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I live in Boulder too, and no, cafés aren’t going to sell very good chai. You know who might? A Desi friend, if she had one.

By Nami Thompson On Bollywood sets, by train and bus stations, and beside nearly every masjid and temple in India, a chai-wallah, or chai-walli if they’re female-identifying, has a cart that goes unnoticed until needed. They sell cups of hot chai for 5-10 INR, or less than $0.15 When I read about Brook Eddy, described in a recent recent interview with Inc as, “America's own 21st-century master chai-wallah,” I wondered what  century she thinks all the Indian chai-walleh live in. I’m American, I’m Desi, and I make chai (which means tea, so y’all don’t have to say chai tea) as did my American citizen mom and grandmother, long before Eddy stepped foot in India, but we and our countless cups made for friends aren’t noteworthy. It’s because this brand and interview are a celebration of successful modern colonization. Eddy’s company, Bhakti Chai, was founded after she listened to an NPR story on Swadhyay and moved to India. “Swadhyay seemed like this really cool movement that 20 million people were practicing but no one had heard of." As a no one whose humanity is obliterated by the above comment, I’d like to share a bit about Swadhyay, which is a Hindu socio-political movement founded by Pandurang Shastri Athavale at around the time of  Independence. He was anti-Brahmin, pro-Dalit, and disagreed publicly with Gandhi. He was also pro-Hinduttva and anti-RSS, thus making him one of the most complex political figures in our recent history. What Brook Eddy heard on NPR as “a really cool movement,” is painful for Desis to articulate, and she likely heard of it as they reported Athavale’s death. It’s possible to learn about and listen to Desi scholars while they’re alive. White westerners approached Athavale in his time and asked him to bring his social models to the US. He always declined. Whatever Desis make of his political beliefs, Swadhyay is not for sale in the US. The Inc article goes on, “Back home in Boulder, Colorado, [Eddy] formulated an original chai brew when she was unable to find an authentic version at her local cafés. In 2007, she began selling mason jars of her one-of-a-kind infusion out of the back of her car and soon gained a following.” I live in Boulder too, and no, cafés aren’t going to sell very good chai. You know who might? A Desi friend, if she had one. Let’s get real about privilege. If Mr. Khanna the chai-wallah walked up to a white lady in Boulder and said “I have a speciality drink from India in this jar. Only $10,” he would be ticketed and in handcuffs. Food trucks only became legal here in 2011, but unlicensed tea in a jar just isn’t and never will be.
Related: 11 OF THE MOST CULTURALLY APPROPRIATED SOUTH ASIAN ACCESSORIES, AND WHAT THEY REALLY MEAN

Asma's life and work is the very definition of South Asian feminism and in many ways is also a blueprint for future human rights and feminist activism in Pakistan and beyond.

Fierce and fearless Pakistani human rights activist, feminist trailblazer, and democracy advocate Asma Jahangir died on Feb. 11, in her hometown of Lahore, but not without leaving behind a phenomenal legacy anyone would be hard-pressed to match. Even in death, Asma Jahangir continues to smash the patriarchy: While local custom does not permit women to attend public funerals, women turned out in droves to honor this iconic woman who did so much to further the rights of women, children, religious freedom, as well as democracy not just in Pakistan, but around the world. The presence of women at her funeral — breaking from so much patriarchal oppression and tradition — quietly echoes her attempt in 2005 to host a mixed-gender marathon in to promote awareness of violence against women. Thankfully Jahangir’s funeral did not result in the state-sponsored assaults against women protesters, including Jahangir herself, back in 2005. At home, Jahangir was the first woman president of the Supreme Court Bar Association of Pakistan. She was the co-founder of the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan in 1987, holding the role of Secretary General until 1993 when she was promoted to chairperson. With her sister Hina Jilani and a cohort of human rights lawyers/activists, Jahangir founded the first ever law firm started by women in the country. Through their law firm, Jahangir and Jilani established AGHS Legal Aid, Pakistan’s first ever free legal service that also ran a shelter for women. Jahangir defended women’s rights to choose who they would marry when the law required her male guardian’s consent. She fought for the rights of religious minorities in Pakistan, including Hindus and Christians who were being unfairly targeted by the Muslim-majority government. She worked to separate religion from government, and in particular spoke out against Pakistan’s blasphemy laws and warned in her 2017 Amartya Sen Lecture at London School of Economics, “One should be careful while bringing religion into legislation, because the law itself can become an instrument of persecution.” She was a member of the Lahore High Court and Pakistani Supreme Court, one of the few women to have been appointed. Jahangir was also placed under house arrest multiple times due to her work with the Movement for the Restoration of Democracy, a program aiming to dismantle the military regime of Zia-ul-Haq that was setting human rights back in Pakistan one decree at a time.
Related: 9 DESI FEMINIST ACTIVISTS YOU NEED TO KNOW

No matter how “beloved” Apu may be, it’s time for him to go.

While I appreciate The Simpsons’ place as iconic in the canons of American pop culture, I have never been a fan. My long list of complaints about The Simpsons includes its sexism, homophobia, Islamophobia, extreme violence, child abuse and more. But one of my biggest reasons is and always will be Kwik-E-Mart clerk Apu. Over the years when I mention the racist stereotyping inherent in the character, most people have dismissed my concerns, telling me I’m being overly sensitive and asking why can’t I take a joke. Yet, every so often I’d watch a person’s eyes widen with the realization that they had never stopped to think about how an actual South Asian person would perceive Apu’s doofery, which has created widespread distortion of the Desi community that transcended its screen time into real life. Comedian Hari Kondabolu’s calling out of this racist caricature first in his stand-up routines and now in-depth in his TruTV documentary The Problem With Apu is what made me an instant fan of Kondabolu’s work. And also vindication for what I’ve been saying for decades. It wasn’t just that I was so grateful to see a South Asian comedian representing, but it was also hearing many of my own thoughts about the damage Apu has done to the Desi community echoed through Kondabolu’s own experiences as well as his interviewees. The Problem With Apu gives Kondabolu the opportunity to deepen his analysis as well as bring in some rather shocking back story of the character’s creation to light. Like, did you know that the ubiquitous line “Thank you, come again” was only said 8 times in the show? And did you know that Apu was never meant to be Indian at all? He was listed in the original script as “Clerk” and it was only during the first table reading that Hank Azaria decided to cobble together one of the most offensive Indian accents to have ever graced a TV screen. Since Azaria made his joke to a room of white dudes, of course everyone laughed and Apu Nahasapeemapetilon was born from a gaggle of assholes to haunt South Asian Americans for the rest of our lives.
Related: WHITE PEOPLE: STOP WEAPONIZING OUR EMOTIONS TO AVOID YOUR RACISM

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