Blog by Sumana Harihareswara, Changeset founder

29 Nov 2010, 22:55 p.m.

Longbows & Longboxes

Hi, reader. I wrote this in 2010 and it's now more than five years old. So it may be very out of date; the world, and I, have changed a lot since I wrote it! I'm keeping this up for historical archive purposes, but the me of today may 100% disagree with what I said then. I rarely edit posts after publishing them, but if I do, I usually leave a note in italics to mark the edit and the reason. If this post is particularly offensive or breaches someone's privacy, please contact me.

Read some Amar Chitra Katha comic books today.

  • The Vivekananda biography starts: "Nineteenth century India. The spirit of Hinduism lay hidden under a debris of rituals -- rituals disowned by the Indian intellectuals and scorned by the ruling British." Still disorienting when the word "Chicago" appears in the text, and cutting when an American calls him the n-word.
  • Illustrators I like include C.M. Vitankar & P.B. Kavadi. The latter's work in "Sati and Shiva" (Vol. 550) includes great facial expressions on Shiva, and an awesome eye-roll by Sati just before her ultimate I-hate-you-dad glare: "I am ashamed to call myself your daughter. I will cast off this body of mine as a worthless corpse." Dad ends up killed, then resurrected but with a goat's head. Sati reincarnates as Parvati ("Shiva Parvati," Vol. 506, with a mint-green Shiva).
  • Shiva sure does like the "put some animal's head on him!" solution to reanimating the dead. Elephant, goat.
  • "Shiva Parvati" features Shiva-in-disguise talking to Parvati and dissing Shiva: "Oh-h! Lady, I know Shiva. He is covered with ashes and serpents deck his body, which is clothed in foul-smelling hides. How can your sweet and tender self become his bride? He is deformed, uncouth and poor. His ancestry is unknown." Leonard suggested it would be easier if Shiva would just show his birth certificate. I'm especially amused at "Lady, I know Shiva," which I can't help hearing in a Brooklyn accent.
  • Birbal is so manipulative & devious! I read Birbal stories as a kid and just caught the cleverness, but now I'm imagining all-caps cables from or about him in a Wikileaks document dump.
  • The story of Kacha and Devayani, with its endlessly resurrecting demons and cleverness with loopholes, reminds me of Battlestar Galactica.
  • From "Rani of Jhansi" (Vol. 539), from Indians' complaints about the British just before the rebellion in 1857: "Our ancient handloom industry has been ruined by cheap British cloth." Guy sticks to his talking points. Um, I was about to try to find the IRS's old kids' site to compare prose, but I got distracted when I saw that the IRS lets you simulate twenty different tax scenarios. "You've heard of reality TV. Now it's reality taxes! Apply what you've learned by putting yourself in the shoes of 20 different taxpayers while you explore the ins and outs of filing tax returns electronically!" Must resist...


Thomas Thurman
29 Nov 2010, 17:32 p.m.

Oh goodness. I used to work at a tax preparer and this is hard to resist playing with.

And the first example person is called Lawrence Red Owl. I had to go and see whether there are other people who are blessed with similarly wonderful names, and I was glad to find that there are.