Sunday, December 03, 2006


I am feeling perplexed by this organization, Indicorps. Below is some
of the polemic that comes across in the debate. As I am part of the
International Development Program at Johns Hopkins SAIS, it is a funded
internship I am being pushed to apply for though I feel uncomfortable
with all this controversy. If anyone has more thoughts and reflections
please do let me know.


Following what you heard about indicorps I found this on the website of
some activists, related to the alleged
connections of this NGO with VHP and RSS. More information are provided
below, and links. Actually indicorps's involvement with fundamentalist
groups seems to be based just on funding ( most of which come from the
nationalists, sangh parivar)something which could blur its well known
secular and highly progressive structure. The ambiguity lies in its
founder's involvement, this Sonal Sha, whose affiliation with VHP is

I suggest you to find more on the issue, get documented, and be careful
your decisions, when the time will come.
and you were right, it is not a casualty that people in JHU pushed you
join this organization, on the base of your ethnic background and
tokenized identity. it gives me the creeps, but on the other side one is
also curious to explore the contextuality of it all.

This could be also an issue if discussion and debate for your seminars.

good. take care always.

Indicorps and its Sangh affiliations

The South Asian Conference Council (SACC) at Yale University organized a
conference on solidarity in the South Asian community. The objective was
to increase social activism in the South Asian student community. The
conference included panels on youth activism and workers rights and
brought together some very progressive activists in the community (such
Nahar Alam from Andolan, Saru Jayaraman from Restaurant opportunities
Center of New York, Chandra Bhatnagar from the ACLU to mention a few).
conflict with this progressive list of speakers, the organizers also
invited Sonal Shah, vice president of Goldman Sachs and co-founder of
Indicorps. According to their website, “Indicorps is a non-partisan,
non-religious, non-profit organization that encourages Indians around!
world to actively participate in India's progress.” While some of the
organizations that Indicorps works with are indeed secular and
progressive, at issue was their affiliation with organizations of the
Sangh parivar. These connections range from personal affiliation of
Shah with the VHP-A (see
institutional affiliation of Indicorps with IDRF (IDRF is one of
Indicorps’ supporters; see,
Indicorps’ involvement with Sangh parivar projects such as Ekal
Perhaps most questionable was Indicorps’ decision to accept an award
the “butcher of Gujarat” Narendra Modi in November 2004, at a time when
numerous human rights activists have been threatened from continuing
work (

The conference organizers allowed a couple of progressive youth
collectives (Organizing Youth! and Youth Solidarity Summer) to read a
statement and ask Indicorps to explain their association with the Sangh
Parivar. Far from explaining, Sonal Shah admitted her affiliation to the
VHP-A, claimed that she would take money from anyone (including the
and used a young Muslim volunteer to claim that Indicorps was in fact
secular. Such is not the kind of solidarity that one expects from a
non-partisan, non-religious organization. In fact, based on the evidence
and Sonal Shah’s admission, Indicorps can be listed as one of many front
organizations of the Sangh parivar in the US. Soon after this public
discussion, the Patriotic Sons of Mother India (a virulent Sangh outfit)
posted a defence of Indicorps by attempting to defame Youth Solidarity
Summer as anti-India and anti-Hindu- typical reaction from the Sangh for
one of their own!

Saturday, December 02, 2006

For Biji

My grandmother is not well. She is old yes and I suppose thats what
happens when one grows old. You don't feel well. I hear she is in the
hospital alone. I want her to go peacefully yet medicine keeps her
alive. She is to far away for me to help her. She has lived a full,
beautiful life and I want her death to be with dignity. Everyone
allows her to be in a bad condition when we need to be brave and end
her life with dignity. We are weak. We allow the doctors to make a
mockery of our values and judgments. (sigh) Here is a story I wrote
to her in the year 2002 to give you all an idea of what she was like.
She was a force of nature, a giver of stories, a strong presence in my
life. When I read 100 years of solitude and then read Marquez's
interviews of his inspiration I understood perfectly when he said
everything came from his grandmother. Biji made me see our family that
way. I have always been enthralled to hear her speak of the tragedy
and joy in living.


Visiting Myself

My grandma surrounds herself with photographs, spending more time with
these images than with the people they represent. Voices from afar on
the telephone respond to her existence, reminding her that people
remember her, who she was, who she has become.

She is a shell of her former self.

I sleep next to her, hearing her breathing, in and out, the air it
keeps her spirit alive. I wonder what she thinks, dreams about, as the
days keep going by.

Morning brings the sun to my eyes. She’s already awake sitting on an
easy chair, waiting for me. In the bathroom I can hear her rumbling
pots in the kitchen, she’s trying to cook something. I come out to help
her, telling her to sit down, take it easy.

She insists on cooking, so I let her. I watch her move, she’s a blind
person in the dark, unaware of the darkness, it’s all the same to her.
She reminds me that she cooks for herself all the time.

