Tuesday, February 28, 2006

While My Guitar Gently Weeps...

"Lynne and Petty were joined by Steve Winwood on organ and Harrison's son Dhani on guitar for the Wilburys' smash hit "Handle With Care," followed by Harrison's "White Album" staple "While My Guitar Gently Weeps." Prince emerged from the side of the stage to join in on the latter about halfway through, unleashing an extended solo".

Taken from here.

Listen to this brilliant performance here

Friday, February 24, 2006

You can't touch this!!!!!!!!!

Hallelujah. Hammer's got blog-time!!

I love how everyone's here. Anyone seen Elvis?

Keep it poppin', you're still my man. Wear them funkypants, tho.

Tuesday, February 21, 2006

jugun ianfu

Thats the new phrase I learnt today. It's Japanese for "military comfort women".

This evening at Roger Williams University, Ms. Ok Sun Kim and Ms. Yong Soo Lee came to speak to an audience about the treatment of 200,000 young girls, most of them Korean, at the hands of the Japanese military during WWII. Ms. Kim and Ms. Lee were accompanied by a translator and a documentary which explained what being (Jugun Ianfu) meant to these women.

The two little old women are now in their early 80's. At the time of their enslavement, they were 15 years old.

According to Dr. Chunghee Sarah Soh, Ph.D. of the San Francisco State University, Jugun ianfu were created by the Japanese Army because their goal was to

"... enhance the morale of the military by providing amenities for recreational sex. The authorities believed such amenities would help prevent soldiers from committing random sexual violence toward women of occupied territories, which became a real concern after the infamous Nanjing Massacre in 1937. Besides its reputation, the military authorities were also concerned with the health of the troops, which prompted their close supervision of the hygienic conditions in the comfort stations in order to help keep sexually transmitted diseases under control".

It wasn't just Korean women who were targeted. According to Dr. Soh's research, 80% were Korean, but comfort women were enslaved from villages throught Japanese occupied territory-- They were taken from Taiwan, the Philippines, Indonesia, Burma and the Pacific islands.

From the testimonials as well as research reports, it's evident these women were subject to horrific treatment. The only reparation ever received was in 1948 when a tribunal in Batavia (today's Jakarta) convicted Japanese military officers who had forced 35 Dutch women into becoming comfort women. There was no mention made at that time of comfort women of any other race or nationality.

The victims of this practice have suffered diseases, addictions and/or a ruptured uterus. They have lived in loneliness and poverty. They have received no compensation and no apology from the Japanese government. They have been aging in silence. Until now.

In 1991, Kim Hak Sun (who was featured in the documentary that was shown this evening)gave the first public testimonial. Since then, more has been written and said to make sure the issue goes beyond the confines of regional politics in Japan and North & South Korea.

At present, Japanese Conservatives deny the existence of any evidence that points to the practice of coercing young girls into being the army's comfort women.

This wasn't the first time in history that women received such treatment. I have heard of this practice having occured amongst Nordic tribes, the Romans, Greeks and African tribes. U.N troops have been accused of the same crime in Kossovo. But the faces and words that I saw on that screen today made an impression like no Homeric talk of female slaves could have ever done.

I saw Ms. Ok Sun Kim outside in the hallway, as I was zipping up my jacket. A gentle graceful woman in silk and white slip-on shoes, she returned my bow with one of her own, and with a smile, went back into the hall. I stood there, mouth agape, wishing I spoke enough Korean to say "thankyou" and "sorry", though it would've sounded as stupid then as it does now.

Ms. Yong Soo Lee, the second "grandmother", as they were referred to the whole evening, had an interesting story to tell. She has told it before to a Chinese newspaper, and I quote it here:

"There was a 'comfort station' in Taiwan where I then received pilots who belonged to the kamikaze, a special suicide brigade."

One of Japanese kamikaze pilots, who repeatedly raped her in Taiwan, told Ms. Lee that she was his first love.

"That Japanese soldier gave me a Japanese nick-name, 'Toshiko'. And the kamikaze pilot taught me a song. He made up a song, because he was afraid he would die when he finally had to fly.

"It's in Japanese," Ms. Lee said, and then she softly sang the lilting tune which she never forgot.

