Tuesday, May 30, 2006

you know you're a true Desi if...

You talk in a funny made-up Indian-ized version of English when you talk to a Person of Indian Descent (POID) on the phone. While ABCD's may make fun of FOB's the fact of the matter is that we talk in a fake accent sometimes when needed.

Which brings me to a sidenote, why do many ABCD's make fun of kids directly from India and don't see any problem with it, yet we get utterly disgusted if non-Indians do the same thing. I imagine all ethnic groups have some equivalent of this phenomenon, but needless to say it's hypocritical at best. I don't wanna sound holier-than-thou, because I am definitely guilty of this as well, but it seemed worthy of pointing out.

footnotes (a quick review for those who don't know):
1. ABCD - "American Born Confused Desis," basically any kid born and raised in the U.S of A (e.g. me)
2. FOB's - "Fresh Off the Boat," - Indian kids raised in India and now in the States who basically hadn't been abroad much before (that's an appropriate additional qualifier in my opinion) and thus come off as being a bit less than Western minded

Sunday, May 28, 2006

Belarusian biatches

Okay so my posts usually center around some jibberish or Indian-centric observiation, which many may argue are the same thing, but here's something randomly horrible that caught my eye over the weekend.

On Friday night England played Belarus in an exhibition soccer game and lost 2-1. Okay well there's nothing super crazy about that, right? Well...

Knowing your intellectual curiousity, I'm sure you're wondering "how did Belarus score their first goal?" Was it a fantastic shot? No. Was it an exhibition of incredible dribbling? Not even close. Was it a header from a long sweeping cross? Better luck tomorrow Harold.

The answer is that the English goalkeeper was going to put the ball into play with a goal kick but when he went to kick the ball he ruptured his groin and "collapsed to the ground in heap." After watching Robert Green fall under sheer pain, a player from Belarus ran toward the poor soul.... and instead of going to aid his fellow human being, he took the ball away and scored a goal in the empty net. iQue lastima! What a bastard move!

Dude, the poor guy ruptured his f'in groin and someone has the nerve to take the ball and score. It's his groin. Shit, if I got a papercut between my fingers I'd be writhing in pain. But he ruptured his innards. Ruptured! What kinda takes advantage of that. That sounds like something out of the book "One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich" that I read in high school. No offense to Belaurusian's, but next time I'm in your land, I'm gonna steer clear of your emergency rooms. God only knows what goes on in them. Communists.

Saturday, May 27, 2006

Homeland Security & You

Any loyal citizen knows that one thing they must always protect is their homeland, and the security thereof. Now I know some of you would take this statement to mean that I'm implying that one has to fight wars in far-off lands. No, no, no. That's totally missing the point. Stop being so dramatic. Sheesh. You can defend your homeland right in the comfort of your own backyard!

Every night random groups of desis gather on the waterfront next to my building and talk loudly well into the night. As such I feel like it is my right...no no, my duty to do something about this. Now some of you are probably thinking to yourselves "Shakes, surely you decided to do the mature and civil thing and bring this up at your apartment association meeting to discover a civil solution to this horrible problem, right?"

Err....umm...

Well not really. Over the last month I've taken a bit of a more of a dramatic solution. Two words: Super Soaker. When I hear a crowd gather at night, I shut off the lights in my apartment, open the window, and spray the crowd of night time revelers with water. The winner and still champion, me. Okay so maybe some questions needs to be answered regarding my behavior and the intended targets:
  • Isn't it true that most of the people that you're "defending against" actually live in your buildings and are really not invaders at all?
    • Possibly
  • Are they really making so much noise that you cannot sleep at night?
    • Well, not really, but that misses the point. It's the principle of the matter.
  • Is this just an elaborate excuse to spray people with water?
    • Noooo.
  • Not that it should make a difference, but why are you attacking other desis, when you yourself are a desi?
    • I'm sorry but I'm color blind. Pardon me for not being racist like the person making these question. I believe all people are God's children for the most part.
  • But Shakes you're the one making up these questions
    • You shut up when you talk to me.
Clearly some may not subscribe to my behavior, but let the record show if we have the right to invade other countries for no reason, then obviously I'm not wrong. Remember, people like plants deserve to be watered.

Thursday, May 25, 2006

"There are no illegal immigrants, only illegal governments"

....from the song "Colour Line" by Asian Dub Foundation. That is my social commentary of the day. You may now go back to your normal daily activities.

Curse like a sailor! It's Fleet Week!

If I could make a t-shirt, that's what it would say. I don't really have anything else to say about this. I'm funny. This post is pretty self serving really.

Wednesday, May 24, 2006

Spring in the City / Where did the Falun Gong go?

There are many signs that Spring is upon us: the sound of birds, the trees are green, and the flowers are in full bloom. Sadly in NYC we don't have birds, trees, nor flowers. As such the only sure fire way of knowing summer is back, aside from the return sweltering humidity and the inevitable malfunctioning subway A/C, is the return of the true boys of summer! You know what I'm talking about, it's everybody's favorite protesters, the Falun Gong!

The Falun Gong, rose to prominence about two years ago in the city where their sidewalk protests could be seen everywhere. Allegedly they are persecuted by the Chinese government and are beaten and whatnot. The most popular misconception about the cult is that the sidewalk protesters are actually from China and they have come all the way to NYC to protest. This is not true. I mean, that would kind of be a long way to go to make a protest again someone at your home. If I was them I'd just chill out in the US. For the record they're not really protesters in the typical Greenwich Village sense but rather they just sorta wear makeup and sit in cages to simulate how they are persecuted in the homeland.

It's a little odd to walk to McDonalds during your lunch break only to stroll by several elder people sitting in bamboo cages with mascara on. An insider once told me that they just bus in people from China town to help promote their "protests." Go figure.

That being said, there is no sign of them whatsoever this year. In years past they taken out large newspaper ads and whanot, this year no marketing campaign. Nowadays spotting a Falun Gongian seems to be as difficult as spotting an East Village hipster in Queens....where his/her/its vintage clothing may have originally come from.