I eat and listen to her. She starts talking. I feel like I’m not there.
She keeps going, stories, some sad some interesting, one about how on
the hottest day of the year, she walked to the supermarket, on the
other side of town, to eat a mango. A goal, her entire existence
converging on a sweet mango. She touches it, tastes it, more real than
pictures or voices from afar. I imagine her in the hot sun, alone on a
park bench, eating all she knows. She’s in the moment.

I look at her, I can’t tell if she sees me. She gets quiet, she lies
down on the couch. I sit in front of her reading, it’s all I know to
do. Occasionally she wakes up to say something. I try and read and
listen at the same time, I try to ignore her, I feel uneasy. I tell her
I’ll get the groceries.

I walk out. I get a cup of coffee and an overwhelming feeling of
wanting to make love takes me. Usually the feeling is incessant, like a
leak from the faucet, dripping making noise, raising awareness, but not
drawing attention to itself. Eventually it becomes a slow din, fading
into the background. This is different, it’s a flood of feeling so
strong, as if I was the one dying, looking back at my life in regret.

I walk into the grocery store, the sun going down on this gray winter
day. I know by the time I come out, it’ll be dark. I spot a photo
booth, jump in, take pictures. The pictures remind me I’m young, that I
have a long time to go. My mind it feels really old though. I feel
stuck alone waiting to die. My whole life behind me, only darkness
ahead, an unknown. It’s not true. I look at my young face, I see that
everything these old people wish to do I can do.

My grandma is 84, I’m 24. 60 years apart, yet we share the same
struggle: getting through the day. She waits for 6:30 to roll around,
to play cards downstairs, with 5 or 6 other senior citizens. “It helps
pass the time,” she says. I sit all day next to her, reading, trying to
keep busy. Slowly the day turns to night over and over. My uneasiness
eventually subsides, I feel rhythm, a feeling that I have done this
before, of being content in just being, of being here for her. I don’t
want to leave her.

I tell her I’ll join her for cards. We head down, sit at the table
ready to play. The game is easy, mostly of chance, the little skill
that comes into play, has to do with screwing over the person sitting
next to you. We all sit around the table stranded, do our best to deny
it, with endless chatter. Once in a while everyone asks each other how
they’re doing.

I lose every game. I’m the first one out. In a game of chance you would
think I would win some games. I tell my grandma I’m heading up and that
I’ll be waiting for her. 3 hours later she drudges in. She won 2 games
and she seems happy, she made it through another day. She tells me
she’s sleepy, she goes to bed.

A little lamp lights the room, the rest of the place is dark. I sit and
listen to the night. My eyes start getting tired, but I see nothing in
sleep, it means nothing to me here.

I wake up to the sound of a vacuum. The orderly is here, she assists my
grandma in cleaning and other household chores. I think of the whole
day ahead of me in the shower. Rain coming down, washing away my sins.
I think of leaving, it’s been 8 days and I’m starting to lose track of
time. I don’t remember what yesterday was like and tomorrow, I don’t
care for. Am I in the moment? Is my grandmother my mango?

Over breakfast, I casually mention how I should head back to the city,
how I have so much stuff to do, that's so important. She tells me to
stay one more week, says she’ll feel sad if I go. I tell her I’m going
back so she’ll be proud of me, how I’m thinking about going back to
school, getting my act together, getting a job, becoming successful so
she can then talk about me downstairs over cards, to her orderlies,
random strangers, I would become just like the rest of her
grandchildren, a faded image on her walls. I take out my unsmiling
pictures from the photo booth, I pin them on the wall. There’s four of
me, all looking at her, abstract, far away, making her feel as good as
God does on lonely Sunday afternoons.

– Gaurav Deep Arora
March 31, 2002

A story I wrote in 2003

I came upon this after a longtime. It was published on a web journal.
I was completely depressed when I wrote it.....


I Only Have You

She’s got half a face and I’ve got till the end of the week to put it
together. All these days with her ugly. Her ugly everywhere
inescapable, it’s not turning into beauty like I promised.

The door it opens differently now. Anticipation in her polite rushing
footsteps to see me, be with me. The lock turns with no hesitation, I
walk in, no words, hesitation, ready to be alone together.

How different its all become from the beginning when I saw her on the
street with her half face disgrace, half moon embrace. People pretend
not to notice. I look at it, her, all to touch where it hurts, her
swollen redness, her mangled goodness.

To touch is to heal to hurt is to steal her story.

I followed, took pictures from afar. As she stood on the line at the
post office, as she paid for her groceries with no eyes touching her.
Where was she? I couldn’t tell how it felt for her. How she did it, to
go on each day so quietly disturbed, silently ignored. She goes on. I
can’t go on. We all go on somehow.

In all the pictures she clashes with all colors all goodness. Hours and
hours go by I look into her, look for her in her pictures, look for
what I know I saw. I realize what to do, it comes so suddenly.

