Monday, September 28, 2009

Nina Paley's Blues -Updated November '09

Happy Thanksgiving ! Latest update Nov 2009
Flickr now has a great set of Sita-related images
including ones of Merchandise from the Sita Store.
Get Jewelry, DVDs, Posters and clothing by visiting

Happy Dassera !

.....which goes well with this Update Sept 28 '09
to include Nina Paley's Facebook Group where you will find
all sorts of goodies, and also ways to
keep this unique artist's
vision alive. Lacking enough support and funding in spite of
worldwide screenings, Ms. Paley has taken an unlikely approach
to furthering this film.
No one that I know of
with such talent
allows the world to have FREE FULL access
not only to
view the film online, but also to access the Source
files and
distribute them freely via Creative Commons.
This is unparalleled
generosity and
intellect coming from the soul of an Artist in the
truest sense of the word !

Originally published June 2008 :
East meets West yet again but this time in an unheard-of way.
NYC animator extraordinaire Nina Paley single-handedly
and executed Sita Sings The Blues, an amazing,
animated feature based on
the classic Hindu mythological tale
of Sita and Rama
as told inThe Ramayana.

Romance, action-adventure and Comedy are key elements
here, but it's definitely the sense of fun possessed by
the creator
that is ever-present, right from the opening sequence which
describes this
as 'The Greatest Break-up Story Ever Told'.

The story in this case draws parallels to the real-life trials of
Ms. Paley in NYC, and her husband who relocated to work
in India.
They were eventually divorced, and Ms. Paley's grief finds its
here, where the striking visuals are set to authentic 1920s
American Blues
music. It all works brilliantly and entertains
wonderfully enough to justify
its place as number 10 in the 2008
Tribeca Film Festival. But this is nevertheless a
touchy subject
for many Hindus, since it deals with their religion and some of
them consider this work blasphemous. I can't say if
there is any
need for Ms. Paley to apologize to anyone,
but I do know that as
a Musician and Artist myself I appreciate
the creative process
here and the intense effort that went into bringing this grand opus
to worldwide attention.

Watch the Trailer below first and then below that, Part 1 of the
YouTube HD version
. Please switch to normal viewing by if
your 'net connection can't handle all the HD buffering
The whole awesome film is available in 10 parts on YouTube.

Friday, September 25, 2009

AARP Contest Runner-up

Created by metroamv when she was a student, this
video is based on the Argentinian Political Advertisement
"The Truth" by RECREAR, and was the second-place
winner for
the AARP U@50 video contest. Watch closely
as she reads the words on the board normally and
then reads the entire thing in reverse
. It all makes sense,
to me at least

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

The Cook's Cottage Celebrates its Millionth Click

Luscious Lychee Tart

While I fancy myself only an amateur Chef, concocting
in a class of
my own making, I never hesitate to rouse up the
nerve to
convey my thoughts about Food Blogs and Cooking
to anyone
who will humor me. One such gracious and
outstanding Chef,
a personal favorite, is Jyotsna Shahane
of Pune, India who
maintains her own Food Blog,
'The Cook's Cottage'

on TypePad. A talented Cook, Blogger and Photographer,
she meticulously recreates many of the simple but delicious
meals that I grew
up with in my old hometown of Pune.
So it's naturally a pleasure to stop by
her Blog and linger, and
freely comment about the latest
Recipe she so generously shares.
Time certainly has flown since I left my first Comment after
stumbling upon
the Photo illustrations for her Recipes on Flickr....
five years at the
very least.

The Recipes that Jyotsna blogs about are carefully researched
for their history, origins, trivia and above all ease in preparation,
utilizing the freshest ingredients available locally. Health-
conscious and leaning towards traditional Indian flavors, the
Recipes she so neatly presents have become a worldwide hit
not only with Indian expats but also with non-Indians fascinated
by the spicy, sumptuous cuisine of India. Be it Curry in a
Hurry, Hot as Hell or Just Vegetables,
there's something
in her Blog for anyone with an adventurous palate.