"The song goes like this," she added, translating the Japanese into Korean, which was then rendered into English by a translator during the interview:

"The fighting planes are taking off / Taiwan is disappearing far below / Clouds appear / Nobody is saying goodbye to me / One person who can cry for me is Toshiko / We will fight in Okinawa / If I die, I will guide you to your mother / So please don't cry, because you will go back to your mother."

That shred of hope, amid their mutual doom and suffering, at least allowed Ms. Lee to believe she might survive.

"I think he is my savior. I still thank him," she said, clarifying that she felt no romance for him.

"He came to me many times. That soldier told me I was his first love."

Occasionally weeping while telling her tale, Ms. Lee said the kamikaze pilot "gave me all his soap, and other things for taking care of myself, because he said he was leaving tomorrow to die."

Ms. Lee never married.

For the whole story, click here.

Again-- this is not the first time women have been used and abused. This will not be the last time. But this is not about casting stones-- It is about recognizing history. Ms. Kim and Ms. Lee want an official apology. And they want to go back to Korea. May whichever god is listening, grant it to them.

For more on comfort women, visit:


Monday, February 20, 2006

Of Model U.N conferences, bars, smart economic sanctions, Floyd studio clips from 1970 and other sundry matters

I just got back from Harvard's model UN conference.
As the delegate from Cyprus in the UNWC-Applications, I sat with 551 other delegates in the General Assembly simulation and tried to come up with a treaty that regulated unilateral actions.

Thats the resume version. Now for the truth.

Being an ivy league-er apparently doesn't make you good at organizing. Delegates from around the world-- literally-- decried the lack of parliamentary procedure. The fact that they came from different countries and thus could decry in different languages made the entire event perfect.

I wish this happened more often-- college grads and undergrads getting together, discussing politics in the day and alcohol, music & sex at night. Its proof that woodstock will never die.

Disclaimer #1: I deslike the present structure of the UNO. It's post WWII philosophy is not in tune with the world today-- there can be no P5, or veto, in a world where Surinam and Burkina Faso [not to mention Cyprus and Brazil] introduce amendments and motions at model UNs. There is an open market, with non-state actors and people who communicate via the internet. Like Windows, the UNO needs updates too. But thats just my little rant.

Disclaimer #2: I chose to not go to this model UN for the above-stated reasons. I ended up going because my friends asked me to, as there was an opening in the 11th hour. Throwing principles and homework to the wind, I took off with zero preparation to this conference.

ok, it wasn't all alcohol, music & sex. Even from my perch as observer of the world, there were moments of brilliance throughout these past 4 days. In committee for instance, the latin american nations quickly got together, and the arab and african nations had no qualms joining them. Turkey, Greece and Cyprus sent each other notes and smiles, and vowed that if it was upto us, the 1974 dispute would be settled peaceably with a referendum, and Turkey would part of the E.U in 2007.

Chile, Zimbabwe, Argentina, Cyprus, Antigua and Barbuda, Jordan, Uruguay and Cuba became committee buddies-- We sent notes to each other about amending articles, sending memos to the other two sub committees and going out for coffee when the unmoderated caucus was called for.

South Africa got my salutations because he spoke with a britly clipped accent, and wore his turban and beard with true Sikh pride. Namibia was quietly amused. Losotho became Cyprus's close allies in clandestine breaks and laughing down certain votes. Ireland looked different without his tie, and deserved the award he got at the end.

Zimbabwe hit on mongolia. Chile followed a delegate who is from China but refused to tell me what country she represented. At 2:30am, sitting in the lobby with my bare feet up on a coffee table and my ipod on, I saw diplomatic relations carried on like never before. And yet, there was a sense of community to all of it: that all this dancing, and talking, and drunken pulling of fire alarms was done in the spirit of global good will.

Caught between cynicism and amusement, I was witness to beauty.

Like when the norwegian delegate sat down at the lobby grand piano, midst the false fire alarms and wobbly giggling female delegates, and played till his veins stood out. He played classical music up and down the scales never stopping, for two hours.

Like when Pakistan sent a cordial note to me, asking me to explain my reference to Musharraf. Like us toasting each other with beers across a room at the delegate's dance that evening.

