Über Desi

Keeping it real, desi ishtyle

Fanatics and Heretics

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Ramachandra Guha performs a colonoscopy of sorts on the close-minded, anti-intellectual, cliche-riddled, demagoguery that passes for the ideology of the Hindu extremist outfit, the RSS. [Telegraph] (via @pragmatic_d on Twitter)

It’s a fascinating read with real-life accounts from former RSS-ers and includes some hilarious points, for instance, what was the RSS’s stand during the Quit India movement?

However, the portion that stood out to me most:

“Hindus have lived in India since time immemorial; Hindus are the nation because all culture, civilization and life is contributed by them alone; non-Hindus are invaders or guests and cannot be treated as equal unless they adopt Hindu traditions, culture etc…; the history of India is the history of the struggle of the Hindus for protection and preservation of their religion and culture against the onslaught of these aliens; the threat continues because the power is in the hands of those who do not believe in this nation as a Hindu Nation; those who talk of national unity as the unity of all those who live in this country are motivated by the selfish desire of cornering minority votes and are therefore traitors; the unity and consolidation of the Hindus is the dire need of the hour because the Hindu people are surrounded on all sides by enemies; the Hindus must develop the capacity for massive retaliation and offence is the best defence; lack of unity is the root cause of all the troubles of the Hindus and the Sangh is born with the divine mission to bring about that unity.”

Replace “Hindus” with “White Christians”, “India” with “USA” and “non-Hindus” with “immigrants”,”Muslims” or “any other minority group” in the above paragraph and you have the template of a conservative talk show host in the US. Fascinating, huh?

Gupta v. “exotic” Indian restaurant

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An Indian family in NJ (where else?) is suing an “exotic” Indian restaurant for serving them samosas with meat, even though they were vegetarians. [NJ Ledger via HuffPo]

For an India Day celebration in Edison on Aug. 10, 2009, the group placed an order for vegetarian samosas. The restaurant assured them it didn’t make the pastries with meat. Indeed, there was no meat-filled samosa on the restaurant’s appetizer menu, and the court’s decision said the tray of pastries given to the group was labeled vegetarian.
But soon after eating a few samosas, some in the group grew concerned the pastries might contain meat. According to the decision, the restaurant eventually acknowledged it had confused the order with one for meat-filled samosas and gave the group the non-vegetarian pastries.

The family proceeded to sue the restaurant “alleging negligence, negligent infliction of emotional distress, consumer fraud, products liability and breach of express warranty”. This part also caught my eye. [link]

In their complaint, the plaintiffs outlined their injuries and damages in the following manner: “‘Hindu vegetarians believe that if they eat meat, they become involved in the sinful cycle of inflicting pain, injury and death on God’s creatures, and that it affects the karma and dharma, or purity of the soul. Hindu scriptures teach that the souls of those who eat meat can never go to God after death, which is the ultimate goal for Hindus. The Hindu religion does not excuse accidental consumption of meat products. One who commits the religious violation of eating meat, knowingly or unknowingly, is required to participate in a religious ceremony at a site located along the Ganges River in Haridwar, Uttranchal, India, to purify himself. The damages sought by plaintiffs included compensation for the emotional distress they suffered, as well as economic damages they would incur by virtue of having to participate in the required religious cleansing ceremony in India.’”

This story has me torn. Being raised in a Hindu vegetarian family myself, I’m can envision members of my family, particularly the elderly reacting in a similar manner (but we TamBrams are too pacifist to get involved in court cases). I’ve not read the doctrine for consuming meat and don’t know what the diktats for “Accidental Consumption of Meat” are. On one hand, I feel this family’s reaction (suing for money) is disproportionate to the incident.

