Archive for the ‘India’ Category

Waiting for Hurricane George

March 11, 2007

So, we just returned from a lovely afternoon walk in our blockaded neighborhood here in Guatemala City. It’s pretty eerie out there and reminds me of when I was growing up in Central Florida. When we had hurricanes, we usually knew they were coming a couple of days ahead of time – enough to put plywood up on the windows, buy extra groceries, and then go for a walk under sunny skies. On our walks, we’d always bump into the neighbors and chat, all while feeling a sense of impending doom/giddiness. It was the same this afternoon here in la Zona Viva…

A few notes on the visit:

I’m frustrated with CNN’s lack of coverage of President Bush’s Latin American trip – instead, it’s every detail about the happy news of the baby from Lubbock, TX being found, the Atlanta bus crash, and the forest fires in California – but nothing on Colombia.

As I posted in the comments below, the Mayan people near Iximche are going to do a purification ritual of the site after Bush’s visit tomorrow. I find this whole purification stuff to be really interesting – from a religious and PR/political statement point of view. Some of you might remember conversations in the past about purifying Gandhi’s tomb after Bush’s visit a few years ago (more about the bomb-sniffing dogs than Bush…).

The graffiti outside of our neighborhood is intense and scary. Although Guatemala has not seen the kind of protests that occurred in Brazil and Uruguay/Argentina, the graffiti is pretty incredible – those people who do want to protest Bush’s visit sure have some nasty things to say/write! It certainly speaks to the growing negative perceptions of the US here in Latin America.

Immigration – not crime, foreign aid, drug trafficking, or Iraq – seems to be the main issue on everyone’s mind here. Many Guatemalans have family and friends in the US and the desire for a fair immigration package is the one issue mentioned by most people I talk to and those quoted in the papers.

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An early Christmas present for YOU

December 20, 2006

… the 12 Days of Indian Christmas!

Lots of religion in the news/blogs lately: the New Atheists, Matthew LaClair and his crazy proselytizing high school history teacher, Sam Brownback (is he always in the news lately or what??)…

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Fun Stuff from our Blogroll

November 22, 2006

Just three small notes from my favorite sites:

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Did Macacas make the difference?

November 11, 2006

There’s a lot of post-game wrap-up these days about whether South Asians tipped the balance in Virginia (and therefore the Senate!), and/or whether Allen’s slur against Indian-Americans made a difference. I personally think it would be pretty cool if we Desis could claim the entire victory in the Senate, but like Kos wrote in his Memo to the Democrats, this election was more likely a perfect storm of events and actors. Here are three fun links looking back on the Macaca incident and analyzing its importance to the election:

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Evangelical rock concert

October 31, 2006

So I spent the past four days trapped in an evangelical torture chamber, or Profecía 2006. On the invitation of a friend, I attended this four-day Neo-Pentecostal mega-church conference with participants from around the world. (As background, Guatemala is experiencing a massive conversion from Roman Catholicism to Evangelical/Neo-Pentecostal Christianity. There are about five mega-churches in the city, each with stadium-style seating, packing in 3,000 to 5,000 people per service, several times a day, every Sunday. There are also countless smaller, store-front evangelical churches throughout the city and countryside. Basically, it’s something I’d definitely like to learn more about as a phenomenon while I’m here.)

The most striking thing about the conference for me was the utter lack of ANY quiet time. (Thus the torture chamber reference.) It was constant noise – speaking in tongues, screaming, singing with a loud Christian pop band, what they called “clamoring” for God. I came home and instituted a silence policy each night – NO speaking to my husband, NO television, NO music. It was like being at a loud rock concert for the entire waking day (9am to 9pm everyday), with no time to process.

As a practicing Hindu, I’m used to silent meditation retreats to commune with God, daily meditation, and soothing chanting… On a related side note, every time I was asked about my heritage during the conference, I obviously said India (my Spanish is certainly not good enough to pretend that I’m brown-skinned because I’m Latina). The response is ALWAYS, “There is so much work to be done in India” – i.e., so many souls to be saved.

