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Good Bye, Anthony Bourdain…

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I can’t believe Anthony Bourdain is gone. I realized this right after I finished watching season eleven of Parts Unknown, which was, in hindsight, to be his last.

I’ve been a fan of Anthony Bourdain for a long time ever since he published his bestseller Kitchen Confidential. I also followed his television career very closely: first on A Cook’s Tour, then No Reservations, and finally Parts Unknown.

Bourdain’s shows, like his books, are filled with wit, acerbic comments, and wry humor. But that was just one side of him. There was also a serious side: the listener, opinionated, often political, but always interested in the subject at hand. What made Bourdain standout compared to other shows was that he was not a tourist but a traveler. There’s a distinction. While most tourists like to visit places from a safe distance — often in a travel group nannied like children — Bourdain regularly mixed with the locals and often visited areas that were off the beaten path. Bourdain realized early one that to get a true feel of a place, you had to hit the pavement. The result is a deeper look at places beyond the usual postcard views and marketing brochures. Bourdain gives you the good as well as the bad.

Anthony Bourdain’s gift was his intimate interview style. He asked the right questions and was not afraid to rustle feathers, especially if feathers needed rustling. This was especially true with Parts Unknown. Perhaps it was on CNN, the show didn’t avoid talking about thorny issues. In Parts Unknown, Bourdain completed his evolution from having a show just about interesting cuisine to a show about things that matter the most — people.

Like most people, I was shocked by Bourdain’s sudden death. That it was a suicide was doubly-shocking. I didn’t know he suffered from depression, but like most celebrities, we only know them as acquaintances, our relationship with them is often only skin deep. Though Anthony Bourdain is gone in body, he remains in memory. He left behind one hell of an archive — both his writings and his shows.

He will be missed. Rest in peace, sir!

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Written by niraj

April 25th, 2019 at 10:35 am

How Tiger Woods Is Like Kobe

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How will the Tiger Woods story play out? If the tabloid media has its way, the story will end badly for Tiger—his total and complete destruction. I doubt this will happen. Tiger Woods will survive this setback stronger and better, albeit with plenty of scars.

The tabloid media is treating Tiger like he’s a child molester, who also likes to club baby seals in his spare time. But what was his crime? Honestly? He cheated on his wife and then he lied about it? Wow. Another celebrity/athlete caught in an act of infidelity. Nothing novel about this! In fact, a scientific argument can be made that infidelity is a character trait, or even a genetic flaw. Yes, he looks like a jerk because he is a jerk, but being a jerk is not a criminal offense.

If there is a relevant example we can look at, it is the triumph of Kobe Bryant. He, too, was caught cheating on his wife. He, too, faced the music, so to speak. He, too, lost endorsement deals, public adulation, resulting in a seriously tarnished reputation. This was in 2003. Today, no one cares or talks about that dark moment. Now Kobe sits atop of the NBA like basketball royalty, making money and hawking products. In fact, he face was splayed on a recent issue of GQ magazine. Oh yeah, before I forget, he was also accused of rape. Tiger Woods has been not accused of rape yet the tabloid media is treating him as if he did.

I have no doubt Tiger Woods will rise again. Like Kobe, he’s an unflinching competitor who thrives on winning.

But first, he must get his life in order: get his head on straight, make a decision on his relationship with his wife, and, ultimately, just play the damn game of golf and win. And like Kobe, people will forgive his transgressions. But only if he wins. Nothing more, nothing less.

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Written by niraj

February 23rd, 2010 at 6:28 pm

Video On-Demand Cures Boredom

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Was perusing TVGuide.com to see if there was anything worth watching tonight, but found absolutely nothing that interested me.

I need to watch something! Reading at night is not an option for me (I prefer to read in the morning), and I have no hobbies to speak of. And listening to music for the sake of listening to music is not my bag. I need visual stimulation, and television is the only effective delivery system.

Then I realized I have video-on-demand through my cable company. So I’ve decided to watch a couple episodes of No Reservations I somehow managed to miss. So the night is not a total loss at all. Thank you, Anthony Bourdain and video on-demand

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Written by niraj

September 3rd, 2009 at 12:10 pm

Do You Know Who I Am

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Bollywood superstar Shah Rukh Khan was briefly held (for two hours or so) at Newark International Airport by the Department of Homeland Security. It seems Khan’s name matched a name on some terrorist watch list, but after ascertaining Shah Rukh Khan’s identity – with the help of the Indian government – he was promptly released

Of course Shah Rukh Khan was upset by his mistreatment, especially given the fact that he is an oft visitor to the United States. And the entire country of India is upset, as well, as if the nation’s character was impugned in the process. Naturally, the Indian press is having a field day with countless articles and editorials blasting the United States for what is perceived to be a racist and bigoted slight.

It’s hard not to notice an air of arrogance by Shah Rukh Khan and his supporters. It’s the type of attitude celebrities are known to take whenever they don’t get their way.

“DO YOU KNOW WHO I AM!” This is a common refrain used by celebrities the world over, and Shah Rukh Khan is no exception.

