Wednesday, April 30, 2008

#29: Michael Jackson

Like Eddie Murphy and Bill Cosby, Michael Jackson is a perennial favorite among Indians in America. Eddie Murphy wrote the handbook for immigrant acculturation in Coming to America; the Huxtables became the model family for raising dark-skinned children while working as doctors and lawyers; Michael Jackson showed recent emigres that in America it's still okay to dance. MJ's reach has even extended beyond the pond, inspiring Indians in England to put their arms up and get down, as shown by Suleman Mirza and Madhu Singh on a recent episode of Britain's Got Talent

Perhaps nowhere else in the world does Michael Jackson continue to enjoy cultural relevance other than the place where 1980s American music stars go to die and enjoy karmic rebirth on the Channel V pop charts - India. Just ask Bryan Adams.

Jackson moved to Bahrain, seemingly aware that the white people he loved enough to physically emulate have rejected him as a psychopathic baby-dangler. You married Lisa-Marie Priestley, but she didn't like you. You were best friends with Paul McCartney, but now he hates your guts. No worries, Michael, you never had Paris, but at least you'll have Dhaka, where the less informed still believe "Heal the World" is a motivating message and not just a pretty badass Super Bowl halftime show.

In the 1970s and 1980s every Indian-American family had a copy of the Bad album on vinyl, had committed to memory the words of Weird Al Yankovic's parody "Eat It," and had a third cousin named Raj who at every annual Telugu convention in Houston would unbutton his white shirt, tip his black fedora, hike up his white socks and pop-lock it out to a Michael Jackson - Bally Sagoo medley mix.

You're right, Michael, it doesn't matter if you're black or white. Sometimes you can be brown or whatever race you are now. In the end what brings us together is the popular culture that unites us and the songs to which we can dance from LA to Lahore, ideally with members of the same sex.

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

#190: Phonetic Misspellings

Subway Sammiches. 50th and Broadway. New York, NY.

Monday, April 28, 2008

#189: Homeopathic Care

It goes without saying that Indians like the practice of Medicine. What is alarming, though, is that for a community with such confidence in the institutions of science and maths, Indians still manage to believe, in a back corner of their minds normally reserved for heretical thoughts such as "M. Night Shyamalan sucks" and "Isn't Sanjay Gupta gay," that homeopathic care might work.

One would think that 4 years of private, parochial high school, 3 years of undergraduate study in an accelerated medical program, 4 years of medical school, 2 years of interning, and 3 years of residency would banish any and all thoughts among Indians that remotely consider holistic care a legitimate alternative to Western medicine. Gas X is for indigestion; Zithromax is for boils; hydrocortisone cream is for eczema; and Prilosec is for acid reflux. Ginger root, chamomile, red bark and vinegar have no place in the pantheon of prescribed panaceas.

Not so, according to Indians, superstitious and scientific alike. To Indians there is no hypocrisy between taking Crestor for high blood pressure and tiger toe nails for a migraine. Even pharmacies in India, which boast their accredited professionalism with a dingy red-cross insignia outside a ramshackle stand crammed between a cobbler and a paan shop, offer both acetaminophen and hibiscus leaves to cure that crick in your neck.

Do you suffer from Asthma? Try some Pranayama.

What about Diarrhea? Here are some boiled banyan buds.

Do you have Depression? Too bad, it doesn't exist.

To Indians there's no sickness beyond the reach of antibiotics, analgesics and good ol' fashioned ayurveda. Except leprosy. That shit is still a bitch to cure.

Friday, April 25, 2008

#188: Dancing With Members of the Same Sex

It's no surprise that Indians enjoy dancing. On wedding occasions, birthday occasions, pooja occasions, after party occasions, bhangra occasions, and garba occasions, Indians love to crank dat curry sauce and cut a Persian rug.

What is somewhat eye-opening, however, is the Indian penchant for dancing with members of the same sex. In metropoles around the world Indian men and Indian women congregate in groups of their own gender and make their shoulders lean. Maybe it's a sociological result of a conservative culture inhibiting casual and free interaction between the sexes beginning at a very young age. Or maybe it's more simple than that; maybe Indians just like getting down with people that share their genitalia.

You've seen this phenomenon manifest itself at every SASA show, Diwali Function, Holi Fest, India Night, Fusion Concert, and Diversity in Dance Celebration you've ever been to. In nearly each Hindi Flim Remix Dance there is an even number of boys and girls. One would assume this ratio would facilitate quick and easy partner pairing.

