The extra-temple hair trade

By: on 26 Jun 2006

The temple hair trade story has been around for a while: each year approximately 20 million devotees visit the Venkateswara temple in Tirupati, Andhra Pradesh and have their heads shaved as an offering to the god.

So what happens to those millions and millions of heads of hair? Well, this is why the Tirupati temple is one of the richest in the world: the much-coveted, thick, Indian hair is sold around the world for use in wigs and hair extensions.

I was under the impression that most if not all of the hair involved in this hair trade comes from Tirupati and other temples, but apparently this is not at all the case:

"Temple hair or rather the idea of it has become fashionable in the West but you must remember that Tirupati and all the Indian temples together contribute only 20 out of every 100 locks of premium hair sold abroad in an extremely fast growing market," claims EVKS Elangovan, the Minister of State for Textiles and Commerce in Tamil Nadu where most of India's exported hair originates.

"Where the rest comes from we have no idea. In many cases we fear women are being exploited. There are growing concerns over the Indian hair trade. There are no specific restrictions on the import and export of human hair and can be done freely. This is obviously an environment that breeds illegality (The Observer)." 

Why Sonia Gandhi Said "No, thank you"

By: on 26 Jun 2006

Remember all the tamaasha surrounding Sonia Gandhi's election to the premiership of India? Former Prime Minister V.P.Singh discloses why Sonia Gandhi renounced her post. According to the The Tribune,

Former Prime Minister V.P Singh today clarified that Congress President Sonia Gandhi had declined the Prime Minister’s post in 2004 not because of security concerns but because she did not want to give the BJP an opportunity to embarrass the new government on the issue of her foreign origin.

Ground Breaking Study Reveals That If You're Overworked and Sleep Deprived, Naps Help

By: on 25 Jun 2006

As I was perusing the University of Chicago Chronicle, a front page story leapt out: "Small naps big boost for young doctors on long hospital shifts", a study that has been funded by the Department of Medicine and the Pritzker School of Medicine. The study's director Vineet Arora (a Desi!) found that the "young medical residents working extended hospital shifts"

felt that even small gains in sleep led to a substantial reduction in fatigue, improved sleep quality and enhanced ability to care for their patients.

“This is a proven method of alleviating fatigue in industries that combine high intensity with long shifts,” said study director Vineet Arora, Instructor in Medicine, “yet is has been neglected by the one industry that studies sleep. Our results show that a well-timed nap can provide a significant boost in physician concentration and take away some of the burden of chronic sleep deprivation.”

Well, slap my thigh and call me Einstein! I'm not trying to belittle the director and her findings, I'm taking issue with the institutions that fund these projects. Studies like this are of the kind that make you say, "No shit". If any of you have ever pulled an all nighter for 3 days straight (like me), you know that the only salvation in sight to keep your sanity and dispel any physical fatigue and mental disorientation is setting the alarm clock to wake up an hour later and then resuming your work. Consistently deprive somebody of sleep and make them work long stressful hours, of course they are fatigued and can't think straight. Duh.

my own little slice of pride month...

By: on 24 Jun 2006

Firstly, big ups to the redesigners of the minimalist site...looks like our humble ghee-d up roti's turned into a sleek little naan! And welcome DesiItaliana, wish my country was sexy too but we're a bit too gumpy to make desi-ness more lovely than it already is...

Or are we? Have just stumbled on a fabulicious local writer who reminds me of past-life-shame that I am about to delve into for a lame-ass talk I have to give to a bunch of poker-up-their-arse private school girls. See a million years ago, I did something that is sooo high school (two years ago actually...) I wrote a lesbian love story that won a national short story award. And then I (in my first ever taste of media spotlight) denied my inner lesbian by repeatedly assuring the interviewer I was not a lesbian which meant that I had a feature article/TV interview etc. about how I above all things was not, definitely not, gay.

