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Category Archives: Culture

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.

 

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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

DOCUMENTARY SERIES REVIEW: Wild, Wild Country Perfectly Captures a Bizarre Episode in US History

Mahanth S. Joishy is Editor of usindiamonitor

Growing up in the 80s as Indian-American kids with parents from India, many of us often heard rumblings about the mysterious Indian figure Rajneesh, also known as Osho or Bhagwan (God).  At dinner parties and picnics, Indian parents and other adults would talk animatedly about this cult of personality and his myriad followers who forcibly parked themselves on an exceedingly white and conservative part of Oregon in the late 70s and early 80s to form a weird religious cult commune.

The hushed tones and liberal use of the language Hindi by adults in those gatherings, which most of us kids didn’t know very well, always denoted to me that there was something deeply sinister going on in conversation about the Rajneeshis.  My parents thought that they were being discrete, but using Hindi as a covert device was the biggest dead giveaway that the talk was of nefarious things, and probably involved something called sex, and it had gone awfully wrong.  And it sure did make us Indian people look bad throughout that decade on the global stage.

This was an exceedingly unique American story and a touchpoint of its time: mostly white hippy American types by the hundreds falling over themselves to drop everything, move to Oregon, and unconditionally worship the (admittedly interesting) teachings of a brown man from India who presented himself as no less than a God floating around in flowing colorful robes in a fleet of expensive Rolls Royce cars and private jets.   Rajneesh was the ultimate figurehead of an American Mega Church movement, if that person was not only considered a God but also a rock star.  His core message was promoting the guilt-free enjoyment of materialism, pleasure, and spirituality side by side.

Once I was old enough to know a bit more, the Rajneesh story bored me.  It seemed like a typical trope about cultural appropriation of Indian traditions, fueled by Americans and Europeans flocking to ashrams in India to “find themselves” and engage in large sex orgies and liberal drug use in Indian clothes in a misplaced quest for spirituality and personal growth.  When the predictable downfall of the highly suspect cult/commune arrived, it all came crashing down with an avalanche of financial embezzlement, illegal surveillance, threats of violence, and the long arm of the law coming down hard in the form of FBI raids and prison sentences.  Everything about this just seemed so cliche to me, that I never cared to research too much into it below the surface knowledge I had as described above.

As it turns out I was completely wrong, at least in terms of how interesting and intricate the narrative actually was.  Until this spring when I started watching Wild, Wild Country, Whatever little I had picked up about the Rajneeshi cult was more than I cared to know.  I had been dismissive of it all.  But that changed in one fell swoop, further evidence that a lot of what I think I know, I really don’t after all.  It was easy to dismiss these failing sannyasins as a bunch of gullible nutjobs and posers trying to build their own obviously unattainable utopia right here in the United States.

But then a flip switched.  Until I recently watched the Wild, Wild Country documentary series on Netflix out of vague curiosity, I learned there was much I didn’t know about the Rajneeshis.  I had no idea how big they became, with thousands of members at their peak in numerous outposts around the world.  I was especially unfamiliar with the tiny young Indian woman named Ma Anand Sheela, the hand-picked deputy of Rajneesh who effectively launched and then ran the massive communal enterprise of Rajneeshpuram in Oregon with an iron fist.  I mean this chick was feisty, fearless, smart, tough as nails, camera-ready, and a formidable manager and leader by any objective measure.  She was for some reason empowered by Rajneesh to lead the vast religious, political, and sociological experiment, and managed to accomplish large things within a few short and eventful years.

Wild, Wild Country is absolutely fascinating and so is its subject.  It has certainly earned its 100% rating on Rotten Tomatoes.  Built upon many hours of original archival footage, it shows not just a commune but an entire city government being built from the ground up in rural Oregon, surrounded by communities who downright despised the Rajneeshis to pieces.  Suddenly an airport, roads, farms, homes, buildings, police force, defense force, city hall, and city council rose from empty land through the sheer will of the Rajneeshis, their collective sweat equity and organizational acumen.  This intrigued the city government official in me.  They built something special.  The cult even began to perpetuate their own laws and justice proceedings, somewhat akin to a Native American tribal reservation, within the United States but somewhat separated from it.  They sure had balls.

