AIR FORCE ONE ARRIVAL EDITION: Welcome to Mumbai – PELOSI WILL STAY as House minority leader; Clyburn squeezes Hoyer – Olbermann suspended for Dem gift$ — CLOCKS FALL BACK TONIGHT

AIR FORCE ONE has touched down in Mumbai on the first leg of a 10-day, four-country Asia swing (India, Indonesia, South Korea, Japan). It’s 88° F. -- THE PRESS CHARTER landed earlier in a fireworks-filled sky (for Diwali, the Hindu festival of lights). Story Continued Below FIRST LOOK: GEORGE W. BUSH on the cover of January’s AARP magazine, in connection with Tuesday’s publication of “Decision Points.”   PRESIDENT OBAMA OP-ED in N.Y. Times, “Exporting Our Way to Stability”: “[T]he more we export abroad, the more jobs we create in America. … During my first visit to India, I will be joined by hundreds of American business leaders and their Indian counterparts to announce concrete progress toward our export goal -- billions of dollars in contracts that will support tens of thousands of American jobs.”   -- TOM DONILON, national security adviser, briefing the press on Air Force One en route the refueling stop in Ramstein, Germany: “[T]he presence of a large number of American CEOs here really does underscore the opportunity here for American business and for American economic growth. … This is the sixth visit by a U.S. President to India... So that gives you a sense of the breadth of the relationship. … [O]ur intent here during the course of this trip is to demonstrate that breadth. … It’s the overall thrust of the relationship, I think, that really is the important story here. And that’s how we’ve been thinking about Asia generally and this trip specifically.” -- SECRETARY CLINTON arrived in Australia on Saturday for security talks at end of seven-country Asia-Pacific tour. She returns to Andrews on Monday. -- BREAKING, from the White House weekly guidance for Vice President Biden: “The Vice President will be in New Orleans … this weekend. On Sunday, … the Vice President Continue Reading

Bollywood star Sridevi laid to rest after drowning in a bathtub, thousands mourn in the streets

Thousands of people lined the streets of Mumbai, India, to pay their respects to an iconic Bollywood actress, Sridevi Kapoor. The actress, known to her fans by her screen name Sridevi, was in Dubai attending a family wedding when she lost consciousness in a bathtub and drowned last week, Dubai police confirmed. She was 54. On Wednesday, a multitude of people clogged the streets of Mumbai, where she lived with her family. Her body was flown home on Tuesday night in a private plane that belongs to Anil Ambani, a Mumbai industrialist and entertainment baron, according to The Guardian. Her husband, Bollywood producer Boney Kapoor, released a statement on his wife’s Twitter page, writing, “Losing a friend, wife and mother of your two young daughters is a loss inexplicable in words.”— SRIDEVI BONEY KAPOOR (@SrideviBKapoor) February 28, 2018 “I would like to express my sincere gratitude to my family, friends, colleagues, well-wishers and all of you countless fans of my Sridevi who have stood by us like rocks. I am blessed to have the support and love of Arjun and Anshula, who have been such pillars of strength for myself, Khushi and Janhvi,” he wrote, referring to his two older children from a previous relationship and the daughters he shared with Sridevi. “Together, as a family we have tried to face this unbearable loss.” “To the world she was their Chandni… the actor par excellence… their Sridevi… but to me she was my love, my friend, mother to our girls… my partner,” he continued. “To our daughters, she was their everything… their life. She was the axis around which our family ran.” Kapoor requested privacy for his family while they mourned, adding, “The curtains never come down on an actor’s life, because they shine on the silver screen forever.” “My only concern at this time is to protect my daughters and find a way Continue Reading

