Showing posts from November, 2006

Oprah and burnout

I happened to hear Oprah today, and she was interviewing women in their 40's, who had through suffering reached a level of transformation. The first was Ellen Burstyn, followed by Sheryl Crow and then Dana Buchanan. Ellen, an actress, had faced poverty, and abusive relationships, patterns she kept repeating until she meditated and with the help of therapy changed her mindset. Sheryl Crow, a musician, was about to get married to Lance Armstrong (a cycling champion), but things did not work out, and they broke up and two weeks later, she realized she had breast cancer. She saw this as an opportunity to wake up. Dana Buchanan a fashion designer, had she thought a perfect life, until she had a daughter who was learning disabled. She kept up the facade of being a perfect career woman, perfect mother, perfect wife, until she suffered a panic attack, that made her feel that she was dying. This was her opportunity to find her true self.

All the women spoke about the roles that society impo…

big sugar: sweet, white and deadly

Here is a review of a documentary I saw on the role of Sugar through history. The living conditions of the slaves used to work the plantations in the 18th century Caribbean, and the Haitians used now in the big plantations seemed hauntingly similar. Sugar is heavily subsized in the U.S. and the whole junk food industry is composed of sugars.

Big Sugar explores the dark history and modern power of the world's reigning sugar cartels. Using dramatic reenactments, it reveals how sugar was at the heart of slavery in the West Indies in the 18th century, while showing how present-day consumers are slaves to a sugar-based diet. A lost chapter of Canadian history is discovered, illustrating how 18th century sugar lobbyists in England used blackmail and bribes to determine the fate of Canada.

Toronto writer Lisa Codrington visits Barbados to investigate her family's connection to the Codrington plantation, where the ruthless slave master was also a sexual predator. Meanwhile, writer Carl…

Sanjay Dutt is not a terrorist

I am glad that the Bombay courts have acquitted Indian actor Sanjay Dutt of terrorism charges under T.A.D.A (Terrorist and Disruptive Activities Act 1987). This act was similar to the U.S.’s patriot act. T.A.D.A. was enforced for many years in India, often framing innocent Sikhs, Muslims, People from the North East and anyone challenging the India State.

Here is some background on the judgement and the actor in the outlook here and here

Sanjay Dutt gets a dream judgment — all charges dropped under TADA and convicted only under Indian Arms Act, for which he would face a maximum of three years in prison, out of which he has already served 16 months.

Judge P D Kode of the TADA court announced, "During my reasoning I have not found him (Sanjay Dutt) to be a terrorist," there was a collective sense of justice having been finally delivered.

The judge went on to say, "Considering matters in his confession and also taking into account certain admissions from other evidence, I acce…

Casino Royale and Babel

I saw Casino Royale on Thanksgiving, and did not like it much, but according to the people that I saw it with, it was a new Bond for a changed world. Here is a review that called it pure testosterone pleasure.

The verdict is in: the deliciously brooding Daniel Craig is an edgy and eclectic James Bond, deftly grabbing the reins from perennial uber-Bond Sean Connery.

No gimmicky nuclear warheads, extreme heli-skiing or Pierce Brosnan’s namby-pambies; this 007 is all business – hungry, raw and irrefutably willing to lay it down for queen and country.

This go around James is tackling the money man for the world’s most notorious terrorists. Le Chiffre (Mads Mikkelsen) is a criminal mastermind with an unquenchable thirst for hard currency. A series of explosive events lead Bond and the creepy Le Chiffre to face off in a high-rollers poker showdown at the luxurious Casino Royale in posh Montenegro.

Aiding Bond in his quest to vanquish evil is gorgeous Treasury agent Vesper Lynd (Eva Green), a br…

In the Land of the Taliban

The undefeated why the taliban have returned, by Elizabeth Rubin

Elizabeth Rubin has written a detailed analysis in the New York Times magazine on the return of the Taliban in Afghanistan.

Her thesis is that Pakistan is responsible for the rebirth of the Taliban.

