Realm Of Randomness

April 17, 2008

Stuff Indian People Like

Filed under: Humour,Internet,Review — Randomizer @ 12:50 am

For the uninformed readers for whom this title doesn’t ring a bell (and that would probably mean all of you who have a life besides the internet), let me educate you on the latest web phenomenon. A certain site called ‘Stuff White People Like‘ (SWPL) created on Jan 18th, 2008 and updated regularly since then, has achieved instant success with millions of hits per week and tons of publicity both in the online and the real world. The author has even gone on to receive a lucrative book deal from Random House, for a book by the same name.

Simply put, the site is a humorous and satirical view of a stereotypical liberal white person, and lists everything – ranging from caring about the environment, to coffee – that these ‘white people’ like. To get you started, here are some of the funnier posts I’ve read:

Stuff White People Like

There are many other funny posts, but I liked the Indie music and Apologies posts a lot :) …

Stuff Desi (Indian) People Like

Obviously, the next question for all of us desis is, is there a desi knock-off of the ‘SWPL’ site yet? Apparently, the #1 thing desis like to do is to make desi knock-offs of the original site, because I have come across at least 8 knock-offs already ! The following four are merely sites worth mentioning, and I’ve left out many other sites that have simply acquired a similar domain name and done nothing since then – ( Now there’s your typical desi, out to make a quick buck by holding on to a hot domain name! )

Anyway, in decreasing order of posts/readers( and hence, popularity) , we have

Once again, to get you started, here are some of the posts I liked, mainly from the top two sites above:

While I am not sure which of these sites will eventually win as the ‘established Indian version of SWPL’, its certainly good that many people are attempting it and eventually, the one with the best quality will win, not just the best domain name. I’m sure the eventual winner will be quite a fun site to read every once in a while.

Good luck to them, and may the best knock-off win !


April 15, 2008

Let sleeping dogs (and movies) lie

Filed under: Humour,Movie,Rant — Randomizer @ 3:16 am

I have this habit of reminiscing too much. I often think about how it was, growing up in the 80’s and the early 90’s and love thinking about all those shows and movies that defined those wonderful years of my childhood. To name just a handful, I was crazy about the Knight rider, the Ninja turtles, the Terminator, Home Alone, Back to the Future, Perfect strangers and countless other movies and shows that to this day, bring back fond memories every time I hear some tune from their respective soundtracks.

Well, ever since YouTube and online video hit the scene, and I mean really became a part of everyday life, I have been constantly tempted to re-visit some of these old shows. Not just movies or shows that I watched and enjoyed, but even those that I missed that I wish I hadn’t when growing up.

Take the Star Wars trilogy for instance, and I mean the original trilogy(4,5 and 6 in the series). I watched it when I was way too young to understand or remember it, and so I lost out on the Star Wars phenomenon… which, for kids of the 80’s is a cardinal sin. At 25, after watching more than a 100 pop-culture references to scenes from the trilogy and failing to understand them, I finally decided to sit down and watch them. And that’s where I am taking you with this post …

Let sleeping movies lie.

There is really *no* way you can put yourself in the shoes of someone who is living in the 70’s, and honestly enjoy all that the movie has to offer. This is 2008, and there is no way you can turn back time. You are not only used to some serious out-of-the-world computer graphics, but even without your knowledge, you have come to expect so much quality from the direction, cinematography and editing. Things just aren’t the same. That which you call a ‘cliche’ today, was at some point perhaps the best line in a movie !

The first of the trilogy was seriously hard to get through, but the next two were thankfully better. Had it not been such a legendary trilogy, I would have gladly abandoned the series after the first one. I should have learned my lesson after watching an episode each of the Ninja turtles and Perfect strangers, both of which I found much less exciting than I remembered them to be, but no – I forgave and forgot. Finally, a week or so ago I picked up this movie, ‘The Running man’, which I must have watched in ’89 or ’90 as a little kid, that I had really found exciting and had always wondered about since I’d forgotten most of the story. It starred Arnold Schwarzenegger in a futuristic action packed reality show…. and boy, right from the opening scene I just couldn’t wait for the movie to get over! It was one of the most horrible movies I’ve ever seen – the cheesiest of dialogues, the most cliche-ridden characters ever, and a story so predictable that anyone who watched it would consider pursuing fortune-telling as a career. It was that bad.

That was the last straw. No more sci-fi movies of the past. Missed ‘2001: a space odyssey’? Well, too bad. Missed the original Star Trek series that *everyone* swears by? Too bad, I missed that too. Don’t know head or tail about the characters in the ‘Wizard of Oz’? So be it. I choose ignorance over a waste of 2 hours.

