chapaty

South Asian cuisine in fantasy + coding

@octoswan asked:

Thanks to the Eurocentrism of fantasy, we tend to think of fantasy cuisines as being stuff like soup, bread, cheese, mead, mutton, etc. They’re the basic go-to staples. But if you’re writing a fantasy that’s more Asia-centric, you’d have to use foods like rice, chapati, curry, noodles, tempeh, etc. Eurocentric cuisine is up for grabs for the most part, but Asian cuisines would be problematic if done incorrectly. This I’m aware of, and I’m trying to juggle between drawing from real cuisines and making up fantasy cuisines. To be clear, the people in my fantasy universe are mostly South Asian and East Asian as well, or at least an attempted non-appropriated version of some of these cultures. I guess my question is: is it ok to use these ingredients and dishes in passing in the same way that Eurocentric fantasies use their cuisines? 

“Soup, bread, cheese, mead, mutton?” South Asian cuisine has literally all of those things.  It’s just that the soup is lentils, the bread is flat, the cheese doesn’t melt, the “mead” has marijuana in it, and the mutton is actually lamb.  Rice is a staple.  Chapati is just a flat bread roasted in a pan, “curry” is an umbrella term coined by the British that comes from a Tamil word meaning “sauce” (and please don’t tell me you can culturally appropriate the concept of sauce—specific sauces, yes, but not sauce at large), noodles and tempeh aren’t typically South Asian but are also a natural byproduct of the ingredients available in their environments—

My point is that foodstuffs often have analogues across cultures, being made with similar techniques or ingredients in different times and places.  Food crosses boundaries in a way that most other things do not.  Can you imagine Indian food without tomatoes, potatoes, or chili peppers?—not one of those things was present in India before the 16th century.  Appreciating, using, or even importing another culture’s cuisine isn’t cultural appropriation—what’s appropriation is when the affluent couple in Williamsburg starts up a “fusion” restaurant with recipes they ripped off from the “ethnic” family-run hole-in-the-wall across town, tidy it up, dumb it down, and friendlyify it for their neighbors while passing it off as their own creation “inspired by the tastes of Asia” or whatever.  It wasn’t yours to begin with, stop pretending like it is.

I would suggest not getting so hung up on the label and instead think about flavor and ingredients—the heat of ginger, the sour tang of tamarind, the unique flavor of turmeric.  Think about techniques—rolling out a flat piece of bread dough, taking care to make it round, and slapping onto an open flame until it poofs up (if you weren’t aware that that’s how chapati are made, then that’s a place to start doing some research).  People familiar with those foods will recognize the description.  Roti just means “bread.”  Dal just means “split peas.”  

These don’t have to be loaded terms to handle with kid gloves.  Foods are important cultural markers but when they’re situated within the culture that’s generally considered to have come up with them, they might just be props in the act of eating.  You know what my grandmother calls Indian food?  Food.

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Street Vendors - Chennai, India

The Vast majority of India’s economy relies on small businesses, such as local street vendors. Street vendors in India can sell a large variety of goods and services, ranging from locals selling fruit and chapatis, to books, belts, and even barbers services. Vending is an incredibly important source of employment for people who have no formal education, or are low skilled. 

Craving Some Diasporic Love? Check out the following movies

Sometimes when I get homesick or just sick of predominantly white films, I like to pull these movies out - people who look like me, living in my world, doing the things that I do.  For those of you who feel not quite settled and permanently restless, check out my favorite films about the South Asian diaspora (in no particular order):

British:

East is East (1999)

All about one Pakistani family living in 1970s London and dealing with identity, disobedience, and cultural tradition.  Includes queer characters and one fantastic dance solo from Archie Panjabi.  TW: domestic violence, abuse, violence against women.

Also check out the sequel West is West (2010)

Anita & Me (2002)

Possibly the prettiest movie on this list, Anita & Me is based off of the Meera Syal book of the same name.  Stumbling upon this movie was a major turning point in my cultural understanding.  You will never have a more empathetic moment than when Meena, the 9 year-old protagonist, moans about not having friends to which her mother replies, “Beta, you don’t need friends - you have your father and me.”  

Bend It Like Beckham (2002)

Um, duh.  This movie is a classic and ridiculously quotable (“What family would want a daughter-in-law who can run around kicking football all day but can’t make round chapatis?”) A definite must-watch for every sports movie, girl power, filmy fan.

It’s a Wonderful Afterlife (2010)

This movie is so triumphant with its sweet, genuine, chubby heroine, her empathetic mother, and the ridiculously handsome childhood friend that comes back into both of their lives. The humor is black and über panjabi.  From the director of Bend it Like Beckham.

Touch of Pink (2004)

Touch of Pink is a breath of fresh air amongst the latent homophobia of a lot of Desi culture.  It’s about Jimi Mistry (who has yet to do something actually terrible with the exception of Love Guru, idk wat that was) trying to tell his conservative Indian mother that he’s fallen in love with a white English man.  It’s equal measures painful and sweet.

