MCN is one of two museum technology conferences that happen annually. While there are many talks and conversations diving deep into technical topics, the conference is most known for its threads on organizational culture and social transformation. Following are some of my major takeaways.
Following is a short talk that I gave at the Facilitated Conversation About Inclusion and Equity in Conservation and Preservation that took place before the American Institute for Conservation conference in May 2017. Afterwards are some details of the event.
To the tune of “wheels on the bus:”
Last night I gave an Ignite talk at MCN 2015 in Minneapolis about museums and oppression. An Ignite talk is a 5-minute presentation with 20 slides that advance automatically every 15 seconds. I fit a lot in there, so I thought it might be useful for folks at the conference to refer back to what I said. Below is a video, my slides, and the text from my talk, entitled Towards an Anti-Oppression Museum Manifesto:
Thoughts on how the board game Catan replicates early U.S. treatment of indigenous and black people for Indigenous People’s Day:
Several months ago, I wrote an article for the Incluseum blog breaking down ideas of oppression for the museum community: Oppression: A Museum Primer. Here’s an excerpt:
There’ve been discussions among museum professionals questioning if and how our institutions should participate in the movements that have arisen from Ferguson in some way. As I’m sure many people in the conversation have been, I’ve been extremely affected by the recent decisions to not indict law enforcement in the killings of unarmed black people, and these recent injustices have occupied my mind a great deal in recent weeks. I recognize that these decisions are part of a history of the state murdering black people with impunity that goes back hundreds of years. I also recognize that this history includes the murder of and sexual violence against women and trans folks as well, whose stories are often met with silence. With this weight, I share in the great mix of emotions many of us are experiencing. And if we do talk about responding in some way, I want it to be based on reason and compassion, with an understanding of our relationships with black people and our shared histories.
Over the past year, I’ve gotten together with a group of three of my friends who are men every two months or so to read writings by feminist authors. We’ve read fiction, non-fiction, and essays by feminist writers, mostly women of color. It’s been fun for me to connect with my friends in a new way, and for all of us to grow our thinking together and be critical of ways in which we participate in sexism, male domination and rape culture. Here’s essentially what I did to get it going:
During a panel about open authority at #MCN2014, I was struck by a question Porchia Moore asked: “why don’t visitors of color participate at the rates of other groups?” This is a question that I’ve pondered myself for some time, and I appreciated her creating space for discussion with other museum professionals.
For some years now, I’ve been wanting to rethink Diwali in a way that celebrates the holiday as an expression of my wishes and hopes for a new year. In a conversation about pujas and Hindu ritual this week, a friend said to me “personally, the best prayers are those that are from the heart.” Her words inspired me to let go of my longing for finding connection in rituals that I don’t understand to create an expression of ritual that is meaningful to me. I still appreciate that many Hindu rituals have been performed for a long time by people all over the world, there’s something powerful about sharing in a common consciousness through shared ritual. But this year, I thought I’d take some of the information and perspectives shared with me over the past several years to think about what a celebration of Diwali would be like that fully resonated with me.
I’ve been hearing about Linked Open Data for years. I’ve sat in on sessions at conferences and followed many discussions on Twitter and e-mail lists. At times, the tone of these conversations seemed like “this is such an awesome tool that nobody is using.” But I never really understood what it was. I was left still wondering “WTF is Linked Open Data?”
About a year ago, a colleagues asked the question: how can I access our Development department’s Raiser’s Edge data remotely? He was developing an iPhone app that needed access to our museum’s membership data and didn’t have a way to do so. To solve the problem we set up a nightly process to export a slice of our member data and import it into a simple Drupal 7 site that we set up to act as a SOAP server. Documented here is how we put the solution together.
2013 was another big year for me, from taking better care of myself, growing in my work and enjoying life. Here are some of the highlights.
At my work we have a legacy system running on it’s last legs. I spent some time figuring out how to export data from it, and documented it for other’s to reference. Here’s an except:
A few weeks ago, a garment factory in Bangladesh collapsed, killing over 1,000 workers. Since then, I’ve been thinking about how globalization and excess consumerism (i.e., my shopping habits) have impacted other nations and their people.
Aparna Sharma, a friend and leader in the South Asian artist activist community, passed away on February 9th after a hard fight against cancer. I’m shocked and deeply saddened by this loss.
Today is the last day of Navratri, an important holiday in my family. Last year I summarized the holiday and wrote about Navratri as a celebration of collective decision for action. This year, I’ve been thinking about the holiday from a different perspective, and some complicated questions have arisen for me.
Therapy Journal June 13, 2009 | Saturday night
Navratri is a Hindu holiday celebrating the Mother Goddess’ triumph over evil. Over the past year, I’ve also been thinking of it as a celebration of the collective action of people to create liberating change in our world.
This week President Obama announced that the U.S. military killed Osama bin Laden. As a response, people flocked to the White House and Ground Zero partying to the news, chanting “USA! USA!” I’m frightened and confused at the celebration of violence as a resolution to conflict, and I’m particularly hurt by a sentiment underlying this response: that South and West Asians are valueless and disposable.
I’ve been blessed to collaborate with some amazing artists on a performance work over the past year or so. I’ve composed sound for the ~30 minute work that will debut at Columbia’s Dance Center as part of their Ten Year Celebration on September 25th.
Anida Yoeu Ali’s “The 1700% Project” is a fierce, passionate response against violence directed at Muslim communities since 9/11. Using text found in hate crimes that were filed, she writes of acts of violence against the Muslim community, and folks mistaken for being Muslim, and uses her writing as a launch-point for a multi-disciplinary work. This retelling of real reports is as compelling as it is horrifying. She uses quotes taken directly from the mouths of perpetrators in her text: “terrorist,” “kill all arabs”, “go back to your own country”, “you Islamic mosquitoes should be killed”, “America is only for white people.” It’s hard for me to even feel comfortable restating those words, all shockingly similar to things I’ve personally heard in my life and stories that were shared in my community of things that have happened to people I love. I feel re-stimulated by her work, I feel hurt and saddened all over again. But I also feel challenged by Ali, to speak up louder than I have, to stand strongly in solidarity with other oppressed people, and to turn my anger into action, because as she puts it, “we refuse to end in violence.”
Dear Cold Stone Creamery,
The Super Bowl this year was riddled with ridiculously sexist and homophobic commercials. A few commercials featured women being quickly tackled or pulled off the screen by either men or giant robotic hands, their bodies visualized like dolls being thrown around with little value beyond their physicality. Betty White being tackled in a game of football (Doritos), Beyonce being pulled off-screen by a giant robotic hand (Vizio), and Tim Tebrow tackling his mom (Focus on the Family). What’s so great about a woman’s body being thrown around like that? Are the advertisers expecting me as a straight man to enjoy seeing that? In any other context, a woman’s body being thrown around like that would be VIOLENT. And commercials showing images like this are numbing us to a point of non-reaction when we see acts of even passive violence around us in the real world. It’s not whimsical, funny, or clever. It’s an image of violence, and shouldn’t used to lightly to market chips.
Beyond attending rallies and marches protesting the various wars and occupations that the US has been involved in or supported very heavily over our lifetimes (big auuugh), there’s been a lot of ways technology has been used to give power to our voices, and organize that power in large numbers. Many groups have forms you can fill out with a pre-formatted, customizable letter that will be forwarded to your state or federal legislators, which they’ll determine based on your street address. Other web sites have created on-line petitions, making it easier to collect lists of folks supporting a cause without having to go door-to-door. But this? Oh man, this steps it up to a whole other level:
A few days ago, a devastating earthquake hit Haiti. Government buildings crumbled to the ground along with a countless number of schools, hospitals and homes. The pictures and reports coming to us can only convey a fraction of the pain that must be over there, making it all the more heartbreaking. Many of my friends are talking about how to donate to Haiti. Here’s some thoughts on how to be more mindful of where and how you give.
Just watching the third debate tonight, I heard for the first time the term “pro-abortion.” used by McCain, it conjures up nasty images of people pushing for others to have abortions. Wondering if I was out of touch about pro-choice-pro-life terminologies, I did a Google search for “pro-abortion” and only one website came up, which describes pro-abortion as basically pro-choice. The website was run by another site call allaboutgod.com.
Props to Kelly Tsai: I’m not black or white, but I’m not “whatever” either.
This is horrible, and absolutely disgusts me:
Has it really been a year since I last updated this diary? Wow, time does fly. I stopped updating it last summer when things got really busy, cause I got married in the fall, which was really awesome. Life since then has been great, we went to Argentina for three weeks for our honeymoon, then packed Sheena’s car up and drove from the east coast to Chicago. Life in the same city has been fantastic, better than either of us could have imagined. We’re enjoying summer in the Chi, spending hours at the lakefront on the South Side with books in tow, sharing good food, seeing performances, doing all the things we wanted to do together while we were long-distance. We’re making our home our home slowly but surely, too. We just painted our living room and kitchen a few weeks ago, and are still getting some of our artwork up on the walls and whatnot. Oh yea, and we’re actually putting artwork on the walls! Our walls are happy.
Things have been busy with the wedding planning and stuff, we’re only a month away! I’m so unbelievably excited. I went to Connecticut this past weekend and we got our marriage license, we met with the priest for our catholic wedding and went over a lot of the details, we made the dandiya for our garba—all very, very exciting! I’ve been reading a bunch though, on my commutes to a from work when I’m not riding my bike. Check out some of my latest reads:
Last time Sheena came into town, we were listening to a lot of Nirvana. Aaaaah the memories, of wearing flannel shirts over concert t-shirts and ripped jeans; of thrashing, moshing, and body-surfing and not calling it dancing; of first using our instruments as tools to make noise, then turning it into music. When we were in a band, Nirvana was one of Tolgar’s bigger influences, and we ended up doing a good handful of covers. Aneurysm, D7, and other b-sides and covers Nirvana did that no one ever heard of. Lol.
Sunday afternoon I played a benefit for Yawp!, an Asian youth writing program in Chicago. I played sitar with two writers, sarwat rumi and imi rashid. The event was awesome, it was to raise money for Yawp’s fifth year program, and there was such a great collection of artists there, from kids currently involved in Yawp’s program, people who had been through the Yawp program themselves, and other artists in the area. It was such a blessing to be part of such a great group of artists.
I never understood why people use TinyURL until I tried it. Say you want to e-mail a link to a buddy, and it’s really, really long. Like http://maps.google.com/maps?hl=en&q=area+51&ie=UTF8&ll=37.243632,-115.811434&spn=0.002046,0.003782&t=k&z=18&iwloc=addr&om=1. You can go to TinyURL.com, copy and paste the long URL into the textbox, and it’ll generate a URL that looks like this: http://tinyurl.com/266z5t. A lot shorter, and it points to the same place. Sweet!
I went to a concert few weeks back, and I was talking to an uncle friend of mine who I made from seeing each other at concerts pretty often. I asked him about his son, who I saw at a concert about a year prior, he looked like he had grown so much since I last saw him I thought he was already in college. Turns out he’s still in high school. Lol. Anyway, he was telling me his son is taking a music history class in his high school, and he was wondering if I wanted to go in and give a lecture about Hindustani music to his class. I was like “yes.” He was saying that I could give a lecture similar to the ones I’ve given before concerts I organize, and I said “Yes.” He was saying that way, people could have a better idea of what’s going on with the music when they hear it, I said “Yes.” he said “people need to understand this is not ‘exotic’ music, there’s a lot of thought behind it!” and I said “Yes!” It was so crazy listening to an uncle saying a lot of the same things said in conversations I’ve had with other musicians about how people who’ve only heard “indian music” on Subway commercials respond to our music. At my own performances, I often get people coming up to me after a show asking about the music, or my instrument, and a lot of time we share cool experiences we’ve each had with Hindustani music. Sometimes though, more often than I would hope, I get someone (usually non-South Asian in my experience) telling me about their first exposure to ‘sitar music’ after hearing the Beatles, or going to a Raaavi Shaynkaaar concert, and how the music sounded so “foreign” and “alien.” Seriously, those are real adjectives people have used to describe the music I was playing, right after they heard me play it. My point is, the feeling that Hindustani music sounds “exotic” is often frustrating when it’s coming from someone who doesn’t know much about the music other than it’s not western music. It was cool sharing those feelings with someone of my parents generation.
