I Say Goodbye to The Aerogram

Fourteen months ago, my friends and fellow bloggers Kishwer Vikaas, Pavani Yalamanchili and I launched The Aerogram, a news and culture site that quickly became a must-read source for South Asian American news. The last year has been a whirlwind of new experiences that included the creation of hundreds of blog posts and interviews, and a crash course on just exactly how hard it is to try to run an online news site with no budget and a lot of dreams.

Alas, all things eventually come to an end and on Monday, Kishwer, Pavani and I decided to end our partnership, which effectively also ended my tenure as an editor at The Aerogram.

I cannot stress enough how much editing The Aerogram meant to me and how much I enjoyed working with our various writers and contributors. Watching the site take off and hearing how much people enjoyed our coverage and approach to the news was intensely gratifying.

I would like to say a special thank you to all of The Aerogram’s regular writers: Aarti Virani, Ashley Kooblall, Farah Naz Khan, Jaya Sundaresh, Monica Luhar and Priya Arora. I loved working with all of you and each of you made me a better editor in the process. (Also, a note mainstream media hiring managers everywhere: if The Aerogram can find a team of brilliant young women of color to write for its site, so can you. Trust me.)

I also want to say thank you to Kishwer and Pavani. This has been an amazing (though sometimes bumpy) ride and I’m glad that I had the change to build and work on something I truly believed in. And I will always appreciate the ideas and enthusiasm of The Aerogram’s Contributing Editor Rohin Guha and his invaluable help in editing the site’s many contributors.

As for what’s next for me, I’m in the process of looking for a full-time, steady job and would appreciate it if you dropped me a line if you knew of any positions that would be a good fit for me. I’ll be reviving this trusty blog in the coming days and am in the process of starting my own solo site. You can check this blog or follow me on Twitter for updates.

As always, thanks for reading.

Kunal Nayyar Tells Ellen About His First Trip to an American Supermarket

As many of you know, there are lots of things that are surprising to new immigrants about life in the United States. During an appearance on The Ellen Show yesterday, The Big Bang Theory’s Kunal Nayyar described how overwhelming a trip to the supermarket was when he arrived in the States as an 18-year-old in 1999.

“I came to the grocery store and I saw so many types of bread and so many types of milks. You know, we didn’t have this it was brown bread or white bread. And then you go and there’s 9-grain bread, which is different from multigrain bread, because I don’t know, maybe there’s 12 types of grains that make it multi?… Are their 9 types of grains? Is that even a thing?”

You can watch the actor tell the full story in the clip above at around 2:45.

Nayyar is currently working on his first book.

Coming Soon: The Aerogram


Happy belated new year, everyone! I have some exciting news to share. Two former Sepia Mutiny colleagues and I are getting ready to launch a new South Asian news and culture site, The Aerogram.

Here’s our official description:

Like its compact, fold-able namesake, The Aerogram seeks to share personalized news, insights, opinions, and more.

While our site isn’t live yet, you can follow us on Twitter and Facebook. I hope to bring you much more new information in the days and weeks ahead.

Former Outsourced stars team up for mock voter PSA


Remember Outsourced, the short-lived NBC comedy set in an Indian call center? Stars Parvesh Cheena and Rizwan Manji are back together again in this newly-released mock voter PSA urging everyone to vote on November 6. (Here in New York the deadline to register is this Friday, so everyone should hurry.)

This isn’t the first time Cheena and Manji have collaborated on a web video since Outsourced’s cancellation; the two also produced a faux Lowes commercial during last year’s All-American Muslim controversy.


The ‘Salman Khan scarf’ comes to Afghanistan

The Washington Post reports that teenage boys in Afghanistan are rushing to buy “narrow, boldly hued” multi-colored scarves as part of a new trend inspired by Salman Khan’s character in the film Ek Tha Tiger. The trend apparently started after the video for the song Mashallah (above) was released.

As Richard Leiby reports:

The look gradually caught on with teenage boys after the [Mashallah video’s] summer release, and the scarves now add striking dashes of color — red, orange, blue and striped combinations — to the drab, forbidding landscape of Kabul, which bristles with steel-and-wire encampments and machines of war.

It is but one signifier of increased outside cultural influences here, particularly among the young, to the chagrin of some older Afghans. They see an erosion of the Islamic ways as people reject traditional dress to keep in step with Bollywood and Hollywood.

Later on in the article we get the requisite quote from a taxi driver, who says, “I am totally against these Western influences. If a movie actor would take his pants off and put them over his shoulder, the next day you would see it in Kabul.”

While the article’s interesting and paints a portrait of what life is like for the youth of Kabul, I wonder about how accurate it all is. After all, Salman Khan’s paternal grandfather was born in Afghanistan and the actor has described himself as “half Muslim and half Hindu”, two facts that don’t make him sound particularly ‘Western.’ Additionally, Bollywood’s popularity in Afghanistan has been well-documented and Afghans have been watching Indian films for generations, making Salman Khan’s popularity nothing new. (Also, the conflation of Bollywood and Western culture throughout the piece is one of the stranger parts of the article.)

The scarves look nice though.