When She Was Queen

When She Was Queen is a book that examines the hauntingly familiar tales of Indian diaspora across three continents. Vassanji shines a slender beacon into the lives of people who’ve left the subcontinent and settled elsewhere, in places like Africa, the US and Canada. Eager to start a new life, but fettered by colonial baggage in some cases and always mindful of projecting their mores onto alien shores, these tales provide that most precious of insights: the inner workings of people simply trying to make their lives they want them to be. There is the story of the man who gambled his wife away, the tale of the new bride whose wedding night’s pleasure is sullied by a voyeur, the tale of a young wife forced to wear the burqa because of an edict issued 9000 miles away. The stories are good, and there is even that rarest of creatures thrown into the mix: a Pakistani atheist.

Vassanji’s prose is lucid, the point is made and the prose moves on, seeking a fresh emotive target. This is a book that might resonate with all first-generation immigrants, whether from Asia or not. All that sentimental stuff aside, the stories within are really just stories of the human condition, nothing more, nothing less. Bereaved wives, separated lovers, forbidden trysts, societal bigotry and nostalgia are some of the topics you’ll find in these tales. Pick this one up for a dozen short stories that end almost too quickly.

ISBN: 0-385-66176-2

Crooks and Liars

CrooksandLiars.com just gets better every day and here is further proof.

Unless you’ve been living under a rock these past few weeks, you should know that the Pakistani president dictator has declared martial law and assumed power, imprisoning opponents and so on, as these mad despots are bound to do from time to time in these tinpot democracies. So what’s the big deal, you ask? Well, as stated previously, geopolitics is everything. Everything. From the demise of colonialism to the days of the N.A.M., Pakistan has always been America’s preferred South Asian stooge, as a bulwark against Soviet-influenced India. From cheap F-16s to innumerable other preferred partner subsidies, Pakistan has always been America’s darling in South Asia.

Then the wall fell, there was no giant Stalinistic bear behind the Iron Curtain and the States looked a little harder at its special relationship with its ally. When India beckoned with its 400 million strong consumerist demographic, eager to purchase everything the States could throw at it, from cheap irons to clothes to anything American, it suddenly got a lot tougher to justify these preferential treatments to Pakistan, a country with its own brand of fundamental Islam. But no one could ever accuse the Pakistanis of being dummies in a geopolitical war. Quick to capitalize on the “War on Terror”, they promised to fight Afghanistan and the militants therein and thus remained in the good books of the Evil Empire.

So why is this embarassing? Well, for one, this goes against the military industrial complex is working very hard at to make you believe. The war in the Gulf is to spread democracy etc..etc….all that doesn’t go down too well when one of your biggest allies himself seizes power in a markedly non-democratic fashion. But does the average North American even know where Pakistan is? Or care? Don’t they have America’s Next Top Model or some other bilge to watch, thereby programming themselves to be utter stooges to mediocrity and suburban despair. But that is a rant for another day. Anyway, the one good thing out of this situation so far is the delicious irony cake below.

In what has to be the biggest irony of the Bush administration, a regime known for its substantial faux pas’ and gaffes, the White House tells Pervez Musharraf to “never restrict constitutional freedoms in the name of fighting terrorism.” If this isn’t laughable, I don’t know what is.

Read the full story here:

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She said that the administration is “deeply disappointed” by the measure, which suspends the country’s constitution, and believes it is never “reasonable” to “restrict constitutional freedoms in the name of fighting terrorism”:

Q: Is it ever reasonable to restrict constitutional freedoms in the name of fighting terrorism?

MS. PERINO: In our opinion, no.

For more analysis and so on, consult the media and draw your own conclusions once you’ve learned the facts. This video clip taken from here.