I just finished reading The Time Traveler’s Wife and good Lord what a good book! It’s about a woman, Clare, who’s in love with a man, Henry, who has a genetic disorder that causes him to uncontrollably time travel. Concept alone, what a great premise for a book. The result of this relationship though, is that she first meets him when she’s six and he’s in his forties, cause he travels back in time to her childhood home. And he only meets her for the first time when he’s in his late twenties. She already knows a lot about him and his future, cause she’s known him her whole life, but to him she’s a total stranger. The book takes their relationship from their very beginnings, all the way through them getting married and living the rest of their lives together. Sheena and I were reading it together, and I think we both really connected with the book cause the feelings they have about Henry randomly leaving for unknown lengths of time are similar to the feelings we have being in a long-distant relationship. We’re constantly leaving, and constantly waiting to see each other again. That was like. Their entire lives. I finished the book in a week, staying up late two nights to just read. It’s really well written, and the characters are so well developed, that by the end of the book you can hardly believe this is a work of fiction, existing in a world that the author created in her mind. It also takes place in Chicago, so there are a ton of references to places and streets and neighborhoods that I’m familiar with, so that was fun to read, too!
From a column that the man wrote himself:
I was at Subterranean a few months ago, and there was a small hip hop crew chillin there. Some dude was painting while a dj spun some dope records. The dj played a remix of Planet Rock by Afrika Bam, and it was only then that it hit me that the Bollywood movie Koi Mil Gaya ripped a sample off Afrika Bam!! Check out the beginning of this segment from the movie:
A friend of mine at work has been talking about buying a new bike for the past year. I’ve been telling him “dude, when you get a new bike, I’ll buy your old one off of you.” cause I wanted a bike, but didn’t want to drop a lot of money on brand new one, nor did I think I really needed a new off-the-shelf bike. I’d be perfectly fine with on that just works. So last week my buddy got his new bike, and yesterday he rode his old one to work so i could ride it home! Crazy. I haven’t ridden a bike in probably more than ten years. So first getting on it was so different. But I got the hang of it, and i made it all the way home. So I think I’m going to try to ride it to work a few days a week, as a way to get a little exercise. It’ll also be convenient to if I have to go places that aren’t easily accessible off the el, like if I wanna go to a friends place off the red line, or if I wanna pick something quick up from the grocery store or hardware store. Then I don’t have to drive, which is sweeeeeeeeeet!!
I like this song:
Ever since Don Imus called the Rutgers women’s basketball team a bunch of nappy headed hos, there’s been a lot of talk about racism in the media. And a large amount of the debate in mainstream media outlets have unfairly imposed the question on hip hop, asking ‘should we complain that a white sports anchor used the same language black males in hip hop use?’
A few high schools in New York have started teaching African drumming as part of their curriculum. That’s pretty sweet. I studied music in high school, too, but it was western classical music and folk guitar. I’ve heard of one-day workshops where djembe, congo, and dhol players go into school and give crash course workshops on their instruments and styles of music for classes, but never a full course.
It all started with a friend Ramona, who created a Myspace page for Kriti. She spent a little time on it, and the next thing we know she’s got 500 friends. Hello! For myspace junkie’s out there, you might be like ‘uh, yea, nikhil, where have you been?’ but for a South Asian litereary conference that’s only planning its second conference, that’s a big deal! So after she had such success with her page, we created a page for Voices of Resistance, a South Asian political arts show happening the same weekend as Kriti. Then I’m like, ‘damn, I should make a Myspace page for maahaul,’ and another friend was like ‘I should create a Myspace page for ThirdI’ and Rasaka Theatre’s already got a page. So damn, before you know it, South Asian arts in Chicago is all over Myspace!!! :P
A friend of mine just got a VoIP phone, and my parents were looking into getting one for themselves a few months ago. The cost benefits of VoIP phones are pretty sweet. Because your phone call is basically taking the same path a request to view a web page would take, you can call anywhere in the world for really, really cheap. But security and privacy are still an issue with the new technology.
In the past, I’ve mentioned to a few people the phenomenon of the sun showing a quick green spot as it’s setting, due to waves of light bending in the earth’s atmosphere. NASA’s got an animated gif of a video someone in Italy took of the phenomenon, check it out.
I had an awesome weekend. Me and a few buddies went out to Michigan to visit my roommate’s family, and to see my guruji in Michigan perform a concert. That was it in a nutshell, but we spent so much time jamming, talking about music, practicing different things we’ve never really tried before. The drive to Michigan has always been awesome. When I used to make the drive by myself, I’d bring classical cds with me and listen the whole way there, it was great time to just sit and listen to an 80 minute recording of one raag. With buddies this time though, on the way drive there we were trying to sing raags and figure songs out, and trying to sing taans on the fly. It was the first time I’ve ever really tried singing raags. They were even rappin while I was beatboxin beats. Lol, it’s on. One morning I was singing Oceans by Pearl Jam and Black Hole Sun my Soundgarden over kerwa beats. Rahul helped me break down some meends I’ve been practicing, and was getting me to play other variations. I finally saw Rajanji perform a concert. In the 5-6 years I’ve known him and studied with him, I’ve never seen him perform a concert, and played a classical piece in Raag Yaman, and he played two of the gats he taught me! He actually played the very first gat I ever learned. Some of the taans were even the same as what he’d taught me, it was awesome to hear. Afterwards he showed us pictures he had of him and Vilayat Khansahib and some of the other artists he used to bring to Detroit for classical concerts. He had some beautiful pictures of Vilayat Khan. He had this one black and white pictures of him early in the morning, sitting in front on a window with the sun shining in behind him, his hair still dissheveled from sleep, but really into what he was playing. It was just a beautiful picture. We had a small concert with Rahul and Maninder and stayed up late singing song, sharing melodies and just chillin. Oh man, so much happened this weekend, it was just awesome. Nowadays with all my friends having so many things going on in their lives, including myself, it’s really rare to get a weekend like that, it was just really great.
An article in the Hartford Courant last spring talked about mental health in the military, and exposed some really depressing facts about the military’s lack of support for troupes who aren’t doing so well:
I just saw Umrao Jaan last night, a Bollywood remake of an older Bollywood film about the life of a young girl who gets kidnapped and sold to a brothel. The music and lyrics were really pretty, but the dancing was ‘eh.’ With Aishwaria Rai, one would be hopeful that the dance scenes would knock you off your chair they’re so good, but they seemed to focus more on the lyrical content of the music, and the emotional expressions of that, than hardcore dance scenes, which was still really nice. But damn, talk about a movie where a woman gets crapped on for three hours, yet forgives everyone who does. Give me a break!
This… is awesome. I saw a buddy at work walking around with this mug, and it’s awesome. Emacs is a text editor I use when working on code on Linux, and there are a ton of features it has to make work easier, and this mug is a dandy little reference to some of this features. I know, I’m a dork, but this mug is awesome.
I went to Tower Records on Wabash and Jackson today, and man was it desolate. A few months ago, Tower announced it was going out of business and selling off all it’s stores, probably mostly because of lack in sales dues to iTunes selling downloadable music, Amazon selling cds for a lot cheaper, and the like. So I stopped in a few weeks after the announcement, and it’s shelves were still pretty full, and the store was still pretty busy with people shuffling through their cds for good deals. But at 30% off, I still couldn’t get my self to drop cash for a cd. In a store that’s going out of business and discounting their merchandise, their prices were STILL higher than i would pay on-line. I went in there again today, and most of the shelves were empty, they were selling all their hip hop cds at a dollar each, all their electronic music at $1.50, all their remaining magazines for 25 cents, and everything else was pretty much 70% off. Now I bought a bunch of cds, as the stores on its last leg, gasping for its last breath of air. Tower was always a fun stop while I was on my break at school, and on my lunch break now. But over the past decade or so I’ve been stopping in, I’ve only got a few cds to show for, but the ones I bought were significant for me. Joi’s One and One Is One from Tower, one of the first Asian underground cds I ever bought. I bought Kenny Burrell & John Coltrane from Tower, one of the first jazz cds I ever bought. And my memories of and my uber-curiosity when buying those cds are still so clear. I doubt I’ll keep memories like those from purchases I make on Amazon… so I’m sad to see Tower go.
Check out this article in the New York Times. It talks about how the quality of college education in India is poor, and is churning out millions of students a year who can’t get jobs.
Check out this photo from my and Sheena’s engagement. You can say it: ‘awwwwwww….’:
I saw Borat a few weeks ago with my cousin, and I’ve been idling on a response to it cause I wanted to give myself a chance to really think about the movie before I threw out a harsh critique on it. I’ve been talking to friends about the movie, many of whom have varying opinions on the movie, from hysterical to flat out racist. And some of my even progressive friends who I’ve mentioned disliking the movie have criticised me as being “too sensitive,” so I wasn’t sure if I really was being too sensitive, or if the movie was straight up offensive.
In reference to the initial development of house music in Chicago in the late 70’s/early 80s:
The past few weeks have been a bit crazy. Two weeks ago, I got engaged, officially. We had a nice little puja at my parent’s house, and my uncle had everyone over to his place for dinner afterwards. So Sheena and her family got to meet all my family friends, and likewise. The puja was really nice, the priest who was officiating it was really good about translating everything he was saying, and the symbolism of what we were all doing for us, so we weren’t just going through the motions of the whole thing. And my whole family was together, so that was a blessing. That whole weekend, too, I had a slew of people staying over at my place. That was the first time I had so many people staying at my place! So that was an adventure.
It was a long morning today, I woke up at 6a and practiced for a bit, then made some breakfast and tea for Sheena’s parents who are staying at my place. Sheena’s mom is in town for a conference she’s attending in Rosemont, so we took the train to O’hare, and we dropped her off at the shuttle bus that was to take her to the hotel for the conference. From there, uncle and I took the train back into the city so I can go to work, and he’s hanging out a bookstore right now. On the train on the way back in, I took my hat off and rested in on my lap for the 45-minute ride to relax a bit, but as we rushed off the train at Washington, I must have forgot to pick it up off my lap before I got up, and it must have fell onto the floor of the train. I realized after we had gotten outside and I wanted to put my hat back on that I left it on the train…
Saturday we’re having a small engagement puja at my parent’s house. Sheena’s parents are flying into town tonight, Sheena and her brother come into town Friday, so right after work I’m picking her parents up from the airport, then the festivities will begin. It’s on. Tonight we’re proly gonna grab a bite to eat at Lula’s, then maybe watch a movie or something. Tomorrow we’re having dinner at my parent’s house. Friday we’re going out to eat with my sister and her fiance, then Saturday’s the puja. Ooooh man! I’ve been cleaning my apartment like a mad man getting it ready for them to stay. Dusting things I’ve never dusted before, buying shit for my house I’ve never bought before, crazy. But on the other side of the coin, we’ve been having family drama for a while now, and it’s been culminating as of late. I’ve always been the “mediator” in my family, helping keep the peace between different members of my family at the sacrifice of my own well-being. About a year ago I decided not to do that anymore, and told everyone so. It’s been hard, and the stressed situations aren’t getting any less stressful. Cause my family’s developed a dependency on me that they’ve already realized they can’t depend on anymore, but now they have to figure out how to handle their relationships on their own, when negotiating and conversing under stress is not anything they’ve ever really had to do with each other. That’s not a very pretty process to experience…. Uuuuuuugggghhh, why’s this shit gotta happen now?