And the problems started right there.  Predictably, a minor war ensued between the suspicious locals and the passionate Rajneeshi cult members who were performing all manner of rituals in their little city, and rubbing their newfound wealth, power, and peculiar culture in your face.  Copious amounts of interviews were filmed in the modern day with some of the people involved from opposing angles, including conservative local retirees who hated the foreign influences they were seeing around them, law enforcement personnel who were eventually called upon to investigate the cult, and several key Rajneeshi members including Ma Anand Sheela herself calmly explaining the history of the downright bizarre events that permanently shaped all of their lives during that period some four decades ago.  This stuff is stranger than fiction.

The documentary series spends far more airtime on Ma Anand Sheela, her tight inner circle, and her wheelings and dealings than the overall leader Rajneesh.  After all it was she who ran the nuts and bolts of the movement, while Rajneesh seemed to just float through the scenery sort of above and outside of it all, saying and doing little of consequence.  The filmmakers were wise to do this.  Though I wish I could have seen more about Rajneesh and where the hell he came from, and what the hell it was this fraudulent Indian con man did all day, Sheela is a far more complex, interesting and intriguing character in this play.  She was no doubt a true believer.

Even if you know how the story ends, the journey holds many plot twists, escalating conflicts, outright danger, and thrilling moments leading up to climax.  There is plenty of well-timed suspense.  During some parts of the 6 episodes, it almost felt like I was actually there immersed in the city of Rajneeshpuram during that time in history.  The townspeople splinter amongst themselves.  The Rajneeshis also suffered epic meltdowns and schisms within their ranks, some self-inflicted and others by force of outside influence.  Although many of the key figures come across as batshit crazy at times, on both sides of the war, it’s hard not to feel sympathy for both perspectives as much of the conflict falls into the gray fog between what was right and who was wrong.

As for Ma Anand Sheela, she goes through a long and most wonderful metamorphosis worthy of comparison to a butterfly, and the series documents this arc well.  It is in fact near impossible to reconcile what she was, to what she later in life became.  And this may be the best part of all for those who believe self-improvement is possible.   It is a phenomenon within the Rajneeshi phenomenon that I came to learn more about them despite my own chauvinistic blinders.

I encourage all of you to drop everything else in your queue and enjoy Wild, Wild Country.

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VIDEO/EDITORIAL: US FAST FOOD CHAINS NEED TO STOP OVERLOADING INDIAN CONSUMERS

usindiamonitor true to its name has been monitoring in fascination the wild growth of fast food franchises, many of them American, in Indian cities.  When I was a kid visiting or living in India in the 80s and 90s, American fast food was one of the things I missed the most about America.  It was so vastly different from what was being served in Indian households and restaurants- of course, that food was healthy and delicious in its own right but something would be missing.

But fast food has gone gangbusters in India since that more isolated, innocent, idyllic time in India.  McDonald’s India was perhaps the canary in the coal mine, even though the corporation has of late been mired in massive legal troubles with its local business partners.  In the past we wrote a business case study about McDonald’s India on these pages.  Now we also have Pizza Hut, Domino’s, KFC, Subway, and many other brands making deep inroads with Indian consumers.  And this was to be expected.  As we repeat every single day, American corporations MUST have an India strategy to survive.  The market is too huge, and the economic growth is on too high a trajectory to be ignored.

One the one hand, it’s great to have access to quick, cheap, and admittedly tasty food for working Indian families.  As with fast food in America and around the world, things have taken a decidedly darker turn though.  India’s obesity epidemic is crushing the nation’s youth, with much of the responsibility falling on America’s food and soft drinks.  And now, we have news that fast food companies are dumping saltier, fattier, and more calorific food on the Indian market as compared to the US market, with at times, MULTIPLES of the sodium and fat content of the exact equivalent food item in America.