DJ Shakes_2006-05-23 (obscure 80's)

http://hbshakes.blogspot.com
theme: obscure 80's

Okay so my cousin requested that I do a mix of 80's songs that aren't normally heard, so I hope you like it. Clearly a few songs are not really obscure but dammit they sound good. Plus it's not like your really hear Michael Jackson's PYT toooo frequently. To help with the trip down memory lane I also included the release date of each song below. As with last week, the tracks are listed by the [min:sec] at which they appear in the mix.

T R A C K L I S T I N G (approx 68min)
[0:00] Intro - me
[0:47] Stacey Q - Two of Hearts (1986)
[4:30] Level 42 -Lessons in Love (1986)
[8:16] Pet Shop Boys - Suburbia (1986)
[11:52] Wham - Everything She Wants (1985)
[16:31] Joy Division - Love Will Tear Us Apart (1980)
[19:35] Duran Duran - American Science (1986)
[24:05] Michael Jackson - P.Y.T. (Pretty Young Thing) (1984)
[27:35] Prince - When Doves Cry (1984)
[31:29] Chaka Khan - I Feel For You (1984)
[35:57] The English Beat -Save It For Later (1982)
[39:16] Simple Minds - Alive and Kicking (1985)
[43:35] Crowded House - Don't Dream It's Over (1986)
[47:16] Bruce Springsteen - I'm On Fire (1984)
[49:30] Depeche Mode - Get The Balance Right (1983)
[52:25] The Cure - Close To Me (1985)
[55:55] Morissey - Suedehead (1988)
[59:09] Thompson Twins - Hold Me Now (1984)
[61:30] ABC - Be Near Me (1985)
[64:51] Outro - me (timelesss)
[65:05] New Order - Bizarre Love Triange (1986)


Okay, time for my interesting words of wisdom. It's pretty neat to see the original release date of some of these songs and working out how old you were when they came out. In my case, more often than not I feel like the songs were oldies already by the time I was conscious of them.

The Duran Duran song is a personal favorite which has never appeared on any of their Best-Of's. What a pity. I actually got the album from my uncle (the father of the cousin who requested this mix) in India and it was my fave to listen to in the shower. Prince's "When Doves Cry" is the very first music video that I vividly remember. I remember sitting in front of my TV watching it on HBO (they used to show music videos between movies... usually before their 1,000th daily airing of "Annie") and thinking that Prince's purple motorcycle was so ├╝ber cool.

Finally Chaka Khan's "I Feel For You" was always a cool song I liked but she never meant much to me personally as an artist until 16 years after this song's release I found myself at training for work and all the kids from the London office playfully called me "Chaka Khan." I think it was a complement of sorts. I think. Those blokes are funny when they take a piss at you because you just can't figure out what the bloody hell they mean, innit?

DIRECTIONS: Right mouse click on the tracklisting above to save the entire mix (mp3) directly or Podcast Me! Simply drag the orange podcast icon on the top left of this page into your iTunes. Or:
  1. goto iTunes
  2. click on Advanced
  3. click on Subscribe to Podcast:
  4. paste this URL http://feeds.feedburner.com/EngineEngine9

Monday, May 22, 2006

Spot the Desi: #3

Okay friends & family, turn on your desar, it's another exciting edition of Spot the Desi!


Okay this is an easy one, while it may be difficult to make out in this picture (I had to be sneaky and use my phone cam), there are actually 4 Indian people in this picture (yes four!). Let us review for our viewers at home how we can identify that this scene is a major POHIP (Place of High Indian Probability):

1. it's New Jersey, enough said.
2. the driver (currently opening the trunk) is wearing a black shirt, with his hair greased back.
3. the driver, in true S.I.G. style never smiled once.
4. it's 3-series BMW, the chariot of choice for all SIG's.

For the experienced, this exercise was a no-brainer. But if you found this to be difficult, please re-study the refresher course "Where's The Desi" (4/26/06) from last month and try again.

Sunday, May 21, 2006

my transformation back to decency

As my 30 days of freedom draws to a close, it marks the return of shaving into my daily routine. Since it takes me a long time to grow anything vaguely approximating a beard, this is the last time for a while that I'd have the opportunity to grow one. As such I felt that I should shave it off in all sorts of goofy styles during this ceremonious Gillette moment to see how I would look. So with that, I invite you to come along and witness this magical transformation! ...come on, don't be scared!

STAGE 1: NO SHAVING. This is of course how our hero (me) started off the day. I hadn't shaved for a week. Notice the circular patch where my dimples are. For some reason stubble doesn't grow there...God knows why...and hence it's a subject of ridicule amongst my family.




STAGE 2: GOATEE. Hey look it's a SIG (Shady Indian Guy)... no, no, don't be scared, it's just me! Shot! I gave myself a goatee and now I can be easily mistaken for a SIG... or maybe just Bally Sagoo. All that's missing is a completely black wardrobe and an "Om" tattoo on my bicep. For those of you who think that my look is very convincing and that I really am a SIG, I'll answer you question with another question, "would a real SIG be watching hockey?" (you can see the screen over my ear)


STAGE 3: THUG LIFE. What a hero pose this one turned out to be! By shaving off the botttom part of my goatee I look like a pure thug... Please note of course the gold chain, and 2 beaded necklaces. This only adds to my street cred of course... plus now I look like U2's The Edge circa 1997. The slightly scary thing is that I soooorttaaa like this look.



STAGE 4: SUPERMAN. I've fully shaved and a haircut has been obtained. I now look quite good again. Quiiiiite.







STAGE 5: CLARK KENT. The glasses are back...oh they're back. Conversely many of you mean people out there maybe thinking that I look quite nerdy and am thinking in my head "Hello there, I love math and solving Soduko puzzles for pleasure."

