our new house

closed. this is the house folx. in setauket, new york. it took us 8 months to get here, in this ridiculous market. but here we are. can’t wait to move in, clean up, furnish and decorate. will be exciting to take our stuff out of storage after 1 1/2 years. may this house be as blessed as our last one – may it be filled with the laughter of family and friends alike. ameen.

Why we need to stop calling Afghanistan “The Graveyard of Empires”

“Attributing imperial failures in Afghanistan, whether historical or current, to a combination of what Nivi Manchanda (in her Imagining Afghanistan) calls a “trans-historical, congenital Afghan predisposition” and “geographic determinism,” obscures more than it reveals: It prevents any serious analysis of why America and its allies’ 20-year mission failed so badly. It precludes drawing any lessons from their experiences there. And it forestalls any moral reckoning for either the damage inflicted by the occupation or the harms that will inevitably result from our withdrawal. After all, it was broken when we got here.“ More here.

An Open Letter to Airbnb

“Nearly every property that comes up for sale is snapped up in days by a holiday rental company for far more money than any local family can afford to pay. If the trajectory continues — and there’s no indication that it won’t — there’s a good chance our local school will close before our child has a chance to attend.

I can’t describe to you the sinking feeling I get in my stomach every time a sixty-year-old suburban woman stops in front of our place and says to her husband, “oh, that one would be cute,” or worse, when a holiday rental company van pulls up and snaps a photo of our home.

There’s a ticking clock that hangs over our heads, counting down the days until we’ll inevitably have to move to a less desirable location, into likely a much smaller place, and still pay way more money, thanks to the commodification of real estate in the hands of Airbnb land-lorders.

…Airbnb guests: I encourage you to stay in hotels, resorts, regulated bed and breakfasts, and in real commercially-zoned vacation rental properties, not in residential neighborhoods. If you want to use Airbnb in an ethical manner, do your due diligence to ensure that the property you’re renting is a bona fide owner-occupied unit and not a unit that has been taken away from a family. It’s deeply troubling to enjoy family vacation time in a space when you know another family has lost theirs — it’s time to make the Golden Rule popular again.

Citizens: Lobby your city councilors, county clerks, state representatives, and Congresspeople to ban all commercial activity and investment in residential real estate. Whether they include a 500% second house premium, a cost-prohibitive landlording license, or an outright ban on non-owner-occupied clerkless hotel rentals, we simply must drive investors out of the residential real estate market.” More here.

we are lady parts

watched the first 4 episodes of ‘we are lady parts.’ wow. it’s one of the best shows i’ve seen. ever. nida manzoor (the writer, creator, director) is an absolute genius. how long have we (muslim/brown) women waited for something like this. can a show this creative and trope-free even be produced in america? i hope so. we need more.

Call to Action — Afghan-American Coalition

lots of posts on afghanistan. just wanna say, pls center the afghan people. otherwise what’s the point. it’s more of the same. here is what we can do to support people in afghanistan: prioritize evacuations, special immigrant visas, humanitarian assistance, and welcoming refugees. write/talk to ur representatives. more details here.

Trailer for The Injured Body

Dear friends and fam, it is with immense pleasure and hope that I would like to share the official trailer for The Injured Body: A Film about Racism in America. I have been working on this documentary (inspired by Claudia Rankine’s poetry) for three years now. I have interviewed remarkable women and collaborated with incredible dancers. My closest partners in this project have been Rajesh Barnabas (cinematography, sound, post production), Mariko Yamada (dance choreography, costume design, translation between dance and film), Erica Jae (photography) and Tom Davis (music) – the most talented and kindest people on the planet. It has been an extraordinary, eye-opening, emotional experience. I hope that some of the beauty and brilliance we experienced while filming will come through in this short preview. I’ll finish editing by the end of this year and will be working with Don Casper on post-production early next year. Pls ‘like’ and comment on YouTube if you can. And pls share widely.

Coming in 2022, this…… is…… The Injured Body.

