Produce from local farms. Except for the fruits.

Produce from local farms. Except for the fruits.

It’s all about food, health and the environment. And the life we live.

Most people here in the U.S. have no idea what good food really means. Those who can’t afford high-quality food eat MacDonald’s, KFC, Pizza Hut. Farmer’s markets, mostly, are too expensive for the poor.

The food industry has used big media to promote junk food, and kept people in dark about health and the environment. They tell you french fries, potato chips and Big Macs are actually good for you. They tell you KFC’s buckets of un-skinned chicken are good for you. They tell you Coke and Pepsi and Mountain Dew are healthy drinks.

I’ve been boycotting McDonald’s for ten years now. Have been boycotting other junk foods and drinks too. I am very happy I have.

But even those who can afford good food and are educated enough to know about the pluses and minuses go to eat at places where they never disclose their marketing source. Very likely, even hip NYC or SF restaurants are using Monsanto and ADM, i.e., toxic vegetables, meat or fish. India and its younger-generation people have caught on, only to follow the illiterate side of America (and ignoring the educated, modern side).

I post a few photos here I took from India in February and March this year to show you what good-quality vegetables, fish and sweets really mean. My wife used these veggies and fish to cook at home, and regardless of my bias, I can tell you this is what good food really means.

Please do not fall for media trap. Your health and your children’s health, as well as our environment, are at grave risk. Grave risk. Sharing with Mukti’s Kitchen, a place in New York where you can learn how to cook healthy Indian.

Ethical disclosure: Mukti is my wife :-)

Sincerely, as always,

Partha

Brooklyn, New York

###

Harvest from local pond. Scaled at home.

Harvest from local pond. Scaled at home.

Alone“Can You Afford to Be Alone?”

I’m posting this very short note in a number of languages, hoping people from various corners of earth would read and reflect on it. See below. Comments and share much welcome.

Sincerely,

Partha

Brooklyn, New York

_________
Our Strength

Rich and powerful people can afford to be alone. They have money, media and/or military on their side. But we the ordinary and powerless can’t fall for their fake, me-only lifestyle trap. Togetherness is our strength. Our society is our strength. Our love and care for each other is our only power.

_________

हमारी ताकत

अमीर और ताकतवर लोग अकेले रह सकते हैं . उनके पास पैसा,मीडिया और / अथवा सैन्य-शक्ति है . लेकिन हम सामान्य और शक्तिहीन जन उनकी इस केवल-मैं वाली जीवनशैली के जाल में नहीं फंस सकते . मैत्री-भाव और आपसदारी हमारी ताकत है . हमारा समाज हमारी ताकत है. एक-दूसरे के लिए हमारा प्रेम और देख-भाल ही हमारी इकलौती ताकत है .

(Translated by Priyankar Paliwal of Calcutta)

_________

আমাদের শক্তি

ধনী ও ক্ষমতাশালীরা একা থাকতে পারে। কারণ, তাদের হাতে টাকাপয়সা, সংবাদমাধ্যম এবং/অথবা মিলিটারি রয়েছে। কিন্তু আমরা সাধারণ এবং ক্ষমতাহীন মানুষ তাদের আমি-সর্বস্ব জীবনধারার ফাঁদে পড়তে পারিনা। সামগ্রিকতা, দলবদ্ধতাই আমাদের শক্তি। একে অপরের জন্য আমাদের ভালবাসা ও মমতাই আমাদের শক্তি। আমাদের সমাজই আমাদের একমাত্র শক্তি।

(Translated by this author)

_________

nuestra Fuerza

Los ricos y poderosos pueden darse el lujo de estar solo. Tienen dinero, medios de comunicación y / o militar de su lado. Pero lo común y sin poder, no podemos caer en la falsa, yo sólo el estilo de vida trampa. Unión es nuestra fuerza. Nuestra sociedad es nuestra fuerza. Nuestro amor y cuidado por los demás es nuestro único poder.

