Oh well, MTV Desi has me pegged. They’re exactly right about me but at least they acknowledge that I also acknowledge that I am one more gawking American.
And I can’t complain about being named an honorary Desi, sort of.
New York Press Delves Into the Paan Game
When I first saw the headline “Confessions of a White, Middle-Aged Paan Eater” on the cover of this week’s New York Press, naturally, I grabbed a copy and asked myself the question you’re asking yourself right now; What the hell is the New York Press? Well, it’s a paper that’s running a cover story about something inherently Desi that’s breaking into mainstream culture. And why not? It didn’t take long for Americans to adopt the more…CONT’D AT MTVDESI.COM>>
The Asia Society also commented and was a tad less snarky than MTV (but who am I to complain about being snarky in a blog post from time to time, eh?).
A Paean to Paan
by Aliya Sabharwal
…From describing his initiation into the practice of paan-chewing to drawing interesting comparisons to the tobacco-dipping culture of his Appalachian relatives, Stanley seems to have seriously and diligently researched this “local” practice. But the result is a riot for those familiar with paan chewing or chewers, if only for the novelty of reading an eloquent homage to the substance. CONT’D AT ASIASOCIETY.ORG>>
Well, now it’s just too much. My paan habit has also made the celebrity gossip page of India Abroad, the major newspaper for Indian expats around the world, getting top billing over Tom Cruise’s tweets to Anil Kapoor (see p. 6). I’m truly honored and humbled.
[caption id="attachment_1541" align="alignleft" width="300" caption="I bought tobacco paan from this walla near the Belur Math monastery along the banks of the Ganges in West Bengal, India."][/caption]
This week’s New York Press, “New York’s Plummy Weekly Newspaper,” cover story is my monologue thinly disguised as an essay, ‘Confessions of a
This week’s New York Press, “New York’s Plummy Weekly Newspaper,” cover story is my monologue thinly disguised as an essay, ‘Confessions of a White, Middle-Aged Paan Eater’, the title a loose parody of Thomas de Quincey’s scandalous 1821 memoir Confessions of an English Opium-Eater.
Enjoy the article, go to your nearest Indian grocer and enjoy some meeta paan, and if you’re craving more dope on the delicacy here’s a short clip of me ordering it from a paan walla just across from the ancient Udayagiri and Khandagiri Caves in Bhubaneswar, the capital of the state of Orissa in eastern India, this past January (footage courtesy of documentary filmmaker David Gaynes).
And the article…
Confessions of a White, Middle-Aged Paan Eater
JEFFREY STANLEY is addicted to what may arguably be India’s most disgusting export
I pull my hat low as I pound the rain-slicked sidewalks of Curry Hill around noon on a frigid November weekday. I look about furtively as I walk up Lexington, stopping outside of a DVD shop before I dart inside. There I meet my sugar man, a Punjabi who only goes by the nom de commerce Arora. By now I know his real name, but he likes to go by the one-word moniker. I’m happy to…CONT’D>>
[IHeartPaan logo, paan walla photo and video are property of me. Logo via nypress.com]
Despite my deep passion for theatre I’ve often quoted the cynical aphorism, Theatre changes nothing, but at least it changes that, and I have believed it to be true.
I stand corrected thanks to the new book, Performing New Lives: Prison Theatre by Jonathan Shailor (Kingsley Press, 2010) about 14 prison theater programs. The chapter “Drama in the Big House” was penned by my good friend Brent Buell, a director, actor and writer who has volunteered for more than a decade for Rehabilitation Through the Arts (RTA), a division of Prison Communities International, directing plays and teaching acting classes to inmates. Brent’s locus in the New York State prison system is the original Big House, Sing Sing state penitentiary in Ossining, NY.
I first met Brent in 2004 through our mutual friend David Gaynes and took my first trip via Metro-North train from Manhattan, zooming along the Hudson to the Big House to see the inmates’ production of Breakin’ the Mummy’s Code, a farce written and directed by Brent (a photo from that production adorns the book’s cover). I returned the next year to see the bold satire The N Trial, a meditation on the uses of the dreaded “N-word” in our society, including within prison walls, written by inmate Philip Hall, who was wrapping up a 20 year sentence.