Wrong. Instead, Indians prefer to break fusion dances into gender specific portions during which all the girls dance together and subsequently all the boys dance together. Girls will usually do something vaguely inspired by Indian classical forms while the boys will break out their classic Blackstreet-meets-112-meets-'Nysnc-meets-DDLJ hip-hop bhangra routine to the ritual cheers of "Oh my Gawwwwwwds, so sexy Pratul!" from the crowd.

One also sees the Indian proclivity for same sex brown downs in numerous national dance competitions that encourage dude-on-dude dancing and girl-on-girl garbas. Bhangra Blowouts, Dandia Dhamakas, and Raas Riots from Berkeley to GW feature large groups of Indians breaking it down on stage with finger flags and wooden dowels while the opposite sex watches from the seats of the amphitheater, left only to "ooh" and "aah" at hammer downs, poorly executed worms and gratuitous shoulder mounting. Clearly, as evinced by by these demonstrations of dancing in practice, in India girls garba with girls, boys bhangra with boys and only girls named Lakshmi do Kathak.

Perhaps nowhere else is the practice of same sex dancing between Indians more prevalent in the community than at the club or after party. Normally, social interaction tends to escalate during the course of the night from immature tom-foolery to more intimate exchanges on the dance-floor. One need not look further than their high school Homecoming dance to see this. At the end of Homecoming, who were you slow dancing with to Sarah McLachlans "Angel"? Pathik? Ajay? Sanjeev? No, most likely you were dancing with Kate, Katherine, Kimberly, Jenna or whichever other white girl you decided to ask as your date.

At the Indian after party, though, 9 times out of 10 by the end of the night you're huddled tight into an Urkel Circle with 5 other Indian guys throwing your arms up in unison to whatever Mariah Carey remix is most culturally salient at the moment. And where are Preity, Payal, Puja and Priyanka? Dancing with each other on the opposite side of the dance floor, of course, mentally plotting the steps for their all-female Kuchipudi dance to be performed at next year's cultural show.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

#186: Pretending Their Favorite Book is Midnight's Children

The world of South Asian diasporic literature is as populated as India itself. There's Masti Chick Lit, Alternative Identity Lit, Plagiarized Lit, Overwrought Lit, Wait is Zadie Smith Black or Pakistani Lit, Who's Monica Ali Lit, and Sweet Lakshmi Please Have My Baby Jhumpa Lahiri Lit. Above and beyond all these words, pages, paperbacks and epigrams, though, there is only one forefather of South Asian diasporic literature. Sorry, Naipal, but his name is Salman, and Indians like lying to people that they love his books.

Depending on your degree of precociousness and the extremes of your post-adolescent identity crisis during which you threatened to change your name to Steve and convert to Christianity, you probably picked up your first Rushdie book around middle to late high school. Most likely this was Satanic Verses since you vaguely remembered something from when you were 8 about a revolution in Iran and a fatwa on a fat man. Or maybe it was Midnight's Children, which you stumbled across on the Barnes and Noble Summer Reading table while looking for Confederacy of Dunces. Either way, whatever you read you didn't understand and it took you seven years to finish.

It doesn't matter that you turned the last page of Midnight's Children by the time you finished college. It doesn't matter that you bought The Ground Beneath Her Feet, or that you thought the plot sounded a lot like the movie Taal. It doesn't matter if you watched Rushdie speak, or that he signed your copy of Shalimar the Clown. You didn't read it, but you tell people you did.

On Friendster, Facebook, Orkut and Linked In pages all around, Indians claim their favorite books are some sort of combination between The Interpreter of Maladies, The Kite Runner, Digital Fortress, On Beauty, The God of Small Things and Midnight's Children. Most likely that last one is an equivocation. You may have read Midnight's Children but can you remember it? Can you describe Salim? Can you tell me why he ended up in some spitoon on the Kashmiri border? Can you explain why his left nostril always ran? Neither can I. But, damn, I love that book.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

#50 Super Sprint: Vespas

If you're from America Vespas are what you associate with insufferable hipsters too in love with the past to acknowledge the merits of a ten-speed. If you're from Europe, on the other hand, Vespas conjure an image of young Lotharios parading past side-walk cafes smoking hand-rolled cigarettes and stealing your girlfriend. Perhaps in every country, culture, and locale around the world, Vespas stand for what is cool and hip. Except in India where the only thing cool are the Limcas, and the only thing hip is what your grandmother broke while sweeping the stairwell with a handmade broom of reeds.

