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THIS IS WHAT THE DYING GASP OF DEMOCRACY LOOKS LIKE

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via Washington Post

Unlike most of you, I was born in a dictatorship country, and spent some additional formative childhood years in a different dictatorship country in a different region of the world – a far crueler monarchy at the time.  Which particular countries they happen to be, or how good life was for me or my family in either are irrelevant.

I learned at a young age not only the positive aspects of absolute strongman power, of which there are a few, but also the darker sides- like not having free speech in public, in newspapers, or on TV; having your religious trinkets thrown into the garbage by airport security; watching religious police roam the roads with canes, free to beat any man, woman, or child they wanted, whenever they wanted, legally, gleefully, out in the open.

I bring up these childhood memories for only one reason: to ring a loud Code Red Alarm Bell for all of you Americans out there who have never lived under a dictatorship or studied one.  Wake up.  The transition is happening right now, in 2018, before our very eyes.

Also unlike most of you, I also took an oath of loyalty to the United States at age 9.  As an American by choice, this is an especially confusing time.

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WAR BREAKS OUT BETWEEN US & INDIA VS. CHINA & RUSSIA: WHO WOULD WIN?

Mahanth S. Joishy is Editor of usindamonitor

While browsing the quite engaging war scenarios by the Infographics Show, I came across a video that describes in advanced level of detail what could happen if a potential US-India alliance came to battle a Russia-China offensive.  This video is relevant for several reasons.  Most importantly, many have come to believe that these two sides present the front lines of the new 21st century “Cold War,” which needs to be recognized as a new world order slowly replacing the previous Cold War and its unstable aftermath we are living through today.  This is in fact even the topic of an upcoming novel by usindiamonitor.  Secondly, the world needs to prepare for these new alignments.

Is this terrible war scenario likely in the near future?  We don’t think so.  But we foreign policy mavens should get mentally prepared for what it would look like, and this video does a very good job of laying out the likeliest possibilities in the heat of a battle involving millions of soldiers and affecting billions of human beings.  It’s worth watching!  If nothing else, you will learn what the capabilities are of these four powerful militaries when thrown onto the chessboard in a time of grave peril.

Beard of Harmony & Yann Phayphet of India ROCK OUT with Tool Cover

Mahanth S. Joishy is Editor of usindiamonitor

For close to 25 years Tool has been considered one of the mightiest bands in the rock music universe.  Rightly so- who else better encapsulates the intellectual lyrics, the genius mathematical precision, the mesmerizing vocals, heavy personal journeys, punishing drum solos, guitar riffs and bass lines, the deeply spiritual and even religious overtones with genre-bending orchestration?

Nobody, that’s who.

In a previous post about the best Western music ever inspired with Indian influences, unsurprisingly Tool made the top 5 list  of Indo-American fusion songs of all time with Right in Two, a song about humanity’s own predictable demise.

Separately, we have talked about the blistering hot hard rock/ metal scene which is taking hold in India, especially among young people.  Some ferocious bands who have mixed metal with Hindu religious influences in the last few decades deserve to be heard around the world.

Today I would like to introduce you to another little pleasure bomb: an engaging acoustic cover song recorded live by talented Indian dudes of the aforementioned song, “Right in Two.”  This is a homage within a homage, as an Indian band covers an American band that deftly utilizes India’s ageless somnambulance perfectly back in America for the whole world to enjoy.

And what better way than with a tight video by Beard of Harmony & Yann Phayphet where you can see an Indian neighborhood and hear Indian background noises like nowhere else in the world?

CAN YOU DIG IT:

 

 

 

 

Time to get Cozy, Bear Life as a Russian Vassal State

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Can you grin and bear it?

The debate about whether Russia is running the Pervert Orangutan White House Reality Show Zoo along with the entire Gutless Orwellian Party (GOP) from top to tail is entirely moot.  It’s over.  Done.  The takeover is complete.  There’s nothing to debate, for anyone with half the IQ of a fancy bear.  Which apparently is not too many of us.  Our dumb, misinformed, and uneducated asses have been ripe for a rapacious takeover for a while now, and the descent towards authoritarianism shockingly took as long as 242 years before we exchanged the Tory Loyalists of King George III for the Trump #MAGAts of Comrade Putin I.  And if we are to be the least bit honest with ourselves, the only real questions ever were whether Russia or China took us over first, and how long that would take- for all that needed doing was easily exploiting above all our glaring inability to protect ourselves in the cyber arena.  Because, you know, we isn’t don’t be so good at math and computer stuff, and stuff, or even English, and we sure as hell wouldn’t allow enough Asian immigrants into the country in time to save ourselves.  Thanks, decades of retrograde anti-immigrant GOP!  Enjoy your gulags of borscht, #MAGAts.