Secret sex workers: Inside the world of Mumbai’s exploited male masseurs

They live taboo lives — earning rupees for rubdowns and often selling their own flesh for the right price. Meet the male masseurs of Mumbai. Their obscure existences in India’s largest city are mostly spurned by a society that stigmatizes gays and lesbians. But there are those trying to shine a light on what these workers endure — and to offer them a better way.   Typically, boys from poor areas with little educational opportunities are the people exploited, said Ryan Day, spokesman for the nonprofit Love146, which works to combat child trafficking.   CHARLES FOX RK, 25, is single but has a girlfriend back in 'the village.' He has been a masseur in Mumbai for four years, prior to which he worked in the fields as a farmer. His girlfriend is unaware of his real job in Mumbai.   “They come from marginalized families and communities,” Day said. “There’s a Iot of desire to gain financial independence and go to school, and pay for school, so that motivates them to choose this reality.”   It’s a harsh one that is just as tempting because of the money involved.   In a country where an agricultural job might earn as little as 150 rupees a day, or the equivalent of $2.75, a male masseur in Mumbai can pocket 1,000 to 2,000 rupees ($18.25-$36.50) whenever he engages in sexual activity.   Charles Fox The masseurs use a string of hotels in Mumbai, which offer a reduced 'by the hour' rate. The cost of the room, which is a standard 500 rupees, is charged to the client. The rooms are used as discreet locations for sex work. The hotels are located close to the masseurs working areas. Those who refuse to have sex are paid considerably less — around 250 rupees, or about $4.60.   “Some of them say flat out, ‘I don’t really do sex work,’” said British photographer Charles Fox, who documented the workers as part of a two-year project. “But massage is Continue Reading

Calls grow for ban on Mumbai horse carriages amid allegations of widespread animal abuse

Elaborately-decorated horse-drawn carriages are a symbol of the Indian city of Mumbai, have starred in several Bollywood films and become a tourist attraction in their own right.But their days could be numbered because of allegations of widespread ill-treatment of the animals, a court case calling for them to be banned and a campaign that has attracted the support of celebrities.Representatives of the People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) pressure group this week wrote to the city authorities, calling on lawmakers to "put a stop to cruel horse-drawn carriage rides in Mumbai"."Typically, the horses are denied protection from the sun or rain, housed in filthy stables, given substandard food (if any), and rarely provided with water," they said in an open letter."Many suffer from untreated injuries, dehydration and weakness, but most will never see a veterinarian," PETA said, adding that increasingly busy traffic put horses, as well as drivers, cyclists and pedestrians at risk.The silver-coloured Victorias, modelled on open carriages used during Queen Victoria's reign in the 19th century, first appeared in Mumbai in British colonial times.But whereas they were once a form of transport for the upper classes across the former Bombay, they now ferry tourists around the historic Colaba district and up the Marine Drive promenade in the south of the city.They are a common sight outside the luxury Taj Mahal Palace hotel and Gateway of India monument.Several Bollywood films have featured the horse-drawn carriages, notably the 1972 crime thriller "Victoria No. 203" and the 1975 action movie classic "Sholay".But their heyday has passed. According to the city authorities, there are now just 130 Victorias left, down from more than 800 in 1973 when the last new licences were awarded.Concern about unlicensed, underage drivers and claims of a chronic lack of oversight of the health and welfare of the animals has mounted in recent years.Last week, one local newspaper Continue Reading

The Oscar champ is a ticket out of poverty for two young stars

Posing with Mickey Mouse and their friends, Rubina Ali and Azhar Mohammed look like any other excited couple of kids on a carefree vacation to Disneyland. Nine-year-old Rubina snuggles into Mickey's neck, clutching him tightly, as if she never wants to let him go. Azhar, 10, smiles sweetly for the camera, savoring every moment of the fairy tale. And a fairy tale it is. Unlike the thousands of mostly privileged children visiting the world-famous theme park this week, these two youngsters have lived the life of street urchins. They come from a background of grinding poverty and unimaginable squalor. The stars of the multi-Oscar-winning movie "Slumdog Millionaire" were flown to California for Sunday's ceremony, quite a leap from a wretched existence in sprawling Mumbai before they were thrust into the glamorous world of movie-making. Now, after weeks of controversy about possible exploitation and concerns for their future after the spotlight has moved on, the Indian government and the film's producers are doing right by them. Yesterday it was announced that their families back home in the unsanitary, crime-ridden shantytown of Garib Nagar will be rehoused in clean, safe apartments. A trust fund has been set up in the children's names. It is a dream come true for the kids, who, without this opportunity, almost certainly would have faced the same despair and drudgery of their slum-dwelling compatriots. Ironically, their rags-to-riches story mirrors the heartrending plot of the movie itself. The surprise low-budget sleeper hit chronicles the childhood and teen years of a desperately poor orphan called Jamal who winds up competing in the Indian version of "Who Wants to Be a Millionaire." Rubina plays the adorable young girl, Latika, who grows up to become Jamal's love interest. Azhar is his headstrong older brother, Salim. Yet the two were almost not cast at all. Director Danny Boyle had serious reservations about selecting real-life slum children Continue Reading