Vespas enjoy a popularity in India that may take some by surprise. Founded in Italy in the mid forties, Vespas sprung to popularity as a cheap mode of transportation in war-torn southern Europe and as a stylish accessory after prominent placement in Hollywood movies in the 1950s. In India, however, Vespas rose in popular use as a result of a tried and true Indian formula- we stole them. Bajaj Auto acquired the rights to sell Vespa technology in the sub-continent, but later faced litigation from Piaggio, the Italian creators, after it ventured into North American markets unlawfully. LML Motors, a parts supplier to Piaggio, also broke into the business of peddling Vespa clones before closing due to labor strikes in 2006.

People who visited India in the '80s and '90s will have noticed the popularity of Vespas among the Indian population. Vespa riders often fell into 2 categories. First, there were the young, Indian men inspired by the burgeoning forms of cool, popularized by such icons as Jaidev in Sholay and John Travolta's Vinny Bobarino. This first group would often times take their young, American nephews around the city on the back of their Vespa, stopping for petrol, paan and cigarettes before turning to the child to beg through a thick Indian accent, "Ey, don't tell your Mudder, okay?"The second group of Vespa riders in India were also young Indian men, but who had recently been married. These users were usually seen on the road with at least four members of their new family piled on the rear along with groceries, shopping bags, furniture and clothing. The wife would sit sideways demurely, a child or two on her lap, her long hair streaming out from beneath her helmet and flapping in the wind with the shawl of her pink salwaar khameez.

As you sat in the backseat of the Tata Sumo barrelling through the streets of the city, you would see the veins in your father's temple flare at the sight of this young man, most likely unable to upgrade to a four-wheeler with the other demands made on his income by his new responsibilities as a breadwinner. "Buy a Maruti, stupid!" your dad, a Neurologist now practicing in America, would shout at the unsuspecting husband on his Vespa, "You are threatening the physical consistencies of your childrens' skulls!" He would lean back into the car and shake his head disapprovingly, but in the reflection of the rear view mirror you swear you could see the glint in his eye as he remembered the days when he rolled confidently around on his lime green Vespa channeling his inner Barbarino and telling condescending adults to shove it, "Up their nose with a rubber hose." In India, he was as cool as cool could get.

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

#182: The Catch-All Term "Indian"

From college campuses with Indian Student Alliances to Internet web logs called Stuff Indians Like, Indians have demonstrated that to them any person from the subcontinent can be called an Indian. Despite the geographical boundaries that divide Pakistan from Kashmir, Sri Lanka from Tamil Nadu, and Bangladesh from Bengal, Indians see no problem uniting the people from these places under the tri-color banner of India.

This is a peccadillo unique to Indians in America, however. Under no situation or circumstance ever, ever, forever, ever would an Indian in India casually include Pakistanis, Bangladeshis or Sri Lankans in the group defined as "Indian." Depending on your politics and biases, that is either the curse or boon of the motherland. To them history, both ancient and recent, make it impossible to conceive of a totalizing Indian identity that transcends political boundaries.

To Indians in America, however, particularly those of the second generation and beyond, Indian is just easier to say than South Asian. Also, how many Pakistanis, Sri Lankans and Bhutanese cats are you really hanging out with at the University of Florida in Gainesville? If a few then watch out when calling them Indian because at least one is probably Dominican.

#181: Flims

Indians love Flims. Indians love watching Flims, Indians love making Flims, Indians love renting and not returning Flims, and Indians love, love, love saying the word Flims.

Not to be confused with its English cognate, Films, Flims are the Indian interpretation of the art of motion pictures. Films win Oscars, star Daniel Day Lewis, are directed by Clint Eastwood and are scored by John Williams. Flims win Flimfare awards, star Priyanka Chopra, are financed by organized crime and often contain the word "Masti" in their title.

The plotlines, stories and narrative arc of Flims also follow a well-worn filmy formula: Wealthy, urban boy serendipitously meets poor, rural girl while passing through the countryside against his parents' will. Though the wealthy boy is soon to be engaged to the daughter of his father's wealthy business partner, he cannot help but fall in love with the dough-eyed, provincial beauty who cares for her ageing parents and sings borgeets while folding laundry amongst the hibiscus plants in the garden. Despite the forbidding of his parents, the wealthy boy pursues the village beauty until they marry, he beats up her jealous, overbearing, uncivilized suitors and she becomes a welcome addition to the wealthy family. For the most part, all Flims have the same story line as Coming to America.