Personally, I think Shah Rukh Khan was more upset that he was not recognized by immigration officers as the legitimate superstar that he is.

In defense of the immigration officers, they did their duty safeguarding American security: they discovered a problem, investigated it, found out there was nothing there, and promptly released the Indian actor. Khan was held for two hours. He wasn’t thrown in some hole, renditioned to Cuba, and tortured by the CIA. But according the India press, he might as well have.

I hope this incident doesn’t become an ugly diplomatic row between India and the United States, simply for the reason that it’s a petty issue.

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Written by niraj

August 18th, 2009 at 2:16 pm

Thinking About Tony Soprano…

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Finally settling down to watch the last nine episodes of the Sopranos.

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Written by niraj

April 23rd, 2009 at 4:51 pm

Funny Family Guy Episode

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One of the funnier episodes of The Family Guy I have seen in awhile. Stewie essentially builds a transporter and kidnaps the the cast of Star Trek: The Next Generation so he can spend the day with them. The voices are those of the original cast.

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Written by niraj

April 20th, 2009 at 9:05 pm

Will We Ever Know Who Did It?

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No doubt the attack on the Sri Lankan cricket team in the Pakistani city of Lahore is an act of pure terrorism, but questions remain: who and why?

Everybody, including the entire desi blogosphere, will be bandying their own pet theories; and, naturally, I have a few of my own. The pro-Pakistani bloggers will blame the attacks on a known enemy of Pakistan. This is code for India (and its intelligence agency RAW), of course. The pro-India bloggers, on the other hand, will blame Pakistani-based jihadis and their supporters (primarily the ISI).

Most people are in a fog of information regarding these matters. And we bloggers are no exception given that we get most of our information from second-hand or third-hand sources, which is hardly ideal to get at the truth. So we filter these new sources through our biases, prejudices, stereotypes, etc.

Honestly, will anyone know the truth behind this attack?

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Written by niraj

March 3rd, 2009 at 10:31 pm

Dawn New Design Sucks

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I use to be an avid reader of Dawn, one of South Asia’s premier newspapers. It seems they have rolled out a complete redesign of their web site.

To be honest: I don’t like it. Though aesthetically pleasing, and gentle to the eye, it is a net loss, in my opinion. What was gained by good locks was lost in functionality. For example, if you want to access the newspaper’s editorial, op-ed and letter pages, you have to scroll all the way to the bottom of the web page – below the fold, so to speak, cleverly hidden in a gray box with opaque letter. A poor design decision.

I say bring back the old version of the web site. Sure it was an eye sore but at least everything was easy to find.

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Written by niraj

February 19th, 2009 at 9:48 pm

Posted in internet,media,pakistan

The Bangladesh Observer

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Does anyone know if The Bangladesh Observer is still being published? They don’t seem to have a web site anymore.

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Written by niraj

April 23rd, 2008 at 10:03 am

Posted in bangladesh,media

The People’s Daily Supports China

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The Hindu finally lets its opinion be known about Tibet. It’s a rare single, six-paragraph editorial instead of the usual two, two-paragraph editorial that is their stock and trade. Not suprisingly, The Hindu takes a pro-China stance. The first paragraph says it all:

If you go by western media reports, the propaganda of the so-called ‘Tibetan government-in-exile’ in Dharamsala and the votaries of the ‘Free Tibet’ cause, or by the fulminations of Nancy Pelosi and the Hollywood glitterati, Tibet is in the throes of a mass democratic uprising against Han Chinese communist rule. Some of the more fanciful news stories, images, and opinion pieces on the ‘democratic’ potential of this uprising have been put out by leading western newspapers and television networks. The reality is that the riot that broke out in Lhasa on March 14 and claimed a confirmed toll of 22 lives involved violent, ransacking mobs, including 300 militant monks from the Drepung Monastery, who marched in tandem with a foiled ‘March to Tibet’ by groups of monks across the border in India. In Lhasa, the rioters committed murder, arson, and other acts of savagery against innocent civilians and caused huge damage to public and private property. The atrocities included dousing one man with petrol and setting him alight, beating a patrol policeman and carving out a fist-size piece of his flesh, and torching a school with 800 terrorised pupils cowering inside.

Why are reports from western media and the Dalai Lama considered propaganda while Chinese news reports, which are essentially official government press releases, more credible? And how does The Hindu account for the fact that China employed a press black-out, where no non-state media outlets were allowed in. So where did The Hindu get these images, news reports, eyewitness accounts? The Hindu does not say, but we can speculate that they got their ‘fanciful’ news stories directly from China.

Nitin gives the editorial the thorough dissection that it deserves.

ADDENDUM: It would not surprise me one bit that among protestors were agent provocateurs to engineer incidents like attacks on civilians and police. Authoritarian regimes often engage in such practices to give them a free hand in suppressing opposition, violently if need be.

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Written by niraj

March 26th, 2008 at 2:30 pm

Posted in asia,india,media