Occupy the Novel: Review of ‘The Gypsy Goddess’ by Meena Kandasamy

There are some rough patches in Meena Kandasamy’s novel The Gypsy Goddess (Atlantic Books, 2014, pp 283) but the author’s spontaneity, coupled with a radiant wit makes this a memorable novel. Beyond the hard-hitting storyline, the variety of experiments with form would keep one engaged, marking out this book as an important debut of the year, says Rajat Chaudhuri.  

Gypsy GoddessThe Wikipedia entry on the Kilvenmani massacre is a mere 800 words long while the Economic and Political Weekly article that pops up in a JSTOR search, at two and half pages, offers a slightly better word count. A couple of documentaries on YouTube, a few stray newspaper reports from the past, is about all that Google manages to throw up about this barbaric killing of poor unarmed Dalit villagers of Kilvenmani in Tamil Nadu, southern India that happened on Christmas day, 1968. Now that someone has written a fictionalised…

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6 Professions That Produce The Worst Boyfriends

#vindication I’ve always only wanted to be a beach bum and landing the urban equivalent of community activist. Hugs, highfives, and good vibes for everyone!

Thought Catalog

1. Startups

Let’s start off with the one we can likely all agree on: Nightmare Startup Bros are nothing short of mutated fish that crawled out of a lake situated between a Brooks Brothers and a nuclear power plant. It’s like their gills haven’t fully transformed into lungs yet and if they aren’t constantly in a state of flopping around and aggressively telling you about their business model, they’ll die. I recently went out for a party that contained a certified Startup Bro who all but chewed through the wooden bar tables in an effort to get us to care about his monthly subscription plans (though I confess that his sockless loafer look was on point). Who could possibly date this? I would not wish these FitBit-wearing human Voss water bottles on anyone.

2. Academia

There are two reasons that academia dudes make bad boyfriends: One, it’s likely that they…

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The Man in the Wheel Chair

He sat in a non-electric wheelchair, the kind you see in most hospitals. In the gloom you couldn’t tell how beaten up the wheelchair was, if it was new or old, if it was rusting or if it still had the shine of new chrome. In any light you could tell how beat up the occupant was. He sat contorted to one side in the chair. His right arm bent against his chest. His left leg sticking out, foot slightly curved in the cheap sandals he wore. He was in a t-shirt and blue shorts, wet from the continuous drizzle. He wasn’t shivering yet, but you could tell he was uncomfortable from the grimace on his face, though you couldn’t really say if it was from the rain or the uncomfortable contortions his body was paralyzed in. He must have been on the far side of 40, still young enough to hate being trapped in a wheelchair, or maybe there is never an age where being trapped in your own body is comfortable. He smelled, but not the smell you associate with the regular homeless. He smelled like those who couldn’t thoroughly shower mixed with the smell you get when rain and sweat collide. He surprisingly didn’t smell of alcohol though he had just come from the bar. His speech was slurred, though how much from paralyzation and how much from intoxication was hard to say.

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A Strange Day in May

Three facts, one fiction:

Something strange happened to me today. As I got off the bus and crossed the street I ran into a black man in a wheel chair. He was sitting at the street corner seeming to want to cross, but stuck. He didn’t look dirty but had that unwashed sweat-rain smell common to those who get soaked by a surprise downpour. As I helped him across the street, after asking if he needed help, he told me something that took me by surprise. He asked “are you married?” when I said no, he went on” you know when your wife tells you something and you just go ‘ yeah-yeah-yeah’? ” I nodded yes, and with the kind of conviction that’s born of tragedy said “never ever do that.” After I helped him get on to a bus, I stood in the light drizzle as the bus pulled away.

Three fictions, one fact:

I struggled to make sense of what the man in the wheelchair tried to say through his slurred speech. I wasn`t sure how much of the slur was from his scars, and how much of it was booze. I wondered which war had left him so broken. He was missing a leg with the rest of his body so contorted that he could barely sit in his wheelchair. He could only use his sandaled left foot to drag, push, or maneuver his wheel chair. I tried to make out what he was trying to say while we tried to catch one of the buses that kept ignoring him. His anger and frustration finally broke through as he wailed “This is why I fucking hate my life! This is why my life is like hell!” as another bus passed us in the rain. Finally a bus driver that recognized him picked him up. I never did figure out where he was coming from, going, or how he had gotten trapped outside in the rain without any rain gear.

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[Statement] Canadians condemn attempt of coup d’état led by the venezuelan opposition

Hugo Chavez Front Canada

Fuerza Maduro 2014

We



The undersigned, condemn the violence perpetuated by a small sector of the fascist right-wing in different cities across Venezuela in the last days, in an attempt to destabilize the country in a similar fashion as it was done with President Hugo Chávez, on April 2002.

