Über Desi

Keeping it real, desi ishtyle

Desi doctor killed by ex-colleague

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Earlier this week, Vajinder Toor, a doctor was killed by a former colleague, Lishan Wang, a Chinese national. [NYT] (Runa via email)

Wang also shot at Toor’s pregnant wife but she was, fortunately, not hit by the bullets. The motive? Revenge. [HuffPo] (Karthik,Krupali via email)

Wang and Toor were involved in a confrontation a few years ago at Kingsbrook after Wang left his post at the intensive care unit and was not reachable for a few hours, according to a hospital employee who spoke on condition of anonymity because of the ongoing murder investigation. The employee said Toor reprimanded him and that Wang threatened Toor in front of other employees.

Wang was suspended with pay on May 22, 2008, and notified by letter that the hospital had decided to propose firing him. He was told by the union that the hospital would only allow him to remain employed if he sought disability leave for mental impairment. He was fired in July.

Following his firing, Wang accused Toor of discriminating against Chinese employees but this was never proven, and Wang himself admitted to having anger and behavioral problems. [TOI]

Disgruntled employees opening fire at their place of employment is not unusual in the United States, where the term “going postal” originated, but Wang took it one step farther and started stalking his soon-to-be-victim. [Express Buzz]

A neighbour said that he saw Wang sitting in his red 1996 Dodge Caravan outside the home in Branford where Toor lived with his pregnant wife and 3-year-old son. It was 5.30 AM Sunday – more than 24 hours before Wang allegedly opened fire.

“He had his window open. I looked right into his face and he looked into mine. His face was expressionless. It creeped me out,” Kalani Lopa, 56, was quoted as saying. “He was casing the place. He was stalking that poor family.”

And in case, there were any doubts to the creepiness of this killer,

Another witness told police that when she saw Wang he appeared to have draped a pink towel over his head.

Wang and his vehicle were identified by witnesses who saw him fleeing the screen. Wang was apprehended with over 1000 bullets in his possession and the conjecture at this point is that he was planning a massacre.

Meanwhile, the pride of India TOI could not but help indulge in some hack journalism. [TOI]

For the most part, Indians and Chinese in the US academia and workplace engage in friendly rivalry with a kind of fierce work ethic that Americans envy and fear. For years, I-C in America has come to mean Indians-Chinese as much as Integrated Circuit.

I’ve had the pleasure of being involved with immigrants from various countries including China during my university days, and even the workplace, but I never received this I-C Integrated Circuit memo.

Back to the story, Dr. Toor is survived by his 3 year old son and 5 months pregnant wife, who was an eyewitness to the shooting and almost became a victim herself.

Price of Indian mangoes biggest barrier

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We love talking about two desi things in the US, macacas and mangoes.

While the former gets plenty of face time, the latter has been conspicuously absent since Presidentji deemed that Indian mangoes were ok to be imported into the glorious nation of Amrika. In the meanwhile, in the glorious nation of India, matches made in heaven were obliterated on terra firma thanks to mangoes. Yet, the much anticipated invasion of hapooses on American soil never materialized.

The reason? Cost. [MSN]

India has launched a promotional drive to make its mangoes popular in the massive market for the fruit in the US, but high prices are impeding the effort started last year after the lifting of an 18-year import ban.

Among efforts to make the fruit more popular in the US, mango tasting festivals.

A mango festival was held at the Indian consulate in New York this week, which was attended by a large number of Indian American community leaders, local traders and mango exporters from India.

Anyone know how we can get invited to one?

The factors that drive up the cost include a rigorous testing process …

After the agreement to lift the import ban was signed between APEDA and the US Department of Agriculture (USDA), every consignment of mangoes has to undergo irradiation and a rigorous testing process before being exported. This is being done in the presence of USDA at the only testing centre in Maharashtra, the cost of which is borne by the mango producers.

and a short shelf life …..

Costs go up further because the shelf life of Indian mangos being about a fortnight, all the consignments are sent by air.

resulting in each mango costing as much as $3.

As a result, a carton of a dozen mangoes costs around $35, making it out of reach of the common American. The same carton of mangos coming from Mexico, which accounts for 60 percent exports of the fruit to the US, or grown locally in California costs about $10.

Still there’s good news on the horizon for mango aficionados.

With more testing plants coming up in India in the next few years and the USDA hinting at easing import restrictions, Tripathy hoped that the volume of mangoes exported to the US would jump manifold after a couple of years, possibly bringing down the price to $15-$20 a carton.

Of course, by then $600 a barrel gas would drive up the prices again but that’s besides the point.

Meanwhile, Indian mangoes are being marketed to an exclusive market.

So anyone here buy any Indian mangoes in the local Indian grocery store? Do they really cost $3 each?

The Next Food Network Star: Week 2 – Was Nipa eliminated?