And so, five years later as The Cook's Cottage officially
celebrates its One Millionth Visitor Click by awarding an
apron to Bharathy, I am thrilled that I missed winning
said Apron by a
mere Apron that I believe I
would not feel worthy of
, since there have been many more
talented Chefs and
Visitors who have helped Jyotsna
achieve this very personal milestone.

Read the short take
on the One Millionth Click, and take
the time to see and perhaps try out the food that gets me
salivating and homesick.

Goa Photo: Prawns in Garlic Sauce

All images displayed here are Originals, Copyrighted
and used by kind permission of The Cook's Cottage

Thank You Jyotsna, for the use of your photos, and
continued success with the next Million clicks for
your delicious Recipes at The Cook's Cottage !

And a related way, good news for this Blog, dear
readers...tomorrow, after many years of Blogging here, but
with keeping track only since the last 6 months, I hope to
reach the 10,000 mark for visitors to Virtual Poona !
Thank you all for keeping me inspired, your Comments
would be greatly appreciated !

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

America's Got Talent. And Homeless.

The problem of Homelessness used to be generally associated
with Third-World nations in Africa, Latin America and Asia,
where poverty has been a way of life for centuries.
Born and living in India for close to 26 years I 'grew up' with
the problem and dreamed, like others still do, of a better place
where there was no such problem....a place with beautiful lawns
and white picket America, the Beautiful.

A comedian once said, "They call it 42nd Street because you're
not safe if you spend more than forty seconds on it."
As a naive and ignorant immigrant at the age of 26, I remember
the sense of shock that gripped me during my first week in
America as I walked on 7th Ave. at Times Sq. in NYC.

It was like a Sodom and Gomorrah version of the Big Top right
there in the Big Apple, even as the music of The Bee Gees vied
against Boston, Donna Summer and Parliament for one's
attention. Strolling along, taking in all the neon lights, sights and
sounds one evening, I was stopped by an Army Veteran in a
wheelchair with a battered tin cup and a cardboard sign around
his neck that simply said, '
Dazed and confused, I gave the man $5 and rushed away, because
it was not only a rude awakening but also part of the Culture
Shock that followed as I slowly learned about the real America,
the Beautiful. And what better place than
42nd St. in NYC to be
Culture-shocked and awed by my first sighting of a Homeless
person in America ?
The notion of 'begging' in America was a
totally new one for me.....

Today, that Homeless Veteran still haunts me as I am faced
with the daily news of the huge numbers of Americans who are
or in peril of falling under that category due to loss
of employment and the lack of a system to support them in
their darkest hours.

I don't read much about the Blogging community, and so I
would have missed this unusual tale of an unemployed
Blogger. Technically, she is not Homeless and living nowhere
near the conditions that 'Slumdogs' face in India, since she
does have a roof over her head. That roof being a Mobile camper
that she inherited from her Father, who committed suicide !
Loss of employment followed by loss of a parent is enough
to demoralize any single young woman, but not this trooper.
Since I had CNN turned on in the background, the words
'Homeless Blogger' immediately got my attention.
As they reported, Brianna Karp
was Homeless and living
in her trailer, parked in a Walmart parking lot. And from
within that trailer, picking up free Wi-Fi signals for her Laptop,
which she used for Job Searches and Blogging about her plight.
Eventually her persistent posting paid off somewhat when
she found herself Blogging for the August 2009 issue of ELLE
magazine. She is still seeking permanent employment.

Her story is related in the video below by Ted Rowlands
and also at CNN online

Former CNN Editor and Photographer among other things,
Linda Schaefer has witnessed first-hand the plight of
Homeless Orphans in Kolkata, where the world's worst
slum conditions are as stagnant as its filthy, water-logged
streets. Recently on Facebook she shared a link she received
from Photojournalist John Spink about an American lady
named Crystal Buchans
who survives as a Homeless person
in downtown Atlanta, walking along the CSX railroad
and under the CNN parking decks.
Gallery | Homeless in Atlanta: Crystal's life near
the tracks|
"Although she formerly worked as a waitress and a grocery
store cashier,
Buchans says she is now a drug addict and
homeless. ..."

