Textually Yours

Call me Madhavikutty

Posted in Hampshire College, India, poetry, women by arpitaincuba on May 31, 2009



My division III at Hampshire College centered around her poetry. I wrote 70 pages of critical analysis focussed on Das’s three poems and made an 11 minute avant-garde film out of “An Introduction.” My father suggested, on several occasions, that I mail my thesis and film to Das but I was too unsure of my educational and creative endeavors to share it with the muse. I had meant to…when I had the confidence to discuss her work with her but I guess three years is too long  a time to garner confidence. She is gone and I’m still working on making a film good enough to show her.


India has voted!

Posted in India, politics by arpitaincuba on May 16, 2009

Congress has re-emerged in Uttar Pradesh! Good Bye Mayawati!


Sardarji is again the P.M. of Bharatvarsh.

Hip Hijab

Posted in gender, India, women by arpitaincuba on March 16, 2009

hijab style

hijab style

In old Lucknow, the burqa clad woman is a common sight. If this figure does not induce poignant nostalgia for Lucknow’s old world charm, it incites the tsk-tsking of the tongue and unfounded pity in those who can only view Islam as fanaticism. However, here in the United States, the hijab donning fashion divas have not only caught my attention but also my  imagination. In the pale sea of hipster apathy, the élan and elegance of these young second generation Muslim women is groundbreaking. The dressing style is creatively distinct, understated and enthuses their religious identity with confidence. Furthermore, the style sends out a clear message- it is important for them to be fashionable and yet maintain the modest dress code of Islam. Unfortunately, in the United States, there is no clothing line that caters to the needs of these young women. To overcome this lack they have come up with the most creative styles. High end scarves have become hijabs, shapely long sleeved dresses provide the modesty yet the classiness, layered cardigans make up the elegance, accessories such as berkin bags, color cordinated flats, and funky jewellery all enhance the panache. The modern Muslim woman has arrived. Booyah!

In my research for hijab fashion, I came across this website called hijab style. What a fabulous treasure trove of the latest in hijab fashion and culture. Additionally, I discovered that fashion designers around the world (just not in the U.S.) are picking up on these Hijab divas’ creativity and coming up with new and opulents ways for celebrating and furthering their trendiness. Me gusta mucho!

The Pink Chaddis going strong

Posted in admiration, gender, India, Uncategorized, women by arpitaincuba on February 14, 2009

Rachel Maddow and The Consortium of Pub-going, Loose, and Forward women

Vodpod videos no longer available.

more about “Tickled pink – Ultrabrown“, posted with vodpod

Happy Valentines Day Sri Ram Sena

Posted in gender, India, women by arpitaincuba on February 10, 2009


How queer!

Posted in India, phillum by arpitaincuba on January 26, 2009

Dostana premiered on Thursday. It was a marketing tactic that would enable the verdict to travel “word-of-mouth.” And it was successful. The film was a “blockbuster hit,” and people would not stop talking about it.

I enjoyed it. It was a slap stick comedy with sometimes witty come backs, and ridiculous parodies of other Indian films. However, what I was fascinated by was this “word-of-mouth.” Here was a mainstream film, with the top-notch industry heros,  who were PRETENDING to be gay. As a consequence, the film had several annoying homophobic moments. But it did something else. It brought queerness out into the open. Middle class India was now talking about alternate sexualites.

My mother, on the phone from India, could not believe how many conversations she had about queerness, and homophobia since the release of this film. Yes, the conversations are more about how Abhishek Bachchan was hilarious in the film, but there was  also a discussion about alternative sexualites. Conversations about queer sexualities in the public domain is BIG. I say it is big because growing up in middle class India, in a city like Lucknow, I had no conversations about queerness till I was in my mid teens. We don’t talk about such issues. But now we are! What a BIG small step.

Amulya Gopalakrishnan, writing for The Indian Express, words this perfectly:

And the most enormous change is that Dostana names the unsaid, replaces ambiguities and evasions with the power of public utterance — it confronts wide and various audiences with ostensibly gay characters. And who knows, perhaps laughter and cheesy uplift can subtly wedge the door open in ways that a serious, p.c., full frontal take in non-mainstream movies like My Brother Nikhil may not manage. Dostana might not be the great leap forward for gay mainstreaming, but perhaps, picture abhi baaki hai.

it will not end

Posted in India, phillum by arpitaincuba on January 26, 2009

The talk about Slumdog Millionaire.

This weekend I had another heated argument about this film. My friend was outraged that Danny Boyle was making a profit off of the slums of India. He is not the first one. It is a shame really.

Third world poverty is fetished by the media, and Danny Boyle is doing the same.

The film is clearly made for a Western audience to consume this fetished poverty. As a South Asian person, it was a little annoying to watch the film with its major flaws because it became apparent very soon that the film was made for people not from South Asia. Even though it was about them.

The gulabi gang and this hullaballoo

Posted in admiration, frustration, India, san francisco, women by arpitaincuba on January 22, 2009

a still from a film about the Gulabi Gang

a still from a film about the Gulabi Gang

hot PINK

Celebrated as the “bad-ass sari vigilantes of bumble-fuck India,” the Gulabi Gang is a fierce women’s group belonging to the lowest socio-economic strata of rural Uttar Pradesh who have taken up lathis(a cane that is traditionally a symbol of self-defence) to fight against female exploitation, unemployment, government corruption, male alcoholism, and crime. No doubt this is a group that deserves all the admiration for their efforts in community created solutions and resistance in action. However, I’m more concerned about how they might get exploited as “commodities of cool” here. When I observe the youth culture in the urban landscape of San Francisco, I notice that resistance is consumed more often as a fashion commdity.Images of Che Guevara and Chair Mao on Urban Outfitters shirts, and the keffiyeh around every pale necked hipster is an evidence of the appropriation of social justice figures

As my friend, Rosie right fully said–appropriation is the king to the wannabe intellectuals in United States. Appropriation is their intellectual capitalism.

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