We are at least fortunate that the suspense is finally over.  The answers to the takeover race questions are: Winner/2016/Russia.  It’s all because to most Americans, science, technology engineering, & math (STEM) are as foreign a concept as shitting into a latrine hole in the ground in the sticks of Djibouti while pirates stand around and watch.  We are inured to the realities of the outside world, foolishly thinking that an excessive, clumsy, and creaky 20th century military machine of nukes, ships, tanks, jets, drones, helos, and broken toy soldiers were going to forever protect us when foreign countries’ bad hombres actively lurk in our social media, emails, power grids, military systems, corporate servers, and political party infrastructure in a dystopian tentacle porn equivalent of ass rape.  America is super well prepared to fight the next great war using 1973 technology, and decimate all comers!  Thanks so much, GOP!  Gracias for the trillions of dollars in debt-exploding defense spending, eroding our privacy and freedom, bogging us down in Afghanistan and surrounding countries into year 17 with no mission, no plan, and no end in sight.  All the while remaining highly vulnerable to penetration by hostile countries and terrorists while screaming about Muslims.  Because, America!

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Violated in the Temple: A Victim Speaks Out

 

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Editor’s Note: The following is a real firsthand account of unfortunate events involving someone I know, which happened in summer 2018.  I have watched her grow up since she was born, and this story has filled me with anger.  Even worse, she was not the only one.  But her response deserves attention.  She has courageously fought back against the holy priest and the management of the otherwise outwardly beautiful Mangueshi Hindu temple pictured above, visited by no less than former US Defense Secretary Ash Carter himself (!)

The story has received national media attention in India (links below).  

It is high time that India sees the rise of its own powerful #MeToo movement and we are beginning to see the saplings grow as victims bravely engage the patriarchal and supposedly religious systems stacked against them.  Ultimately, there is an uplifting future embodied below, if others are inspired to act.  

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A monumental victory was achieved yesterday, all thanks to my family for fighting tirelessly over the last month for my rights, a lot of strangers for their support, the media all over India who shone light on this issue, and the Indian legal system for ensuring that justice was served against a perpetrator who wronged me. I’m not one for sharing intimate life details with everyone on Facebook, but by my sharing this experience, I hope that others can avoid the same situation.

This past June when I was in India, my family and I made a day-trip by flight to Goa to visit our ancestral temple, as we have been doing at least once a year for as long as I can remember. Single women are not allowed in the innermost sanctum, so I have always sat and watched my parents and brother perform the rites inside. On this particular trip as I was sitting outside the sanctum, our family priest in his 50s, Dhananjay Bhave, beckoned me to the side, grabbed me, and attempted to kiss me. I turned my cheek and body away just in time to avoid him. I told my parents what had happened, and they confronted the priest who then admitted it and requested us not to escalate the matter.

Finding this to be completely repulsive and unacceptable, and yet wanting to preserve the reputation of our family temple, I sent a formal complaint to the management committee of the temple charging Bhave for his behavior, demanding he be fired, and pointing to the CCTV security footage from that area of the temple as evidence. THREE WEEKS later the committee responded saying they would not be taking any action and we were free to take up this case with the ‘relevant authorities’. During this time, we found out by chance that another 20-year old girl from Mumbai had filed a complaint against the same priest for a nearly identical incident 8 days prior to my visit, and had received the same noncommittal response from the temple management. The day after we received their response from the management, my mom filed a police report/ FIR on my behalf with the Goa Police, and a few days later the other girl also lodged another FIR.