Like Chile and I discussing canadian politics [of which, as a native, he is privy to] till 4am.

Like Ron the security guy discussing the Patriots and Life with those who stood around, unbuzzed, midst running after underage drinkers on the 14th floor.

Like getting stuck in an elevator with 21 other people and realizing that yes, I am claustrophobic.

Like hearing a delegate's take on model UNs, and why Harvard is full of sods-- Unorganized, he said. I seconded the motion.

As he said, nothing comes out of model UNs, except funding, fun and a good resume. Hopping up and down outside the Park Plaza hotel to keep warm in the -2 degree night that surrounded us, he said that he went up to speak at his first couple of model UNs in order to get laid. Which occured, of course [NB-- You agree with everything said by a drunken graduate post 1:35am. Its a thing]. But now, he said-- this was all pomp and show.

But of course. It's Harvard. But what hurts those of us who can consume alcohol and stay intelligent, is that such conferences are living proof of why the UN never succeeds in settling political disputes.

For instance-- The treaty that the UNWC came up with finally, had no reference to smart economic sanctions, eventhough the treaty contained specs for the creation of a body that would oversee matters of unilateral action. The amendment was shot down by those who sat up front, who-- as happens in most democratic processes these days-- were a minority. The majority sat beyond the microphones, and in silent angst, sent notes and played knoughts and crosses.

This new body that was set up would have no say about unilateral economic sanctions, "smart" or otherwise.

And in today's edition of the NYTimes and Washington Post?
Israel has frozen the financial assets of the new government in Palestine, which will leave the bureaucracy hamstrung by the end of this month. They claim to have done this as they fear Hamas will now take the government in an extremist direction. They have done this despite global dialogue, Russia's stance, and Abbas publically coming out at every opportunity and saying that there would be no extremist action taken, and the peace process would carry on. They have done this inspite of Hamas having shown no proof of "extremist" decisions as a legal part of the legislative, today.

And no one will say anything about it.

And we, unofficial diplomats, tied our own hands by leaving the amendment out.

Now you know why so much booze was consumed those three nights. Or so I was told.

NB-- If drinking in a bar in Boston, make sure you tip well. Otherwise she will muck up your mojito. Ah, Experience! The cruel lessons you teach!

Also-- The biggest thrill for me in Boston this weekend? Going into the hotel's bar, opening a tab, and paying for it myself. 3 drinks, a quiet wish that they played Floyd istead of 50 Cent, and a leisurely exit into the lobby, to talk to Ron, and take a tulip from an arrangement up to the room.

Speaking of Floyd though-- Thanks to Google video, I was blessed enough to come across sections of the 1970 studio sessions that the band did in California. I also go to see a few of the Pulse videos, like High Hopes and Comfortably Numb. My cup ran over and made a priyanka puddle, only coz I also got to see the 'see emily play' video, and pigs on the wing too.

In short, I am mellower, wiser, richer in experience and good accquaintances and loaded with homework like only Sisyphus would understand. Good stuff, at the end of the day.

PS: If you go to Boston, visit 'au bon pain'-- the best sandwiches and pain au chocolat I've had in a long time.

PPS: Jeff Buckley was born the angel he now literally is. If you have not heard his cover of Cohen's 'Hallelujah', and if you have a gmail account, then let me know.

Wednesday, February 15, 2006

Look, ma-- I'm flyin'!

disclaimer: the blogger would like her readers to remember she just recently turned 21, and for all her maturity can't resist such an opportunity to yell out


ahem. So Im a tad kicked. One of my poems were selected to be read out at the Kala Ghoda arts festival in Mumbai on the 12th of this month.

Here's the official report of the same-- Apparently someone played the violin in an effort to interpret the poem, which btw, can be found here.

I'm curious why the violinist tried to find a "calmness" in what he felt was the "disturbed" atmosphere of the thing.

[Do note my barefaced pomposity: I'm actually dissecting this damn thing, on my own blog, under my own name, the very moment I hear about it. Damn kids these days]

I'm also curious to know what the faces of those listening looked like.

But mostly, I am grateful.

Friday, February 10, 2006

The 6th of this month

What a day. It took 4 days of reflection [and threatening imran with death by drowning in a small innocuous pool of anorexic bat's blood if he didn't send me the pictures, with much thanks to anshu for the image] to finally type this out.