Saturday, May 20, 2006

Signs you have Indian parents

Long before there was hip hop and rappers, there were desi rhymers...Indian elders. Indian parents/grandparents/aunts/uncles rhyme things that make no sense. Essentially Indian parents will take a word and make-up a word that uses most of the same letters but doesn't exist. For anyone growing up in an Indian household, here are some classic lines:
  • "What time are you getting back from your party-shmarty?"
  • "Are you going to be wearing those baggy pant-bants to the temple?"
  • "It is not good to do all that drinking-binking business"
  • "What happened to that Pat Sajack-bayjack chap from Wheel of Fortune?"
... and for any high school teacher that has told you that there is no word in the Engligh language that rhymes with "orange" has clearly never met a desi parent:
  • "Hey, stop eating that orange-borange"
For the record according to an Indian parent, a party is any gathering of more than 2 people with the potential presence of music and/or food. Thus every social gathering in the history of humankind has been a "party."
  • jury duty? a party.
  • the French Revolution? a party.
  • Boston Tea Party? massive party, almost rave-esque.
Parties, as they will promptly tell you, are where "THE drugs" are used and where "THE bad elements" hang out. The word "THE" must always be added before key nouns in order to stress them. On an unrelated sidenote Indian elders will never use the term "shorts" instead they will always say "short-pants."

Likewise, the Elders will never simply say "jeans," they'll say "jean-pants." As in, "you should wear a pair of proper fitting jean-pants, that doesn't look good. People will talk."

Friday, May 19, 2006

the Orange II (more ships)

Funny things happen when you look out your window.... I just spotted the massive Orange II on the Hudson River. It's a G-class maxi catamaran, for the those of you who are scoring at home or even if you're by yourself.

According to the local news it is just starting on its attempt to break the North Atlantic sail boat crossing record, which currently stands at 4 days, 17 hours, 28 minutes, & 6 seconds. The Orange II missed out on the mark by 32 minutes in 2004.

Based on the fact that the crew was more than happy enough to wave back at me and take pictures, I'm gonna bet that they'd be lucky to cross the Atlantic in anything less than a week.

Thursday, May 18, 2006

East Village, 3rd & Avenue A (8:30pm)



This is outside the Pioneer Theater last night where a group called Third-I screens independent South Asian short-films every month. They're sorta hit or miss....tonight both films were a miss. Usually you get an eclectic mix of people at these things. You don't see the typical SIG's (Shady Indian Guys) but rather the artsy-quasi-socialist desi's. Oddly enough being an artsy-quasi-socialist is also a prerequesite for living in the East Village. Additionally there is always the random assortment of old non-Indian people who view the "South Asian diaspora" as being exotic and therefore of interest. Culture Vultures! Many of them look at these events as being B.Y.O.Y.M.... Bring Your Own Yoga Mat.

For some reason the concept of people exploring a culture because they think it's exotic makes me think of the book "The Heart of Darkess." ... the Savages! the Savages! If you have no idea what I'm talking about then don't worry. Just go back, take a nap, and the pain will go away soon enough.

note to self: next time I'm in South Korea, get naked...

The Asian edition of Time magazine just released their annual edition of the Best of Asia 2006, and South Korea's Park Hyatt is listed as the the best place in all of Asia to get naked.

Basically your bathroom is a giant window facing office buildings who have a chance to peer in. Surely no one could really see you, could they? While I'm not gonna compare my apartment to the Park Hyatt, I will say that I have had a similar experience... I never realized that my bedroom is completely visible from the water by ferry passengers cruising on the Hudson River.

I never realized of course until I took the ferry myself and naturally I started counting the floors in my building to spot my apartment and thought "oh look there's my apartment...man I can sure see right through the whole room when my blinds are open....wait a second...I always keep my blinds open...even in the morning...oh no! THEY CAN SEE ME!"

This entire conversation of course was happening in my head, but I was still yelling. The result of course is that unbeknownst to me I have been providing a free show for early morning commuters. Which brings me to my next thought, is it a form of good racism that between the Park Hyatt & my apartment, I would feel more comfortable to be naked in front of foreign strangers rather than domestic strangers?

As a final question, do 75% of all Koreans feel like the Park Hyatt is named after them?

a refresher on tatti

By popular demand, my friend Alice, who we shall refer to as "Asian Friend" for anonymity's sake, asked that I do a quick refresher about the proper pronounciation of the word "tatti." Since I strive to make it a part of the lexicon of the English speaking population at large, this seemed like a post-worthy issue. After all, so many of you readers strive to be like me and follow my ways.

"Tatti" as we all know by now means shit. It is pronouced "Tut-tee" and NOT "TA-tee" as Asian Friend feels tempted to say. Resist the temptation. Resist the urge. Avoid the Noid.

While we're at it, "desi" is what you call a person of Indian descent, and it's pronounced "they-see" and NOT "des-ee" as the British chicks from "Harold & Kumar Go to White Castle" say.

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

Racism, Bryan Adams, & You.

I think there is good racism and bad racism. Some people claim that they are not racist, but the reality is that everyone makes judgments in their everyday world from incomplete information. In such a situation you have to make conclusions from previous experience. Plus, as we all know from the Broadway play Avenue Q, everyone is a little bit racist.

Now all that being said, let's go back to my earlier premise that some racism is good. I'm not talking about "good racism" being stereotypes like Asians are good at math and Italians are good at cartography, but rather that some racism doesn't have any ill intentions. For example, I was talking to a friend, we shall call her "White Friend" for anonymity's sake, about my post on growing up listening to Indian music ("Essay of an ABCD," 5/15/06) and she mentioned that she's continually suprised hearing about how desi parents growing up in India have the same love for old Western songs as elder people from America (e.g. Elvis, the Bealtes, etc.)

While someone could construe White Friend's comments as being stereotypes, "I didn't think brown people would like Western music the same as people here do," they're not harmful in anyway. It simply is the realization that some cultures unexpectedly have similar experiences with others and it just requires being informed. Maybe "racism" isn't the right word but I would say this is more like "okay racism" versus the typical "bad racism."

The weird irony in this music example is that anyone who has cousins in India can attest to the fact that everyone of them grew up listening to classic rock. It's nuts. As a law, every Indian kid born after 1975 must love Clapton. As a kid visiting my cousins during the summers, I learned more about classic rock from my cousins in India than being at home. Oh yeah, by the way, it's also a law that everyone in India must love Bryan Adams. He is one of the incarnations of Vishnu.