Around this same time, the formal complaints which the both of us had written to the temple management went viral on WhatsApp to everyone in the community, and news sources picked it up. Overnight every regional news source in Goa and every national paper all over India was carrying the story. 10 days ago the matter went to court for the first time for Bhave’s bail, where his defense argued that me and the other girl must be conspiring together for publicity and to tarnish the reputation of the temple, and we had mistaken his gentlemanly affectionate behavior for something more sinister. Our public prosecutor argued that me and the other girl had never met (and have still never met) and could have no ulterior motives, and Bhave was already a HABITUAL offender and would possibly target many other girls while out on bail. Yesterday, the judge in Goa gave her verdict of DENYING Bhave’s bail. As of now, Bhave is ABSCONDING from arrest and is yet to go to jail where he now legally belongs. I don’t know where this case will go in the years to come, but for now this court ruling is a big victory for everyone who has been fighting for me and the other girl, and for all the girls who have undoubtedly faced similar experiences at his hands in silence, and the many more who would have suffered in the future if not for this ongoing case.

A few points that I want share about this entire experience for other girls who hopefully won’t, but one day may find themselves in a position similar to mine:

1. A lot of people asked why I didn’t yell or even hit him right when it happened. Or why my family didn’t file a police report in Goa the same day. In the moment, I reacted with shock because I have been raised to have utmost respect for the temple and our priests, and not question many practices associated with them. I was genuinely shocked about what was happening given that this is someone I have seen once a year while growing up. I needed time to process the incident, and my family needed time to decide on the best course of action. In hindsight while I could have reacted differently, I also believe that the actions that have taken place in the last month will have a more permanent impact on the running of the temple and putting a stop to such behavior.

2. “Is this honestly really even a big deal? These things happen all time. Why don’t you just forget about it and move on, that’ll be much easier.” This is actually what makes me the saddest, and is something I’ve heard mostly from women. The bottom line is that nobody can touch me ANYWHERE without my permission. Yes, it would have been easier for me to forget about this incident and move on, but the complacency we’ve come to have as women from facing these sorts of incidents regularly from passersby on commutes etc. is truly depressing. As a result, many women have become desensitized to being taken advantage of, and because most of the time no action is taken at all, repeat offenders continue to get away with it. In this case, Bhave’s perverted behavior stops with me, and I hope in due time, that we develop a no-tolerance policy to such behavior.

3. I have been very fortunate with a lot of factors in my favor: the good judgement to recognize that what was happening that day was in every way wrong, the education and support to take steps to stand up for myself, and that my family has taken this forward. I recognize that not everyone who experiences these things has these resources, but I HIGHLY encourage everyone to at least tell someone they trust. Information is power, and it is only because the secretary of the temple confused our two cases and accidentally told us about the other girl’s complaint that we were able to connect with her family and our case became twice as strong with our joint police reports. It was also by reading the Facebook post of another acquaintance a few years ago, that I remembered that perpetrators are discouraged from doing such acts not by harsh punishments, but by the fear of being caught. It is imperative to trust your gut about how a situation is going and call out such behavior.

4. “It’s a pure reformist attitude and these girls have links to America, and are broad-minded. They are not village girls. This is the new generation of girls” — If you can believe it, this was part of Bhave’s defense attorney’s statement AGAINST me in court. I never imagined these words would be used in a negative connotation, because honestly they sound like the biggest compliment anyone could have paid me. However, what he was implying was that we were too educated and too bold for our own good. Little did he expect that these are the very factors that have now determined that his client belongs in jail.

5. This point should not even bear mentioning, but since it has become a point of debate: A lot of people have questioned what I was wearing that day. Just to clarify, whether it was a prom dress or a saree, Hindu priests never, ever touch any part of a woman’s body. As it happens, the priest’s traditional dress is a simple silk cloth around his waist, and I was wearing a traditional salwar kameez and was covered from head to toe as I am when I visit any holy place, but as I said this detail is totally irrelevant to the case. On a similar note, many (including Bhave’s defense) questioned the caste of the other girl and whether she should have been allowed into the temple in the first place. I can’t even bear to get into how it doesn’t change the actions that the managing committee should have taken when they first received our formal complaints.