So in many ways I have tried to atone for my previous non-pride. I have bought leather boots and worn them to dangerous places. I have worn sparkly eyeshadow at completely inappropriate times. I have publicly admitted to 'Bootylicious' being my fantasy theme song. But now, it seems, I have found something to complete my penance. She's desi, she's queer, she's a great writer and she's Kiwi! Ka-ching, my no-pride debt repaid. Ladies, gentleman and people of indeterminate gender, I present...Annamarie Jagose.

hello literary girlcrush

Before you ask that kind of beauty does only come from a bit of cookies and cream (damn those hotter bicultural beings!)Jagose is German-Indian, while the down-to-earth-ness of her writing and personality mos' def' comes from the quaint little town of Ashburton that she grew up in. Not only is she a Media lecturer at my university, she is also the award winning writer of Slow Water, a novel set on stormy seas on a colonial voyage during which an English clergyman called William Yates embarks on a love affair with a cabin boy. Mmmm I think my girl-crush has stepped up a notch...Slow Water won the national 2004 Montana Book Awards Deutz Medal and the Victorian Premier Award in Australia (ie big deal over here)...

Desi Latin Lover Kabir Bedi

By: on 24 Jun 2006

A couple of years ago, when I had nothing better to do, I was watching TV at my home in Bologna. Out of the blue, I saw Kabir Bedi on the Italian silver screen, he of the James Bond movie Octopussy and the progenitor of Pooja Bedi, the seductive and erotic woman who graced the scandalous Kama Sutra Condom advertisment campaign. There he was, in swimming Kabir Bedi isola dei famosi.jpgtrunks, romping around in the sand and having heart to heart conversations with bikini clad women on an Italian reality show called L'Isola dei Famosi (Island of the Famous). Vat was he doing there?



Nepali Girl Missing

By: on 24 Jun 2006

You can see pictures and news video here.

Alert: 20 years old Nepali Girl Missing
# Name : Pratishtha Budathoki
# Last Seen: June 18th, 2006
# Age : 20 years
Pratishtha Budathoki, student from St. Cloud University has been missing since June 18th, 2006 from Estes Park, Colorado. Police has been notified and her picture has been posted all over the town.

Forget walls, let's bring on the work gloves!

By: on 23 Jun 2006

One of the most recent, and one of the more creative, campaigns undertaken by the pro-immigrant rights community is exploding right now. That's right, we're going to answer the anti-immigrant wall of bricks with a symbol of the POSITIVE contribution immigrants make tho the US--WORK GLOVES

See more info below and take action ;)

Dear Immigrant Rights Advocate,   

As elected leaders and the American public continue to debate what should be done to fix our nation's broken immigration system, the anti-immigrant forces, led by the Minutemen, are mailing thousands of bricks to members of Congress. These bricks are symbols of division, of isolation, and of an enforcement-only approach to immigration reform.

It's time to show the strength of the pro-immigrant community by doing our own mailing. Let's answer the anti-immigrant bricks with a symbol of the positive contributions that immigrants make to the U.S. -- a WORK GLOVE.

Now, more than ever, immigrants and their allies must act. We must show Congress that all the bricks in the world won't hide the fact that what this country needs is comprehensive immigration reform that values immigrants' hard work and their desire to be reunited with their families.

Here's what you can do:

Ciao Roti Passers!

By: on 22 Jun 2006

When I received an invitation from Vivek to join the Pass the Roti Posse (henceforth, PRP), I practically fell out of my seat. Write for a progressive Desi blog?! Yes, especially if it’s progressive! I gladly and enthusiastically accepted.

Right away, I started thinking about my blog name. What should I call myself? I thought long and hard about a name that could describe me.

A request for more information

By: on 22 Jun 2006

I was listening to Democracy Now! yesterday and heard the following story in the headlines:

And in India, trash collectors in the city of Meerut are staging mass protests in an attempt to gain permanent jobs with benefits. The trash collectors have begun dumping garbage in the city’s streets and pelting the homes of government officials with filth (

If anyone knows more about this story, please let us know in the comments!

Navy => Aqua => Orchestral music

By: on 20 Jun 2006

A friend of mine in the US Navy told me that when he was stationed in southern Italy, an Indian naval vessel carrying the Indian Naval Symphonic Orchestra came through. This is common:

The band has regaled audiences all over the country and at many places abroad with its performances.

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