(google translation)

_________

notre Force

Les gens riches et puissants peuvent se permettre d’être seul. Ils ont de l’argent, les médias et / ou militaire de leur côté. Mais nous l’ordinaire et impuissant ne pouvons pas tomber pour leur faux, moi seule piège de mode de vie. Ensemble est notre force. Notre société est notre force. Notre amour et de soins pour l’autre est notre seul pouvoir.

(google translation)

_________

society 1

beyonce-2015-met-gala

Jennifer-Lopez-Dress-Met-Gala-2015

The Obnoxious 2.

An intelligent, modern-minded friend from Columbia Journalism School drew my attention to such ugliness, and I’m indebted to her.

(and btw, this has NOTHING to do with these actresses’ race.)

We see such “fashion” every single day, but do not take them seriously. After all, we are all mature people. I am a labor educator with a Ph.D., I sing Tagore songs, and I have my wife, students, sisters, nieces, and childhood friends on Facebook. Why show my extreme frustration to them?

But see, we must talk about it. Because it is spreading like a virus. This rape on our senses and sensibilities, in the name of art and entertainment.

Today, I discovered that top Indian newspapers and TV channels published and aired both photos, and more, and we can imagine what our children and their poor parents are going through, explaining what is good and what is bad.

I am by no stretch of imagination a reactionary obscurantist. But I do not for a moment believe this is either fashion or art. And I am not entertained at all. I refuse to pay for it. I demand my money back. I demand compensation for my lost time and sanity.

Reject this global rape of decency.

Sincerely,

Partha

Brooklyn, New York

###

Hypocrisy. One for them, and the other for us.

Hypocrisy. One for them, and the other for us. Source: http://www.cartoonmovement.com .

You got cartoons?

So, here is my totally nonviolent bomb — a mind bomb — for the elite liberals and their cartoons.

Anti-Islam, anti-Hindu, anti-Christian? Anti-Jew?

Anti-communist?

Even though I’ve been a strong advocate of freedom of speech, and I hate those who kill or shoot free thinkers such as Avijit Roy or Charlie Hebdo (or now Texas), here is my take.

Farabi a religious extremist who killed Avijit Roy in Dhaka, Bangladesh two months ago. I knew Avijit for many years.

Farabi a religious extremist who killed Avijit Roy in Dhaka, Bangladesh two months ago. I knew Avijit for many years.

I believe satires on religious icons and symbols of ANY religion is truly power’s elitist, intellectual violence on the powerless.

A vast majority of poor people worldwide — a small minority of them fanatics and bigots — have no place else to go but their Islam, Hinduism, Christianity or Judaism. Or, in some cases, communist parties. Etc.

Why hurt them unnecessarily?

If you, the powerful cartoon magazines and your financing supporters, are really so brave, keep hurting with your cartoons and caricatures the Koch Brothers, GE’s, Monsanto’s, Ambanis, Exxons, and their bought politicians.

Expose the cricket and baseball and Disney’s and ESPN’s and their global gambling and child-slaving.

Expose IMF and World Bank and Goldman Sachs.

And embarras the Clintons and the Cheneys and the Kissingers.

Do it, and we’ll see how brave you really are. Or, how long you can do it without being shut down.

Otherwise, with your stupid cartoons, you are actually, purposefully distracting our minds off the real crimes and their criminals. IMO, that itself is a crime. A crime that gets validation by the rich and the powerful liberals, worldwide. It’s an act of hypocrisy too.

I do NOT believe in violence, of any kind. But I also believe in justice, of any kind, against any injustice. Democratic, nonviolent justice.

I rest my case. With my freedom of speech, I spoke my mind.

Sincerely Yours,

Partha

Brooklyn, New York

###

Even though this is not the focus of this post, I believe it deserves merit too, in this context. I got it from the web. Source: theredphoenixapl.org

Even though this is not the focus of this post, I believe it deserves merit too, in this context. I got it from the web. Source: theredphoenixapl.org. Disclaimer: I do not take a position on this cartoon. I’m only posting it here, to ask people to think about the many aspects of the subject, often unreported and un-discussed in big media.

I am no communist, but I strongly support their struggle for justice.

I am no communist, but I strongly support their struggle for justice.