Dotorganize just released a report they did after interviewing 400 social change groups on how they’re currently using technology, what challenges they face, but more importantly, what they could be doing better. One part of the report I found especially exciting:
The other day I was in the left hand turning lane of State Street turning westbound on Congress Blvd. My windows were open a little, and my Rashid Khan, Raag Miyan Ki Todi recording got abruptly interrupted by a middle-aged black woman in a mini van next to me blasting Sexyback by Justin Timberlake and totally rockin to it in her driver’s seat. She was swaying side-to-side with the beat, waving her hand in the air, and just thoroughly enjoying the song. I felt excited, I wanted to find the radio station that was playing the song and rock out with her, it was awesome. The moment passed with the green arrow, but heading west on 290 I ended up turning off my CD and shuffling through radio stations looking for one that was playing the song. “yea.”
“Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.” — Martin Luther King Jr.
Back in July, a friend of my girlfriend, Angel, and I threw Sheena a surprise party at Angel’s apartment in New York. A video was taken of the actual moment of surprise by her friend Joanna, and she was able to get the video up on YouTube. It’s on:
This weekend I performed at Macy’s Day of Music, a free, all-day event at the Chicago Symphony Center where they had four rooms/theaters of music happening simultaneously all day. I was set up in the rotunda, which was a big room with a big circle staircase in the middle. So I was set up in a corner, with people seated on either side of the staircase. I think it went pretty well, there was a pretty good sized crowd there, and from what I can tell, the people who were closer to me seemed to be engaged in the music, so that’s sweet! But the sitar is such a quiet instrument, so it was good that I was mic’d, but even though, I think people further away from me may have had a harder time hearing me. I didn’t realize how big of a deal this event was, until last weekend when Eric called me asking me if I was performing at the CSO this past Saturday, cause he had seen an ad in the Chicago Tribune. HELLO! There was also an ad in the Reader, and the CSO included me in a press release they sent out about the event. Check out the excerpt below:
Sheena and I had our horoscopes matched by a friend of ours, and it was awesome talking to her about what she saw. But even more inspiring is how she deals with asking to charge people for doing horoscopes and matches. All the money she makes from doing horoscopes she donates to people or organizations that need help or support. The money she asked of us to do our horoscope match she donated to an organization called the Raina Foundation based in India. Here’s a little about what they do:
Ever since I redesigned my site, my pics section has been down. Rather than putting the pictures up using the same system I was using before—where I had to manually resize, name, and upload images—I wanted to take advantage of some open source software out there to make that section easier to work with. I went with photostack, whose major feature among many that sold me was that I could zip pictures up into one file, and upload them through a web interface as a new album. It’ll create the thumbnails and everything required for the SWEEEEEET interface from there, which also uses Lightbox JS, which is freakin awesome. I love technology. Now I just have to get a camera that works so I can start taking pictures again. It’s on.
Tomorrow night? I’m going to a FARM! Lol, hell yea. Every fall, my friend Kelly invites a handful of her friends to the farm where she grew up, in Walnut, IL (yes, there is a city in Illinois named after a type of nut). I missed Kelly’s farm party last year, but I was totally there in ‘03 and ‘04. Should be some fun times.
I saw a new Indian movie this weekend, Kabhi Alvida Naa Kehna, CRAZY. Here’s the synopsis on IMDB:
I went up to Michigan to visit a buddy Ajit Saturday night, we chilled in Ann Arbor, stayed up late jammin a little, chillin and watchin movies, then came back the next day. It was a good trip, but too short. This coming weekend I’m going up to Connecticut to visit my girlfriend along with my parents, so my parents and her parents are going to meet for the first time. CRAZY, and extremely exciting.
I was over at my cousin’s house this weekend, and he was joking about how it was ‘peanut butter jelly time.’ Of course in this age of Myspace and crappy hip hop on pop radio, I have no idea what these kids are laughing about nowadays. But luckily, my cousin keeps me in the loop. So even though I’m proly like a year late, I can still be cool for a few minutes. Here’s what he was talking about, an 8-bit dancing banana with maracas. And apparently it was spoofed on Family Guy. Marketing genius.
On my street, there used to be this woman, Maria, who had a big yellow umbrella outside the entryway to her house. Every morning, summer or winter, she’d have two coolers, and a few big gatorade jugs out, and she’d be chilling out there. People walking by, and even people making special trips in their cars would stop by and pick up some of her tasty tamales and her rich and thick Mexican hot chocolate. I had some on quite a few occassions, she had plain cheese tamales that she knew I was always getting cause I was vegetarian, and she’d always insist I needed to eat more than I was getting from her cause I was so thin. Lol.
Timeout Magazine’s got a cover story this week on why Chicago theater is so white. From the article:
In high school and college, I took some history classes, but I always did horribly in them. I could barely stay attentive in class, and I hardly ever did the reading, or memorized all the dates and names we were being tested on as we went from war to war throughout “world” history. Looking back, I think I was unconsciously frustrated at the fact that “world” history consisted entirely of the US and Europe, with a few side notes on China and the “exotic” Silk Road…
When I went to India to study abroad two and a half years ago, one of our advisors was a Lebanese woman originally from Beirut. I remember hearing stories she would say making anologies between our experiences in India with her memories of Lebanon. She’s a smart, strong, creative woman, that I had befriended through our trip to India together. After Israel started bombing Lebanon, I sent her an e-mail lettering her know I was thinking of her, and she was in my thoughts and prayers. She sent me a short reply of a copy of an e-mail she sent a group of friends a few days prior letting every know how she was doing, and only then did I realize she was currently in lebanon…
Attacks on Lebanon continue… with no voice of dissent from the US government. Instead, headlines read ‘Bush: Israel has right to defend itself, eluding to the idea that the situation began only after Lebanon kidnapped two Isaeli soldiers.
I got a ride to work this morning from my boy Jay who’s in town for a few days and is crashing at my place. We took Sacramento down to the highway, a big, wide boulevard that cuts through the humbolt park. As we pulled out of the gas station on Fulton and headed south, we saw huge stacks of smoke billowing up in the air, like a mountain was forming from black rain clouds on the corner of Sacramento and Madison. As we crept closer, we saw flames reaching out onto the road in the distance, then pulling back. Closer yet, and we see a small, wood-frame house is in the process of burning to the ground. An ambulance was already on the scene, and as we passed, a fire truck, a fire department SUV, another ambulance, and a few more cops pulled up. Seeing flames bursting through windows and doors made me wonder what the trains in Mumbai days before must have looked like. Sudden, horrific bursts of flames pushing through cracks of the train car doors, between the bars on the windows, and over the hearts and souls of almost 200 people.
How would you define privilege, in a way that breaks it down in how it works in our daily lives? There are a few social theories of white privilege and male privilege, among others. But how does that help me understand how it effects me everyday? The dictionary defines privilege as:
Today is a holiday called Guru Purnima, a celebration of our teachers. If you do a Google search on “Guru Purnima”, you’ll find a lot of heavily spiritual discussion on the significance and meaning of the holiday. But for me, I call my music teachers “Guru.” Not because I consider them God, at least any moreso than I consider all living creatures to be a living part of the divine. But because they bless me with knowledge about music, the world, and myself; and for me, the process of learning is spiritual in and of itself. So I’d like to observe this day by paying respects to my musical gurus, Rajanji and Khansahib, as well as anyone else I have crossed paths with that has helped me learn more about myself and the world. Shubh Guru Purnima!
A friend at work gave me a heads up about buyblue.org, it’s a website where you can look up companies you buy services from, and see how they invest their profits, and what they’re politics with their money is like. From their about page:
On Sunday night, me and Angel threw my girlfriend a surprise birthday party at her apartment in New York. It was crazy, she had NO idea, outside of a really, really small suspicion that she couldn’t validate. So when we got there, she almost leaped through the ceiling when Angel open the door to her apartment and a crowd of my girl’s friends yelled ‘surprise!!!’ Lol, it was crazy, and a lot of fun. A bunch of her friends from college came by, her roommate from grad school came, some of her roommates from her internship in Boston came out, her family came out, all these people living in nearby states mind you. So it was cool seeing all these people together at one time. Afterwards we went to this cool billiards bar in Queens, and played some pool and some ping-pong. I haven’t played ping pong in forever. I remember my first few years out of high school, me and a few buddies used to get together at my friend Fivel’s house and play ping pong in his basement for hours. It was cool as hell seeing a ping pong table at a bar. I gotta find a place in chicago that has one. Anyone out there know of one?
I saw Superman Returns last night, and guess what? It was actually pretty damn good. Superman was played pretty decently, Kevin Spacey played a disturbed, but happily-evil Lex Luther pretty well. And there was even a bad-ass Indian dude playing one of Lex Luther’s henchmen. He had the whole ‘smart in science thing’ going, cause he was fabricating weapon parts, navigating helicopters, and cutting fine crystals, but he also helped beat up superman when he was down. Purely diabolical, and totally not stereotypical. Nice. There was a hospital scene with a bunch of desi’s playing doctors though. Huh.
Check this article chronicling characters of color played by white people. Many of the films from the 50s and 60s are black characters played by white people in blackface. But some of the other movies it points out are films I’ve never really thought about. The most recent being Nacho Libre—Jack Black, a white male playing a mexican wrestler. When I started seeing posters for that movie, I thought it was cool that Jack Black plays characters that aren’t built, buff, clean cut, and tan, but are still popularly considered cool. It never crossed my mind that he wasn’t Latino, but was playing a Mexican wrestler. But now that you mention it… a few other films that jump out at me on the list are Scarface and Carlito’s Way, where Al Pacino, an Italian actor, plays a Cuban and a Puerto Rican character. And West Side Story where a woman of Russian decent plays Maria.
This weekend was busier than I hoped it would be, but I did a lot. Friday night, my buddy Jim had a ‘movie in the park’ party in his back yard. He got a projector, and showed Best in Show on the side of his garage. Lol, that movie’s always hysterical. I’ve only seen it twice, but nonetheless, it’s always hysterical. I saw a bunch of people that I haven’t seen since high school, some i’ve known since elementary school. Crazy. Saturday I went to a karaoke birthday party a friend of mine was having, and ended up cutting out of there before they went to Funky Buddha Lounge, which on a Saturday Night, I wasn’t all too interested in heading up there. But it reminded me, on Wednesday nights at Funky Buddha, there used to be this REALLY TIGHT live soul band performing there. I looked them up again, his name’s Peven Everett, and I THINK he’s still doing the night there. Check it out if you’re interested, it’s great music, and there’s only a handful of people there, but everyone’s dancing and having a good time.
Saturday of this past weekend, a few friends and I watch the US play like a high school soccer team—and the officials throw up cards like they were flags in football—against Italy in what ended as a draw. So the group of four teams the US was playing against after this past saturday was still really, really close. In most other groups, by that point it had already been decided what two teams will advance and what two were going to be elimated, because enough teams had won to secure their spots. But in the US’s group, after 2/3s of the games in the first round had already been played, things were still very much up in the air.
So the Art Institute of Chicago has new hours for the summer, check it out:
Check out this article that’s an interview with Jakob Nielson, a web-usability dude. He talks about how we should stop using the term ‘rss’ cause it doesn’t really mean anything to most users, and how to decide between diseminating information via a blog versus an e-mail newsletter. Here’s an excerpt:
A few friends and I have been getting together Saturday mornings to watch World Cup soccer, and it’s been pretty sweet. I’ve never watched too much soccer. I just remember I enjoyed it a lot when we played in gym class in high school, and over a summer while I was in college, a few friends of mine would get together at the field of the church across the street from my parent’s house and play midnight soccer games on the weekends. There was no order to these games, we just kicked the ball back and forth a bunch and pretended we were hardcore. But that’s what made it such a great time!
