Memoirs of a Superfan, Vol. 8.7: Dosa Hunt – Stay Hungry, CAAMFest!
Dosa Hunt – Stay Hungry, CAAMFest!
By Ravi Chandra, M.D.
March 22, 2013
We got down with brown last night at the Asian Art Museum for the premiere of Dosa Hunt, Amrit Singh’s short doc/rock/mock-umentary about a Magnificent 7 of Starving Musicians on a hunt for a dosa treat. Singh said the film was inspired by a tweet-stream started by Rostam Batmanglij, who wrote that he was eating an “arugula and jack cheese dosa in a Soho restaurant named after the Hamptons.” What?! This tweet-stream turned into an email thread, and the bros decided that a filmed road trip through the boroughs was in order. Singh and his mother decorated a minibus to look like an Indian disco (using materials bought in Chinatown, natch), and took to the streets. The movie was hip, a blend of music videos, great music, and goofy guy-talk that worked well. They rate the dosas on a “Bobby Jindal scale.” The fewer Bobby Jindals the better – “because Bobby Jindal is bad!” The best dosas get negative Bobby Jindals – or positive Bobby Jindals in an alternate universe where Bobby Jindal does good. Singh also relates how a tattoo artist friend agreed to do the awesome Bollywood-style poster for the film – the artist turned out to be the son of a famous Bollywood poster artist.
South Indian dosa was a New York discovery for Singh, as his family originates from Punjab, in North India. I’ve grown up with dosa my entire life, so was glad to see an homage (sans fromage and arugula) to my favorite comfort food. They just needed to give my Mom and her dosa pan a cameo, to really send it over the top. One of the musician’s mothers makes an appearance via cell-phone, but it wasn’t enough to give it the full home-grown feel. The film connected to dosa as a restaurant thing – but to me, it’s something that Mom makes. Something that she always reminds you that she can make better at home. I would have liked to see a little interview with one of the cooks – maybe there’s a dosa philosophy out there that needs to be discovered? Or something more about the origin of the dosa, a la Sita Bhaumik’s curry explorations at the Asian Art Museum’s Baat Cheet in 2011 (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cZ6aYUDcVHU). Maybe the Epic Dosa Hunt is still to be made, in sequels.
But starving artists having fun with each other, in search of a meal and a connection to the diaspora – what’s not to love? Topped off by a performance by Indian Bastards from Hell, it was a great event. It was the perfect confection of film, music and food – the themes of CAAMFest.
As I mentioned in Memoirs of a Superfan, Vol. 8.5: I Remember Midnight, dosa is not only the name of the South Indian crepe usually filled with spicy potatoes and onions, but also the Pali word for “anger, hatred or aversion.” That CANNOT be just coincidence. I think that more of the former is the cure for the latter. So next time you get angry, settle it over dosa.
“Dosa or dosa?”
The docent asks.
They’re like the nio at the gate,
always on the menu of the mind.
One with mouth open, the hungry “ah”
at the beginning of life,
One with mouth closed, the angry mind.
They welcome and protect,
Inspecting newcomers carefully.
“I’ll have one of each,” I decide.
You need a bit of fire to co
Warmth to digest,
Food to keep you on the path,
And moods to defend.
**Bonus Track: The Dosa Rap
Brown bros in the boroughs just looking for a dosa
They found one in Soho that was made with arugula
They tried to make their own, in the end it was no-go
So they tricked out a minibus, made it look like a disco.
On the road they went, makin’ music for the big show.
How many Jindals went down? How many Bobby’s did it rate?
BJ’s a bro too – but he’s one we love to hate!
That’s alright, Bobby – maybe you’ll come ‘round –
Have a dosa with us, man, and listen to our sound.
The bros ate dosa, with masala and potato –
Made a movie that was fresh, and we ate it up in ‘Frisco.
New York to SF, the motherland to Hollywood –
The Brown man can travel, we’re not just for Bollywood.
Stay Angry, CAAMFest! (Sorry, I guess I had to add cheese after all!)
Ravi Chandra, M.D. is a psychiatrist and writer in San Francisco. You can find more of his writing and performance at www.RaviChandraMD.com, where he invites you to sign up for an occasional newsletter. His Pacific Heart blog is at Psychology Today, http://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/the-pacific-heart. On Twitter he is @going2peace.