Showing posts from June, 2007

Arise, Sir Salman!

Priyamvada Gopal has an insightful perspective on Sir Salman.

Is America a shining example of a multi-party political system and accountable government? Rushdie's list of 'what matters' pays pious lip service to 'a more equitable distribution of resources' while stressing 'kissing in public places, bacon sandwiches and cutting-edge fashion' priorities rather specifc to upper-class metropolitan glitterati. (Could cutting-edge fashion be connected to an inequitable distribution of the world's resources, one wonders?). The Muslim diaspora, Rushdie then opines, have values that are at odds 'with the Christian, Hindu, non-believing or Jewish cultures among which they live'.

Had Rushdie not compromised himself so severely, it would be easier for us to acknowledge the continuing relevance of some of what he says. He has rightly called for a fast-growing version of 'a self-exculpatory paranoid Islam' which blames 'outsiders' for all the i…

A Life

Fascinating story of my aunt Premalya's life from pre partition, to Independence in 1947, to her development as a sculptor.

Born in December, 1929, in a place called Abbottabad in the North West Frontier Province (now in Pakistan), I belonged to a well established old family and grew up amidst lots of love and laughter, with cousins, siblings, friends. From my earliest memories, though the family owned a lot of property, money, or the acquiring of it, was never considered a priority. Art, culture, current events were much more important.

Our maternal grandfather was a lawyer in Lahore (now also in Pakistan) and we had highly educated uncles, aunts and cousins. My eldest uncle qualified in Ceramics in 1928 and for years headed the largest pottery factory in Asia.

My paternal grandfather bought land, hills and forests, and built houses and hotels in many parts of the North West Frontier Province (NWFP). He also started several schools for boys and girls and built Government House, the…

The Lives of Others

Anthony Lane reviews this brilliant movie in the New Yorker.

If there is any justice, this year’s Academy Award for best foreign-language film will go to “The Lives of Others,” a movie about a world in which there is no justice. It marks the début of the German director Florian Henckel von Donnersmarck, of whom we have every right to be jealous. First, he is a stripling of thirty-three. Second, his name makes him sound like a lover with a duelling scar on his cheekbone in a nineteenth-century novel. And third, being German, he has an overwhelming subject: the postwar sundering of his country. For us, the idea of freedom, however heartfelt, is doomed to abstraction, waved by politicians as if they were shaking a flag. To Germans, even those of Donnersmarck’s generation, freedom is all too concrete, defined by its brute opposite: the gray slabs raised in Berlin to keep free souls at bay.

It is a tribute to the richness of the film that one cannot say for sure who the hero is. The most p…

good night


in my party frock






Nani & Anav


Breaking free of mother guilt..

Mothering Magazine has a wonderful article on Guilt free parenting.

A powerful mother is one who does not judge herself or others. Read the article above to see why acceptance is the key to guilt free parenting.

I.Q.'s and birth order

NYT had an article on a Norwegian study on I.Q's and birth order. Most first born children were quite excited about their higher I.Q.'s compared to their siblings. Above is a link to NYT readers questions on the study. I have never been strong on the view of I.Q.'s as being determinats of intelligence.

1.June 24th,
1:00 am What about differences between the second and third or fourth child? Does this three-point gap also apply to the subsequent children?

— Posted by V. Nhan
2.June 24th,
2:00 am One of the most interesting features of the new Norwegian study is that birth-order differences in I.Q. become smaller with increasing birth rank. The difference between a firstborn and a second-born in a family of two children is about 2.3 I.Q. points. The difference between a firstborn and a second-born in a family of three children is 2.1 I.Q. points. By contrast, the difference between a second-born and a third-born in the same family is only 1.1 I.Q. points. In a family of …

Benefits of Yoga

The Headstand- strength, peace, concentration, clarity, memory, brings spiritual understanding and vision.

The Shoulderstand- rejuvenate, balance, invigorating effect on the nervous system, physical inversion reflects on the mind. Ability to see clearly old mental patterns and let go.

