Sunday, September 09, 2007
I was reminded of this from the following news report, in the NYT: based on recent research that says that additives lead to hyperactivity in kids. So a peditrician and head of some doctors association had this to say:
Even if it shows some increase in hyperactivity, is it clinically significant and does it impact the child’s life?” said Dr. Thomas Spencer, a specialist in Pediatric Psychopharmacology at Massachusetts General Hospital.
“Is it powerful enough that you want to ostracize your kid? It is very socially impacting if children can’t eat the things that their friends do.”
The above is an example of the kind of very powerful and truly evil forces that operate beneath the shiny externals of western society. As a marketing expert, I know that this is the most powerful argument against healthy foods possible in that society. Especially since I was also employed with a Pharma related industry lately, and know how aggressively the industry is pushing produts like Ritalin for ADD. In fact there have also been news reports of teachers insisting on Ritalin for undiagnosed but disruptive young students. And Dr. Spencer is either already associated with various special interest groups, or he is lobbying to be a lobbyist. Look at me saying what you want me to say on the NYT for free. Imagine how useful I could be if I was "rewarded" indirectly (their rules about paying doctors). Of course, I don't know the tragic truth is that he might truly believe that taking a risk for your child's health is worth the potential social payoff!
Of course, there is a whole movement towards organic foods etc. and there are educated parents who would make sure their kids eat healthy, but these are an elite minority. Schools aggressively court soda companies to "sponsor" them. Billions ae spent on selling to children, and then there are editorials against groups lobbying for healthy foods in schools - talking about how in democratic societies people have the right to make free choices. Except when billions are spent to communicate the sellers point of view, the choice is never free! And in a rich and free society the parents do not get to decide something as basic as what goes into their kids bodies.
Basically you don't need to be a bin ladin to understand how pervasively and insidiously corporates influence society out there.
Tuesday, August 14, 2007
there have been some drastic changes in my life. Following an illness in April,I have been at home for a few months and have finally followed the husband to Dubai, who is there on deputation for 2 years from Montreal. The plan is to take some time off to get well, and explore some options - namely write a book. Its scary to let go of all you have worked for all your life, to suddenly step into a completely different life, but its now or never. I am so lucky that option is open to me and I have decided to embrace the opportunity. Plus I will be closer to home and we are seriously going to evaluate the idea of returning. I have so many projects in my head.
On the other hand, I am truly excited and exhilarated by the idea of change. I am a true nomad that way. Dubai is bizarre, but I feel very awake, love or hate. Montreal was slowly burying me alive, I am too much of a urban, third world rat to feel at comfortable, when life seems complete and comfortable. Stability really sucked.
if you like. And I will keep posting a few interesting links here.
So have you heard Rehab Brilliant innit?
Tuesday, July 24, 2007
The brave son of Andhra returns home
The brave son of Andhra returns home
Shireen in Hyderabad
The body of Major Padmapani Acharya, who was killed while fighting Pakistani intruders in Kargil sector earlier this week, was brought to Hyderabad by a scheduled Indian Airlines flight this morning.
Andhra Pradesh Governor Dr C Rangarajan, Chief Minister N Chandrababu Naidu, his ministerial colleagues, leaders of opposition parties and top army and state government officials were present at Begumpet airport to receive the body.
The coffin was received with full military honours and placed at a specially laid podium for army personnel and other dignitaries to pay their respects. The governor, chief minister, Andhra sub-area commander, Brigadier M V Gangadharan, ministers, opposition leaders and others laid wreaths on the body. Over 500 defence personnel, representing the three wings -- the army, the navy and the air force -- saluted the valiant officer.
The Major's parents, his pregnant widow, two sisters and younger brother Captain Padmasambhav Acharya were also present at the airport. Captain Acharya who too is involved in the Kargil operations, was granted special permission to participate in his brother's funeral.
The body of the major was later taken on a flower-bedecked army truck to his house at Hastinapur on the city outskirts. It was kept there for some time to enable people to pay their respects. Portraits of the slain major and banners hailing his martyrdom were put up at vantage points on the way to the locality.
The mortal remains of the major were later taken in a procession to the Bolaram army burial grounds for cremation with full military and state honours.
