Monday, March 31, 2008

Things I Learnt From The Movie Race

Yesterday I had the good fortune of watching the movie Race. The movie updated me on how India is progressing in ways more than one. For example:

I learned that nowadays police officers apparently don't need to wear uniforms any longer.This is of course so that they may blend in with the local population with ease and keep an eye on them. No study has yet been released on whether the local population of India wears designer shades, leather jackets or drives stunning cars (the old green police Jeep is out of fashion).

Speaking of police Inspectors, whereas in the old days each Inspector was accompanied by a fat dumb Hawaldar, nowadays they come accompanied with curvaceous, long-legged bimbettes wearing miniskirts and dresses with low necklines.Job duties may include cutting fruits, modeling skimpy swimsuits (all undercover of course) and practicing kissing with the boss.

Speaking of secretaries, if you are rich businessman in Bollywood, your secretary must be a super sexy model who, if the situation demands, will go to a club for you and dance on a mirrored floor.I am sure the next batch of graduates at the Indian School of Business must include Sexy Secretary as one of the job perks of being a manager in Negotiations class.

And finally, Indian men are no longer afraid to cry. Every time they engage in sex they must cry.Or maybe, just maybe, since they were doing it in the barn, Saif just got pricked by the Proverbial Needle in the Haystack.

All in all, it wasn't a bad movie!

Previously in this series:

  • Things I Learnt From The Movie Train

  • Things I Learnt From The Movie Vivah
  • Thursday, March 27, 2008

    Geert Wilders' Fitna - A Review

    Geert Wilders, the Dutch MP who has made an anti-Islam film, argues that he has the right, under Freedom of Speech, to say what he wants. And what exactly is he saying? He wants the Quran to be banned because it is a "hate speech". So here is a man using Freedom of Speech to argue that another speech - the Quran - should be banned. His much talked about film, Fitna, is equally circular in logic.

    As soon as I read that Geert Wilders' controversial Fitna was released on Liveleak, I immediately went over there to have a look. I wanted to see what the fuss was all about. After all, this is a movie that has the Dutch government in a fix and Muslims all over the world in a rage (um, so what's new).

    I was expecting a motion picture masterpiece. Well, if not that, at least a thought provoking movie that made you pause, and reflect. After all, like it or not, Rushdie's Satanic Verses or Irshad Manji's Trouble With Islam were well written and thought provoking literary pieces. This was nothing.

    It was as if a high school neocon googled "10 controversial verses of the Quran" and made a flash presentation of the verses, interspersed with images and news footage of 9/11, van Gogh murder and so on. Honestly, a high school student could have produced a better Islam-critical animation. That the verses and their "controversial" meanings (when taken out of context) has been explained numerous times is immaterial. The "movie" is amateurish.

    In fact, the only good thing about Fitna is the recitation of the said verses of the Quran. The qari who recited those verses had a melodious voice.

    Geert Wilders must have hoped Muslims would see his movie and renounce the Quran. In fact it made me laugh at his childish movie and then search Youtube for more melodious Quran recitations.

    Thursday, March 20, 2008

    Bangladesh In Toronto News

    It's not often Bangladesh finds itself in the news here in Toronto. We are more often an interesting anecdote in a major article about India, or just the place where "crippling floods" happen.

    So imagine my surprise when driving to work yesterday morning I heard on 680 news that Toronto East General Hospital is reporting two cases of bird flu - an elderly couple who had recently visited Bangladesh. The news report also mentioned that Bangladesh had many cases of bird flu.

    680 news has a weather guarantee but too bad it doesn't have a news guarantee because pretty soon (after hammering it all through rush hour with titles such as Bird Flu Scare in Toronto and comparison with SARS) it became clear that there was no bird flu.
    A Toronto hospital says there's no reason to believe any of its patients have bird flu amid media speculation that a couple who returned from Bangladesh were potential carriers of a deadly strain of the virus.

    Toronto East General Hospital said in a statement that it has recently treated an increased number of patients with flu-like symptoms, but that there's nothing to suggest any of them have H5N1 avian flu.

    Bangladesh has been grappling with an outbreak of the virulent H5N1 strain among animals, but there have been no human cases reported in the country.
    An even forceful denial is found here.

    When I first heard the news, my mind wandered over to the SARS crisis. That time, everyone avoided Chinese owned businesses, and Chinatown had become a ghost town. Let's say this bird flu thing was real, would Banglatown (Danforth) become a similar ghost town? I don't think so. We still would have gone down there for our rui mach and lota pata.

