Friday, June 29, 2007


Earlier this year, it was all about the Rural Olympics (or, as some know them, the Kila Raipur games in the grand state of Punjab). Bullock carts were raced, cars were pulled with teeth, and heavy sacks of grain were loaded and unloaded from carrier trucks with characteristic aplomb.

In Dharamsala, we contemplated boycotting the 2008 Beijing Olympics. Free Tibet! Free!
This weekend, my aunt is competing in the 2007 Senior Olympics -- swimming a couple events in the 55-59 category.
As they say .... one is an exception, two are anomalies, and three is a trend.
(This goes right along with the ridiculous symmetry of now working in the Manhattan building in which I originally met the son of the man who hired me to lecture in his Indian journalism school.)

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

It's a hell of a town

That's right, I'm coming at you live from Sunnyside, Queens -- NYC at its finest. Not even a last-minute bout of gastroenteritis could keep me from my motherland, and now that I'm here? Pleased as a little pea.

But don't fret -- this blog won't die, it will simply be repositioned. Not only will I be trying to discover the city, I'll be exploring from a somewhat skewed perspective: I'm an insider in that I'm American and I've spent a bit of time in New York in the past (local vs. express trains? I'm all over it), but I'm an outsider in that living in India (not to mention marrying an Indian citizen) has shifted my perception of my identity.
For example, coming home from work yesterday on the 7, I was reminded of Delhi's notoriously crowded buses; unperturbed by squishing myself between a Hispanic woman and a coochie-cooing couple, my ears instantly pricked: I heard Hindi.
I turned to my left, and there were two men, holding hands (a custom which I imagine baffled some of my fellow travelers), discussing which station to get off at. I cocked my head toward them, considered interrupting, then remembered the power that passing under the radar can grant you sometimes -- so I smiled, turned away, and jumped off at my stop.
On the way home, I passed a Japanese/Nepalese restaurant.
I think I'll like it here just fine.
Picture is from Union Square, February 2006. Apologies for the crappiness.

Thursday, June 21, 2007

India's parting shot!

I was supposed to be on a plane today. Five hours from now.

But instead, I've postponed my flight until maybe Saturday, maybe Sunday, all due to the wonder that is gastroenteritis. I'm weak, I was on an IV for four hours, and worst, I'm sad and frustrated. I haven't been able to blog because I'm just in over my head, and all I want to do is get to my new home and new life.

I'm a sad, sad animal right now.

Monday, June 18, 2007

Development porn

If I weren't so insanely occupied with my impending (72 hours!) relocation to NY, I would be blogging about something lots of other people on the Interwebs have been commenting upon of late: the preponderance of white Western males as photographers of the developing world and the corresponding effect of this upon the way in which mainstream media depicts poverty, community building, etc.

Boing Boing has an excellent discussion of it here. I don't have much to add in theory, but I must say that the way in which people respond to me, a white woman trying to capture images of life in the subconty, vastly differs from the way in which they respond to my esteemed third-world photographer husband.

Perhaps a good project for him would be to chronicle New York as what people may assume to be a tourist. Somehow, though, I don't think it plays the effect back in the same way. Back to the drawing board.

Thursday, June 14, 2007

Things I will miss about India, No. 2

There just aren't enough ads about preventing mosquito-borne diseases in U.S. newspapers. Particularly sponsored by rock-star-like politicians who cater to a regional language (I mean, when did the New York Times last run a dengue-awareness ad in, say, Czech?).

And, in Zoey's culturally insensitive break of the day, I will also miss tittering at signs that would be inappropriate in an American context: UTI (urinary tract infection?) Bank, STD (sexually transmitted disease) phone booths, and drivers with names like Beer Singh and Manmeet (Do you like man meat? Dude, I can't get enough of it!).

I'm sorry, god. I had to get this off my chest.

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

I raise a glass to Willie Nelson (or, umm, Nikhil Wadhwani, or something)

Anheuser-Busch has entered a joint venture in India; if I travel to Hyderabad or Mumbai, I'll be able to dedicate this Bud to you by July.

And that's not the only good news for hops lovers -- in the same article, an Economic Times reporter notes that Crown Beer will roll out a brew called Armstrong. Carlsberg will also enter the subcontinent with Palone, a Polish brand.

I don't know; Kingfisher and Cobra are both still pretty satisfying to me. Can the power of an American brand overwhelm the brew's overwhelming taste of urine?

Monday, June 11, 2007

Masala Mickey

Content localization is the name of the game, and Disney knows it -- just one reason its recent partnership with Yash Raj Films is such a watershed. Yash Raj will create Disney-branded films, voiced by Bollywood actors, according to The Wall Street Journal; the paper notes that India has more people younger than 14 than the U.S. has total population.