Voice of the People for Feb. 25, 2009

'Slumdog Millionaire' mysteryManhattan: Can someone explain to me how a movie gets eight Oscars, including Best Picture and Director, and the lead actors didn't even get nominated? Is it because they represent the slums of Mumbai or because leading men or women can't come from India? David Ferdinand An idea whose time has comeBronx: It's so funny to see an article on Snuggie blankets! ("Now that's a wrap!" Feb. 24). I have been doing that for more than 30 years with my house robe, turning it backwards and slipping into it while curled up. I wonder whether they are making any money. I could have done that 30 years ago, but mine would have had something extra: pockets. Marilyn D'Alessandro Give them time Parlin, N.J.: Congressional and U.S. Senate terms should be extended but holders should be limited to two terms. Governors and big-city mayors should be extended up to six years (two terms allowed). During election time, candidates must have a limit on political spending; no negative campaigning or personal attacks should be allowed. Political campaigns must be clean and less expensive. Taj Ahmad Give them what they deserve Middletown, N.Y.: So the pukes on Wall Street, well knowing that they were going to ask for bailouts - or even after they took taxpayer money - went and gave themselves multimillion-dollar bonuses. Kudos to Attorney General Andrews Cuomo for going after these soulless vermin. George K. Woodbridge Back to the future Alexandria, Va.: Voicer Joey Murad, are you just now becoming concerned that the United States is becoming a nation of thieves? May I remind you that the term "robber barons" is more than a century old? George Constantinidis True to form North Bellmore, L.I.: How typical for the 61-year-old pervert doctor at the center of the sexual harassment suit to be driving a "red-hot Corvette, with M.D. plates." ("Leering dirty doc harassed nurses, patients & sales reps," Feb. 24) What a loser. Francesca Walkiewicz Drawing the Continue Reading

‘Slumdog’ named best picture at UK’s BAFTA awards

LONDON -- Kate Winslet, Mickey Rourke and "Slumdog Millionaire" became firm Oscar favorites with big wins at the British Academy Film Awards. Rags-to-riches tale "Slumdog" continued its fairy-tale journey with seven prizes Sunday, including best picture. Winslet and Rourke took acting honors - Winslet for her role as a former Nazi concentration camp guard in "The Reader," Rourke for his career-reviving performance as a washed-up athlete in "The Wrestler." Heath Ledger won a posthumous supporting actor award for "The Dark Knight." "It's such a pleasure to be back here, out of the darkness," Rourke said. After her onstage emotional meltdown at the Golden Globes last month, Winslet was a model of composure, thanking her parents, sitting in the audience, "who I will not look at right now, otherwise I will burst into tears." "Slumdog," Danny Boyle's film about a Mumbai street boy's rise from poverty to game-show triumph, went into the ceremony with 11 nominations and won prizes for best film, best director, adapted screenplay, music, cinematography, editing and sound. The low-budget film, shot partly in Hindi, has gone from rank outsider to Academy Awards favorite since it won four trophies at the Golden Globe awards last month and became a box-office hit. Its makers are still getting used to the change. "I thought at one stage we were going straight to DVD," said screenwriter Simon Beaufoy. The film has caused controversy in India, where some have complained it shows the country in an unflattering light, and others have said its title insults the poor. Boyle dedicated his award partly to the people of Mumbai, where it was shot - and also to people closer to home. "The wiring in my dad's house blew overnight, and it's just a big shout-out to everyone who helped him get the extension cable in so he could watch this on television," Boyle said. The London awards, popularly known as the BAFTAs, have a reputation for predicting who will win at Continue Reading

Runners carry Olympic flame in New Delhi amid heavy security

NEW DELHI - Runners carried the Olympic flame Thursday along a heavily guarded route through central New Delhi, protected by about 15,000 police who kept Tibetan exiles and other anti-China protesters from disrupting the ceremony. Much of New Delhi's leafy British colonial-era center _ where the presidential palace, Parliament and government ministries are located _ was sealed off to traffic and pedestrians in some of the tightest security ever seen in the capital. India is home to the world's largest Tibetan exile community, and thousands held a peaceful mock torch relay earlier Thursday elsewhere in New Delhi to draw attention to the Chinese crackdown in Tibet. Protests were also held in other Indian cities, including Mumbai, where 25 people who tried to storm the Chinese consulate were detained. To avoid the chaos that has marked the torch runs in London, Paris and San Francisco, Indian authorities cut the relay route to less than two miles. That meant each of the 70 runners in the relay could jog with the flame for only a few seconds before handing it to the next person. The torchbearers were surrounded by rings of jogging security forces _ first Chinese forces in blue tracksuits and then Indians in red ones _ as they ran from the presidential palace to the historic India Gate monument, where an Olympic cauldron was lit. Several buses of police followed the runners, who included tennis star Leander Paes. The public was allowed nowhere near the relay, and crowds amounted to just several hundred young people sitting on bleachers wearing T-shirts of an Olympic sponsor, Coca-Cola, and several hundred members of India's Chinese community. Shortly after the Olympic flame was flown to New Delhi early Thursday from its last stop in Pakistan, some two dozen Tibetan exiles chanted anti-China slogans and protested along a busy highway to the airport. Several of the protesters were detained by police. Thousands of Tibetans took part in their own torch run to Continue Reading