All day I smoke camels on the corner waiting for her. I try and speak
to her. Please I need to talk to you. I show her my camera, I take
pictures of her. Her gaze to the ground, her smile not smiling. We go
nowhere with her broken English, my broken heart. She walks away. I
follow, corner her. I need to love you to make this all work, okay?
Tears and I’m real close to everything that makes her cry, her flaw my
beauty, I touch it with my softness, my forced goodness.

I’m taking pictures, she’s undressed. My cigarette burns slowly through
the room. The smoke hangs in the light by the window, she looks at it
as one would a lonesome cloud on a clear sunny day. One cloud, can it
cover all the magnificence of the sun?

She starts cooking something for me and she’s gotten use to my looking
at her. I’m allowed to, I am allowed to do whatever I please. Her ugly
is mine. She doesn’t care. Because of it I’m by her side, without it
I’d be gone.

Her half face is bringing joy, the joy that comes right after a lot of

The smiles get brighter, the laughter longer, I never show her the work
– it might hurt her. Slowly I realize I really have nothing. Just a lot
of pictures of some mangled girl, nothing comes together. I stop going
to her place, the sky fades into darkness again and again. I feel a
happiness inside I can’t describe.

– Gaurav Deep Arora
February 16, 2003

Poetry in motion

I would liken this debate to "poetry in motion". What do I mean? As a
New Yorker I have had a lifelong love affair with the subway system,
its as natural to me as my own blood. Imagine then how I feel about
subway advertising, I hate it, what it stands for, how it invades my
experience of the NYC subway experience. It wasn't so so bad when we
had Dr. Zizmor ads next to lawyer ads that were quite funny, like those
apex commercials "we can't call you pick up the phone and call us".
anyway things got out of hand when one day I walked into the "Yoo-hoo"
car and it was all just yoo-hoo or the budweiser one, it was an
onslaught on my sense and made me hate subway advertising, as a system,
a concept, a paradigm. BUT, and this the but you have been waiting
for, in the midst of this desert of mediocrity and mental prostitution,
there is poetry in motion. You know when you are squished on the 7
train riding home and you can't see the sun and you feel like a rat in
the cage and you look up and its not a stupid commercial it's poetry, a
rather profound verse speaking to the heart. It livens you, saves you,
makes you happy. Even though poetry in motion in of itself is good,
valuable, you are glad you have it, it no way justifies the existence
of the corrupt structure within which it operates - advertising. if it
was up to me I would still banish all subway advertising even at the
loss of poetry of motion - it would do over-all more good. Similarly i
feel while drug companies do some good (20% according to some
estimates) it over-all if taken into account iatrogenic effects (4th
leading cause of deaths USA) and malpractice and a possible connection
all the way to ww2 and hitler germany, than we got serious trouble and
I don't care if grandma has less pain because the system in which it is
embedded is fucked. so stop being apologetic for it, wake up, and
while we may not have poetry in motion we will have open mental space
and horizons to build a new order. I would make a similar argument
with oprah and TV, so i agree with gatewood.....drug companies are part
of the problem not solution when it comes to health, dependency is no
measure of freedom and because one has to take something (like
advertising!) doesn't make it good or free from critique.


On Nov 30, 2006, at 7:21 PM, bwatson wrote:

> As someone who practices holistic and herbal health,
> I'm certainly no fan of drug companies. I also
> recognize the ways in which so many companies these
> days are able to simply plant press releases in the
> news and have them passed off as stories. Despite my
> misgivings about the pharmaceutical industry, I think
> it's important to distinguish an industry's greedy
> practices, with the import of its purpose. Drugs in
> and of themselves are not evil. The reality is that
> many people with HIV, Depression and a host of other
> diseases have benefitted from the breakthroughs in
> drug treatment made available in the past two decades.
> Those break throughs and the help to folks on the
> ground do not negate the damaging practices of drug
> companies or the degree to which people have begun to
> use drug therapy as a replacement for life therapy and
> long term holistic health. Still, I think it's a
> disservice to those researchers who have made real
> contributions to society by discovering new forms of
> medication to simply dismiss the industry out of
> pocket as a whole. Further, and this is a point I
> think you should really sit with a bit, there are
> people who have tangible evidence in their own every
> days lives of the degree to which a particular course
> of drug therapy has helped them. When you dismiss the
> industry in the out of hand manner that you generally
> tend to, you risk also dismissing the voices and
> experiences of those folks. Promoting a perspective or
> a message can be most effective when the manner of
> your delivery displays a bit more sensitivity for the
> possibility of people who not only do not share your
> point of view but who believe themselves to have had
> experiences that invalidate or contrast your view.
> Bahiyyih
> --- Sean Gatewood <> wrote:
>> Read this bullshit article very carefully and
>> recognize that the drug
>> companies are one of the greatest menaces to human
>> health and well-being
>> around:
>> Followed closely be the media and its "reporting" .
>> . .
> _________________________________________________________________
>> Fixing up the home? Live Search can help
> kit=improve&locale=en-US&source=hmemailtaglinenov06&FORM=WLMTAG

Newspaper Seminar - December 1st

Ladies and Gentlemen. Fidel Castro isn't feeling well, milton friedman
is dead, ecuador has a new president and the pope is in Turkey. In my
native Queens 2 cops shot an unarmed black man 50 times breaking the
record set 7 years ago of 41 shots that killed Amadou Diallo, prompting
protest songs from Bruce Springsteen and Wyclef Jean. Somethings never
change or perhaps they get worse.