The reasons are

1. The Durand Line, the boundary drawn by the British in 1893 to separate the Pashtun tribes who were revolting against the British. Afghanistan has never recognized this arbitrary line. Pakistan wants it recognized in return for stability in Afghanistan.

2. Musharraf needs to appease the religious parties to extend his power. He bought them off, by giving them control of the North West Frontier Province and Baluchistan and let them use the Taliban.

3. Pakistan wants Afghanistan to remain it’s client state, and not pursue as Karzai is doing, business dealings and security with India and the U.S

Living without fear

Living without fear

I went for a wonderful lecture at the Sivananda Center, titled Living without Fear. It was taught by Gauri Devi.

Changes cause fear. It is what we do, not what we say. Action has magic. The world is our challenge. Mediation leads to contentment and that spreads happiness and honesty.

Fear is a negativity that we need to counter with its opposite which is courage.
We need to use our breath in every situation, it helps to calm the nerves.
When we mediate we exercise concentration. This enables us to thin out thoughts, leading to one thought. The goal is to have less and less wandering thoughts.

Yoga is the place where there are no thoughts. It is a chance to let go of the ego. The ego is the identification of who we are. We need to go beyond the limitations of our life and reach the stage of Brahman or complete bliss.

When we are fearful we need to go back to the affirmation that we are more than the limiting experience of fear. And instead see the emotion as a natural fl…

Eqbal Ahmad Terrorism Theirs and Ours

Here is an article by Eqbal Ahmad, titled Terrorism their and ours.

Terrorism: Theirs and Ours
By Eqbal Ahmad
(A Presentation at the University of Colorado, Boulder, October 12, 1998)

In the 1930s and 1940s, the Jewish underground in Palestine was described as “TERRORIST.” Then new things happened.

By 1942, the Holocaust was occurring, and a certain liberal sympathy with the Jewish people had built up in the Western world. At that point, the terrorists of Palestine, who were Zionists, suddenly started to be described, by 1944-45, as “freedom fighters.” At least two Israeli Prime Ministers, including Menachem Begin, have actually, you can find in the books and posters with their pictures, saying “Terrorists, Reward This Much.” The highest reward I have noted so far was 100,000 British pounds on the head of Menachem Begin, the terrorist.

Then from 1969 to 1990 the PLO, the Palestine Liberation Organization, occupied the center stage as the terrorist organization. Yasir Arafat has been des…

Internet Pharmacy and the Bansal Family

Fascinating story about online pill dealers. I guess the coverage is going to continue for a week. We have two chapters already. Stay tuned!


I tried reading Londonstani by Gautam Malkani. But I just could not get into it.
It starts off violently with a gora being bashed by Hardjit, the violent gang leader. The dialogue is unreadable and their seems to be no depth to any of the characters.

Here is a review by Kamila Shamshie in the Guardian.

Chiquita gives birth

Chiquita gives birth

Chiquita was my beautiful black Labrador, she and Raziya were Badshah and Bijli’s last litter. My parents had got Badshah and Biji soon after their marriage, and we grew up with both of them and their numerous puppies. They were both black labs and were gentle, loving and caring to me and my brother and lots of our cousins.

When I was eleven and sleeping in my bedroom, I felt a warm feeling seeping into my mattress. Chiquita had decided to break her water on my bed. I saw Chiquita moving around uncomfortably and whelping with pain. I looked at my feet, and nearby lying in an amniotic sac was a puppy. I carefully picked up the puppy and took it to it's birthing center, which was in the bathroom, in a box with hay and blankets to keep Chiquita and her puppies warm. Soon Chiquita popped out five more puppies, and was licking the membrane and the puppies. This membrane must be ruptured so that the puppy can breathe. Her puppies were adorable, tiny, helpless, jet bl…

Fast Food Nation the movie

Fast Food Nation, the book by Eric Schlosser was great and now the movie by Richard Linklater is brilliant. The director has been able to translate a book with a lot of facts and figures into a movie that is engaging and shocking.