Which brings us to candy. Anyone who knows me...my apologies...knows that my typical dinner at home consists of coke, cheetos, and twizzlers. On days that I'm feeling particularly hungry I will add a Hot Pocket into the mix. They're really quite refreshing. The funny thing about candy is that I like them no matter what they are. If I'm at a grocery store line, I'll just buy a pack without really knowing what it is. I will gladly judge a food product by it's color.... if it has bright colors, a cartoony font, and a cardboard box, I'm in. I am a Candy Racist.

And thus I hope this has been an informative and educational look on racism in your world. For further reading I would recommend scores of books at the Library of Congress.

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

free subway maps for your iPod...

If you're like many New Yorkers, you keep a little card-map of the subway in your wallet/purse. Now you can just use your iPod instead. This is pretty badass, just goto iPod Subway Maps find the city you live in (ranging from Berlin to Tokyo), and follow the easy instructions. All you need is either a video or photo iPod. Blammo.

Duke lacrosse player hairstyles and Legos

By now most people who keep any vague awareness of sports have heard about the accusations of misconduct between members of the Duke lacrosse team and a stripper. An interesting side issue that is being lost in the case is the fact that the captain of the lacrosse team has the hairstyle of a Lego man. The resemblance is uncanny as you can see from the pictures below:


Duke lacrosse co-captain, Dave Evans...









... this is a Lego man with hair. I'm not quite sure why this particular Lego man is dressed up as Super Man, but Lego man labor issues are not within the scope of this post. But I digress, as you can see from the hair, it's pretty much the same hairstyle.


What would have probably been a more constructive comparison would be to see whether any of the lacrosse players had the patented claw-like hands that Lego men possess. Human have 5 fingers, characters on the Simpsons have 4, and Lego people have a claw. Do any members of the Duke lacrosse team, or even the Duke student body have claw-like hands? Only time will tell.

If you're still having difficult picturing the uncanny resemblance, allow me to introduce this possible artist rendering of the picture above in Lego-like form:

Monday, May 15, 2006

Sometimes You Can't Tatti On Your Own...

Sometimes the simplest questions are never asked. I was watching the these two guys play the worst game of H.O.R.S.E. ever from my window and it made me wonder, why do people always try for crazy behind-the-back-no look basketball shots when they can't even make a free throw?

essay of an ABCD

Caution: the following is going to be one of those touchy feely Ethnic Moments, please feel free to skip. In fact I'm not really sure which reader this appeals to. Oh well, c'est la vie, I guess it is my blog...

To grow up in an Indian household is to be in touch with roots that came far before you. While i could wax poetic about all sorts of tangents on such a vague opening, I'd rather think about the most superficial and easy to understand, music.

Knowing music is more than just loving current Hindi movie songs, it's about knowing songs decades before your birth. I'm not talking about being a teenager in the mid '90s and discovering Zeppelin or Hendrix for the first time. Desi kids have Indian songs ingrained into them from practically the first time they can hear. I'm continually shocked how my younger cousin recognizes an endless array of old songs I do...but I guess it should be more shocking that I recognize them because I was brought up in the U.S. of A. In fact my dad once mentioned that he was shocked that I recognized some obscure song from 50 years ago and my only response was "I learned it from watching yoooou" (spoken in the tone of the old drug ad).

I would argue that most desi kids brought up in America can recognize tons of Hindi songs from the 50s and 60s...and we usually recognize these songs before having our favorite English speaking groups. Furthermore it is more than mere recognition, it's a combination of momentarily sitting in your parent's shoes and touching their youth...wondering where they were when they first heard these songs which they voluntarily sing along to.

If this all sounds absurd and overly dramatic, well maybe it is. If you don't want to play along then so be it, but if you're still reading and just need something concrete to point to then think for a moment of how you felt when you watched Monsoon Wedding for the first time and the old 1960’s Mohd Rafi song "Aaj Mausam Bada Beimann Hai" played during the romantic scene between PK Dubey (the wedding coordinator) and Alice (the servant). If you didn't feel you heart skip a beat during that scene then you probably don't have a pulse. Part of it was the fact that the scene itself was touching and the rest...well let's just say it's something else to unexpectedly hear an old song .

Why should a song made almost 20 years before I was born strike me with a nostalgia for a time that I wasn't alive for and a place that I haven't lived in?

In the middle of hearing that song I stopped paying attention to the screen and was immediately drawn back to all the countless Saturday mornings I would awaken to my mom playing the Indian program on some AM station in the kitchen (why do parents always boost the treble to the max and remove any bass?). It used to be annoying… who wants to wake up at 8am on a Saturday like that?… but I swear, if you ever came home from college on vacation, it literally was music to your ears. Plus you almoooost wouldn't mind watching Namaste America with your parents either.

As I've gotten older I find myself listening to old Hindi music on my volition rather frequently, but the timing of it is very curious. Let's just say it's when I'm at my Ethnic-kyest: driving to Edison (aka Desiville USA) or Jackson Heights, going to the temple, or just during Indian holidays. I don't know how to say many Hindu prayers, I don't know the names of all the incarnations of my gods, I don't know how to cool any Indian dishes, and I can only speak broken Hindi & Marathi. These are things I'm flooded with at home and I am unable to independently create any of it. So for me I turn to these old filmi prayers over and over when I want to invoke the feeling of Home.

Sunday, May 14, 2006

HB is finally legally Surf City

For years the people of my homeland in Huntington Beach have suffered. While it is a sleepy beach city in the OC, my people have had much more in common with the Sudanese than with other free loving people. For example our city only has 4 skate parks. Oh the humanity!

But now those days are over. As of today, legally, a federal agency has ruled that HB is the one and only "Surf City," and not the evil North Korea-esque Santa Cruz which tried to steal the nickname.

May you rot in hell Santa Cruz...you and your banana slugs.

Spot the Desi !!!

It's another edition of everyone's favorite new game craze that's sweeping the nation, Spot the Desi! Set your desar to stun, and let's see today's picture:



Okay, did you find it hard to spot them? ... I will admit it's a little hard because it's dark, but let's review the signs that ensure this is in fact a Place Of High Indian Probability (P.O.H.I.P.)

