dining in Kerala (just FYI: Total cost for 2 – around 4 dollars each!)

Kerala is a state in south India. Like Yorkshire in England, it is referred to as “God’s own country”. Obviously the phrase means, the big man above has a private garden of his own and he assiduously is gracious in welcoming you to come and stay!

But i would first venture out to say that food makes God’s own country so satiating an experience. The hindu  has this delightful article. Total cost for 2 – around 4 dollars each!

Hot black tea arrives on cue, as soon as we take our places. The tea is free and unlimited. The menu, a polished wooden board, presents a variety of naadannon-vegetarian options with an entire side dedicated to seafood delicacies. The gastronomic adventure kicks off with fluffy appams and fiery Kottayam neimeen (king fish) curry. Appam soaked in super-spicy chilli gravy is a delight to have with well-cooked cubes of fish. It is the same story with puttu and Kainakari duck. The thick, peppery curry has duck pieces that melts with a bite and is perfect with the soft puttu.

Meanwhile, the centrepiece of the feast arrives. Marinated in an assortment of spices, wrapped and cooked in banana leaf, the classic avoli pollichathu arrives in a steamy bundle dressed with tomato and onion slices. The fish, big enough for two, is fried and flavoured to perfection. After devouring it within no time and still not having enough of it, we go for a final round with prawn roast and appam. Fat prawns cooked in masala gravy arrive within a few minutes in an earthen platter. Chunky prawn doused in the caramelised gravy sets off an explosion of flavours when had with the appam. We wash it all down with another glass of black tea and call it a day.

Apart from the usual assortment of breads, Pankayam also serves special puttu variants with chicken, beef and mutton. For those looking for flavoured rice, there is the Pankayam pulao. Chicken and quail fries too are on the list.

Although most of the fish delicacies are available all through the day, traditional sadya is the only main course option at lunch with a never-ending supply of pappadam and lime juice.

SCOTUS – Formidable Lineup of cases

supreme court 2017

The highest court in the US is often the final word on highly contentious laws, disputes between states and the federal government, and final appeals to stay executions.

It hears fewer than 100 cases a year and the key announcements are made in June. Each of the nine justices serve a lifetime appointment after being nominated by the president and approved by the Senate.

Cases are usually brought to the court after they are appealed from a series of lower courts, although in time-sensitive cases, lawyers can petition for a hearing. The court’s opinions can also create precedents, directing other judges to follow their interpretation in similar cases.

In recent years, the court has expanded gay marriage to all 50 states, halted President Obama’s immigration orders and delayed a US plan to cut carbon emissions while appeals went forward.

Occasionally, the Supreme Court will revisit an issue in a new case and change their own precedent, a move anti-abortion activists hope will come to pass with a new conservative justice.

The case that interest me the most is Carpenter v United States, which is another application of 18th-century rights to the 21st comes in Carpenter v United States, a case asking whether the right to privacy extends to information beamed out from mobile phones. In 2011, when Timothy Carpenter was arrested for organizing a series of armed robberies, the FBI built its case on four months of mobile-phone data showing where he was when the crimes took place. This information was retrieved under a law permitting phone companies to divulge information to corroborate “specific and articulate facts” relevant to a criminal investigation. By placing Mr Carpenter within a stone’s throw of the robberies based on the antennae through which he placed and received calls, the FBI was able to map his movements and convict him without ever securing a warrant from a judge. In Carpenter, the justices will ask whether this tactic violated the Fourth Amendment’s ban on “unreasonable searches and seizures”.

source

here and here

 

Gloria E. Anzaldúa, mestizaje, and caste system

I was reading about the google doodle today – Gloria E. Anzaldúa, and then reached out to my Hispanic colleague to explain certain terms

and a term that caught my attention was “mestizaje”( meaning a state of being beyond binary (“either-or”) conception, into academic writing and discussion. In her theoretical works, Anzaldúa called for a “new mestiza,” which she described as an individual aware of her conflicting and meshing identities and uses these “new angles of vision” to challenge binary thinking in the Western world.)