The Plough- opening and strengthening of the spine, letting go of contractivness, deep surrender of negative patterns of the mind.

The Bridge- Strength and balance, "bridge between higher and lower parts of the body energetically speaking.

The Fish- Removal of tension from the shoulders, removal of worry and depression, opening of the spirit.

The Forward Bends- Stimulant of the sympathetic system, but at the same time makes the mind introspective, helps letting go, good for depression and negative states of mind, self acceptance.

The Inclined Plane- Strength and opening, vigor.

The Cobra- Strength in the back and kidneys, daring spirit, courage and spiritual awakening.

The Locust- Strength, strong back, end…

Rushdie Knighthood

Sadanand Dhume writes on the aftermath of the Rushdie Knighthood.

Sadanand Dhume, an Asia Society Fellow and a long-time contributor to Far Eastern Economic Review, WSJ and other publications, reacts to the angry response by some Muslims to the recent knighthood for Salman Rushdie.

...her majesty's conferral is a welcome example of something that has grown exceedingly rare: British backbone. After years of kowtowing to every fundamentalist demand imaginable -- from accommodating
the burqa in schools and colleges to re-orienting prison toilets to face
away from Mecca -- the British seem to be saying enough is enough. Nobody
expects Mr. Rushdie to be awarded the Nishan-e-Pakistan, the Collar of the
Nile or Iran's Islamic Republic Medal, but in Britain, as elsewhere in the
civilized world, great novelists are honored for their work. A pinched view
of the human condition or poorly imagined characters may harm your
prospects. Blasphemy does not.

Read the entire essay below and post yo…

A mighty heart

Rolling stone reviews this movie. I think Michael Winterbottom does a great job of capturing the tension in the movie, without exploiting the situation. Angelina Jolie represents the magnanimous spirit of Mariane Pearl very well.

Brangelina inspired a paparazzi frenzy by decorating the red carpet at May’s Cannes Film Festival - he as one of the Ocean’s Thirteen gang, she as the star of A Mighty Heart, a devastating real-life drama that his company, Plan B, co-produced. Both stars made a pile squandering their talents on 2005’s Mr. and Mrs. Smith. But A Mighty Heart reveals and rewards their deeper ambitions. Jolie plays journalist Mariane Pearl, the widow of Wall Street Journal reporter Daniel Pearl (Dan Futterman), who was kidnapped and murdered by jihadists in 2002.
Based on Mariane’s memoir, the film is given a raw and riveting docudrama treatment by the superb British director Michael Winterbottom, whose films - from Welcome to Sarajevo to 24 Hour Party People - are notable for the…

words of wisdom

on the World Wide Web
chosen by Lama Surya Das

* * * * * * * * *

Be so strong that nothing can disturb your peace of mind.
Talk health, happiness, and prosperity to every person you meet.
Make all your friends feel there is something special in them.
Look at the sunny side of everything.
Think only of the best, work only for the best, and expect only the best.
Be as enthusiastic about the success of others as you are about your own.
Forget the mistakes of the past and press on to the greater achievements of the future.
Give everyone a smile.
Spend so much time improving yourself that you have no time left to criticize others.
Be too big for worry and too noble for anger.

~ Christian D. Larsen

old black and white photographs






Expecting too much from our children

Mad Momma has a wonderful article on parents that want overachieving children. What happened to just wanting your child to be happy and content??

I am beginning to sound like a stuck record but I am sick of these parents who want their kids to be over achievers. Or even achievers. If I had one wish for my children, it would be that they are happy people. Not necessarily successful people. In fact most people feel that parents, especially stay at home mothers live their dreams through their children and want them to achieve professional success. I don't. I don't care what they do. As long as they are happy.