1. it's in Time Square
2. it's the W on a Friday night
3. there is no cover to get in

Presto! The combination of the three elements make for a highly volatile POHIP. It really is that simple . In addition I think we can all safely say that at least one of the guys qualifies as being a SIG (Shady Indian Guy). The best part is that one of the guys saw me taking a picture of their group and started posing like a true hero.

Friday, May 12, 2006

DJ Shakes_2006-05-12 (lounge)

http://hbshakes.blogspot.com
theme: lounge

Okay, it's Friday night and you're supposed to go out, like every weekend, to some lounge where you dress up and wait in a line to get the right to pay for expensive drinks in a crowded place. Why do you do this? So instead of going out you can bring the music home to you...and if you still insist on going out, at least you can use this music to get ready to.

In my opinion, most good lounge music is punctuated by strong bass lines with a beat strong enough that you would bop your head to during those uncomfortable moments when you find yourself with no one to talk to but are pretending that you're doing something very interesting on your cellphone...

Also due to popular demand, I've listed the tracks by when they appear on the mix by minutes & seconds...

TRACKLISTING [total 62:53 min]

...and please don't ask me why I put the Gipsy Kings in the middle, it just seemed appropriate after the Cantoma track right before it...

DIRECTIONS: Right mouse click on the tracklisting above to save the entire mix (mp3) directly or Podcast Me! Simply drag the orange podcast icon on the top left of this page into your iTunes. Or:
  1. goto iTunes
  2. click on Advanced
  3. click on Subscribe to Podcast:
  4. paste this URL http://feeds.feedburner.com/EngineEngine9

the world's largest cruise ship...

... right outside my window. One advantage of living on the water outside of Manhattan is that you can see crazy things from your living room. In my case I noticed that the 1,112 foot, 15 story Royal Carribean's "Freedom of the Seas" was making its maiden voyage today.



As you can see, the Empire State Building is the background. See it pays to watch "Today" on NBC in the mornings to know when to look out your window. God bless you Katie Couric. God bless you.

Thursday, May 11, 2006

Dear Air India, I predict you are going to lose my bag

Anyone traveling internationally on Air India can expect three things:

1) crying babies
2) getting a meal that's not theirs
3) lost luggage

While we can't prevent children from flying just yet and getting the "Indian vegetarian" meal is simply uncontrollable, the only thing that can be focused on really is lost luggage. If you check-in luggage you might as well kiss it goodbye, because there is a reasonably good chance that you will never see it again. If you do see it, it will be in separate pieces scattered on the baggage claim conveyer belt somewhere. Do you think I'm joking? Well maybe I'm stretching the truth a little bit, but as far as I'm aware of Air India is the only airlines I know of that has a link for "missing baggage" on the front page of their website.

But alas if you really must check-in luggage what can you do? At the brilliant suggestion of an anonymous friend perhaps we can be proactive about losing your tatti. How you ask? Well instead of waiting for them to lose my bags, why don't I just email them beforehand and ask them what I SHOULD do when they eventually lose them. This my friends, is pure comic genius.

Thus I have written the following email
Dearest Mr. Air India saab,

I am not expected to travel with you anytime soon but when I do I think you are going to lose and/or maim my luggage. It is my opinion and a fact. I feel confident that my check-in luggage won't make it safely to its final destination (probably India).

As such who should I be contacting now to get my bags? Unless I purchase something new, I would probably be traveling with one large black bag with a large orange strap. It has 4 wheels on the bottom, one of the wheels is broken, so only 3 are functional. I purchased the bag in Jackson Heights. The vendor said it was "A-1 top class quality" so I'm sure it will be sturdy. I would have packed many valuable items in it, such as my cricket bat, several 220 volt appliances also purchased from Jackson Heights, and one Shahrukh Khan poster. I always travel with the poster, he is like a god to me. I am imagining that your baggage service will have somehow ripped or wrinkled this poster.
So in summary, please to be kind enough to be telling whom I should contact to get my bag back once you eventually lose it. Otherwise sadly I would hate to see tatti hit the punkah.

Jai Hind, Jai Air India. Jay-Z. Thank you kindly.
- Arsenio Hall
Writer's Note: "Arsenio Hall" is my super secret incognito name... or nom de plume for my French readers. We shall see what the response is. As always, the actual screenshot is below to ensure you that I have actually emailed this. For your info the word "punkah" is Hindi for "fan." So "tatti hitting the punkah" is my literal translation for the phrase "shit hitting the fan"



By the way, on a sidenote, I still haven't gotten a response from the National Park Service yet, but I'm not exactly holding my breath...

click here to go back to the front page...

_

Devils hockey & the joys of being brown

I don't want to make my blog be a series of posts stating what I ate for dinner or what I watched on TV, because that would make for a boring read. It's bad for my ratings and plus it alienates our audience in Dubai. But, that being said, I have to mention that my sports bonanza continued today, as I just got back from Game 3 of the NJ Devils/Carolina Hurricanes series.

The Devils played a listless game and lost 3-2, to be down in the series best of seven series, 3-0. I've been to the Continental Airlines Arena (the Devils home) a few times and it must be stated that it's one of the worst in the league and plays some of the worst music during breaks.

Tonight ended on a shitty note because as I was driving out of the mess of cars pulling out of the parking lot a guy next to me rolled down the passenger window and started making angry monkey noises at me. For those of you who can't figure out why he would make such noises, lemme give you a hint, it wasn't because he saw that my license plate holder professes my love for another hockey team.

Sometimes it sucks to be brown.
_

Wednesday, May 10, 2006

signs you're in an Indian restaurant #1...

... there are approximately 20 times the number of waiters as you'd have in any "normal" restaurant. It's not that each waiter is doing an incredible amount of work that it necessitates such manpower, but rather each one does a small task. Once you sit down it takes separate waiters to pour you water, gives you utensils, and offer the lunch buffet. Don't forget that throughout all of this there's always at least one random guy who is just milling around doing nothing.

It's the exact same thing if you've ever gone to a store in India. One guy measures your shoe size, another dude proudly shows you styles that you hate, and then of course there's always a third guy who actually gets your sizes from the backroom (or oddly enough in the ceiling sometimes,where they drop the shoes). This of course doesn't even include the 5 guys involved in actually making a purchase (one dude to put your shoes in a bag, another takes your money, another writes the receipt, another actually hands you the bag,....). You think I'm joking but anyone who has gone through it knows....

