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Kuttundi, a Kannada podcast series

It is my eighth year in USA. Though I have spent good portion of those eight years in India doing my PhD research, I have spent enough time in US and have interacted with good number of Americans to have developed a unique understanding of this country. I want to share those observations of this land. Hence, I am starting a podcast series in Kannada. I am calling it as Kuttundi.

Kuttundi is a candy like concoction of tamarind, jaggery, red chilli, and cumin powder. A well made Kuttundi – with a balance of sweetness, sourness, and hotness – is a delight to the senses. My life experiences here is US have been of similar mix. Hence the name.

To subscribe, search for ‘kuttundi’ on your favorite podcast app or add this rss to your podcast app. It is also listed on SoundCloudiTunes, Google Play, and here, on my blog. I will be uploading a new episode on 1st and 3rd Sunday of every month.

Download the first episode here or listen to it via SoundCloud

BTW, Nallikayi hosts good set of Kannada podcasts. You might want to check that out too!

An ode to my pit latrine

Pit latrines safeguard the psyche of humanity in their depths and darkness
Pit latrines safeguard the psyche of humanity in their depths and darkness

Dear pit latrine,

Many a times I wonder what might be your opinion of me as a human being, considering how I treat you. I shit into you; I throw all possible things – condoms, liquor bottles, needles, syringes, sanitary pads – right into your heart. I sometimes worry whether you know me too well! But mostly I find solace in the fact that someone knows the true side of me.

To many in this world, you provide the necessary privacy to relieve themselves with dignity. For me, you also provide a kinship. Your depth and darkness is a reflection of my own personality. Because of you, I not only shit in peace but I also live in peace. Your silence keeps me sane and your acceptance makes me feel human.

Character is what lies in the dark. Mine lies deep inside you!

Thank you for being part of my life.

fondly,
marginalized human

Raised toilet seats – what do they really mean?

Erect toilet seat
Erect toilet seat is a symbol of perverse exhibitionism

Whenever I see a raised toilet seat, I not only think about the insensitivity of the man who used it before me, but also his perverse exhibitionism. I feel that the person who left that raised toilet seat behind also left his erection back for others to witness.

The practice of leaving erections behind is pervasive and is not limited just to public toilets. Men seem to stand and spray even at homes. They don’t seem to care and lower the toilet seat even if they share that bathroom with women.

Even if we end up finding that sitting and peeing has no real health or other benefits, I think that having a toilet I can enter without the worry of stepping on a floor or rug sprinkled with urine is a good enough reason not to stand and pee.

If being a man is about peeing standing and not putting the seats down, may be it is time for men to  stop being men . Masculinity has done no good to this world. It has only brought war, misogyny and sprinkled toilet seats! So, please put it down!

PS: If touching a toilet seat sprinkled by a stranger’s urine is disgusting, how must it feel to have been forced into a social and financial compulsion to clean a stranger’s toilet or scoop poop without wearing any safety gear from a dry toilet?

Because I love this life…

And because I love this life
I know I shall love death as well.
The child cries out when
From the right breast the mother
Takes it away, in the very next moment
To Find in the left one
Its consolation.

― Rabindranath Tagore, Gitanjali

On kindness

Kindness

by Naomi Shihab Nye, 1952

Before you know what kindness really is
you must lose things,
feel the future dissolve in a moment
like salt in a weakened broth.
What you held in your hand,
what you counted and carefully saved,
all this must go so you know
how desolate the landscape can be
between the regions of kindness.
How you ride and ride
thinking the bus will never stop,
the passengers eating maize and chicken
will stare out the window forever.

Before you learn the tender gravity of kindness
you must travel where the Indian in a white poncho
lies dead by the side of the road.
You must see how this could be you,
how he too was someone
who journeyed through the night with plans
and the simple breath that kept him alive.

Before you know kindness as the deepest thing inside,
you must know sorrow as the other deepest thing.
You must wake up with sorrow.
You must speak to it till your voice
catches the thread of all sorrows
and you see the size of the cloth.
Then it is only kindness that makes sense anymore,
only kindness that ties your shoes
and sends you out into the day to gaze at bread,
only kindness that raises its head
from the crowd of the world to say
It is I you have been looking for,
and then goes with you everywhere
like a shadow or a friend.