I tripped over this utility that shows you what your web pages look like to someone whose colorblind. This site didn’t look all too different, but since the maahaul is all mostly green, it looked waaay different. Crazy. I don’t think it looked entirely bad, but very different colors than what it’s intended scheme is.
I’m working on reworking my website a bit, but after all is said and done, hopefully not too much that’ll be noticeable to the user will change. None of the content will change, and the design might look a little sharper, but mainly what I’m trying to do is see if I can manage all the content on my whole website through a Content Management System. I’ve tried making stuff like this on my own before, and I’ve designed stuff on my site so I could start building towards making my own CMS, but there’s so many open source projects out there already that are really damn good, why reinvent the wheel? I’m messing around with TextPattern right now. It looks like I’ll be able to use it for most of my site, but for the Pics section, I’d really like to use something that can make uploading and formating my pictures really easy, and maybe implement something like Lightbox JS , while still allowing me to organize my pictures in the same way, and allow people to make comments and whatnot.
Check out some pics from the Peace Festival we danced at on Sunday. It turned out to be a really cool event. It was a beautiful day out, with a nice, warm crowd of people–some coming and going, others sitting and watching. An ice cream truck passed by a few times. Lol, it was cool. Sheena’s family came out, and a few of her friends came out too, some of which I hadn’t seen since proly last summer. So it was cool catching up. We got a lot of really cool feedback about our piece, a lot of people said that it was really beautiful, and very powerful. One woman, Monique, told me she hoped to see us do our piece more often, cause she felt that it was something more people needed to hear. I met this kid Spirit Child who threw down a few really tight conscious hip hop tracks, and he hooked Sheena and I up with a few of his CDs and stuff, cause he was really excited about our piece. That was awesome. I also met this kid Fahd from DRUM–Desis Rising Up and Moving–a group of Desi progressives out in New York. That was the first time another fellow Desi called me ‘brother.’ That was cool.
So about a month ago, I found out I got nominated for a Jeff Award for Best Original Incedental Music for the sitar accompaniment I did in Rasaka Theatre’s The Masrayana last fall. Last night was at the ceremony, and holy crap, I WON! I didn’t event know what to say. The whole experience has been crazy. I had such a blast playing for the play, it all just came so naturally, and then to get nominated for an award for it, and to win? Holy crap… It’s on.
Check out this article from a few months ago. Here’s an excerpt:
Crazy, so on May 5th, my girlfriend and I did a dance at the Hot House. Sunday afternoon, we’re doing the same dance at a Peace Festival in New York! Each performer is preparing a statement against the war in Iraq before their piece. Here’s what Sheena and I are going to be saying:
Apparently, the U.S. is still bombing Afghanistan. Yesterday at midnight, the U.S. (and “coalition forces”) made a surprise airstike in southern Afghanistan. The U.S. military’s official numbers say 20 “members of Taliban” were killed, and possibly 60 more. What was the cost? Again the U.S. military says 16 civilians were killed, eyewitnesses and local doctors say its more like 30. Why were so many civilians killed? Cause the US hit “Islamic religious schools or Madrassa and homes in which Taliban fighters had taken up position.” What the eff… that’s so messed up…
I went to a lunchtime discussion on the Duke Lacross rape case. I knew the situation was messed up, but damn. If you don’t know what happened, do a Google search. There’s enough information out there, y’all don’t need to hear me recapping the whole event…
I went to a harassment training at work yesterday. I’m still amazed that people need formal training sessions to be reminded not to be a freaking jerk, but that’s not the point of this post. We watched a video as part of the training, that showed a series of workplace scenarios to show different examples of harassment and discrimination. Some of the workplaces were in an office, a warehouse, some were in a lunchroom of a department store, and one was in a hospital. Both the doctors were played by Asian men, one South Asian, the other East Asian. (insert rant on conforming to common stereotypes, promoting the model minority myth here). In the scenario, a lab technician (white woman) was sabatoging the South Asian doctor (the actor was South Asian, but they characterized the doctor as being from the ‘middle east’) cause she didn’t want him on their team, cause he had an Arabic-sounding name. Again, not my point. The point is, the South Asian guy who played the middle easter doctor, i KNOW! whad up Parvesh!!
Check out pictures from my performance on Friday.
I went up to Wisconsin for a week with my girlfriend last week. We went to a cottage on Little St. Germain Lake waaaay the heck up in northern Wisconsin. We cooked a bunch, took a row boat and paddle boat on the lake a few times, watched some movies, worked on a dance we performed on Friday night at the Hot House, and just chilled. Our view and the weather was gorgeous, so it made for a nice week.
I went to a show at the Hot House last night for a YWCA Sexual Assault Awareness Month event. And OH MY GOD, Stacyann Chin’s set was HOT. The way she lays it all out there, tells it like it is, and cuts through bullshit through her poetry, her voice, and her words is moving, inspiring, and unbelievable.
I’ve heard a bunch about del.icio.us over the past few years, so I decided to sign up and give it a shot. Basically, it’s an online “bookmarks” account. So you can import your current Firefox bookmarks (and proly IE, not sure), download a little patch to add a few icons to your browser, and use bookmarks in a way where you can access them from anywhere on the internet. You can even make some available to the public, so your friends can judge how cool you are based on what cool websites you have bookmarked, Friendster-style. But what’s cool is you can see who else bookmarked the same pages you have, and take a look at their bookmarks, too. Sweet. Plus, once you start using it, the interface is sweet. Lots of cool no-need-to-refresh AJAX type stuff.
I went to NYC this weekend. It was sweeeet, we hung out at one of my girlfriend’s friends apartments Friday night, watchin a toooooon of movies, and eating crepes that they made (daaamn, it was goooooood). I saw Hotel Rwanda (which was depressing as hell considering the bullshit that happened there has happened all over the world, and is still just remanifesting itself today in Iraq…), March of the Penguins (which was really good, too. And I thought it got cold in Chicago… Damn.), Saving Face (a cute film about an Asian queer couple, and their challenges with their families and communities, it was really good), and Zoolander (if I could shut out the fact that there was soooo much wrong with the movie, I’d say it was HYSTERICAL. It was funny, but huuuuuuuuuuuh….). My cous would be proud of me for catching up with the last 5 years of the modern world. Lol.
This weekend was HUGE. I went to a conference about women in prison. Friday night there was a little arts showcase. We showed up right before it started, and the small room the event was held in was already full… So we ended up watching a video-cast-thing of it live in the next room. It was pretty cool, first there was a group of four people reciting stories of people from the inside, and statistics, and writing stuff on a big sheet of paper behind them until by the end of their piece the sheet was full of undecipherable globs of numbers and phrases. It was pretty good, it didn’t present too much that was new to me since I’ve been learning more and more about the prison system is meeeeeessed up lately. The next series of pieces were by an collaborative called Blackout, and most of their stuff was tiiiiight. Very inspiring, and passionate. The event closed with a “newspaper puppet theatre” show. My partner and I ended up leaving halfway through that, cause it felt like they were totally cartooning the whole issue… If those are the types of things that help reach out and connect with uppity white people, more power to them (although I’m not sure the conference would have been their best audience for that…). We just felt really, really uncomfortable with how they were portraying people in prison, and how the system effects people.
This is messed up. This dude got one of those credit card applications in the mail a lot of us gets on a regular basis. Just like me, he usually tears them up and throws them away. But this time, he decided to tear it up, tape it back together, and fill it out to see if he’d still get the credit card in the mail. Guess what, sure enough, he GOT THE CREDIT CARD. Whhhhaaaaaaat…. The credit card company accepted a TORN UP credit card application. That’s some scary shit.
I saw Sita Ram at the Looking Glass Theatre this past weekend. I gotta say, I went in it feeling like I wasn’t going to vibe with it very well: an affluent white theater company puts on an adaptation of the Ramayan for an affluent white audience. The odds were stacked against them right from the start… my opinion of the show ended up being a little complicated. There are a lot of aspects of the show I thought were cool, and a lot of aspects that really, really bothered me. Instead of trying the write up a review of the whole show, I’ll try to take a few points that grabbed my attention, and go from there.
Check out this essay about another fellow minority artist’s experience. True words, my friend, true words:
“Nowadays due to economic and political conditions the Indian people are mostly thinking about their daily lives, how to earn, how to live. Naturally, they are so engaged that they have no time for the sake of art-painting, sculpture or music. In the old days, men were not so busy earning due to a smaller population and the patronage of rajas and maharajas. Now there are no rajas or maharajas, who will patronize the artist? Suppose a painter works 1-2 years on a piece, his price is 4 lakhs of rupees, who will buy it except a raja or maharaja? At that time good musicians were helped by the state, “Please, stay in my state, play on and you teach these students.” The students didn’t need to pay a salary because the state provided for them. The guru just taught them, and the guru didn’t worry about food or anything; the state provided education for their families, everything. Now there are no states, the government ruined all the states. And what is the government doing now? Nothing! The public doesn’t have too much money, so the public can’t support the artist. Most people are engaged in many kinds of jobs. Some go to the office in the morning and after returning they do another job, so how will they get the time to spend with the music or any fine arts? It’s not possible. To become a good artist requires much time, a minimum 10-12 hours a day in your art. For instrumental music, the students need to learn vocal, and nowadays the students don’t learn vocal. They start, ‘sa ri ga ma pa dha ni’ and then learn one or two gats. Within 2-4 years, “Manilal-ji, I want to sit for an audition, please recommend my name.” How is it possible? I can’t say the future position of our real classical music, but it may be ruined. And the influences of Calcutta TV and commercial pop music-the young generation is less interested in classical music. Before there was TV or popular film music, the school students, the college students, boy and girls used to listen to classical music. Now every house has TV blasting and they don’t get the opportunity to listen to good music. This is my opinion, I can’t say about the position in the future…What about my son? My father taught me sitar and I had to learn because he wanted me to become a musician. But who will support my son, who will give him food-only playing sitar, no food? The government will not back him nor give him any money to practice sitar. Naturally, Subhashish may have to do some job.” Taken from an interview with Manilal Nag
Yesterday was International Women’s Day. check out this project in India where a group of people are organizing to speak out against many forms of sexual harassment on the streets. When I was in India two years ago, I was there with a group of 12 other black and white women, and every fort and monument we went to, it seemed our group was the main attraction… At one point, in front of the Red Fort in Old Delhi while we were waiting for our advisers to get admission tickets for us, a crowd of people gathered making a circle around our group, just staring. Definitely made people in our group super uncomfortable. It’s good to see people empowering themselves, and making it an issue people take about. Because things like that are definitely symptoms of much bigger problems regarding views of sexuality, and gender rights in India.
I heard a somewhat disturbing report on sex workers in Cambodia last night on NPR. My partner said she heard similar stories before, but you never really understand the depth of a problem til it’s layed out for you. Me anyway…
Planet Read is a project started by Google to help increase literacy rates throughout the world. They’ve started by adding same-language subtitles to Bollywood movies, to give people in India who have low literacy skills regular reading practice. That’s pretty sweeeeeet. In many ways, Google is beginning to scare me with the vast amount of super-detailed data they’re now collecting, but in ways like this, they somewhat redeem themselves.
