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I feel like I’ve written or told this story a hundred times before. I’m not even sure if it made out into some tangible form, or if I replayed the events in my head from time to time over the last decade. Every passing September makes my heart ache. I was thankfully not directly affected by the tragedy that day, but it affected me nonetheless.
I remember that September 11, 2001 had started off as a bright day. Bright enough to coax me out of bed, and out of the house, on my way to high school. It was only the second week; classes had not yet lost their novelty. The first two classes passed unremarkably. Even if you asked me, I wouldn’t be able to remember what those classes were. My third class, though, I will never forget.
It was science research, a class devoted to introducing students to lab techniques and research skills. It was a little past 9:40 AM, and several of us were gathered around the desk to the far corner of the room, talking about whatever high school sophomores talk about. One of the girls came running in a little after class started, and exclaimed that planes had hit the World Trade Center. She was someone who had a tendency to be a little silly, if not outlandish, and so I didn’t believe her at first. Who would want to? It was when the wood shop teacher walked in from next door, solemn and silent, that we realized that something indeed was wrong.
We were shepherded into his classroom, where a TV had been wheeled in, blaring the news. There we stood or sat, transfixed, watching smoke billow out from the angry, blazing gashes that had torn through each World Trade Center tower. I remember some students crying, some were talking out loud. Others were anxiously calling their parents who worked at or near the World Trade Center. I don’t remember what I felt exactly, probably because at that moment, I felt empty. I had no idea how to react, because what had happened was so beyond the scope of what was possible, that my mind and body were blindsided. I watched, as though in a trance, as the smoke continued to pour out, and the voices of the news anchors danced nervously around, unsure quite how to react themselves. Gone was the notion that the United States was, somehow, impervious to outside forces. Wars were supposed to be few and far between, fought oceans away, not in my own backyard. Any impression of peace and stability was quickly and mercilessly eviscerated.
I remember that a good friend of mine was sitting next to me, palpably frightened, though perhaps only comforted by the fact that she had discovered that her mother was not in harm’s way. We were sitting together when, at 9:59 AM, the South Tower began to collapse. Forever etched into my memory is the sound of the small scream that escaped my friend’s lips at the moment the roar of the flames and the crunching sound of failing structural beams became one, as everything screamed towards street level. For me, that was the sound that marked the boundary between what once was, and what is now. Innocence, and innocence lost. The start of a terrible new chapter, but everyone was too frightened to willingly turn the page.
I remember that when I left the school that day and looked west, the sky was now covered with a faint, gray haze. “Smoke from the Twin Towers, most likely,” said a friend of mine.
Later that night, I remember sitting on my bed, thinking about the the day’s events, and of what happens now. I was thinking about the thousands upon thousands of bodies scattered throughout the site: some dead, some barely clinging on, and the rest working to save them. Death was not something I was familiar with, let alone on such a scale and in such close proximity. That was the first time that I openly wept that day.
I was scared, not only for future attacks from beyond our borders, but attacks from within. Hate crimes had started almost as soon as word had gotten out that the terrorists were mostly Arab Muslims. Anyone who looked potentially Arab and/or Muslim was a target, including my family, my friends, and me. I heard stories about not only Muslims, but Sikhs and Hindus being taunted, beaten up, and in some cases, gunned down. All paid the pound of flesh that they did not owe. While the incidence of those crimes died down almost as quickly as they had appeared, the simmering anger against Muslims was still present.
Ten years later…
Ten years later, Osama is dead, along with thousands of people with terrorist leanings. So is Saddam, and hundreds of thousands of Afghani and Iraqi civilians. So are thousands of US soldiers.
Ten years later, Muslims (and to some extent many South Asians) are still vilified. Every opportunity to throw stones seems to be taken by people who don’t understand that the sins of the few should not fall on the shoulders of the whole group, and that just because the color of our skin is the same as another group, doesn’t mean we are the same. If you don’t believe me, look at any news story that involves a Muslim, and read the comments from the readers. It is shameful.
Ten years later, The first responders, who put aside family and other responsibilities to toil at the smoldering remains of the World Trade Center, have had to pay a huge price for their sacrifice. Many have developed significant respiratory issues, others have developed cancers that normally occur far more rarely. For this, they have received little, aside from empty words of support and promises, as they face further death and disability. Slowly, steps are being taken in the right direction to provide compensation, but they deserve far more than that.