Speaking of things getting worse lets focus on Lebanon. We got Faysal
who has offered to present on the topic. Below are some readings to
get you up to speed. We will be at the bar 530pm getting our groove
on. I look forward to a lively presentation and discussion.

Peace, Love and Understanding (what's so funny about that?)


Lebanon’s seeming slide toward civil conflict is not just a symbol of
unfortunate historic symmetry. This country is a barometer for the
region, serving as a measure of tensions and rivalries.

The new new middle east....

Just to show you how multicultural I am....the leading english daily
from lebanon which has interesting items to explore, timeline of the
war, opinion pieces, all from lebanon itself.

Thursday, November 23, 2006

Newspaper seminar

Just for this week we will meet on Friday at 430pm at the SAIS bar
instead of the usual to 530pm to accomodate the talk at 530pm in the
penthouse by Prof. Roberto Belloni on "The Problem with
Humanitarianism". To get ourselves ready for the talk we will make our
theme (drumroll please)


1. This reading is a broad poetic account of the problems of aid,
whether in conflict zones or for poverty reduction. Kristof is a
fantastic writer and its a short quick read and will put you up to
speed quickly on some of the more pertinent issues in Humanitarianism.
As an added bonus our classmates in the "seminar on the humanitarian
aid enterprise" will be present to discuss their new found expertise on
this issue and will field any questions to add depth to our discussion

"Aid: can it work?" -By Nicholas D. Kristof

2. Kosovo Independence - A real world example of the problems of
humanitarianism. Some articles and talking points. This presentation
will be led by fellow classmates who have been involved in the region
and will guide our discussion.

Issue:  Kosovo Independence
Background:  The following articles discuss specifically the Status
Solution for Kosovo and Serbian Parliamentary Elections.  After most
republics of former Yugoslavia had broken away, Kosovo was still an
autonomous region in the territory of the Republic of Serbia with a
majority ethnic-Albanian population.  Milosevic’s efforts to tighten
control over the region prompted a guerilla insurgency by the ethnic
Albanians calling for independence.  The Yugslav army (essentially
Serbs) moved in to crush the insurgency, and is accused of genocide in
the process, which prompted the 1999 NATO bombings of Serbia to compel
a withdrawal.  Since 1999, Kosovo, while still Serbian territory, has
been a UN protectorate. 
The Contact Group had chosen 2006 as the year to propose a status
solution for Kosovo, to remain part of Serbia with varying levels of
autonomy or independence or some in-between.  The question prior to
November 10, 2006 was if the Kosovo status solution proposal would be
announced by Ahtisaari (leading the negotiations) before or after
Serbian Parliamentary elections.

Washington Post News Article, November 10, 2006
Relation between Serbia’s Election announcement and the status solution
Washington Post Editorial, November 10, 2006
Pro Kosovo Independence
Washington Post OpEd Piece by PM Vojislav Kostunica, July 12, 2006
Anti Kosovo Independence

Alright thats it. I look forward to the presenters and facilitating a
lively discussion. Onward, ho!

Peace and Love


"In Italy for thirty years under the Borgias they had warfare, terror,
murder and bloodshed but they produced Michelangelo, Leonardo da Vinci
and the Renaissance. In Switzerland, they had brotherly love; they had
five hundred years of democracy and peace and what did that produce?
The cuckoo clock." - Orson Welles

Monday, November 13, 2006

The end of western civilization?

maciek just sent me this article which I urge all of you to read when
you can. It addresses our first topic of fertility rates and the
world. It is quite the lombastic politically incorrect'll make you think ALOT. It is the end of the world
(as we know it) .....and i feel fine.

Newspaper seminar November 10

Wow what a week of news and events. This weeks topics and
readings (drumroll please)

1. God and Politics

Europe is losing its secularity. Everyone with liberal values please

2/3 of Americans believe the war in Iraq was a mistake the other 1/3
are evangelical!

2. Saddam Hussein Trial

This trial is more than meets the eye. An article exploring the
legitimacy, sanity and consequences of executing Hussein.


3. Mid term election results

I am still waiting! How did Lieberman win? A quick recap and some of
your thoughts on the outcomes.

As always we will be in the bar at 530pm. This week there is no
aperitivo though guilio(the bar guy) told me he can possibly cut us a
deal for some wine. We can also make other arrangements. I will at
least have a bottle I will bring to get me through my opening remarks.
Look forward to facilitating a lively discussion.