I don't care if they end up as beach bums, as long as they are happy. There. I said it. I am sick of people our age, having heart attacks at 28 (yes, I know two men who had heart attacks at 28!) due to stress. Chefs, engineers, artists, doctors, designers, gay, bisexual... anything..everything that others have thrown at me as options when I have made this statement earlie…

Keshav on his birthday




Uncle John


Aunt Josie


Palestine Fatah vs Hamas

Robert Fisk asks the question, How Will the Hypocritical West Deal with a Coup D'état by an Elected Government, in Palestine?

How troublesome the Muslims of the Middle East are. First, we demand that the Palestinians embrace democracy and then they elect the wrong party -- Hamas -- and then Hamas wins a mini-civil war and presides over the Gaza Strip. And we Westerners still want to negotiate with the discredited President, Mahmoud Abbas. Today "Palestine" -- and let's keep those quotation marks in place -- has two prime ministers. Welcome to the Middle East.

Who can we negotiate with? To whom do we talk? Well of course, we should have talked to Hamas months ago. But we didn't like the democratically elected government of the Palestinian people. They were supposed to have voted for Fatah and its corrupt leadership. But they voted for Hamas, which declines to recognise Israel or abide by the totally discredited Oslo agreement.

No one asked -- on our side -- which par…

Alternet on Consumer Celibacy

Wendee Holtcamp has an interesting article on her 30 days of consumer celibacy.

The original Compacters, who formed their group in early 2006, did not intend to start a movement. It was just 10 San Francisco friends trying to reduce their consumption by not buying new stuff for a year. The group's manifesto was simple: to counteract the negative global environmental and socioeconomic impacts of U.S. consumer culture. Named after the Pilgrims' revolutionary Mayflower Compact, the small idea led to a Yahoo Web site that has attracted more than 8,000 adherents and spawned some 50 groups in spots as far-flung as Hong Kong and Iceland.

What they don't say on the Compact Web site: Kicking consumerism may require its own 12-step program. So after my Hallmark relapse, I started again from square one. According to the guidelines, I must buy used, or borrow. No new stuff, with the exception of food, necessary medicines and health care items, and -- no joke -- underwear.

carom game


A Carom Board

We have not played carom for ages, now we can!

A Thousand Splendid Suns by Khaled Hosseini

I just finished reading this very depressing book. Kite Runner dealt with fathers and sons, this book deals with mothers and daughters. Here is a summary from the NYT.

In the case of “Splendid Suns,” Mr. Hosseini quickly makes it clear that he intends to deal with the plight of women in Afghanistan, and in the opening pages the mother of one of the novel’s two heroines talks portentously about “our lot in life,” the lot of poor, uneducated “women like us” who have to endure the hardships of life, the slights of men, the disdain of society.

This heavy-handed opening quickly gives way to even more soap-opera-ish events: after her mother commits suicide, the teenage Mariam — the illegitimate daughter of a wealthy man, who is ashamed of her existence — is quickly married off to a much older shoemaker named Rasheed, a piggy brute of a man who says it embarrasses him “to see a man who’s lost control of his wife.”

Rasheed forces Mariam to wear a burqa and treats her with ill-disguised contemp…

Working With Anger by Thubten Chodron

Working with Anger, by Thubten Chodron
Just finished reading this insightful book on anger management. This Buddhist monk combines psychological knowledge with spiritual wisdom. I am going to outline notes from the appendix of her book on techniques on working with anger, they are quite self explanatory.

Training in patience
Mindfully observe our anger
Understand each other’s needs and concerns
Ask ourselves whether the other person is happy

Coping with criticismAcknowledge our mistakes
Learn from our critics
Deal with false criticism calmly
Communicate well
Leave the situation if necessary
Learn to evaluate ourselves
Allow others their opinions
Don’t see criticism where there is none
Counteract the critical, judgmental attitude

The blaming gameSee how we co-create situations
Look from a broader perspective
Handle illness wisely

When our buttons are pushedKnow what our buttons are
Close the internal courtroom
Let go of the “rules of the universe”
Discover the real issue

Acceptance and empowerment
Accept wh…



my new crib


All Dressed Up


Is Open Marriage the Modern Couple's Answer to Infidelity?