Also check out the White Teeth bbc miniseries based on the novel by Zadie Smith.  It’s got everything - sex, religion, war, racism.  The series spans multiple generations and delves into the difficulties of being a foreigner in a strange land and dealing with conflicts of identity.  Definitely worth watching for the prowess of Om Puri, Archie Panjabi, and James Mcavoy and for the beauty of Chirstopher Simpson (not pictured for some reason). 

American:

Where’s the Party Yaar (Dude, Where’s the Party) (2003)

Kal Penn’s first movie and filmed in my hometown (big ups to H-town)! It’s about an American-grown Desi dealing with his somewhat “uncool” cousin and navigating college life.  Lots of love and acceptance. (I think it’s all on youtube in parts)

American Desi (2001)

Easily the campiest film on this list, American Desi is an amateur comedy about an Indian-American boy who tries to throw off the cultural traditions of his family only to find consolation in them.  It’s a story about learning to be alright and definitely worth watching for the scene where he tries to buy naan at the store.  

Harold and Kumar Go to White Castle (2004) 

I wasn’t sure whether I should include this or not since it’s not a movie that would normally crop up amongst the more highbrow films on this list, but Harold and Kumar is def one of my favorite movies of all time.  It’s a stoner comedy that engages humorously with parental expectations and latent racism.  I appreciated the little jokes that nodded to my own Indian-American and diasporic experiences. PLUS John Cho is a beautiful beautiful man who is not scared to speak his mind on PoC representation and white-washing in Hollywood films, so, you know, watch it for him too.

The Namesake (2006)

Unsurprisingly, three of the four American films listed here have Kal Penn - who is fantastic, as ever, in this gorgeous film.  Less comedy this time and more quiet reflection.  The Namesake spans two generations and looks critically at the idea of lineage.  Irfan Khan is amazing, as ever. Definitely worth watching if you haven’t already done so.  

I would’ve added the Canadian film Bollywood/Hollywood but it doesn’t really engage with the diaspora element.

Am I forgetting any?

2

SPECIAL INTERVIEW: KAKIHARA TETSUYA

Voice of Natsu Dragneel

In celebration of Kakki’s 33rd birthday today, I’ve translated a Fairy Tail interview requested by @shadoouge who kindly provided the above photos. Thanks again!

I apologise if there are any major errors. This was an interesting read and I hope everyone enjoys it too!


Q: It has been one year since the start of the new series after the previous one. Please tell us of your eagerness towards this.

Kakihara: The previous series ran for a long period of three and a half years, and was an important series created by the power of both us actors and the anime staff. From there, we were given a one year break, and it was truly pleasing when the new, long-awaited series started, which is also thanks to the fans who have been supporting this series, so I’m very grateful. Wanting to answer everyone’s expectations and deliver something even better, I dove into the dubbing session of episode 1 (or episode 176).

Q: You’ve voiced Natsu for a long time, but now are there any changes?
Kakihara: Hm~ there honestly haven’t been any changes because Fairy Tail is such a royal road** series. A story that excites boys and girls, and has some sort of charisma like Natsu; an anime that pulls everyone along like an ace. And that position of an ace has never changed. Fighting enemies, becoming stronger, feelings towards friends and family - these things become core values that do not shake for Natsu. That appealing part of Natsu is something that “doesn’t change”, and so, my impression of him has also not changed.

**I wasn’t too sure about this sentence, as he uses the phrase 「王道」which I looked up, and means ‘royal road’ (a way of attaining or reaching something without trouble).

Q: On top of acting that kind of Natsu, what parts are you careful of?
Kakihara: When I read the manga, I would think, “I wonder if this character’s voice is like this?” or “I wonder if doing it this way suits him?”, and even the first time I read Fairy Tail, for some reason the only character’s voice I couldn’t imagine was Natsu’s. Later when I was told about a cast audition for Natsu’s role, I though, “Uwa, what do I do?!” (Laughs) From there, although I was troubled as to how Natsu would act, as I spoke before he is a very cool character. Thats why it wasn’t necessary to act with a “cool voice”, rather it was more important to act with a natural voice. For Natsu who often speaks of his fighting spirit towards friends and the treasuring of life, a “forced coolness” wouldn’t suit him so I don’t think its quite necessary. That’s why on top of voicing him,  I’m careful about how to go about acting in his most natural form. When I read the script, I don’t previously prepare things to say a certain line a certain way. In the recording studio, I act Natsu spontaneously whilst listening to the other voice actors around me act.

Q: Please tell us the highlights of the anime episodes 176~179 on the DVD enclosed with the magazine.
Kakihara: One year passed until the start of the new series, and in the meantime the cast continued with other work, and in my opinion grew a lot as well. Taking advantage of that, we are acting each character with more dept, and in a good way, that change of our acting is a highlight. In addition,  there have been new characters with new cast introduced, creating a befitting freshness, which I’d also like everyone to enjoy.