So I’m at my new job, and it’s going well. I’m totally geeking out though on trying to use some of the new tools that have come out over the past few years to make my job EASIER. There’s a bunch of cool stuff out there I can use to generate 80% of the code that I would need to write for this project, so I’ve been trying to get those working and synched up together, so I can start doing the more fun stuff. This is what I’ve been using:
Check out this article talking about how the subconscious is better at making complex decisions that our conscious mind. So when I’m getting sold a piece of crap car, and my gut’s telling me “RUN! RUN AWAY!” then I should probably listen to it? When I’m getting a vibe about something–good or bad–I should trust it and follow it? I know I’ve always tried to do that, and I think I have been doing that to a point much more the past few years than I have ever before, but it ain’t always easy… to 1) know what your gut’s telling you, and 2) do what your gut says if it’s a tough decision. I turned down a gig recently that my gut told me NOT TO DO, but in many, many respects would have been a good gig for me. I took some time to ponder over it though, and in the end I still felt uneasy about it, thus, I turned it down. But at times, it wasn’t that easy…
”How can words and symbolic actions cause pain? Pain is an active response to its causes, not simply a passive effect. The meanings of words and deeds always include the feelings produced when one makes sense of a situation. The tasteless sexual or racial joke is no joke to a woman who has been raped, a man who was a victim of a hate crime, or to any person who feels less safe from pain than someone who can afford to make these kinds of jokes. We defend our freedom of speech and action, but we cannot exercise these freedoms responsibly, or judge whether others do so, if we cannot feel what hurts whom and how much.”
I just saw Brokeback Mountain for the second time yesterday. And much to my surprise, it’s still just as sad, and killed me emotionally just as much as it did the first time I saw it, if not moreso. It’s a GREAT movie, but SOOOO SAAAAAD. I can’t even say anything about it. The characters are so real, and the way they’re intimate with each other remind me so much of my own relationship, and imagining myself going through what they’ve gone through kills me that much more. Them being two men becomes transparent in these intimate moments, it’s only when they have to “explain themselves” to the rest of the world that their sexuality becomes an issue, which is even MORE messed up. Big heavy sigh, saaaad, saaad movie…
Happy birthday Bob Marley
I saw a play with my girl this weekend called After the Quake, and it was REALLY GOOD. It’s an adaptation of a Haruki Murakami book. It was a different than I expected, cause I don’t know much about Murakami, or about the book… But from what I heard, I thought the book was about real peoples’ stories of survival after a big earthquake hit Japan in 1995. It may have been inspired by true stories, but it seemed much more fictional than real. In his writing style, I guess Murakami is a surrealist author, dwelling on the idea of the imaginary and the real. What is either, and how do we know it? So the play took two of the six short stories from his book, and presented it in an interweaving way, where you hop from one story back to the other, but they’re still linked because, say, the second story is being narrated by a storybook writer in the first story. The types of characters in each of the stories seemed to parallel, too. There being one character in each story that was socially viewed as having strength, but had internal battles with his own weaknesses. In the first story it was a college jock who married the girl everyone else wanted, but wasn’t happy in his relationship, with his family, or his dream job. In the second story, it was a human-size talking, philosophical, frog who needed to kill a giant underground worm in order to save Tokyo from a big earthquake, but couldn’t do it without other people there to cheer him on. The other characters paralleled in similar ways. There was so much going on in the story, and all in all, it was really gripping, and exciting. It ended, for me, on a somewhat confusing note. But I think I just didn’t get it… But even though, it was still really, really awesome.
So since I’ve gotten back from India, my life’s had a big flurry of changes. Readjusting after I’ve been gone for a month was a little crazy. Getting used to being able to take long showers again, seeing all my friends again that I missed like crazy, returning to work, returning to a regular routine–period, after doing what my heart guided my towards on a daily basis for a month. [on an aside, a few days after I got back, I had some of my close friends over again to reconnect, and they wanted to hear ALL ABOUT my trip, but I feel like we didn’t end up talking much about it, cause I myself didn’t even know where to start! After thinking more about that, if you’re wanting to know about how my trip was, it would really help me if you asked specific questions. Cause like I said, I really can never figure out how to even start talking about my trip…]
I’m totally back home now. It’s nice, and a little weird. I wake up feeling like I should still be in India, then readjusting to the fact that I’m at home. Last night I went to my parents house to see them again, cause I haven’t seen them in a MONTH. I showed them pictures of Sujnipur and the rest of my trip. It was nice being home again. But then today, I got sucked back into family drama that I didn’t miss AT ALL. Worthless.
I leave Delhi the day after tomorrow. I go down to Kerala for four or five days, then fly back to the states at midnight on the 4th. Lessons learned? A month is a LOOOOOONG FREAKIN TIME. I thought a month would turn out to be a really short amount of time, cause I was initially trying to come out here for 2, maybe even three months if I could have swung it. But daaaaamn, I feel like I’ve been here FOREVER. This last four or five days, I think my brain hit ‘maximum capacity’ for what I can get out of my lessons with Khansahib, and slowly started turning off. I have soooo much to work on, and I can’t imagine picking any more up without spending a few months (like 24,00,000) working on what I already have, cause it’s a looooot. And it’s a little frustrating seeing Khansahib and only having made as much progress as I could possibly make in one day. After a while, there’s only so much he can give me before he gives me TOO MUCH. But I think a month is also too long because I feel like I have sooooo much time here, so it’s hard to stay motivated. Lately, my daily practice have been pickin back up, but a week ago, two weeks ago? It was almost impossible to get myself to sit with my sitar through the evening. I still did it, but I also made sure I knew what was on MTV India, and Cartoon Network (cartoons dubbed in Hindi are AWESOME). Lol. And finally, cause it’s really hard being away from my family and my friends for sooooo long. This is the first Christmas I’ve spent away from home, EVER. A few nights before, I treated Khansahib and his family to a take-home dinner of chicken and veggie pastries and this awesome fruit cake that Parveen Auntie really liked from this place called Wegners. But on the actual night of Christmas, I spent the night alone with my sitar, practicing Raag Kirwani (major C scale, with a flat third and sixth, sounds AWESOME).
I went to Gujurat last weekend for four days to visit my dad’s brother and mom’s sister. And holy crap, what an overwhelming trip… I spent most of the time at my dad’s brother’s place, Chandrakaka’s a farmer in a small village named Sujnipur. And it’s seriously a freakin VILLAGE. Showers out of buckets, toilets that are holes in the ground. After my dad moved out of his village 35 years ago, he’s NEVER BEEN BACK. He’s been back to India, but not back to his village. So me coming back there was a pretty big deal. I prayed in the temples my father used to pray in, ate on the same floors my father used to eat on. My grandfather, my dad’s father, Chimanlaldada, started the first school in that village, and therefore educated most of the people there that I met. A lot of the older people I met who used to be friends with my dad were educated by my grandfather. The school he started underneath a tree on a hill (literally) was now a full-fledged school building. The big mandir my dad used to pray at used to be a small murti at the top of a hill. Now its a big marble structure with an open sitting area and everything. They’re working on building a gate around the temple right now, too. My cousins were all calling me motabhai, the same nick name my dad used to have when he was living there, cause I was the eldest among my counsins and I.
So I’m TOTALLY in India, leaving this post from an internet cafe. The internet’s not so bad here, although the folks running the place don’t know much about the computer’s they’re supporting. That gets a little frustrating.
It just hit me… I’m leaving for India TOMORROW. Last night I chilled with Tolgar and Tina, Tolgar and I watched a few episodes of Coupling that he had on DVD, this hysterical BBC Friends-like sitcom. Then the three of us grabbed a bit to eat at the Taqueria on my corner. Tonight I’m chillin with the parents, then tomorrow, I’m gonna be sitting on a jet plane headed to the motherland. I still have to pack. I still have to call Khansahib to make sure I’m all set for my arrival in Delhi. I still have to finalize plans to meet up my uncle in Gujurat next weekend. I still have to shave. I feel like I have so much crap I still need to do. At least I found my passport last week. Lol, that would have been a PAIN if I couldn’t find it….
I’ve been listening to a recording of Bilaskhani Todi by Shujaat Khan that a sitar buddy hooked me up with, and it’s such a sad, sad raag. I think i’m slowly falling into a depression just listening to it… Lol, but its sooooo good. I tried looking up online what the notes and details of the raag are, and although online sources are hardly a source of learning compared to formally learning a raag from a teacher, here’s a general idea of what I found:
Are you sick of having to register for random websites just to get access to ONE piece of information? Worrying that you’re gonna get inundated with spam mail as a result, and having to fill out the same form over and over and over again? So am I, and so are the geniuses who made bugmenot.com. Search for a website who’s registration you’d rather not participate in, and hopefully they’ll have a generic username and password you can use. SWEEEEEEET.
In The Masrayana, the main character is trying to undo the incorrect issuance of a death certificate in his name. One way he’s tries to undo this is by getting arrested for committing a crime, and having a police report filled out in his name, so that his name could be on an official record and the government would have to prove that he’s actually alive. To do this, he steals fruit from a fruit seller to try and get himself arrested.
I had dinner with my parents last night, and apparently, my mom played the dilruba for four years in high school. Crazy! She said that her final year, her teacher was encouraging her to go to college for music, but my mom thought it would be better for her “professionaly” to go into nursing, so she did. But that explains a bit about me, huh? I wonder if my mom picked the dilruba up today, what it would be like for her, if she’d be able to remember some of the stuff she learned in high school or not. That would be CRAZY, if I could have her teach me some of the music SHE learned. Hello! Can you tell I’m excited about the idea? :P
Today is the last day of the Indian lunar calendar, a time of the year that’s celebrated over five days. shubh diwali!
Congrats to the White Sox for SWEEPING the World Series. HELLO. Who the hell knew? Plus the symbolism of a minority coached, racially diverse team sweeping the series in TEXAS, at a game where George Bush Sr. and his wife were sitting behind home plate… stickin it to the man.
I’m reading the Ramayan right now, and in the story, Hanuman and a group of troupes are searching all over India for Sita. They get word that She was kidnapped by Ravarn, and is being kept in his palace on an island called ‘Lanka’ 600 miles off India’s southern coast. So I was asking people lately if ‘Lanka’ is the same as ‘Sri Lanka,’ or if today’s island was given its name more recently, as part of India’s Hindu-right government’s efforts to make India more of a Hindu-nation. When my buddy at work told me that NASA had captured satellite photos of a natural bridge between India and Sri Lanka, as it’s depicted in the Ramayan, damn, that’s pretty amazing. Check out google maps and the following ‘upside-side’ satellite images.
Wanna listen to some Nikhil Banerjee? I tripped over this nice little collection of some of his work. (You might have to rename the files to add ”.mp3” in order for them to play if you’re using windows…)
Today’s the last day of Navratri, a nine-day holiday my family and I celebrate every year. Here’s some info on the holiday, and the manifestation of God we worship over the nine days:
Check out this article on a new approach Pandora’s taking on building personalized a radio station. Most other sites give recommendation by saying “nikhil like’s The Roots, here are some other CDs that people who purchased ‘Illadelph Halflife’ also purchased.” But instead of making recommendations based on similar buying habits, they analyze each song based on 400 characteristics to build what they call a ‘musical genome’ for every song in the library, and recommend you music based on other songs with similar genomes. Crazy, huh? I think that’s FUCKING AWESOME.
“I’m crazy for you Touch me once and you’ll know it’s true I never wanted anyone like this It’s all brand new, you’ll feel it in my kiss I’m crazy for you, crazy for you”
Irony? I think NOT.
Check out this indian comic book where a superhero named Nagraj saves the day from an evil magician who captures Superman, Spiderman, and Batman in a futile attempt to take over the world. That’s what I’m talking about! I wish I saw comics like this when I was a kid, then maybe I would have turned out to be less cynical about the world. I’m not sure how, I’m just sure I would have. Lol.
Navaratri’s starting next week, and BBC’s got on nice little article about it. My family’s been fasting during the nine days of Navaratri for as long as I can remember, and recently I’ve been doing the fasting more rigorously with my parents. It’s interesting how I learn more and more about fasting, and why we fast, every year. Not in the sense that my fasting becomes more strict at all, but in the sense that I’m more in tune with why I’m fasting, and how that affects my relationship with God. We’ll see what I learn this year.
