How Ambi became Paisley: "It began as a teardrop in Babylon. Where the sunlight came from Astarte, shameless goddess of the fecund feminine. The boteh. Stylized rendition of the date palm shoot, tree of life, fertility symbol. It danced through Celtic art, until the heavy feet of Roman legionaries tramped over the Alps. Then it fled the wrath of Mars and Jupiter, dove underground as Empire rose ." From Shailja Patel's Migritude. Here's a short film about the Migritude project (book on Amazon).
There is little trace of the presence of the South Asians who lived and worked in Mexico during the colonial period except for one woman whose legend lives on even today. She was purportedly born Mira in the kingdom of the Gran Mogol, or the Great Mughals, where she was captured by the Portuguese who eventually sold her to the Spanish at the port of Manila.The 'Mughal Princess' of Mexico: At the South Asian American Digital Archive, Meha Priyadarshini briefly explores the myths and realities of Catarina de San Juan (1606-1688), a religious mystic/visionary who sailed on the Manila galleon to Mexico nearly four hundred years ago and over time became associated in popular legend with a well-known style of dress. The etymological complexity of one keyword involved should not be underestimated and itself tells another story about the history of colonialism.
Hindu ki bas eik khasusiat: Baghl mein churi, moen par Ram Ram. My Urdu, at the time, was idiomatically sub-par. I had recently moved from Doha, Qatar, to General Zia ul Haq’s Lahore and his 9th grade Social Sciences textbook was nearly incomprehensible. The teacher read the line with a sneer. I intuited from his body language, and from the twitter that ran through the class, that this was a derisive remark, but I couldn’t quite follow: If someone had just been stabbed in the side with a knife wouldn’t he be crying to the gods in pain? What’s the shame here? I went home and asked my mother. She explained the idiom: Baghl mein churi does not mean a knife in the side but a knife concealed in the armpit of a garment. Moen pay Ram Ram is not a gesture towards pious invocation (like my grandmother’s recitation of Ya Rahman Ya Rahim)—it is meant to stand as insincere. The Hindu has only one characteristic: He conceals a knife, ready to strike, even as his lips intone Ram. I remember wanting to see or speak to a Hindu, to corroborate or defy this assessment, but Lahore in the mid-1980s held only bare traces—a place name, the legends of a boarded-up building, a strange spiral shape buried in the horizon—of its Hindu past. The city of Madho Lal or Chandarbhan had disappeared even from memories. Our teacher was a history enthusiast and he quickly warmed up to my hesitant question: Sir, why are Hindus never to be trusted?Also in Urdu [PDF]. Manan Ahmed writes at Chapati Mystery [more inside]
"The psychology behind why (the God tiles) work is complex. It could be a combination of fearing the wrath of God (especially when one’s pants are down, or even just open) and wanting to seem RC (religiously correct)... I’ve since learned that god tiles aren’t only deployed to stop public urination. In some office buildings, for example, god tiles have been installed in stairways to keep people (OK, mostly men) from spitting on walls. They’ve also been used to prevent people from throwing garbage in certain places."
Disclaimer: The facts are taken from the journal "Taste, Taboo, Trash: The Story of Ramsay Brothers" by Kartik Nair. I personally declare that the journal is only used as a reference & no intentions copying the content for any benefits, it's only to spread the knowledge regarding the working ways of Ramsay brothers. [more inside]
Satyamev Jayate is an award-winning Indian talk show hosted by Aamir Khan. In this episode, he discusses sexuality with members of the LGBTQ community (1:10:39, SLYT, Subtitled).
How one person singlehandedly created a forest, saved an island, and changed the world. [more inside]
A dakhma, or "tower of silence" is an ancient structure created by Zoroastrians for the disposal of the dead. Within an elevated courtyard, surrounded by high walls the bodies of the deceased are laid out in a circle. Vultures descend into the structure and consume the bodies. Like the Tibetan sky burial the gift of one's flesh to the birds is seen as a final act of charity by the deceased. After the bones bleach in the sun they are put into a ossuary or placed into a central pit to crumble to dust. While Iranian Zoroastrians ended their use 40 years ago the tradition continues in India. A pesticide related decline in vulture population is endangering the practice.
The Gentrification of the Dosa: "I worry dosas will become their Western definitions—“lentil crepe” or “lentil pancake,” that sanitized screen."
Planned cities are not a new idea (Palmanova, Italy, 1593). From Washington, D.C. (1791), to Canberra, Australia (1911), to Brasilia, Brazil (1957), planned cities have long been an urban dream (from space), perhaps most frequently applied to national capitals. But they don't always work out as planned. [more inside]
Joanna Goddard has been interviewing American women raising their children in other countries, to hear how motherhood around the world compared and contrasted with motherhood in America. She's talked to parents in Norway, Japan, Congo, Northern Ireland, Mexico, Abu Dhabi, India, England, China, Germany, Australia, Turkey, and Chile. [more inside]
"Kailash Satyarthi, the child rights activist from India, and Malala Yousufzai, the activist for girls education in Pakistan, were announced as the joint winners of this year's Nobel Peace Prize by the Norwegian Nobel Committee on Friday."