6. Lastly, although I took the first step of writing a formal complaint to the temple committee, every step taken in this process since then has been by my parents, my dad’s brothers, and the rest of my extended family in India who have been working round-the-clock to ensure justice. I have been back at med school for the last 3 weeks, and if it wasn’t for their indignation on my behalf and unconditional love, I would probably have given up a long time ago. Countless others have been instrumental in working towards this. Also, in every article about this incident, I have been referred to as a “victim” or the “U.S. based medical student”. Part of the reason I am sharing this whole experience is because I refuse to be the anonymous victim to someone else’s wrong doing. Instead, I will claim ownership over this incident, have ensured that the guilty party has been shamed and punished, and then move on with my own life.

Once again, I am writing this to raise awareness that unfortunately incidents like these are commonplace, even when you least expect it and from people you least expect it. Some people have reacted to my story with disbelief because the perpetrator was a holy priest in the most famous temple in Goa. Many people also expressed doubt that this case would go anywhere because of the power and money behind the temple (ironically donated by many families like ours over many decades). Unfortunately evil can lurk anywhere, but regardless of who it is, you ALWAYS have a voice, options and the rights to never let anyone take advantage of you.

 

Sexual assaults in Goa temple: ‘Charges stem from reformist attitude, aim to gain publicity’

Two Mumbai women accuse Goa Mangueshi Temple priest of kissing them

https://www.ndtv.com/…/medical-student-accuses-goa-temple-p…

https://indianexpress.com/…/goa-mangueshi-temple-us-studen…/

https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/…/articles…/65275344.cms

photo credit: alchetron

 

HELP NAB THE INDIAN MAN ON FBI’S TEN MOST WANTED LIST

 

The FBI recently tweeted about the history of its famous, or infamous, 10 Most Wanted list.  Out of curiosity I went online to check out who the current fugitives from the law on the list are.  I was surprised to learn one of them is Indian-born Bhadreshkumar Chetanbhai Patel, a man who brutally murdered his wife by repeatedly stabbing her at the Dunkin Donuts where they worked in Maryland, and made a run for it, potentially abroad.  Please see video above for more details.

I know that a lot of Indians and others around the world visit this site and don’t like these kinds of headlines giving us all a bad name.  If any of you have info about Patel and are willing to call this one in, there is a reward of up to $100,000 waiting for you.  I would love one of my readers to be the one to help nail this alleged monster’s ass to the wall.

tips.fbi.gov

800-CALL-FBI

Mahanth S. Joishy is Editor of usindiamonitor

 

HOW TO END ILLEGAL IMMIGRATION IN 30 DAYS

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One of the many pitfalls of our current climate in America is the severe breakdown in identifying causal links between policies and outcomes.  All too predictable in a country where science and logic are being trumped by emotions such as fear.

Let’s take an example from the 2018 frame.  Forget the raging immorality of separating 3,000 young children from their parents at the US border and throwing them in cages using my hard-earned taxpayer dollars.  Is it at least an effective policy?

The answer is of course, no.  It ain’t working.  We spend billions to protect our borders, billions to prevent illegal drugs from pouring in, and billions more to protect our cybersecurity.  But America is a total and absolute failure at all of these aspects of protecting Americans, which is the federal government’s #1 job.  American efforts in these areas are a complete joke and everyone around the world knows it.  Locking up kids in cages doesn’t work, either.

Emotions are quite simply the reason why we are in the current state we are in. Americans are overall pretty uneducated, misinformed, and ruled by our lizard brains.   We elect leaders who are disproportionately crooks that prey upon our emotions.  The solution itself is easy: pursue policies that make logical and scientific sense.

I can end illegal immigration in 1 month.  Requiring nothing more than manipulating the simple laws of supply and demand.  Pass a law that any corporation, restaurant, bar, farm, cab company, family, or individual who employs illegal immigrants will immediately be thrown in jail for 10 years.  Go out and arrest them en masse.  Such employers are explicitly breaking the law by hiring workers under the table.  Yet nobody ever goes after these criminals simply because they come out of the political donor class that fuels both parties.

But, uh, justice is supposed to be blind right?  F*** the political donor class.  After this swift administration of justice, let’s see if illegal immigration drops dramatically or not.  Yes, the president and his family and his cronies would be even more knee-deep in trouble with the law than they already are, because among other projects Trump Tower itself was built by many- you guessed it – illegal immigrants.