Ten years later, we receive word of another “credible” threat though “unconfirmed.” I truly hope that nothing happens. Yet, this is just another stop on the paranoia roller coaster many of us in the United States have been riding since 9/11. At this point, I feel like the way in which news outlets cover stories about terror threats, acts of violence, and other similar events has moved so far beyond “the boy who cried wolf” that every threat, credible or otherwise, has become background noise to me. It shouldn’t, but it has. This is what fear-mongering does. It saturates and obliterates any ability to discern what is worth worrying about, and what can be put aside.
Ten years later, I worry that I have descended into a kind of cynicism. I want to believe that, as a country, we have grown closer post-9/11, and that we can look past everything and come together for the sake of peace and stability. Then I see the politicians railing against equality, diversity, and drive while championing xenophobia, a widening income gap, and ignorance. They fancy themselves patriots. The patriots who fought for our country over 200 years ago (yes OUR country) were fighting for freedom and equality for all. How quickly the definition of patriotism has changed! This only fuels my cynicism. If you want to meet a patriot, talk to some of the first responders who didn’t ask those they saved if they were immigrants, followed a different faith from theirs, or worked in a different income bracket before deciding whether or not to save them.
Ten years later, and I’m still admittedly worried.
Ten years later, and I still mourn the loss of life.
Ten years later, what was Ground Zero–a smoldering pile of ashes, rubble, pain, and death–has slowly blossomed into something beautiful and full of hope. Even though I am in Manhattan very often, the last time I had visited Ground Zero was in 2008. It takes my breath away now, to see what has literally risen from the ashes. From 9/11 to now, we have been beating the terrorists everyday by living, building, and thriving. Yet we cannot truly win until we hearken to a more basic, but universal set of principles. That is to say, all are equal, and all should have the opportunity to pursue their dreams. Freedom, knowledge, and well-being are not objects that can or should be rationed, but rather, are undeniable facets of human nature that should be tapped, and never stifled for any reason.
When I was in ninth grade, my classmates were introduced to Hinduism and some basic Hindu tenets in our Global Studies class. One of the first things that we covered was the concept of the caste system. There were the brahmins (priests) at the top, followed by the kshatriyas (warriors), then the vaishyas (merchants), and sudras (unskilled workers). Absent from the hierarchy were the untouchables. It had always been my understanding that caste was a birthright. One was born into a certain caste based on their past karma (fruits of their actions). The hereditary quality of caste, like eye color and skin tone, seemed indisputable. If my parents were one caste, then I would be of the same caste. Hence, at the time, marrying within the same caste made complete sense.
I read this article recently in the New York Times, detailing the honor killing of a Brahmin girl in Northern India who was secretly engaged to someone from a lower caste. The parents had apparently feared, “…ostracism, and accused her of defiling their religion.” She was 22 years old when she was found dead, and was apparently pregnant. While the argument from the family’s side is that she committed suicide, it is hard not to believe that she died at the hands of her family. I can’t seriously believe her fiancé could have posed a serious threat aside from being a threat to questionable ideals and the pride that the family derived from adhering to those ideals.
My discontent with the caste system as it exists today probably started with my most recent trip to India. I was about to head off to college, and was visiting India partly to pray at some of the temples. One of the temples I visited was a small temple in Ernakulam devoted to Devi (the female embodiment of divinity). We had gone to perform a puja (ritual offering) in honor of one of the manifestations of Devi, Saraswati (the goddess of learning). The priest was unsurprisingly, a brahmin. My experience with priests here in the U.S. has always been positive; they have always been very friendly and interacted with us as though we were family. Yet this priest, nice as he was, would not permit us to touch his feet as a sign of respect, nor accidentally touch his hands when he gave us prasadam (food sanctified by having offered it to the deity). Even Nairs (at least in the old days…maybe even now in some rural parts of Kerala) had a physical hierarchy, where the castes are segregated to some extent, intermingling only as much as necessary. That never seemed right to me. While we set ourselves apart from each other with these supposedly hereditary castes, I’m pretty sure there are people in each caste who may not necessarily fit what it means to be from that caste, whether that means they rise above the defining characteristics or fall well below the cultural expectations.
To my knowledge, there is no scriptural basis for the theory that caste is hereditary. In the Bhagavad Gita, there is the following verse:
sudranam ca parantapa
Brahmanas, ksatriyas, vaisyas and sudras are distinguished by their qualities of work, O chastiser of the enemy, in accordance with the modes of nature.