This is just not right at all.  It’s actually evil, and my bet is that the joints are trying to addict a new market of people with this salty behavior.  WE CALL ON ALL US FOOD CORPORATIONS TO STOP OVERLOADING INDIAN CONSUMERS WITH TOO MUCH JUNK IN THE JUNK FOOD.  Sure, we all know it’s junk food and we make the choice to eat it freely.  But this targeted overload is an outrage and the Indian government and people should not stand for this highly unethical behavior.  All that we ask is that you don’t make the Indians eat junk that’s junkier than the Americans do.  You don’t have to trust me- just watch this video here.  It should make you sick to your stomach.

Mahanth S. Joishy is Editor of usindiamonitor

 

Donald Trump is a Tool. Use It to Your Advantage Like I Did.

All of my life, I had heard about the concept of depression from other people, but it always appeared to me as a foreign object that I would struggle to understand.  People I know over the years would talk about their depressions or nervous breakdowns, or those of their own family members and friends.  But I would be on the outside looking in, like watching it snow inside a snow globe but not understanding what it would be like to get 5 feet of snow dumped on top of my head and stay buried under it.

All that would change.  November 8, 2016 started out great enough.  As a New York City civil servant, I got election day off that day, just like I had every year.  I woke up on that nice fall day in Brooklyn and went to vote at a school in my awesome neighborhood called Cobble Hill.  There was a beautiful five year old girl waiting in line with her mother, and on my way out she asked her mom if she could get an “I voted today” sticker that she saw on people’s shirts.  Just as her mom told her it had to be earned by adults who voted, I gave the little girl my own.  I felt great and so did the little girl.

It was a happy moment for me, and the first of many on the day.  I hung out for the rest of the day off with my good friends in the hipster enclave of Red Hook, joking, laughing, eating, drinking, walking, talking, flirting with strangers, and trying to soak in the fact that within a few hours, America would finally vote in its first female president in history.

By 11pm that night, I went into a state of physical and mental shock.  I exchanged a set of WhatsApp messages with my close relative, who was sitting on a beach in India and drinking beers early in the morning, India time, seeing the same live US election results that I was.  Indeed, he had predicted Trump’s victory months earlier, but I refused to entertain even a hint of that thought.  “Are you doing okay?” he asked.  For the first time in my life, after quick consideration I responded to him with the honesty that a close relative and friend deserved: “No,” I replied.

***

It sounds cheesy to say this when so many people have worse problems than me, like painful stages of cancer, dead children, blindness, or missing legs.  Plus I am by no means alone in falling into a dark abyss late in 2016.  But I had to admit to myself that my world had shattered.  Many others probably felt as bad or worse, for example those who worked on Hillary’s election campaign and were cheated out of victory.

But I can only speak for myself.  I finally learned what depression meant, the hard way, as I mourned the end of America as we knew it.  It was like a family member I loved dying.  My optimism, which always drove me for 36 years of life was melting away in real time.   I went from an optimist to a cynic.  And being unused to cynicism, I found out for the first time that it’s a very hard way to live.

I have always had jobs since my 16th birthday, and I always worked hard.  But on November 9th, 2016, I could not do a single shred of work properly.  I sat and largely stared at my computer screen.  My body felt frozen.  My mind was numb.  I couldn’t focus for more than three minutes at a time.  I was surrounded by colleagues who were going through the same thing, and on this particular day, it was considered acceptable and almost predictable to be useless and unproductive.  After all, most of us lived and worked together in New York City.  We knew the criminal scumbag con man Trump better than anyone else did.  It wasn’t us who voted that charlatan and his evil family in, it was the rest of the country’s fault.  Not that it made us New Yorkers feel any better.

The next few months were painful as I descended into feeling hopeless and helpless about the world, and wondering what the point of it all was if we were headed toward destroying humanity and our planet anyway at some point soon.  Family members and friends were feeling many of the same cynical things and didn’t offer a way out.  I burned.  I started giving up on trying to be healthy, or caring about current events, or the future.  Classic depression type symptoms.  And I was smart enough to know it.

