Sunday, January 04, 2009

Things Desi Americans Need to Stop Doing

It now has been over a year since I moved to the United States of America. Within such a period of time, sociable and friendly individuals do accrue a horde of social acquaintances who serve as pleasant distractions during the tedious weekends. I sadly, due to my frugal social skills and outlandish opinions have gotten myself expelled from all such weekend-collectives. G. however does not exude the same toxic social fumes that I do. She therefore has managed to, over the period of time, expose me to a variegated collection of expatriated Indians. I however am sad to report that all have found me equally unpalatable. I understand that there are glaring flaws in me which do disqualify me for the position of red-hotness in the American-Indian communities, but the American Desi community too is not without its share of rather disturbing characteristics, a few of which I intend to point out in this post. I am fully aware that gross generalizations are always wrong, but they are also awfully convenient. I choose convenience over correctness and proceed.

  • I would like to humbly request the Desi collectives to cease and desist from the much venerated potluck format. I am always honoured and consider myself privileged to have been invited to your home, but please do not ask me to carry my food from my home. It is very much like carrying a lunch-box to school. It brings back numerous harrowing memories -- of cold lunches and quadratic equations. Also, unpleasant combinations of the two.
  • Desi people, you really have to stop creating clever little portmanteaus combining you and your spouse's name and then putting those combinations on your car tags. I do realise that you really do not care for the fact that every time I see such a tag my teeth grind, but do think about this -- The 2006 Honda Accord may be an excellent package in terms of price, performance and fuel-economy, but as an edifice for the undying love between you and your spouse, it is rather tawdry.
  • I love Bollywood. It is wonderful for its campy cheesiness. What it certainly is not is a cultural entity. Most of Bollywood is artistically and culturally bankrupt. So, what we Desis really really need to do is stop elevating Bollywood to a position where it is perceived to be the Desi cultural purport. It is in all honesty, a trifle embarrassing. We Desis are fortunate to have a musical heritage which is exquisite and complex, a literary heritage which is deeply spiritual and brutally honest. If one does not have an understanding or appreciation of them, silence I think is called for.
  • There is another habit among Desi Americans which disturbs me a bit. You guys have to stop going to Manhattan and getting yourself photographed in front or back of the Wall Street Bull as illustrated in the figure below. The photograph clicking part of it all is really fine. What tends to really disturb me is the fact that one then goes ahead and and puts that photograph up in their orkut profiles. Seeing your heads ensconced between those humongous bronze butt-cheeks tend to give me the heebie-jeebies.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Some Heartfelt Fuck-yous

It is the 27th of Nov 2008 and Mumbai is under attack. A wonderful occasion to convey a few heartfelt feelings. So here goes.

  • My first heartfelt fuck-you goes out to the Indian security agencies for failing yet again. Every 30 days, we have gruesome terrorist attacks on one of our cities. It happens with clockwork precision and you guys have not been able to stop them. This time, we do not have a sneaky car bomb. What we have is an organized military assault on civilian establishments. As expected, you guys had no clue. If you continue with your present form, we will surely end up with many more of these attacks and you will not be able to stop them. So, fuck you.
  • Another humongous fuck-you goes out to the Indian government. You have completely failed to protect the Indian citizen. You had been hired to do so, and you have completely underperformed. Please grow a pair and quit. Stand up and call yourself the failure and incompetent dolt that you are.
  • A large, juicy fuck-you for me and the rest of the Indian people. We have never ever demanded from the government any form of accountability. We have been happily paying our taxes to a bunch of fat-cats who have done nothing to protect us. Everybody is carrying a gun and shooting at random. The only person who is not armed is the innocent law-abiding citizen. There are one of two things we can do -- (a) Stand up and ask the government for answers, or (b) stand up and ask the government for the right to bear arms. We have asked for neither. So, fuck us.
  • Last but not the least, a huge fuck-you to Deepak Chopra. Deepak Chopra, fuck-you. Here is the deal. If you do not know squat about foreign relations and terrorism, please do not talk about them on CNN. Please go and con morons with your meaningless books. You and your air-headed readership deserve each other. The rest of humanity does not deserve you. We already have a lot of bad juju going on and we do not need a numbskull like you acting as the expert on what is going on. Please keep your inane instant solutions for the whole terrorism problem to yourself. Your stupidity makes my teeth grind. So Deepak Chopra, please, please shut the fuck up and go away.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

The Times Of India Has Saved Me !

The Times Of India (TOI) is a publication par excellence. I lovingly call them the Airheaded Whores. Not only has it, over the years, been filling me in with the most pertinent and current issues, it has very recently even managed to extricate me from the cesspool that is my social life ! The curious reader at this juncture would raise the Questioning Eyebrow and ask "How on earth is that even fricking possible ?" The truthful reader would also go on to say "Your social life is beyond redemption man !"

I therefore point you towards this brilliant bit of writing and public service. This article single handedly will transform one from a smelly, unwanted drunk to a smooth woman "lurer". One is strongly urged to peruse this extremely valuable bit of writing. The biggest learnings that I have been able to glean from the hallowed article are as follows:

  1. That "Even if you're funny and charming, you're not going to get far with a woman if you smell"
  2. If your "approach" towards dating "involved getting drunk" it might have been the wrong thing to do.
  3. "Have a clean bedroom, clean sheets - and a lamp to create romantic lighting"
  4. And the most important learning of them all -- "Don't mix with loser friends"
I am truly a changed man ! Ladies, please get ready to be lured !