Tuesday, May 9, 2006

who are the liars: Puerto Ricans or the National Park Service?

In my last happy happy joy joy post, I mentioned my trip to the Puerto Rican National Forest, which is purported to be the only natural rainforest in the United States. However an anonymous commenter pointed out that the US National Park Service (NPS) website maintains that there is in fact a rainforest in Washington State (click HERE to see).

There seems to be an inconsistency here.

This existence of a Washington rainforest would slightly dampen, no pun intended, the uniqueness of the PR rainforest. As such, I felt it was my duty to email the NPS to clarify and ask them if the Puerto Ricans are a bunch of liars or not. For the sake of entertainment I embellished some of the comments our Puerto Rican tourguides made to help add fuel to the fire... namely, I added that they directly dissed this alleged Washinton rainforest. Also there is nothing funnier that liberally throwing around the word "liar" to strangers. My email is as follows:
Dear NPS,
I recently visited Puerto Rico's rainforests and they said that they are the only natural rainforest in all of America in National Park System. We specifically asked them about the "rainforests" in Washington State, which your website also labels as also being a rainforest. The park ranger in Puerto Rico said those are not "real" rainforest and that this fact is "well documented." I am confused, are the Puerto Ricans liars or is your website wrong?
Thank you in advance,
-Shakes
The snapshot of the email is below to assure you of the fact that I'm not making this all up. This issue is of dire importance and if Yogi Bear, Park Ranger Smith or any other reputed forest ranger needs to get involved, so be it. I shall await to see their response.

Just to ensure that we get some sort of response, I've also posted this question up as a comment on the US Postal Service blog which so kindly took over my blog several moons back. ("the US Postal Service hijacked my blog," 4/21/06).

...back from Puerto Rico...

There'a nothing quite like traveling away from home to makes you realize how much it sucks to be single. Everywhere you look you end up seeing things you'd love to do with a significant other: a place to have dinner, a square where you'd actually feel comfortable dancing amongst the locals, a place you could actually propose. It's sorta like going to a toy store as a kid and knowing that all you're doing is window shopping. For example it would take a fantastic sum of money and major coercing to convince me to goto Paris alone in the Springtime. If you're looking to feel miserable in life, try going there solo. The interim solution of course is traveling with family or friends and thus begat my trip to Puerto Rico which I went with my friends Shivin and Vinod. Besides the three of us, my desar hits were quiiiite low for the weekend. Quite.

At this risk of devling into details that have little appeal for you to read, it was the perfect blend of doing nothing and doing something for the weekend....and oh yeah you haven't lived until you've fallen face first from a jet ski going 30mph. Let's just say, I've lived (oh but my poor poor shin...). As always here are some pics I thought you'd like:

This view basically is what I looked at for two days during the daytime on the beach at La Isla Verde. I just sat on a beach chair and read my book ("Maximum City: Bombay Lost and Found" by Suketu Mehta, so far so good). I also managed to pack into my bag this week's copy of Time Out NY, which is a bit funny if you think about it, because only a person living in NY would want to see what weekly events in the City they're missing out on by taking a vacation.


Old San Juan is gorgeous, especially with its colored buildings. What's sorta weird though is that as you peer into a few of the buildings, they're actually totally unlivable and decripit. The beautiful ediface is just a facade. Of course that doesn't apply to many buildings, but it makes you feel like you're walking through the backlot of Universal Studios.






The main common square in Old San Juan was dope, especially seeing lots of old couples just freely dancing to live music.






Anyone who has traveled with me knows that one thing I cannot stand is standing out in unfamiliar areas. Now don't get me wrong I like goofy pictures as much as the next person, case & point look at the picture on the left (I'm in the middle). During our dinner in Pinones (20min up the coast from San Juan) we decided that our waitress Marisol should be in the picture with us. I'm not sure if she enjoyed it as much as we did... But back to my earlier point, I'm always paranoid that danger is always lurking around the corner. I have made my disdain for standing out too much well known to the people I'm with and yet I fear that it only encourages them. After dinner we grabbed a drink at a crowded and highly shady bar/pool-hall/dance club. Much like any good Puerto Rican locals would do, Shivin hopped around the bar and asked me to take his picture with the lovely bartender (picture to the right). Surely our band of 3 Indians blended in perfectly with the locals. It is at this point that I switched my drink of choice to bottled water. For the record, I think we made the bartenders night.

Puerto Rico is home to the only natural rainforest in the US (that's right Hawaii, they were talking trash about how yours was manmade), so we spent our last day making a daytrip to see it. The stupidest fun fact that we learned was that when the PR National Forest was offically added to the US National Park System in the middle of the 1900s, the goverment planted a bunch of random pink flowers in it because they thought that otherwise the rainforest looked "too green"




...when water falls, it's called a waterfall...









The picture below is the three of us (the brown poeple on the left...I'm 2nd from the left) swimming with our fellow tour mates in the rainforest. The water was quiiiite frigid but an awesome experience. On a sidenote I believe it's a law that every tourist in Puerto Rico is from New York. It's funny seeing people from NY while traveling because the moment you discover where they're from, it instantaneously becomes okay to use the F-bomb amongst each other without any apologies. It's like our own special language. Our ride to the rainforest was peaceful enough but the moment the woman on the far right found out that we're from the City, she broke out with "Man check out this fuggin' forest. It's so pretty. F@#$." I of course happily obliged by replying "yeah, f@#$." When the other woman joined in the conversation we enjoyed the rest of our rainforest journey amidst a plethora of profanity.


Why would any airlines make the inflight movie "Big Momma's House 2"? Bakri chods.

Sunday, May 7, 2006

sunset from Old San Juan (Puerto Rico)

I'm back home on Monday night and can't really type my usual nonsense/bakwas until then, but I had to get online and put this up. This sunset from Saturday evening has to be my prettiest picture of the weekend so far from Puerto Rico.