Peace and Love,


Johns Hopkins NEWSPAPER seminar

I am running a newspaper seminar at the Johns Hopkins - Bologna
center in Italy this semester. Basically its not the Daily Show but a
Weekly Show (doesn't have the same ring to it does it?) and I am no
Jon Stewart just yet though I do select reading, invite speakers and
run the show. I will post on my blog here weekly the topics and the
readings so you can be up to date. And if you are passing by bologna,
italy you are always welcome to stop by for some good times....

Good evening my people. It is with great pleasure and honor that I
inform you of the commencement of The Newspaper Seminar Series at SAIS
Bologna center this Friday November 3rd, 530PM in the SAIS bar area.
The Newspaper seminar has been a weekly tradition here at the Bologna
center, serving as a much needed forum in which students can discuss
and actively stay informed about current events. The seminar will
serve to identify key trends and stories in the news and relate them
to what we study in our courses. It is student organized and run with
professor Erik Jones as faculty advisor and myself Gabo as the TA.
Every week we will highlight some key topics for discussion, send out
links, ask people if they would like to present and over time with
your input discuss topics you feel most interested in. This is all
going to be very relaxed and you don't have to do the readings to
participate (although it helps), you can just show up and join the
discussion. We will also from time to time have prominent guest
speakers and faculty to join in to spice things up.

This week our theme will be

The U.S. MID TERM elections and their relationship with the WAR in IRAQ.

As many of you know the war in Iraq is becoming the numer one issue in
the US mid term elections, so we will devote our first session to analysing and exploring the links to possible election outcomes and their influence on US foreign policy.

As an added treat, our very own Professor JOHN HARPER has agreed to stop by to discuss and comment on our presentations and perspectives.
Now thats exciting. And to make it even more exciting we are also offering a free aperitivo (wine, cheese, etc) for the first 15-20
Students who show up.

So are you lonely? Workload got you down? Don't have time to keep up
on whats happening in the world? Looking for a platform to spew your
crazy views? Are you are looking to make friends and influence
people? Then NEWSPAPER SEMINAR is for you. I look forward to
facilitating our first discussion this friday 530pm in the SAIS bar

Peace and Love,


P.S. below our the links and quotes from them we will use as a
luanching point for discussion. If anyone wants to present and or
comment write me an email. after the first session we will set up our
own listserv to get this party started.

<fontfamily><param>Helvetica</param>Cut and Run? "America's voters are entitled to punish George Bush. They should not punish the people
of Iraq." The economist October 28th, 2006

"You know, education, if you make the most of it, you study hard, you do
your homework and you make an effort to be smart, you can do well. If
you don't, you get stuck in Iraq." Senator John Kerry
Watching from afar - How the rest of the world sees America's mid-term

War with Iran?
"A hidden crisis is under way. Many government insiders are aware of
serious plans for war with Iran, but Congress and the public remain
largely in the dark"- Daniel Ellsberg (of pentagon papers fame)

For full text

The Next War - Daniel Ellsberg

orson welles

"In Italy for thirty years under the Borgias they had warfare, terror,
murder and bloodshed but they produced Michelangelo, Leonardo da Vinci
and the Renaissance. In Switzerland, they had brotherly love; they had
five hundred years of democracy and peace and what did that produce?
The cuckoo clock." - Orson Welles

Thursday, October 26, 2006

Monday, August 14, 2006

a dialogue on being Indian

Hey as promised naresh its me Gaurav from aseem's party last
night. Great meeting up, it made the evening tolerable and even at
times pleasant. I have a difficult time in such parties though you
are right, I need to check my ego. Not because I am not great, its
just I need to engage these people because they are a very potent
reality. Its just I feel disapointed when I see indian people, my own
people, on such consumerist shallow narrow minded corporate tool
paths. I mean shouldn't our discussion be based on more than money,
cars, retirement packages, health care plans, my beta is at Upenn so
and so is doing well for themselves. What about the finer virtues of
ayurveda, something deeper, if everyone exerted just 10 percent of
their energies and power to something good, a real concerted effort,
it would not only change the world, it would change their life. It
would infuse their lives with a meaning much greater than what they
have now. And perhaps our parents generation is different, for they
have seen virtue being equal to providing well for one's own, that's
considered noble, responsible and rightous. They came from nothing
many of these people to become big men and women, but thats them, what
about our generation? Their lives were exciting because they made
something of themselves and now are we to continue on that path? WIll
Aseem strive to have even a bigger house than his parents? And the
point is? Okay money isimportant, but why don't we strive to be
like the old money in America, great gatsby style, with great taste, an
emphasis on the arts and statesmanship, great food and great habits.
I sound like an intolerable uncle, forgive me.