On the other hand, longtime readers of this blog know my disdain for “exotic” Indian restaurants particularly their marketing, food and above all, service. This one fits in the last two. The restaurant certainly was wrong on the following counts:
- Serving food not on the menu
- Getting the food order wrong
- Serving food specifically the client demanded they did not want
- Not cross checking the order with the kitchen, despite repeated questions from the clients

And this kind of service is unfortunately not uncommon in “exotic” Indian restaurants. It’s disappointing to see the NJ Ledger, Huffington Post and other news outlets play up the “he he dumb Hindoos won’t eat meat” angle. Customers often ask for customized orders at restaurant, not just for religious reasons, but also for health reasons – food allergies, digestive issues. It is the duty of the restaurant to get it right, failing which they open up themselves to the consequences. Although, none of the customers were affected health-wise, I’m with them on suing, at least on principle.

What do you think?

Washington Redskins cheerleaders in IPL games (Update: Score)

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The Vijay Mallya-owned, Bangalore Royal Challengers, have roped in cheerleaders from the NFL team, Washington Redskins, for it’s first four games. [link]

Note: This image is photoshopped
img via First Post

The Redskins cheerleaders troupe is also expected to train Indian cheerleaders for Mallya’s team. Predictably, Hindu extremists have gone nuts over this move, “as they believe their act damages Indian culture and tradition”.

Bangaloreans appear less enthusiastic about the cheerleaders …

“It is completely alien to our culture to have young skimpily clad Indian girls sporting pompoms on their derrieres dancing around furiously,” The Telegraph quoted Bangalore resident Roshin Varghese, as saying.

…. not so, the Punjabis, ………

In Punjab, however, people are less critical about the idea of cheerleaders.
“It will be pleasing to watch the cheerleaders in all their glory,” said dentist Gurpreet Singh, adding, “They will add colour and impudence to the game.”

On a related note, Michael Strahan of NFL champions, The New York Giants, was recently quoted as saying that the Washington Redskins cheerleaders were the hottest among all NFL cheerleaders [link]. One has to commend Mallya’s choice.

Update: Mallya’s Bangalore team lost by 140 runs in the first match against Kolkata. [Score]
We did warn Mallya on the Washington Redskins cheerleaders being the most distractive force in all of professional sports.

“The Love Guru” MySpace page

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Like all underground promotional campaigns do, the movie “The Love Guru” has created it’s own Myspace Page.

Guru MySpace

Among other things listed on here:
Under Interests:

Arranged Wedding Crashers”. “Meet the Fakirs“.
“A Fistful of Rupees“. “Police Academy 3″. Guttenbuuuuurg!

Under Details:

Orientation: Straight (into S but not M)
Body Type: Sassy, Classy, with a nice high Assy
Ethnicity: American
School: Tugginmypudha Ashram
Occupation: Guru/life guide/Bikini inspector

Under Who I’d like to meet:

My Guru’s Guru, Guru Cheddafrumunda, his Guru, Guru Hathasmalvena, and Chris Gaines

Really? “Arranged Wedding Crashers”? “Meet the Fakirs”? Seems like they’re falling over themselves to recreate the Simpson’s brand of Apu humor. However, I must admit, as I’m thinking “are these the kind of jokes we’ll be exposed to in the movie?”, “Tugginmypudha” had me snorting my morning coffee across the keyboard.

Deepak Chopra supports “The Love Guru”

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Now it’s literally Deepak Chopra versus Rajan Zed. via Rediff (tip Runa)

DC takes on RZ
img: via Rediff

The battle lines are drawn.
Hindu chants of “Om” (“Aum” for the Orientalist westerners) chime in the background.
It’s the clash of spiritualism and clergy.

Deepak Chopra has come out in support of the movie “The Love Guru” saying he is worried “some Hindus don’t get the joke in the movie”.

“No matter what you write or do, the fundamentalists attack it,” Dr Chopra tells rediff.com in an exclusive interview. This is the first time anyone has held a long discussion on the $80 million film. “It doesn’t matter if you are a Hindu, a Muslim or a Christian: If you are a fundamentalist, you have a problem.”

Chopra goes into psychoanalysis mode and concludes that these protests arise from insecurities and basic human ego.

Read the rest of this entry »

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