Friday, May 5, 2006

Puerto Ricooooo....ohhhh

I'm about to go spend the weekend in Puerto Rico and anyone who knows me knows that I get overly paranoid about everything in my personal life. The best fun is planned fun. Although I'm getting much better about this as of late, I think it's understandable that I'm a little bit concerned about the fact that the government of PR closed down earlier this week.

Going for a vacation in a land without a working goverment and few civil services operating is a bad fact pattern. It's not like I'm traveling to Sudan or anything but just to make sure everything was kosher I decided to call my hotel to see what the scene is. Unfortunately the guy at the other end of the phone line was more than enthusiastic about the crippling government shutdown. I asked the front-desk guy "So are things okay to come down this weekend still?" to which he gleefully responded "What problems? Everything is just fine! Better than ever!"

Enthusiasm makes me nervous. Unbridled enthusiasm makes me scared. But what really worries me is that he pronouced my last name perfectly. It's not hard to pronounce or anything, but rarely do people say it properly the first time. Hmm. Curious.

Let's see: the guy is unfazed by the domestic political scene and he pronounces Indian names perfectly. What the hell is going on here? Either he's the poster boy for the Puerto Tourism Board or....oh shit...or...knowing my luck my hotel desk clerk was really just a guy sitting in a call center in India.

Oh tatti.

Desi Sweet 16

So I was watching My Super Sweet 16 on MTV and observing all these annoying kids get whatever they want on their 16th birthday. Now before I get too critical, let's be clear here, I'd want to be flown around on a helicopter as much as the next person but some of their parents are a bit nutso.

I then started thinking, what would this show look like if they featured Indian kids? An Indian Sweet 16 would be the funniest thing ever. It would basically show some kids eating his favorite rice-based dinner (that's the bday present) in his bedroom studying for the SAT's. Instead of cameos by Puffy or Bow Wow it would occassionally have the dad burst into the kid's room yelling some vocab words and asking for the scores on the last practice test. It would make for compelling TV.

Every episode would also feature the kid crying at some point telling their parents that they don't want to be a doctor/scientist/nuclear physicist. Truth be told, with the regular Sweet 16 there always is some sorta drama or crying, but everything is made better when the kid finally gets what they want (e.g. a Mercedes, some dress, etc.) . In the Desi Sweet 16 the kid would never get what they want. Instead of a new car, the Indian kid would get a new bike. Instead of getting to hang out with their friends, the Indian kid would get another vocab builder book.

If the kid did get to got out for their own party it would have severe restrictions. If it was anything like my parents the kid would get $20 to cover dinner & a movie, and have to be home by 10pm. As we all know, "THE bad elements come out at THE night." This curfew would extend well until their mid-20s.

Thursday, May 4, 2006

Midget-based entertainment

I just got back from seeing Cirque Du Soleil ("Corteo!") and the overwhelming feeling that I'm left with is that I don't think I feel comfortable around midgets. I'm not anti-midget or even discriminatory towards the vertically challenged, but rather I feel weird about midget-based entertainment.

Between segments of flipping, balancing acts, and jumping, the show had these weird midget segments which didn't make much sense to myself or my cousin. The only acceptable scene in my opinion was when they strapped a midget to four gigormous (technical term) helium balloons and then proceeded to float her around the audience. It was like she was walking on the moon. And whenever she floated softly towards the the ground people in the crowd would push her along. Quite bizarro. Quite.

A running joke I had with my younger cousin Vivek for many years is that Indian people hide midgets in their turbans. Obviously this is not true. Anyone who has seen Sardars on the beach in India know that when they remove their turbans you rarely, if ever, see midgets scurrying about in the sand. Besides the sheer logistics of such a feat make it implausible as well.

(while we're on the issue of turbans, the Spike Lee joint/movie "Inside Man" actually has a discussion about turbans and their religious significance involving our man Waris Ahluwalia)

Clearly midget-based entertainment is going through a renaissance that was initially sparked by the fame of Mini-Me in Austin Powers. Now you can get midgets to do almost everything, from getting them to cater parties to midget bowling (you literally bowl the midget). As a proud Indian I say it's time we borrowed some ideas from our midget brethren and start getting into the act and using their ideas. We too should serve people at parties, we too should serve people at restaurants... oh wait a minute, we already do. Never mind...

Wednesday, May 3, 2006

DJ Shakes_2006-05-03 (eclectic)

http://hbshakes.blogspot.com
theme: whatever I feel like, gosh.

T R A C K L I S T I N G
  1. Intro - Shake'n'Bake
  2. Enya - Orinoco Flow
  3. Color Me Badd - I Wanna Sex You Up
  4. Lemon Jelly - '75 AKA Stay With You
  5. Beck - Earthquake Weather
  6. Chris Isaak - Somebody's Crying
  7. Michael Jackson - Break Of Dawn
  8. Comedic Interlude: Dane Cook - Someone Shit On The Coats
  9. Fischerspooner - Emerge
  10. Etta James - A Sunday Kind Of Love
  11. Keyshia Cole - Love
  12. Beastie Boys - Song For Junior
  13. Patti Jo - Make Me Believe In You (this is a 1975 funk gem!)
  14. Rihanna - If It's Lovin' That You Want
  15. The Cars - Drive
  16. New Order - Temptation
  17. Alicia Keys - If I Was Your Woman
  18. PM Dawn - Set Adrift On Memory Bliss
This is a pretty random mix from 70's funk to hip hop, electroclash to standup comedy. There's even a Michael Jackson song which I'm sure you haven't heard before that's relatively new and is pretty good I think. In any case a song which stands out for me is Etta James's "A Sunday Kind Of Love" from 1961. I thought it would be a cool change of pace from the synthesizer laden Fischerspooner. If the song sounds familiar, it's also been recently used in some Dockers commercials. Also one of the most underrated pieces of work are Beastie Boys instrumentals. They're too good and thus I put on "Song for Junior" from their album Hello Nasty.

Remember, Keep It Gully.

DIRECTIONS: Right mouse click on the tracklisting above to save the entire mix (mp3) directly or Podcast Me! Simply drag the orange podcast icon on the top left of this page into your iTunes. Or:
  1. goto iTunes
  2. click on Advanced
  3. click on Subscribe to Podcast:
  4. paste this URL http://feeds.feedburner.com/EngineEngine9

Tuesday, May 2, 2006

super crazy brilliant great idea #2

Every so often I'm struck with a brilliant idea, this past weekend was one of those moments. Lately banks have been making a big push to have their ATM's everywhere, like grocery stores or drug stores. Well Citibank has now partnered up with 7-11 to have an ATM in all of their stores.