Here i feel her thinking is similar to mine – i always felt slightly amused by the binary thinking of the western mind, be it Caucasian feminists lesbian lawyers that i have known here in DC or white evangelical protestants, or black reformed Calvinists (they all are, in my opinion, struck in the time- loop (using star trek parlance) of Judaeo-Christian ethics – there can be no resolution because THE ONLY possibilities are A or A’ )

I often felt the arguments I encounter among them as simplistic and binary.

Further investigation of Mestizaje yielded this …

Created by Hispanic elites, the sistema de castas or the sociedad de castas, varied largely due to their birth, color, race and origin of ethnic types. The system of castas was more than socio-racial classification. It had an effect on every aspect of life, including economics and taxation. Both the Spanish colonial state and the Church required more tax and tribute payments from those of lower socio-racial categories…

Private eye Vincent Parco

Truth – they say, and I of course am starting to believe in is stranger than fiction!

This is so juicy and good that I love it !

Like many private investigators, Vincent Parco has, for nearly 30 years, made his living in the darker corners of New York.

In 1991, he admitted on the witness stand to having sold a pistol and a silencer to a woman who used them in a love-triangle murder that came to be known in the city’s tabloid media as the “Fatal Attraction” case. Decades later, he found himself embroiled in the salacious prosecution of Anna Gristina, the so-called Soccer Mom Madam, whose little black book inspired terror among the rich and famous, both before, and after, she pleaded guilty, to running a brothel on the Upper East Side of Manhattan.

On Tuesday, however, Mr. Parco, 67, made the leap from a simple sleuth and connoisseur of crime to a criminal defendant. In a proceeding that rivaled (and perhaps outdid) his prior exploits in the underworld, he was charged with trying to derail a sexual abuse case in a Hasidic community in Brooklyn by secretly recording a witness having sex with prostitutes he had hired then threatening to expose the man unless he stopped cooperating with prosecutors.

NYT – page A21; Wednesday, September 20th 2017

A tale of 2 Americas, by the way of Turkey, Greece

TURKEY GREEK

I love America. I love the ‘Just do it’ attitude of many of my friends and well wishers. I love the Shenandoah Mountains, Country Roads, and Rafting across the Yampa River for a week with Sierra Club, I love Disney World, Hardy Boys, Universal Studios – islands of adventure, john Muir, the conservation efforts and the capitalism exploits.

One thing that I slowly got used to is what this article so lucidly states, the ignorance to – “The second is the America of coups and occupations, military dictators and CIA plots, economic meddling and contempt for foreign cultures.”

I have had a conversation with a state department diplomat who actually got offended that my Dad mentioned it to her. The reality of the second America.

What’s more – Is the seemingly lackadaisical attitude towards – “Truth”? It used to bother me that people can say anything without actually being held accountable for. They would state something as a matter of fact as if they just spoke the Bhagavad Gita.

Suzy Hansen writes “This may be particularly true of those Americans who came of age in the 1990s as the United States triumphed over the Soviets, its status as a benevolent superpower somehow confirmed. The ugliness of the Cold War was largely forgotten. I remember the Marshall Plan and the Truman Doctrine portrayed in my ’90s-era education as great international acts of charity, of which Turkey had been among the lucky recipients. But when I moved to Istanbul, Turks taught me about the more complicated aspects of the United States’ long relationship with their country: that thousands of U.S. soldiers had occupied Turkish soil in the 1950s, and how, throughout the darkest days of the Cold War, most Turks believed that the United States was manipulating their military and their citizens. I had come expecting Turks to be foreign to me. It turned out we were profoundly, tormentedly, related.”

Well, there is no word that was just created by Suzy – tormentedly. Exactly, that proves my point I guess.

What about Greece?

“It wasn’t just Turkey. After the financial crisis in Greece, I interviewed many intellectuals and other citizens there who offered historical explanations during which they referred — casually, assuming I knew about it — to an American intervention. I’d never heard of it. But it was a pivotal moment in contemporary Greek history: Thousands of Americans arrived in Athens as part of the Truman Doctrine, propping up an authoritarian regime against Greek communists and leftists and demanding that Greeks imitate the American way of life. From the late 1940s to the 1970s, American military personnel, diplomats and spies provided ample support to the Greek government as it tortured and persecuted its citizens. This history, our history, was part of them. I haven’t met any Americans for whom it was part of their identity — most never knew about it. It wasn’t at all part of mine. “