The 31-year-old Major Padmapani Acharya of Rajputana Rifles fell to enemy artillery fire while fighting to recapture Point 4700 in the Kargil sector on June 28. He killed three enemy soldiers before giving up his life.
He had celebrated his birthday on June 21 at the battlefront and spoken to his 25-year-old wife Charulatha, who is seven months pregnant, the next day.
Padmapani Acharya's father, Jagannath Acharya, is a retired wing commander of the Indian Air Force who saw action in the 1965 and 1971 wars with Pakistan. The senior Acharya is presently working with the Defence Research and Development Laboratories at Hyderabad.
Monday, June 11, 2007
people of a certain age will enjoy this I think!
The truth about Indians in the West
Recently there was this article in the Outlook about illegal immigrants from India in Italy. I was quite appalled by the tone of the whole thing. It quite happily talked about how some 50,000! illegal Punjabis immigrants are in some little area in Italy and are working as farm workers. While the article quoted locals saying that they liked Indians(whee) I can not believe, based on what i experienced, that locals are happy at the sudden influx of illegals. Like in the US they employ Mexicans and loathe them at the same time.
And set me thinking about the whole Indian immigration thing. I started travelling on work quite late in life, in my twenties. And of course growing up, I did have a fascination with foreign travel and beieved that people who went abroad were sophisticated people who were doing very well. Growing up in the 80s there was very little in the news about Indians abroad. So when I went to London, I was quite stunned by the number of Indians there and how awfully poor and marginalised they all appeared to be. Over the years of reading the UK papers, one realises how much of a "problem" Asians and colored people in general are in that country, and the general feeling today among the natives, is strongly anti immigrant. The foreigners use their resources, expect social security and housing, and free medicare and often are bringing the quality of education down in public schools to the xtent that white people can not send their kids to public school any more and private schools ar so expensive. This may be an exaggeration on their part but this is reality. And somehow I am not sure it is racism, think how we feel about Bangladeshi migrants in India.
And the truth is the majority of Asians in the UK are not doctors and university professors, they are the workers at the bottom of the ladder, living in ghettos, and their culture is more like pakistanis (honour killings anyone?) than middle class urban Indians. A telling point is that the vast majority get their wives and husbands for their children from rural areas of India. And they are seen the way the average rich Delhite looks upon Bihari migrants. From benign indifference at bet to contempt. And yes, the estimate is that about a quarter to half of Indians in the UK went there illegally. And the Indian areas in London and Toronto are truly depressing.
The same is true for most of Europe. I have seen Indian illegals everywhere and they are such a pathetic sight. They work menial jobs, on the run from the police, they can never visit home as they don't have papers. And they spend so much money to make the journey, never knowing how tough life will be.
And so when I read an celebratory article on illegal Indian immigrants in Italy, and how they are perceived to be good agricultural workers(yay!), and they are no doubt paid below the minimum wage and lead pathetic - I am just incensed. The TOI is another paper that regularly runs congratulatory articles that basically say that Indians are taking over the country, because they run corner shops. Corner shops are run by asians because they are open at all hours and no one else wants to run them. Its like saying the paan wallahs are taking over Mumbai.
Even in the US with the largest concentration of successful Indian professionals, its the cab drivers, 7/11 (corner shops again) and motels that are top of mind. Motels that are built on lonely stretches of the highways, that are cheap and the byword for fleas, dirt and dinge.
Plus there are periodically stories of Indian illegals caught in remote places, Albania and Eastern Europe trying to make the crossing, or worse. How many know that hundreds of Punjabis died while crossing the sea to Europe when a ship carrying illegals capsized. It was big news - abroad.
The Indian media is really being criminally irresponsible when it presents life in the west as some glorious destination and encourages illegal immigration. I wonder how many of the young men who spent up to 25 lakhs to get to Italy, expected to be agricultural laboureres for the rest of their lives, as many of them will, a few will acquire corner shops , no doubt.
Saturday, May 05, 2007
The two main targets Muslims and lefties are insulted in the most apalling profane language . I myself am no dainty damsel, but my gaalis I flatter myself are backed by a certain intellectual angst and argument.
Times of India tops the list, but Outlookindia is no better. The TOI I belive actively sponsors anti muslim tirades, while OLI probably tries to appear fair and reasonable to lefty haters. In any case these national newspapers are guilty of carrying some of the dirtiest and most hateful, inflammatory comments on the internet on their websites. The type of sites that carry these in the west are labeled as Nazi, white supremacist labels and are often hounded out by their web service providers.