Flims are so whimsical in their escapism the term has jumped from the screen and on to the page. Glossy tabloids like Stardust Magazine specialize in Flim reviews that pass critical judgment on Flims based on the authenticity of the real life, on-set romance between the leads and the number of murderous threats to have passed between the director and Aishwarya Bacchan through the conduit of the diva's bluetooth ear piece burdened personal assistant.

Not all Flims are vacuous pastiches of bright colors,
loud music and garish dance, however. Indians also appreciate subtler depictions of human drama and somewhat understated comedy in a genre they call Art Flims. Unlike their Bollywood counterparts, Art Flims almost exclusively deal with topics of social relevance, such as poverty, incest and Hindu-Muslim relationships during Partition. Though very talented Indian directors such as Satyajit Ray exist, their work does not fall under the banner of Flims since it is appreciated, obsessed over and heavily copied by Western directors such as Wes Anderson, who, by all popular accounts, exclusively make Films.

If an Indian invites you to the cinema hall be aware of their use of words. Do not assume they asked you to join them for a Film and expect to see Ellen Burstyn die gracefully at the end of a three hour epic about the dissolution of the postwar American family. It is very likely that what they invited you to is a Flim and instead of The Usual Suspects what you'll be getting is a Masti'd up version called Chocolate: Deep Dark Secrets, with Pipi as Kaiser Soze.

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

#8: Hajmola

As many people know, those from the subcontinent copy just about everything. Indians copy movies, television programs, and even blogs (thanks for pointing it out to us Nick Dan or whatever your name is). Only one product is completely indigenous to India. The fighter of flatulence and director of digestion, Hajmola is a tasty and functional treat.

Hajmola tastes good to almost all Indians. And why wouldn't it? Scientifically, its ingredients include: Kalimirch, Zeera, Saunth, Nimbu saar (Pippali, Samudra Lavan, Sarkara, Krishnalavana, Navsadar - make the up rest). Indian children take one tablet a day, while adults and the elderly are advised to take two.

If you're Indian, you're probably salivating as you think of the kalmrich slowly dissolving on your tongue as a spicy tart explosion takes place just behind it. You will happily enjoy your next Hajmola, while this Hajmola takes care of your Dyspepsia. Even Amitabh loves the "tasty fun-filled digestive."

If you're not Indian, put down the tablet, and save yourself from vomiting. Avro might have just returned from the motherland with a crate of Hajmola ($3.95 for 130 tablets.......YUP, I'm Yo PUSHA... - T), and he will be excited to share this new discovery with you. Do not blame him, for his intentions are noble and flatulence-free. However, even if you're about to take down an Arby's lunch followed by the chocolate peanut butter chocolate at Kopps, Hajmola may not be a good idea for you.

Avro: Dhood, try this tablet. It'll change your life.
Jimmy: What is it?
Avro: Umm, its like a vitamin, but tasty.
Jimmy: I already took my Flintstones; I'm ten million strong and growing.
Avro: What does that even mean?
Jimmy: I don't know.
Avro: You don't even need water, just put it on your tongue and enjoy.
Jimmy: Okay.
Avro: Yeah? amazing, right?
Jimmy: I don't, holy...whats going on?
Avro: Just give it a chance.
Jimmy: That's what you said about the movie Crash. I'm dying here. It tastes like old tires.
Avro: Crash was ground-breaking and revolutionary.
Jimmy: Crash sucked and this is terrible. Its like licking the bottom of your mom's chappals after she steps in curry. Chappals..what a dumb word. I'm spitting this crap out.
Avro: Fine. You have no taste or culture.
Jimmy: My puke will have culture once it gets stuck to your shirt.
Avro: Let's go play Blades of Steel and forget about this.

#170: Holding Hands

Unlike Iran, homosexuality probably does exist to some extent in India. With so many dance remixes, styles patterned on Bollywood kitsch, open-toed shoes and silk, how can it not? In India, though, homosexuality is one thing, and holding hands is quite another.

In many places throughout Asia, holding hands amongst men is considered a common demonstration of hetero friendship. While crossing chaotic streets or sauntering down the sidewalk chewing paan, Indian men show no shame in interlocking fingers and pressing palms.

One NRI even claims to have seen "macchans," the alpha males of college campuses, locking arms with the lieutenants of their pack in India, and "goondas" holding hands just before launching an assault on a local tea shop that refuses to serve their gang free chai.

In America, though, hand holding between male friends is strictly prohibited by heteronormative social mores. Locking feet in a bhangra circle, however, is completely acceptable and straight. Lifting weights together in sleeveless tees and making eye contact in the full body mirror at the gym while executing synchronized bicep curls is also allowed. But hand holding between close friends? No, that'd be totally gay.

