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Ganesh on the beach, and a strong dose of Bollified Shakira

Published September 12, 2006 9:41PM (EDT)

Where to start? With these incredible images of smashed elephant god idols on an Indian beach? Or with a critique of the Bollification of Shakira at the Video Music Awards? Either way, if you've been jonesing for a twisted mashup of India culture, served up blog-style, I've got a recommendation: Ultrabrown.

I've been feeling jittery lately over how much I don't know about India. One feeble way to address this, I thought, was to beef up my India blogroll, if just to get a subjective sense of what's hopping in South Asia. It's been an odd exercise, since I had no clue as to what I was looking for when I began questing for juicy Indiacentric blogs. But like Supreme Court Justice Potter Stewart, who defined obscenity by declaring that "I know it when I see it," I do reasonably well at recognizing what floats my boat when the wave smacks me straight up in the face.

Which is pretty much how I felt when I read the following description of Shakira's VMA costume:

"Most of the news coverage called her outfit a sari. This spandex simulacrum of a lehenga is to a sari what a thong is to a parachute. Not that I'm complaining."

Let me repeat that: This spandex simulacrum of a lehenga is to a sari what a thong is to a parachute.

The author of the Shakira post at Ultrabrown is Manish Vij, a former U.C. Berkeley undergrad who has also worked at Microsoft on the Word and Powerpoint applications and now apparently spends his time crafting his own rocket-powered blogging software. He's also a writer, and as you can tell from that one sentence he's a damn good one.

(By the way, for a really informed appraisal of Shakira's journey to Bollywood, go here.)

I suppose there's something funny about the fact that a guy I might have rubbed shoulders with in a Berkeley bar or cafe is a key player at a blog that I found while looking for insight into a culture birthed on the other side of the world, but hey, I guess by now I should be used to this constant tide of low-grade irony lapping at my feet. But I don't care. And you shouldn't either, especially if you like sexy Indian movie stars dancing and singing to a electronica/bhangra beat. For a taste of that magic, scroll all the way down to the end of the Shakira post.

UPDATE: How's this for synergy? Turns out Manish Vij is no stranger to Salon -- he wrote a piece about the Bombay train bombings for us in July.

By Andrew Leonard

Andrew Leonard is a staff writer at Salon. On Twitter, @koxinga21.

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Globalization How The World Works India