We express our solidarity with the families of the victims and the wounded as well as with our Venezuelan brothers and sisters who struggle for peace, sovereignty and social justice.

We strongly denounce the plan to undermine and overthrow the Bolivarian Revolution, the legacy of President Hugo Chavez, and the legitimate and constitutional government under President Nicolás Maduro. 

We support the Venezuelan government’s right to stop violent protestors and to defend the revolution as elected by the people. The Bolivarian process has won more elections than any other government in the world, having won 17 out of the last 18 elections.

This is just part of the indisputable…

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Tamil Mother of Two Deported: January 26th 2014

Translation & Transcription (Credits: Myself; Sinthujan; Mayuran)
(00:00)
Woman: The case now happened in 2013 may and was rejected, we put an reapply [appeal] which was also rejected, and we asked for a stay order, and I don’t know, and now without my children …. [sobbing] I don’t know how to leave [sobbing]…
(00:30)
Interviewer: When did you get your notice
Woman: January 9
Interviewer: When did you come to Canada
Woman: 2008 December 14
(00:45)
Interviewer: Your children were born here?
Woman: One person was born in India, second daughter was born in Canada
Interviewer: So both are Canadian citizens?
Woman: Yea, both have Canadian citizenship
Interviewer: What reason have they said about you being [deported]
(01:00)
Woman: Over there is no problem over there, so you can’t stay, and you have to go back
Interviewer: What did they say about the children?
Woman: I asked the children are citizens what should I do and they said “I can do what I wish, if I wish I can leave them behind, or if I wish I can take them back”, about that they don’t care.
(01:15)
Interviewer: Under what hope are you going
Woman: I have no hope. [sobbing] The children are crying “mom don’t leave” [sobbing]
Interviewer [to children]: How old are you
Off Screen Family Member: Tell them how old you are, how old are you
Daughter: 5
Daughter: 7
(01:40)
[cut to man being interviewed]
[Inaudible]
Man: The international community doesn’t recognize the problem in Sri Lanka… [inaudible] all groups within Canada should come together and work help people like this mother and children [inaudible]
[children playing]
(02:30)
[sobbing] I can’t leave. No one ever told me this would happen [sobbing]
(03:07)
Man: A mother just wants to work and raise her kids in a safe environment.
[background] Don’t wear your hat now.
(03:14)
Deported Woman: Come here…how did this situation happen? (inaudible) A mother can’t forget this [Sobbing]
(03:40)
Deported Woman: I honestly I can’t take it anymore. This shouldn’t have happened
(03:45)
[background] What is going to happen to the kids?
(03:48)
[background] These are Canadian children
(03:49)
[background] Okay but is there a plan to have them settle over there?
(04:26)
Don’t obstruct the camera view please…stay

Here is a rough version of the video with subtitles added. Credit to Nixon at Rexzile for taking care of the technical implementation.

Here’s an article going into more details about the case and a similar situation with a Mexican family – http://www.thestar.com/opinion/commentary/2014/02/07/deportation_of_mothers_fails_to_consider_best_interests_of_children.html#

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Today Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela Passed Away At 95 From a Long Illness

Image

Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela passed away today, Dec 5 2013, and knowing how liberals and western media are going to rush in to appropriate, water down, and obfuscate his radical politics and legacy, I wanted to post this in honour of the real ‘Mandela’. This is a picture of Mandela in 1990 at an ANC rally with Winnie Mandela and Yossel Slovo, a Communist leader. They are  in front of a massive Communist Soviet Union flag.

While there is much debate about Mandela being a ‘Communist’, he was a political agent, not a ‘magical negro‘ as Western media will no doubt try to portray him:

“Mandela was an African nationalist, […] also being “a democrat, and a socialist”.[325] […] A democratic socialist, Mandela was “openly opposed to capitalism, private land-ownership and the power of big money”.[330] Influenced by Marxism, during the revolution Mandela advocated scientific socialism,[331] although he denied being a communist during the Treason Trial.[332] Biographer David James Smith thought this untrue, stating that Mandela “embraced communism and communists” in the late 1950s and early 1960s, though was a “fellow traveller” rather than a party member.”[333]

-Wikipedia

The thing that is probably going to be most white-washed is Mandela’s relation to armed struggle. Mandela actually helped organize the militant wing of the ANC, for which he was imprisoned and placed on America’s terrorism list until 2008:

