I saw Slumdog Millionaire this past weekend, and liked it very much. I loved the idea of using the game show as a popular culture common denominator that cuts across all social groups, as the pretext for weaving together the incidents that explain why the chai wallah has these diverse bits of information. While watching the film I kept thinking about Salman Rushdie's words about India, describing it as hot, vulgar, smelly, noisy, spiritual, and surrealist in all of its squalor and passion. And I recalled what Sharon said about her trip to India "Life is cheap in India. There are too many people and nobody cares if you live or die." I think that the film very much reflected both of these perspectives. In terms of the film itself, having Latika wind up as the concubine to the mafia overlord was a tad overblown, and the film could have worked equally well if it were just a little bit smaller and more contained, but then subtly and discretion have never been the hallmarks of Bollywood, so let 'er rip!
A friend of mine in Colombia recently got back from a student exchange with a school in Lisgar, which is apparently located in the outer reaches of Mississauga, Ontario. Lisgar is a lower middle class area with a lot of immigrants and the exchange was quite an eye-opener all around. The Colombian students were not prepared for the notion of multiculturalism and for the fact that wealthy countries have low-income people. In terms of the language exchange, many of the families were allophone. Different dietary and hygiene habits were also a sensitive issue. In contrast, the Colombian kids came from a privileged background, many of them with live-in household staff: cooks, maids, drivers, etc. The Canadian group was surprised at encountering wealthy kids from a developing country. It was an interesting experience, but slightly uncomfortable all around.
More Canadian Aid for the Americas
The Globe and Mail reports on 24 February: "Canada will shift foreign aid dollars toward the Americas in a move aimed at backing Prime Minister Stephen Harper's desire to be a bigger player in the hemisphere." Colombia is one of the beneficiaries of this new policy. "It is a region where Canada's diplomatic efforts can have weight, but where the United States is often eyed warily as a quasi-colonial power."
Wednesday, February 25, 2009
Picasso in my shower