(Bhagavad Gita As It Is, Chapter 18, Verse 41)
The next few verses delineate the qualities of each level of the caste system, without any reference to family or lineage as a deciding factor. The son of a sudra is not necessarily a sudra just because he is born to one. The same is true for other castes. It’s like saying the son of a doctor is a doctor too…ok well some parents may actually believe that one.
Unfortunately, caste still exists as a rigid, unchanging system where mobility is not an option. Intermingling among castes, while accepted nowadays in most contexts (more or less), romantic relationships still remain taboo. It is truly unfortunate and deplorable when parents react so harshly (and sometimes violently) in the face of an intercaste union. It is equally deplorable that, while people do interact across caste boundaries, some still hold on to the antiquated sense of superiority of inferiority supposedly conferred by caste. I really do hope this changes, it just seems like the product of centuries of misinterpretation and an intrinsic need to create a sense of “us” versus “them”. Once we move past those terms and realize that we are all in this together, and that we must do what we can to elevate each other socially and spiritually, then only can we make real progress.
A friend sent me this article just today: http://www.time.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,1999416,00.html
Needless to say, I was appalled.
Yes, I see what he was getting at. The face of American towns is changing, new ethnic groups are claiming them as their homes and setting up shop (many literally). Yet I’m not sure the author could have masked his petulant whining any more poorly, not to mention the casual use of racist language. Even more surprising is that it was published in Time magazine, a publication of reasonable repute (at least last I checked).
I’m more than aware of Edison, but perhaps more so of Jackson Heights. Jackson Heights is another “little India” in Queens, where I spent the first year of my life, and would continue to visit. You know it’s little India because of the paan stains on the sidewalk and the kulfi stands lining them. Can’t get much more Indian than that, I think. This town, like Edison, is often a starting point for many Indians who come from India seeking their fortune in the United States. Having that much of an Indian presence so close at hand provides comfort and a sense of belonging that curtails some of the homesickness and, in time, allows them the confidence to branch out and search for greater opportunity elsewhere. Yet they can still return if they feel a sense of nostalgia, or want to give their children–newly minted US citizens–a small taste (literally or figuratively) of home.
I’m fairly sure the mostly Anglo-Saxon and Nordic stock that made up most of the population of the US before the end of the 18th century didn’t take too kindly to new immigrants setting up little nooks for themselves. Yet eventually, they were embraced, and allowed their little slice of their homeland’s culture. Even today, there is a Little Italy in Manhattan, as well as a Chinatown, Koreatown, and all sorts of towns that cater to specific cultures. What about those places? There may be some grumbling behind the scenes, but certainly it isn’t aired in such a childish manner in a publication that doesn’t usually cater to such banter.
The face of America is changing in many ways. If you can’t deal with it, that’s too bad. You’re just missing out.
There is a trending topic on Twitter called #booksthatchangedmyworld. What are yours? Why? Here are my top 10 (in no particular order):
1. The Bhagavad Gita
2. The Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam
4. The Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat
5. Phantoms in the Brain
6. The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Nighttime
7. Never Have Your Dog Stuffed
8. Autobiography of a Yogi
10. 100 Years of Solitude
(Yes, this is my first post in quite a while, going to try to make it a more regular thing now that I have time!)
Most of you know my feelings about Lady Gaga’s music: they are less than complimentary. Her first single “Poker Face” was annoying and tacky, and she struck me as just another girl trying to claim a few trashy dance hits and her fifteen seconds of fame. I realized though, as more singles came out and her persona began its almost nonstop evolution, that she is far more complex than that. Whether complexity is a good thing or a bad thing in this case is really a question of personal taste.
I think this became apparent when I was riding with a friend, and she tried to show me that Lady Gaga isn’t all that bad by putting on her acoustic, jazzy version of “Poker Face.” In all honesty (and I hate to admit it) I liked it. There was something more honest and even playful in her delivery. Lady Gaga is best by herself, maybe with a piano, but she continues to churn out songs that, while dance-worthy, have little or no musical soul. Perhaps it seemed like the most profitable route at the time, considering most songs nowadays are judged by their ability to draw people to the dance floor. Yet for all of her supposed innovation, she seems to be just conforming to industry norms, musically. The innovation is apparent in her fashion and music videos. However, innovation, for Gaga, seems to be synonymous with controversy.