But then something happened.  By February 2017 we began seeing the flickering glimmer of a path towards takedown and impeachment, which I am now confident is inevitable.  I went through a few dark and deep spiritual experiences in this period of time.  My optimism gradually and slowly re-emerged, like a glorious Phoenix from the ashes of the very fire that had burned me.

I got serious about writing fiction, something I had been talking and thinking about since I was 12 years old.  I entered a fiction contest on a whim and got second place.   I became active on Twitter, starting arguments and rants and making jokes, and it all felt therapeutic during a hard time.  I started donating to political campaigns, and signing petitions.  I regained some of the joy and fun in dating, which had been absent for several years since my divorce, a period when I viewed dating as a chore and a bore.  I initiated a serious job search process, which resulted in me moving out of New York City to Wisconsin to take on a new job, career trajectory, and life in an extremely different place.  I began playing the tablas again after a 20 year hiatus.  I began playing the drum set again after a 20 year hiatus.  And between 2017 and early 2018, I finally completed a first draft of my novel manuscript.

If I were to blame Trump for feeling depressed, it would only be fair to assign my nearly pathological quest to improve myself in isolation on an island while the world was falling apart all around me, to his specter too.  I was forcibly stuffed into a dark place by a monster.  I feel that I have clawed my way out of the hole.  Shouldn’t the monster get at least some of the credit too?

I believe so.  And I also think that other people, and the national conscience as a collective may be able to do the same, and use the sorrow and hate and rage and depression to their advantage, and our advantage.  Donald Trump, his supporters, and all of the evil that they represent can be viewed as a giant stress test– on you, on me, on the country, and on the world.  Assuming we survive the stress test, we will be better off.  That which does not kill you will make you stronger.

I feel like I am living proof of that.  Now, when the idiot tweets something, threatens somebody, lies about something, bombs somewhere, or goes golfing while the world burns, I don’t give a shit like I used to.  I ignore it.  He is too dumb to be worth my time. SCREW HIM.  It’s up to the creaky system now.  Let the old white Republican men like Comey, Mueller, Rosenstein, Flake, Corker, and McCain take out their own trash.

I’m going to be over here, working on becoming a constantly new and improving version of myself.  Thank you.  I mean that sincerely for helping me become a better man.  I am using you like the tool that you are.

-Mahanth S. Joishy

 

 

Meet the Biggest Indian-American Traitor in US History

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Indian-Americans tend to be loyal to the United States.  They generally work or study, raise their families, and peacefully go about their business as doctors or cab drivers or hotel owners.  Some sign up to be in government (like me) or the military.  They tend to be liberal, but they do float across the political spectrum.  They win almost every spelling bee.

Rarely will you find an Indian-American shooting up a school, joining a gang, starting a supremacist militia, or getting recruited by ISIS or Al-Qaeda.  While these things might occur, they happen at far lower rates than with other diasporas.  Most people credit education and family structure for these things, like with other successful communities.

Therefore, when someone from our diaspora commits active treason against the United States, it becomes sort of a big deal because such cases are so few and far between.  Dig and scrape through the archives back to 1776, and you’ll be hard-pressed to find what’s right in front of our faces today.  I present to you Exhibit A, the deplorable White House Principal Deputy Press Secretary, Raj Shah, a traitor not just to Indian-Americans like Bobby Jindal is, but to the United States itself.

Unsurprisingly for a Trump appointee, Raj is reckless.  His DWI conviction for a booze-soaked BMW ride in New Mexico got him fired from a political job in 2010.  Want to bet that the time he got caught was the only time Raj went a-boozin’ and a-drivin’? Perfect fit in this administration full of boozers, wife-beaters, racists, traitors, misogynists, money launderers, gangsters, and perverts, right?

