How is Slumdog an Indian Movie?

Congratulations to the team of Slumdog Millionaire for winning eight Academy Awards. Well, with all the hype that was built leading up to the Oscars, I think everyone expected it. Good job, but I don’t understand why Anil Kapoor is jumping up and down. Yesterday, he was calling it an Indian movie, because “it was about the Indian people and had Indian people in it”. Unless Anil Kapoor was doing some behind-the-scenes planning and direction while the movie was being made, something that the movie watching world is not aware of, Anil Kapoor didn’t have a lot to do with the movie. His role in the movie, where he plays the host of “Who Wants to be a Millionaire” and asks a few questions of the film’s protagonist, would have been described as a “guest appearance”, if he had such a role in a Hindi movie.

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Don't Get Your Hindi Tattoo Wrong

Update 7/21/2015:
Due to shortage of time, I am unable to devote time to replying to comments on this blog post. Sorry, the comment box is now closed.

victoria tattoo on david beckham's armBritish soccer star David Beckham has his wife Victoria’s name tattooed on his forearm. But it is spelt wrongly. I am not sure if the error is intentional, but it looks like “vhiktoria”. So, if you have decided to get a Hindi tattoo, or are in the tattoo business, make sure you get a good translation or transliteration (as the case may be) for your planned tattoo.
If you have a Hindi tattoo question, ask it in the comment section of this blog post and I will answer your query for free in the same section as soon as possible. My answer will be in text form. You should copy the text to Wordpad, and increase font size to 20+ to see the image correctly. Make sure the font is “Mangal” or “Arial Unicode MS” or any other Unicode Devanagari font. It is your responsibility to have the correct font on your computer and to copy the text correctly. If possible, send me a picture of your tattoo and I will put it up here. For example, see the pictures of Hindi tattoos that readers of this blog got after asking for translation here.
freedom = स्वतन्त्रता, courtesy Mary ___ Scorpio = वृश्चक, courtesy Corey
Before you ask, please read the following:
1. Computer translations (Google, Bing, etc.) can sometimes be very good, but sometimes very bad. Therefore do not get yourself inked based on a computer translation.
2. Do not ask me to verify if a translation you got from the computer is correct. Just ask me what you want translated. You can check it against a computer, but don’t come back and ask me why it is different. I am a native speaker, and I will do my best to give you a good translation. However, I will be happy to verify another native speaker’s translation for you.
3. Caution about proper nouns like names: If it is a name you want transliterated to Hindi, let me know how you pronounce it, particularly if it is a name not common to English speakers. Hindi is written in a phonetic manner, so I must know how you pronounce it. After I give you the Hindi version, double check with somone who can read Hindi.
4. Please do not ask about translations in languages or scripts other than Hindi. I do not know Sanskrit, Gujarati, Marathi, etc.
5. Do not call Hindi Hindu. Hindi is a language, Hindu is a religion.
6. I do this free of cost as a service to the language I love. Don’t write me long paragraphs to translate. A word or two, even a line or two are fine. Be prepared to wait a day or two (sometimes more, if I am traveling) before you get your answer.
7. Here are some commonly asked tattoo words and phrases. These get asked so often that I decided to include them here. Check here before asking:
Peace = शांति or शान्ति (different spellings for the same word), pronounced Shanti
Freedom = आज़ादी or स्वतंत्रता
Be the change = परिवर्तन बनो
Be the change you want to see in the world = वह परिवर्तन बनो जो संसार में देखना चाहते हो
Never a failure, always a lesson = नाकामी कभी नहीं, सबक हमेशा
Power = शक्ति, pronounced Shakti
Strength = दृढता
family = परिवार
faith = आस्था
hope = आशा
Some phrases/sentences that are frequently asked, but don’t translate well into Hindi:
Be at peace, not in pieces.
Carpe Diem
Important Disclaimer: This service is provided with no warranties and no acceptance of liabilities. While I will do my best to answer your query correctly, do verify it from another source before getting a tattoo.


