Wednesday, May 28, 2008

#60601: Colonizing Apartment Complexes

If karma and Justin Timberlake have taught us anything it's that what goes around, goes around, goes around, goes around always comes back around. So it is with actions, so it is with charity and so, too, is it with taking something over and calling it your own. The British may have had control over India until 1947, but 60 years later we're ready to run our tricolor up the ramparts of some overpriced housing complex and claim it as our own Fatehpur Sikri this side of Uttar Pradesh.


Once the saturation point of Indians in an apartment complex is reached the building as a whole will inevitably follow the process of gradual Gangefication, the way by which a formerly normal building will come to resemble the banks of the Ganges due to a sharp increase in Indian residents. For example, despite the existence of dryers within each unit, Indians will insist on hanging large pieces of fabric outside to dry, making New Brunswick look more like New Delhi during a Kumba Mela.

Also, during Gangefication the halls of the building will absorb into its stucco paint and popcorn finish the lingering smells of subji, dhaal, okra, cumin and oven heat, an odor familiar to anyone who has ever visited an all-you-can-eat Indian lunch buffet.

Gangefication, like its sociological analogue Gentrification, is an almost unstoppable domino process. As soon as one Indian family or phD candidate moves into an apartment building, other residents will notice frequent reservations of the common space in his or her name for specifically Indian punctions (sic). These punctions (sic) may be anything from children's birthday parties to rehearsals for dances depicting the childhood of Krishna.

Once the precedent is established that Yes, Indians are welcome here, more will arrive with a frequency to rival Sophie Kinsella spinoffs. Soon, other residents will notice piles of shoes strewn in the hall during large gatherings within particular units, blue chappals sitting on welcome mats when no one is around, rows of small satellite dishes to capture TV Asia, Zee TV, and other Indian specific programming only available via Dish, and a parking structure overrun with silver and light blue Toyota Camrys, with owners that file formal complaints if anyone even slightly incurs on their reserved space.

Other tell-tale signs of Gangefication are the crackling sounds of radios on Saturday mornings tuned to Atul Sheth's Geet Mala Program and large, unruly gatherings of Indian men crammed onto a single Jennifer Convertibles couch at Arvind's place at 2:00 am for the international broadcast of India vs. Sri Lanka during the Cricket World Cup.


Gangefication is not limited to places like Farmington Hills, MI and Malden, Mass. Even locales as cosmopolitan as downtown Chicago are susceptible to an overpowering influx of Indians. These colonizers waving the imperial flag of Brown Town, however, are not newly arrived immigrants fettering themselves from acculturation, but rather 1st generation Indians who do their parents the favor of living in the condominium their family purchased in exchange for a promise to go to graduate school, or at least marry either brown or Jewish. This gradual dominance of condo high rises by affluent Indian twentysomethings is called Macacafication.

High-rise condos along lake Michigan and around Trillenium Park, such as McClurg Center, Presidential Towers and Harbor Point attract Indian populations much more insidious than the more middle-class apartment complex populations of south Jersey and Dearborn, MI. Macacondo residents blend into their surroundings, almost seamlessly mixing with other residents, wearing J. Crew pea coats, shorts with Greek letters emblazoned on the rear and even convincing themselves they are "down" with the "Kallu" doorman simply because they listen to Jeezy while jogging short distances on the treadmill in the state of the art gym on the 54th floor.

These Indians betray their stealth, however, when they participate in the most egregious of Indian apartment events - the pre-party. Flip cup tournaments set against the reverberating synth sweeps of Ursher's "Love in the Club" and Ginuwine's "My Pony" through an iHome docking station immediately let you know this condo has been macacafied.

Another conspicuous indicator that an apartment complex or condominium high-rise verges on the threshold of turning brown is the presence of Niraj (KNEE-raj), or some other speculative desi working hard to pad his resume for business school, who "flips" properties but has to live in an empty, unfurnished unit and eat cans of albacore tuna with a spork due to the inopportune timing of the housing market collapse. This Donald Chump is merely the harbinger of more deluded desis who will soon arrive and shake your ceilings when they practice breakdance moves they can incorporate into their Lagaan dance for the Feinberg Medical School cultural show in the unit above yours.

