"Pink is the navy blue of India."-Diana Vreeland
In my childhood, every other summer vacation meant packing up a suitcase (or several) and heading to India to visit family and enjoy the food, shopping, fun and heat. With summer here, I feel a little nostalgic and thought it would be fitting to dedicate this summer's first super six to the fabulous subcontinent. Interestingly, it really doesn't take much searching to get some Indian inspired goodness right here at home and you won't have to deal with the monsoon or delhi belly.
So I have to admit this is a bit of a stretch and not necessarily considered an Indian product, but I have a small confession. This whole super six was devised so I could somehow work in Aziz Ansari. I'm not even going to try to appear unbiased and "journalistic" and try to hide my undying love for him. Whether you know him for his super toolish yet lovable character Tom Haverford from Parks and Recreations or just Randy from Funny People and his stand-up, he is the funniest Indian American kid around. This past Sunday he hosted the MTV Movie Awards, (the first South Asian to host a national awards show) and is quickly becoming a household name.
What truly makes this comedian funny is that he is just plain funny. Even though this super six is about Indian inspired things, part of his charm is that he doesn't rely on his background for material (sorry Russel Peters and Kal Penn-aka Taj Mahal Badalandabad). "Feeding the Comedy Beast Without Serving Leftovers" in The NY Times says "What Mr. Ansari won't do is exploit his minority status for laughs, or make it the focus of his comedy. You won't hear him opening about his parents' background as Tamil Muslims from India and he said he's tired of people's assumptions that he encountered rampant racism growing up in the South."
Sigh...I think I love him even more. If you missed the MTV Movie Awards (chances are, it is replaying all week), you can also catch him in Get Him To The Greek in theaters now and Parks and Recreations on Thursday nights on NBC.
If you saw Anthropologie's May catalog, you had the opportunity to instantly be transported to India. The vintage inspired chain traveled to India to shoot the photos and the results are inspirational for outfits and home decor with stunning background images. The store's site even has a slideshow of some of the other images from India and has desktop wallpapers available.
If you're needing a new coffetable book and looking to help a good cause, To India With Love may be exactly what you're looking for. The book is a "scrapbook of memories, photos and stories from India compiled by Waris Aluwalia, Mortimer Singer and Tina Bhojwani to raise funds and awareness for the victims of the 2008 Mumbai attacks." The 408 page collection also includes contributions by Natalie Portman and Cynthia Rowley. Proceeds from the book go to families affected by the terrorist attacks.
If good fiction is more your preference, pick up Secret Daughter. Author Shilpa Somaya Gowda weaves together a story about a girl given up for adoption in India and her life in the U.S. along with the story of her birth parents and their story in modern India. Both books are available on amazon.com. To India With Love is also available at anthropologie.com and select stores.
Who said singing telegrams are a thing of the past? With a tagline like "outsourcing never sounded so good" you know you're in for a treat. Here's how Taj Tunes works. Your friend's birthday is coming up. Go to Taj Tunes, pay $6.99 for a song of choice (a personal favorite is the Birthday Rap) and a lovely lady or gentleman (your choice) will call your friend and sing them a song live from India. You get a recording of the whole thing, just like you were on the line. Hilarity usually ensues and who doesn't like being serenaded? The site also offers singing phone calls for anniversaries, graduations or even to ask that special someone out. Maybe I'll send one to Aziz.
There is probably nothing more refreshing on a hot summer day than a ice cold glass of lassi. The indian yogurt based drink has been refreshing the masses for years. Although Giada's known for her Italian fare, she has a great recipe for an amazing and easy mango and lime lassi that will make you forget all about running to Starbucks for a frappuccino.
We all agree outsourcing is just fodder for comedians. So, it wasn't long before Hollywood decided to bring it to the big and small screen. You've probably already seen the promo for the new NBC sitcom coming in the Fall from the director of The Office. Outsourced (which will begin airing Thursdays 8:30pm CST in September) follows a young American that gets sent to India to run his company's call center. Hijinks and culture clash follows. The show is based on the well-received film Outsourced starring Josh Hamilton and Indian actress Ayesha Dharkar. If you can't wait until the Fall to get your outsourcing fix, the movie is available on Netflix or here.
image source: aziz ansari--tvblogster.com, anthropologie.com, books: To India With Love and Secret Daughter--amazon.com, tajtunes.com, lassi-foodnetwork.com, outsourced--nbc.com