Alternet has an interesting story on open marriages.

So, then, is open marriage the modern couple's answer to infidelity? Is it two people's attempt to reinvest in the idea of commitment, to define it on their own terms and to try to avoid divorce? Could it be viewed as an honest attempt to make marriage work? "I think that's what people tell themselves, but it raises a red flag for me," says Robboy. "It is incredibly common and incredibly destructive for couples to experiment with open marriage in response to problems or boredom in their sex life. This is not the time to experiment with open marriage. To experiment with open marriage, you have to be in an extremely healthy relationship."

Sean River Rafting




Diya, Saara, Saisha and Mira's head


The Clash Within

Pankaj Mishra reviews The Clash Within: Democracy, Religious Violence, and India's Future by Martha C. Nussbaum, in the New York Review of Books.

However, Nussbaum's strongly felt and stimulating book deepens rather than answers the question: How did India's democracy, commonly described as the biggest in the world, become so vulnerable to religious extremism?

Ideological fanaticism stemming from personal inadequacies, such as the one Nussbaum identifies in Arun Shourie, is certainly to blame. But as Nussbaum herself outlines in her chapter on Gujarat, religious violence in India today cannot be separated from the recent dramatic changes in the country's economy and politics. The individual defects of Indian politicians only partly explain the great and probably insuperable social and economic conflicts that give India's democracy its particular momentum and anarchic vitality.

Richard Nixon once said that those who think that India is governed badly should marvel at …


Khushwant Singh has written a very funny piece, in the Outlook, about his piles problem.

Well, I Nether!
Thoughts of a dignified, noble farewell quashed by an endoscopic bathos

Khushwant Singh

I crave the forgiveness of my readers for writing on a subject which is taboo in genteel circles. I also apologise in advance for using words which some people may find distasteful. I wouldn't be doing so if the end of my tale of woe was not so comic.

It all started during my recent summer vacation in Kasauli. I woke up one night with a queasy feeling in my stomach. Half asleep, I tottered to the loo to rid myself of my sleep-breaker. When I got up from the lavatory seat to flush out the contents, I was shocked to see I had passed a lot of blood with my stool. "Shit!" I said to myself, suddenly wide awake. The rest of the night was wasted in contemplation of the end. I had had a reasonable innings, close to scoring a century, so no regrets on that score. Was I creating a self-ima…

NYT criticizes Musharaff of Pakistan

If Gen. Pervez Musharraf were the democratic leader he indignantly insists he is, he would not be so busy threatening independent news outlets, arresting hundreds of opposition politicians and berating parliamentary leaders and ministers from his own party for insufficient loyalty to his arbitrary and widely unpopular policies.

But nobody takes General Musharraf’s democratic claims seriously anymore, except for the Bush administration, which has put itself in the embarrassing position of propping up the Muslim world’s most powerful military dictator as an essential ally in its half-baked campaign to promote democracy throughout the Muslim world. Washington needs to disentangle America, quickly, from the general’s damaging embrace.

The full article is here

Paris Hilton and Iraqi Prisoners

Juan Colehas an insightful comparison between the media attention on Paris Hilton and Iraqi Prisoners.

American cable news has been fixated on the jailing of socialite Paris Hilton for the past week, on grounds that she twice violated the probation sentence she earlier received for drunk driving. They interrupted coverage of world leaders at the G8. They briefly spliced in Gates's decision not to reappoint Peter Pace as chairman of the joint chiefs of staff. A new frenzy broke out with every tiny twist . She was brave, she was weeping, she was mentally fragile. She was released, she was rejailed, she shouted it was unfair and cried, she was undergoing psychiatric evaluation.

Just for a little perspective, we could consider the news from Iraq on Saturday. Incoming mortar fire from guerrillas hit Bucca prison, killing 6 inmates and wounding 50.

The US military is holding 19000 Iraqis, 16000 of them at Bucca. Although most are guerrillas or their helpers, a lot of them were …

I am not exotic, I am exhausted