All American as well as British newspapers edit out the most egregious comments from their sites. Yes, there are anti immigrant letters to the editors in both the the Sun and the Times for example, but they are always well reasoned, and profanity free. The NYT has millions of comments on their forum, but the site clearly says that hate speech will not be tolerated.
Why is this crap encouraged by Indian national news sites? Its not freedom of expression to carry letters that insult the morality of Hindu women in general (I believe these are written by Hindu fundies to inflame the moderate Hindu types) or Islm. Speech and public acts are very carefully monitored in our country, Dipa Mehta had to shoot Water in Sri Lanka because she wanted to make a film about a shameful part of our history, but if I want to say Hindu women have no morals or crudely insult Mslms , the national newspapers in India will cheerfully carry it on their sites.
I am deeply ashamed to think that if some foreigner like me chooses to research contemporary India, the impression they will get from our national newspapers, is that we are crude, nasty and dumb. While someone like me reading the letters section in the Sunday Times or New York Times, is impressed by the quality of readership and the standard of debate - only because really nasty comments are edited out. Its not as if nastiness on the internet is non existent in the West, You Tube is full of insults (e.g search Sanjaya and Shyamali)
Actually I do think most people of my generation of Indians are intolerant and intellectually lazy and worst of all SMUG! This theme will be continued in my next blog.
Wednesday, April 04, 2007
I loathe "inheritanceof loss" and others such...
Read it and you know that this was written by a woman who read a lot as a girl, and all of what she read was written before the 1950s. And she has absrbed the Victorians in an osmotic process that defies the 21st century - despite all the politically correct posturing and positioning as a book of and about the diaspora and immigration and identity and familial bonds in a global worl and all that shit...
All this bullshit in Angrezi gets me mad. Not that she can not write what she pleases - go freedom of expression, but that people take this shit seriously. There is a whole generation of genteel, upper class Indian women, who read a lot of yellowing 18th century novels . Their sterile imaginations are backed by aunties who say "beta kitaab kyo nahin likhti", "write a book darling, everyone is doing it and you always topped in english, na?".
So having nothing to say really, having never lived at all or felt a strong emotion, other than smug self satisfaction, they troll for concepts hoping to strike on something big, globalisation, traditional woman in foreign land and such shit and write a book around it - case in point Jhumpa Lahiri, whose utterly boring story about her parents was much improved in the movie. Writing skills honed to win essay contests and never to truly express themselves - so gogol is a citizen of the flat earth - ma and baba are almost but not quite real - because those are not her stories. let Jhumpa write an honest, real, story about growing up in a foreign land and I will say she can write. And the whole "gogol" Russian angle is nothing but a sad attempt to impart more meaning and significance to a story, that really has very little. Say in high pitched tone " Hmmmm I wrote a book about the boring lives of my ma and baba - hows that gonna go down, I know, let me add some russian flair!!! woo hoo, now I can associate myself with the Russian pantheon"
And speaking of Namesake - the movie, it was lovely but when Tabu recites Wordsworth, I wanted to die. This is ridiculous, our tastelessness can be revealed in a more honest way - singing is a much in demand talent among Bong brides to be - I can see her singing a robidro shongit, but reciting wordsworth !! - its beyond pathetic, crass and I hate Mira Nair for this humiliation of still precious to me Bengali culture.
I cringe I die
Lonely in the crowd
of those appreciative of
false or no emotions
and alone can hear the hollow sounds
as I stumble on empty tins with peeling labels reading "intellectual"
Hahahahahaha - who reads my shit?
So what I am railing against is not really these pretentious poseurs as much as those who provide them with encouragement. Why, But why?
Saturday, October 14, 2006
CHECK IT OUT!!! GENIUS! you must have Audio though and tell me its HHHHHHot!