“Inspired by Fidel Castro‘s 26th of July Movement in the Cuban Revolution, in 1961 Mandela co-founded Umkhonto we Sizwe (“Spear of the Nation”, abbreviated MK) with Sisulu and the communist Joe Slovo. Becoming chairman of the militant group, he gained ideas from illegal literature on guerilla warfare by Mao and Che Guevara. Officially separate from the ANC, in later years MK became the group’s armed wing.[100] Most early MK members were white communists; after hiding in communist Wolfie Kodesh’s flat in Berea, Mandela moved to the communist-owned Liliesleaf Farm in Rivonia, there joined by Raymond Mhlaba, Slovo and Bernstein, who put together the MK constitution.[101] Although Mandela himself denied ever being a Communist Party member, historical research has suggested that he might have been for a short period, starting from the late 1950s or early 1960s.[102] Operating through a cell structure, the MK agreed to acts of sabotage to exert maximum pressure on the government with minimum casualties, bombing military installations, power plants, telephone lines and transport links at night, when civilians were not present. Mandela noted that should these tactics fail, MK would resort to “guerilla warfare and terrorism.”[103] Soon after ANC leader Luthuli was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize, the MK publicly announced its existence with 57 bombings on Dingane’s Day (16 December) 1961, followed by further attacks on New Year’s Eve.”[104]

– Wikipedia

In the general rush to venerate the political visionary, the mainstream media will try to rewrite the historical narrative surrounding the man, trying to forever divorce the politically radical activist from the legend. While there is much to criticize about his time in power, we must not let his politics be forgotten. Remember, Nelson Mandela was not some saintly old man who through omnipotent patience and love changed the hearts of his tormentors, rather he was a radical activist who used the political tools and strategies at hand to liberate his people and nation. Remember that it was those political tools directed by a socialist political vision that liberated South Africa without expelling  or destroying the Afrikaner population. So remember, remember his politics!

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Russell Brand vs. Jeremy Paxman on Newsnight 2013 [Full Interview]

The Left is now a movement led by clowns and fools; from Jon Stewart to Stephen Colbert, and now to Russell Brand. This may not be such a bad thing, seeing that in literature it was often the fool that was called on to expose the foolishness of kings and queens. Give me an obnoxious Russell Brand to an obnoxious academic any day.

Bonus Video: Russell Brand taking the piss out of MSNBC https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ADJhErmJuoQ

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My first article for TamilFeminist and as the first male contributor too. I’m honored to be invited to join the collective.

Why Feminism Was and Is Still Important: Especially for Men

Posted on: June 12th, 2013

Why Feminism Was and Is Still Important: Especially for Men

June 8, 2013 was the 100th anniversary of the death of British suffragette Emily Wilding Davison[1]. The suffragette militant died from fatal injuries received while disrupting the King’s horse at the Epson Downs’ Derby on June 4, 1913. Davison had wrapped two suffragette flags around herself and ran onto the racetrack in an attempt to bring attention to the women’s suffrage movement, a movement demanding that women have an equal right to vote and hold political office. In 1918, suffragettes won the right to vote in English Canada; 1920 in the United States; 1928 throughout the United Kingdom; 1931 in colonial Ceylon; 1940 in Quebec; independence in 1947 brought universal suffrage for Pakistan and India, which followed the 1921 partial suffrage gained in the Madras Presidency. These constitutional victories occurred only within the last 100 years, during the lives of our grandmothers and great-grandmothers; my own maternal grandmother was born 1923 in Ceylon.

While most countries have full women’s suffrage today, the struggle for women’s equality is still as relevant as it was in Davison’s day. As evidenced by the abolition of legal slavery and the ending of formal colonialism, the end of formal political discrimination against women only exposed the deeper system of economic exploitation and social violence that had underpinned the political marginalization of women. Constitutional reforms may have improved the lives of a few wealthy and privileged women but left the majority of working class women unaffected: working class women such as my grandmother who struggled to support her family while her husband struggled with illness, because all the best jobs were reserved for men; women such as my mother who lost her opportunity to finish school because as the oldest daughter she was expected to stay home and help raise her siblings while her mother worked, even though she was as bright and ambitious as, if not more, than her brothers; or the women of Tamil Eelam targeted by the Sri Lankan state’s campaign of sexual violence and murder to silence any political dissent to the Sinhala chauvinist colonial project.

