maeve66: (Nagini)
This is an old movie poster for a Naag-Nagini movie; there have been many, many iterations of that plot. I was torn between this and a gun-toting Pakistani woman, but this won. I draw women like this all the time -- maybe not with such a ferocious expression. But I like the outthrust and ample hip, as a visual trope. It's also a sort of wistful homage to M. He has a definite soft spot for movies with strong, curvy, campy female protagonists in spandex who smash the hell out of the men in the movie. I like the balance of colors and lighting in this userpic too, though. In all, score.

Saw Zindagi Na Milega Dobari last night with [ profile] amarama. I enjoyed it much more than I expected I would. Hrithik Roshan has really grown on me, though M. despises him. (I WILL get over alluding to M. every five seconds, I swear to fuck I will... it's just a bit hard in this context, to ignore his legacy, as it were). [ profile] amarama and I were talking about how much we enjoy Hrithik's dancing, and his eye makeup, and his general willingness to be a gay pinup idol, especially wearing a biker cap and oiled pecs. Well, that was my thought; I shouldn't foist it on her. The movie suffers (as almost all Bollywood does) from wealth fantasies that make it a bit ridiculous -- traveling in Spain is not as *I* remember it. My traveling in Spain was first by bus, to a dusty town in the middle of fucking nowhere, and then by troop train (not kidding; I'm sure I've told this story at some point) across the border from Portugal to Spain, overnight. Spain IS beautiful, there's no question. But it's not necessarily luxe. Whatever, it was a fun movie, even if I wasn't a fan of the Spanish-Hindi hybrid music. What I want to see is Delhi Belly, an Aamir Khan film promoting the career of his nephew Imran. I love the nepotism of Bollywood, seriously.

I also want to see, though it's hard to find a copy -- a film I am sure is wretched, but hey, it's a modern nagini film -- Hissss. I hope that's enough Ss. Triumph! Amazon has a used copy. Here is the review of it, from that site.

As the story goes, the movie is about the Vengeance of the Snake Woman, when the legend of the Naagin has been spreading for over 4000 years ago.

Finally in 2009 George States (Jeff Douchette), a ruthless American travels to the jungles of India and captures her mate. She transforms into a stunningly attractive woman (Mallika Sherawat) with absolutely no clue about contemporary civilization or the ways of mankind, and ventures into the city in desperate search for her lover with vengeance on her mind and venom in her fangs.

What follows is a chase at breakneck speed, with horrifying deaths, narrow escapes and special effects never seen before in India, as Vikram Gupta's (Irrfan Khan) Clarice Starling chases down a beautiful sexy killer more dangerous, powerful and terrifying than Hannibal Lecter.

This is India's Werewolf, Vampire, and Hannibal the Cannibal, who has an axe to grind with the villainous human race who has dared to desecrate her environment and capture her mate...

I love the equation of Irrfan Khan with Jodie Foster's Clarice Starling, and Mallika Sherawat with Anthony Hopkins' Hannibal Lecter. I also love that the American (I guess) actor's name is Jeff Douchette. Gotta see that movie. Which reminds me, I NEED to post about a Pakistani horror/splatter movie I want to own, a fairly recent one that should, in my opinion, entirely revitalize the Pakistani film industry. It's called Zibahkhana. Maybe I'll do a two movie entry on the Pakistani film industry, also dealing with Khuda Kay Liye. That would be a funny mash-up review.
maeve66: (raja sketch)
I think I am coming to the end (man, I hope I am coming to the end) of a horrible chest cold which has made me whiny and inarticulate -- except I have been well able to articulate the whinyness -- for more than a week. I guess I am glad that it is a chest cold than a head cold, as long as it doesn't metamorphose into fucking bronchitis. If it stays away from that, I far prefer a chest cold, but it's exhausting.

All weekend I did nothing but endure this cold, stay in my nightgown and fuzzy robe, drink liquids, appreciate matzo ball soup made by my mother (who will be leaving again for Chicago in a couple of weeks, which is sad...) be whiny, and learn Hindi. The matzo ball soup -- from a Streit's packet; I'm not proud, and nor is my mother -- and the learning Hindi were very good, at least. I am tempted to make more tonight, in fact, but perhaps I should preserve it in case of dire need later on. Ah, that's dumb. I can buy more matzo ball mix at will.