PS: I have a horrible cringe making feeling that my father in law is reading this blog! If so...oh god no! this is my evil twin sister. a petni takes me over once a week and makes me blog, I am a good bouma really :)
plus there are many others like me, lurking in the blogosphere, being morally upright citizens in the real world. That is real this is ... a nightmare. pronaam jeno :)
Did you know that Bangladeshi Nobel winner Md Yunus' first wife was Russian and his daughter Monica Yusuf is a rising star of the American opera? I found this while browsing Bangladeshi blogs, I do that when any news intersting... look up local/relevant blogs. Interstingly, Monica's web site just says born in Chittagong of Bangladeshi and Russian parentage, but Md. Yunus was worth bragging about for a long time. They are not estranged. video interview here
By the way the islamic blogs have pretty much ignored the news...I am interested in Islamic stuff because I lived in Cairo for a few years and really loved it. I love Arab culture and have many Arab/ N African friends, but I am not blind to the "issues" Interestingly, Arabs mostly do not get along with each other, and an average Arab definitely feels superior to a Bangladeshi. plus Islamists are navelgazing, negative, self destructive and of course bent on destroying the world as we know it.George Bush will do for Osama's ummah what Hitler did for Israel, create a Muslim Bloc where none ever existed, because they bicker too much. Of course once the ummah is actually created they will self destruct through infightling. A very interesting Arab proverb" me against my brother, me and my brother against my cousin, me my cousin and brother against our neighbours and all of us together against those from the next village ad infinitum"! Nice huh!
I guess no one ever visits this anymore...but I am back. THis year was insane, crazy personal and professional stuff...but silver lining, had a major promotion and worklife is way more calm than it was...the husbandman is away in the UK and I am enjoying a quiet, cool grey weekend.
take care people!
Sunday, June 18, 2006
This is the point people join the peace corps. I would actually like to go back to India and do some thing in the development sector. I could be good. I have terrific organisational skills. I want to run a eco friendly guest house in digha with an organic farm. The buildings would be made of traditional bengali mud and straw, and they would be double storied. And there will be palm trees and mango trees and traditional pottery and literacy classes. And I would go swimming in the bay of Bengal. I love swimming in the sea. And I would have a platoon of dogs.
Today was a brilliant summer day. We went to home depot and baught 2 beautiful Jasmine trees - redolent of that the delicate but strong perfume . And I bought a pot and soil and planted chicory and dhaniya and methi. I can't wait for them to grow. That is me. I can't wait, for the next thing and perpetually gently but firmly disappointed with the present.
Saturday, March 11, 2006
New York ! New York !
Hello is anybody there?
hiatus for reason unknown. Just been very busy. Came back after a week in New York . 4 days of work 3 days of slacking. The weather was beautiful and my hotel was the Marriott at the Times Square and I had a fabulous time. Also it has been almost 2 years since I have travelled entirely on my own. The last time was when I went to Venice for a conference and travelled around Italy - the husband man had come along but had to leave a few days early. So I did bits of Venice , Milan and Rome on my own. It was quite lovely.
I love New York. Its big and brash and loud and scary but it fills your senses. It makes you feel very young, like everything is possible all over again-despite the frightening metro system and crush of people. And I love African American accents - that slightly kind, slightly wise, slightly liting, this time around I met a lot of them but it was that odd 2 second encounter with an old guy with rasta hair, collecting money for a shelter in the village "thank you my darling , god bless you" with such ... easy confidence?!
I just love walking around and stumbling into places and I stumbled into this restaurant called Kelly and Ping inside a huge old place in Soho - Asian, selling noodles and vietnamese coffeee with the yummiest cookies I ever had , a quarter each. THis sudden sense of being transported some where else? Other than New york? But why would I want that... no its just the immigrant recreation of the memory of another place, but chic and the rather cut Mr. Ping in a T shirt that said "eat more rice"
I did a tasting tour of little Italy...3 hours walk inand out of food shops and restos and pasta making places... yummy. Totally worth the 40$.
Got on the bus outside the Guggenheim and had 2 dollars for thetickets in notes, the driver in toronto would have thrown me out, but the NY driver asked sit and look for the money, and 2 lovely tattoed NY city girls gave me 8 quarters to pay for the ticket after I had foiund that I did not have any.
Watched the Producers, all by myself, but felt perfectly at home. I am guessing braodway shows were the original inspiration for hindi movies? Mel Brooks and bollywood should get together!
The city's got heart.
Tuesday, February 07, 2006
you go Mittal!