It was magnificent. Mum and dad decided to wish me when it was my birthday in India. As did the duck. My brother did the same-- all these happy people in India & Australia are officially declared by me to be living in the wrong hemisphere. Hmph. No, but it was a good feeling. Much wuv. Much sleepy thanks and falling asleep midst wishes. Beautiful.

Kevin and gina got me a cake. Ned was there to sing along. Hell, everyone should have ned to sing at their birthday cake-cutting. And gina put on 21 candles.

Gul wished me. My onion called. Lamya and imran sent cards. BENNNNNNNNNNNNNNNNN you doll, you did try, am sorry. Far away, along a starlit coast in Pondi, a drink was had at 7:31 as a "plesent". Got a whole bunch of wishes on ryze and facebook-- Hena was there thrice, with that damn red nose of hers. Baldy came by too :) My maya got me my first lip-liner: neutral, and tasting of caramel. The guys took me out for dinner to jackie's galaxy. We had much food and fun.

How cycles change.
The people who were the most important to me, about this time last year, were no where in sight.
And I don't hold this against 'em, at all.
But such is beautiful, all this journeying. To truly know, without any discussion, that everything and every person is on its way to someplace.

Am at peace.

Has anyone btw, tried salvia? Do tell.

Wednesday, February 08, 2006

"Today is the greatest day I ’ve ever known"...

... As the Smashing Pumpkins once said. And of course, you will let me tell you why.

My roomie is now my ex-roomie-- Not only does this mean that I can
1.sleep in my birthday suit
2.play AC/DC as loud as I like it , and
3.yell vernacular profanities & words of affection over the phone long distance,
but it also means that I have a sweet pad all to myself. Abdel & imran are coming over on Friday to help me set up, and the rest of the crew will show up and we will celebrate my new found "space" with chinese take out, arabic music and much yelling.

My birthday was beautiful, and made perfect by people from around the world. How often can a body claim such to happen in a lifetime? I am happy. More on that when imran sends me pictures to go with the copy.

Got to read Amit's brilliant blog-- Kept me enthralled for an hour. Stopped only because msn called. Wonderful stuff.

Also-- The scholarship gods have agreed to our collective idea to go down to n'orleans and help out during spring break. That's right-- no body shots in cancun, we're here to be responsible. Ahem.

This evening, I was lucky enough to meet the current president of Brown-- Dr. Ruth Simmons is an inspiration. Erudite she is. Dressed in pink, smiling chocolate. Calm, her voice like aged honey and summer in a school that rarely hears such. I will one day accept a degree from her on a stage. This is a promise... to my quackles.

Lit mag is a great class-- Im actually learning how to put together a magazine in there, the absolute nit-grits of editing, proofing, querying, typesetting, you name it Im in it. This is all good.

There's a summer internship in washington d.c with amnesty international. There is a global water class where I get to present papers.

goals to be fulfilled before dec 2006:

1) visit the gym more than just a fly-by on the way to the mail room.
2) make lots of money, legally.
3) finish writing my book.
4) develop a strategy to provide clean water to... ok, will stop.

Top of the day to ye.

Sunday, February 05, 2006

"Dance fools, dance"

It was a great movie, one that launched Clark Gable's career and that made me stay up till 2:30am one night in madras, when I was in the 8th.

Joan Crawford will always be brilliant.

Anyway, the title seemed to make sense as a title for this blog, considering all the noise thats been happening. Don't get me wrong-- Im all for serious dicussion. When things get out of hand though--

I dance.

And this is a great one to do that to.

Friday, February 03, 2006

Post Scriptum

There's an article on the danish caricature issue on msnbc.com.

The article states that both the administration in washington and the Danish ministry said that the drawings were offensive.

The article also says that "Dutch-language newspapers in Belgium and two Italian right-wing papers reprinted the drawings on Friday. The Italian papers also ran editorials criticizing European media for giving in to pressure over the drawings"

There is an online poll available on this same article, asking if the "anti-denmark protests are justified"?

Yes 15%

No 82%

Undecided 4%

I put this here as a juxtaposition to my previous blogpost, the reactions of those who read that, and abhinav's comments on it.