So the next time you see a gaggle of Gujubabes crowd into a mirrored elevator and press the button for Pent House or a recently immigrated newlywed couple carrying burlap sacks of Basmati buzz up to 3G, smile and nod to yourself. What went around has come around and it's our time to claim this 2BR for the motherland with an exotic print throw over the seat back of the couch. Jai Hind, Timberlake. Jai Hind.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

#404 Error: Game vs. G-AIM

"I wasn't really spitting game / I was scrimmaging" - Kanye West, "This Way"

We Indians aren't really spitting game either, Kanye, just spinaches...from our Palak Paneers. If game recognize game, like Twista said, then we wouldn't know game if it called us up, told us it was our second cousin and asked for an H-1 sponsorship. In real life, game, to Indians, is an over of cricket and an hour of carrom. Online, however, game becomes G-chat convos and AIM seshes, or G-AIM, a thing with which we're well familiar. Intel crore duo? We're 'bout it, 'bout it.

Indians, being an awkward people more likely to watch the movie Prom Night than go to their own, have thrived in the recent environment that has valued social networking over socializing. If there's anything Indians know a thing or two about, it's networking, whether it be servers routed together in your IT department or that salubrious, meat-packing NETIP mixer at Club Buddha Bar for "young professionals" next Friday night. Forget your MOBILE number. Lose your STYLE number. What's your IP number? Sexy, yaar.

Gaming on g-chat and AIM comes with its own virtual advantages. For example, G-AIM allows you the chance to look things up on the web in order to appear more well informed than you actually are while talking to a prospective Priya online. Quick Google searches, tabbed Wikipedia entries and frequently refreshed accounts allow the Indian G-AIMer to speak intelligibly on topics ranging from Margaret Thatcher's Monetarist policies to Mariah Carey's recent nuptials.

The most advantageous aspect of G-AIM that Indians have been able to exploit, however, is its cloak of anonymity and possibilities of redefinition. Who you are in your cubicle at the actuarial firm you work at with Qdoba salsa on your shirt means nothing when you're On G-chat and AIM what you say is what matters - how quickly you type it and how well you spell it - both things at which Indians excel (not including Excel).

In person, though, there are high pitched voices, slight speech impediments, adult acne, and soft Bausch & Laumb contacts forced on to eyes tearing and lashing out with the red ire of thousands of exacerbated capillaries screaming, "You can't wear contacts, it's allergy season!"

Online, you can define your personality and lazily find common ground by rapidly sharing links to things that interest you and describe you in a URL: Indian parody videos on YouTube, South Indian flim scenes appropriating Michael Jackson dances, songs buffalaxed beyond recognition, an NY Times article on the latest 28 year old Punjabi-American from California who sold his web start-up venture that your parents forwarded to not so subtly encourage you to study for the GMATs. All these things say to the other person, hey, look, we kinda maybe might like the same things and visit the same websites - information I never would have learned from you if I saw you in a public place, stared at you for too long and lost my voice due to an endocrine problem resulting from crippling social anxiety.

Doubters of the Indian proficiency in G-AIM should ask themselves: why have online dating sites grown in popularity among Indians? Why do Indians run Friendster and Orkut like DJ Khaled yelling "We the best" at Shore Club down on South Beach?

Because we're a social people. Not in real life, but in Second Life, a world in which the existence of avatars alone is enough to lure any Indian remedially versed in the 10 incarnations of Vishnu. Why call when you can message? Why touch when you can poke? Why say I love you when you can type it on her Wall? This impersonal courtship is no new development for Indians accustomed to love stories told by their parents of two young graduate students who never spoke before meeting on a tarmac in Aurangabad, flying Continental to O'Hare, and learning to love their arranged marriage in a duplex somewhere in Skokie.

Indians, arguably the ethnicity most represented by teenage awkwardness around the world with 1 billion people and 9.7 trillion IB credits, have nearly perfected the art of G-AIM. When you're plagued with unsightly facial hair, braces, and overactive sebaceous glands by grade 9, you're not left with many social options other than Duke Nuk'em 3D and AOL Teen Chat #89.

Question: Age/sex check?

Answer: The age of digital interaction, and yes, please..seriously, good god.. please let this happen.. please let this happen...for once.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008


Oh no, we didn't. Um, yes, we did. Stuff Indians Like dot com presents our first SILDC FLIMS production, Call Center. Wait, another Indian R&B parody video with bad singing and dubious production quality? Dhuy. What else do you think macacas with mac books would do? Watch it, hate it, love it, leave it. Just don't say we never did anything to earn your RSS feeds.

Thursday, May 1, 2008

#196: Dropping Babies

Michael Jackson dangled a baby from a balcony, and maybe its that cavalier spirit toward raising strapping children that Indians can identify with in the King of Pop.

Indians at the shrine of Solapur in the state of Maharastra have been dropping babies from the holy site's 50 foot ledge for 500 years with the intent of blessing their free-falling newborns with luck and strength.

Both Hindus and Muslims have indulged their superstitions with this practice, proving the Indian obsession with pushing their children through the most stressful and traumatic childhoods is a trait that transcends creed.