Wednesday, April 26, 2006

Sound Check

So you’ve heard of Reggaeton, right? And, of course you’ve heard of Bhangra. But have you heard of the new shit – Bhangraton? No – I’m not joking – and it’s hot like fiiiya!

Bhangraton is a fusion of the two genres of music. Currently, the tracks in circulation are being made by desi artisits, who are remixing Bhangra tracks with a Reggaeton sensibility. BUT – apparently, production teams Luny Tunes and Rishi Rich are collaborating together – and a joint album is in the works for release in summer/fall of this year. So we can expect to hear tracks with Daddy Yankee and Jay Sean together.

Ummmmm……Daddy Yankee and Jay Sean together in the same studio….I wish I could be there. I’m sure the whole laying down tracks business must get really tiring. I’m sure they would want a massage or something for stress relief, and I am good at giving massages or somethings…..I want to make a sandwich with them two and me be in the middle…….but I digress.

Here are some samples of Bhangraton.

Kawan (Bikram Singh/Gujun/Dom Minic) Jay Dabhi Remix

Ishq Naag (RDB feat. Elephant Man) Reggaeton Remix

So I wandered into HMV today, and saw DJ Jazzy Jeff’s “The Soul Mixtape”. I immediately grab it and head to the sampling station; 2 seconds into the opening track I am nodding my head. When I take off the headphones, they must have been wet from the pre-cum my ears were oozing. The album was pure SICKNESS! Apparently, the album was dropped last summer, and slipped under my radar. If you haven’t been following DJ Jazzy Jeffs career as of late, it might seem confusing that the Fresh Prince’s dee jay is dropping soul tracks. But DJ Jazzy Jeff has taken a more soulful/house turn in his music for the last 6 – 7 years. Apparently when he was last in T.O., his loyal fans were disappointed that he didn’t spin a single hip hop tune, but rather made it a pure house night. It is my utter disappointment to this day that I missed that jam.

(note: previous songs I have uploaded are not downloadable anymore, because my hosting service deletes them if they are not downloaded for over a month, if you really want them write me a comment and I can email it to you)

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

Brown Fruits

In this world saturated with semiotic play, to be, to feel validated, is to see one’s reflection somewhere in that twisted looking pool called the media. As a desi, the situation is less that perfect, but improving, as the children of the South Asian Diaspora are coming of age, being spotted in movies, music, and literature. But as a queer desi, I do not see the sum of both my identities out there. Yes, the queer is out there, but more often than not it is glaringly white, and while the desi may appear metro it is still very hetro. Queer and desi together – rare. Searching through the internet, I finally came across shards of images, namely blogs by other Indian fags (Venialsin, Asshole Roommate, Talking Closets). Reading their daily accounts - echoes of my own fears and anxieties – brought a sense of comfort which I can not fully explain. The other day, I came across a site, which gave the most unflattering of reflections, exposing blemishes and all.

This weekend I wondered how the friends of Dorothy get along in the land of seven rivers, and googled “punjabi gay”. I stumbled onto the homepage of Asian Gay and Lesbian Marriage of Convenience. The site is based in honest intentions, the creator of the site is Pakistani and gay himself and gives his story, “At age 28, under severe pressure from my parents, I was made to marry my first cousin in 1999. After living together for 3 months (at that time, I was in US), I decided to come out to her, since it was getting unbearable for us to go on. The results were devastating; I lost everything and everyone I knew”. In an attempt to help others, so that they do not have to face a similar situation, he started the site, “to engage in a marriage of convenience where both the individuals involved understand and accommodate their orientation, whilst fulfilling social obligations that are so painfully obligatory in our cultures. I am also certain that other individual like me yearn to have children, and this would possibly also be a viable option for them to fulfill their dreams”. I feel a sense of sadness, as I click on the browse link, and start perusing the ads.

The ads use contradictory vocabulary, indicating the psychosis that being gay and desi can cause.
“I am looking for someone to be my life partner in an honest marriage. I would like to live as a conventional couple in front of family, friends and work colleagues”

“I am gay but have never had gay sexual relations or a boyfriend because what I really want is a wife and children.”

“we would also be free to pursue any loving attachment to people of our own sex if we were totally discrete and not willing to jeopardize our own domestic security. come on, give it a chance, we all deserve happiness, I am sure that a marriage of convenience could work”

“Being an Indian gay person, I believe it is so much worth it to give up sex and have a nice otherwise normal family”
I understand the drive that lies behind these ads. Indian parents can present themselves as an insurmountable force, and the desire to please them and conform to societal expectations can be intense. I understand the strategy, to work within the system, to construct an elaborate façade of lies to please others, while trying to obtain the pleasures that are outside the accepted norm. This was very much my mode of operation as a teenager; this way I could go see movies, have female friends, and go to my prom. I became two people, one who I presented to my parents, and the other who lived life outside of home. I admit, the fantasy of compromise these ads seek, was my own when I was younger. I imagined seeking some Indian girl who came from a household as repressed as mine. We would have an understanding, and live our respective lives the way we wanted to, maintaining our family names. In third year university I suffered a nervous breakdown, which would haunt me periodically for a two year period. Lying comes at a price. Deceit requires regular maintenance, and there is the constant stress caused by the fear of being found out. These proposed marriages are a commitment for life, to maintain a life of deception and pretense. I do not look down at the people seeking a marriage of convenience. They feel that this is the only option available to them. If anything this is what saddens me, this reminder that our culture, creates an environment where people feel the only answer is to live a life of repression, which euphemistically this site dubs convenience.

