Gah! Send it back to the editor! Or someone with eyeballs and a heart!

Sunday, March 26, 2006

I wuv my fake hubby!

Reason #7,852 that I love S:

Saturday night chhole and jeera rice. So delicious I had to take a picture of it, on my sad little melamine plate.

Garbanzo beans/chickpeas/chana are awesomely tasty times a million.

The global economy

Hindu gods Goruda, Kali, Brahma.

Inspired by India.

Made in China.

Purchased in Portland, Oregon, U.S.A.

I heart you, globalization.

Outsourcing Big Pharma

Interested article in Wired, "A Nation of Guinea Pigs." Though the title strikes me as a bit...insensitive?...it contains a lot of interesting information.

While Jennifer Kahn, the author, does focus on a growing trend in the medical community -- the use of India as a base for later-phase clinical trials that require large numbers of participants -- she also alludes to a number of other issues. Namely, she takes on bribery/corruption, colonialism (or neocolonialism? God only knows), the ethics of testing in developing nations, politics, and the gray area for some doctors caught between increasingly professional duties to serve and bottom-line incentives.

Definitely worth a read.

(Via Arts & Letters Daily, one of my fave sites)

ConGRADulations (har har)!

A hearty congratulations to everyone passing through the Manorama School of Communications!

Hope that MASCOM day was a success, and enjoy your convocation. If any of you set up in Delhi, get in touch -- I'm just a phone call away!

Your class was a true delight and I hope you've learned about not only the craft of journalism but also about yourselves, your special capabilities. All the best as you begin your careers!

Saturday, March 25, 2006

Things I'm loving...

Shantaram, Gregory David Roberts -- Guilty pleasure; not great literature, and reminds me of The Da Vinci Code, perhaps, for its fast-paced, page-turning pull, but absorbing nonetheless.

Atul Dodiya, "The Wet Sleeves of My Paper Robe (Sabari in Her Youth: After Nandalal Bose), on at Bodhi Gallery in the Qutab industrial area -- A nice little gallery, and an interesting exhibit that retells the story of Sabari, a marginal figure in the Ramayana.

Web site
Youtube.com -- Oh man, did you know that in addition to stupid emo college movies, you can watch entire reality TV shows on this site? Hell yes.

Australia's Next Top Model -- If you like ANTM, you'll love this slightly more professional joint from down under. The girls are the right height, weight, and age, which makes it less of a joke. And, even cooler, there was nekkidness on the first episode -- as well as a drunken eyebrow shaving. Wee! Catch it on Youtube if you, like I, am in a country that does not carry the series.

The Export Hut, near the Blind School in Lajpat Nagar IV, New Delhi. Today I got three beaded eyeglass cases (Rs 10 each), a summery messenger bag (Rs 75), and a bright yellow T-shirt emblazoned with country names (Rs 125).

Crazy nutso

Different drug often works in depression, study finds (NYT)

I don't often post about my psychological problems on this blog (I know, a great departure from many!) but I thought this was an important story that underlined the importance of persisting with treatment, even when it seems ineffective.

"In one paper appearing today, the authors report that 21 percent of 727 people who switched from Celexa to another antidepressant, like Zoloft, Effexor, or Wellbutrin, improved. In the other paper, the authors report that 30 percent of 565 people who supplemented their Celexa with Wellbutrin or BuSpar, an antianxiety drug, recovered.

'One of the big questions in the past was whether you should give up or continue if the first antidepressant treatment fails,' said Dr. Madhukumar H. Trivedi, a professor of psychiatry at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center in Dallas and the lead author of one of the papers. 'The message from this is that if the first try doesn't lead to the optimal outcome, you go to the next step.'"

Granted, there are caveats -- the most important being no one really knows precisely how these drugs work, just that in some cases, they do seem to help. But I want to emphasize that...you know, no matter how bad it gets, there is a chance, even if it's only 30 percent. Hell, even if there is only a 10 percent chance of "recovery" (however the medical community chooses to define it), there's an opportunity.

As someone who has been in and out of treatment for 12 years, and as someone who has tried five or six different drug regimens with varying success, it's worth it. It has to be worth it. I'm not really sure why I'm posting this, why I've chosen this moment to renew my interest in mental health, but nonetheless. It's never too late, and there aren't enough steps that can be taken to ensure you're in a good state of mind.

Tuesday, March 21, 2006

Enough of the red tape!

After two visits to the Foreigner's Regional Registration Office in Delhi, I'm proud to say that it will take only one more visit (within the next month) for me to be a completely legal worker.