It’s pretty much a standard that men have to wear dress shoes in a work environment, right? Why is that? When did that standard get set, by who, and why? I’ve been wondering about that lately, cause recently it’s been the case that I ONLY wear dress shoes to work. Even some weddings I’ve gone to recently, I’ve worn a nice pair of sneakers—my bright red pumas… Lol. It looks tight though, and it’s way more comfortable to dance in than my dress shoes. With my clothes in general, I made a pact with myself that I’m not going to buy anymore clothes that I would only wear to work—I’m not going to spend more money that I work for merely to appease the corporate standards of my colleagues. Eff that, so I’ve only been buying clothes that I want to wear, and I’ve been discretionary with which of those clothes I’ll wear to work.
Check out this article talking about how IBM is encouraging their employees to get teaching certificates and become public school teachers. go IBM. They’re expecting the majority of their employees who take advantage of their new program to be older employees close to retiring age. I’d be curious to see how it actually pans out.
I was talking to someone about where the tradition of yelling ‘freebird!’ at a lame concert started. I myself had no clue, but thanks to Google, here’s a Wall Street Journal article explaining what they found. From the article:
I’m doing a 5k run Saturday morning to help raise money for Apna Ghar, a shelter for domestic and sexual violence victims that serves primarily Asian women and children. I’ve been getting so frustrated whenever I think about what would drive someone to commit an act of sexual violence. Cause the issue hits so close to home, and it’s amazing how victims of sexual violence, especially when committed against them as a CHILD, effects them their ENTIRE LIVES. And it just angers me to think that someone committing such a self-absorbed act against a child either has NO CLUE how their one action will impact someone for DECADES ahead of their lives, or is so self-indulgent that they don’t care in that moment. Part of my purpose of the run, personally, is to just let off some of that steam that’s built up just thinking about the whole issue, and thinking about people close to me that have been battling with that issues for their ENTIRE mature lives. But moreover, if I can help raise some awareness among our community, and not accept the notion that this type of stuff should be brushed under a rug and not addressed, and through my actions, encourage people to realize that this shit does happen, all the better. And if I can raise money for an organization helping victims of sexual violence, all the better. Here are some books on the topic, if y’all are interested in learning more:
NASA’s Cassini satellite recently took some detailed shots of Saturn’s moon. The moon’s far enough from the sun that’s its basically a big ball of ice, but some of the shots show that its got some pretty cool characteristics, like HUGE cracks in its surface that stretch 80 MILES LONG that they suspect may be releasing steam from hotter substances below the surface. Could you image that? Standing on a planet made of ice, looking to the sky and seeing Saturn as probably 10 times the size of the sun, and standing in front of crack that stretches from Chicago to Rockford, releasing steam from its depths? The universe makes some pretty amazing things…
I was looking for a map of New Delhi, so of course I consulted my latest buddy Google. But alas, they have satellite maps of every spot in the world, but they don’t have road maps of any major cities in India, or any other part of Asia yet. But while I was looking, I noticed that Google doesn’t show a designation for the country of Tibet. What’s up with that? In relation to Nepal, this is where Tibet lies. I wonder why Google doesn’t have it denoted. Any ideas?
I’m currently reading the Ramayana. I’ve heard the stories of the Ramayana through friends and family, but I’ve never actually sat down and read it. So it’s been cool, there’s so much detail, and so much depth to the story than I’ve ever been exposed to. Check out this exerpt I read last night on my way home from work. At this point in the story, Ram and his brother Lakshman are walking with Vishwamitra, a sage that’s asked Ram’s father to allow him to take Ram to all the sacred places the Rakshasa’s have been raiding to get rid of them and return the spaces to their sanctity. At this particular point, Vishwamitra’s at the end of explaining his family’s history to Ram and Lakshman:
Okay, this ROCKS. You can use Google’s search functionality by sending Google a text message from your cell phone, and they’ll text you back search results. HELL YEA. You can look up businesses by zip code, get driving directions, movie show times, dictionary definitions, and just do regular old quick-question type searches, and Google will try to get you back an answer. How awesome is that? I don’t have to dial 411 anymore, EVER AGAIN, plus, once I get the phone number, I’ll have it as a text message so I can save it for later reference. I usually try to record my 411 calls on my cell phone, then listen to them back later and save the phone number, so I don’t have to waste multiple 411 calls on the same number. Not anymore. Google rocks.
I checked out Femi Kuti at the Metro on Saturday. That was a hoooooot show. Here’s a synopsis of the artists the Metro had on their website:
So I did some research, and I THINK the musical instrument that’s played by the elder man in that scene in the movie Hero is called a guqin. It’s a Chinese instrument that dates back some 3000, and from what I can gather, it does have a developed, highly refined classical form. I’d be interested in learning more about the style, and checking out a concert. I’ll keep my eyes peeled and post info up on here if I find anything.
I wonder if anyone’s ever done any extensive studies of how classical music has dealt with the political communal tension between south asian communities—if it has helped unify or divide in any way, or has been an impartial swede. I was sitting in maninder’s tabla class one day, and some dude started asking about how muslims and hindus “deal with each other” in the music, implying that the hindu/muslim tension that arose out of partition somehow translated to hindus and muslim tension between musicians and artists. Both maninder and I seemed to answer the same: that religion, and regional politics always seems to end up mute points when it came to music. Indian classical music has a long tradition of brahmin musicians taking muslims as their teachers, and vice-versa. Ravi Shankar, a hindu, received training that turned him into the amazing musician he is today from Ali Akbar Khan’s father, Allaudin Khan, a muslim man. And a series of the most memorable jugalbandis (duets) that have ever taken place have been with Ravi Shankar on sitar and Ali Akbar Khan on sarod, between a hindu and a muslim. Although these examples highlight religious harmony more than the geographic, political harmony so many of us are wishing for, it does speak a bit about how music has the power to make some political differences seem petty, through showing equality of ourselves as people, regardless of the differences in what we claim ourselves to be.
I had a greeeeat freakin weekend. I spent like the whole weekend with this amazing girl that I’ve been hanging out with the past few weeks, eating, chilling, dancing. It was awesome. But she’s moving away somewhat permanently this week, unless I can convince her that Chicago is more important than education and family. But the odds of that are pretty slim. Worthless…
I hope to God that you’ve used Google Maps already. I’ve mentioned Google Maps on this thing before, and every time I use it, another tear falls from my eye. You can zoom in, zoom out, click and drag the map over, and do all this same stuff with a vector drawing of the map you’re looking at, or a SATELITTE PHOTO of the map you’re looking at. I’m about to cry just thinking about it.
There are a couple vocal concerts coming to town in the next month or so, and I’ve been trying to take that as an opportunity to learn more about the vocal style of Indian classical music. In the classical world, it’s understood that all instrumental music was initially made and performed with the intention of emulating human vocal music—so the vocal style is like the queen-supreme. So it’s probably important that I know SOMETHING about it.
This in-dept history of Indian classical music has been providing my latest distraction at work. If you’re interested at all in the development of classical music starting from about 3000 years ago, that sites a helluva start.
Friday night after work, I went to the nails show. Hell freakin yea. The whole issue with my ID and everything ended up working out. Me and my buddy I went to the show with, Jared, headed up to the Note after work. Again, no one was there, and their mail was still in the mailbox, so no one had been there at all that day. So I waited outside the place for like half an hour while I was on the phone with Ticketmaster trying to have the name of the person my tickets were being held at will call under to Jared’s name, so we could at least still get our tickets. But at 5:30p, someone came up to the place and started opening it up, so I got his attention, he remembered me from being there the previous night, and gave me my ID and credit card back. That was a hell of a relief, cause it put us in decent time to get there. Then we booked it on up to the congress, and I ended up spending like 45 minutes being one of ‘those guys’–walkin up and down the sidewalk asking ‘need a ticket? need a ticket?’–to get rid of the extra two tickets I had that Tolgar and Tina were initially supposed to take. But alas, I hocked them off, and met up with Jared back in the Congress a good 15 minutes before the show was supposed to start.
I’m going to see the Nails tonight, should be a good show. But what would a good concert be without a good story, right? Lol, looks like i have one in the making… I went to the Note last night, this band Chicago Samba was performing, and I kinda learned how to samba…. Lol, I had a great time, though. I could have stayed there forever. But that’s beyond the point, which is: I opened a tab up there, and they were holding my credit card AND my drivers license. Bad idea, for one because they’re holding so much of my stuff, and for two, because I only had one beer the whole night, so no real point in keeping a tab open…. for one beer…. and for three, I LEFT THE BAR WITHOUT CLOSING OUT MY TAB. Woooooorthless… I didn’t realize that until, well, this morning, at which point it was a little late to go back. But that brings an interesting problem for me, cause the Nails tickets are being held at will call, and I need my ID AND my credit card to claim them. Ooooooooooffffff…
Over the past few days, whenever I’ve passed under the 90/94 overpass on Fullerton, I’ve seen people crowded under the north side of the overpass, in the little accident recovery site. The first time I saw the crowd, I thought there had been a bad accident, so I just tried to move on so as not to cause traffic to back up anymore than usual. After seeing the crowd still there days later, I figured something was up. Saturday night after the Kushal Das/Vishwa Mohan Bhatt concert, I was driving back to the hood with my friend Sarwat, and we passed under the overpass again, and I asked her what was up with the crowd. She said a few weeks ago, someone saw a salt stain on the walls of the viaduct, and said it looks like the Mother Mary. Word slowly got around, and over the past few days people started flooding to the wall, to light candles, leave flowers, and pray in front of the image on the wall. Sunday night I went to Cub Foods to pick up some tomatoes, and since I was passing by I figured I might as well stop to check it out. Sure enough, the salt stain looked a lot like Mother Mary, with her head covered, looking down, with her hands in a prayer position.
So I’m back in Chi-town from Cali now. Man, last week was such a great trip. Every day I got up at like 8:30-9a. Practiced for a few hours. Then at like 12:30p I’d head over to Khansahib’s house, and he’d have bhelpuri ready for a snack for us. So we’d sit and chill for a little bit, then sit down for a lesson for an hour or two, then I’d be off to do whatever I wanted for the rest of the day. Most of the time, that was going back and practicing so my lesson the next day wasn’t going to be a total waste. But I did make some time to get out. Early in the week I made it out to a park and the ocean to practice a bit out there. The ocean was GORGEOUS out there. The weather was GORGEOUS out there, landscape that you drive through was GORGEOUS out there. Can you tell I’m jealous? :P I was talking to Khansahib about that one day after our lesson, about how I thought the weather was so nice out there. and he was saying that sometimes ‘it’s too much. You know, you’ll have like a whole month when you don’t even have a cloud in the sky, it can get to be just too much.’ I was like ‘Khansahib, last year in Chicago, it snowed in May. That really doesn’t sound that bad!!’ Lol. Wednesday and Thursday he had concerts with his group Ghazal, so those nights I just stuck around at his place after our lesson, hung out with him and some of his other students that were going to the show, checked out the show, then went back to his house for a dinner FEAST that his friends had prepared. All in all, it was such a great trip.
Thre’s a lot of people making music on their Gameboys. It’s always interesting to see people who make music out of machines that weren’t initially meant for making music. It’s like an extension of hearing music in everyday things, like wind rustling through leaves, or a baby’s cry, only less organic. Some of the music just sounds like complete noise. But the few gems in the rough really do sound pretty cool.
Tabla Beat Science performed at the House of Blues yesterday, and in the immortal words of my buddy Chein, they made me crap my pants.
My buddy Jim and his wife Chi Mei came over for dinner Monday night, WITH THEIR NEW BABY. How can you deny that this is the cutest thing you’ve ever seen?
Tabla Beat Science is coming to the House of Blues Sunday. I’ve never seen them before, but from what I’ve heard from people who checked out their show at the Vic a few years ago, they put on a GREAT show.
