Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner?

There’s nothing more uncomfortable than accepting an invitation to a dinner party only to discover over the salad course that your host’s girlfriend is a virulent racist. Just ask Sir Ben Kingsley.

Gawker.com published this blind item a few days ago:

“Ben Kingsley told a story on The View this morning about an unpleasant dinner he had at the home of a Hollywood actor: ‘There are times when I wish I could have said or done something differently. [For example] The last time I was here, there was an old Hollywood actor who invited me back to his home. He was with his aging German girlfriend. I was instantly nervous around her. During the meal, she said “Are you Jewish?” And I said, “No as a matter of fact, I’m half Indian and half English.” And she said “Oh my god, that’s even worse.” [audience gasps] So, I did not drop my knife and fork and say “F* you.” I stayed in a state of rage throughout the dinner. Why? Because everything happens for a reason. And now here I am with you and [pointing at the camera] if you’re still around, you racist old witch…[gesturing to The View panel] these girls have now heard it, and you know who you are! You know who you are!’

Nearly everyone reading this can relate to this story at least a little. I certainly know what it is like to silently sit in a state of rage after hearing a racist remark at a party, wishing I had either a) called the person out, b) immediately gone home, or c) both. I have to admit that I’m a bit jealous that Kingsley got to verbally tear this woman to shreds on national television. Who hasn’t imagined doing that?

Watch the video below for the full effect of Kingsley’s tale (complete with faux German accent.) The look on his face as he shouts “You know who you are!” is priceless.

How have mutineers handled situations like this? What would you have done differently if given a do-over? And any guesses as to who hosted this ill-fated dinner party? (Most of the Gawker commenters think it’s this Hollywood legend, which, if true, would make me more than a little sad.)

Cross-posted on Sepia Mutiny.

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A couple of interesting updates

Hi Everyone,

I just wanted to let you know that I will be guest blogging at Sepia Mutiny for the next month. Please come visit!

I’ve also become a regular contributor to Ugandans Abroad, a news website founded by my former journalism classmate Rebecca Harshbarger. While I mostly write news briefs for UA, I’ve also occasionally delved into commentary. I’m particularly proud of this piece.

The growth in traffic this blog has experienced over the past 6 months has continually amazed me. Thanks so much for reading!

– Lakshmi

Rinku and Dinesh visit the White House!

Rinku Singh and Dinesh Patel, our two favorite minor leaguers, were invited to the White House on Monday. MLB.com reports that the two pitchers were among a group of 150 “luminaries, diplomats and celebrities” who attended a reception celebrating Asian and Pacific Islanders Heritage Month.

Singh and Patel wrote about the experience on their blog. This is my favorite paragraph:

we meeting Nancy Pelosi. She very important person in United States. She very nice and talking with us and taking picture. We also meeting Congressman Honda. He also taking good picture with us. We very surprised so many people important in United States wanting to meeting with us. This is very big honor and we trying represent India very good.

Here’s that picture with Speaker Pelosi:

You can see the rest of the photos here and here.

Catching up with Sanjaya Malakar

Does anyone else remember when pundits used to argue that American Idol’s Sanjaya Malakar was the most famous South Asian since Gandhi?

Oh, 2007. We were all so young back then.

The Gandhi comparison is especially funny when you consider that Sanjaya was last in the news for a speeding ticket and busking in a New York City subway station.

Last night’s Idol finale inspired many news outlets to track down contestants from years past. While I will always wonder why Sanjaya and his management didn’t do more to capitalize on the notoriety he gained during the show, It looks like he’s turned out to be an almost-normal 20-year-old:

Malakar has enrolled at Cornish College of the Arts in his hometown of Seattle, which is known for its music program. And in his spare time, he’s working towards…a career in Calvin Klein ads?

“I signed with a modeling agency in Seattle,” Malakar, 20, tells E! — although he admits he’s “not necessarily an underwear model at this point. My body isn’t quite there yet!”