I have to return with two form letters from MNC, detailing how, if I am a complete diplomatic asshole, they will repatriate me at their cost, etc. Never mind that I've already submitted papers to this effect to procure the visa...I guess information sharing isn't one of the Indian government's "core competencies."

The FRRO is less depressing than the Home Ministry, which is a small blessing, but it is still unorganized. How can you take a government department seriously when their e-mail contact is a Hotmail address?

One arrives at the FRRO chipper, determined not to be bogged down by the hours in line. Before talking to an officer, you encounter the reception/inquiries desk, which is generally mobbed by about 30 people, none of whom are in a proper queue. A few of the more haggard types roll their eyes, clear their throats, and, when piercing glares don't work, urge the line-bargers to back the fuck up. Still, it's a dog-eat-dog world, and the pushiest person generally gets catered to first.

At the enquiry desk, you are assigned a counter to report to, and a number for that counter. However, the staffers are ill-informed about what is actually required at the counters, which often harshes the buzz of the many karma bums. For example, at the enquiry desk, they verified that I had a registration form, a passport-like registration jacket, four pictures of myself, an appointment letter from MNC, my flat's lease, and copies of my passport and visa (which I, like a moron, didn't have, necessitating some running around and bluffing and general mayhem). But they failed to tell me that I also needed affidavits from MNC. After some general eye batting and unspoken pleading (puppy dog eyes, my friends, sad sad puppy dog eyes), the woman at counter three gave me a month's time to return to the office, return to the queues, with the appropriate papers; however, she still gave me a registration number, etc. And thank god.

Some pointers for the bureaucrats:
  • Enforce proper line etiquette
  • Provide brochures (or publish on your Web site) that clearly list exactly what documents are required to register, by visa type/length of stay
  • Produce a legible, multi-language sign with the same information to hang in the FRRO so many of the mundane questions that occupy staffers' time are answered without face-to-face interaction
  • Make the registration form available for downloading on a central, easily accessible Web site; keep copies at several stations in the FRRO, rather than available from only the person at the enquiry desk
  • Use a ticket machine so people with the proper documents don't have to wait in an enquiry line
What strikes me most is the managed chaos -- which can be so easily reduced -- that prevails in so many government offices. It seems steps have been taken thus far, but to be a true world player, there are miles (kilometers?) to go.

Disclaimer -- after some additional Googling, I have found a link with much of the information I requested. However, this site is not publicized, and too much navigation is required to access appropriate details. My argument stands.

Sunday, March 19, 2006

Lazy Sunday

Is there anything better, on a warm Sunday afternoon, than listening to music, drinking cold coffee, and waxing off all your body hair?

Okay, not all of it. But it is particularly satisfying to remove one's moustache, one's arm hairs.

It's great, in the summer, to have smooth arms.

P.S.: Sumeet is out shooting, which has left me with an entire day on my hands. I am clearly making the most of my man-free time.

Saturday, March 18, 2006


We did it. We finally did it.

We got a TV and a cable connection.

Currently watching Dumb and Dumber, which is abhorrent, but later -- GASP -- America's Next Top Model, season 3, is on. Fucking YaYa! Eva Diva! Girls too short and fat to be real models!

I may just be in heaven.

False advertising!

Believe it or not, "A silver jubilee of intoxication!" (Saturday, March 18, 2006, The Hindu MetroPlus, Delhi) is not about drunkenness, doping, or any other pleasurable substance.

In point of fact, it is about a performer who won the Padma Sri award. What a let-down.

Monday, March 13, 2006

I <3 NY

I guess I should post some pictures of sights from my last month. None of them are spectacular.

I will say, though, that it's interesting: Delhi, to me, is absolutely horizontal, an x-axis. New York, on the other hand, is all y-axis. Straight up and down. Every picture I took was of a building. In India, I want to take pictures of people, the way they interact with the environment. New York felt...I'm not sure. I was a bit anomic, perhaps, and the steel and concrete certainly didn't encourage me to reach out to anyone.

Cities certainly have personalities. And, in classic business speak, there are benefits and there are challenges, drawbacks and opportunities (If you only knew how many times a day I read these words!!!) , to both Delhi and New York. My next step is weighing the priorities and streamlining or optimizing my life for maximum benefit with minimum fallout.

Where will I be a year from now? I have no clue. That's part of being young, I suppose. Here's to having the opportunity to explore fabulous metropoli, places I never imagined I would see. And here's to not just visiting these cities, but living in them, making them a part of myself.