A whole group of “prophets” came here from the U.S. as the conference’s headliners. They were very charismatic, fire-and-brimstone preachers from the American South and Midwest (and one guy from home in the Bay Area). Although much of what the U.S. speakers said and did bordered on the intolerant, offensive, or charlatan (and strangely out-of-context for Guatemala), I was really impressed by many of the people I met over the course of the four days. In addition to being very sweet and kind, they were extremely intelligent and well-read about religious history, poverty in Latin America, and social movements. Every one of them had a strong belief (which I share) in God’s ability to grant us each a mystical, individual experience and inspire us to acts of bravery and charity… I guess I found that it’s good to go outside of my comfort zone sometimes if I really want “inter-faith” experiences…

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The Sepoy Mutiny, the Pope on Islam, and President Bush on Torture

September 15, 2006

Check out this BBC article my mom e-mailed me about the 1857 Indian Mutiny against the British. Through archival research, the author found that the mutiny was much more about religion than about nationalism or anti-colonialism, as I had always thought. Turns out that the soldiers all believed the British were trying to convert the nation and curtail religious freedoms, and Hindus and Muslims banded together in mutiny. The narrative about the bullets being greased with pig fat was just too simple – this incident merely triggered religious fears about the British. It is interesting to think about this in the context of today’s secular India, which is plagued by communalism and violence between Hindus and Muslims…

I’ve been reading a lot of blogs about the Pope’s comments on Islam and only have a brief thought – the Pope shouldn’t have used a quote about Mohammed that has become the flashpoint for all the controversy. As a recognized world leader, it’s fine for him to call for reform among Islamic extremists and support moderate clerics, but to equate Islam with violence, or to ignore centuries of scholarship about the spiritual dimensions of Jihad – and its misuse by terrorists – was just wrong. Unfortunately, this was my fear when Pope Benedict was elevated to become the Pope, based on his strident comments as a Cardinal. One can only hope that he apologizes sincerely and uses his pulpit to promote genuinely positive interfaith dialogue as his predecessor did…

Was it me, or did President Bush seem like he was unraveling just a little bit in today’s news conference? He yelled a lot, didn’t give any straight answers, and generally appeared a little bit on the verge of a nervous breakdown. Why did he mention McCain so much if the Senator opposes his proposals? Why wouldn’t he give a straight answer to David Gregory about the danger posed by his proposal to US soldiers captured in combat? And, he raised the specter of Middle Eastern countries using oil as “economic punishment” – revealing that Bush’s foreign policy has never been about liberty and democracy; it’s about protecting our consumer culture – ironically at the price of liberty, democracy, and international human rights…

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Sen. Allen, Macacas, and Indians

August 16, 2006

Oh no, Senator Allen too? When I saw the NYT headline, “Verbal Gaffe From a Senator, Then an Apology,” I was sure it was about Biden (see below). Instead, it was about the fact that George Allen called a worker on Jim Webb‘s campaign a macaca – which I guess is either a monkey from Asia or a slur against north Africans…

Since when has it become okay to dole out stereotypes and racial slurs to South Asians on the campaign trail? And is any of this connected to this scary poll showing that a whole bunch of Americans advocate ID cards for Muslims (and presumably those of us who look like Muslims)? I hope that we as South Asians are not being used as proxies for a danger that is much broader, much vaster, and much more complicated than any one immigrant community… We need to stand up and educate our fellow citizens about our diversity, our love for America, our work ethic, and our brown pride.

Secretly, I wonder if Allen’s snafu is a way of deliberately drawing attention to the fact that Webb’s wife is Asian-American, thereby playing the racist card to appeal to sheltered Virginians afraid of foreigners and immigrants…

Biden on Indians in Delaware

August 12, 2006

Oh no – and I really like Biden too…

As usual, Wonkette’s coverage is pretty funny…

Sad

July 13, 2006

My thoughts and prayers go out to the victims and their families of the blasts in Bombay. I can’t even imagine what it would be like to lose a loved one to such a senseless crime. Let’s hope that people all around the world focus as much attention on this tragedy as they did on the London bombings last year, which claimed far fewer (although no less important) lives.

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I wish Judaism was this cool…

June 21, 2006

Man. I'm quite content with my Judaism. I really am. But I am sorta jealous of how excited certain Hindus and Christians get at a potential manifestation of the divine. This modern-day Hanuman is the latest example. Apparently a guy in India has a quasi tail, is vegetarian, climbs trees and acts like a monkey. This earns him tons of followers. Cool, huh? Sorta reminds me of the hubub surrounding statues of Mary that weep blood. Judaism has no equivalent to this, which is really unfortunate. Is it any wonder that there are only thirteen million Jews in the world?

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