And I will definitely choose the gradual waning of my fond memories over the complete erasure of their beauty. These movies shone at some point in time, and unlike books or even songs, they have an ‘expiry date’ whether you wish to believe it or not. Feel lucky that you tasted it while it was good, but don’t ever eat a ten year old apple.

March 15, 2008

News you (don’t) need to know

Filed under: Humour,India — Randomizer @ 3:59 pm

Here are some Indian news articles this week that have totally changed my life, and I am so proud to be Indian especially after reading them.

#1 – IIM student from UK prefers working in India (link)

This priceless NDTV article starts ‘Jann Gabriel wants to stay on in India … ‘ and goes on to talk about just that, how this student from UK will accept a job working in India rather than one abroad. Now that this British student has officially forsaken Europe for India, I am filled with immense patriotic fervor towards my mother India and now feel that it is worth something after all. I wish they also ran an article about how she prefers wearing the Indian kurti (like in her photograph) instead of the firangi t-shirt – that would have made me feel great about my Indian culture and dress as well. Alas, a golden opportunity was missed, but I’ll take whatever I get. One shouldn’t be too greedy, right?

#2 – 36% of NASA scientists are of Indian origin (link)

The Minister of state for human resource development, in making his case for higher education in India, quoted in parliament the figure that 36% of NASA scientists , 38% of doctors in the US , and 34% of Microsoft employees are of Indian origin. I was once again filled with great pride at this figure, but read that he got this news from an E-mail forward, and the figures were wrong.

Still, I have learnt to look at the positive aspects of life. Since this act clearly demonstrates that our Minister had the technical expertise to work probably a Microsoft machine, connect to the internet and check his e-mail from an internet site, it shows tremendous improvement in the scientific abilities of our politicians. Since he was making a case for higher education, I think his point must have been well received – that if politicians are able to handle the ground-breaking technological advancements like reading email forwards, then surely regular Indians can do at least something close to this?

I am very proud of this politician and technology whiz-kid. Though his figures were wrong, he has very cleverly got his point across to the nation that higher education definitely has a future for us desis. I wish his critics were clever enough to understand this bigger picture and shut the hell up.

#3 – India is 6th most positively viewed nation, according to Americans (link)

I am very happy that John Smith and Jane Smith think positively of my nation, though I must admit I am a little jealous of the Canadians, Britishers, Germans, Japanese and Israelis that beat us to the much-coveted affections of American civilians. Like our fore-fathers rightly said, “there is nothing better than the acceptance of the white world”. I follow this religiously and try my best every day to beat those Japanese at my work place, and I think I am making a lot of progress with Molly, our 60-year old receptionist. I should ask her some time to revise her nation popularity list … and verify if I have made any headway on this chart.

When my Sri Lankan colleague noticed my efforts at impressing Molly and asked me why I was not making that much of an effort to push India up his popularity charts, I had to give him the bad news: that he was not white and that the browns don’t count.

Tough luck, man.

January 29, 2008

Desi dilemmas in a pardesi land

Filed under: Humour,India,Introspection — Randomizer @ 3:25 am

A good friend of mine from back in school, Prax has reached the American shores from work, and shares some of his new adventures in his blog. You can find the link to his blog on my blog roll in future as well. One note he makes, which I have always wanted to talk about is:

” Accents change – couple of days here, and already my accent is changing. But strangely enuf, whenever I talk to indians here, the good old bangalorean accent comes back.”

All of us desis discover this at some point early on in our stay here… that we are one thing with Indians, and another variation of ourselves with non-Indians, more specifically, Americans. I spoke about ‘DBCDs – Desh Born Confused Desis’ some time ago but cannot find it now on this blog, for some reason. It must have been taken off during my first phase of cleaning out my blog for political correctness.

Anyway, there are always very interesting situations with desi group dynamics, a set of unwritten rules that go without saying, but all follow, in varying degrees. A lot of this post comes from observations of my desi friends and personal experiences over the last 2.5 years in the US.


The Accent

The desi who arrived here and started talking to other desis in any degree of the american accent is instantly detested. Almost immediately, the universal thought is, ‘He’s just been here for X years, and look at his accent … ‘. The funny thing is that X can be anywhere from 1 year to 10 years … you are simply not expected to change, and any sort of ‘in-between’ accent gives people the impression he/she is faking. You either have a perfect American accent, or an Indian one, nothing in between.

It is really strange/funny to see desi group dynamics in play. Like take a conversation in a mixed group of Americans and Indians, with interactions between everyone taking place. Typically, most Indians switch to some degree of a borrowed accent when in a mixed group – I find it very strange and very fake to interact with a desi friend in this group, in our new accents… do you switch back when addressing your desi friend or do you go on with the weird accent?