On solid ground

Back where I belong, or something to that effect. I am jetlagged, strung out, exhausted, confused, and having frequent panic attacks, but besides that, I'm great.

The kittens look like cats. The flat looks less like an impermanent residence and more like a home. The weather is, thankfully, still rather pleasant. I don't even need the fan yet.

As I prepare for another year here, S's family is making their final preparations for moving to Amrika (err, America). It's strange, a bit, to consider the global movements of people I am close to. For example, India is hard for me to grasp, still. S's little brother, P, is one of the most protectionist, patriotic Indians I know. As he goes for his final police clearance, I can't help but wonder what America will mean to him, whether it will make him even more dogmatic, or whether it will soften his views, make him more understanding of who and what I am.

It's hard to believe that S has never been to "the West". Most common question, when I tell people that I am fake married to an India Indian, is "Where did he go to school?" When I respond, "the art school at Punjab University," they're a little taken aback. As if he should be a chemistry major at Harvard, a fan of postcolonial literature at Oxford.

Do these boundaries matter? Are the lines beginning to blur for everyone else, or are we caught in our own increasingly segmented, apportioned lives? Am I crazy for having stepped out of line, or am I just one of millions who will renounce their pasts to discover the future?

(End philosophical, sleep-deprivation driven soliloquoy.)

Sunday, March 12, 2006

More ads! Rock!

Processed Food Mein Hai Kuchh Khaas

5 reasons why processed food makes good sense:
  • It complements today's fast lifestyle
  • Comes pre-cooked, saves a lot of time and hassle
  • It's hygienically processed and packaged
  • Offers variety to suit everybody's tase and needs
  • Any food, any time, anywhere
"What's more, with quality guarantee in every pack, you can be sure of it's goodness."
Issued in public interest by: Ministry of Food Processing Industries

Processed Food Really Good!

Interesting. Total backlash against "processed" (though I'm unsure whether the same legal/operational definition is in use here) food in the U.S., government pushing for adoption in India. Hrm.

Don't let Holi lose all its colours!

An ad:

Delhi Police urges you to avoid the following for a safe Holi:

  • Throwing water/coloured water or rubber balloons containing water at passers-by
  • Forcing unwilling people to play Holi
  • Using indecent language or behaving riotously
  • Eve teasing
  • Drunken driving
  • Using dirt and chemicals instead of natural colours
  • Triple riding on two-wheelers
  • Riding without helmet
(Back in Delhi.)

Friday, March 10, 2006

Roe v. Wade -- for men...

Yeah, I don't understand the allusion that everyone is trying to force, but this fatherhood lawsuit bugs the hell out of me. (Related: National Center for Men, which has unleashed the PR beast on this baby.)

Long story short, in the words of CNN:

Ifa pregnant woman can choose among abortion, adoption or raising a child, a man involved in an unintended pregnancy should have the choice of declining the financial responsibilities of fatherhood. The activists involved hope to spark discussion even if they lose.

I love freedom of speech, mostly because it affords me the opportunity to mock these folks. I am strongly, strongly in favor of PEOPLE -- not just men, not just women -- taking responsibility for their actions. Which, in this case for me (not legally, just on a common-sense level), is what it boils down to.

If you didn't want to have a child, perhaps you should have exercised your choice to employ a method of birth control, Mr. Matt Dubay of Saginaw, Michigan. (CNN explains, He contends that the woman knew he didn't want to have a child with her and assured him repeatedly that -- because of a physical condition -- she could not get pregnant.)

Aww, Mr. Dubay, it's really sweet that you're so trusting, but jesus. You hit that shit raw dog and now you have to take care of what could be considered a natural consequence. I don't care what the woman said -- that her uterus had been removed by aliens, that she's had unprotected sex a million times without getting knocked up -- if you're really this upset about having to take responsibility for a life, be proactive and wear a condom. Just to cover your bases.

I don't want to get all family rights, conservative middle America here, but...what about this poor girl? You're shitting over paying $500 a month, a line item that has essentially become your only obligation to the life you created. You're not spending any time with the child, you're not giving her the opportunity to understand that side of her life -- rather, you're placing a dollar amount on her head, saying you wished she never "happened," and pushing your story onto the front page of every major metropolitan paper in the country.

Bottom line? Fuck off, fuck off, fuck off.

Aaaaaagony hands!

Although I do have my visa, of course something had to go wrong with my plans for the triumphant return.