A buddy at work’s been asking me and my buddy Sachin for a general shak recipe for a while, so he can try making chicken and lamb Indian-style. We finally got around to writing it up for him today, check it out:
I saw Krs-One in concert Friday night. HELL FREAKIN YEA what a great show. There were some other dudes there opening up for him, some were so-so, some were pretty good. Brand Nubian went on right before him, and damn, me and my buddy Adheesh were half falling asleep during their set. But then Krs came on, and shit was HYPE. He put on a great show. ‘Edutainment’ as he says, talking about the real essence of hip-hop, and being. He cleared half the stage and called out a bunch of b-boys and b-girls onto the stage to break it down during his set, that was tiiight. Tina was telling me they like totally upped the security during that show, like anyone who’s ever worked at the Metro for even a day was working security that night. But crazy dudes, Krs is all about peace and love and shit, not guns and violence. I got searched twice on my way in. That’s nuts.
Saturday would have been Meshach’s birthday. At a state representative’s office on the south side, his friends and family organized a celebration of his life that evening, and it was one of the most beautiful scenes I’ve seen in a long time. Friends were sitting in a half-circle in the front of an open room playing various drums—djembes, congos, a dhol, and shakers. One by one people who were sitting in the chairs that were set up audience-style or walking and talking in back went up to a microphone and talked about Meshach. They showed pictures of when he was younger, talked about their fondest memories, and talked about where they wished his soul to go in the afterlife. A tall, lanky, older black man with a sparse, short beard and an old, beige head wrap said what’s been sticking in my head ever since, “we haven’t lost a brother, we’ve gained an ancestor.”
Check this. This is a prayer I’ve been getting into the habit of saying, and I looked up what it means:
Hot-damn. Check out these satellite photos taken before and after the tsunamis hit the coasts of South and Southeast Asia. My God, some of the small islands are completely gone, what used to be houses and green farmland is now just DIRT. I didn’t totally understand the full effects of the tidal waves until I saw these photos. Take a look at the roof of one of the houses in the before picture, then the after pictures. it’s complete GONE. And that’s someone’s house. My God.
I brought my sitar home this weekend. I played it for the first time in probably three weeks yesterday. Ahhh, did that feel great. Now I can get back into the practice-everyday-thing again which I’ve been missing lately cause of the move and everything. Feels good. All my CDs are at my place now, too. I’ve been listening to shit I haven’t listened to in over a year. It’s great.
I saw Oceans Twelve a week or so ago—horrible movie, avoid it at all costs, unless you think Brad Pitt is ‘hot’ or some lame shit like that. But the point is I saw a newer preview for Batman Begins before the movie. Towards the end of the preview, they had a bunch of shots flash really quick on the screen, but me having the keen eyes my ma gave me, noticed one shot that looked like it was filmed when they were doing the filming across the street from my office. Check it out.
Last night my moms and pops did a little puja up at my new place, to thank God the blessings he’s given me and my family, and to ask for his protection in my new place. It was nice, i finally got to use some of the incense I bought from India last December. Afterwards, my parents brought over some food they cooked earlier last night, so we heated it up in my kitchen, and ate with of my plates and glasses. It’s on. Tonight I’m moving my bed and stuff in my cous’s van, and hopefully staying there tonight. Hells yes.
This past Thursday, I woke up at about noon, trying to take advantage of the day off I had for Thanksgiving, and recoupe from the All Natural show I checked out the night before. Although it was a normal day when I arose, Thursday night was a momentus evening among the extended Trivedi family household.
I was listening to a morning show on some sports radio station on the way to the train station this morning (couldn’t tell you WHICH station, cause the little clock/radio-station-lighted-thingy on my dash went out). And some chick on there was talking about how Young Buck got a warrant put out for his arrest cause he stabbed some guy who tried to punch Dr. Dre in the face at the AMA’s or something (uh, sports radio?). Drama, drama, drama. Anyway, the point is the regular DJ started going off saying ‘when did it become cool to not use your real name?’ Referring to ‘Young Buck’ being an artist obviously not performing by his real name. They were ranting about it being an ‘urban thing,’ and speculating different ideas of when it all started and whatnot. I just wanted to call the DJ and say ‘you’re an idiot.’
Seriously, I think over the past few years, I’ve slowly developed Attention Deficit Disorder. And it’s all Google’s fault. Google enables me to be distracted at any given moment I feel the urge to look something up, or have even the slightest inclination I know something, and I’m looking for some verification.Ggoogle allows me to completely stop what I’m doing, open up a new web browser, and search more than 8 billion pages. But in general, if I can’t get an answer for a question I ask Google within the first 20 search results, of 2-3 different searches, I don’t care anymore. Too much work.
Since Sunday I’ve been watch the American League penant race games. It’s been addicting, dudes. The yankees were up 3 games to nothing, and the Red Sox after last night, just won the past three games to tie the series up. NUTS. Sunday and Monday’s games went into 12 and 14 innings, respectively. And last nights game finished in 9 innings, but was still pretty intense. Since the Cubs aren’t in the race this year, the only team that would make me care about the series is if the Red Sox got in. I don’t really give a shit about the Yankees, Astros, or Cards. Tonight’s game 7, so we’ll see.
Today’s Columbus Day, and as a proud Indian, our community needs to celebrate this auspicious day. Why? Cause Christopher Columbus sailed westward from Europe with the intention of landing in India and exploiting our people for tea and spices. He landed and initiated the takeover of what he thought was India. He brought weapons the natives had never seen, and used them to kill em off and steal their land, and he thought he was doing that to INDIA. When actually he was doing it to some island in the Carribean. He gave the Europeans a false sense of discovering India, so India could prosper without being meddled with by colonialism for another few hundred years. For this, I raise my glass to Christopher Columbus, and say ‘you fucked someone over, but it wasn’t India. Either way, thanks a lot, asshole.’
Sometime in Junior High, I heard someone talking about how people who are down on themselves always look at the ground when they walk from place to place, and they pretty much let the world go right by them without noticing. And I remember thinking about that when I was walking down the hallway leading from the band room staring at the lines of floor tiles change from black, to white, to black, to white, to black. Every four tiles I think they changed color. Anyway, sometime around then I decided to consciously start looking up whenever I walked around, no matter what. I’ve been that way ever since, and especially when I started going to college. Cause when I’d be commuting to the city regularly there was so much to look at, so much detail in everyday life that I know all the commuters around me probably weren’t looking at, cause they were too busy trying not to make eye contact with the hobos, or making sure no one was getting too close to their Coach purses.
Friday night, I saw Alien vs. Predator with my cous. Before I explain exactly why I thought this movie sucked ass, let me set it up for you a bit. We get there an hour before the movie’s about to start, so we sat in on The Village a bit. That looked really good. Manoj (that’s the ‘M’ in ‘M. Night Shamalan.’ Where does the ‘Night’ come from? He gave that name to himself cause it ‘sounded cool.’ I degress.) Anyway, Manoj has a pretty cool way of filming suspense. There was a lot of action going on barely on the corner of the screen, letting your mind wonder what exactly what was going on. He does that shit well, and for the 20 minutes that I actually saw, I’m kind of excited to see the whole thing. But we didn’t want to ruin it, so we walked out. Then we sat in on Hero. That looked AWESOME. I was ready to sit in and just watch the rest of that, but my cousin promised his little sister he’d see that with her next weekend, so again, we walked out of a pretty good movie. Then, sigh we watched Alien vs. Predator. I didn’t have very high expectations of the movie to begin with, cause I hadn’t heard very good thing about it, and part of me wanted to let the good movies rest in history as good movies (minus the already-made lame sequels). But man, it was boring, the story was predictable, the dialogue was sooo WEAK. The characters looked like they were being reminded their lines as they were going through the scenes.
I was chillin with the moms while we were eating last night. She had made ladoos—specifically, graham-flour-sugar-balls-of-splendor. I was asking her how she made them so i could give I a shot sometime, and she got into all these stories about me when I was a kid. She was saying ladoos used to be my favorite sweets. She used to make them whenever we were having people over, and keep them in a dhaba (stainless steel tin) in a cabinet under our stove. One time, she walked in on me sitting on the kitchen floor with the dhaba open in front of me, and me just chowing through the sweets. She was surprised that I knew exactly where the ladoos were and that I just went ahead and helped myself. Lol, I was like 4 (NO this didn’t happen just last week).
I’ve been checking out a lot of music lately. Friday night I ended up checking out Amp Fiddler at the Hot House, and man, what a great show. I’ve never really been into like, seeing r&b or soul or whatever you would call it live, but man, shit was HOT. The music was great, the crowd was cool, good vibes. Amp was singing and playin keys—on these two sweet sounding Nords—he had two backup singers, a drummer, a bassist, and another keyboardist. It was tight. I even bought a CD. And seriously, that’s saying a lot for me. Usually if I buy a CD at a show, it’s because I’m already into the artist before I check them out, and I have every intention of buying a CD before I even walk into the place. But for me to check out a random show of some dude I’ve never heard of before, AND buy a CD that same night? That’s a very telling of how much I was diggin the chunes. Saturday I checked out Archer Prewitt at Shubas. He was really good, he was playing guitar and doing some really cool, intricate guitar work and singing, and he had a bassist, a drummer, and a keyboardist that pulled out a trumpet every now and then. I was having a hard time thinking about how I would describe him, and my buddy described him as ‘Indy rock.’ I’ve never really been into ‘Indy rock,’ so if you know what that means, please let me know. Last night, we saw Ming + FS at the Empty Bottle. That was a good show too, they were spinnin, then pickin up a guitar and bass and jammin out old rock songs over hip hop beats. That was sweeeeeeet. So yea, lots of musaaac.
I miss the walk to the Hanuman mandir in the mornings. I miss being overcharged for a lymca at the ymca. I miss the poorly constructed cement tile sidewalks. I miss watching schools of monkeys trot along the fences. I miss shop merchants greeting me with ‘hello friend’ as they push leather wallets and belts at me. I miss Rumpi’s ghetto hat. I miss the kid at the marg who always just wanted to hug me. I miss the puri, potato shak, and tea for breakfast at the y. I miss our cab driver. I miss seeing shrines on dashboards. I miss Chandu. I miss walking across the hall and knocking on Lindsay’s and Daphne’s door to hang out. I miss the floor guy at the y saluting me with ‘good morning, sir’ as I walked out of my room in the morning. I miss the hot water heater that took 30 minutes to warm up for a hot shower. I miss the Sony music store at Khan Market. I miss referencing my Lonely Planet guide. I miss crammin on the bus. I miss bargaining with riksha drivers. I miss wanting to reach out of the rikshas to touch the car next to me, cause i was that close. I miss the kuttas at the marg. I miss 3 dollar 40 ounces. I miss the alley the Rikhi Ram store was in. I miss being paranoid about getting lice. I miss the lane markings on the roads that no one ever followed. I miss the dude on the sidewalk outside the y cooking dried indian snacks. I miss lunches with Dev and Veena. I miss trucks that said ‘please use dipper at night.’
Damn. So last Wednesday through this past Monday I was in mexico. HELLO. I went down there for a friend’s wedding, and it was AWESOME. It was hot as hell down there, but beautiful. I didn’t have a watch on all weekend, didn’t have a clock in my room. I just got up every morning when I felt like waking up. Chilled on the beach as long as I felt like chillin on the beach, with a tequila induced concoction in my hand, swam in the ocean, and just chilled all weekend. It was totally slowmotion. Then I come back to work and everyone’s back in the gotta-get-stuff-done mindset, and all I’m wondering is ‘where’s my freakin drink at?’ Worthless.