When I was a journalism student at Columbia University, some professors and students said I was doing “advocacy journalism,” because I was writing about the poor and powerless. When I said to them, what about you also doing the same thing because you’re *always* reporting news on behalf of the status quo, they got angry. Then, I invited Noam Chomsky to speak in our department, and they got angrier.

Yesterday, a well-known journalist (who is also Indian and a co-alumnus at Columbia) showed again big media’s strong bias for the people in power when she said violence on women was not really so bad in India: she was referring to the BBC documentary “India’s Daughter” — now banned in India — on the infamous gang rape in Delhi.

She said that India has already elected a woman head of state (Indira Gandhi) and U.S. hasn’t; therefore, it is proof that India’s women are better off than what U.S. and Europe had thought. It’s like saying, look, a black man is America’s president now; therefore, all this news about brutality on blacks and their poverty and hopelessness is plain nonsense.

Sometimes, I wonder, if these journalists are just elitist and out of touch, or are they actually paid for by their owner corporations and politicians to speak on behalf of them. This is also proof that women can also be a part of a terribly patriarchal system. 

***

West must come forward, and stand by the fighters in India. In an honest way.

West must come forward, and stand by the fighters in India. In an honest way.

RAPE is an epidemic in India. Not just rape. Sex trafficking. Daily violence on women. Big violence. Small violence. Ridiculing. Name calling. Improper touching. Luring. False promises. Threats. Publishing intimate photos online. Destroying women’s careers. Stealing their money and land. Robbing women of their human rights, economic rights, political rights, workplace rights. Religious subjugation. There is NO concept of equality.

Of course, there have been women prime ministers (Indira Gandhi, a dictator) and chief ministers (Jaylalitha, an Imelda Marcos, Mayawati, a corrupt caste leader, and Mamata Banerjee, leader of an illiterate, mafia-run force) and noted journalists and even a few police officers and scientists and astronauts. And India has had a laughable, rubber-stamp woman president too.

But that does not mean India has any iota of gender equality. People who tell us otherwise are either a part of the status-quo and do not ever want change; or they are elite and privileged class and out of touch. Or, right-wing ultrapatriots who believe women should be put in the kitchen and dark and dingy birthing rooms.

An Indian woman works very hard at home and outside, and is mostly used for her labor she puts in or money she makes. Often, she is forced to give all the money she made to her husband, father, or in-laws. Hindu, Muslim, no difference. A woman is forced to give birth to children against her will; or, if found early in her pregnancy, is forced to abort a girl fetus.

I don’t need to read a book, or hear erudite conference or media speeches. Many poor and working-class women are fighting back against this horrendous patriarchal and male chauvinistic system, but the establishment and their media do not support them. They undermine their struggles, and impose their own, elitist solutions.

We who came from poor and struggling backgrounds know the reality on ground. The others, including Indian powers and “Born Into Brothels,” “Slumdog Millionaire” or “City of Joy”-type missionary West exclude and distort the truth, and offer phony solutions.

India’s gender discrimination and disparity is no less than an apartheid. Let us not fool ourselves no more.

(And there is NO comparison between gender violence and 24/7 discrimination there, and the ones we see here in America. NO comparison. Period.)

Sincerely, with a heavy but fighting heart,

Partha

Brooklyn, New York

###

We are here to support you.

We are here to support you.

Image: Kathmandu Struck By Powerful Earthquake

Yesterday was my birthday. And it was a day when Mount Everest shook. Literally.

Even though I wanted to spend this day with happy thoughts and warm wishes from my family and friends, I couldn’t help but think of the 1,000+ poor men, women and children who perished in Nepal and India.

Three years ago, around this time, 1,200 poor garment workers were killed in Bangladesh. That day, God shook too.

I am not a religious person, and never believed in God as a savior. God has never saved the poor and destitute, ever. But as someone who believes in human spirituality, I also do not want to contradict the beliefs of millions of them out there who have nobody but God to turn to, especially in times of disaster: man-made disasters such as the Holocaust or mass rapes in Bangladesh or genocide in Rwanda, wars in Vietnam or Iraq, famines such as those in Bengal or Sudan, or natural disasters such as earthquakes in Haiti, Gujarat or Nepal.