Pheran, another Blanket with Sleeves

Everytime I watch the infomercial about the Snuggie, a “blanket with sleeves”, it reminds me of the pheran, which was the basic garment and an essential part of my life growing up in Kashmir (North India). Nobody in Kashmir can live without a pheran, and it must have existed there for centuries, if not millenia. And here in the US, I see several companies claiming the blanket with sleeves was their idea. So who thought of it first —
Snuggie, Slanket or Freedom blanket? Did any of them know about the Kashmiri pheran? To me it seems they are reinventing the wheel. While I have seen infomercials only from Snuggie, I saw this interesting post about it, followed by an equally interesting discussion in its comments, and that is how I found out about the other brands – the Slanket and the Freedom Blanket, and the apparent tussle for originality of the idea.
Kashmiri politician Omar Abdullah wearing a pheran. Courtesy Salman Nizami's Flickr photostreamWell, the Kashmiri pheran () is also actually a blanket with sleeves. It can be made out of fleece, wool, or any fabric that keeps you warm. Every Kashmiri person living in Kashmir has to have a pheran. The difference between the blanket with sleeves being marketed in the West, and the pheran is this – while the snuggie appears to be open on the back, the pheran is not. It is closed, and you put it on like you would put on a sweater. Except, it is really long (below knees) and very loose (like a large blanket). In fact it has to be loose enough to create your own heated space around you, which you heat up using a kangri (or kanger, as it is called in Kashmiri).
More on the kanger in a little bit — actually that merits a post of its own. First a little bit about Kashmir’s weather. When you think of India, you think of searing hot weather. But there are pockets of cold weather in Today's weather in Srinagar and New York from iGoogle Weather gadgetIndia along the foothills of Himalayas – Himachal, Uttarakhand, the North East, and Kashmir. The weather in the beautiful valley of Kashmir can be compared to that of New York. Look at the screenshot of today’s weather in Srinagar (the capital city of Kashmir) and New York. The difference is, hardly anyone in Kashmir can afford to have a centrally heated home. That is where the pheran and the kanger come in. The pheran is your personal space that you sit with or move around with, and the kanger is your personal heater with which you heat that space.
The Kangri. Courtesy Farooq Wani's Flickr photostreamThe kanger () is basically an earthenware pot, around which a wickerwork jacket is woven to insulate it and to provide you with a handle. You fill the earthenware pot with wood charcoal, and put some burning embers on top. The heat works through the layers of charcoal, giving you nearly a daylong supply of heat. A good kanger-ful does not need a refill all day long, but most do. It all depends on the quality of charcoal you use, and the way you keep the heat outflow controlled (with a layer of ash forming on top). You keep the kanger within the pheran and heat up the space within. You sit with the pheran and the kangri, traditionally on the floor, which, needless to say, has to be well covered or carpeted. You go out and walk with the pheran, holding your own kanger within.
Obviously, the essential, practical, traditional pheran has also given birth to the fashionable pheran, and that is what has become popular as a feminine apparel in other parts of North India, which has colder winters than the South, but not as cold as those in Kashmir. The fashion pheran is generally embroidered, is not as loose as the essential pheran, and mostly you can’t put your hands in. So, well, it is not much of a pheran.

Indian politician Sonia Gandhi wearing a fashionable pheran. Courtesy Salman Nizami's Flickr photostream
Indian politician Sonia Gandhi wearing a fashionable pheran
A Western tourist wearing a pheran. Courtesy Batschmidt's Flickr photostream
A Western tourist wearing a pheran
Working with the pheran on. Courtesy Mubee's Flickr photostream
Working with the pheran on

With the real pheran, people can go to work, shop, drive, and mostly do everything in a day’s work. During the winter, the pheran does not come off unless you go to sleep, or are going for a job that demands more formal wear. A pheran also generally comes with a potsh (), i.e., a pheran lookalike that is made of plain white cotton cloth and is used as the inner layer for the pheran. The potsh has multiple functions — it increases the amount of insulation given by the pheran, prevents the body’s dirt and odor to get to the pheran (you don’t wash the pheran that often), and gets washed and replaced more often than the pheran does — kind of a pheran liner.
Do you see any similarity between the ‘blanket with sleeves’ and the pheran? One thing is for sure – I vouch for the idea of a blanket with sleeves, and since I cannot buy a pheran in the US, I am going to settle for the blanket with sleeves. And who knows with energy prices going the way they are, one day we may have to rely on the kanger too. Any inventors out there looking for ideas?