    It's strange that while one of the most widely reported complaints by other immigrant groups against Chinese immigrants is that they only mix with their own kind, it's Chinese businesses that would have suffered because they need other people. Banglatown apparently is immune.

    Meanwhile, Toronto Star recently did a focus on Banglatown. Very ideal and utopia-like a picture it paints of us!

    The annual Bangladesh Students Association (at Univ. of Toronto) show, this year titled Nirontor, is on this weekend downtown, and I will be checking it out. Last year I was involved in the show - everyone I keep running into this year asks me if I am doing a sequel! No, this year I will strictly be amongst the audience (which means, yes, I had to purchase a ticket!).

    They have increased the prices this year to $15. Every year the prices seem to steadily go up, hopefully this year the quality change will also reflect that upward trend in price. That show is now big enough that the Minister of Education last year came to speak during the intermission, and it gets wide coverage in the community here.

    Wednesday, March 12, 2008

    But Honey, Dubai is A Shopper's Paradise!

    From the construction site that is Dubai:
    A newly-married couple came back from the brink after a folly on the part of the groom nearly rocked their wedding bliss.

    The 22-year-old woman had sought divorce after her husband allegedly abandoned her in a shopping mall in Abu Dhabi, went home and slept for at least six hours and woke up to remember that he had left his wife unaccompanied in the mall.

    Apparently, the man only realized his folly when his mother asked where his wife was.
    Hmm ... maybe this guy was onto something. Maybe his memory wasn't so bad after all. But then why did his mother remind him to pick up her daughter-in-law?

    Kyunki Saas Bhi Kabhi Bahu Thi

    (because the mother-in-law was also a bride, sometime).

    As an aside, I find it interesting that the wife was immediately asking for divorce. For all the stereotype image of the oppressed Arab women, divorce in the Arab world is actually very high (close to 50%!) and many of such cases initiated by women.

    Tuesday, March 11, 2008

    How Healthy Is Halal?

    The title of this post is of course, provocative. Halal comprises of a wide variety of food groups - some are good for you, some are bad for you. However, when I say Halal, I mean the food options open to a Muslim living in the West who observes Zabihah and eats only at certified Halal restaurants.

    The above poster is a real one from a restaurant in Waterloo where I was visiting on the weekend. It's a small take-out/cafe style place, where the menu consisted of burgers, fries, chicken wings, shawarmas and gyros. Plus pop - of course. Given that neither fries nor burgers, as promoted by the poster, is fresh or healthy, it got me thinking.

    Toronto and the surrounding areas are one of the most blessed in terms of Halal stores and restaurants in Canada. Yet, the over-riding category of these places seem to fall into one of the following:
    1. "Arabic" places, serving shawarmas but also fast food like burgers, fries, chicken wings.
    2. "Desi" places serving butter chicken and assorted South Asian ghee-flavored food cooked in a tub of oil.
    3. Fast food - 'halal' KFCs, Pizza Pizza, and so on.
    4. Chinese food (usually Hakka). Some are questionable Halal but that's a topic for another day.
    There may be others but these are the common options. And I have to ask, how healthy are they?

    Then of course, there are the 'Fillet-o-Fish' eaters. They go to non-Halal places and order the fish meal. Nothing wrong with that, except that in such restaurants the fish typically has consumed even more oil than a meat dish (for example the BK fish burger has twice as much calories as the Whopper).

    If you want to eat grilled chicken, or a good sized steak, there's usually nothing. You want to eat healthy non-veg food, you can't do Halal. And that's the sad truth. In the end, doing what is right for you means skipping a healthy meal.

    Thursday, March 06, 2008

    Ryerson Enters The Cyber World

    OK I am back after a break, and if anyone is reading this (yes, I mean the both of you!) - break is good! I have opinions, and I am not afraid to share them!

    Thankfully though, there are somethings I would NEVER divulge.

    For example, the fact that if you are cheating, you should probably NOT broadcast it on Facebook.

    Take a look at this story.
    First-year student Chris Avenir is fighting charges of academic misconduct for helping run an online chemistry study group via Facebook last term, where 146 classmates swapped tips on homework questions that counted for 10 per cent of their mark.
    If this is what passes for intelligence at Ryerson (sorry Haleem, MH) no wonder employers flock to U of T!

    A "study group" is OK as long as you help each other understand concepts. It may be borderline if your buddy helps you understand a problem of a problem set, as you are supposed to understand it on your own. But when your Facebook group says "If you request to join, please use the forms to discuss/post solutions to the chemistry assignments. Please input your solutions if they are not already posted" - I am sorry, you have crossed the line.

    Yes, yes. I know everyone cheats in university.

    But this guy got caught. *wink*