I am all for haute couture fashion and having an avant garde approach to style, and while I actually do respect some of her wardrobe choices, some just seem bizarre (cigarette glasses from “Telephone”?). I think innovation should step back, though, when it inexplicable leads you to wear silver lobster headgear. Still, that being said, I did like her Grammy outfit, and her costume for the duet she performed with Elton John, among others.
The real innovation/controversy, though, is in her music videos. They are creative, no doubt, but not really ground-breaking. “Telephone” seemed like one, long commercial for Coke and Miracle Whip. I found myself watching the “Alejandro” video today, because of the buzz it has generated. It was certainly Gagaesque, with its dark, postmodern, dystopian setting and outfits. Her costumes were either exceedingly ornate, or left little to the imagination. This video highlights why she has been compared so emphatically to Madonna, for very obvious reasons. I am not a fan of Madonna, but she did push the envelope in a time when most pop music was still (mostly) squeaky clean. Yet “Alejandro” is “Like a Prayer” but more gothic and sexualized. Sure, it mirrors the Madonna video with its controversial religious images, but it doesn’t have the story that Madonna’s song had. The video felt like equal parts “Like a Prayer” and Rihanna’s “Disturbia” with little else to set it apart. It was a rehashing of old themes and sounds, nothing original.
Even though Gaga is named for Radio Gaga, by Queen–possibly the most truly talented and innovative rock band of the last century–and has earned comparisons to Madonna, a veritable trend-setter, she is just a caricature of either one. Obviously even though I have some background in music, I’m not a musical authority, so this is all pure opinion. You may be asking, “If you dislike her so much, why do you even listen to her music, watch her videos, or keep track of her at all?” The reason is, simply, I’m waiting for something. I know the girl is talented, because I have seen a glimmer of it in past clips in her pre-Gaga days, and occasional songs like the acoustic version of “Poker Face.” Maybe I’m harboring some kind of hope that she will embrace her own talent and not give in to the overwhelming need to restrict her music to satisfy some industry standard, and take her persona so far off the beaten path in order to be relevant in a time when controversy is everything.
Indian music is as varied as India itself, each region boasting its own form. The earliest musical forms served mostly religious and spiritual purposes by exalting a chosen deity. In fact, Indian music probably remained mostly devotional until the rise of cinema.
As someone who learned Carnatic vocal music for many years, the evolution of Indian music is something of particular interest to me. I think it’s fair to say that, in all likelihood, the prevailing musical style prior to the Mughal invasions was probably fairly homogeneous across the subcontinent, probably most resembling present-day Carnatic music. With the invasions came the melding of cultures and the genesis of Hindustani music. The British empire brought violins and harmoniums into the mix.
The last few decades have seen the unyielding march of Westernization into Indian music, with many straying away from more classical forms in favor of heavily Westernized music that seems to define Bollywood nowadays. Now I love Western music, though I have my issues with it as well. Most of it is absolute nonsense and an embarrassment, especially the ones that incorporate sad attempts at English lyrics (I can’t help but listen to “Pretty Woman” and cringe). Some songs, though, are good. These tend to be from films that are themselves critically acclaimed but do poorly at the box office. The majority of them, however, are terrible. Keep Indian music, well, Indian (or as Indian as possible). I’m glad to see there have been very successful attempts to fuse the best of both Indian and Western music.
While bhangra is probably the most obvious example, there have been other areas where Indian music and Western music have struck a healthy balance. I love Sufi music, and Kailash Kher has married that perfectly with Western instrumentation. He recently did an interview with NPR, where he and the rest of his band Kailasa, performed some of the songs off their new album “Yatra.” I strongly encourage you to listen to it. Hariharan, too, has mostly done well blending ghazals with Western instruments to create a new sound.
Another group with perhaps even more of a rustic sound are the musicians that produce music through Morchang Studios. They produce some of the best music I have heard in a while. Granted, my musical tastes (as far as Indian music goes) tends to err more on the conservative side, I’m not sure there’s anyone who can deny that this song, for example, is rendered extremely well by the vocalist (Munshi Khan) and the supporting instrumentalists. The use of the guitar and mandolin further help to set the mood of the song. It also showcases the beauty of classical Indian music, and keeps it alive.
There is beauty in modernization, and applying Western principles, but sometimes blending verges more on destruction of the native art form. Bollywood is a walking example of desecration of Indian music by foolhardy attempts to meld it with Western music, resulting in music that can only be termed as an abomination. It is imperative that classical music is preserved in its pure form (both Carnatic and Hindustani), but change can be good if done right.