I began this post by over killing the metaphor of images in my first paragraph. I really think this is where the key lies though, positive images are needed, not just to give a sense of validation to queer desi’s, but to foster acceptance. If our parents, aunties, uncle ji’s, continuously see us out there, this will at least force them to recognize that we do exist. While this may not translate into immediate tolerance, it will enable them to see that “the gays” are not just white or hijeras. The other day while coming down the stairs, I saw my mother reading her “Urdu Times”, self proclaimed to be North America’s first and largest weekly Urdu newspaper. And there taking up half a page was the ad shown below.

I couldn’t believe it, and later picked up the paper and gazed at it dumbfounded. I felt a thrill at the subversive nature of the ad, as a few pages in there was an ad for pilgrimage travel to Saudi Arabia. I imagined thousands of conservative Pakistani’s opening up the paper and the ad being right in their face. Boo-yah! I applaud Alliance for South Asian Aids Prevention for creating the ad campaign, and “Urdu Times” for publishing the ad.

This is a step in the right direction.

Monday Miserable

When will you fucking learn? It is NOT a good idea to have a nap on a Sunday evening, especially when you have to start work the next day at seven in the morning. So, last night I found myself fully charged, unable to fall asleep with the number of hours before me having to depart for work quickly diminishing. I tired every trick in the book, engaging my manhood, reading, changing bedrooms, finally with less than two hours of sleep time, I imagine how I would direct "The Picture of Dorian Gray". I get as far as imagining the opening credits - a super zoom-in of a canvas painting with the depths of the paint sticking out like a mountain range - and I am out like a light, dreaming about finding a collection of Ralph Lauren Polo shirts that I never knew I had.

I get ready for work in record time, and fly out the door. I stand by my bus stop, to tired to even listen to Sangeet (my I-pod) sing to me through my headphones. Why do I always catch the bus which will either bring me in right on time, or five minutes late? The bus arrives at the subway station, and like frogger I maneuver around people who should be banned from walking in public places, because they move as if they were in an elderly home. The free Metro paper litters the subway, but I avoid reading it, I have sought ignorance from world affairs for about a month. I do not care what Gwen Stefani is wearing, nor wish to be depressed by learning about the evils our Tory government is concocting.

I walk in five minutes late to work. But it is ok. This week I am on special assignment, I am acting manager while someone is on vacation, and so am afforded the leeway given to management (at least I hope). Today, I am on what we call the referral gate, and I am relieved, as I can relax. The referral gate, is the line that customers are transferred to when they are upset with the answers our agents provide them and proceed to demand to speak to a manager. Usually, I don't get a call for the first hour, which gives me ample time to do browse the internet, and then gate a call an hour, giving me time to do other work-related tasks.

I got my first call in ten minutes. And another one shortly after, by the first hour alone I had taken four referrals, and my in-box was piling up with more calls, as the line was too busy to accommodate all our passionate customers. All, the calls I take run a similar gambit, I greet the customer and introduce myself and inquire as to how they are doing. They typically answer is, "not good", and the customer then breaks off into a litany of wrongs the company has committed against them. I place them on mute, and stare off into the distance, wave at passing co-workers, or look at my nails thinking how badly I need to get a manicure. I release the mute button intermediately, to say a "uh-huh", "ah", or "oh". Eventually, the customer looses wind and stops, and demands that I do as they bid. In the most soothing voice I can muster, I apologize for their frustration. I restate the problems they have listed, and provide the exact same solutions the agent gave before they were transferred to me. This more often than not is satisfactory, and causes the customer to launch into the problems of their life story again, this time at an increased volume. Each time I calmly restate the existing solutions that we have to provide. Finally, the customer well yell, "are you telling me that you are not going to do _____ ?" In my head I am thinking, "You fucking moron, I have only been telling you that for the last ten minutes, is it only sinking in now?" Instead, I say yes sir/mam that is the case and they hangup much to my relief.

The referral line is hell for the rest of the day. One irate customer after the other. Even though I am on the referral line, I have to keep an eye on the team I am watching. This means ensuring that they are working, not slacking off, and taking breaks at allotted times. One girl on the team is blatantly goofing off, and I wrestle with how too approach her. It is my first day watching this team, and I do not want to come across as over-bearing, but I have a job to do at the same time. I decide I will approach her at the end of the day.

My head is pounding as my work day nears an end, and I am feeling delirious. Everything is a bit strange, and I feel disconnected from reality. I want to avoid the girl in question, but I know if I don't approach her today, this will make her more brazen tomorrow. I put on a big smile, and walk towards her, and wait for to finish the call she is on. I gently remind her that she should be on break right now, she retorts back that she knows, and positions herself so she doesn't have to face me. My nerves tingle, and my heart rate accelerates. I want to say, "if you fucking know its your break then why are you taking calls? Go on your fucking break." She proceeds to take another call. My head is spinning, "honey, why are you taking another call?" She looks up at me flustered. "Please, go on break after this call." She nods her head. I can't deal with this right now, I don't have to deal with this right now. I am done work. I'll deal with the bitch tomorrow.

I leave work. I feel like I have tumor in my head, somewhere in the back of my head an Arnold Schwarzenegger voice comes in and says, "it's not a tumor". I am to exhausted to even laugh at my own internal joke.

I reach home, and collapse on my own bed. But I have reached that point where you are so tired, that you can't even sleep. It's like coming of an acid trip, you beg for the release of slumber, but your body doesn't seem to want to give in. I log on to the internet and read a humorous post on Sepia Mutiny, and then read a few pages of my current read, "Wicked: The Life and Times of the Wicked Witch of the West". It turns out this is bad combination of reading before going to bed, as I have three hour nap, fueled with some dream of crazy brown bloggers taking over Munchkinland.