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Week 2 on TNFNS was pretty exciting. After racing through various nondescript locations in NYC and answering culinary knowledge related questions, the contestants had to pick up or were allocated raw materials depending on their performances in the quiz. Then Dinner Impossible host, Robert Irvine, who looks an awful lot like Mr. Spock from Star Trek, assigned them the task of cooking brunch for 30 guests on a moving train.
This is how Indian cuisine chef Nipa fared:
Nipa’s team was placed second in the quiz challenge. Given the choice between duck and lamb, Nipa picked lamb. No surprises there. After being criticized for her mild flavored less than stellar sukhi bhaji in last week’s episode, Nipa went all out on the spiciness. Her group’s presentation of their product was nothing spectacular.
In the elimination round, when asked why the judges should retain her despite her lackluster display, Nipa had a breakdown of sorts and left the room, which led us to believe she had been eliminated. But she composed herself and walked back into the room and conjured up some immigrant angle. I guess that convinced the judges because down to two contestants for elimination, Nipa lived on to fight another week.
From watching Food Network over the last 7 or so years, a couple of traits I’ve noticed in Food Network show hosts/chefs is their friendly demeanor and ability to engage in story telling. While cooking they impart detailed descriptions of each step, complete with witty anecdotes and minor trivia. Nipa, on the other hand, comes across as abrupt, cocky and arrogant from her clips on the show which leads us to believe either she is that way in real life or the show writers and editors are portraying Nipa in the mold of a Food Network Omarosa.
My wife also seemed to think that she is getting a raw deal from the judges – last week they critiqued her food for lacking the curry taste explosion and this week when they got it, she was critiqued for the food being too hot. News flash for Food Network execs: Most Indian cooking is too hot for most people to handle if you’re not used to it. It’s still hard to root for Nipa given her demeanor (or how she is portrayed on-screen).
On her part, Nipa would do well to stick to one plan instead of changing around to please everyone. Having said that, a little bit of customer and situational knowledge would be useful when she cooks. As some judges mentioned yesterday, lamb curry is not the ideal dish for a brunch. Lamb samosas, perhaps? Or maybe even a lamb curry salad?
But the message sent to Nipa was loud and clear, Food Network needs variety (something I stressed in my post last week) and her Indian cooking was exactly what Food Network was looking for. Can Nipa hold it together long enough to be The Next Food Network Star? Only time will tell.

Previous post on this season’s The Next Food Network Star.

Desi musician accused of molesting minor

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US based Indian classical musician, Shafaatullah Khan, has been charged with molesting a minor. [TOI] (tip Runa via email)

Shafaatullah Khan, 42, a native of India who lives in Pennsylvania, was charged with multiple counts of corruption of a minor, indecent assault and related offences.

The girl, now 16, said in court on Tuesday that she took keyboard lessons at Khan’s home and that he molested her in 2006 and 2007, The Philadelphia Inquirer reported in its editions on May 28.

Shafaatullah, who is related to sitar maestro Vilayat Khan, has been ordered to surrender his passport.

  • Author: Santosh
  • Published: May 27th, 2008
  • Category: Business
  • Comments: Comments Off

Outsourcers court Indian parents

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We let our parents pick our career paths, so why not let them pick the company where you work at? [Wall Street Journal]

Courting the parents – desi ishtyle
img: via WSJ

As more and more American companies outsource their calls to India, consequently resulting in more employees being hired to work at all odd hours, outsourcers are coming up against the most formidable opponent of all things desi – parents. The bottomline, for a myriad variety of social and cultural reasons and safety concerns, in some cases rightly so, parents are concerned about their adult offspring’s well being.

When outsourcing company Keane Inc. hired Jyoti Taneja 10 months ago to work in its Gurgaon, India, offices, her parents were worried. The 22-year-old Ms. Taneja would be taking calls from American customers of U.S. health-insurance companies, finishing her shift at 2:30 a.m.

Instead of bypassing concerned parents, the companies are courting them instead.

Hoping to reassure their young hire’s parents about her safety, her supervisors at Keane paid several visits to Ms. Taneja’s family home in nearby New Delhi.

They outlined the security measures Keane takes to protect employees, such as providing a shuttle service to and from work, and having security escorts accompany young women who are riding home alone.

Even with the millions of graduates India produces every year, outsourcers are still facing labor shortages, resulting them in actually taking the efforts to bridge the cultural gap of adult children still living at home with their parents and the parents influencing their offsprings’ decisions.

Another hurdle some smaller companies face is the lack of name recognition among parents.

Because Keane isn’t a household name, some parents worry that working there might not enhance their child’s marriage prospects, a key consideration in India, or are concerned about money. “They’ll ask, ‘How much will my son get?’” says Sudip Mandal, Keane’s head of recruitment in India.

But the main concern among parents seems to be the security of their children.

Other parents want to make sure transportation to and from work is safe, especially for young women. Those anxieties were reinforced last fall by the rape and murder of a 22-year-old outsourcing employee of Wipro Technologies Ltd. on her way to the office for a night shift.

Keane’s Mr. Mandal assures parents that Keane conducts rigorous background checks on local drivers before hiring them, and checks them daily to make sure they are alert and aren’t under the influence of alcohol.

Among other methods used to court parents in company sponsored “family days” to give the illusion of a family atmosphere.

At a Genpact Family Day late last year, executives gave a presentation about the company’s business to 75 or so workers and family members. Then family members watched a talent show featuring their young relatives singing and dancing. Next came a comic skit about what life might be like if Americans were the call-center workers and Indians were the customers on the line complaining about poor service.

Comic skit about Americans as call-center workers and Indians as consumers? At least, they have a sense of humor about the entire thing. Either that or this is an eerie prophecy in the making.

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