I wonder if Sanjaya’s sister Shyamali also signed up with a modeling agency? Shyamali was last seen performing in Japan last week.

(Hat tip: @krupali)

Live Blogging a very desi Late Night with Jimmy Fallon

Tonight’s Late Night with Jimmy Fallon will feature two South Asian guests! They are Sir Ben Kingsley (who was born Krishna Bhanji) and Pakistani American comedian Kumail Nanjiani. I’m using this as a perfect excuse to liveblog the whole thing.

12:43 – Jimmy Fallon just described Sir Ben as “one of the most talented actors of all time.” (And I realize that I’ve only seen two of his films- Gandhi and Schindler’s List.)

12:54: They are playing some sort of game with 3 contestants pulled from the audience. I missed all of their names, but contestant three looks like she could be desi. (Note: I know, I know.)

12:58: While Contestant Three doesn’t win first prize, she does go home with a frozen box of tater tots.

12:59: Trailer for The Prince of Persia. I just read an interesting article about the “whitewashing” of both the P of P and the upcoming The Last Airbender.

1:01: Jimmy’s laying it on a bit thick. Introduces Sir Ben as “not only acting royalty, but royalty royalty.” That sounds incorrect. He’s referring to BK’s knighthood, right?

1:05: Wow, this is already a pretty rambling interview. BK and JF riff on American accents and are now talking about the Beatles?

1:07: BK tries to make the movie sound classy. Says it’s a “character-driven” film about a struggling family.

1:08: That clip they just showed did not make the movie look good.

1:10: Commercial break! Check out the Prince of Persia IMDB page. Rohan Siva plays the “Bloodied Alamut Soldier” and there’s a character named Asoka, who is played by Daud Shah. (Were there people named Asoka in ancient Persia?)

1:14: Sir Ben’s a good sport. He and Fallon pretaped are partipating in a mock-mid 1990s sci-fi movie sendup called “Space Train.” Like the interview, it is pretty meandering and a bit illogical.

1:21: Next guest is Rosemarie DeWitt. She was in Rachel Getting Married. (If you recall, Rosemarie wore a sari in the wedding scene of Rachel Getting Married. I forgot how bad the costuming in that scene until this very moment. Click here to see.)

1:29: Here comes Kumail. Jimmy says he was named one of Variety’s 10 Comics to Watch.

1:31: Kumail riffs on video games. Apparently Call of Duty has a level map set in Karachi. Kumail tells the audience that he grew up in Karachi. “My hometown is a battlefield,” he says.

Urdu references! Apparently in the game all of the signs are in Arabic, while of course they speak Urdu in Karachi. Kumail’s not happy about that. (More on the signs in Call of duty can be found here.)

1:32: This is great! Will hopefully post a YouTube video of this performance in the morning. He also talks about horror movies.

1:35: Uh-oh. I think Jimmy just called him Kumal? I’ll have to check again in the morning. And did Rosemarie DeWitt just namaste him? Will have to double check this as well.

An aside, Kumail’s wife is a writer and has a pretty cool blog. Check it out.

1:37: Thanks for reading.

Primary Day Roundup

The Arkansas Democratic primary race between incumbent Senator Blanche Lincoln and Lt. Governor Bill Halter looks like it will go to a runoff.  Both candidates currently have about 43 percent of the vote; 50 percent of the vote is needed to advance to the general election.

The Arkansas primary race was notable because there were several attack ads and mailers that accused Halter of outsourcing jobs to India.  An anti-Harper mailer written partially in Hindi was sent to voters late last week.

The two candidates will face either other again on June 8th.

Meanwhile in Pennsylvania, it looks like Manan Trivedi has won the Democratic primary in Pennsylvania’s 6th Congressional District. Once it is official, Trivedi will face incumbent Congressman Jim Gerlach (R-PA) in November.

Note: Have I missed any South Asian-related primary news? I will be updating this post throughout the day.