The movie focuses on the meat packing industry and the fast food industry. The focus is on the work that people are often forced to do, for instance illegal workers from Mexico and poor whites working at Mickey’s franchise. The movie moves around a lot of stories. Don Anderson (Greg Kinnear), an executive at Mickey’s is sent to Cody, Colorado to verify information that Mickey’s burgers contain shit. Ashley Johnson as Amber, the high school student who after working at Mickey’s realizes that she needs to leave Mickey’s and Cody to fulfil her ambitions. Raul (Wilmer Valderrama) and Sylvia (Catalina Sandino Moreno), newly arrived immigrants from Mexico are trying to fulfill the basic American dream of earning money and having a good life. The stories of the expl…

Annie Leibovitz at the Brooklyn Museum

Annie Leibovitz’s photos feature in an exhibit at the Brooklyn Museum. The work encompasses her personal and professional photographs. For me the personal photographs of her mother, her father’s death and her partner Susan Sontag’s deterioration due to cancer were very powerful. Her celebrity portraits include Johnny Cash, Nicole Kidman, Mikhail Baryshnikov, Patti Smith and William Burroughs. Her image of a pregnant Demi Moore’s belly with her and her husband Bruce Willis, masculine hands over her belly was inspiring.

Even though the NYT panned her exhibit, I found her family portraits, some of her celebrity images and her photographs of Jordan very strong and moving.



Cars doing a head stand


Tree over house


Bent out of shape fan


Remains of a Bed


After the Flood Photographs by Robert Polidori

The Metropolitan Museum of Art has devastating photo exhibit of the destruction that Hurricane Katarina caused to buildings in New Orleans.

Robert Polidori (Canadian, b. 1951), one of the world's premier architectural photographers, has recorded the disasters of our time as well as the failures of contemporary society. Amid the scenes of destruction and chaos in New Orleans, as in his past projects in Havana, Versailles, and Chernobyl, Polidori finds a formal beauty that radiates stillness and compassion and invites contemplation. The wrecked rooms, collapsed houses, and ravaged neighborhoods on view in "After the Flood" become metaphors for human fragility. Using a large-format camera, natural light, and unusually long exposures, Polidori records the destruction with a mastery of color, light, shadow, and texture that brings to life discarded mementos and mud-caked belongings. In each image, the artist seems to have captured the very air of New Orleans, weighted heavily …

The Anatomy of a Tiger India High and Low By P.Sainath

A critical article by P.Sainath, on India's development, starting with inequalities in education to labor and rural suicides.

India High and Low By P. SAINATH

Your child will be served "food from many traditions including Indian, Continental, Mexican and Chinese. Meals are carefully planned by expert dieticians and only premium quality mineral water, juice and organically cultivated fruit, vegetables and eggs are served." That's from the website of one of New Delhi's fancier schools.

And who could resist the offer? Here's a school that will turn your kid into a global citizen who can dine with the best of them. Not into some clod who can't tell a pasta from pav bhaji.

Note the reassuring insertion of `organic' for those possessed of a social conscience. The jargon, at least, is from the right menu. Though I wonder if the dieticians are based at those Delhi five-star hotels that have actually catered meals for this kind of school for a while. The options…

Megacity Lagos Nigeria

George Packer has written an insightful article on The Mega City decoding the chaos of Lagos, in the current issue of the New Yorker.
Lagos is the sixth largest city in the world, with the fastest growing population.
Lagos airport has a fearsome reputation, with its official shakedowns and swarming touts. Once you make it to the city you are surrounded by armed robbers, con men, corrupt policeman and homicidal bus drivers.
In this city only .4% of the inhabitants have a toilet connected to a sewer system.
Muslim Hausas from the North coexist in the slums with Christian Yorubas from the South. Armed gangs represent the interests of both groups.
Informal transactions make up at least 60% of economic activity, crowds of boys as young as eight hawk everything from cell phones to fire extinguishers.
Writers like Robert Neuwirth have popularized the idea of an urban slum dwellers as heroic builders of the cities of tomorrow and Stewart Brand, founder of the Whole Earth catalog, refers to slums…

plunging in


natures beauty


gold and greens


the earth dressed in golds, reds and rusts


oranges, rusts


rose red




leaf floating in water


leafless bare trees


white bark


roots and leaves


weaping willows


oranges and golds


fall foliage in reds


red bush




fall in new york

Spring and Fall are my favourite here are some images of fall on a beautiful sunny day.