Quickly some books to change your life and write me who you

India unbound - Gurcharan Dasif you are interested in india, indian economy, the future, the past
the present this book puts it all together. I don't agree with
everything but the man is sparklingly brilliant.

my favorite indian writers and books :

Imaginary Homelands - salman rushdie

A book fo essays 2-3 pages each most importantly on indian expat
communities, identity, the longing for a home. Also great analysis on
indian politics of the 80s, cultural studies on the movie gandhi and
much more. The other essays are on authors and films, its a real gem
and was the first book that showed me that indians can be much more
than doctors and engineers, that we have a rich artistic and
philosophical traditions. go for it.

The Guide - rk narayan

also a great bollywood movie. To be lost, oh to be found!

The god of small things - arunshati roy

to understand what exactly happened in the 90s to india and also hands
down the greatest book in modern times on modern india. Its really
really important. and will stay with you for a life time. treats
caste, imperialism, marxism, religion, it hits everything so
eloquently so beautifully. Arundhati who I met in delhi on my last
trip is also oneof the most important thinkers of our times with her
books of essays on 9/11 and much more.

Alright naresh wishing you well on your path. I like you. You got
fire and passion. Just use it for good. and the world will be better
for it.

and ofcourse if you want to put me in touch with some people I am
open. and humble.

Peace and Love

Gaurav Deep Arora


Naresh response:

Thanks for taking the time to write such a detailed response on your
feelings on the IA community.

I think you touch on some important points and some very factual
points.  Most importantly, you sense that there is much to change. 
Yet at the same time, it seems as though the IA community has reached
such a profound level of success that much of the community's
underlying problems go unheard of.  I would challenge you to link of
with the hundreds of IA's in DC that are trying to bring these issues
to light ( i.e. small business loans, profiling, the poor (yes we have
poor IA's), India development issues, etc, etc). 

I actually heard a touching speach from Sonal Shah of Indicorps at
SAIS two weeks ago in DC and she talked about how the Indian immigrant
community pretty much not treated the same way that one in India would
treat us if we were to visit there.  I think it's true in many ways
and metaphorically describes how our generation has become inward
looking and the moral values that define our parent's generation is
lost in many ways.  I've always supported and co-founded National
Gandhi Day of Service (at Rutgers) which atleast attempts to restore
the humility and respect in our generation's youth, even if its for
one day.  I think over time, leaders will emerge in our generation and
take on these challenges...Yes, I know they are nothing in comparison
to the real challenges that face some humans but I guess our
generation is blessed to have had such hard working moral parents to
build our base.

Anyway, the uncle in me has also surfaced and I see your point.  Man,
when you go to DC...attack and learn and use your potential to do
something big..I'm all in, just let me know how I can be of
assistance.  Have fun in Italy and give me a shout out when you
return.  I'll be coming back to NJ and DC more frequently since I am
taking those mini-MBA classes and studying for the GMATS.

Gaurav Response:
I feel you with the IA community and I value

making certain issues pertinent to everyone.

There is however an uneasiness I possess on IA

groups. I like you because you are cool and I

cannot deny that your being indian awakens a

feeling in me I didn't know I possesed. Kind of

like the first time I rode a bus in india and it

was full of indian people. It felt so good, I

felt so happy to be surrounded by only indians

and then I step back and ponder if this need

this good feeling is not some shallow

nationalism or a deeper need to fit in, to be

accepted, an issue all indian people growing up

in America have dealt with at one time or


and my dissapointment, saddness as to how most

IA's are is bigger than anything I would feel

for anyone else. Perhaps because I am intimate

with aspects of Indian history and spirtuality

and I have looked to india as a respite to

corporate american consumer culture, something

which has only enhanced my american

experience(or better said provided a shelter)

and when I see these people act like white

people, negating the best and accepting the

worst of our traditions I feel hurt.

and to call our parents generation moral I don't

know. Are they hard working as a group, yes.

Do they provide for their children, yes. Are

they wildly successful materially, yes. are

they good people? I don't know, to me they have

led magical lives, transformative lives, the

stuff of legend but does that make them good? I

don't know. To me many are dull, narrowminded

and place "success" over the heart and spirit.

The fear in them and what i have seen many do to

their children is saddening. at the same time

there is a love and a warmth, a stability and

unconditionality in loving which is refreshing

in this "what have you done for me lately"

modern culture.

Its complicated. Its simple. all i know is I

want to do something about it, constructively

and you remind me that there are many people

like us who are not content with the status quo.

and let me make it very clear to you naresh

that my appeal to other IAs is not going to be

from a moral mother theresa like standpoint

where I have to convince the rich to help the

poor. The poor are not my primary concern. If

we are to be elite, a status many IAs now are

reaching, than we need to be a rational and

healthy elite, one which uses its power and

influence for the good life. At our present

state many would argue that the USA and much the

world, in the history of history there have

never been a more pathetic elite. The elite

have never been as unhealthy,uncultured,

depressed and over-worked. and thats what needs

to change and thats what I want to change

because they set the standard point and effect

the world around them. and indians because of

their history can be the trailblazers if they

are to be leaders rather than followers. I have

nothing against wealth, my problem is rich

people who are dull and do not make the most of

their wealth. happiness and health, focus on

those 2 things always and you will be rich.