Anyway... I've been feeling energized around Hindi lately -- I did some this summer, and have been doing much, much better at keeping at it even though school has started. I would say, at this point, that I have come much, much farther than the only other time I attempted to learn a language on my own without a class. That was Gaelic, with a "Teach Yourself Gaelic" book and cassette series, and it was an absolute washout. I think I learned how to say "the big white cat is sitting by the fire". I don't know why I learned to say that. I didn't even HAVE a big white cat when I was trying to learn Gaelic, which was... let's see... twenty-one years ago. I do have a big white cat, now, and I can say that -- well, minus the "by the fire" bit, though I could probably cobble something together -- in Hindi, now. But I could say I had an old white cat named Rilke last year... what can I do NOW, you ask?

I can say hi, how are you, my name is.... what's your name? I can say I'm fine. I can say good night. I can count to ten million (no, seriously, not that I am planning on doing that). I can name the colors of the rainbow. I can compare things as to whether they are bigger or littler, longer or shorter, cheaper or more expensive. I can use the present progressive tense. I can ask some simple questions and tell straight up hours on the clock (but not say it's a quarter of two, or it's 4:40). I can identify some animals and some shapes. I can say I want to shop, or eat, or go somewhere. I can use all kinds of endearments. Those come from Bollywood movies and filmi music, though, not from Rosetta Stone.

Actually, I am supplementing Rosetta Stone with a few things. I bought the Rupert Snell "Teach Yourself Beginner's Hindi" and the accompanying "dictionary", which is almost identical to a Hindi Dictionary and Phrasebook I already owned... I have the Oxford Hindi-English and the Oxford English-Hindi dictionaries... and the Oxford English-Hindi dictionary goes from "menial" to "mental", skipping right over that pesky word "menstruation", or "menses". I use some sites like the Avashy Hindu Script tutor (thank you SOAS, for that resource)... and SOAS recently directed me to yet another resource, which is the best supplement to Rosetta Stone YET.

Two grad students at North Carolina State University decided to create an online Beginning Hindi class with 24 lessons, called "A Door Into Hindi". It has 24 videos, accompanying grammar lessons, vocabulary, and scripts. You can download the audio portion as MP3 files. And the videos were shot in India and Pakistan in 2000 and 2001, at least so far. I'm on lesson 3. I don't want to go too fast, because it's so good! So much more engaging and funny than Rosetta Stone. Not that I mean to complain about Rosetta Stone -- I am still hella grateful to have it, since I cannot afford or even find any accessible actual in person Hindi classes. But Rosetta Stone, while definitely good at basic rote teaching in the i + 1 theory of language acquisition, is not the most scintillating in terms of content. The last lesson compared red circles to blue rectangles and green triangles and yellow squares, for instance. When I was showing Mark Rosetta Stone last weekend (not this most recent, cold-enhanced weekend), I skipped ahead and my heart kind of sank. The language samples do get longer... but they seem to switch from actual frozen photos of girls and boys inexplicably crouched beneath picnic tables to complicated hand drawn cartoons.

Anyway, the NCSU video program is much more enjoyable. I like seeing places and the scripts are excellent. Mark could understand most of what was said in the first two lessons even without the crutch of a script, since he reads Arabic, not Devanagari script. Apparently the makers of the video lessons planned to make an Urdu script equivalent, but have not, yet. And they're using Hindi cultural phrases even in the Pakistani parts of the videos, which is probably kind of fucked -- certainly from the Pakistani point of view. It's very odd seeing a young woman applying for a job in an Islamabad jewelry store say "Namaste" to the proprietor. It seems like the two grad students had a really good time plotting the video episodes, working in jokes and so on. I appreciate their effort. Hm. In case anyone wants to see it, here is a link. Enjoy.