A person who was not as innovative as me would say "Okay, that's a good idea, when people get Slurpees they can get cash too. That makes sense." But not me. No, no, no. Instead I think 7-11 should partner up with Citibank in the opposite direction. They should put a Slurpee machine in every Citibank. That would be the greatest thing ever. That way you could drink while you wait.

I know many of you are skeptical, but allow me to demonstrate a scenario for you:
ATM user #1: Man, this is a long line
ATM user #2: Yes, yes it is a long line.
ATM user #1: I wish I had something both refreshing and tasty.
ATM user #2: Well there's a water fountain over there in the corner
ATM user #1: Hey, shut up, you're ruining this fake conversation scenario
ATM user #2: Shit.
ATM user #1: Okay let me try to smoothly save this
ATM user #2: Shit. Okay.
ATM user #1: Um, water is so last year, and it's viscosity is too low for my needs
ATM user #2: Right on my brother. Viscosity is dope.
ATM user #1: I wish they had a Slurpee machine inside here.
ATM user #2: But how is that even plausible, who would operate it?
ATM user #1: You shut up bakri chod.
ATM user #2: Oh right, I would love a Slurpee. Fer shizzle.
See! It makes perfect sense as my demonstration shows. The real stupidity of course is how I thought of this idea. I was at a Citibank early in the morning (after landing in Chicago on Saturday) and walked in to see the sign pictured above and I actually thought that the Slurpee machine idea was already used, so I tried to find it. My reading comprehension skills should be excused since I was rather groggy. Needless to say my euphoria was quickly tempered by reality.

Monday, May 1, 2006

speeding, the war against terror, & Bulls basketball: my weekend in Chicago

At about 5:20am on Saturday morning I got a call which I promptly ignored. After all who would call someone so painfully early? That's just rude. Minutes later it all made sense: that was my cab downstairs waiting to take me to my 6:30am flight to Chicago. I had promptly slept though my alarm and now had to finish packing, get myself ready, make it to the airport, and board my plane within an hour. Blammo. Impossible? I think not. O' ye of little faith, prepare to be amazed.

I made it downstairs by 5:40 only to see that my cab had left...the only option of course was to drive myself. I was in my car by 5:45 and speeding at 100mph like a madman I made it by 5:57am (12 minutes!). I promptly cut every line and was in the plane on time. The slightly shocking thing is that I only received the Indian double-take twice. What is this double-take I speak of? Well I'm glad you asked.

For reasons unclear to a lot of people I have decided to holdoff on shaving as long as I possible can. Saturday morning marked one week and let's just say I had the beginnings of a beard. While this is all fine and dandy, the reality is that I also happily placed myself as an interesting facial profile for people traveling in airports. At the risk of glossing over an important racial/social issue, let's just say that I've been a part of more than my fair share of "random passenger searches" while going through the airport and the scruffy pre-beard was not exactly helpful.

My dad was once the only person on his entire flight stopped for one of these random searches and he flat out said "listen, if you think I fit a suspicious profile and want to check me, just tell me, I'm okay with that, but please don't insult me but telling me that this is a random check." Needless to say the security officials were not pleased. Either they were searching for brown people or Minnesota Viking football fans who have a strong love for LA Kings hockey fit the profile they're searching for, because I too am blessed with the same profile as my dad... if they were searching for Oakland Raider fans that would be understandable.

In any case I actually was able to breeze through security and what I didn't realize is for some reason I was seated in the front row. Needless to a say a brown person, unshaven, and in the front row of a plane on the day after "United 93" was released in theaters isn't exactly a welcome sight for some airline stewardesses. And thus while one was walking the aisle she gave me the distinct double-take to ensure whether I'm a threat to national security or not. Luckily the only anti-establishment propoganda I possessed was the Rage Against the Machine & Asian Dub Foundation on my iPod.

Anyhoo, the upshot is this, I think my stance is pretty similar to dad's: I find it just as ridiculous as the next guy when old grandmothers are forced to go through airport searches to help impart the notion that the searches are indeed "random." If you think I'm threatening, that's fine, but just don't tell me that it's only by accident that you're always checking me. And you know what else, I'm gonna go out on a limb here and suggest that American Muslims are just as concerned for their safety as non-Muslims Americans while flying. But who am I, I am but a Hindu who practices false idolatry. Oh yeah, by the way, before my return flight back to NY this morning, I shaved.

Okay, enough of the social commentary, here is my weekend in pictures:

Okay it's a little blurry to make out (keep in mind I was driving and it's my camera phone), but you can see that in my sprint to get to the airport on time on Saturday morning I raced past the 100mph barrier...





I went to college here and if you ask me, Chicago is one of favorite cities, yes perhaps even more than NY. (nothing of course beats Huntington Beach). On the right hand side you can see the scaffolding for the new Trump building





One of my mental issues I deal with is that I see references to the world of finance everwhere I look. In this case when I spotted the Fannie May chocolate store on Michigan Avenue, my first thought was of Fannie Mae, the Federal National Mortgage Association (FNMA). It's a corporation that buys mortgages on the secondary market, pools them, and sells them to investors. If you have no idea what I'm talking about please ignore this and skip to the next picture. Remember I really can be cool. Sometimes.

Game 4: Bulls vs. the Heat (United Center, Sunday afternoon).
The Bulls won and the series is tied at 2-2. How we were able to get tickets for the game is nothing short of a miracle. Although as a lifelong Laker fan it's always be a bit odd booing Shaq. On a sidenote, one of the best places to hear the national anthem is at a Chicago sporting event, bar none (ideally a soldout Blackhawks game)


In this city if you're a ballplayer who's done the city proud, you're a legend for life. I spotted this license plate while leaving the game... but why this fan chose to only salute Jordan's MVP in '92 and not any of his 6 championships or 5 other MVP's is beyond me. I guess those license plates were already taken.