Because what's beautiful about democracy is its relativity-- a minority on this tiny little space in blogdom is in "reality"-- at least on an american-based and american-sponsored website-- a majority.

I put this here to show that Abhinav is not alone in his reaction to the issue.

I put this here to show how "freedom of press" can be extended to include any amount of libel or disrespect, the same way that the "necessary and proper" clause in the american constitution can be extended to include illegal surveillance and warantless imprisonment.

I put this here to showcase certain quotes out of this article:

Danish Prime Minister Anders Fogh Rasmussen, in a meeting with Egypt’s ambassador, reiterated his stance that the government cannot interfere with issues concerning the press. On Monday, he said his government could not apologize on behalf of a newspaper, but that he personally “never would have depicted Muhammad, Jesus or any other religious character in a way that could offend other people.”

While recognizing the importance of freedom of the press and expression, U.S. State Department press officer Janelle Hironimus said these rights must be coupled with press responsibility.

“Inciting religious or ethnic hatred in this manner is not acceptable,” Hironimus said. “We call for tolerance and respect for all communities and for their religious beliefs and practices.”

And another quote:

"“If they want a war of religions, we are ready,” Hassan Sharaf, an imam in Nablus, said in his sermon"

And then:

"The Jyllands-Posten said it had asked cartoonists to draw images of the prophet “to examine whether people would succumb to self-censorship, as we have seen in other cases when it comes to Muslim issues.”

Turkey’s Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan was quoted as saying the caricatures are an attack on “our spiritual values,” adding they had damaged efforts to establish an alliance between the Muslim world and Europe"


"In Europe, senior British, French and Italian officials criticized the drawings. Austria, which holds the European Union presidency, expressed concern over the escalating crisis.

“I believe that the republication of these cartoons has been unnecessary, it has been insensitive, it has been disrespectful and it has been wrong,” British Foreign Secretary Jack Straw said"

To clarify then, once and for all--

Abhinav, and all those who hold the same view as you do on this matter--

I am not pro censorship. I am pro sensitivity. The newspaper's claim that it was all an "exercise" is ludicrous, only because it is dangerous to publically play with people's emotions. And when I say it is dangerous, it is not to imply that the world should now centre its media and culture on being sympathetic to islam. I say it is dangerous because we do not live in isolation today. Such acts affects entire countries and economies. Such acts cause an increase in hatred when communication between nations is already in a fragile state.

I say it once again-- cartoons of the pope raping a choirboy will raise global rhetoric. But it will not send the catholic nation to war with the country whose paper published it. For two reasons-- One, that there is no catholic nation, at least not comparable to the extent that there is a muslim ummah. Secondly-- For the western christian world, catholism is but a sect, and economic and cultural matters take precedence over religious matters.

Islam is unlike any world religion because of that matter. As Haqqani points out in his 'Pakistan" between mosque and military', this monotheistic religion ties in with every aspect of a beliver's life-- whether it is at the family, business or governmental level. That is a difference. And misunderstanding that difference, or trying to test its limits is sheer blindness and folly.

Do not kill the danish cartoonists. Make them see reason.
Do not carry out "experiments" in social theory using caricatures in newspapers to test how far you can push people. This can and will be equated to acts of torture in abu ghraib. And why not? There too, all the soldiers were trying to do is to test how far they could push people.

Do not force people to defend their religion. Do not use freedom as a mask while inciting hatred.

And to think some jewish scribe ages back thought that writing about 10 commandments would be enough to keep an entire group of people safe and free from strife.

Pitiful, we humans are. I am still sad.

Wednesday, February 01, 2006

3 old men, a fishbowl and a song

At the Live 8 concert in London, what remains of Pink Floyd came together for charity.

When the opening notes are plucked, Waters [I think its Waters, doesn't sound like Gilmour] says this:

"its actually quite emotional, standing up here with these three guys after all these years. Standing to be counted with the rest of you.. Anyway, we're doing this for everyone who's not here, but particularly of course, for Syd"

'we're just two lost souls
swimming in a fishbowl, year after year.
running over the same old ground. What have we found?
The same old fears,
wish you were here'.

Listen to it here. And hold my hand, I don't care about being a baby just this once.