Much love,


Microbesity NY TIMES magazine august 13


The cover of the NYtimes magazine features a study in process on the theory that obesity
may be more than just eating less, exercising more and cursing our
genes. What could be at play are viruses that affect our inner
flaura, those friendly bacteria in our gut which become altered in a
way which affect nutrient absorption and metabolism. In the 1970s
there were landmark studies done on the obese which took 300 pound
people and calculated how many calories they would need to eat to
maintain a weight of 300 pounds. They in turn fed these people
mathematically calculated meals and found that many of these people
still gained weight, no matter how little they ate.

I have my own theories on these theories as a person who consistently
struggles with weight issues and at one point was morbidly obese (at
age 15 I was 265 pounds). These on-going studies are on to something
I have believed through my own experience and research on what makes
us fat and why. Flaura, the friendly bacteria in our gut are
essential in digestion and if they do not work properly than our
digestion is slowed and ultimately we are unable to efficiently
process any type of food, be it healthy or unhealthy. Much of our
flaura is disturbed by antibiotics and ironically extremely sterile
environments. In third world countries and other countries where
obesity is less of an issue (though disturbingly becoming more of an
issue) much of the food consumed is fermented naturally, a process in
which food contains bacteria which work in symbiotic relations with
your own flaura. That is why many lactose intolerant people can eat
yogurt (a fermented food) and not drink milk (an unfermented one).
There is numerous evidence on the health benefits of fermented foods
and my own traditions and roots in India have consistently confirmed
the relation between digestion and disease. Indians consistently
swear by their yogurt as an aid to digestion and to over-all health so
much so that my mother over the past 30 years or so in New York City
snuck in strains of yogurt bacteria from India to make proper yogurt
here in the States. Even recently on her most recent visit she
realized there was no yogurt and so went to a friends place for some
of her yogurt to ferment a fresh batch. Using ready-made yogurts from
the store usually doesn't lead to success in making yogurt because
those strains due to strenuous pasteurization aren't alive. Its dead
yogurt and thus according to my mother lacking in any health benefit.

Is the answer to the obesity epidemic my mother's yogurt? A part of
it is diet I suppose though I am encouraged in general by this
promising approach to look at the epidemic in creative ways (studying
the feces of the obese and non-obese to test for certain microbes).
If an effort can be made to restore flaura, and to gain understanding
on their sensibility than through preventive measures one can give
more nuanced advice than just the simplistic eat less and exercise
more routine. After all a calorie is not a calorie when it comes to
losing weight as different foods have different effects on blood
chemistry, appetite and mood. Studies on insulin and blood sugar have
pointed to the differences of whole foods and refined foods, and this
evidence is what gave way to those carb free meat diets which though
extreme and at times harmful were based on some valid data, it was
just the intrepetation and implementation which was misguided.
Similarly I am afraid the same thing is going to happen with this data
as the article extrapolated a sort of guilt freeness that could come
about in how we treat obese people. Also a large emphasis was
placed on the work of an Indian doctor who isolated a virus which
killed off a flock of chickens while simultanously making them fat.
Can you see where this is going? Isolating a virus than manufacturing
a drug and then wallah we will have cured obesity without challenging
the causes and of course there will be unknown side effects, as all
drugs have.

The article also points out that many people who lose significant
weight constantly have to live in a sort of repressed state where they
feel hungry at all the times and while other people daydream of
tropical vacations the formerly obese dream of "crabs legs dipped in
butter". What silly nonsense. What mainstream America has always
failed to grasp is that their attachment and desires to certain foods
are based on addiction psychologically and physically. Coke, cookies,
white bread have consistently been proven to destabilize blood sugar
in a way to produce cravings much the way many illicit drugs do. Yet
food is not seen as a drug, but much of the packaged, chemical fare
should be seen as such. Instead, we feel deprived because we haven't
been able to step out of the dominant paradigm that associates
happiness with cakes, and cookies, which make one feel left out if one
cannot partake in such sinful pleasures as chocolate cake and movie
popcorn. No. The first step is to form a strong loving relationship
with whole foods in their natural form and to find healthy substitutes
for more "decadent" pleasures. The base has to be whole, unrefined
foods to satiate the body and then the mind and then our body is much
more prepared to deal with the devilish fare we may indulge in from
time to time.

Studying and building flaura, ridding ourselves of packages sweetened
foods, experimenting with fasting and other alternative therapies is
still is the best bet to not only physical rejuvenation but the
spiritual as well.

My struggles with obesity are what made me politically conscious. I
realized who benefited by my ill health and how much of our economy is
driven by over-consumption. While there are very real forces trying
to stem the epidemic, giving free reign to fast food companies to
advertise to children and in a world where even hospital cafeterias
are filled with junk, then the problem is systemic. Which doesn't
mean these studies aren't useful or promising, we just need to be
vigilant in how they are interpreted and the approach to the "cure"
they will take. Are obesity vaccines only a generation away? Am I
the only one who finds this all odd?