The last supplements to the Rosetta Stone curriculum are, of course, actually the first -- in the sense that I was using them long before Rosetta Stone... Bollywood films and filmi music and YouTube clips. Now, those are language samples and linguistic input I would have loved to have in high school learning French, though I didn't do too badly in their absence. But it's wonderful to be able to watch clips from a talk show in Pakistan with three professional women called "Golden Girls"... they're fucking awesome. I can't stand that kind of thing in English, coming from a studio in New York or Los Angeles, but man, I love it coming from Karachi. They're women of, I guess, a certain age, very cosmopolitan and sassy, who spend as much time giving each other shit about their hairdos and salwar kameezes as they do chatting with the celebrities -- none of whom I have heard of -- who appear on their show, in the plush living room set.

It's strange to me that upper middle class lowland Pakistanis are so incredibly different from the Northwest Frontier Provinces... and it's weird to me that this tiny, thin stratum of Pakistani society spans such a political spectrum as well, as the well-educated go from the socialist Labor Party of Pakistan all the way to the right wing supporters of intertwined military and political might. I bet it's so small that lots of them know each other, in fact. Hm. On that note -- I just finished reading Three Cups of Tea, which I'd reluctantly started ages ago and abandoned as soon as I read all this fluff about the son of Lutheran missionaries to Africa who became a mountain climber. Mountain climbers are fucking insane. And obsessed. But after I forced myself past that first chapter, suddenly it was pretty fascinating, I have to say. And Mortenson -- the school builder who learns the lesson of three cups of tea -- manages to hew a pretty careful political line, actually, despite being funded by a pioneering computer millionaire, and befriended by Sonny Bono's equally Republican widow. And meeting with both Donald Rumsfeld and Pervez Musharraf.

Okay, I am rambling. Time to close this post.
I cook this all the time, but whenever I look for it over here in my LJ, I cannot find that I've written it down. Despite referring to it as recently as a few weeks ago.

One of my favorite recipes from Madhur Jaffrey (whom I adore -- I recall someone recently not being into her -- was it you, [ profile] florence_craye? -- but I forgive her elite background in India, and in fact really liked her autobiography...) is extremely simple. When I was younger, I liked best her kheema mattar, which is ground lamb and peas in a really nice, oniony sauce. That was a long, complicated recipe. Now, though, my favorite and virtually foolproof dish is masoor dal.

This set of directions is taken off the internet, because I don't have my beloved cookbook with me. But it's accurate. I usually double the amounts, because I love this as leftovers. And I triple or quadruple the cumin, because I just like that.


Masoor Dal

• 1 c. red lentils (masoor dal), picked over and rinsed. You don't need to soak them at all.
• 1 slice unpeeled ginger, about the size of a quarter, each.
• 3/4 tsp. turmeric
• 1 tsp. ground coriander (I think... now I am not sure about the presence of this ingredient, but I think it would be good anyway -- can't hurt)
• 1 tsp. salt
• 2 tbsp. vegetable oil
• 1 pinch asafetida (I omit this, even though it's supposedly great as a digestive aid...)
• 1 tsp. whole cumin seeds
• 1/4 tsp. cayenne powder
• fresh coriander to garnish

So. Add the rinsed/picked over masoor dal to 4 c. of water in a heavy pot. Bring to a boil and skim off all the scum that collects at the top. Your stomach will be sad if you don't. Add the ginger and turmeric and ground coriander. Turn the heat down and leave the cover slightly ajar. Cook for 1 to 1 and 1/2 hours until the dal is pretty much turned into mush. The dal will thicken as it cools... it may actually sort of separate, and you can take out some of the water. Make sure to stir every few minutes during the last 15 to 20 minutes, so it doesn't stick.

Second stage, near the end: heat the vegetable oil in a small skillet -- medium heat. When the oil is hot, add the asafetida, the cumin, and the cayenne. As soon as the cumin sizzles (about ten seconds -- careful, because it will burn fairly quickly) take the skillet up and pour the contents into the dal. Stir it in and cover the pot for at least another five minutes.

Serve with basmati rice. Mmmmmmmmmmmmm.



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