Sunday, 29 January 2012

So When You Blow Up I Can Pretend I Was An Integral Part Of The Process

A friend of mine has just released his first book Hi! My Name is Loco and I am a Racist.

I've been following Loco for a while over at his blog, Loco in Yokohama. Through his blog, and our private conversations I've been a privileged witness to the development of the ideas that were to make it into his book.

The book is a memoir of sorts that takes one through the author's experience of black consciousness-raising, nationalism, and militancy in 1970s Brooklyn; military service, interracial romance and corporate bigotry in the 80s and 90s; and the idiosyncracies of Japanese attitudes to race in the 00s. It details the author's struggles with the racism he finds out there in the world and, most powerfully, the author's struggles with the racism he finds in himself.

The raw candour and introspection throughout are the things I like most about the book, and the author. There's a magic to the flow of the narrative that compels you to turn the pages. Each episode in the author's life and their impacts are described vividly, with humour and pathos. There are many gems to choose from but I think the outstanding episodes were those concerning, Aiko - a former lover, taken by cancer - and White Boy Chris. 

At the same time I found the introduction lacking the same kind of power as the main text, and the flow of the narrative breaking down in the transition to snapshots of the author's experiences as a teacher in Japan. However I felt the book ended strongly with an interesting conclusion that works as a nice close to themes opened up in the first chapter. I finished the book both with a smile and a small measure of regret that there wasn't more to read.

Loco. Well done! I know it was a long, hard road, putting together your opus. I hope to see many more.

The book is available at Amazon and Barnes and Noble online. Kindle version HERE.

Monday, 17 October 2011

This Is What Happens When You Have Glamorous Friends

I was out with Lunch-meet at a party at UB City that was organised by brewers UB (What a surprise!) in order to celebrate a win by Royal Challengers Bangalore (RCB), the local cricket team. 

I got tanked up on red wine and chatted with one of the cheerleaders (yes, here in India, cricket warrants cheerleading), went to the kitchen and gorged on chicken shish, lamb shabbab, and intermittently cried out “sheep meat!” in between mouthfuls. 

There was a fashion show. Then they put on the cheerleaders. The place was lousy with Bangalore glitterati. Decent music, but a terrible DJ. Great food though! The caterers, Fava, made a spinach and ricotta ravioli that tasted so good it might have had a body in it. 

I found it funny how few guys made an effort to dress up; I was easily one of the best-dressed fellows there and considering the state of my wardrobe that’s really saying something! In contrast, all the women were dressed to the nines, goodness me! There was one lady with the most gorgeous little peepers, high heel, with a platform sole. All black with silver petals. I had to give her the compliment through Lunch-meet. The lady’s boyfriend was looking at me like I’d club him and carry her away if he took his eyes off of me for a mere fraction of a second.

Tuesday, 27 September 2011

Another Splurge

Because I've felt like eating Italian food. I discovered a decent foreign foods section at a place called Thom's Bakery, where I've seen the largest concentration of non-Indians outside of one of Viren's ex-pat club parties.

I pivked up a few things, but wasn't brave enough to drop the rupees they were asking for a tin of anchovies, I haven't developed enough of a craving for a good penne putanesca... Maybe one day. 

Today I feel like a good aglio olio, with a nice salad and braised chicken breast. Of course, just as I'm getting ready to start cooking there's a bloody power cut!

Sunday, 18 September 2011

Wednesday, 31 August 2011

My Weekend Break

Ah, yes. So it seems in Hampi one can find Indians who stare. Even though I was travelling with a tall, pretty, blonde, Russian lady - my friend, Miss Piggy - damn near all stares were directed at yours truly. 

Now, I already anticipated the possibility that the stares were because people couldn't understand why a tall, pretty, blonde would possibly keep company with the likes of me. So I compared the frequency and kinds of stares I got exploring the Hampi ruins alone with those I got exploring the ruins with Miss Piggy. About the same. Absolutely fascinating.

Less maddening than the daggers directed my way by the well-to-do black women in the People's Republic of Cambridge (Mass.) when I'm with a non-black female acquaintance; but also less amusing than being regarded with envious eyes by ex-pats when I go out with Lunch-Meet.

I was also surprised by the ways I observed some Indian tourists treating the ruins. I saw people pulling at statues, and/or climbing on them, littering, and even relieving themselves. As if the attitude was that personal enjoyment is of paramount importance; that it mattered not what was left for other people to enjoy as long as they got theirs.

Tuesday, 30 August 2011

Just Because

Not usually a Country and Western man, but me likey this one.The music video doesn't do justice to the song. I suspect that's because at the time young miss Rimes lacked the experience necessary to look lonesome enough. Oh well. No matter.

Friday, 26 August 2011


Our two interns have left so the office is super small and super quiet; consulting dept. is down to little old me and my supervisor again. Hope to get a new victim intern soon.

Still lonely, still missing She on occasion. Not just someone-to-hold-lonely though. I think I actually feel existentially lonely too at times. Missing old friends.

Finally managed to get a well-earned break and traveled to a place called Hampi in northern Karnataka. Absolutely beautiful. Pretty much spent two days in the sun and have a case of sunburn, HA! I burn so rarely that the pain and itching always, always comes as a total surprise.The sunburn hypothesis never even enters my mind until my skin starts peeling en masse like I got hit with a few gamma rays.

Thursday, 11 August 2011

Sociological Images

Peeped one of Lunch-meet's magazines the other day. The Indian edition of Elle. In it was an article about transracial adoptions with the following lede:
Throughout her childhood, her white foster mother's assurances that she was "not really black", made author Precious Williams believe that her skin colour was something unpleasant. That's why reading about transracial adoptions by celebrities fills her with dread.

Yes, folks. This was the illustration they chose to put above the title. Ho ho!

And the piece de resistance, a bloody advert for skin-lightening sunscreen on the page right after the article, because, folks, dark skin really is unpleasant. All one need do is feign horror at those who express such a view openly (and, possibly, keep your fairness cream out of plain sight).

In Which I Vent My Spleen

I am at the end of my tether with these fucks at Vodafone. They've been promising me 3G for the past 4 months, and every time I call ir’s been: next month sir, for sure. It’s only had no reception a few times. Most of the time it works fine but the speed is really bloody slow, which means that I can barely use Skype.

I was quite pissed off last weekend, because my sister and several friends finally had the time to get on Skype. And I couldn't even chat to them because the data transfer ground to a halt over Saturday and Sunday. Apparently 3G is coming out tomorrow, but right now I don’t trust anything that comes from Vodafone, and I’m all Sunk-costs biased up, and averse to the fumduckery of other service providers to jump ship. 

It amazes me that they’re allowing their name to be put to the fiasco that is the Indian operation. How is it that in a country that exports thousands of engineers, this company can’t sort reliable connections for people in its so-called Silicon Valley?

Update: 3G has apparently been rolled out and - surprise surprise - I still have no access to it. I fear what might happen if I pay a visit to the local Vodafone office.

Food Therapy

A few days ago I hit a low point in my cultural adjustment. I'd occasional feelings of resent towards the walk to and from work through a miasma of toxic fumes; on filthy streets, playing dodgems with dumped rubbish, cars, auto-rickshaws, motorcycles, dead things (I've seen more bodies than Quincy M.D), and excrement. 

I also hated not being able to cook what I like. So today I went on a splurge and bought some of my ingredients: oyster sauce, soy sauce, chilli bean sauce, and yellow bean sauce. I made some rice, chicken braised in oyster sauce, green beans tossed in chilli bean sauce, and a red and gold omelette. I saved the stock from the chicken, and used it to make a good old red stew - a Nigerian dish - which I've been having with rice.