Any body following the progress of the Mittal bid for Arcelor. I have been hooked since the bid first received a 2 page story treatment in the Globe and Mail Business section. ln In brief the
The most important objection seems to be that “the cultural values are not shared”. No one really explains what that means. Mittal has already met key politicians, saying that jobs will not be lost. So what bothers them exactly? The following comments from the head of Publicis seem relevant:
Lévy said he had been surprised by the move from a group whose origins were in
"I am not saying it is positive or it is negative. But it is the kind of thing that we will see more and more.
"I was a little bit surprised personally because I was expecting this kind of hostile bid but coming from
He added that Mittal’s decision to make a "quite harsh" bid for a rival would be likely to change the way that emerging market countries led by
"This is not the behaviour of an emergent country," he said. "This is something that is coming from a dominant country, which is saying ‘OK, I want to buy you’. The way this decision is presented is quite harsh … solidly hostile."
He added: "I think it is an Indian deal with a British style."
Good old racism – you may be a citizen of
Monday, January 30, 2006
The San Fran blog was overdue. After recent events did not feel like blogging much, but the husband man wants me to so...here is a blog on San Fran. Its a LOOOOONG flight from DC. 6 hours. The leg space in planes is getting smaller by the day... when I was a kid there was this aunt who worked for the WHO who said things like " flying is so tedious" and I would stare goggle eyed and think I would never say that! I do man do I!!! Leg space is like worse than the average Indian AC bus. Bah!
Landed and the weather was warm and lovely against my cheeks, I breathed in and hopped a bit with delight. Friends who came to pick up us insisted on a little tour of the Oracle offices on our way, at night.
My favourite things to do is to take a "city break". Explore a new city, walk around, "do" nothing and eat lovely long meals at funky little joints and drink from noon. onwards and San Fran was heaven, for that.
The actual city is a delight to walk in. Its hilly and goes up and down and there are these charming little street cars for tourists. There are loads of ethnic districts : china town being one of the oldest in the states. The 2 pictures are of Murals from the Latin quarter - doesn't she look like Ma kaali?
And there is Haight Ashbury, funky, zoned out, great little shops and we had a fantastic meal at an Ethiopian place. Drinks at a bar that reminded me of the beer bars around colaba. People watching was great, Americans are usually pretty boring looking, but San fran was different... OK this post is not happening.... I have forgotten how to write.
Sunday, January 15, 2006
WHAT IS HIS REAL NAME?
Ben Kingsley was born Krishna Bhanji on December 31, 1943. He lived with his parents, an Indian general practitioner and an English fashion model, in Yorkshire, England.
Also see interesting article in NYT on covering
Sunday, January 08, 2006
Nikhileshwar Mukhopadhyay 1913-2005
My earliest memories of dadu are in our bunglow in the hills - holding his hand and going to the bazaar - even as an adult I was inordinately pleased when dadu said " khub bhaalo meye, she would go to the market with me every day and she was such a small girl but she never asked for anything, not even a lojens" He called me honumoti and he loved gardening. Taking equal pleasure in the huge velvery dahliahs and huge roses that were of a flower show quality and a sack of potatoes grown in the back. He was earthy as my thamma was sophisticated, he never lost the bangal accent but spoke with a melodious intonation that was a pleasure to listen. Tall and fair, with a perfectly formed, shiny, bald head and a nose that is the pride of the family, (I have a ghost of it too) always dressed in white dhuti and "shirt" and the pointy toed black "pump shoe" he cut an awesome figure when I was a little girl.
He never talked much, but when in a good mood he would sing in a strong, open but untrained voice, robindro shongeet with a robust barritone no proffessional singer has ever been able to come close - in our family and we knew it. But he sang when he was happy, in the garden, after a bath, during daily puja - he never sang on request, he was not that kind of a man.
