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Letter from Santa Clara

Nanu Trips the FBI’s e-Wire

By Bill Costley

Last week I went to a South-Indian vegetarian restaurant nearby in Santa Clara with two green-card carrying engineer Gujuratis (http://ccat.sas.upenn.edu/plc/gujarati/) who had to ask the Tamil-Nadu (http://www.cs.utk.edu/~siddhart/tamilnadu/) waiter what the restaurant's name: Dasaprakash (“Servant of the Light of God”) meant. They had absolutely no idea: Gujurati’s only one of the 18 “scheduled” languages of India; the restaurant’s Tamil-owned & named.

They did think to ask him: If any of his family were affected by the recent tsunami? None, he said, they’re all fine, smiling. “You know, you don’t look Tamil,” said Pravin; so (perhaps as a test) Nanu spoke to the waiter in Tamil, but he couldn’t reply in it, saying, “Sorry, I don’t speak Tamil.” [End of spurious Tamiling.]

We settled into ordering, but deferred to the waiter, who knowledgeably chose from the menu after quizzing each of us as to what we could handle. Then, Nanu (Narandas) prayed before eating, and then revealed that he’d recently been visited by the FBI, who’d left him a notice taped-up on the front door of his house in south San Jose. After he called them back, they came back to interview him in person.

It seems that they had him on a current list of Homeland Security subversives. His security offense? His frequent e-mailings of what he calls “Nanu-Seconds,” brief thoughts/quotes from well-known authors, usually Indian religious figures/politicians (Swami Vivikananda; Sri Ramakrishna; M.K. Gandhi, a Gujurati), news-bits culled from & credited to Yahoo News, etc. Are you wondering which quote caught their attention? I certainly was.

Once I was back home, I went back into my saved e-mails from Nanu to see if I could find what had tripped the FBI’s e-wire. Let’s see if you’re surprised to find out that the offending “Nanu-Second” the FBI cited was this:

X-Originating-IP: []
From: "Nanu Asher" ntasher@hotmail.com
To: billcostley@attbi.com
Subject: U.S. Tries to Define 'Regime Change'
Date: Wed, 23 Oct 2002 08:00:39 +0000
X-OriginalArrivalTime: 23 Oct 2002 08:00:40.0268
(UTC) FILETIME=[476468C0:01C27A6A]

Can somebody teach simple English to Super POWer?

U.S. Tries to Define 'Regime Change'



Yes, that’s the FBI-attracting, national security-imperiling “Nanu-Second” of 23 OCT 2002, citing a (defunct) Yahoo AP News link. Here’s what I replied to Nanu immediately upon getting it:

At 08:00 AM 10/23/2002 +0000

Nanu, that Yahoo News link you cited is no longer accessible.

Latest Bush-spin: Saddam doesn't have to go, just disarm.

Are you thinking what I am? How did the FBI track that e-mailed “Nanu-Second”? Or did they? Or did someone he e-mailed rat Nanu out to the FBI? It wasn’t me, Nanu, I assure you it wasn’t me! I’ve never told anybody… until now!

Nanu told us that when the FBI came to visit him at home, he told them that he’s a Gandhian, a follower of fellow-Gujurati M.K. Gandhi (b. Porbandar, Gujurat, 1869). He told us he then pulled out a posed photo of himself standing beside Mother Teresa in Calcutta. That, he says, quickly ended his FBI interview; with a visible bona fides like that, standing smiling beside a Roman Catholic nun, he’d instantly proven himself to be no possible threat to USA National Security.

Is all this beginning to make you worried about… yourself, just because you’re reading this story? Unfortunately, it’s now too late to be photographed with Mother Teresa (Agnes Gonxha Bojaxhiu, b. 26 AUG 26, 1910, Skopje, Macedonia; d. 05 SEP 1997, Calcutta, Madras, India; beatified 19 AUG 2003, Vatican State, Rome, Italy).

But in the rather more easily accessible realm of the locally still-living, maybe you can ask Nanu (ntasher@hotmail.com) to stand beside you as Pravin or I take a photo of both of you! Nanu’s now certified FBI-clean; maybe you can be, too. Then, Nanu can take a photo of me with you.