If you are an Indian male visiting family in India, do not be alarmed if upon first meeting you after several years of absence your cousin Anirrudah immediately grabs your hand and holds it next to his thigh for a long period of time. Also do not be alarmed if he is several years older than you, pushing 30, living with his parents and still single. This is the Indian custom of saying, "How have you been, brother? I'm not allowed to touch girls in my family's presence so this is as good as it gets."

Anirrudah will continue to hold your hand as his parents give your family a tour of their flat and introduce you to the goats that roam freely through their back yard. If you jump in alarm at the sight of wild animals, even for a second, Anirrudah will clasp your hand tighter and laugh a toothy grin in your face. "Are you frightened?" he will ask. Never, under any circumstance say yes. Just smile and breathe. It's not gay, just totally uncomfortable.

Monday, April 7, 2008

#169: Unfortunate Names

1. Sukit
2. Sukhdeep
3. Pupun
4. Shitu
5. Negar

#M3: Personalized License Plates

In suburbs across America Indians announce their arrival with personalized license plates. If you yourself don't have a personalized license plate for your Camry, Accord, Caravan or Windstar, then at least one other Indian family in your neighborhood or school district does. You recognize them driving the speed limit, their right turn signal blinking for 7 blocks, their bumpers plastered with honor roll stickers and their license plate identifying them by their daughter's first name: ROOPA.

The Indian attraction to personalized license plates could originate from several possible forces. Most likely, however, Indians invest in personalized license plates in order to ameliorate the unhappiness their children feel when they fruitlessly search for souvenir license plates that bear their name at tourist locales such as Niagara Falls and the Bahamas. Sorry Vikas, they only have Vicky, Victor and Victoria.

Personalized Indian license plates come in 3 different forms. First there is the surname license plate, such as SEKHAR. Then there is the child's first name license plate, discussed above. Third, there is the popular Indian icon license plate, such as GANGARVR or REDFRT, which are often misread as "Gang Arriver" and "Red Fart" by non-Indian users of the road.

Another pitfall of of the prevalence of personalized license plates among Indians is that some Indians misidentify vanity plates as those of their ethnic brethren. For example, if an Indian man saw a license plate he interpreted as Musalman, a male practitioner of Islam, he may pull up next to the driver and openly display his Indian solidarity with a thumbs up or gregarious toot of the horn. He may be shocked then when he learns that the other driver is in fact not a Musalman but an enormous Muscleman, as his personalized license plate MUSLMAN indicates.

In the end, however, personalized license plates among Indians boil down to necessity. After all, labels such as JAGARTI, SINGH MD, and S JOSHI 3 help differentiate between the 27 beige Lexus SUVs that pack the Ramada Inn parking lot or the Patel family driveway during Diwali functions, birthdays, Saraswati poojas and Ivy League acceptance FĂȘtes.

Friday, April 4, 2008

#5: Acqua Di Gio

Indians are a fragrant bunch. Step inside an Indian's house and the scent of cumin and fish is unmistakable. Ride in a New York City taxi cab in the summer and the smell of Indian body odor commingling with the urine in the streets is strong enough to make your teeth have feelings. One scent above all, however, Indians cannot do without, and that is Acqua Di Gio by Giorgio Armani.

Most Indian males come across Acqua Di Gio as a 17th birthday present from a girlfriend named Priyanka, Loni, Teena or Snekdha Ghandivadhi. Once they catch a whiff of Acqua Di Gio's citrus infused odor, images of couture Italian style cloud the portions of their brain normally dedicated to good taste and the inhibition of unbuttoning your shirt if you sprout unruly body hair. Most formative in the mind of the young Indian male, however, is the implicit association with Acqua Di Gio and Indian girls.

From this point on, through college and well into adult life (i.e. Med school, Law school and Business school) Indian men will automatically reach for the bottle of Acqua Di Gio when killing time at the duty free Sephora at the Amsterdam International Airport. "Who knows what Indian ladies will be on the KLM flight back to Newark," they'll think to themselves.

The most tell-tale testament of Indian brand loyalty to Armani's Aqcua Di Gio is the inability of other eau de toilets to take its place on the tops of bedroom bureaus between jars of American Crew pomade and bottles of Cetaphil lotion. Every Krishnamas, Indian males have been gifted by their aunts, aunties, massis and mahis the young adult starter's kit of different colognes ranging from Adidas to CK One to CK Be to Kenneth Cole. Never a group to miss an opportunity for frugality, Indians will use these kits until the last drop of Drakkar Noir has been dabbed into their wrists. When the bottle's empty, though, and it's time to restock, Acqua Di Gio is item number one on their Macy's shopping lists.