When he was young, he lived with his mother and 3 brothers in a bangladeshi village. His father, a handsome rogue, had desterted them for another woman - yes such things happened then- and the tejaswi golaap shundori brought them up in poverty and with very tight reins. But the brothers were wild in their own ways - and joined up with the swadeshis - a story that he would only talk briefly of , in sudden moments, when in the mood, to me or a few of my cousins. As a scholarship student of Physics at Dhaka university he was arrested and then deported from East Bengal and for 5 years he had to pay a weekly visit to the nearest police station in West Bengal. Studying as a English student at Calcullta Univ. he tutored 4 kids of a North Cal family in return for room and board. Then followed a series of odd jobs including the opening a shoe store in Dhaanbaad in partnership with a Kabuliwallah. He would occasionally say " juto shelaai thekey chondi paath shob shotti korechhi"
Its always interesting to me that he married my thamma, an urbanite school teacher and a history MA to boot. The well spoken, well read, petite lady that she was - her younger sister went on to be an All India General Secretary of the Congress party and a union minister - and it was a love marriage of sorts. Then they went to Coochbihaar and that is where my grandma was asked to set up the school in the hills and dadu was the add on - he completed both and MA and B ed but was always a formidable math teacher. Its interesting that in the 50s, and since then, my dadu reported officially to my thamma - as the only MA in the entire district, it was my thamma who was asked to be the principal - but there was never any doubt that the math teacher was a formidable character in his own right - physically able to wrestle with 2-3 boys and a fine reputation for teaching - not many men even today could deal with the inherent power definitions of this arrangement. When I was about 15 he once told me " its because of your grand mother that your father and others have turned out so well, she was a devoted mother" I thought that was the sweetest thing a husband could say. Especially one as taciturn as my dadu.
And dadu in later years would talk of Bangladesh - how beautiful it was. HE also said something that I have never heard said anywhere else - he believed that the Hindu landlords treated their muslim praja like dirt as they did most people and also the low caste hindus. And My bapi always said, with a reverse snobbery in effect " jaanish we are the only people of Bangladeshi origin who were poor even there, everyone else always had at least a jaagirdaari" and we would laugh, we are a no bullshit family - bangaal to the bone you know :)
And he was religious in the later years - devotee of Sri Gopaal - spending hours in the pujaa room - singing bhajans in the same strong open voice - but he always hated the BJP - that was important to me at one point.
He was happiest when after retirement they bought the baagaan baari near Kolkata - those years of keeping 2 cows and watching over the 40 mango trees and fishing in the pond - he was blissfully happy - thamma wasn't though, but she loved it because he did.
Thamma would proudly whisper of her surreptitious visit to the Intelligence bureau, when the government a last call for freedom fighters to put in their claims, and dadu could not be bothered - the officers pulled out dusty dossiers - after much pleading - and looked him up and found 5 pages of records - and said "ei ki- aapnaar husband tow mohaa dangerous lok moshaai!".
But we never knew the exact details - and its too late now.
I think I cried today after god knows how long - I can not simply remember the last time - its the end of an era of simpler times - of genteel poverty and bhadralok bengalis and their struggles - talking to everyone on the phone - I felt the connections and the pull of the family so strongly after a long time - a reminder of what is important in life.
It was a full life, well lived - rest in peace.
Tuesday, January 03, 2006
Quail in red wine and cranberry reduction - or my first food blog!
Happy New Year everyone. San Fran was awesome but I am really too tired to write a whole post hence some quick showing off is in order. I made this quail in wine reduction that was simply faboulous dahlings! And I have the pictures to prove it - some day I WILL get that restaurant! Are you waiting? Here goes...
First I got a cast iron pan (lohaar koraai y'all) and that is a major step towards becoming a ooh lala chef, for details see here Its heavy, its intimidating , its perfecto.
Marinated 8 quails in red wine, salt and pepper
Fry onions in cast iron skillet
Add a few cranberries and the quail and brown on medium heat, and then bung into oven for 25 minutes at 450 degrees.
Take the skillet out, emove only the quails, and keeping the by now caramelised onions in the skillet.
Now, for the jus or the reduction, as the fancy schmancy menus say, sauce for you and me. Add red wine, about a wine glass full.
And then added more cranberries, 1 mandarin sliced, sour cream, marmalade and a few drops of balsamic vinegar. Stir till all is caramelised and silky and blended.
And once the sauce is done, you'll know when it tastes right, so taste and find out. Pour over quail and serve with a good pinot
Better than sex!
Friday, December 23, 2005
I am going to San francisco....
If you're going to San Francisco
Be sure to wear some flowers in your hair
If you're going to San Francisco
You're gonna meet some gentle people there
In the street
If you go
In the street
If you go
In the street
If you go
In the street
If you go to San Francisco
Happy holidays everyone. Party hard. Don't drink and drive. much love