Some are man-made disasters such as deforestation in the Amazons or Sundarbans, followed by massive, natural catastrophes.

I have never seen God in a savior role to save these countless poor, helpless people to live, with rights and dignity. Still, because I have no power to help these poor people, I have no right to take away their faith in some unknown, supernatural powers who they believe will save them from destruction.

Mankind has not progressed intellectually on this front, and just like economic inequality, intellectual inequality has also become wider. Only a handful have progressed. The rest are languishing behind.

Let there be equality, and let there be education and enlightenment. These are my birthday wishes this year. Thanks for listening. Thanks for reading it twice. It comes from my heart.

If I were in Nepal today, I would go from neighborhood to neighborhood, and organize search parties to look for surviving victims. When I was a teenager in Calcutta, I took part in donation drives for flood victims, and collected rice, dal and clothes, walking with friends across neighborhoods. When I was in high school, I went to India-Bangladesh border to work among war-torn refugees. Short stints of voluntary work I shall remember all my life. Life was more meaningful and rewarding then.

Now I do things that are probably still meaningful to others, but I don’t get to see the reward. I can’t touch it. If I could perish for a cause, and see it happen, I would die in happiness. But I have no means to make it happen. They say, put yourself together and find peace. But I’m not the peace-finding type. I am the idiot who dwells in restlessness, and agonize to see apathy, ignorance, indifference and inaction.

And thus ends another birthday, in relative meaninglessness, and perennial void.

Mount Everest shook yesterday. With such a sky-high void in human compassion and intelligence, is it going to crumble? Is such a historic disaster going to happen, in my lifetime?

Oh God, where are you?

###

everestavalanche

Her kitchen in our Calcutta mezzanine apartment, as she left it behind, years ago.

Her kitchen in our Calcutta mezzanine apartment, as she left it behind, years ago.

(English text below.)

২৫শে এপ্রিল আমার জীবনের একটা বিশেষ দিন। এদিনটা আমার খুব প্রিয়। আমার মা যখন বেঁচে ছিল, তখন বন্ধুরা আর আত্মীয়রা সব আসত আমাদের বাড়ি সন্ধেবেলা, আর মা তাদের ভালো ভালো রান্না করে খাওয়াত। আমার পছন্দের জিনিষ রান্না করত সেদিন। এই যেমন, ঝিঙেপোস্ত, পোলাও, কাঁচা আমের অম্বল, পাঁঠার মাংস, কিসমিস দেওয়া পায়েস — এই সব। মার রান্নার খ্যাতি ছিল খুব। এখন আমার বউ এসব রান্না করে আমাকে খাওয়ায় এদিনে। অনেক কিছু জীবনে হারিয়েছি, আবার অনেক কিছু পেয়েওছি। এখন, এত বছর আমেরিকায় থাকার পরে, আমি আমার স্মৃতিকথা “ঘটিকাহিনী” লিখতে আরম্ভ করেছি কয়েকজন বিশেষ বন্ধু ও বান্ধবীর অনুরোধে-উপরোধে। এই সংখ্যায় আমার মায়ের মৃত্যুর কথা একটু লিখেছি, যতটা সম্ভব ভাবপ্রবণতা বা সেন্টিমেন্ট বর্জন করে। আশা করি আপনারা পড়বেন। “ঘটিকাহিনী”র প্রথম খন্ড — “প্রথম জন্ম” — ডিসেম্বর মাসের শেষ দিকে কলকাতায় প্রকাশিত হবার কথা হচ্ছে। যদি সত্যি সব কিছু ঠিকমত হয়, তাহলে অনুষ্ঠানে আপনাদের আসবার নিমন্ত্রণ থাকবে।

(English text below.)

___________________________________________

25th April is a special day in my life. I am fond of this day. When my mother was alive, my friends and relatives would gather together at our home in the evening, and mother would cook delicious dishes to treat them. She cooked items that I liked. Indian and Bengali dishes such as khus khus paste with green luffa, spiced fried rice or Polao, a sweet sour watery chutney with green mango, goat meat curry, a milk dessert with raisins, etc. She was quite well known for her cooking abilities. Now, my wife Mukti cooks these items on this day.

I have lost many things in my life, yet, I have gained a lot of things too. Now, after having spent so many years in America, upon insistence of some friends, I’ve started writing my memoir. I titled it “Ghotikahini,” or the tale of a Ghoti (or a Bengali from West Bengal). In the episode just published, I have written about the death of my mother, with an effort not to make it too emotional or sentimental. I hope you read it.

The first volume of “Ghotikahini” — entitled “First Life” — is scheduled to be published from Calcutta in late December. If it really happens as planned, I shall invite you to attend the ceremony.

My father is now 91 years old. She was 54 when mother died.

My father is now 91 years old. He was 54 when mother died. The woman sitting just behind me is my only surviving aunt Sova. The other person is Jamuna, a woman who has been with us as household help for many years.

Where Do the People Go?

Where Do the People Go? Courtesy: Tucson Citizen.

So, I begin a new year of my critical-thinking labor workshop. “Where Do the People Go” is my class title.

This year, my union leaders gave me a special responsibility to design and teach a special, politically-charged subject: immigration and immigrants. I shall do my best to do justice to their expectations.

But in spite of being as neutral and objective as possible — as the facilitator of this eight-month-long, weekly class, packed with videos, fact sheets and intense brainstorming by 1,500+ workers, apprentices and industry leaders — I must say that branding a class of people “illegal” and treating them as “criminal” only because of their immigration status is quite strange, if not stupid, or opportunistic.

Especially in this so-called Land of Immigrants, a country that takes pride in its immigrant history and diversity.

Today’s America has become xenophobic, and we do not think or read anymore.

We say we are against illegal immigrants. Yet, we have no problems using their cheap, slave-like labor — in cities and villages. We do not mind shopping at Wal-Mart, taking our cars to garages, dining at exotic restaurants, hosting conferences in hotels, or buy chicken, apples and grapes at supermarkets, where practically all these places use the labor of paperless people living in extreme poverty.

Nobody knows, or worse, cares to know, why poor men, women and children migrate, leaving their countries and familiar surroundings behind, and risking their lives.

It's not sentiment. It's the truth. Know it.

It’s not sentiment. It’s the truth. Know it.

I doubt anybody has ever heard of the morgue we once visited in Arizona where they bring in unidentified dead bodies of people trying to cross the Sonoran desert. Nobody connects the dots between global warfare, economic aggression, foreign policy and immigration. Few understand the long history of the U.S. and rich European nations, when it comes to slavery, racism and the ongoing saga of economic exploitation.

Nobody knows how IMF and World Bank drive more people out of their countries to find food for their families.

I do not want to take a side as the teacher in the classroom, but I do not mind showing my restrained passion for truth, equality and justice for the underprivileged, exploited immigrants.

After all, I have been one myself.

Sincerely, as always,

Partha

Brooklyn, New York

###

P.S. — By the way, do watch this documentary. I just did. Powerful!

A Must-see.

A Must-see.

I was in high school.

In 1978, on 2nd April, my mother died of cancer. She was 42.

Every year, I remember this day, not to make it a tearful, sentimental journey, but to remember the beautiful years she was with us, and became an example of an ordinary, dignified, affectionate, and dedicated Bengali-Indian mother.

I’ve written about her untimely death, the economic and health reasons, and the impact of her death on me and our family (even some friends), both in English and Bengali, so I won’t repeat it here.

But two things resurface today: (1) you can celebrate life and the wonderful memories it brings even on an otherwise somber day; and (2) you can slowly come out of the perpetual sadness and feeling of guilt, and use your resilience to help others who are going through similar emotional suffering.

I’m no philosopher, but after 37 years of her passing, I’ve come to believe that death is truly an integral part of life, and being a Hindu, I’ve become a believer of good karma and its virtue, in this life and beyond.

She is not present with us physically, but her unending love and belief for my abilities to do something extraordinary made me what I am today.

But it is not anything extraordinary: mothers all over the world are doing the same thing, generation after generation. They are helping us to fight back against poverty, hopelessness and dark politics we go through, keeping the torch of hope and goodness alive.

Today, remembering my own mother, I salute all the mothers of our world: the world of the havenots.

Sincerely,

Partha

Brooklyn, New York

###

A simple but healthy and delicious Indian vegetable curry. I made it at home in fifteen minutes.

A simple but healthy and delicious Indian vegetable curry. I made it at home in fifteen minutes.

I AM BOYCOTTING MCDONALDS FOR 10 YEARS.

A small, personal anniversary to celebrate.

Food, water and environment are critically important elements in our lives. Yet, most of us are either indifferent or ignorant about them. I’m talking about the two countries I’ve known all my life: USA and India. I’ve lived half of my life in each country. I’ve seen it all.

It is true that many activists in both countries are trying their best to create awareness, and challenging the Goliath corporations and media that are pushing junk food, plastic-bottled water, toxic drinks like Coke and Pepsi, and destroying the environment like crazy, by felling trees for newsprint, tissue paper and napkins, and also usurping massive amounts of public land. But these people fighting back against the giant and powerful status-quo are few and far between.

Slowly but surely, a new generation is growing up — in both India and USA — who neither know nor care to know about the slow-poisoning of our men, women, children, plants and animals to death. This is true. There is practically no awareness. These are not election issues.

Ten years ago, I quit eating at McDonalds, and I’m silently celebrating an important anniversary in my life. Since boycotting McDonalds (inspired by Super Size Me, a documentary Hollywood purposefully did not award for political reasons), I stopped eating at other chain food places such as Pizza Hut, KFC, and Taco Bell. I rarely drink plastic-bottled water, Coke or Pepsi, although I have not been able to completely stop it, mainly because in certain places and times, there is absolutely no alternative, particularly here in America. Otherwise, I would completely stop drinking them.

I decided to post a cover photo on my Facebook today — a photo my wife Mukti Banerjee (chef and instructor at Mukti’s Kitchen here in Brooklyn) took yesterday of my cooking an Indian vegetable curry from scratch — to symbolize the significance of this honest and sincere return to healthy food and drinks.

Not eating at the junk food places has drastically improved my health, and my family members, friends and colleagues noticed the happy change. I even smile these days, which almost disappeared over the past few years :-)

A Resounding NO.

A Resounding NO.

Jokes aside, it is an uphill battle, mainly because in both countries — the two biggest “democracies” (also known as open markets monopolized by corporations actively endorsed by political powers of major political parties) — there is a tyrannical, terrorist onslaught on healthy food, drinks and lifestyle, and corporate media in both countries are actively promoting this unhealthy, often deadly, lifestyle.

If the Holy Ganges is the most polluted river on earth, here in USA, nearly 70% of food is GMO pushed by Monsanto and such corporations. If the sky is absolutely, horrendously polluted in India because of the rampant, out-of-control, concrete jungle construction (also known as promoter companies), fast food, toxic drinks and over-dependence of drugs in life are sure recipe for death here in America. Ironically, for those young, enlightened people in America who are now challenging this corporate status-quo by practicing yoga, meditation, and eating healthy, home-cooked food (sometimes Indian food, fruits and vegetables), they should know that the new, young generation in India is doing just the opposite: they’re now digging more at McDonalds and KFC and gulping down more Coke, Pepsi, and plastic-bottled water.

When the enlightened West is looking toward the sage-old East for health and environment advice, the East is slowly sinking down to the abyss of a hopeless devastation.

Again, I do not believe that a lonely fight against anything can bring about anything significantly positive, but taking advantage of the social media, blogs and also word of mouth, we can perhaps join hands together, and bring about some collective, healthy change in our lives and environment.

Thank you for reading, commenting, and sharing.

Sincerely,

Partha

Brooklyn, New York

###

Give them the green environment they deserve.

Give them the green environment they deserve.