Q: Please tell us of a character that you’ve taken interest in from episodes 176~179.
Kakihara: …Chapati (Laughs) To quickly and accurately share important information makes him a first class commentator. And Anri Katsu (Chapati’s CV) really yells a lot eh… (laughs)

Q: What kind of atmosphere are the recording sessions like?
Kakihara: They’re just like Fairy Tail itself. The characters and cast are just naturally similar.  As Mashima (the author of the original work) says, he hears my voice when writing Natsu’s lines, and when he draws his face it looks like mine… So it really is as if we’re in a guild. Even Master Makarov is there (laughs). Our respected senior, Tsuji Shinpachi plays along when we mess around, but stops us when the time calls. Just like a master.

Q: By the way, if you yourself, “Kakihara Tetsuya”, became a mage, what kind of magic would you like to use.
Kakihara: Magic to stop time. I want one day to last about 50 hours!

Q: Overall, what part of “Fairy Tail” do you like?
Kakihara: The fact that it strongly illustrates the bonds between people, which is something that is important in this modern day. Through the actions of the characters, it lets you read into the importance of friends, family and so on. I think its wonderful that the series clearly delivers what it wants to the readers or viewers.

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ODT - SERDANG/SHAH ALAM

State : Serdang (Based)
Place Name :Kuala Lumpur
Category : NL
Status : MILF (SINGLEMOM)

Name : SERY HANY
Age : 36
Height : 157cm
Weight : 55kg

Package Offered : PS/MINI OD
Package Damage :
RM300/hrs/1shot
RM350/1hrs/unlimited shot
Hotel : Provide
CD : Provide (must wear)
Deposit : N/Y
Service Type : Incall/Outcall
Open To : NL / CKT / Chapati (1 Malaysia)

Body Type : Curvy (36/32/40)
Boobs Size : 36
Ass Shape : Rounded & Saggy
Pussy : Shave, clean & tight
Smoking : Y

MSJ : N
CB : Y
CBJ : Y
BBBJ : Y
DFK : Y
DATY : Y
AR : N
FJ : Y

Bonuses
CIM : N
CAS : N
Anal : N
Squirt : N

PM me NOW for more details/booking

Wechat : SeriHany
Password : mastayus

MUJAHIDEEN FORCES, AFGHANISTAN, 1980s

AHMAD SHAH MASSOUD, CHIEF, SUPERVISORY COUNCIL OF THE NORTH

Ahmad Shah Massoud was the most important commander of the mujahideen. Starting in his native Panjshir valley, his influence spread throughout the north of Afghanistan, setting up the Supervisory Council of the North, which by 1989-90 was the most significant fighting force of the mujahideen. His uniform - light colored flat cap, Soviet-style jacket and trousers, western-style shirt rather than Afghan-style pajamas, are indicative of the sort of order he tried to impose on his forces.

TROOPER, CENTRAL FORCES, SUPERVISORY COUNCIL OF THE NORTH

The nearest thing to regular forces used by the mujahideen. Since the early 1980s, Massoud realized that a cadre of full-time veteran guerrillas was vital for effective tactics. By 1988, the Central Forces had grown to about 1,500 men and had been used to take a number of Kabul regime garrisons. Since that, its members were used as officers and NCOs of a greatly expanded fighting force Massoud began to try and put together in the 1988-90 period. Equipped much the same as Massoud, he is armed with an RPG-7, the standard mujahideen anti-tank weapon.

MOHAMMED AMIN WARDAK, COMMANDER, WARDAK PROVINCE, 1988

Amin Wardak’s work was similar to Massoud, stressing effective building of both civil and guerrilla infrastructure. His focus was local, aimed at his own part of Wardak province, and he was thus been unable to deploy large forces. Armed with a standard 7.6·2mm Kalashnikov and a pistol, he wears a U.S. Army woodland pattern camouflage field jacket and a black turban with a long, trailing edge. In much of Afghanistan, Syeds - Afghans who are descended from the family of the Prophet Mohammed - will also wear such turbans.

AFGHAN GUERRILLA, LOGAR PROVINCE, 1988

Typical late-war Afghan guerrilla, he is equipped with a radio- an example of the improved technology that flowed to the mujahideen late in the war- and is armed with a 7.62mm Kalashnikov. He wears a chest bandolier or a Chinese-style chest pack for ammunition. He still wears traditional chapati sandals in preference to Pakistani-made boots, which can be crippling. The vest is a local version of a western-style assault vest. He wears the standard mujahideen of the Pathans who live south of the Hindu Kush, pajamas, flat hat, light (if any) field equipment.

STINGER GUNNER, 1986-90

The U.S.-made General Dynamics Stinger man-portable heat-seeking surface-to-air missile was the single most important weapons received by the mujahideen during the war. It greatly reduced the effectiveness of the Soviet helicopters and fighter-bombers that had dominated the sky over Afghanistan. The Stinger is a self-contained stand-alone-system- apparent as the gunner has no additional equipment. He is a Pathan - only a limited number of Stingers made it to the Tadjiks, Uzdeks, and Turkmen north of the Hindu Kush.

(Ron Volstad for Concord Publishing)