Liveblogging The Price of Beauty, India Edition

Mini-recap: All in all, I was pleasantly surprised by this episode. While I wish that Jessica and her friends would stop describing every unfamiliar thing as “weird” or “freaky”, it was obvious that they were genuinely moved by Meena’s plight. Good on them for raising awareness of cleft palates. The condition is relatively easy to fix if the patient has access to proper medical care. I forgot to mention this below, but Meena was apparently raised by her grandmother from birth because her biological parents felt that they couldn’t handle raising a disabled child. I hope that she’ll be reunited with her entire family once again and will have access to the therapy and schooling that she will now need.

Live blog below:

10:32: Jessica Simpson’s Smile Ambassador page on the Operation Smile website is here.

10:31: Operation Smile’s official Twitter feed just sent out the following: “Meena you are beautiful inside and out! To help children like Meena, share your Smile for Smiles at & VH1 will donate $1.”

10:29: And that’s it! Did they cut the cow urine scene?

10:28: : Ken says that “India has been like a jewel box to us.” Jessica arrives to the Bollywood party in a carriage carried by four men.

10:25: Jessica’s henna artist decides on a design consisting of an elephant playing a trumpet.

10:23: VH1 just ran a commercial promoting Operation Smile. Also says that they will donate one dollar for every photo uploaded to this site.

10:22: Good deed done, Simpson and her friends will get ready for a Bollywood party after the commercial break.

10:22: Remarkably, the surgery only takes 45 minutes. The child’s face is completely transformed. Visit Operation Smile’s website for more info on cleft palate surgery.

10:20: Meena is going in for her surgery to repair her cleft palate.

10:18: Jessica says one out of every 500 Indian children is born with a cleft palate, the highest rate in the world. Jessica has been an ambassador for Operation Smile for years.

10:17: Via Ken Paves’ Twitter feed (Paves is Jessica’s bestie and hairdresser who has accompanied her) a photo of Meena, a little girl with a cleft palate (photo is post-surgery). See it here.

10:11: This is gross. The trio learns how to use Neti-pots and then tries a digestive tea at a Ayurvedic clinic. Lots of burping.

10:09 “I love India, the people are so happy and sincere.” – Jessica. Yuck!

10:06: By the way, all of the yogis were subtitled.

10:05: They are off to laughter yoga. Ken thinks the laughter yogis “have the most beautiful eyes in the world, CaCee thinks the whole thing is “kind of freaky.”

10:04: J-Simps is learning Bollywood dancing!

10:01 Wait, what channel is VH1 again? (Haven’t watched regularly since the mid-1990s.)


More on The Price of Beauty

Advertisements for Jessica Simpson’s The Price of Beauty have been papering the Long Island Rail Road of late. Here’s a closeup of the poster I sat next to yesterday:


I caught a bit of the show’s premiere when it aired two weeks ago, and it was pretty much what I had expected, lots of focus on Simpson’s reactions to “weird” foreign traditions and no analysis of anything at all.

The India-themed episode airs on Monday and the show’s official website has published this summary (all emphasis mine):

This episode takes Jessica, Ken and CaCee to Mumbai, India. They meet Neha, their beauty ambassador at a bustling Bollywood studio where they not only learn about Indian beauty treatments, but also test their dancing skills at a real Bollywood dance audition. Heeding Neha’s advice, Jessica checks out some local Mumbai yoga, however this is not your typical yoga class…it’s laughter yoga! Jessica, Ken and CaCee giggle and guffaw their way to a younger state of mind. Feeling younger, the cast decides to embark on looking younger. They head off to an ayurvedic spa where the meaning of “exotic beauty treatment” gets pushed to new limits…drinking cow urine and snorting water through a netti-pot leave the cast gagging and giggling!

Being an ambassador for Operation Smile, Jessica decides to meet and help Meena, one of the many kids in India suffering from a cleft palette. Jessica, Ken and CaCee hold Mena’s hand while surgeons transform her appearance and her life! Finally the cast undergoes a total transformation…donning henna tattoos and ornate sari’s, they celebrate their new appreciation of vibrant colors and self expression at a huge red carpet Bollywood party.

In addition to the cloying tone, the synopsis also begs to be copy edited. Is the girl’s name Meena or Mena? (My guess is Meena.) Why is neti pot spelled with two Ts? And it’s saris not sari’s.