Speaking of Talent, you don't have to be a Country OR
Western Music fan
to appreciate this Clay Walker video
so creatively juxtaposed with images from the web....

For a thorough look at America's Homeless, check out the
Complete L.A. Times coverage on the issue of homelessness,
the current reality and possible solutions.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Where Was I on 9-11 ?

Where Was I on 9-11 ?  
Thousands of miles away, driving home after working the
Graveyard Shift as Night Auditor at the Homewood Suites
in Clear Lake Texas. I reached my front door and was
about to turn the key when my next door neighbor told me in his
most sober voice, "They done rammed a plane into that big
building in New York" in his normal Texas Slanguage.
I staggered in already tired, turned on the TV and left it on till I
went back to work that night at 10:30 pm. Only overnight work
fatigue drove me to shut my bleary eyes that fateful day.

One of the last things I did before leaving the NY/NJ area
5 years earlier was to drive a Limo to the front doors of
Building No.1
of the World Trade Center. The VIPs that I
drove to and from the Twin Towers often arrived by Private
Jet around 7:30 am and by 8 am we were at their usually
scheduled meeting inside the WTC. They remained inside till
early afternoon and I then drove them to their hotels or
sometimes back to their
Private Jet or Helicopter. In the interim
between 7 am and 4 pm I ate breakfast, drank lots of Coffee,
smoked lots of cigarettes and strolled around the area, often
shooting the breeze with the numerous other Livery drivers
parked all around and under the area of the WTC.
Our clients were Stockbrokers and CEOs at all the major
financial institutions like Chase Manhattan, Merrill Lynch,
Bank of America
etc., and they paid handsomely to keep
us booked all day when all we did was barely an hour's worth
of actual driving for them.

The pic above was not a B/W shot originally. I decided to present
it that way to convey how it contrasts with the original below....
the 'extra' bonus one you get at the end of the roll inside disposable
cameras. That last one you try to squeeze out, color bleeding and
appearing to be double-exposed.

The Twin Towers 08-11-1996 

Blood-red stains that permanently blot my last memory of the
place I loved.
I often wonder at my luck in leaving that NYC work situation
when I did....8 a.m....I could have been buried in the rubble along
with countless other Limo Drivers and their Lincoln Town Cars.
is no way to tell if I would have become a statistic along with
those who perished that tragic day.

So, where was I on 9-11 ? Physically, thousands of miles away
in Seabrook, Texas. Mentally however, under that rubble, knowing
that day would last forever.

Free Download of Madooo's 9-11 song

Madhu Dhas a.k.a. Madooo, the Big Dooker is once again
offering a Free Download of his original 9-11 song in Zip
format as his tribute during the 8-year anniversary of the
tragedy in NYC. Written, Produced and performed entirely
at his own expense, it's definitely worth adding and sharing
this rare and unusual song to your collection.

It's not often you come across a talent like Madooo's. Aside from
the fact that he is a long-time employee of Deutsch Advertising
in NYC, he is also an accomplished Vocalist, Photographer, Promoter,
Guitarist, Keyboard player, Composer, Music Producer and
Arranger, Elvis/Jim Morrison/Rick James impersonator and a
recent Grandfather for the first time ! His is unbounded energy
and talent coupled with a genuine sense of camaraderie.....
over 500,000 MySpace fans and friends, and he's never used
Facebook either !

I rightfully praise this man because I had the opportunity to play
Bass guitar for him at a Beat Contest in India where he won the
Best Lead Vocal Performance award, after less than a day's
rehearsal at our first meeting.

This Day is Forever - The 9-11 song and the story behind it
is available at his website:
Watch Madoo in action on YouTube here