Sunday, June 08, 2008

My New Accent

Time does pass and one finds oneself living in the US of A for a good part of a year. There have been many observations and insights which have been made during this time. One intends to eventually document them but this post is not about one of them -- it is about my English. Americana has had numerous effects on me, the most notable being my spoken English.

Apart from imbibing the idiomatic idiosyncrasies of the American version of the English language, I find myself picking up the accent too. It is a strange conundrum. I have all my life spoken my English with a thickish Bengali accent. For that matter, I have spoken all languages with the thickish Bengali accent. I now speak with a thickish Bengali accent coupled with an American modulation. The resultant effect, I think, is a Cambodian accent. I make such a preposterous claim since I have been suspected of being Cambodian in two independent situations. This has not bothered me. I really do not mind a Cambodian aspect to my personality. It is the closest I can get to becoming an international man of mystery. This status-quo however has been very short lived. Things have, since then taken a sinister turn.

It happened at Starbucks today. I went up to the counter, and asked the dispenser-of-wholesome-caffeine for something. What I eventually got was very refreshing and cool. The reader is however urged to note the fact that I do not, till now, know as to what I had asked for. As I was gratefully sucking away at the concoction of crushed ice and caffeine, the shocking realization hit me -- I, myself cannot comprehend my accent anymore. It is a sad and disconcerting revelation.

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Chepa Mach, Shidol, Ngaari in the DC Metropolitan Area !!

I by nature am not a very helpful person. However there comes a time when one is armed with such invaluable knowledge that one has to pass it on. As the spiderman movies have so wisely opined -- "With great power comes great responsibility."

So ladies and gentlemen, here is the momentous news. After two months of frenzied and single-minded research, I have been able to, in my DC Metropolitan Area apartment, create a full bodied, volcanic, sweat-inducing shidol-chutney, completely from locally procured resources. A significant portion of my scant readership is now raising the Questioning Eyebrow and saying "Eh ? Shidol what ?". So I proceed to do some light-shedding. To the faithful, Shidol is also known as Hidol, Ngaari, Sepa Maach and Tungtap among other hallowed names. The faithless however prefer to term it as that-fermented-fish-from-stinky-hell. This treatise is for the faithful.

Any true aficionado of the Shidol-Chutney realises that there are two essential ingredients which make the soul of the chutney. The first being the awe-inspiring and volcanic Naga Morich or a pepper/chilly of equal potential. The second of course, is the Shidol itself. Once armed with these two, the rest is personal artistry. Here is how one may go about procuring them:
How To Get the Shidol:

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The location depicted above houses a row of Bangladeshi stores. Some of them do stock frozen Shidol. Ask for Sepa Maach or Shidol. They are not as fragrant as the ones one is wont to have, but they do serve very very well.
How to get the Naga Morich:
Sadly, the Naga Morich is not be found around here. One however has a more-than-passable substitute. One can drop into any supermarket and pick up a bunch of one of the Scotch Bonnet peppers. The Habanero variety is the best of the lot. After some experimentation, I have arrived at the conclusion that about two of these peppers amount to one small Naga Morich. These peppers however are not as fragrant as the Indian counterparts. So, one could contemplate adding a slice of a red bell pepper for the fragrance. So in review, if you crush two habanero peppers with a slice of red bell pepper, you get one Naga Morich.

I shall not explain the method for actually making the chutney because the ingredients and proportions in ones chutney are deeply personal nobody can tell one how to do it. One just knows.

UPDATE : On the Bhoot Jolokia / Naga Morich. If possible, use this one in the chutney

Friday, January 25, 2008

Money and Happiness

Money cannot buy happiness, but can buy interesting alternatives.

Monday, January 07, 2008

An Open Letter To Mr Andrew Symonds

Dear Mr Symonds,
This letter is about this recent fracas that you have got into with our cricket team. I understand that there has been some serious offence taken, on your part, with respect to some part of our cricket team pointing out the rather hairy (no pun intended) fact that you actually look like a monkey. I can understand your anguish and I truly empathise. I however am rather perplexed at the fact that you have decided to play the race card on this count.

I would like to assure you that the fact that you have the simian-semblance has nothing to do with your race, colour or heritage. It, like the proverbial shit, has happened. Some people remind others of the Brad Pitts and of the Denzel Washingtons. They are lucky. They are called good-looking. Some people sadly do not carry the same visual appeal. They remind other people of monkeys. I too occupy the position of the monkey-reminder within my peer group and I am fully aware of the fact that the position is not enviable. The consolation however, is that this lack of visual appeal does not result in making me a bad engineer and neither does it result in making you a bad cricketer. All it results in, is the paucity of sex. We monkey-reminders do not get the hot action as often as we would want to (or deserve to). That is all.

I am therefore rather puzzled at the fact that you should construe such an observation as racism, and as a result throw up such a tantrum. I have travelled and lived in different parts of the world and I would like to inform you that I have seen monkey-reminders in all colours and races. It is an international, cross-cultural phenomenon. To prove my claim, I present Exhibit A:

Although hard to believe, this is the very person who called you those names when you had called him a few. The next time he says not-so-nice-things about you, show him Exhibit A. That should shut him up. Running to the match referee, in all honesty is a bit pansy-ish.

Calling you a monkey is a a shallow observation, and a cheap shot at something as facile as personal appearance, but racism ? Come on Mr. Symonds, that is a wee bit extreme. What would be really really sad would be the fact that if people would construe your ( and Ponting's ) act as a convenient and cheap ruse to get back at a player who has been giving Ponting a difficult time on the cricket pitch. We would never know, but if you have done that, that would sadly be a great disservice to your heritage.

A great fan of your cricket,
Bald Monkey