More info at NeelumFilms.com.

afghanistan <3

thinking about the people of afghanistan – their strength and perseverance in the face of unimaginable horrors and deprivations for 42 years. the soviets invaded in 1979 and left in 1989, this was followed by a cruel civil war, a taliban takeover that devolved into tyranny, and then a brutal american invasion and military occupation which lasted twenty years (2001-2021). as american troops leave, people’s lives have been thrown into a tailspin, once again. the taliban controlled most of the country anyway and now they are back in power. it’s 2001 all over again. and what does american imperialism (with all its talk of democracy and women’s rights) leave behind except for torture sites and malnutrition? nothing. kabul falls like saigon fell in the 1970s, and it’s up to the people of afghanistan to pick up the bombed-out shards of their lives. shame on all those who used afghanistan as a ploy for their great games, proxy wars, and neocon experiments. no more imperialism, war or military occupation. open all borders and allow people to move freely, wherever they feel safe. unequivocal solidarity with all our friends and neighbors in afghanistan who have suffered too much and for too long already.

montauk

back in montauk after some 20 years. it’s the eastern most tip of long island (a very long island indeed). a beautiful, beachy town with an iconic lighthouse, clam shacks, and ice cream parlors. we chose to eat at la fin, a wonderful french restaurant on the harbor. downtown east hampton has a manolo blahnik store btw, for those who are into that kinda thing, and lots of tanned people in spiffy clothes. with its grist mills, gorgeous beaches, and wind mills, this area is a lot like cape cod, but a notch fancier. remember the great gatsby? it was more than 80 F in the afternoon so decided to skip the hike in shadmoor state park. maybe next time. although the bottlenecks and slow traffic around east hampton did not appeal to the husband.

pakistan and india’s independence days

on pakistan and india’s independence days, i dream of a shift away from the gendered nature of colonialism and its legacies. an end to patriarchy, casteism, the oppression of minorities, capitalist greed and its inequities, and all structures of violence in south asia. more water and sustainability, more equality and justice, more comfort and happiness for all. one day, inshallah.

Interview with asianculturevulture.com

An interview with asianculturevulture.com about our documentary film, A Thin Wall, which will be available to watch in the UK, as a way to mark the independence of Pakistan and India:

“THERE’S an opportunity to catch a poignant, moving and powerful documentary about the Partition and hear two filmmakers talk about its making and their own families’ experiences of living across what became a tragic divide.

‘A Thin Wall’ will be available for a week to UK audiences on the Modern Films platform from this Friday (August 13) and a ticket includes a pre-recorded Q&A with director Mara Ahmed and co-producer Surbhi Dewan.”

“This part of the world has always been incredibly diverse. To want to uproot, disenfranchise, oppress, and eliminate minorities is the stuff of nightmares. It is a continuation of colonial ‘divide and rule’ policies. We need to work together on poverty alleviation, healthcare, employment, and education. We ought to focus on climate change and ways to ensure water and sustainability. This is what will make or break us, not some imagined religious or ethnic purity.” (Mara Ahmed)

The film is screening as part of events marking the Partition and independence for both Pakistan (August 14) and India (August 15).

Comrades and organizations in Ayiti/Haiti

From the Movement 4 Black Lives:

“On August 14th, 2021 the people of Ayiti/Haiti experienced another devastating earthquake that has left more than 1,200 dead and hundreds of thousands injured. The people of Ayiti deserve our solidarity. Instead, we are witnessing what we have seen many times before, disaster capitalists and proponents of US imperialism swarming, prioritizing the consolidation of profit and power over the needs of the people. The lack of action to defend Black Lives in Ayiti/Haiti is yet another reminder of why we say Black Lives Matter.

The solution? Solidarity in practice. We have learned from survivors of man-made climate disasters here in the US, that we must not only support the immediate needs of the Haitian people, we must also commit to their long term needs and their right to be self-determined.

The Haitian people are part of a powerful legacy of resistance, courage and dedication.

Here is a list of trusted comrades and organizations either based in Ayiti or connected with Ayiti with deep roots and integrity.”

Shyam Benegal’s Yatra

Love this so much <3

Repost from @ind.igenous:

Here’s Neena Gupta singing a few lines of ‘Chan Kitthan’ in Shyam Benegal’s Yatra (1986), a miniseries for Doordarshan on the Indian Railways. Wrote about this delightful series a couple of weeks ago, but totally forgot to mention this surprise discovery!

Within my limited listening of Panjabi music, Chan Kitthan remains an absolute favourite. This is actually a folk song of the Saraiki language, and the first line rougly translates to, ‘My love, where have you been the entire night?’ She calls her love ‘chan’ – the moon. A song of lonely love. There are several versions that one can find on the internet, from Attaullah Khan’s classic to Ali Sethi’s soft rendition, and Ayushmann Khurrana with his reimagined version – each of them beautiful in their very own ways.

(Note: Couldn’t confirm the name of the singer from the credits because it wasn’t there, but this is most probably sung by Neena Gupta herself.)