S has a good job, a job that keeps him in money and that usually makes him happy. Unfortunately, he usually does end up on the road a week out of every month, which occasionally (read: always) disrupts our faux marital bliss.

Take, for example:
-- Shooting in Punjab, one day after we moved in together
-- Shooting in Kashmir, Christmas and the surrounding week

And now, we add:

-- Shooting in Punjab, the week I return after being gone for a month

Talk about inauspicious. He's found a way to abscond and meet me at the airport, but he'll leave again the next day to finish the assignment.


Tuesday, March 7, 2006

Just charge it to my VISA!!!!!!!!!!!!

Visa. Visa. Leaving limbo.

Yes, circa 4:30 p.m., L informed me that the lawyer in Atlanta got confirmation from the consultate in San Francisco that my visa was approved and will be FedExed in a matter of hours/one day.

Of course, when I receive there will probably be something ridiculous, like a misspelling or a ripped out page or something awful.

But for now? Cautious optimism. And an imminent return to what has become my home.

Sunday, March 5, 2006

Oh what a night

It's pretty surreal to be hit on by the spitting image of the late Jerry Orbach, Law and Order's Lenny Briscoe.

He was at least 65, and he sidled up to C and I at a dive bar in the East Village. He commented upon C's height, stared at our two sets of breasts, then offered to buy us drinks.

AND he was the third man over 60 who hit on me yesterday -- two of whom made their move at the company's Oscar-themed happy hour. Needless to say, I didn't want what they were selling.

Other highlights? A portly man stealing about 30 pigs in blankets from the Oscar party; a very harsh cafeteria worker with a fancy hairdo; an apartment full of taxidermied animals, including a small white dog donning sunglasses; and mid-level stalkery of cute European consultants, one of whom combatted the bubonic plague in Tanzania.

Friday, March 3, 2006

Talkin' 'bout my generation...

"...two scholars at Emory University’s Goizueta Business School and other demographic experts say that the generation born since 1982 seems to be breaking the mold. The Millennial Generation, as they’re now dubbed, are apparently a nicer bunch in many respects than the prior two – less violent, less alienated, and less selfish. Not only are the kids all right, but some pundits predict that they will go on to become another “Greatest Generation,” the World War II era cohort now mostly of sainted memory..."

So I'm not sure how much I believe in generalizing about an entire generation (i.e., in this study, the "Millennial Generation" means the American, middle-class generation), but it is interesting to see how the Man perceives people my age or thereabouts.

Some survey results:

Nearly 70% of Millennials agreed with the statement that “Authority figures should set and enforce rules” – compared to around 40% of GenXers.
60% of Millennials agreed with the statement, “I trust authority figures to act in my best interest.” Only 40% of GenXers agreed.
Nearly 60% of Millennials said they “felt comfortable asking for special treatment,” while only 40% of GenXers felt that way.

We're also purportedly really into social service and are "action-oriented". In the office, the survey suggests: women will take more responsibility, teamwork will be stronger, racial/ethnic tension will be lower, class tensions will be higher, and risk aversion will be greater.

A big part of me thinks this is unnecessarily sanguine. The story spins it in such a way that it makes me think, "Hey, yeah! We are the next Greatest (or is that next-greatest) Generation!" When, in reality, when I step back from my initial impressions, it's readily apparent that although we are motivated and committed to society, many of us are sycophantic, overly trusting (particularly of an untrustworthy government), and used to having things our way or the highway.

We were discussing this the other day in the office. What do you do with an entire generation that has grown up having their lives managed, their environments controlled? Will we ever be able to fulfill the potential implicit in this glimpse into the crystal ball, or will we be constantly disappointed? And, more importantly -- what will we do with that disappointment?

Thursday, March 2, 2006

Are you sure it's not a prank?

L, C, and I are preparing to leave the office. It's around 6:45 p.m., and after the scheduled 4:30 p.m. meltdown, which today entailed rambling about names and inappropriate revelations about how not having the same last name as my mom when I was a teen irrevocably scarred me (or something), the phone rings.

"Hello?" L picks up the receiver after a few jangles.

"This is the copy editing department...are you referring to a specific document?"

She looks puzzled, but continues trying to engage the caller.

When she hangs up:

"That was someone in Mexico City. She wanted to know if I could get her some Post-It notes."

(Now, I know that I work in a global organization, and that someone in Mexico City could have seen the word "copy" and, not being incredibly familiar with English, conceivably could imagine that yeah, Post-It notes are kept in the room with the copy machine. It's a big leap from there to requesting office supplies from the firm's editorial department, but...)