Lakshmi Tatma Goes To School

It’s been two years since Lakshmi Tatma, the Bihari girl who was born with eight limbs, underwent surgery to be separated from her parasitic twin. I was thrilled to see that the Daily Mail reported today that four-year-old Lakshmi has begun her education:

…Lakshmi has started school, joining her elder brother as the only members of their family to ever receive an education.

Her father Shambu, 28, said: ‘I believe with all my heart that Lakshmi is indeed a goddess. The operation removed her extra legs so that she can lead a normal life but she is not a normal child.

‘She’s special, I think anything is possible for her. I’d like her to be educated so she can become a teacher. Then she can pass on what she knows to other children.’

Unfortunately, little Lakshmi has many more surgeries in her future. She will need two spine surgeries, an operation to close her hips and plastic surgery to create buttocks, which did not develop in the womb because of her parasitic twin.

Lakshmi and her family moved to Rajasthan soon after her surgery. Since then she has been under the care of SKSN, a school for the physically challenged. Funding Lakshmi’s medical care remains a problem for the Tatma family and a special fund has been set up to raise money for her treatment. You can contribute here.

Interested in learning more about Lakshmi? I highly recommend NatGeo’s documentary The Girl With 8 Limbs.


What Does A Church of Scientology Relief Effort Look Like?

Actors John Travolta and Kelly Preston arrived in Port-au-Prince last night in an airplane stocked with six tons of ready-to-eat military rations and medical supplies and a team of doctors and Church of Scientology volunteers.

Travolta’s humanitarian aid trip follows the arrival last week of 126 Scientology volunteers, about half of which were volunteer ministers “who will use Scientology techniques to assist the injured.

The church has a long history of providing disaster relief. After the 2004 tsunami, teams of volunteer ministers and aid workers arrived in South and Southeast Asia to help.

This 2005 Washington Post article describes the faith-based treatments provided in Tamil Nadu, India a month after the tsunami hit:

Meyers is healing the survivors, he says, employing the techniques he has learned from Scientology. More precisely, he is helping them heal themselves, eradicating pain waves and allowing energy waves to flow, clearing pathways for nerves to run errands of anatomical necessity, liberating the spirit to align with the body as described in the confident prose of the late L. Ron Hubbard, founder of Scientology and the applied practices known as Dianetics.

Amid the grief and loss in southern India, against a clamor for food and attention to the threat of disease, the Scientologists are here, offering up “locational processing,” cognition and “spiritual beingness.”

Read the whole thing. The piece is like, well, a science fiction novel.

Scientology has had a presence in India since 2000, with centers in Ambala, New Delhi, Kolkata, Patiala and Mysore. The Times of India said in 05 that there were 1,500 Scientologists in the country. Auditing, a vital part of the faith, usually costs between Rs 24,500-58,800.

Have any readers in India had any interactions with the Church of Scientology? Post your stories in the comments.

John Shea’s Tamil Cinema Debut

Ever since I blogged about Golden Globe nominee Thomas Jane’s Tollywood film debut last week, I’ve been wondering if there were other American actors who have appeared in Indian cinema. Through Sepia Mutiny’s news tab I learned about last year’s Tamil thriller Achchamundu! Achchamundu!, (Translation: This is Fear! This is Fear!) which costars Emmy award-winning actor John Shea.

Reddit describes the film thusly:

Senthil Kumar (Prassanna) and Malini (Sneha) are a happily married couple in New Jersey, living life like any other born-in-India, arrived-in-the-US couple do. He submerges himself in the office and eats sambhar rice at home and she never misses a bhajan at the temple and shops at Indian stores. They have a daughter Rithka (Akshaya), the apple of their lives…
It’s a normal, happy life in the US until Robertson (John Shea) arrives, to paint the basement.

The movie sounds like a particularly creepy episode of Law and Order:SVU, with Shea playing a “[pedophile] who exercises like mad within the confines of his home, always moving on towards his next target.”

You can watch the highly-stylized trailer below:

Cricket’s Coming to YouTube! (But Not for Us)

Good news for (some) cricket fans: The BBC reports that Google and the India Premier League have reached an agreement to broadcast all 60 Twenty20 cricket tournament matches on YouTube when the tournament begins on March 12.

Unfortunately, the games will not be available to YouTube users in the United States, thus becoming the latest indignity the American cricket fan must endure. Indeed, The Los Angeles Times‘ Technology blog describes the YouTube-IPL deal with the contemptuous, sarcastic tone that Americans usually reserve for discussions about professional soccer.

I still remember Tunku Varadarajan’s 1998 New York Times Magazine essay on being a cricket fan in the States:

In this country, a cricket fan must live by his wits, plugging in to a network of furtive fellow travelers. I surf the Internet for sites that serve my needs and pleasures. I subscribe to a daily on-line cricket newsletter and I log in to a bustling cricket chat room. There, I irrigate the fallow playing fields of America. Other tools of the guild include a powerful shortwave radio, which on a good day — when no ill winds blow my way from Yankee Stadium — picks up live commentaries from Adelaide and Port of Spain, Calcutta and Peshawar.

Often, I admit, my tactics are crude: upon hearing a Jamaican accent on a subway platform, I have struck up conversations about cricket. Only once, late at night at the 125th Street station, has the reception been a frosty one: ”Cricket, mon. . .it’s past midnight. You ain’t got no home to go to?”

The sport is making small inroads here in the States. While I was in grad school two classmates and I did a package on cricket and the New York City school system. Check it out here.

Anoop Desai To Release First Single in March

Shortly after the American Idols Live tour wrapped up last fall, Season 8 finalist Anoop Desai moved to Los Angeles in the hopes of getting signed to a label and to work on his debut album.

USA Today’s Idol Tracker blog reports Desai’s debut single will be released in March, followed by a complete album, titled All is Fair, later this spring.

While Desai presented himself as an R&B artist on the show, he says that the album will have more of a pop feel along with a strong “Indian element.”

He says:

“That’s something I’ve been experimenting with a lot in my music — sort of bringing pop, R&B and Hindi music into one vein.

“Both of the cultures I consider myself to be a part of — the South and India — have rich musical traditions, rich food traditions, rich literary traditions. It’s something that has been really nice for me, because I can draw from those rich traditions and feel part of them at the same time.”

Part one of Brian Mansfield’s interview with Desai can be found here, and you can follow Desai on Twitter @AnoopDoggDesai.

(Hat tip, MJ’s Big Blog)

Now in The New York Times, the Most Common Mispelling of “Gandhi”

For the past couple of months I have been following the New York Times’ coverage of the link between concussions and dementia in former NFL players. Today’s article is a fascinating read and I urge you all to check it out.

However, I flinched when I got to this section (it’s the seventh paragraph from the end, apologies for the blurriness):

“Ghandi” is, by far, the most common misspelling of the surname Gandhi. Throughout my life I’ve had to correct teachers, send back checkbooks, re-fill out forms, etc. because a large segment of the population is convinced that this is the correct spelling of the name.

According to UPenn’s Language Log blog, this particular misspelling comes about because “people know there is an “h” in there somewhere, and just one of them, but they’re not too sure where it is. As a result, the omission of the “h” after the “d” and the insertion of an “h” after the “g” are not statistically independent processes.” Who knew?

SAJAforum’s 2007 post on Gandhi vs. Ghandi can be found here.

Update:: I just checked the dead-tree 1/22 edition of the Times, and the article unfortunately contains the misspelling. The online article has been corrected.

Update #2: More from this 2008 Typo of the Day post.