If you ever find yourself in need of purchasing a gift for that persnickety Indian friend, colleague or relative, do not underestimate the broad Indian appreciation for Acqua Di Gio. Every Indian male from Ashok to Zubeen will thank you from the bottom of his heart before spritzing his collar and trying to hit on you by pretending to know the words to Rihanna songs at your best friend's 24th birthday bash. "My family is from Kerala-ala-ala, ey, ey," he'll sing. Hey may be disgusting, but at least he'll smell like Giold.

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

#1947: Pakistan

Ever since its conflict-free formation, Indians have always had a great affinity to their neighboring nation to the west. And with good reason. Indians recognize and accept that Pakistan has always represented the best in democracy, technological advancement, and culture.

When Pakistan developed nuclear weaponry first, India decided to match. After all, imitation is the best form of flattery. History is dotted with numerous examples of the two nations harmoniously sharing culture and ideas.

Their cricket matches are as stress-free as a stroll in the park, and very few fans ever worry about the outcome. In fact, if the Indian team loses to the Pakistani team, it is often said that if they had to lose, they are glad they lost to Pakistan. Such is the deep love shared between these two nations.

And unlike other bordering nations with differing religions, India and Pakistan have coexisted peacefully, without any conflict for the entire duration of their respective nationhoods. The rare internal skirmish is never blamed on the other nation, and every possible disagreement is amicably resolved without even a drop of sweat being spilled, and often with a hug between the respective leaders. Like an inter-nation version of DJ and Stephanie Tanner.

The adoration is so intense between the two nations, there has been talk of reuniting. Look for this to happen within the next few years. It would happen sooner, but they both have agreed that they want to sow their oats before committing to one another.

#49%: S.R. "Macaca" Sidarth

The morning of August 11, 2006 started off like any other. Just a warm and humid summer day in the old Commonwealth of Virginia, with no foreshadowing of the world-changing event that was to come shortly afterward.

S.R. Sidarth, with camera in hand, was following incumbent Virginia Senator George Allen around the commonwealth, diligently shooting video of his campaign speeches. Allen was a star. He enjoyed a 70% approval rating, and was the odds-on favorite to win the nomination for the White House.

The campaigning generally proceeded without incident - just your predictable pump-up-the-base (or jam) rhetoric, discussing why Republicans represent your needs, while the evil Democrats would sell out to the hammer and sickle if given the opportunity. And the one in Breaks, VA started off no differently.

But a funny thing happened.

For reasons inexplicable, Allen began to become increasingly conscious of Sidarth's mohawked presence - much like a bus patron growing annoyed at the guy checking his ringtones, after successfully tuning him out for the last hour. When engaging Sidarth, a trisyllabic word issued forth from Allen's lips, changing the course of human history forever.


Like Luke Skywalker not knowing the power he possessed, Sidarth didn't know what to think at first. As destiny would have it, it was later discovered that "macaca" was a Francophonic racial slur describing those of darker skin.

Well it turned out that Sidarth has darker skin. And it turned out that Allen's mother is a Francophone.

It was at this point that Sidarth had a choice. Was he going to let it go and move on, or was he going to keep it real?

Well, for the betterment of humanity, he chose to keep it real. Very real. Within hours, video evidence of the epithet was disseminated across the galaxy. Within days, Allen had to backpedal and deny he knew the meaning of the word. Within weeks, allegations of Allen's use of other racial slurs began to surface, pulling down his approval rating. And within months, Allen's campaign was finished, and with it, his fantasy of claiming the White House. The mission was complete. The Death Star had been destroyed.

And that wasn't even the best part.

The most socially-important cataclysm that ensued was that our own word was born. Macaca. For us, by us. We may now use it to address one another, as in "What up, my macaca." It can now be used in our rap lyrics: "Macacas got me strapped; I keep my hand on my gun 'cause they got me on the run." Or as a rebuke: "Macaca, please." The possibilities are truly unlimited.

A scholar also reminded me that this word is to be used only by us. If one of any other race attempts to use it, we must alert them that this is not acceptable. "Oh hell no, man. That's ours. 100 years, man. 100 years." Now that is power.

So thank you, S.R. Sidarth. For everything. You are the realest macaca alive, and macacas everywhere got love for you.