Now we don’t use the word *traitor* lightly, and not all of those cursed souls in the White House deserve that label.  Only the ones outright lying to cover up crimes against the United States, like Shah’s disgusting boss, Sarah Huckaberry Colonel Sanders whom the guy must have learned so much from.   He has been fortunate to learn from the very worst.  On February 8th, Shah gave her the day off and fumbled through a press conference about the administration’s extremely poor handling of wife-beater Rob Porter’s employment, and worse, personally defended Porter himself repeatedly.  Shah embarrassed all Indians around the world that day.  On top of it all, he was an overmatched, unprepared blathering idiot on the podium: he was not even good at being a bad human being.

But the treason against the United States has taken place in relation to Russia.  Shah is knee deep in the #TrumpRussia scandal, defending his boss’s illegal activities time and again, hyping up the obstructive Devin Nunes memo, casting aspersions on the Steele dossier, and repeating wing nut nonsense about FISA warrants, all of which smells very much like obstruction of justice.

Congratulations, Raj.  You are the biggest Indian-American traitor in US history.  I hope you go down hard along with your false idols Colonel Huckaberry and Captain Bonespur.

Mahanth S. Joishy is Editor of usindiamonitor

PS: Nikki Haley today saved herself from joining the Indian-American treason this week by squarely blaming Russia for the chemical terrorism in the UK.  Raj, it’s not too late to get on the right side of history.

COMIC: WHY WE BEEFING?

Michael Jackson’s Love Affair with India

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2016 MJ Statue Unveiling Ceremony in Chennai.  via indiawest.com

We now know that American Empire reached its peak in the late 1980’s and early 1990’s before the inevitable downward slide we’re now stuck on.  While American power was bringing the USSR or Iraq to its knees (a favor those Cold Warrior Comrades and ISIS monsters are paying us back in {//:spades//} this moment), it was also ripping the existing world’s popular music scene playbook to shreds and tossing it into the ocean.  Michael Jackson, the foremost cultural artifact that America produced at the apex of its very highest peak, romped freely across the Earth to sold-out stadiums and crying adult fans who urinated themselves and thought suicidal thoughts paradoxically stemming from uncontrollable pure love and joy emotions.  People didn’t know how to feel the feelings they were feeling around the King of Pop.

That transition from 80’s into 90’s was also MJ’s peak as far as we can tell on all objective metrics except what was in this bizarre and gifted human’s mind.  Physically he was indisputably in top dance and voice form.  He was simply the greatest entertainer to ever live.  Not only was he pair bonding with the attractive spawn of Elvis Presley himself, MJ was as yet unstained or unsullied by charges of child molestation and other uniquely weird and mysterious life trajectories which would dog him around until his premature but perhaps merciful death in 2009 (on usindiamonitor‘s wedding day).

In the neverland that time forgot, before Internet and social media, MJ went more viral than a vicious flu outbreak.  His raw and sexual tentacle porn tentacles tickled everything and everywhere.  Virtually all of India’s youth knew Michael Jackson, the endless child.  In this the nation was truly unexceptional.  India was just another domino in the collective soul of North America, South America, Africa, Europe, and Australasia to fall for Michael Jackson’s dance moves and inimitable androgynous silken voice despite thousands of years of glorious indigenous music tradition.

Michael Jackson’s torrid love affair with India was the song and dance- the very pillars of the mutual admiration society.  Here’s Michael Jackson dancing Bharatanatyam in the Black or White Video! And we couldn’t hate him for it despite its canned and ambitious theme of racial tolerance, which Indians were in desperate need of in the United States and India and everywhere else.  Here’s Michael Jackson emerging on a stage in Bombay from a f***ing spaceship in a f***ing spacesuit!  In an alien world, Michael Jackson fit right in, right as rain during monsoon season.

India was all in for MJ.  If you peer close enough, the various shades of MJ’s skin over the years exactly matched those of different Indian gene pools.  Lookalikes and lounge acts sprouted up from Kashmir to Kannyakumari, from Bajagoli to Bengal, from Chennai to Chowpatty Beach to Chandigarh.  Kids and adults at home, in the streets, at wedding halls, in the slums and on the riverbanks danced joyously to MJ’s music as only Indians can.  College students dressed up and jerry-curled like him, riding their BMX bicycles to class like it wasn’t no thing.

