Wednesday, June 30, 2004

I'm short, it's my birthday

Woo hoo! I turned 25 today! By Bengali cultural standards, I am labeled "old" and "unmarriagable" from this day on. Maybe now folks will stop bugging me. Hee hee :)

Anyways, I just discovered audio blogging today and found it mad easy. And that is saying a lot, coming from a computer-retard like me.

Below you will find an mp3 of a song I am working on. It's not finished yet, and I am stuck. So if you are a musician, or have ideas for additional lyrics or music, please post a comment.

It is called "A guy like Mowgli" inspired by the boy from the Jungle Book, who was raised by wild animals.

this is an audio post - click to play

Friday, June 25, 2004

Air Guitar Champion

As if I needed another reason to be proud to be Asian.

Two years in a row, the winners of the national Air Guitar Championships have been Asian! This year I am ESPECIALLY proud because the winner is female. Her name is Miri Park, and I think she is awesome.

Thank you Miri, for being a living example, and for smashing the submissive Asian woman stereotype. The characterization that Asian women are supposed to be seen and not ..... umm, heard. Oh wait, you can't hear air guitar. Nevermind......

Many people trace back the air guitar phenomenon back to 1983, when Tom Cruise ran around his house in his drawers, socks and sunglasses playing air guitar to "Old Time Rock and Roll" in the movie "Risky Business." Since then, the famous duo "Bill and Ted" popularized air guitar in their movies "Bill and Ted's Excellent Adventure" and "Bill and Ted's Bogus Journey." Ted was played by Kenny Reeves, who plays guitar in real life, in his band Dog Star?.... or something lame like that.... and Bill, ummm, whats his name? Hey! What ever happened to Bill? I wonder what he is up to now.

Anyways, I digress. The point I am trying to make is that most of the famous images of air guitarists are of WHITE DUDES, but as the National Air Guitar Championships prove, Asians are by far the best at playing fake instruments. Here is the photo to prove it:

Music that will make you happy

Order a copy of my tape. It's cheap!

I really need to write more songs, its been a long time since I recorded anything.

I either have inspiration or time, but never both.

Oh, here is something I recorded over a year ago with Wes. I wanted to name it "Enron Jawn" because a) it rolls off of your tongue easier.... try it! did you try it? am I right? and b) because "jawn" is such a Philly word and I have Philly pride.

But while I was in India, he went ahead and put it on record and changed the name to the much lamer "You're Enron." Anyway, you can listen to the song if you have Real Player, by clicking here.

Lord of the Rings!

What movie Do you Belong in?(many different outcomes!)
brought to you by Quizilla

Thursday, June 24, 2004

Calling 9-1-1

The day started out just like any other day. I walked out of the house..... ran rather.... and I was heading towards 63rd and Lansdowne, to the 10 trolley stop, at the same time I catch it every day, at 12:30 p.m.

Just as I turned the corner, two men called out to me "Dont go there, they got guns!" and another man said "Stop running!" I thought they were just like other ghetto guys, the ones who will say anything to a girl to get her to look in their direction. I ignored them and kept running.

When I get to the 63rd and Lansdowne intersection I see 6 grown men fighting in front of Westbrook Pharmacy and one man started hitting another so hard that he fell in the middle of the street.... lying across the trolley tracks, but he kept hitting him.

The disturbing part was that there were tons of people around, residents who came out of their homes to watch, pedestrians and construction workers, BUT NO ONE DID ANYTHING! They looked on, like it was entertainment, like it was a boxing match on t.v.

I called 9-1-1 and the woman asked if there were any weapons involved. I said "I didn't see any, but when I was running down the street two men stopped me and said not to go there because they have guns." As soon as she heard that, she sent the police out and in less than two minutes, there were at least three cop cars at the intersection. Although the men dispersed and went into homes, cars and behind the pharmacy, the cops found them and arrested them.

I got on the bus with a man who was also at the scene, and he said he saw someone with a 9. Thats the same type of gun the police have!

I feel so angry that this is happening in my neighborhood. I used to be really proud of this place.

Shangshad Bhaban, Bangladesh, August 2003

Tuesday, June 22, 2004

Remembering "dadu"

Dear friends and family,

With a heavy heart, I regret to inform you of the passing of my grandfather, Santi Ranjan Karmakar on Tuesday, June 22.

With the love and care he received from all of his family and friends, he was able to live a very long and fulfilling life. Dadu gave us more than we could ever give back, but I feel some comfort knowing that he is not suffering anymore, and that he is in a better place.

Ma and I received the phone call about dadu's death very early in the morning today and since then, images and memories have been passing through my head. I started rummaging through my old drawers and re-reading letters from him and looking at old photographs. Many people know of dadu's professional work as a Dhaka district and sessions judge, but I want to say a few words about him as a person.

Some of my best memories in Bangladesh were of times I spent with dadu. Although, he had a stern and serious exterior, he really was a humorous and loving person on the inside. As a child, I remember sneaking into his Judge's chamber while he was reading law cases and slipping ice cubes down his shirt and quickly running away to giggle with Monti. But instead of yelling at me, he would quote Shakespeare. What a character!