Of course the policy will work.  The supply and demand curves don’t lie.  Illegal immigrants would be unable to find work in America again, and they’d stop coming here soon enough.  But good luck keeping the child care, the factories, the farms, the armed services, the restaurants, the cabs, and the food supply running.  Those are different problems for different days.

Mahanth S. Joishy is Editor of usindiamonitor

VIDEO: Pervert Orangutan is Worshipped by More Indian Goondas

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Mahanth is Editor of usindiamonitor

One of the most fascinating and strikingly bizarre aspects of the Pervert Orangutan Presidency (POP) and its Fourth Reich happens not in America, which is the least great we’ve ever been, but in rural India where poor, uneducated Hindu nationalists have latched onto this Pervert Orangutan as if he is some kind of god.  As a Hindu, I’ll be the first to admit that we’ve got some issues.  If you need proof, just watch this brief video by Ruptly…

I don’t blame these people, who clearly have very little in their lives; I blame the United States for creating a long con where the poorest in both America and India are the most cruelly victimized.  The rest of us can only look on with horror and disgust until the nightmare mercifully ends.

The irony? These poor brown folk and Hinduism surely disgust Pervert Orangutan far more than they could ever bother you or I.

 

Robert Mueller is the Anti-Virus Saving America- and Democracy

The sins of 2018 Washington are far more morally bankrupt than we can even know. Today we are witnessing what happens when America abdicates its moral responsibility not only to itself but also to the rest of the world.   America is now run by a narcissistic white supremacist sex-tyrant and his two-bit goons who have turned their back on humanity in favor of self-enrichment and self-aggrandizement.  The mantle of leadership is intentionally being handed off to a Rogue’s Gallery of other tin-pot dictators and hoods more than delighted to jump into the void that such abdication of responsibility has created, to run the agenda for the chaotic new world order.  Cabals of oil-soaked Middle Eastern monarchs, racist Brexit douche bags, the Chinese Premier Xi Jinping who just crowned himself Dictator-4-Life, the democracy-cancelling Vlad the Impaler, and North Korean nut job Dear Leader Kim Jong Un are all gleefully ascendant these days, happily purging rivals and journalists without consequence left and right.  Even India’s Narendra Modi, who somehow came into power without money or family (the only two things that used to matter in Indian politics) to capture the imagination of a nation and the global Indian, has proven his default factory setting is “Ruthless Strongman.”  What a crying shame, all around.

A few of us versed in history already know how this ends.  We are experiencing a glitch in the system, and the anti-virus software is taking care of it as we speak.  I’ve written before that the last gasp of white male supremacy would go down not with a whimper, but with a prolonged fight and heavy costs.  That day is upon us all.  A war hero named Robert Mueller has agreed to enjoin this fight.  The anti-virus is already working his magic.  Mueller has quickly become the most important person in the entire US government apparatus.

Contrast if you will the ethically impeccable actions of this clean-cut boy scout with those of his screwball sewer rat opponents.  Whereas a crotchety, curmudgeonly, sexually deviant, and senile old gang of Trump, Giuliani, Stone, and their minions stumble around spewing incoherent brain farts, undisciplined verbal diarrhea and desperate attacks on law enforcement to the media and social media every hour, their nemesis Mueller has not uttered a single word since he dutifully took on by far the most important and challenging job of not only his, but our lifetimes.

Absence any words, there have been loud actions.  Well-written and bulletproof indictments, subpoenas, and arrests against Russians and the American traitors who conspired with them will continue to roll out under Mueller’s able supervision of the Legal Dream Team specially assembled for the task.  All evidence points straight to the top, and everyone in Washington already knows it even if they pretend not to.  Somewhere in the bowels of a nondescript DC office building, a man is quietly toiling, largely unrecognized, on our behalf.  That man is all that stands between us and dictatorship right now.

The GOP long ago dropped their soiled pants, bent over, and sold out the country when they selfishly nominated a wannabe dictator to lead them into authoritarian and fascist territory for their own short-term survival, long after they knew he cheated.   Meanwhile, the Republican-led Congress is such a heartless, spineless, corrupt and cruel joke in 2018, nobody even pretends that it’s meant to provide a hint of a check or balance on the executive branch anymore.  This Congress is the perfect kind of ruse you would love to abuse if you were a dictator masquerading as a f***ing president.