Tour the mega-slum Dharavi, one of the most materially deprived places on earth, transformed by TED-like pundits into a "most inspiring economic model" that gels quite well with their vision of a world without public aid and guarantees to needy.
India's Mars Orbiter Mission In 45 mins from now (watch a webcast), India's Mars Orbiter Mission's satellite will insert itself into orbit around Mars. This is the final hurdle for MOM to overcome to achieve a big milestone for the Indian Space Research Organization.
Indian classical music mourns the untimely death of a child prodigy who grew into a graceful maestro. Srinivas -- who introduced the mandolin to Indian classical music -- was one of the giants. Shockingly dead at 45, gone just far too young. The tributes are pouring in. [more inside]
Women in India face a whole host of period taboos such as sleeping apart from their husbands, not washing their hair, not touching jars of pickled foods, and not making cheese curd. Most women are too embarrassed to be seen purchasing sanitary napkins or even watching commercials for them. Napkin manufacturer, Whisper, has launched a campaign by addressing the taboo subject head on. So, go ahead and touch the pickle! [more inside]
Skylab is Falling! (SLYT) A seven minute Indian film about the 1979 Skylab "disaster" as seen through the eyes of a child. [more inside]
The closure of the Hindustan Motors factory in Uttarapara, West Bengal, is the end of an era in Indian history. The Ambassador is the perfect example of all that was wrong with Indian policy towards industrialization, manufacturing and business. Protectionism and the license raj created a seller's market where people waited years to buy a car. Until liberalization in the 1990s, the Amby hadn't known any real competition, and there was no pressure to either modernize or improve quality. None of this mattered, at least we had a car. And there wasn't any other quite like it in the world. RIP, motor gadi.
data.gov.in : the Indian counterpart of the US data.gov, features 10280 resources in 3215 catalogs for public perusal. There's a visualization gallery charting developments like village electrification or domestic air traffic or sales of automobiles. And also a community section featuring apps offering mobile access to some of the data.
The Wall Street Journal looks at Palna, an organization in Delhi that raises children who have been abandoned. Palna means "cradle"; most children who live there are left in a wicker basket outside the front door. Established in 1978, today, "these services reach over 2500 children daily and are provided virtually free of cost to them. ALL activities and policies of DCCW are colour / caste / community blind, and are based on secular principles." [more inside]
A right-wing Indian politician's racist, xenophobic, and anti-Muslim books are making their way to schools in Gujarat. [more inside]
Welcome to Haider, a Bollywood version of Hamlet set for a controversial, much anticipated release this autumn. Vishal Bhardwaj's latest Shakespearian adaptation turns the Prince of Denmark into a philosophy student from Kashmir, the former Himalayan princedom, who returns home from university after hearing that his doctor father has disappeared and his mother is in a new relationship. View the trailer here - captions available. [more inside]
A new study by Stanford anthropologist Tanya Luhrmann and others found that voice-hearing experiences of people with serious psychotic disorders are shaped by local culture – in the United States, the voices are harsh and threatening; in Africa and India, they are more benign and playful. This may have clinical implications for how to treat people with schizophrenia, she suggests.
Upping the Aunty, a photography project by Indian-born, Toronto-raised artist Meera Sethi [more inside]
After Koovagam, India's Largest Transgender Festival: "Some of the transgender women you see on the street were training to be lawyers or engineers," says Rangeela, who is one of a handful in her circle who did not drop out of school. "I hope in that in 10 years those people can go on with their careers and not be stuck into a life of prostitution." [more inside]
English words are becoming more popular in various Indian languages (Hindi is the language that's predominantly discussed in the article). Vise versa: words that English owes to India (again, predominately discussing Hindi).
A mahout is the person charged with looking after an elephant, a relationship that lasts for the duration of both their lives. As part of his responsibilities, the mahout regularly bathes the elephant in his charge, massaging its thick hide with the husks of coconuts.
Francis Fukuyama on 'The End of History?' twenty-five years later: "liberal democracy still doesn't have any real competitors," but to get there... [more inside]
“Hindus are, on average, richer and more educated than Muslims. But oddly, the child mortality rate for Hindus is much higher. All observable factors say Hindus should fare better, but they don't. Economists refer to this as the Muslim mortality puzzle. In a new study, researchers believe that they may have found a solution to the puzzle. And, surprisingly, the solution lies in a single factor – open defecation.” [more inside]
Indian court asked to rule on whether Hindu guru dead or meditating: Since January 29 of this year, Sri Ashutosh Maharaj, founder of the Divya Jyoti Jagrati Sansthan religious sect, has been residing in a freezer in his ashram in Punjab. His followers claim he is in a "deep meditative state (samadhi)." Doctors, however, have declared Maharaj clinically dead and his family have sued to have his death be investigated and to have his body released for cremation. The guru's son also alleges that Maharaj was murdered and that his followers are trying to gain control of his estate, said to be worth $170 million. While traditional yogis have claimed extraordinary powers, including the power to stop one's heart, the evidence for these claims has been lacking.