So I went to this hip hop thing that took place in the second floor of an auto garage last night. That was a cool-ass place to see a hip hop show. There was a big area for breakers to break it down, there was a live hip hop band there performing for a bit, Primeridian performed, too. I’ve been hearing their names around Chicago forever, but I’ve never had a chance to see them live. They were tight, all original beats, and two dudes flowing some hot shit. And at the end of the night, the man himself Afrika Bambaataa hit the decks for two hours. It was tight, he spun some super old tracks, and some fresh takes on newer tracks, like the milkshake song, lol, that was funny. Price’s Kiss over this TIGHT beat. It was cool. Tolgar came by, Tina came by, and my boy Ranjit helped throw the event down. Crazy, this Indian b-boy bringing Afrika Bam to a garage to throw down. Apparently the show was organized to protest against a hip hop show at the vic friday night sponsored by Kool cigarette’s. I still gotta talk to some people to get a better scoop on what exactly their beef is with that, so I’ll let you know as soon as I know.
So I’m chillin at the Office of the Journal of Law and Medicine at Michigan State University. Oh man, am I hardcore? Hardly… I’m just taggin along with my buddy Dhru while he gets some work done… We drove up here last night, with my sitar in my lap the way in, cause he was moving a bunch of stuff up here in the back seat. That was an uncomfortable ride. But it’s all good, my friends. Cause tonight i’m heading up to Troy, MI to check out a classical sarod concert, then hopefully finding somewhere to crash out there so I can hook up with my guruji tomorrow morning for a sitar lesson. It’s on.
This weekend was loooooooong. It was sweet.
So I kept this weekend on the low. Friday I went out with a friend to grab a bite to eat at PF Chang’s, this Asian restaurant in the burbs. She was planning this big night out Saturday night to Signature Room and Sound Bar, and man, that whole scene’s so played out. I CONSIDERED going to Sound Bar a few weeks ago, and just to make sure I called them before I left my house:
So my week of not spending cash has been both successful and unsuccessful. Monday I saw Chronicles of Riddick and Dodgeball with my cousin, and he paid cause I was BROOOKE. Dodgeball was pretty damn funny, and Riddick was pretty cool. Nothing mindblowing though. Tuesday taught the bhangra class at the old town school, Wednesday I ran two miles with some buddies after work then went to my breakdancing class, and last night I worked late. So I haven’t been takin it out hardcore much this week. But on the unsuccessful side, my brakes on my car needed work and that’s running me 3c’s. Worthless.
Dude, this is SWEEEEEEEET. I wish i had no spine so I could rotate my legs around indefinitely. That, would be pimp.
So I’ve started to get back into the swing of things with my sitar practicing. I never got a chance to hook up with Rahul, we’re still trying to coordinate schedules and whatnot. But I started struggling through the notation guruji gave me and I started sort of remembering how the song went. So I’ve been practicing the hell out of the first few lines. My fingers are starting to callus up again. But I’m still getting used to playing more than an hour at a time, but that’s all mental, I can get my body to do anything as long as I don’t let myself get tired of it. I also made a few beats on my sampler to play along with. I want to start making a series of beats that I can eventualy turn into songs, too. That would be ‘tizzzzzzzight.’
It was a good weekend. Yesterday for mom’s day we took my mom to the Chicago Botanical Gardens. That was cool. I’m starting to see more and more everyday how my mom really is an artist in her own right. We were talking about the gardening she does in our back yard, and her approach and the satisfaction she gets from it is almost exactly the same as me with music. Funny how that works out, huh? Then afterwards, I cooked dinner for everyone—mung bean and potato shak and rice—and we watched Love Stinks. When I first saw that movie years ago, I thought it was pretty good. But actually, it kind of sucks. It has its funny moments though.
So da gigs went well. Sunday was the closing night performance for the Asian American Film Showcase at the Gene Siskel Film Center, and that went really well. Like I was saying, I was playing sitar randomly throughout the show, underneath spoken word artists and whatnot. But the main piece I was in was me on sitar, this kid Jeff on sax (who’s freakin awesome), and this girl Sarwat singing and doing some TIGHT spoken word over a DOPE-ass mellow beat that this kid Chien made.
Am I TOO anal about my sitar? Could there ever be such a thing as being TOO anal about my sitar? Here’s the deal. I don’t mind other people touching my “stuff”, cause it’s all just that, “stuff”. I’m not a very materialistic person, and “stuff” doesn’t really mean anything to me. But lately I’ve been realizing, I’m REALLY ANAL about my sitar. I was at practice the other day for the gig on Sunday (see below), and my sitar was out of its case, off to the side, cause I was playing with it on and off. This girl was clearing space for a few other people to practice, so she picked up my sitar and moved it out of the way. Like I said, generally, I don’t really care when people touch my stuff, I’m not a very stuff-oriented person. But from the second she picked up my sitar to the moment she set it down, my eyes were on her like a laser guided tracter beam.
So the gig on Thursday went really well. That was the first time I ever did traditional music with a spoken word artist, and it felt really good. Sherita was off the CHAIN with her lyrics. She did one piece on Iraq, and another about observing a bad situation on the El one day. It was strong, and tight. And I felt like it sounded really good over me and Maninder. So that’s awesome.
So Saturday I saw karsh kale at the hot house, and show was TIIIIIIIIGHT. He was switchin between his tabla’s and a drum set, and he had a bassist, a laptop keyboard dude, a guitarist, a dude on keyboards, harmonium and vocals that WAAAAALED. It was really cool. He was doin his fresh style of Indian mellowed out Drum n’ Bass ish. And the dudes on vocals was just smooth as hell. Seein it live makes it all the fresher.
So for the few weekends before fusion, the bhangra competition I played dhol for back in January, I went up to MSU to help Dhru get our props and stage set ready. When we do this, it’s more than just a dance… So I got to meet his crew up in East Lansing cause we were hangin out all the time, and they were helping Dhru and i out a little. They were all pretty cool cats. One time we were up at D’s apartment and his friend was on the phone with her little brother who was also going to be playing dhol with the group. So she gave me the phone to say whats up, and a little into the conversation…
So I went to this writing workshop last night. It was run by a woman who was all about ‘collaborative writing.’ She was all about the process of working with other people in non-writing mediums to foster creativity, as opposed to sitting down with a pad and a pen. It was pretty cool, and kind of right up my alley. For the group I was working with, we first watched a series of commercials without any sound, then made a piece using only sounds to express what we saw. Then we heard a series of commercials without watching them, and made a physical piece using movement and no sound at all to express what we saw. That was pretty funny. We had one guy sit in a chair staring at a blue screen on a tv, then each of the three of us that were remaining ran around the room and grabbed random stuff, ran up to him ‘selling’ him the shit, threw it on him, then went to grab something else. so by the end he was covered in jackets, bags, tableclothes, subway sandwiches, fire extinguishers, garbage cans, fans, lol, just every random thing in the room we grabbed and threw it on him. It was funny.
So I went to the hospital last night to visit a family friend who was having some heart pains last week. From what my parents knew about what was going on, it wasn’t really a big deal. He was just having some tests that would probably lead to some minor procedures. Once we were there, we found out it was a lot more serious than that, and he’s having triple-bypass surgery this morning. Worthless… the family is just the two parents and one son, who’s a few years younger than I am. and it was the first person the family to be in the hospital for anything serious, so the whole family was taking it pretty hard. I’m probably heading over to the hospital again tonight with the moms after the surgery’s done and everything. So hopefully everything went well. He had a ton of friends over at the hospital last night. I was thinking about that today. In a way that’s good, cause it’s always comforting to have the support of your friends when you’re going through something like that. But at the same time, I’m sure if you want to just be alone and chill, it could get hard with like 20 people in your room all constantly talking about how you’re doing… Uncle looked like he was doing good though, so I’m hoping for the best.
So I went to Liar’s Club on Friday night. What’s up with that place? The upstairs was really cool, there were maybe like 20 people there, they were playing METAL and stuff. But downstairs was totally not what I was expecting. When we walked in, they were playing ‘Gettin Jiggy With It.’
I looked up what a bunch of my old comic books were worth today. Hell yea. That brought back a bunch of memories. I don’t even remember all the stuff I have. I remembered I had Spawn #1, Spiderman #1 when the start the new series in the early 90’s with Todd McFarlane, Wildcats #1, the issue where Superman came back to life, and I’m sure I’ve just got a ton more stuff. I remember in Yorktown Mall there used to be a stand that sold comic books, and that was where I first started getting hardcore into it. My sister used to work at Bermans in Yorktown, so I’d go to work with her sometimes and just walk around for the day. So I started getting comic books from the stand to pass my time by, and I just got more and more into collecting them. Then I started going to the local store by my house all the time to get the latest issues. Then my sister opened her own jewelery store in Chicago, and right down the block from her was a comic store called Halley’s Comics owned by this big Asian guy with long hair. So whenever I visited my sister I’d go there and get comic’s too. Ahh the memories….
Check out this website:
Aight kids, so I’ve been back for two weeks now. My re-entry into society has been an interesting process. I feel like my sister’s cat when we cover her in a towel and take her to a different part of the house. She peeps out of the towel, and what she sees is familiar, and she knows its familiar. But still, she peeps out of the towel cautiously, sits there and looks around for a little while, letting it all soak on. Then maybe she’ll step one foot out of the towel, then look around again, to see if anything changed since the last time she looked around before she set her one foot out of the towel. That cycle of minor entry and massive observation happens over and over again til she’s finally out of the towel. Then she hears a loud noise and runs like hell under the couch…
So it’s been a week back in the states and I’ve had a lot of time to collect my thoughts. When people ask me how my trip was, it’s impossible to summarize everything I’ve felt over the past three weeks in five minutes. And it seems to be the standard in the states that people don’t have time to sit, and listen, and CONVERSE, so I haven’t really gone into great detail about my trip with all too many people. My family, my girlfriend, one of my buddies, one kid from work who could relate. Everyone else, all I can say is that it was AWESOME.
Where: Delhi, The Hub, Internet Cafe Local time: 6:30p Chicago time: 7:00a
Where: Delhi, YMCA Local time: 11:00p Chicago time: 11:30a
Where: Delhi, YMCA Local time: 10:30p Chicago time: 11:00a
Where: Delhi, YMCA Local time: 6:00p Chicago time: 6:30a
Where: Amsterdam Airport, Communication Centre Local time: 8:00a Chicago time: 12:00a
Saturday night there will be a full lunar eclipse, which is pretty sweet. I’ll be at a friend’s place Saturday night, so maybe I’ll go check that out. It’s considered a ‘full’ lunar eclipse too, because the moon is passing through the earth’s inner shadow from from the sun, which is more significant than the moon passing through the earth’s outer shadow, because that’s not very noticeable by the naked eye.
Whad up child’en,
I’m still trying to figure out what i’m going to be for a halloween. so far my ideas are:
The week begins… This weekend I didn’t do too much of anything. Navratri, my family’s annual nine-day religious holiday, started Friday. So along with the beginning of the holiday came the beginning of the nine-day fasting. So I was pretty tired all weekend. Each day we restrict ourselves to fruits and nuts all day, and then we have one meal at night. But on Saturday we were only to drink juice all day without any meal. So that pretty much shot all my energy all weekend. So I spent a lot of time at home working on the new design for the site you’re viewing right now. It’s on.
I don’t know enough about Shakti to give you the lowdown on how long they’ve been around, or list out their discography. But I do know that they rule. They’re a straight up classical Indian music group with a REALLY slight western twist. They feature John McLaughlin, the fusion guitarist from the 70’s on guitar playing a guitar he created to emulate the resonating sound of the sitar. The rest of the band features very pronounced names in classical Indian music, like Zakir Hussain on tabla and Shankar on violin.
Okay, two words. “Holy”, “Crap.” I went to the Kushal Das show yesterday afternoon with Avani, and it was freaking awesome. Kushal Uncle (no relation, just a term of endearment) was WAILING on the sitar. It was very humbling to see such an amazing performance. You realize even though you may have come so far in your own musical talents, you have yet so far to go.