I first heard about Project Remix last year–or at least the collection of nascent ideas that would eventually become Remix–from one of the creators, who is also a good friend of mine. I was immediately sold on the idea, which was to create a site that provided resources and information to Desi (South-Asian) youth. A site created by the Indian youth for the Indian youth.
The official site launched recently, though it had already started generating buzz among our peers when it had made its first foray into the collective consciousness. Currently there are sections for cuts, cultural media, and articles. The cuts feature mixes used by various student groups and collegiate dance teams (bhangra, raas, Indian fusion, etc.) from across the country. Cultural media highlights video performances from various collegiate groups. The articles on Project Remix have been broken down into smaller categories and initiatives, devoted to everything from the arts to sports (currently I’m contributing to Team Innovate’s Neurobio series so be sure to check that out!). Examples of articles currently up on the website include my neurobio piece (an overview of neuroscience), a two-part series on biofuels, a review of Slumdog Millionaire, and a piece recounting a trip to Chennai to volunteer.
Project Remix is seeking new, fresh voices that can contribute to the site in any capacity. If you are a writer or blogger who is interested in appearing on the website, you can email projectremixny at gmail dot com. For any other questions, you can also send an email to the aforementioned address. The website is http://www.projectremix.org.
In addition, you can follow Project Remix on Twitter @ProjectRemix for updates.
I am Indian.
I am American.
Am I one? Am I the other? Am I both?
I think I started seriously thinking about it a few months ago, when the marriage talk took on a new level of urgency. I’m supposed to marry a Malayalee Nair guy. They prefer I marry someone from India. I prefer I marry someone from here. Does it make a difference? What do I want for my children?
I am of two minds. On one hand, I am in love with Malayalee culture, its uniqueness, its richness, and its resilience through millennia. I have learned both Carnatic music and two forms of classical dance. I am Hindu, and Hindu with a decidedly South Indian flair (and yes there are regional differences). I want to make sure my children are raised in that culture.
Yet on the other hand, I am in love with aspects of American culture, because it really is a portal to other cultures due to the proverbial melting pot of American society. I love baseball and football (no, not soccer), have decidedly multicultural culinary tastes, and have a doggedly American sense of independence and individuality. I’m a registered Democrat and have little to no idea about Indian politics. I know Shashi Tharoor won in Kerala, Kerala is no longer communist, and the Congress Party is still in power. Beyond that, I’m stumped. I understood cricket for a grand total of 2 weeks following watching “Lagaan” after which I returned to my original opinion (originally Robin Williams’) that “cricket is basically baseball on valium.” My music tastes are varied, but if I go to Pandora to pick a station, it is ultimately a rock station. Even as far as marriage goes, I’ve come to accept (heck, embrace) the idea that you really do need to get to know the person you’re going to marry, even if it is arranged. Perhaps it comes from living in a culture so devoted to dating.
Yet there are days where saying “our” with regard to India-related things feels right, and others where it feels awkward and foreign. Likewise for American. So what is the deciding factor that puts a person squarely in one world or another?
For me, I think I’m more comfortable being identified as an American of Indian origin, rather than an Indian. Yes, my skin is brown, my hair is black, I “look” Indian, but when I speak, I’m American. On most counts, I don’t feel comfortable when I go back to India. Culturally, I can hold my own in certain things. Yet there is one glaring exception: language. Perhaps that is the one thing that will keep me from really feeling…Indian. Yes, I can manage some conversation, but most is grammatically abysmal, and is done more for comic effect or satisfying my grandmother, whose English is about as good as my Malayalam. I can’t find linguistic common ground with my relatives when I go back. Most of them speak English very well, but there’s a certain level of cultural intimacy that only comes with speaking in one’s mother tongue. Maybe that’s what keeps me from being “fully Indian.”
I suppose I walk the line between Indian and American, though I’d like to think that perhaps, I’ve created my own cultural identity that happens to be squarely between both worlds. It is not set in stone, but fluid, sopping up whatever I find that is both rich and profound.
To those among you who are first-generation Americans, or were raised in a multicultural household, do you identify with your birth country’s culture, your parents’ culture(s), or do you fashion your own?
I almost want to feel bad for this girl. The operative word here is “almost.”
