Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Sarah Palin - On Feminism and The Media

I don't usually blog about my view on politics. But Sarah Palin's idiocy (purely a private opinion) is driving me so crazy that I feel I have to write about it. The woman is in the running to be the Vice President of the United States, but she is an ignorant fool as is clearly evident from her interviews. I don't understand the people who think she is ready to be VP - she can barely even answer a question about which newspapers she reads...

In an interview with Katie Couric, Sarah Palin was not able to say which newspapers or magazines she reads. When Couric presses her to answer, she goes on to say that she has read MOST or ALL of them. Remember that the US publishes more than 7500 newspapers and weeklies, and thousands more of magazines. Even I would be embarrassed to say such a thing, and I am not running for VP.

The video follows below, and here’s a transcript:

Couric: And when it comes to establishing your worldview, I was curious what newspapers and magazines did you regularly read before you were tapped for this, to stay informed and to understand the world?
Palin: I've read most of them, again with a great appreciation for the press, for the media.
Couric: What, specifically?
Palin: Um, all of them, any of them that have been in front of me all these years.
Couric: Can you name a few?
Palin: I have a vast variety of sources where we get our news, too. Alaska isn't a foreign country, where it's kind of suggested, "Wow, how could you keep in touch with what the rest of Washington, D.C., may be thinking when you live up there in Alaska?" Believe me, Alaska is like a microcosm of America.”

Also in the Katie Couric interview, Palin gave her take on feminism… I was not able to find a video for this, but here is the transcript…

“I'm a feminist who, uh, believes in equal rights and I believe that women certainly today have every opportunity that a man has to succeed, and to try to do it all, anyway. And I'm very, very thankful that I've been brought up in a family where gender hasn't been an issue. You know, I've been expected to do everything growing up that the boys were doing. We were out chopping wood and you're out hunting and fishing and filling our freezer with good wild Alaskan game to feed our family.”

Now, I wonder why she didn’t mention that her brothers did some sewing or cooking? Also, I take offense at how she, as she talks about women and success, seems quite content with the fact that women have an equal opportunity to “try to do it all, anyway.”

Sarah Palin frustrates me. She seems to always manage to not answer questions she is asked, or to talk about something completely unrelated. She particularly likes to talk about her outdoor-sy personality and uses it at the most inappropriate times as an answer to everything – just like McCain talks about his POW experience as if that is the answer to everything. Stephen Colbert had hilarious things to say about that. But I digress…I was never a great fan of John McCain before, but his choice of VP has made me question his judgment and I am leaning towards thinking that perhaps senility is starting to set in for him!

In the words of YouTube poster LisaNova, “I became stupider having listened to that!” Here is LisaNova’s spoof of Sarah Palin’s interview with Charles Gibson – perfect portrayal of how she talks utter nonsense.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

A Stranger Made Me Smile

I was sitting in my office frowning at an immense batch of journal articles that I need to get through and seriously wondering if getting my Ph.D. is really worth all this work. The near future looks pretty bleak and I was feeling really down in the dumps. Someone knocked at my door and I shouted a half-hearted "Come In" - I really did not want anyone disturbing me right then. A young African American man came in with a bunch of long-stemmed white flowers and handed me one. "I just want you to know that we appreciate you", he said. I was a bit stunned, and I stammered my thanks to him. He turned to leave, and I was flabbergasted - it is not everyday a stranger walks into my office and hands me a flower with words of appreciation. I managed to pull myself out of the shock of it before he reached the door and asked him who he was and what he appreciated me for. He said he was a member of a fraternity and it was appreciation day and he had chosen to appreciate the psychologists at the counseling center for the work we did. I thanked him again and he left me smiling with delight. What a lovely, lovely thing to do!! And what a delightful and timely answer to my question about whether this will really ever be worth it!

Monday, September 15, 2008

Monday Morning Blues

I am convinced that I am going to die in the near future! People say that when you are dying, scenes from your life pass before your eyes like a flashback in slow-motion. I don't know if there is any validity to this or not, but if it is true, then I am dying a very slow and protracted death right now. For several months now, I feel almost constantly nostalgic and everything I encounter seems to remind me of something else that happened to me at some point in my life.

I was walking down the street yesterday - the rains have really made the grass spring up and I flashed back to when I was younger and lived in Hyderabad - our house was the only one in several streets which had grass between our front compound wall and the street - my father tended to this grass lovingly (in the arid climes of Hyderabad), but every couple of weeks we'd have a street-person ring our bell to ask if they could dig up the grass for some food or money. Again, a few days ago I was eating some papads. And suddenly I remembered a time when I was in the 9th class. I was sick and home alone one afternoon when an old Muslim gentleman came by selling papads door-to-door. He beseeched me to buy some papads which he told me his young motherless daughter made all day and which he sold. He looked like he was on the verge of tears, and I was moved into buying two large packets of them. It was not until he left that I looked at the label which said "Mahalakshmi Pappadums, Made in Coimbatore".

Another time I was in church and I remembered how all my childhood and adolescence my parents, sister and I would set out early Sunday morning and walk in the chilly, dewy morning to our church about half a kilometer away and back. I hated Sundays because although we got to eat a more elaborate breakfast and didn't have to go to school, I didn't get to spend enough time with my parents. It was the only day I was home all day with my parents but they were always busy on Sundays - my father shopped for vegetables and meat, my mother did a massive batch of cooking and cleaning, both my parents did the week's laundry... and it seemed that my sister and I could never do anything without getting in somebody's way. By the afternoon, my parents were exhausted and would take long naps and my sister and I had to amuse ourselves very quietly. But for children (which my sister and I were) with a whole day's energy pent up, it was quite impossible to do that - I don't think I even enjoyed reading on Sundays - and that is very unusual for me. Strangely, it seemed that it was always hot on Sundays - even in the winter. Anyway I hated Sundays - and the dislike still persists. And now that I am grown up, I hate Monday mornings too...