For the past two weeks, the back of my mind has been occupied by thoughts of how to start writing about my experience as a white man in India. The list of potential anecdotes is interminable. Perhaps a theoretical grounding would prove a more incisive framework. Or maybe I need to talk about everything that I am. I am more than a skin colour. I am a gender. I am a nationality. I am a language. I am a class. I am a sexual orientation. The overlapping privileges encompassed in a straight, white, English-speaking, relatively affluent American man can be more difficult to disentangle than one might imagine.
How Naspers CEO Koos Bekker beat the New York Times at its own game by Michael Moritz [more inside]
An election spread over 42 days with 550 Mn people (66% of eligible voters), 930,000 polling booths, more than a 1000 parties, 545 seats and approximately $6 Bn spent. These elections come at time when India is going through huge changes. The economy has slowed down from its heady days of 9% growth to around 5% growth. The current coalition government headed by congress was mired in scandals and policy paralysis. The demographic dividend has resulted in a large number of youth participating in elections. [more inside]
The entire first episode of John Oliver's new current-events comedy show on HBO, Last Week Tonight, is viewable on its official YouTube Channel. [more inside]
Royal Enfield motorcycles are built in Chennai, where they are painted by by hand.
In order to combat public defecation in India, the UN has created an anthropomorphic cartoon turd with a tune that's catchy as hell.
The Supreme Court of India directed the Indian Government to include a new gender category to include people who don't identify as the traditional male or female. My head spins as I write this. A combination of being woken up suddenly from heavy sleep and a sudden jerk of pleasant shock has left my head spinning. I am humming some sweet songs in celebration! Hurray!Supreme Court ruling grants transgender recognition and OBC status* in India. [more inside]
"I will be honest," says Muruganantham. "I would not even use it to clean my scooter." The incredible and funny story of a man who set out to change the way sanitary pads are viewed and made in India.
"Each represented very separate interest groups, and their battle unfolded in the heart of India’s national movement. What they said and did continues to have an immense bearing on contemporary politics. Their differences were (and remain) irreconcilable. Both are deeply loved and often deified by their followers. It pleases neither constituency to have the other’s story told, though the two are inextricably linked. Ambedkar was Gandhi’s most formidable adversary. He challenged him not just politically or intellectually, but also morally. To have excised Ambedkar from Gandhi’s story, which is the story we all grew up on, is a travesty. Equally, to ignore Gandhi while writing about Ambedkar is to do Ambedkar a disservice, because Gandhi loomed over Ambedkar’s world in myriad and un-wonderful ways." [more inside]
In the beginning, all saris were created equal, then they weren’t. enter the border: functional accoutrement, artisanal medium, class distinction.
Trip to Mars Doesn’t Have to Break the Bank
Just days after the launch of India’s Mangalyaan satellite, NASA sent off its own Mars mission, five years in the making, named Maven. Its cost: $671 million. The budget of India’s Mars mission, by contrast, was just three-quarters of the $100 million that Hollywood spent on last year’s space-based hit, “Gravity.” “The mission is a triumph of low-cost Indian engineering,” said Roddam Narasimha, an aerospace scientist and a professor at Bangalore’s Jawaharlal Nehru Center for Advanced Scientific Research. “By excelling in getting so much out of so little, we are establishing ourselves as the most cost-effective center globewide for a variety of advanced technologies,” said Mr. Narasimha.(NYTSL)
Qatar has proposed a bold vision of its future in 2022, but at what cost? In September 2013, the Guardian reported that up to 4,000 migrant workers would die during the construction process for Qatar's staging of the football World Cup in 2022. The Pravasi Nepali Coordination Committee, an advocacy group representing Nepalese and South Asian migrant workers, estimates that 400 Nepalese have died on Qatari construction sites since 2010. Nepalese make up around 20% of the migrant workforce. In the past two years 450 Indian workers have died on construction sites. [more inside]
Why free speech loses in India “The Hindus: An Alternative History,” an eight-hundred-page book by Wendy Doniger, an eminent professor of religion at the University of Chicago, will be removed from Indian book shops. Penguin Books India, which first published the book, in 2009, signed an out-of-court settlement with an advocacy group, the Shiksha Bachao Andolan Samiti, who claim to be defending 'the sentiments of Hindus all over the world.'"
In response to India's Supreme Court re-affirming an anti-gay law, the comic strip Dilbert has announced that Asok the Intern is officially gay. Of course it's not the first time that a comic character has come out.
At first sight the search for peace and stability in Iraq, and the search for physical and mental fitness in the extreme contortions of modern Yoga seem to have absolutely nothing in common. But curiously they do. Both the terrible structural problems and distortions that underly Iraqi society today, and the strange, contorted poses that millions of people perform every day in things like Bikram's Hot Yoga, actually come from the fevered imagination of the British ruling class one hundred years ago. As they felt Britain's power declining they wanted desperately to go back into the past and create a purer and more innocent world, uncorrupted by the messiness of the modern industrial world - a new Eden forged both by strengthening and purifying the human body and by inventing new model countries round the world. And we are still suffering from the consequences of that terrible nostalgia. BODYBUILDING AND NATION-BUILDING