Memory Is Not Enough

Memory is not enough…
I do not recollect. What I am
is alive in me because of you. I do not reinvent you
at sadly cooled-off places you have left behind.
Even your absence is filled
with your warmth and is more real
than your not-existing. Longing often meanders
into vagueness. Why should I throw myself away
when something in you may be
touching me, very lightly, like moonlight
on a window seat.

(To Lou Andreas-Salomé, Duino, late autumn, 1911)

To You

STRANGER! if you, passing, meet me, and desire to speak to me, why should you not speak to me?
And why should I not speak to you?

Walt Whitman (1819–1892).  Leaves of Grass.  1900.

23andMe RAW DNA Data

Today Hindu fundamentalists are redefining terms such as “Hindu”, “Hinduism”, and legitimizing violence in the name of ancestry, DNA tests can come to our aid and help us understand how are all linked to one another.  These tests also helps us understand the inbreeding that has taken place in our community in the name of caste.

As you can see, my father is 100% South Asian. The geographical spread of his DNA takes us as far as Afghanistan. My mother on the other end has inherited a tiny bit of DNA from East Asia, Yakut and American regions.  2.5% of my genes are from the neanderthals!

Ancestry Map of Sharada Prasad CS

Ancestry Map of Sharada Prasad CS

 

Neanderthal DNA composition of Sharada Prasad CS

Neanderthal DNA composition of Sharada Prasad CS

 

Ancestry Map of CK Srinivasa Murthy

Ancestry Map of CK Srinivasa Murthy

 

Ancestry Map of HR Savithri

Ancestry Map of HR Savithri

You can download my raw DNA data by clicking on this link. You can use the data either for research for judging me based on my genes 🙂

The Intersection

I am a podcast addict. I cannot do any house chores unless I am listening to an audio book or a podcast.

A couple of months ago I came across The Intersection. As their website puts it,

Every fortnight, The Intersection narrates stories that meld culture, science and history in India. Through interviews, anecdotes and original research, Padmaparna Ghosh and Samanth Subramanian bring alive the rich breadth of human imagination and knowledge, making for a riveting listening experience. The incessant punning — well, that’s just a bonus.

I have been listening to them regularly and started to like them. The podcasts are not long and the topics are very interesting. The first podcast about Bombay blood group is a good representation of how eclectic the podcast wants to be.

In India one cannot air news or any political debate over a private radio channel. State has complete demonology over radio based news broadcast. We also need podcasts that will provide incisive analysis of politics in India.

Why do people honk so much in India?

Yes, this is a question many people ask, including Indians. Over the last decade I have deeply thought about this confounding question and I think I have an answer.

India a country where the society vehemently controls and sometimes even rejects the strongest of the human instincts – sex. The society lacks the basic understanding that sex is a very human thing to have. If you come to think of it, without sex, there would be no humans around, but only cows in India.

Most people these days get to learn about sex through pornography. Hence the whole idea of bodies and expectations from sex is distorted. Not many people get to experience the intimacy in public – such as holding hands or kissing. Result – pent up sexual frustration.

You get better at a sport by playing it more often with different people. Same rule applies to sex. As the society is neither setup for dating nor divorces, most people probably don’t know how to have good sex. Result – pent up sexual frustration.

Just as the talk about sex, the actual act of sex in India is silent. How can one enjoy sex if we have to seal our lips because of the worry that our children, neighbors, or in-laws might hear us? The sonic suppression of sexual act coupled with the absence of orgasms push people to express their frustration through blaring honks on the road. Vatsayana is ashamed of us!

Suppressed orgasms have made India a violent country. They are the primary reason for the ever present road rage in India. Why else would one hit a fellow driver, without even starting a conversation, for a silly bumper dent?

According to my analysis, India is honking and yelling – “I AM HORNY!”

Next time when someone honks, please don’t be mad. Empathize and express your solidarity by smiling and honking back!