Most importantly, he practiced what he preached. He was a person who led by example, and through him I learned the power of discipline, hard work and education. Dadu never missed his 5 a.m. walk and was happiest when he was helping others or learning something new.

When him and dida came to visit us in America, I remember him shaking his head in disapproval whenever he would see me eat pizza and hot dogs. He would say "Eta ki? HOT DOG! Bhaat khao!" Translated, "What is this hot dog business? Eat rice!"

As a child, when I would get eaten alive by mosquitoes in the evenings in Bangladesh, dadu suggested that I wear his "lungi" over my shorts .... And he would say that the mosquitoes liked me more because I had "American blood" and to the mosquitoes it was a delicacy.

After he became sick with Alzheimer's he still had his humor. I called him once in Bangladesh and said "Dadu, how are you?" and he said "Not good. They don’t let me eat roshogollah (dessert)." I thought it was funny that he never complained about his ailing health, but the fact that he couldn’t eat dessert.

I believe that after a person leaves the earth, their spirit goes into the atmosphere and goes into all the people around them. Dadu is still with us in our hearts, and my cousin Deven has his namesake to remember.

Please keep him in your prayers and on behalf of my family, I would like to thank everyone for their support.

With love and respect,

Monday, June 21, 2004

Father's Day

I always get this weird feeling at the bottom of my stomach on Father's Day. Jeff was nice enough to invite me along with him and his family to the beach on Sunday..... I originally said "yes" but the closer the date came, the weirder it felt and I pulled out at the last minute. I decided that it would be too intense.

I don't know what triggers it, but sometimes something small will trigger some big pain inside of me. Sometimes it will be a Father's Day poster on a display window of a store, or sometimes if I see little kids playing with their dad.... I remember how my dad would teach me how to swing a cricket bat on our front yard in Narinda. I keep thinking about all the things that I never got to tell him and the things that I will never get to do with him..... like showing him my photographs from India that are getting published and going gambling with him in Las Vegas. He never will get to listen to "Enron Jawn" that I recorded with Wes. It sucks.

My mom went to a graduation party so instead of staying home alone, I visited a man who I see as a father figure even if we have no blood relation, Babul uncle. I got him a copy of Wes's record that I sang on, and spent time with Tisa and Lisa after a long hiatus. Bhaabi auntie made killer friend shrimp.... it was sooo good! We had some good conversation and watched some of that romantic movie that Amir Khan and Juhi Chawla first did together, I love that movie but can't spell the name.... its so innocent and has nice music. "Field of Dreams" came on and bummed me out a little.... that image of the dad playing ball with his son gets to me. The dad eventually had a heart attack too. Luckily we didn't watch that movie for too long.

Sometimes I wish I were in a movie, where horrible things are more easy to accept. You keep telling yourself that they are just acting and when the movie is over everyone will be happy and alive again.

Friday, June 18, 2004

First day of unemployment

Yesterday was my last day of teaching at the Belmont Charter School's Literacy Program. So that may explain why I have free time today to start a blog. Free time! Yay!

Man, I'm gonna really miss my kids. Teaching is an amazing experience but the thing that sucks is that you get so attached to your students and get to know their parents, their backgrounds, their dreams, their strengths and their weaknesses, and then poof! Just like that, they are gone for summer break. Maybe I will never see any of those kids again, maybe I will... who knows? I had this similar feeling when I left the orphanage in India, but as time went on it became more bearable.

On to another subject..... I highly recommend the Bangladeshi band "Kingkortorbo Bimur." They take raw, old, folk songs and baul music and produce it with modern technology and instruments. Ok, I know the stereotype is that only FOBs listen to Bangladeshi bands, but I don't care.... they are good! Even though I technically fall into the "ABCD" category, I think some of the coolest desis I know are so-called FOBs. Why can't we all just get along anyway? How are we going to move forward as a group if we treat each other like crabs in a barrel? Anyway, drop me an email if you would like me to make you a one-of-a-kind Bengali-Band-FOB mixtape. If I have time and am feeling nice, I just might do it.

Bored of that topic. Hmmm, what else.... I really like my new yoga instructor, Lyndsay.... its a dude, I was surprised because I thought that was a feminine name. Anyway, he not only has a KILLER body, he is also challenging and uses the Indian names for the poses and not the "westernized" names. Like for example, he'll say "Trikosana" instead of "Triangle pose". This is my first week taking his class and already my back problems are gone and I feel taller. I know, you are probably thinking "But Devalina, you are short! Accept it! Stop trying things to make yourself taller!"

For folks who don't have plans this weekend..... if you are in the mood to a) throw rocks at your neighbor's windows OR b) send scary mail to co-workers, I recommend checking out It's a website where you can type in a zip code or name and you can find out which political candidate (if any) an individual gave money to. I typed in my zip code and was surprised to find a Bush supporter, since I thought I lived in a pretty liberal neighborhood. Hmmm, I think I have some unused rotten tomatoes in my fridge that would look lovely on someone's porch. I also found out that Temple's President David Adamany donated $2,000 to Howard Dean. Needless to say, I have a new respect for the dude.