It’s also interesting that in a country of over a billion people, Simpson and her friends interact with two women who have names that are very easy for Westerners to pronounce. But kudos to Simpson for promoting Operation Smile and raising awareness about cleft palates.

Why can’t anyone spell Gandhi?

From an AP article on America’s first legal gigolo (Via Filmiholic by way of Ultrabrown’s news tab):

So what exactly did Markus say about Rosa Parks and Gandhi? This is what he said to Nightline in February:

“I’m basically doing what Rosa Parks did when she decided to sit at the front of the bus instead of the back, or what Gandhi did when he had a sit-down protest against the British Embassy,” Bestin told “Nightline.” “I’m basically trying to reset social norms.”

Markus seems to have a very simplified sense of global history.

Mindy Kaling explains Twitter to David Letterman

Actress Mindy Kaling spent most of her visit to The Late Show with David Letterman last Wednesday explaining Twitter to Dave. (Kaling tweets @mindykaling) Watch it below:

At 1:22, Letterman asks her if she’s ever regretted anything she’s posted on Twitter. “You can delete,” she assures him.

This would be a good time to note that nothing is ever completely erased from the Internet, especially if you are a celebrity.

Case in point, Kaling blocked me last fall soon after I linked to this horrific tweet about Roman Polanski’s victim in comment 13 of this Ultrabrown post. Kaling deleted the tweet (a re-tweet of a Neal Brennan joke) moments after posting, but not after a flurry of screenshots and retweets occurred.

Confidential to Mindy: Please consider unblocking me, Mindy. I like you, I just hate jokes about rape. And that particular joke was 5 levels of awful. I remember gasping when I first read it.

Will LiLo be banned from India?

Remember when Lindsay Lohan filmed a documentary on child trafficking last summer? The Telegraph reports that her failure to get a work visa and her claims that she rescued dozens of child workers could get her banned from entering India.

According to the Telegraph:

Activists involved in the raids criticised her comments and accused her of trivialising the issue of child trafficking.

Now she may not be able to visit India again after officials looked at her case and found she had failed to apply for a work visa for her trip.

Senior civil servants in New Delhi are now studying the case and will rule on whether her name will be added to an immigration blacklist.

Seeing this story made me wonder (not for the first time) who exactly is managing Lohan’s career. The fact that no one thought to make sure she had the proper visa to work abroad is ridiculous.

(Hat tip: Sepia Mutiny’s news tab)

Remembering the Connaught Rangers Mutiny

Happy St. Patrick’s Day! In honor of our Irish brothers and sisters, I thought we should take a look back at a moment in time when the histories of South Asia and Ireland intersected.

The Connaught Rangers was an Irish regiment of the British Army.

According to Wikipedia, the regiment rebelled after soldiers received word that the Irish War of Independence began:

On 28 June 1920, five men from C Company refused to take orders from their officers, declaring their intent not to serve the King until the British forces left Ireland. The Union Flag at Jalandhar, in the Punjab, was replaced by the flag of the Irish Republic.

More details can be found at this message board about James and William Daly, two brothers who led the mutiny.

Unfortunately, it looks like the two titles that come up in an search of “Connaught Rangers Mutiny” are out of print. However, Ireland and India: Nationalism, Empire and Memory, a book that came out last year, looks like it could be promising (warning: the book is ridiculously expensive).

Salman Ahmad, the Bono of South Asia

The Washington Post recently interviewed Salman Ahmad, lead singer of the Pakistani rock band Junoon. (Ahmad is apparently also known as the Bono of South Asia). The resulting article is extremely over the top.

Ahmad tells Quinn the word Junoon means “obsessive passion” and goes on to explain in Bono-esque fashion:

“Even I don’t know what my junoon is,” Ahmad says. “It’s that whisper which comes from the heart. It might not have wings, but it has the power to fly. People see it as impulsive, but it’s more intuitive.”

The article’s kicker is equally entertaining:

As we finish lunch, he asks to say a prayer for me. He takes my hands in his, kisses them, bows his head and quietly recites the verse from the Koran: I seek refuge in the Lord of the Daybreak. Then he blows gently on my fingers and kisses my hands again.