The Democrats are too weak to mount even a feeble unified resistance effort as they continue to fight their own petty internecine wars and struggle to stand for anything coherent, or coalesce around a leader or a vision.   Among the options for 2020 are tired old choices such as Joe Biden and Bernie Sanders, both of them likable enough yet constant reminders of how long they have been around the forefront of a hapless and stale losing team.

Sure, #BlueWave in 2018, #Resistance, Get Out the Vote, yada, yada! I even wrote about how I will finally call myself a Democrat for the first time in 2018 out of reluctant necessity.  But whatever happens in November, it won’t be good enough to guarantee that the glitch in our system will be wiped so we can finally reboot the laptop once and for all.  A blue wave, if it happens, might not be good enough to get an impeachment-worthy majority in both houses, which even a group of undeveloped fetuses swimming the backstroke in a kiddie pool of amniotic fluid should be able to achieve against an avowed dictator’s political party- the Gang Who Couldn’t Shoot Straight themselves!- in the US of A in 2018.

Instead we are precariously dependent on an older white Republican man, of all people, so the party who screwed this all up so badly for us can take out their own trash.

All that’s left is our deeply flawed judicial system.   Even on its good days, the courts need executive branch prosecutors to bring strong and tight cases forward, because there is zero margin for error on the brink of dictatorship.  Robert Mueller is unusually well suited to the pressure and thanklessness of the role he is playing in US history.  His findings will be strong enough to end the charade of legitimacy and mockery of justice we have been forced into by 2019.   In the opinion of most legal scholars, that work is already done and Mueller is just poking around in search of gravy to strengthen the case further- and those spigots of gravy are spewing all over the map of treason, lies, and cheating as we speak.

The bad guys just don’t get it, and never will.  Mueller by all accounts is that rare prominent civil servant driven not by power, money, favor, fame, or glory.  He didn’t volunteer for the Vietnam War, or the current one, for any of those reasons.  He has no other ambitions beyond this job.  The man can neither be bought off, nor scared away. Those more predictable and base motivations drive his small-minded opponents who cheated their way out of war.  Refreshingly, Mueller does it because it’s right, though that’s not why he is going to win.

Mueller is going to win because some people are simply better than others.  Superior human beings tend to defeat inferior human beings in the long run, even when the losers cheat.

Mahanth S. Joishy is Editor of usindiamonitor

Photo Credit: theintercept.com

 

Anthony Bourdain! RIP, Our True US Secretary of State

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“So will Lord Krishna get mad if I start a food fight RIGHT NOW?”-via CNN Parts Unknown

I have a confession to make.

For some years I have harbored a far-fetched yet beautiful fantasy about the celebrity chef and writer, Anthony Bourdain.

It was a simple, innocent fantasy: that he would somehow become the US Secretary of State, and set the the table for all of us global citizens to feast on a buffet of global peace, love, understanding, and unrestrained bacchanalia for the next 1,000 years.  Who better to lead our nation’s diplomacy, at a time when United States foreign policy is utterly crumbling around us and the world order staggers on, rudderless and broken?

Indeed, who better?  Bourdain is thoroughly and uniquely qualified for the job.  He doesn’t simply write essays about geopolitical theory in scholarly journals that only 120 nerds read, like many in the halls of power.  He was born to be the man in the arena- whether a hot and stuffy kitchen, or deep in the Amazonian rainforest.  His work was simple and accessible and could be understood by the common person in any country.  Tony has done far more for the American people through his forays into other countries, through teaching and bridge-building, through charity causes and exploration and adventure, than the corrupt two-bit thugs in our government charged with our diplomacy right now.  Tony was a better human being and a better diplomat than these douche bags will ever be.

And what an interesting guy.  Anthony Bourdain would go anywhere, eat and drink anything, meet anyone, and “risk everything” in his own words to satiate his hunger and thirst for MORE knowledge and human connection through food, history and culture, no matter how unfamiliar, hard, gelatinous, raw, strong, smelly, dangerous, or difficult.  He strove to challenge his beliefs about the world, and ours.  He encouraged us to eat offal.  On the flip side, in Kerala he marveled at how good vegetarian food could be- and that if he lived in India, he could even BE vegetarian, that eater of intestines, tripes, and sweetbreads.  Tony destroyed accepted narratives about nations and people, and eviscerated those celebrity chefs and politicians who promoted vanilla and small-minded fear of the other.   He floated in and out of friendly and hostile countries alike, the common thread being that he ALWAYS made new friends along the way, eating their food or graciously making them his own.

