La Femme Nikki?

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I simply could not resist this title, especially after this NYTimes article and her announcement punchline about fighting bullies in heels ☺️:

Haley Walks Treacherous Road for G.O.P. Women

La Femme Nikita, also called Nikita in France, is a 1990 action thriller film written and directed by Luc Besson. It was remade as Black Cat (1991) in Hong Kong and Point of No Return (1993) in Hollywood. Two television series were produced based on the film, La Femme Nikita (1997–2001) and Nikita (2010–2013).

I really would like to see a Haley v Harris Presidential Election! So, Run Kamala Run, as in:

Run Lola Run (German: Lola rennt, lit. “Lola Runs”) is a 1998 German experimental thriller film written and directed by Tom Tykwer.

Nikki’s given name is Nimarata (a Sikh variation I think from Sanskrit Namrata नम्रता which means Humility). Kamala is Sanskrit कमल for Lotus. If she decides to run, then you should expect a post from me titled The Brown (or Black?) Lotus in line with:

The White Lotus is an American black comedy-drama anthology television series. It follows the guests and employees of the fictional White Lotus resort chain whose stay is affected by their various psychosocial dysfunctions. The first season is set in Hawaii and the second season is set in Sicily.

The first season was a delight. The second one was predictable, less authentic and ultimately, not entirely satisfying, but still above the bar, in large part due to the amazing setting (looked as good as the Splendido Belmond at Portofino where I celebrated my 50th birthday some years back).

Now on to something that has been a delight-in-itself.

Earlier this year, just before I left for India, I stumbled upon a website South Asian American Digital Archive, and purchased Our Stories (a physical book, that was delivered by the time I returned). I found it fascinating – Keesar’s petition to Benjamin Franklin (November 3, 1785), Dharmapala sitting in William James’ psychology class at Harvard (during his 1902-4 visit), Lajpat Rai befriending W.E.B. Du Bois (while living in New York 1914-19) – as well as horrifying – Bellingham Riot (1907), Asiatic Exclusion League (1911), Canada enforcing its “continuous journey law” against Komagata Maru (1914), and United States v. Bhagat Singh Thind (1923) to name just a few.

Who are the contributors to the book, I wondered? As I flipped to the end, I was happy to see that their bios were provided. Many – not surprisingly – are activists (like Valarie Kaur, Divided We Fall), filmmakers (like Vivek Bald, Bengali Harlem) and academics (like Shilpa Davé, with a chapter South Asian Americans in Hollywood) of South Asian origin.

Then came a startling find – the author of the chapter The Civil Rights Movement (who also has an online essay called The Other Kamala):

Nico Slate is a professor of history and the head of the History Department at Carnegie Mellon University.


I can be a man of action (especially if it just entails typing while seated 😏). This seemed a perfect opportunity to further my Academic Philanthropist efforts, as part of the Spiritual Nourishment pillar that I introduced in Transcendental Engagement. I emailed him:

Dear Nico:

I am a professor at Tepper.

I came across your article in SAADA: Our Stories.

I am wondering if you have time for a zoom/coffee in the next few weeks. I would like to explore the possibility of philanthropic support in the general area of SAA.

We met last week in my Tepper office. Among other things, we discussed films (as I had mentioned the documentary WBCN and the American Revolution), and he said that his colleague would also be very interested in it as he teaches a popular undergraduate course The Roots of Rock and Roll, and I asked if there was a course called History of Cinema, and he said, Not Yet, but that he himself teaches a course called India through Film. I also found that another course was offered last summer at CMU, taught by a graduate student Arko Dasgupta: Indian Cinema Since 1947: Seeing the Nation on Screen.

Anyhoo, we will soon announce our gift from RAGS Foundation (that has previously supported CMU, IIT-Madras, NAE and so on) – Kedia-Tayur Fund for South Asian American History – to support graduate students, to create a Distinguished Lecture series, to foster cross-cultural conversations and to help further advance diversity, inclusion and belonging at CMU.

PS. Of course, I saw Quantumania over the weekend. Total Waste of Time. I generally like Michelle Pfeiffer – Scarface (1983),  Dangerous Liaisons (1988),  The Fabulous Baker Boys (1989), The Russia House (1990), The Age of Innocence (1993) – but she was so grating when she (repeatedly) said quantum realm. To wipe this annoying image out of my mind, here she is from her Academy Award nominated role:




  1. You *are* a man of action, Sridhar, and what an inspirational action it is!

    1. Thanks!

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