Wednesday, August 09, 2006

low-fat life

Low-Fat Diet Does Not Cut Health Risks, Study Finds
A large study has found that a low-fat diet has
no effect in reducing the risk of getting cancer
or heart disease.

Careful my people be careful, this 450 million
dollar study makes some valid points but mainly
one needs to be careful in analysing the
results. While I agree that low-fat in of itself
is not sufficient to reduce risks for disease
what many of these studies leave out is the
QUALITY of food being ingested. Technically if
one eats a turkey sandwich on white bread with a
diet cola, instead of a hamburger and coke, it
appears as if one is eating healthier (much like
the subway sandwich madness). But while one may
reduce calories and theoretically be able to
reduce weight, its possible that one increases
their risks for cancer and other diseases.
Similarly people who opt to drink skim milk, and
low -fat goods many times ignore the fact that
whole foods in their whole form do less to throw
our body out of equilibrium, a theory poineered
by Dr. Weston price (

Ofcourse the study points out that lifestyle,
exercise and all are factors, as well as the
type of fats ingested. But what about climate?
Air pollution? New York city has one of the
highest rates of heart disease in the nation
though statiscally its problems with obesity are
much less. A boggling statistic for many public
health officials. The NIH is in the process of
doing a study that takes into account air
pollution and stress. What all of these studies
leave out is the type of food being eaten,
natural, processed, organic, artificial.

What to make of these studies? They usually end
up influencing the paradigm of thinking, so it
seems important to analyze or debunk. Let me
know what you think.

Peace and love


Y no olviden que la tierra goza al sentir el
contacto de sus pies desnudos y que los vientos
anhelan jugar con sus cabellos.
- K. Gibrán

We tell ourselves stories in order to live
- J. Didion

Saving for sickness

I just read an article in the times about health
savings accounts.

"These supercharged checking accounts, which
must be linked to a high-deductible health
insurance plan, allow consumers to invest their
own money for current and future medical
expenses and have it grow tax-free"

Since when are we suppose to be financially
planning for our future illnesses?

What happens slowly is people forget what their
rights are and end up following the herd for
survival. Similarly with University Education,
retirement, a very hearty argument can be made
that we are paying for what is our rights as US
citizens. Such things in europe or canada even
are absurd. But thats one part of the argument.

The other part which troubles is the expectation
of being sick. Its astounding how being sick
now or in the future is taken as inevitable.
Look around you, ask friends and family and its
astonishing the amount of drugs, problems and
sicknesses that arise, more alarmingly so in
young people.

For me, above all political campaigns, health
needs to be an issue on everyones agenda as it
effects all of us. Unfortunately health is seen
merely as a bad luck affliction and very rarely
does one view through the lense of injustice and

What boggles me even further is that the elite,
the very people who are suppose to be enjoying
life at the expense of others, get sucked in
themselves in the infinite warp of drugs and
surgeries which leave many of them debilitated
and dead. Perhaps they support modern medicine
because their sons are in medical school?

Oh how I long for old money great gatspy style
to take over....

Y no olviden que la tierra goza al sentir el
contacto de sus pies desnudos y que los vientos
anhelan jugar con sus cabellos.
- K. Gibrán

We tell ourselves stories in order to live
- J. Didion

Monday, August 07, 2006

to remember

Is all we have just memories, things remembered, regrets and nostalgia.
Looking back, all I have to fulfill my life are times in which I
entered a certain joy in living that as the moment was passing I had no
idea I was living. Only in retrospect was I able to realize I led a
good life for a certain time frame that came to an end in the very
moment I started reminiscing. Its a beautiful feeling remembering,
especially great memories, when we were heroes. It implies as well a
certain sort of martyrdom in which one chooses to live through memories
rather than just live.........

queer eye

<bold>You know I don't watch TV and in my time not watching TV I
usually spend telling people I don't watch TV. From time to time to
be ironic I will indulge in the habits of the common man and allow
myself to be taken in by the dream, by a particular vision, which has
a fabulous capacity to make you feel, if not for moments that
everything is alright. Hamburgers, cars, make up, drugs, violence are
not all destroying the world. That somehow progress is good, that we
are a big happy family and technology, the government, money, business
make us have a really great time. I fall into it, and queer eye, its
a fucking revelation into the strange turn mainstream television has
taken. It’s Gay with a capital G yet its softening and conditioning
middle America to accept what it has never been able to handle. Yes
the men are stereotyped and do portray gay men as detail oriented glam
freaks yet much of the advice, the helping of getting it together vibe
somehow in this day and age feels useful. The make overs are

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Saturday, July 29, 2006

new site new blog now I am feelin it. yeah

alright finally after much glitches i got me a blog that I feel good about. Lets get this started.