Friday, June 30, 2006

Depicting the Taj

A friend bought a used copy of Raghu Rai's Taj to gift her mentor, she said it was too expensive 10 years ago in Bombay. I expected to see white tourists, India's ultimate proof of quality tourist destinations (oh yes we're racist). There wasn't a single white face, reminding me of the time I went to Agra with assorted extended family in middle school- the Taj was the great brown people's tourist destination. Rai's book had wonderful pictures- giggly old women in plain dark saris and silver anklets with grandkids, a family spreading tiffin on the white marble at lunchtime, the boundary of the Taj where red sandstone turns into white marble, and scenes from around the taj- miniature taj sellers at dusk, the Yamuna cremation grounds behind the Taj,and Id namaaz at the taj.... a veritable feast.

Tuesday, June 27, 2006

reservation and the anti-politics machine

The title is not mine, it's a rip-off from James Ferguson's Development and the anti-politics machine. Rang De Basanti defines what is protestable by confining protest within the limits of narrow middle-class and upper caste interests. See how it's been used here. A cousin sent me a forward with Mandal protest pictures from 1991 with this caption: 'Remember RDB? It's time to act for the nation'. RDB would not have been used in a blatantly middle and upper caste/class centered preservationist anti-reservation campaign if its message really was radical change- would Hazaron Khwahishein Aisi be used? Ha!

And then Rakesh Mehra and Aamir Khan find their calls for compensation to Narmada oustees met with howls of protest.