Who hasn’t come across the annoying desi who’s been here for just like 2 weeks and speaks to us in a borrowed accent? :)

The friend circle

Inevitably, our closest friends here are desis, and there really isn’t much we can do about that. It is a combination of the ease of getting along, the common topics to speak about, and the shared experiences. However, no one likes to admit it. Everyone ideally wants a mixed group, a whole bunch of diverse friends, but everyone typically ends up with a core desi group in the end, anyway :).

There are of course, people on both sides of the spectrum. On one end is the Kannada/Tamil/Gujrati/Bengali speaking super exclusive group, who converse in their mother tongues, eat traditional food and have been like a rock with respect to the people they are and the environment they are in. They are mostly happy with things, their friends, and so on, and don’t really feel like they are missing anything, or that they should be doing something else. On the other end of the spectrum are those who avoid fellow desis at all costs to ‘move away’ from who they have been.

I would say that a good 70% of the diaspora are swimming somewhere between these extremes, not wanting to appear ‘clannish’ or exclusive, but ending up in an all-desi group anyway.

How Desi do you wanna go?

There are lots of people who genuinely miss their motherland and ache for some aspect of their day to remind them of home. And on the other end, there are those who badly want to feel like they are in ‘a new place, away from all they know’.

A classic incident to illustrate this is my first trip on the train from Mountain View to San Francisco. This being my first mini-adventure on my own, I was excited about the whole thing and looking forward to a pseudo-modern experience. I was looking forward to being awed by the cleanliness/’hi-techiness’ of the train, and sat on a seat next to the window smiling excitedly, expecting a pleasant ride ahead.

Enter Kannada-speaking desi wife with kid and family, who take the next seat. No, it was not fun listening to hard-core Kannada(my state’s language) being spoken over the next hour :) … and similar incidents have happened at many times over the last three years as well… where something ‘new’ is almost spoiled by something ‘familiar’….

I wonder if this whole thing is some sort of ‘reverse-exoticising’ happening with all of us. Just like maybe a British(replace with any western nationality you know) family go to India to see elephants and snake charmers, but instead end up next to MacDonalds,KFC, and the Intel office in Bangalore, and go ‘what the $@# ?!’, we are roaming around wanting to see the America from Hollywood…

The lifeboat syndrome

The lifeboat syndrome is basically ‘once you have found yourself a life boat, you do everything to keep others from hopping on’. A variation of this is to ‘close the door behind you’. Most desis feel this way about other desis at at least one aspect of life. For instance, if desi A has found a city where there aren’t many Indians, he doesn’t like more desis coming into the city! Literally every desi who lives in the bay area complains of ‘too many of us’. This feeling could translate to pubs (too many desis in that pub, man, let’s go somewhere else!) , cities, universities( I wanna join a university which isn’t filled with Indians), and so many other things.

Also, I wonder how many desis in the US right now with jobs will scream for joy if the government decides to raise the H1B quota from 65,000 visas to like 3 million visas a year. Are you imagining the opening of flood-gates with tons of desis pouring in? :)

Why are we not so excited to see so many of our own folk? Should we not be, technically, happy ? And if not, are we in some weird sort of way, racist against our own race? These are questions that have had me thinking, and no, I don’t really have the answers. It would be great if we got a dialogue rolling here, with your thoughts and experiences from whichever country you are currently residing in, of diaspora, assimilation, and the innumerable dilemmas we face away from home.

Also, type away all those things you wish your fellow desis did/didn’t do when abroad! That should make for some fun reading :)

[ Update: This post has recently been linked from DesiPundit, a popular indian blog, and I am very grateful for the recognition and the traffic. Welcome to the Realm, new readers, and please do add to the discussion! ]

December 27, 2007

What I learned this Christmas

Filed under: Humour — Randomizer @ 3:03 am

Many lessons were learned over the past few days …

  1. Always take your leave during Christmas, no matter what. Going to office during Christmas is like attending a funeral. Both are equally as quiet and gloomy, and the only ones present are mourning that they couldn’t be on leave as well. It is depressing. Avoid by all means.
  2. No, you will not get a slice of pizza in the evening on 25th December, no matter how long you are willing to drive for it.
  3. Christmas in America is everyone’s way of saying ‘Screw you guys, I’m going home‘ . Unless you can say the same thing, you end up being screwed by everyone else.
  4. Christmas is the time you thank your stars for the one good friend who lives 150 miles away in the neighboring city, who *hasn’t* gone home for Christmas too, and who is equally excited to kill time with you. :)
  5. If you can’t have a White Christmas, and are having a hard time having a Bright Christmas, it’s time to open that bottle of wine and have the Right Christmas ;) !
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