MASALA BOLLYWOOD 108 Lexington Ave., at 27th St. (212) 679-1284 MUST HAVES: Starter: Juu Beach Bhel poori, $5 Entree: Padosan masala dosa, $9 Dessert: Homemade Indian ice cream, $4 WORTH A TRIP: Borough Men with guns! Women with gold jewelry! Mad passionate love scenes shown on a mammoth TV! A multi-page menu divided into "Trailers," "Main Attractions," "Supporting Cast" and "Happy Endings!" Masala Bollywood, a slick, hyper-designed new cafe on Lexington Ave. in the 20s, is serious about its devotion to the Indian movie industry. Every item on the menu has a movie-connected name, which can lead to some confusion. What in the world will I get if I order "Dude, Where's Crispy Szechuan Lamb at"? Like movie producers, the owners have tried to put in something for everyone. There are street snacks from Mumbai. There are tandoori meat dishes from North India, and crisp vegetarian dosas from the south. There's even a group of Indian-Chinese dishes, like lollypop chicken in Manchurian sauce and "Love Veg Chopsuey in Times Square," described as crispy noodles topped with Szechuan sauce. Once you fight your way through the menu, however, you can find good things to eat. From the Mumbai street snacks, we sampled a toss of crunchy puffed rice, cucumber, onion and tomato ($5), and chewy dumplings topped with chickpeas, onions, tamarind and yogurt ($5). Onion pakoras were fried dark and crisp in a heavy chickpea batter ($5), and a half-chicken came sizzling out of the tandoori oven brick red and peppery ($11). Vegetable dishes like cauliflower and potatoes spiced with orange turmeric were reliable ($11), and one - crunchy bits of okra slathered with yogurt ($11) - was a standout. We shared two dosas, firm, paper-thin crepes folded over what are usually vegetable fillings. We ordered one plain, tore off the crisp bits and dipped them in coconut chutney and scarlet tamarind sauce. We had the second dosa filled with a traditional stew of potatoes and Continue Reading


ARRANGED IN A circle on folding chairs, the 20 or so men and women prayed in a variety of styles - some murmuring softly, others calling out emotionally - for the sick, homeless and hungry, and for custodians, cops and converts. Everyone was called on to pray for someone or something. "Let's all pray for Sam," suggested one woman, referring to a youngster who sometimes attends the prayer meetings. "What's happened to Sam?" someone asked. "Nothing," the woman replied. "We pray for everybody." So they do at the Times Square Church, the booming evangelical stronghold located in what once was the Mark Hellinger Theater, where, appropriately, one prechurch box office smash was "Jesus Christ Superstar." The church, interdenominational, interracial and multiethnic, does not keep formal membership rolls, but claims the religious allegiance of 8,000 or so New Yorkers. That makes it one of the city's mega-congregations. There was no talk this week of milestones, but the church is 20 years old this year, and its growth, from meetings in rented auditoriums, is remarkable. There are special groups for everyone from lawyers, cops and firefighters to the elderly, high schoolers, single moms and newlyweds. All sermons are simultaneously translated into 11 languages, among them Arabic and Chinese. The prayer circle, held every Wednesday, is part of a four-hour fellowship for senior citizens that includes a Bible lesson and lunch. Average attendance is about 50, and for many, it is a weekly social highlight. "Most of my friends are right here, right now," said a woman named Martha. "I wouldn't miss the fellowship for anything." The church is well known now, especially among evangelical Protestants, but there was a time when it was recognized mainly because of its celebrated founder, the Rev. David Wilkerson. Wilkerson, now 74, became a national pulpit star in 1963 when he co-wrote "The Cross and the Switchblade," a best-selling account of his ministry in New York Continue Reading