Nancy Pelosi first woman speaker of the house


Democrats win House of Representatives

Democrats seize control of house

A loud message for bush

Senate in Balance, as Bush battered

Pelosi to be speaker of the house.

illegal immigrants poem

The Independent reports this.

A horrible poem that was written by councillor Ellenor Bland, who stood as a Tory candidate for Swansea East in the last election. Her husband David, apparently forwarded this disgusting poem, which found its home on a neo-nazi site, as well as Boris Johnson's website. Boris Johnson, is the conservative party's higher education spokesman.

I cross ocean poor and broke
Take bus, see employment folk.
Nice man treat me good in there.
Say I need to see welfare.
Welfare say, "You come no more, we send cash right to your door."
Welfare cheques - they make you wealthy! NHS - it keep you healthy!
By and by, I got plenty money.
Thanks to you, British dummy!
Write to friends in motherland.
Tell them "come fast as you can".
They come in turbans and Ford trucks.
I buy big house with welfare bucks!
They come here, we live together.
More welfare cheques, it gets better!
Fourteen families, they moving in, but neighbour's patience wearing thin.
Finally, whi…

A Great Day for Iraq

Article by Robert Fisk, in the Outlook, on the verdict against Saddam Hussein, A great day for Iraq.

So America's one-time ally has been sentenced to death for war crimes he committed when he was Washington's best friend in the Arab world. America knew all about his atrocities and even supplied the gas - along with the British, of course - yet there we were yesterday declaring it to be, in the White House's words, another "great day for Iraq". That's what Tony Blair announced when Saddam Hussein al-Tikriti was pulled from his hole in the ground on 13 December 2003. And now we're going to string him up, and it's another great day.

Of course, it couldn't happen to a better man. Nor a worse. It couldn't be a more just verdict - nor a more hypocritical one. It's difficult to think of a more suitable monster for the gallows, preferably dispatched by his executioner, the equally monstrous hangman of Abu Ghraib prison, Abu Widad, who would strike h…

Shiloh Choir at Convent Baptist Church

I went to hear the senior choir of Shiloh Baptist church of Washington DC, at the Convent avenue Baptist Church last weekend. The church is in the heart of Harlem, on a 145th street and Convent Avenue.

It is a large stone building with beautiful stained glass windows, and a simple interior. The congregation was mostly older women and men, very few young people. The pastor was a woman, who felt the music and the spirit of the sacred place. The women wore big colorful hats, the men wore suits. The audience appreciated the music by standing up, clapping, praising God and often raising their hands to feel the power of the music.

The program started with We are Surrounded, followed by Psalm 150, the Majesty and Glory of Your Name, Sanctus and Glorious Everlasting. The second part was Tis' So sweet to trust in Jesus, Come, thou Fount of Every Blessing followed by Amazing Grace. After intermission we heard Old time religion, Since I met Jesus, At the Cross and Magnificant.

My favorite wa…

Anne Tyler Digging to America

I just finished reading a wonderful, luminous book by Anne Tyler, titled Digging to America. It is about two families, the Yazdans, an Iranian family and the Donaldsons, an American family. They meet at Baltimore airport, waiting for their adopted daughters from Korea to arrive.

Powell's summarizes it here.

Bitsy Donaldson impulsively invites the Yazdans to celebrate with an "arrival party," an event that is repeated every year as the two families become more deeply intertwined.
Even independent-minded Maryam is drawn in. But only up to a point. When she finds herself being courted by one of the Donaldson clan, a good-hearted man of her vintage, recently widowed and still recovering from his wife's death, suddenly all the values she cherishes — her traditions, her privacy, her otherness — are threatened. Somehow this big American takes up so much space that the orderly boundaries of her life feel invaded.

It was amazing how Anne Tyler was able to capture the lives of I…