Lahore Snaps IV: We Eat

Lahore, should you be curious, is a food-lover’s paradise. The traditional North Indian cuisines (your biryanis and your karahis and whatnot) get augmented with Sindhi and Pashtun varieties of preparation and serving. Various streets and muhallahs (neighborhoods) are famous for various types of foods. I didn’t sample anything, this trip. The most daring I got was an order of Halwa Puri for breakfast which did not agree with me. At all.

The streets of Lahore teem with vendors. There is always the corn guy in front of the school, the kulfi guy at the corner, the channa/dal guy, the sugarcane guy, the milk-with-almonds guy, and the fruit guy.

Street Food
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Lahore Snaps III: Marks It Bears

I have been having these vivid dreams. Places and conversations continued from Lahore. Waking up every morning is quite a disorienting experience. The landscapes are stuck, the tape paused. I guess it can all be ascribed to jet lag or to this rather unmoored feeling that envelopes me. Whatever the case may be, I find myself existing, still, in Lahore.

Lahore is an imperial city and often, an impersonal city. It is aloof to most visitors and residents. It breathes around you, moving at a hectic pace here and just somnambulant there. But it has never seemed distant to me or impersonal. I have memories imprinted on almost every nook and cranny of that city of rooftops and minarets. This is Lahore.

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Demystifying Pakistan

pakistanpolitics.jpgMy dear friends will be casting the harsh light of scholarship and analysis onto the murky swamp of Pakistan. Do attend. Spread the word. I surely wish I was there.

The Center for Place, Culture & Politics Presents

Demystifying Pakistan: Understanding the Current Crisis

A panel discussion on the military in Pakistani politics, society and economy; emergency, martial law, and the rule of law in India and Pakistan; the rise and subsequent fall of electronic media under President Musharraf; and the politics of democratic protest
in Pakistan.

Dr. Ayesha Siddiqa, Visiting Professor, South Asian Studies, University of Pennsylvania and author of Military, Inc. : Inside Pakistan’s Military Economy (Pluto Press, 2007).

Anil Kalhan, Visiting Assistant Professor, Fordham Law School.

Kiran Khalid, documentary film maker and producer, Good Morning America and director, “We Are Not Free,” a documentary short to be screened at the panel.

Dr. Sahar Shafqat, Associate Professor, St. Mary’s College of Maryland and Member of the anti-Musharraf/pro-democracy movement in Pakistan.

Moderated by Saadia Toor, Assistant Professor of Sociology, College of Staten Island.

Friday, March 28, 2008, 6 pm
Baisley Powell Elebash Recital Hall
The Graduate Center
City University of New York,
365 Fifth Avenue,
New York, NY

Monsoon Chutney

CM reader JM sends in this note for all you gentle readers.

Hi! Hoping you Chapati Mystery readers can help me find a publisher for my first novel, Monsoon Chutney. It’s the multi-generational tale of an upper-caste Indian-American family. What’s really fresh about this work, I feel, is that each generation has its own unique struggles with identity and repression. The grandparents try to cope with the aftermath of Partition and finding their places in a newly-independent India, one full of religious and caste upheaval; the veranda where the two grandfathers sip whisky and bemoan certain passing traditions is the main setting of the first third of the novel. Their children marry and immigrate to America in the late Sixties, and attempt to reconcile their conservative upbringings with the demands of their new culture (n.b., I’ve left out the boring details of Dad’s professional life and just assumed that’s he’s done quite well as a urologist). The grandchildren, Raj and Sujata, are born in the U.S. They have to bridge the worlds of the two countries, mainly through wrestling with the expectations of their families while trying to establish their own identities as Indian-Americans. The struggle with patriarchy is a theme throughout: a tragic incident of incest proves to have unforeseen consequences, but to balance it out, there’s also a scene of tenderness and humor in which the parents deal with Sujata’s menarche (I’m sure female readers who are children of immigrants will smile wryly). The whole thing ends with an emotional scene in a house in La Jolla that unites the three generations. As the child of Indian immigrants who came to the U.S. in the Sixties, I was moved to write about these matters. And like you, I’m passionate about The God of Small Things and The Interpreter of Maladies, books that I hope Monsoon Chutney will one day join in the canon. Please let me know if you have any contacts in the publishing industry.

Those with leads, or those with The Inheritance of Loss (Amazon Key Phrases: deaf tailors, thun thun, chun chun, Father Booty, Uncle Potty, Cho Oyu) on their bookshelves, are urged to leave their helpful tips in the comments section.

I invite JM to submit a book proposal to CM for our own Chapati Mystery Presents … ® Series coming out soon.