Monday, September 08, 2008

Carnival for Progressive Christians - First Edition

I am a little late to the party, but better late than never! The Carnival for (of) progressive Christians is up at A Secret Chord. There are some great submissions, check it out.

H/t belledame222

Travel talk

I will be travelling all of this week. Going back to India for a while.
Oh dial up internet, here I come :-)

Sunday, September 07, 2008

KBCI Kerala-Born Confused Individual

My non Indian friends may get confused with the place names, languages and Indian culture-specific references. So read at your own risk :-)

Some of you may have heard about ABCDs, American-Born Confused Desis.
I am a Keralite by birth, though I have never felt like a true Malayalee. Maybe it is because I have lived there only for less than a fifth of my life. I have lived in Kerala, Dubai, Abu Dhabi, Chennai, Bangalore and New Jersey. Somewhat in that order.

I love Kerala, the smells, the sights and the people. I love our sing song Malayalam language, the rich religious atmosphere, the gorgeous backwaters and the food, oh the food. But I do not like living in Kerala. It is too stifling. How can I live in a place where people go to sleep at 8 pm? How could I live in a place where TV soaps are the primary source of entertainment? How can I live in a place where all women should be inside their house by 6pm or they are automatically considered *loose*? And the hartals? Let us not forget the hartals; Keralites automatically work less than their fellow Indians because they get atleast three days off every month thanks to politicians. There is a lot of political unrest in Kerala and political activist is always getting insulted or killed. Now how do they protest this? Is it by writing in memorium letters in the national papers like we expect a fully literate state to do? No, we declare ourselves a holiday. We stay home from schools and work and vehicles are not allowed on roads. Every state level hartal apparently costs Kerala 4000 crore each time, which is money we do not have. Sorry for going off on a tangent but ask any Keralite about hartals and that is what she would say.

Anyways, getting back to the places I have lived. The next place is Dubai, in the UAE. Most people know Dubai as just a popular shopping destination. I spent the majority of my life there so I obviously I have a different prespective on it. When I first came to Dubai, I remember seeing a lot of tired brown faces-most of them poor Indians and Bangladeshis. It used to be called 'The Gulf' by the poor Malayalees back home, it was a place where they could maybe make some money to send back home to their family. An opportunity for a better life. But by the time I left Dubai, it had changed too much, it was too garish, too money oriented. It was developing like a country on steroids, too fast and probably unhealthy.

The next spot is Abu Dhabi, also in the UAE. My stay in Abu Dhabi was very brief. I think of Abu Dhabi as Dubai's plain big sister. Dubai gets all the attention even though Abu Dhabi is actually the elder sister(leader of the Emirates) and she does feel a little neglected.

Then back to India for a while. I moved to Chennai in search of a job. I hated living in Chennai. I do not know Tamil, so that makes automatically makes me half a person there. And temperatures of 110 °F without air conditioning? No thank you.

After that, a good long stay in Bangalore. I was very comfortable in Bangalore. You can be yourself in Bangalore. I had my first taste of independent life in Bangalore, the place has done more for my development as a person than any other place. On the other hand, Bangalore does has terrible traffic problems and terrible crime rates. And there is no way I could afford to buy a home in Bangalore at the real estate rates there. So I have no plans of settling down there either.

Then I moved to the United States. Or specifically New Jersey. New Jersey has been nice to me but has a way of making me feel out of place. I do not think I will feel comfortable enough to settle down here. It is a great place but it does not feel like home.

So there! Are there similar people out there who do not really know what to call themselves. What are your experiences?

Thursday, September 04, 2008

My favourite Daily show guests

OK, this is going to be my last Jon Stewart post. For a while at least, I promise!
Here are my favourite Daily show guests, please feel free to add your favourite guest in the comments.

5. John McCain
The John McCain of previous years (you know the story) was a reasonable man, a principled man,a nice man. I think that he would have hated the John McCain of today.
Here is an interview where Jon grills Sen McCain after he metamorphosed into the candidate McCain we now know.

Does anybody else feel for McCain here? He seems to be flinching with every question that Jon Stewart asks.

4. Bill Clinton
Say what you will about the man's personal choices, he can speak extremely well. He has charm, personality and intelligence.
Full disclosure: I have always had a crush on the man. But his recent primary season gaffes have kinda cured me of that.

3. Dennis Leary
Jon and Denis are good friends and the two seem to have such good fun together on screen. Yiddish jokes, drunk Irishman jokes, Jew jokes, you get a bit of everything when these two are together. Though sometimes they do get a little carried away and forget that they are on air.

2. Steve Carell
This interview is sheer comedic genius. You should watch it. You need to watch it.

Perfect timing and perfect facial expressions. The former daily show correspondent and his boss putting together this fabulous segment. Writers of the daily show, you have outdone yourselves.

And the honor for the best guest on the daily show goes to....

1. Brian Williams
No doubt about it, these two have chemistry. The giant head of Brian Williams being mean to Jon, it does not get any funnier than that.

Before watching Bri Wi's Daily show interviews I had no idea that he was so funny and cool. I think he is the only guest who can give Jon a run for the funny :-)

And I think an honorable mention needs to be made for President Musharraf. How on earth did the Daily Show manage to get him?

Wednesday, September 03, 2008

It is tough being a Christian Feminist

It is tough being a Christian Feminist. Conservative Christians hate you and Atheist Feminists despise you. It has taken me years to realize that I am a feminist Christian because I did not know that such an animal even existed.

The funny thing is that when I lived in Bangalore, I had friends who were Hindu Brahmins, Hindu Nairs, Hindu Ezhava, Sunni Muslim, Shia Muslim, Jain, Sikhs, Atheist, Zorastrian, Buddhist and they all accepted me as a Christian even though they knew that Christian theology says that they were going to be eternally damned. But mention that you are a feminist and suddenly everybody has a serious bone to pick with you. Even the women.

One of the reasons I love the Internet so much is because it introduced me to other Christian Feminists. And Hugo Schwyzer's blog is one of the best. Before I started reading him I did not think it was possible for someone to be both Christian and Feminist. If Hugo's blog has taught me one thing, it is that being ambivalent on certain issues is not necessarily a bad thing.

Shawna R B Atterberry, is another inspirational Christian Feminist. If you do head over to her blog, do take the time to read her career women of the Bible series. You will definitely look at the women of the Bible differently. You may question all the people around you who say that 'true' biblical womanhood is only about being a wife and mother when the Bible also talks of women who were prophets, judges and disciples.

I am sure that there are many more excellent resources for Christian Feminists on the Internet but these two have influenced my thinking more than anybody else. If any Christian Feminist does read this, please put a link to your blog in the comments section.

On a related topic, who do you think Jesus would vote for in the American elections?