Yet another time I was walking down a sidewalk in Ames which had a very unusual pattern of paving - little squares. And I remembered the evenings when I was a child when my mother would decide that she, my sister and I were going to walk back home from school. There were two ways of getting home - the most direct one was a busy main road - it was dusty and full of traffic. There was a Muslim cemetery on this road which always fascinated my sister and me because the gravestones looked beautifully carved and had Urdu writing on them - we did not read Urdu, so the writing could mean anything we wanted it to - we went for extremely romantic stories with touches of the Arabian nights - we were convinced that most of the people buried there had died of heartbreak or some other equally romantic reason. There also were heaps of jasmine flowers growing wild there. My sister and I were fascinated by the graves and she asserted that when our mother died, we would bury her there. Other points of interest along the way were: a mechanic's shop which had the most gorgeous assistants who never seemed to do anything but oaf around and look handsome; a castle which I believed was haunted which eventually was sold, demolished and a state-of-the-art hospital was built on the spot; a seedy restaurant which sold delicious candy for 5 paise which my mom would never let us go into; a large white wall with a seat built right into the middle of the wall - it had an ornate concrete back which I thought looked like a throne and I always pretended to be an extremely regal and imperial queen when I sat on it - no one other than me ever seemed to sit on it and I never quite understood who had built it and what purpose it served other than to function as my very own dusty and hard throne. This was an interesting road, but we always walked back home this way and it was not the one we liked best. The one we loved was the longer, windy one through the defence campus. It was a shady avenue - broad, well-kept and the only traffic on this road consisted of a few vehicles entering or exiting the defence labs. The road home was almost twice as long - maybe two kilometers and it seemed like an eternity to us children before we got home. But we loved it - the trees were beautiful and there were little benches for us to sit on. And the sidewalk was paved with beautiful tiles with tiny squares. They reminded my sister and me of the Cadbury chocolate bars and we christened the avenue - "Cadbury's Road". I always had been a child with a wild imagination and the long walk back home on a chocolate road made my already overactive imagination run riot - I'd make up stories to tell my sister on the way and imagine myself in adventures that made Indiana Jones seem like a silly little amateur. My sister and I always gave a whoop of delight when my mother announced that we were going home by Cadbury's Road. That sidewalk in Ames with the tiny white squares reminded me of those halcyon days.

I am constantly remembering. Maybe I am dying! Or maybe I am just homesick and nostalgic and miss my family. Or maybe I'm just growing old, broody and sentimental.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

I Passed My Prelims!

I successfully passed my written prelims! This means that I am now officially a "real" Ph.D. candidate. I have already done most of the work involved, but it really takes passing this test to make it official. Coming up in the next few weeks is my dissertation proposal. I am very very rushed for time and have no idea how I will get all this done in a month, but I hope that I can. Proposing my dissertation pronto is vital since I have to get this done in order to go on internship next year. Since I don't want to be stuck here for another year, it's nose to the grindstone now...

P.S. Update on the food from last post - I did not get to make it for my sister. I made stuff for the Onam potluck, but ended up eating leftovers or going out for meals with my sis. Maybe next time...

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Weekend Menu

I am not a great cook usually. I usually cook and eat whatever is the fastest and easiest - very often this means a lot of American food. However, when someone is coming to dinner or to stay, I blossom into a remarkably good cook. It's quite awful really, because I like the food I cook when I cook it for someone else. When I was younger, I never did any cooking - and consequently never really learnt to cook very well. Most of what I cook now is either intiutive or self-taught through web-surfing or cookbook browsing. Anyway, there are two kinds of food that I like best - foods that appeal to the two parts of me - the Hyderabadi/Andhra food and the Malayalee/Kerala food. My sister is coming to stay for Onam and for a few extra days. which means a LOT of Andhra/Mallu food at home (we both enjoy it). So, I was looking up recipes and thought it would be fun to post a few recipes that I plan on cooking this weekend on here.

The recipes are taken from www.wikipedia.com (Mallu) and www.sailusfood.com (Andhra).

The pics are courtsey spicychilly.blogspot.com and www.sailusfood.com. Enjoy.


Raw/Ripe Mango - 1
Coconut-(scraped) - ½ cup
Dry chilly – 4 (fried)
Oil-1 table spoon
Mustard- ¼ teaspoon
Water- ¼ cup
Salt to taste

1. Peel and cut the mango into small pieces. Mix with salt.
2. Grind coconut with water and 2 dry chilies thoroughly.
3. Add the coconut-chili mixture to the mango and mix well.
4. Heat oil in a kadai; heat mustard and fry dry chili.
5. Lastly pour into the mango coconut mixture.
6. Best served with plain rice.


Wheat Rava Tomato Upma

1 1/2 cups wheat rava/sooji/semolina
1 finely sliced large onion
1 large tomato, finely chopped
3-4 slit green chillis
1″ ginger finely chopped
1 tbsp ghee or oil
1 tbsp chopped coriander leaves
3 3/4 to 4 cups water
1 tsp mustard seeds
1 tbsp bengal gram
1 tbsp black gram dal
12-15 curry leaves
Salt to taste

1. Heat oil, add the mustard seeds and let them splutter.
2. Sauté bengal gram, black gram and curry leaves.
3. Add and sauté sliced onions, green chillis and ginger.
4. Add and sauté chopped tomatoes on medium heat for 4 min.
5. Add salt and water and bring to a boil.
6. Add the wheat rava while stirring continuously to avoid lumps.
7. Cover with lid and let it simmer for 10-12 minutes.
8. Turn off heat. Mix well.
8. Garnish with chopped coriander leaves. Serve hot with chutney.