Two weeks ago, Carrie Prejean emerged onto the scene as the winner of the Miss California pageant. She strutted and sashayed her way through the competition, until one question, the proverbial shot heard ’round the world. In response to a question by Perez Hilton regarding her views on gay marriage, she responded as follows:
Well I think it’s great that Americans are able to choose one way or the other. We live in a land where you can choose same-sex marriage or opposite marriage. You know what, in my country, in my family, I do believe that marriage should be between a man and a woman, no offense to anybody out there. But that’s how I was raised and I believe that it should be between a man and a woman.
I guess if it were any other question where she was the underdog as far as prevailing (and accepted) viewpoints go, I would have applauded her for having the guts to go ahead and possibly piss off a whole legion of people by sticking to her guns. Except this question was about gay marriage…and her answer, though her own honest opinion, was not appropriate in that forum, on that national stage. I think even if she stood by her views but accepted the possibility of gay marriages being a legitimate possibility in this country, it would have been ok. Yet her awkward phrasing of gay marriage as “opposite marriage” and the addition of the every-popular (but never effective) “no offense” made clear that her views on gay marriage are absolute, and negative. She ultimately lost the crown, but gained a whole new legion of fans, mostly the same people who brought us Proposition 8, and are threatening to halt progress in its tracks. She has stuck by her views on marriage, claiming she is a Christian, and those are her beliefs and felt that she was unfairly discriminated against due to her answer at the competition.
Then came the revelation that she had breast implants funded by the pageant prior to the national competition. Talk about role model, and a proponent of natural beauty (as opposed to plastic and silicone-enhanced beauty). Great person for girls to look up to.
Then came the pictures.
The topless pictures that are very much against pageant rules in the state of California (and possibly everywhere?). Prejean claims this is just a ploy on the part of those who oppose her views and her Christianity. She says that being a model and being a Christian is possible, that they are not mutually exclusive titles. While I’m tempted to outright deny it, I’m not a Christian, so I’m not going to touch that issue with a ten-foot pole. I’ll leave that for the Christians to debate.
Miss USA competitors are supposed to be role models for girls across the country. In an age where progress is gathering momentum, where love–straight or gay–is being acknowledged in public circles and in the context of state governments, trying to say that one kind of love trumps another is just wrong. Not even being open to the possibility is just wrong. Progress is about opening yourself up to change, not rigidly holding on to the past at the cost of hindering society’s movement upward.
While (apparently) implants are not taboo in pageants, getting breast implants right before the Miss USA pageant doesn’t sit well with me. Whatever happened to the idea of natural beauty? What will the thousands of girls think when they realize that her breasts are fake. Will they think that beauty only comes with surgical intervention? That beauty, ultimately, has a price tag? Really, implants shouldn’t be allowed in beauty pageants, it just defeats the purpose in my eyes…where the purpose is identifying role models for girls everywhere.
The pictures, though, are a clear violation of pageant rules, no matter how you spin it. If, as she says, it was just lingerie, then the pageant should be flooded with more girls who have modeling experience in that area. Whether or not the rules should change (since after all, pageant participants do model in two-piece bathing suits) should be decided for next year’s competitors. Personally, I don’t see what the big deal is with partial nudity, but when you’re dealing with hard and fast rules and you flagrantly go against them, you should relinquish your title.
On a side note, poor Miss North Carolina i.e. Miss USA 2009, the limelight was unfairly stolen from her and cast on Miss California because of the controversy she has generated. I hope she fares well in the Miss Universe pageant.
Because it is brilliant.
It is basically The Ramayana from Sita’s perspective. Her story is juxtaposed with that of the cartoonist, who herself is enduring a bad breakup from her husband. I know there are some raised eyebrows from the Hindu community, namely the portrayal of the story and missing out the elements of the story that make Rama’s actions “make sense” i.e. time period, expectations of women, etc. However, the point of the Ramayana (and any other story/epic) is to inspire, and perhaps even provide comfort as the case seems to be here.
Check out Nina Paley’s blog as well. She bills herself as “America’s Best-Loved, Unknown Cartoonist.” I get the feeling she’s not going to be unknown for much longer.
In Sita, the cartoonist finds someone not unlike herself, faced with the sudden separation from her husband, whom she loves without boundaries. The story is wonderfully narrated by three, Indonesian shadow puppets, and the animation of Sita’s story and the cartoonist Nina Paley’s story are animated differently, both styles adding another dimension to each story. I think I liked the songs the most–all rendered by Annette Henshaw, a singer who sang the songs during the twenties–it was as though the songs were made for the film.
It aired on PBS New York (WNET) last night, however the full, streaming movie is available here: