Event Watch: 3 Idiots (2009)

The South Asian Film Society and the South Asian Studies Council will be screening the film, 3 Idiots this Thursday, September 22 @ 8 pm  on Old Campus  (rain location: LC 102)!

I haven’t seen too many Bollywood films, so I don’t know if I’m qualified to judge or make comparisons, but 3 Idiots is definitely one of the most entertaining (if not best in general) movies I’ve ever seen. Sometimes I wonder if this is how movies were meant to be — an unpretentious, fun adventure with all the right highs and lows and leaves the audience with a warm, satisfied feeling when it’s all over. Full of tongue-in-cheek clichés, heart-wrenching and -warming scenes, and of course, song and dance, the movie is hilarious and very well-crafted (how many hyphenated words can I use in this sentence) — if you haven’t seen it already, I strongly recommend that you do. Go for the popcorn and chai, if nothing else.

Here’s a brief synopsis from the event listing:

Farhan Qureshi and Raju Rastogi want to re-unite with their fellow collegian, Rancho, after falling out of touch several years beforehand. En route, they encounter another student, Chatur Ramalingam, now a successful businessman, who reminds them of a bet they had undertaken 10 years ago. The trio, while recollecting hilarious antics, including their run-ins with the Dean of Delhi’s Imperial College of Engineering, Viru Sahastrabudhe, race to locate Rancho, at his last known address — little knowing the secret that was kept from them all this time. Currently the highest-grossing Bollywood film of all time.

Link of the Day

Over the summer, chinaSMACK, Chinese news and pop culture website, launched a new site called Diaspora @ chinaSMACK. This section features a collection of articles and personal anecdotes by overseas Chinese, exploring issues of culture, society and self-identity, all told from a fresh perspective. Some very thought provoking articles, a couple that warrant a bit of an eye-roll, but still worth the look. For starters, check out I became American and the world kept turning, by a contributor at the blog Hypermodern.



Digital Racism?

Excerpt from article “Beware Social Media’s Dark Side, Scholars Warn Companies“:

Lisa Nakamura, a professor of Asian-American studies at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign who studies virtual communities, argued that new forms of racism are emerging amid the bits and bytes of video games.

For instance, in China large numbers of users began earning actual money playing the fantasy role-playing game Lineage II. They did so by playing for many hours and selling their online loot to people in the United States who did not play as long. Many of the Chinese chose the online role of a female dwarf, a character class in the game that can more easily win treasure on solo missions. Rival players began killing off female dwarfs in the game on sight, often adding anti-Chinese slurs in the chat section of the game as they did, said Ms. Nakamura.

“What happened was that female dwarfs become an unplayable race” in the game, she said. “They basically became a racial minority.”

She also noted a study that found what she called “plain old racism” cropping up in online marketplaces like Craigslist. The study found that when people posted listings on the free classifieds site that showed a black hand holding a product, the final selling price was lower than in an ad for the same product held by a white hand.

Blog Contest Runner-up: The Future of China

Congratulations to Tony Wu, TC ’13, for his submission!


The year 2010 saw China surpassing Japan and becoming the world’s second largest economy by nominal GDP – merely one spot away from what most Chinese feel is their country’s inevitable position as the leading global superpower. As the son of two Beijingers, I am proud of how far the nation of my heritage has come since the beginning of Deng Xiaoping’s economic reforms in 1978, but China’s growth is fractured.

Annual growth rates have averaged 9% for the last decade, and yet China’s GDP per capita hovers below $4,000, lower than that of Botswana, South Africa, and even Algeria. Corruption spans 15% of the entire economy and the wealthy elite exploit privatization to further perpetuate and widen the socioeconomic gap. Economic liberalization has hardly occurred – the state still has absolute power to censor, prosecute, and kill on a whim. All of these problems thrive behind the mask of China’s status as the poster child of globalization.


There’s no doubt that China wants to assume the helm of world leader. It craves unrivaled global recognition and power that once defined (and perhaps still does) the United States at the dawn of the postmodern age.

China today has the money and might to accomplish great things, but while Chinese leaders complain about the West’s antagonism toward their country’s questionable development, their own behavior, in the words of the The Economist, has “done too little to reassure the outside world that China’s rise is something to be celebrated everywhere.”

For a country with as much to fix as it has gained, China retains a century-old nationalistically defensive attitude against international opinion and desperately needs a lesson in utilizing the soft power that has secured the longevity of the Western World. China is militant in its suppression of domestic transgressions (take Tibet) and hypocritical in its desire for tolerance from the global community – the PRC is openly critical of Western political and cultural standards without being able to stomach reciprocal commentary. The country as a whole seems just as ready to war with the world as it tries to garner respect.

In 2010, China may have become the second richest country on paper, but as an international leader it remains far from exemplary.


Aside from the Oscars, co-hosted by James Franco (wouldn’t you hate to be working with that guy on a big project due on Monday?) and “that annoying girl” Anne Hathaway (my mother’s words; I’m rather fond of her), Yale also had the honor of playing host to renowned Japanese filmmaker Koreeda Hirokazu. I had been a fan of his ever since I saw the critically acclaimed 誰も知らない or Nobody Knows (2004), which a friend had recommended to me as being the most depressing movie she’s ever seen. And indeed, it was heartbreaking, but it was also a beautiful piece of work, subtle and poignant as a lot of the best in Japanese cinema can be.

I wasn’t able to attend the two workshops that were held over the weekend, but I did manage to catch a screening of Koreeda’s latest? work, Still Walking (2008). A narration over the course of roughly a day, the film is an in-depth portrait of a middle-class Japanese family, coming together in a clash of personalities while sharing an in an important common bond. Through the voice of older son, Koreeda tries to convey that family life is to be cherished and nourished. Beautiful and moving, the film certainly succeeded in invoking these sentiments.* I don’t think anything that I can write could do it justice, so maybe you should just check it out for yourself.

I could go on and on about East Asian/Southeast Asian cinema (Bollywood is a different genre altogether), but perhaps I’ll just leave you with this: Yes, there’s been a lot of film screenings this year—I don’t know when all the organizations started popping up/why they all decided to let us watch free movies—but I’m certainly not complaining. They’re really worth checking out if you can spare 2 hours of your regularly scheduled Hulu-watching. And I’m always open to movie (and drama!) recommendations, so drop a line if you’ve got something that everyone needs to see.**

* Actually, I was reminded of Tokyo Sonata (2008), another Japanese film that I had watched recently that also explores the Japanese family but with a slightly higher focus on the struggle of individual personalities to shine through in Japan’s familial structure and roles. It actually made me really angry for a good three-quarters of the film, but the mood it manages evokes modern-day Japanese society so poignantly that it’s hard not to look back on it fondly. Also worth a watch.

** Despite the content of this post humor is actually preferred! Not that I really understand absurdist Japanese humor (but so many puns ♥)…

Tomorrow — The Future of Afghan Feminism

Monday, 2/28 @ 4:30 pm: A talk with the co-founder of Women for Afghani Women in WLH 116. Sponsored by the Yale Afghanistan Forum, Women’s Center, Asian American Cultural Center, Reach Out, ISO, Muslim Students Association, and South Asian Studies Council. Read more about the Yale Afghanistan Forum at their blog.

The Case of the Zainichi: Preserving an Identity


He had a Korean last name, but he stumbled through this simple Korean phrase of hello, offering a series of quick bows as if he was embarrassed at his less than perfect Korean. As part of a mission trip to Tokyo last winter, I found myself fascinated by the conversation I had with the Waseda University student who was a third-generation member of the Zainichi Korean community in Japan. Even an ocean away, I could relate to the Waseda student’s question of identity and assimilation to the issues Asian Americans face in the U.S.

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AASA New Year Celebration

Come celebrate the cultural New Years of AASA’s nine member groups by tasting various foods from each culture! From mochi snacks to mango lassi to rice cakes, each cultural specialty will be a delight.

Wednesday February 9th

9:00 – 10:30pm

Berkeley Dining Hall


The following foods will be served, by the following AASA groups:

CASA (Chinese American Students Association):


JASU (Japanese American Students Union):

Various Mochi Snacks

KASAMA (Filipino Club):

Maja blanca is a Filipino dessert made from coconut milk, cornstarch, sugar, and sweet corn. Like a type of coconut pudding, maja blanca is a very popular dessert for family gatherings and special occasions. The ingredients of maja blanca reveal a little about the history of the Philippines, which was a Spanish colony for more than three centuries. The dish combines the coconut, a fruit of the tropics, and corn, a grain originally brought to the Philippines by Spain from the Americas.

MSA (Muslim Students Association):

Dates are the fruits of the date palm tree, which is abundant in North Africa and the Middle East. It has traditionally been eaten by Muslims to open their fasts every day during the month of Ramadan, and so it holds a special religious significance. Dates are very sweet and can be eaten alone or with a drink, such as milk or water. In Muslim countries, dates are also made into breaded sweets, similar to Fig Newtons.

SAS (South Asian Society):

Lassi is a popular traditional Punjabi drink from India and Pakistan. This delicious yogurt based drink, blended with milk, water and Indian spices is often flavored with cumin, mango or other fruits. Meant to quench your thirst and refresh your soul, lassis are ideal for any time of the day!

ViSA (Vietnamese Students Association):

Mung Bean Pudding

TAS (Taiwanese American Students):

Nian Gao (small New Years cakes)

Berkeley College in collaboration with KASY (Korean American Students of Yale):

Korean Food



Happy Year of the Rabbit, everyone! Well, it’s not technically until tomorrow, but many of the “New Year’s Eve” festivities are just as important, and since Asia is nearly a day ahead of us, many of the celebrations are already under way.

Here’s a look at some related events happening for the occasion: Yale Dining brings forth their annual Chinese Lunar New Year Dinner in Commons on Thursday. On Saturday at 7 pm in Woolsey Hall, the Association of Chinese Scholars at Yale is hosting a Chinese New Year’s performance. Organized primarily by international and graduate students, the event is generally poorly advertised among the undergraduate student body. AASA has tried to bring its cultural groups into the mix as well, with “A Taste of Asia”, an all-you-can-eat food event featuring delicacies from different cultures the following week.

So on this holiday welcoming the arrival of a new spring, enjoy the food, remember to give your families a call, and stay dry!

The Angel of Saigon

Betty Tisdale (fourth from left) posing with students at the Morse Master's Tea on Thursday.

“You can’t accept ‘no’” said Betty Tisdale, at the Morse Master’s Tea on Thursday, September 16.

This small, grandmotherly lady is tougher than she looks.

Whether she’s calling government officials’ mothers or dressing up as a steward to secretly collect food for orphans in Vietnam, Betty Tisdale stopped at nothing to do all she could to help the helpless.

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