Possible titles:
Steamboat Shiva (the plucky adventures of a young god traveling down the Ganga)
Saraswati and Saath Hijras (an abandoned girl child takes refuge in a colony of eunuchs)
Ganesha (Shiva and Parvati welcome their child to their world...only it has an elephant's head. Can our hero's mischievious ways save him from a life a ridicule?)
Rama Against the Rakshasa (which is harder to keep in line -- your wife, or the forces of evil?)
101 Rabid Stray Dogs (a power-mad Delhi clothier attempts to cull the unruly beasts of his neighborhood to build his business selling faux fur stoles to the Capital's upwardly mobile)
Ashwati in Wonderland (one girl's sojourn to find the perfect Manali hash)
Nataraj's New Groove (who needs designer togs when you're the lord of the dance?)

Sunday, June 10, 2007

Spam on my phone

In addition to frequent inducements to view pictures of "EXOTIC & SEXY BABES!!!," I've now started to receive very strange SMSes from people purportedly on Yahoo! Messenger.

From hard_ik2002: "hi there honi any plans to rock sat nite?"
From masti_masti2000: "how are you doing? the indian sardarni?"

Is this really a new service Yahoo! India is offering? Or is this a virulent (and obnoxious) new form of spam? I don't recall ever putting my mobile number anywhere on the Internet, much less on any Y! site ...

Friday, June 8, 2007

Good news for the impending relocation

Let us all bejewel ourselves and gyrate lewdly in time to the dulcet tones of a man who sounds like he may have a sinus infection, for Bollywood movies will now be available on demand in the U.S.

That's right, Cox Cable and Time Warner have both rolled out services that will offer viewers 24-hour access to such gems as Krrish, Don, and Jaan-e-Maan.

I'm a little late to the party, I guess, because I now see press releases about this from last November, but no matter. I never before had the palpable prospect of being deprived of Shah Rukh Khan or the beloved Amitabh; just one more reason to believe that the transition back to an orderly American life will be somewhat less jarring than imagined.

Tuesday, June 5, 2007


Mike Tyson is reportedly in talks with Firoz Nadiadwala to star in a Bollywood movie -- and to stimulate interest, he's starring in a music video to promote the very filmi Fool n Final.

Yahoo reports:

"[Tyson said] 'I was, anyway, in that phase when I didn't mind trying out something different ... The script seemed very interesting, with lots of excitement thrown in."
I totally think Hindi script is interesting too. All those curves, at that mysterious line from which all the characters hang! Fascinating! Thrilling!

"Tyson said there are similarities between acting and boxing.

"'In both the fields, in order to survive and triumph, you need focus and to be highly disciplined and determined,' he said."
He failed to add that in the rider for his film, he promised not to bite off Amitabh Bachchan's ear. Unless the producers found it necessary for his character's development.

Monday, June 4, 2007

The importance of being on trend

Not only is it necessary to flaunt Louis Vuitton bags and Chanel shades -- now, even your snack food can be your ticket to a better life.

Or so seems to be the message from SM Foods, the makers of such classy nips as Peppy Cheese Balls and Simba Chipniks ("Rrroaring with taste!"). When it comes to their tortilla chips, the company's Web site boasts, "Senor Pepito range is very popular with the teenagers, the young and happening crowd and the beer guzzlers. More importantly, Tortilla Chips are very trendy and considered a status symbol."

That's pretty big talk for packaging that has a cartoon sombrero on it. Unless the secret of their nacho cheese flavoring is a light dusting of gold (24 karat, natch), I think I'll pass.

Sunday, June 3, 2007

Wound up

I'm too exhausted to do anything but drink lemon soda. My recipe to keep you cool in the 45-degree-Celsius heat:

1/2 tsp. salt
2 tsp. sugar
3 lemons, quartered and squeezed

Create a decoction of these three ingredients in a tall glass; when the syrup is well mixed, fill the glass with club soda and enjoy!

(I'm still in denial about leaving the subconty. We have the greencard/immigration interview tomorrow morning, and we're slated to leave in less than three weeks. I'm afraid; Delhi feels more like home than anywhere else ever has. What to do?)

Saturday, June 2, 2007


An interesting observation from a birthday party held at TGI Friday's for one of my co-workers: The American chain (so American that it does, in fact, serve deep-fried macaroni and cheese) offers Cuban cigars on its menu. Now if I was Thomas Friedman, I would exclaim about the wonder that is globalization, but instead, I think I'll just puff, puff, and pass.