At achieving the goals of unity and love, Tony was the best among all of us.  He bucked the stereotypes.  He was the opposite of the “Ugly American” most of us who have been fortunate to travel the world often encounter,  eating at a T.G.I. Friday’s and drinking a Budweiser during a trip to India of all places (or a F***ING T.G.I. F***ING F***DAY’S as Tony would have said, with extreme prejudice).

Tony’s work was also personal for me.  In 2001, I read his first book Kitchen Confidential, a wonderful spinoff of his seminal 1999 essay about NYC resto secrets in the New Yorker magazine.  During this time, much was going on in my life.  I had just moved to New York City to begin my full-time local government career, and also worked in a West Village restaurant at night, harboring earnest dreams of running my own restaurant one day soon.  I was fresh-faced out of college.  9/11 went down and shook the ground all around me- and became the main topic of conversation at the restaurant bar I tended for the next few months, walking distance from Ground Zero.  I served people who lost their best friends and family members, or cops who were finding flattened and bloody dead bodies in the rubble.  I poured them badly needed drinks.  It was here that I learned what New York was made of and why it would forever endear itself to me.  Tony was the quintessential New Yorker and restauranteur.  And from Tony’s eloquent words I learned everything I would ever need or want to know about the restaurant business, the most important lesson being that I would never own one after all, a decision reinforced through my real-life view of restaurant hardships and challenges.

On the other hand, it wasn’t just back-breaking work and sweat.  I experienced so much of what was positive about restaurants too: busy shifts flying by with a room full of dinner guests enjoying the food, wine, and music.  Wild birthday parties late at night with the rest of the staff after closing down a long and hard shift, new friendships with people from around the world, overhearing weird and inappropriate dinnertime conversations (“the best way to stop the terrorists is to bomb the shit out of Mecca in retaliation for the Twin Towers…”), big tips from flirty gay men, gorgeous girls writing down their phone numbers for me on napkins, taking orders from a number of celebrities, and the team’s constant experimentation with new food and drink recipes.  The chefs constantly attempted to bribe me with my favorite food in exchange for more whiskey than they were supposed to get for their shift drink.   All of the good, the bad, and the ugly about restaurant life was happening right in front of me, and Tony reinforced it all by writing every single thing I experienced, such as the universal “barter system” between chefs and bartenders, better than I ever could.  He nailed the life for millions of us who were in and out of it.

Around that time Tony hung up his chef’s hat, renewed his passport, and became America’s premier jet-setting ambassador for the last 17 years of his life.  Even casual fans knew there was something dark and painful inside Tony.  He went through crippling addictions and bouts of depressions and terror.  Despite the laughs and the joys, the darkness was always there just below the surface if you peered closely at the man’s facial expressions, his weather-beaten features, his self-deprecating jokes about death, his near perpetual state of mental and physical hangover, and even his ambling gait.  Tony had quite obviously been through the wringer and back a few times.  Just like so many other rock stars who shone brightly and flamed out too soon, Tony’s pain and battles with his inner demons, which he openly spoke about to the public, made him the talented firebrand that he was, larger than life but still relatable to anyone from President Obama to a tribal warrior living a lifestyle unchanged since the 17th century.

The best lesson he gave must also go down in history as a foreign policy North Star, if those of us who live on care to listen.  Imagine a world where critical political negotiations only started after a few hours of delicious food and drink, accompanied by talk of more food, friends, families, pets, songs, jokes, and holidays.  Treaties and peace and love would flow down like a waterfall.  The best way to warm up to a people, a tribe, a country, and a culture is through putting stuff, no matter how strange, into our mouths together.  Tony was the perfect vessel for this message, completely giving up his ego and his personal safety to deliver it.  Tony’s gift to us lives on, because he has painstakingly climbed that mountain in the darkest night and pointed out the North Star for all of us to follow.  He is still enough here to be made our Secretary of State after all.

Mahanth S. Joishy is Editor of usindiamonitor

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