At many a nadir in US-India relations, MJ was a far superior and more effortless US diplomat, friend, and representative than any government official could hope to be.    He represented so much that was great about the American story.  In a land littered with brutal racists, religious bigotry, misogyny and caste chauvinism, Indians loved this black man as their own.  In this, again, India was no exception.  MJ’s blackness is almost an afterthought in society, so transcendental was the King of Pop.

There will never be another Michael Jackson in pop music, just as America will never be great “again.”  There will be an endless parade of mediocrity and self-absorbed pop tarts grabbing their 15 minutes of fame until the next generation completes their first menstrual cycles and nocturnal emissions just in time to grab the frame and assault our sensibilities on what is good in this world.

Michael Jackson lives on in India.  In 2016, a 10-foot statue cut from a single black stone from my home state of Karnataka (like the Vietnam Veterans Memorial) was dedicated to Michael Jackson utilizing an unmistakably Indian sculpting method, the star forever frozen in a hot place to the soundtrack of Beat It.  In a meta-story for the ages, at the unveiling was the Tamillionaire Prabhu Deva himself (pictured above), India’s answer and living homage to Michael Jackson.  The sizzling Indian dancer owes much to his spiritual mentor, just as Martin Luther King, Jr. did to Mahatma Gandhi on the time/space bridge of black and brown. The statue of Michael looks suspiciously like an Indian holy man.  And that suits us just fine.

Mahanth Joishy is Editor of usindiamonitor.   He is OK with sharing initials with the more famous person in this case.

VIDEO: A Shotgun Wedding in Bihar

People across the United States and India often joke and laugh about “shotgun weddings,” where a man is forced to make an honest woman out of a woman by marrying her, and if he were to refuse, he’d be staring down the barrel of a gun, which say somethin’ diff’rent.  Usually it’s the bride’s father holding the firearm, and it’s almost always due to the girl having gotten pregnant.

Most people have never had to see one happen.   However, a real-life shotgun wedding caught on video this week has taken the world by storm.  Engineer Vinod Kumar was actually kidnaped from a friend’s wedding, beaten up or “thrashed” as they like to say in India by the bride’s family goondas, and then forced to get married at gunpoint at another location.  He was brought there bound, as you can see in the video, and clearly against his will.  It’s not funny at all.  The poor guy cried during the ceremony, while it’s unclear whether the veiled bride on the left was trying to console him, or felt sad for what her family was doing to this guy.  Fortunately, the police are investigating in this case, although sometimes people are even scared to report cases to a corrupt government apparatus which may do nothing but more harm.

It’s now 2018.  Marriage kidnappings are unfortunately all too common in India, but usually it’s a woman who is captured to be the bride.  Whether it’s a bride or groom, this type of behavior is completely illegal, morally unacceptable, and wholly unbecoming of a country that wants a larger role in world affairs.  We show this video not as entertainment, but to inform and galvanize a society that should never let this happen to men or women, period.

Mahanth S. Joishy is Editor of usindiamonitor

VIDEO: Does the Simpsons’ Apu Need a Do-Over?

Comedian Hari Kondabulu gave millions of Indians around the world a voice by tackling the subject of Apu from the multi-decade hit cartoon sitcom, The Simpsons.  He decided to make a documentary film called “The Problem with Apu” on TruTV which asks some fundamental questions about Apu and why he has to be the way he is.  As we all know, Apu is a minstrel with a fake accent and his appearances comprise an unending parade of unforgivably unfunny stereotypes of an Indian convenience store owner in any town USA.

So ingrained is Apu on the world’s consciousness that when I went to a remote region of Brazil where they never see any Indians, many of the locals nicknamed me Apu for the week.  This is literally the first thing that people who have never met Indians think about when they see an Indian.

The documentary is worth watching, whether you believe Indians are being way too sensitive about Apu, or you are outraged by the minstrel portrayal of Indians by white voice actor, Hank Azaria.  Above you will see the TruTV trailer.

Mahanth S. Joishy is Editor of usindiamonitor

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