To Istanbul We Go

A: So, you going to visit Istanbul?
Maybe, I think so. I am banking on E. getting there, this summer. And then following along.

A: There was this Kulfi wallah near me.
In Lahore?

A: Yeah, a few lanes down from us. He was famous, the best Kulfis you would ever eat. People would come from all over. He’d make a killing.

A: He died a few years back and his son, he inherited that business. He was some pink or red or some belt in Tae-Kwon-Do. Just this beautiful man – luminous face, this muscular structure. He would go to Landa Bazaar1 and buy the finest tweed suits, just molded to his biceps and walk around in them. All the time.

A: So when the father died, he had to inherit his business. He was the only one who knew how to make those amazing Kulfas. The only one. He would open the shop for a few hours and he would sell out. Open it a few days a week, and make lots of money. People just wanted to have that Kulfa. But he hated it. He wanted to be famous.

A: This was his CV: He acted in Lollywood – like Extras, you’d see him way in the back. He was in various body building or fighting competitions all the time. Didn’t speak a word of English but he had correspondents around the world – Paris, Madrid, London. He would just send the embassies his photos and his newsclippings. And they would send him stuff back. It was amazing. He hated going to the shop, opening it. But he had to because the people would give him so much money, so quickly.

A: He ran away with a girl. To Istanbul. Went and married her there. Then came back.
Did he leave her there?

A: No, no, he brought her back. But, now there are like 5 other Kulfa wallahs on that corner.
All claiming his father’s legacy?

A: Yeah. You should go to Istanbul.

*This conversation happened in Paratha Junction, Jersey City on Sun, Mar 28th, 2010. A. is my dearest friend since high school.

  1. the third-hand clothes market []

Association for Asian Studies 2010

I am headed to Philadelphia, my fav. other-Chicago, for the annual Association for Asian Studies meeting. I am on a panel on Thursday:

7:30pm-9:30pm. National Culture and Belonging in Pakistan, chaired by A. Sean Pue, Michigan State University. Grand Ballroom Salon J

– “Chale Chalo ke Voh Manzil Abhi Nahin Aai”: Progressive Writers Attempt to Rewrite the Nation
Saadia Toor, City University of New York

– “Soviet Pantheism”: Modernism and the Critique of Ideology
A. Sean Pue, Michigan State University

– Navigating Self and State in Communal Histories in Pakistan
Manan Ahmed, Berlin Free University

Discussant: Vazira Zamindar, Brown University

The AAS website is quite un-friendly. The panels cannot be browsed directly by presenter or by panel or by topic – except by number. There is only a (pdf) list of panels according to “world area” (um, do they mean Asia?) which doesn’t, then, include any time or place details! Of what possible usage is that? Nor is there an index of presenters online. Sure, that information is in the official paper program, but seriously folks, it is 2010, get on this internets bandwagon please.

As usual, I probably will not be able to attend much of what I would love to attend. One I would def. be going to is Interdisciplinary Perspectives on Indian and Thai Attitudes towards the Supernatural, chaired by Frank F. Conlon on Friday 8:30am.

If any gentle readers are going to be at AAS, please drop me a line, maybe we can meet up. Or come to my panel! Also, if any editors are reading, they should tell me how best I can seduce their fine press with my amazing manuscript.

On the Sink of Specie

I am putting together a reading list for next term, and thought it might be fun (under this whole rejuvenated CM lately) to post some more primary source reading. Below is an editorial from NYT. It is quite a remarkable document for a number of reasons, not least that it was written in NY- the notion of imperialism, the defense of British civilizational mission, capital, religious righteousness: it is all here. Rinse. Repeat.

– “Progress of Events in British India“, New York Times, Oct 24, 1857

Progress of Events in British India.

The not improbable rumor of the recall of Viscount Canning from the Viceroyality of India, is but one of many indications that the Government of England is now fully alive to the importance of the struggle in India, and fully determined to put forth the whole force of the empire in the suppression of the Mohammedan mutiny. For although Lord Canning has exhibited qualities not unworthy of his name in the trying crisis through which he has been called to pass, it has been reported, on credible authority, that he had brought or suffered himself to be brought into collision with Sir Colin Campbell on questions of policy. That, in such an emergency, the civil official should be sacrificed to the military, proves how clearly the government of Lord Palmerston appreciated the natures and severity of the ordeal through which British authority in India is passing. The maxim of Malcolm rules and must rule the hour. India was won by the sword, and must be kept by the sword.
Continue reading “On the Sink of Specie”


Maya Yazigi, “Defense and Validation in Shi’i and Sunni Tradition: The Case of Muḥammad b. Abī BakrStudia Islamica, No. 98/99 (2004), pp. 49-70

One further factor needs to be taken into account. The horrific death that Muhammad b. Abi Bakr met in Egypt at the hands of Mu’āwiya’s men made him a perfect exemplar of the atrocities associated with civil war in both traditions. The precise circumstances of his death are unclear. Some reports suggest that he died in combat. The more general belief, however, is that he was killed outside the main fray, then stuffed into the carcass of a jackass and burnt, or even – according to one report – burnt alive inside the carcass. Other reports suggest that he was decapitated before being burnt and that his head was sent for display at the court of Mu’āwiya. Whatever its basis in reality, this richly symbolic gesture became an important topos in Islamic historiography. It allowed Muhammad’s death to be remembered in a realm apart, that of firsts (or awā’il): the same accounts that report the despatch of his head to Mu’āwiya also make this the first head to be so transported and paraded in Islam.