We still need feminism because it’s not much different today in Canada where a white woman on average only makes 70.5% of what a man makes. The wage gap[2] is even wider for women of colour earning 64% and aboriginal women 46% of what men make. We need feminists when countries like Venezuela recognize the non-salaried labour of housewives as productive work and extend state pensions to include them[3], but Canada still prefers to leave housewives dependent on their husband’s pensions for retirement; or that nearly half of all women in Canada will be the victims of sexual and physical violence[4], with a quarter living in perpetual fear of violence[5], which is all underpinned by Canada’s own colonial campaign of rape and murder of aboriginal women. This system of oppression and control, manifested by patriarchy, is what feminists continue to struggle against.

Beyond the fact that an injury to one is an injury to all, why should patriarchy matter to Tamil men? Patriarchy has repercussions for men. One of the foundations of patriarchy is the segregation of people into binary social relationships of man/woman. While patriarchy demands that women be submissive and subordinate, patriarchy designates that men must be aggressive and dominant. Folan labels this narrow and limiting binary the ‘gender straightjacket’ and attributes to it the growing trends of men falling behind in academic achievement, having problems with alcoholism, engaging in higher risk behaviours, facing more conflicts with the law, becoming victims of violent crimes, and suffering higher rates of depression and suicide[6].

Closer to home in Toronto, working class communities such as Tamils are haunted by the spectre of youth violence, such as the Danzig shooting. To not join feminists in challenging patriarchy is to allow young Tamil men to grow up thinking that to be a man is to be aggressive, dominant, and violent. To allow such a patriarchal ethos to fester in young Tamil men who are already constantly being antagonized, dehumanized, and marginalized by a racist-capitalist system is to create the explosive mix that leads to deadly gun violence in the community. While wealthier and more privileged communities can mediate patriarchy by ritualized and controlled displays of violence and dominance among their youth such as through sports, working class communities can only save their youth by confronting patriarchy and other root causes. We can no longer collectively absolve ourselves as Tamil youth unleash their anger and frustrations against each other and against women. We can no longer pretend that such violence is something that happens to ‘other communities’ or that the community has finally moved past the era of rampant gang violence started in the 1990s. Young Tamil brothers are still dying violently including in two[7] separate shootings in the Eaton Centre and Cabbage Town[8]. If, as a community, Tamils want to end the flow of tears and blood, we must not only support Tamil feminist’s struggles against patriarchy, but as Tamil men we must also become allies and take up our own struggle against patriarchy.

TFlogo_final


[1]Kira Cochrane, “The Gaurdian,” http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2013/may/29/nine-lessons-suffragettes-feminists (accessed June 3, 2013)

[3]Thomas Ponniah, “Common Dreams,” https://www.commondreams.org/view/2013/05/17-3  (accessed June 6, 2013)

[4]“Toronto Police Service,” http://www.torontopolice.on.ca/sexcrimes/sas/statistics.php (accessed June 4, 2013)

[5]“Government of Canada,” http://www.victimsweek.gc.ca/res/r52.html (accessed June 4, 2013)

[6]Peter Folan, “The Good Men Project,” http://goodmenproject.com/education-2/unlocking-the-gender-straightjacket/ (accessed May 24, 2013)

[8]    As of writing, a third Tamil man has been gunned down in Scarborough. Because of the unclear motivations and circumstances for the shooting, the third shooting has not been grouped with the first two youth murders.

Andrew Livingston, “The Star,” http://www.thestar.com/news/gta/2013/05/30/morningside_and_finch_shooting_leaves_one_man_dead.html (accessed June 9, 2013)

It was challenging to strike the right tone for this, the first ever article I’ve written on feminism. I got some critique on my early drafts that I had been extremely liberal. I have to acknowledge that when it comes to feminism I do turn into bit of a liberal because I’m still pretty new to the theory. Thanks for all the comrades who gave me feedback.

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President Chavez: A 21st Century Renaissance Man

The loss of President Hugo Chavez in Venezuela, was a loss to the world.

Hugo Chavez Front Canada

03.14.2013 by Profesor James Petras

todos somos Chavez
Introduction: President Hugo Chavez was unique in multiple areas of political, social and economic life. He made significant contributions to the advancement of humanity. The depth, scope and popularity of his accomplishments mark President Chavez as the ‘Renaissance President of the 21st Century’.

Many writers have noted one or another of his historic contributions highlighting his anti-poverty legislation, his success in winning popular elections with resounding majorities and his promotion of universal free public education and health coverage for all Venezuelans.

In this essay we will highlight the unique world-historic contributions that President Chavez made in the spheres of political economy, ethics and international law and in redefining relations between political leaders and citizens. We shall start with his enduring contribution to the development of civic culture in Venezuela and beyond.

Hugo Chavez: The Great Teacher of Civic Values

From his first…

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