Wednesday, February 10, 2016

How we killed Rohith Vemula

Till recently, I was very unaware of my own caste privilege. And I have been trying to come to turns with it, trying to understand, to learn.

I mourn Rohith, and I feel guilty for his death.
We forged the scythe of our hate and fear
In fires of contemptuous fury and flaming prejudice
We cooled it in bitter callousness
And pretended it wasn’t a weapon. 
And we cut the grass, instead of burning it
We saved it and let it dry
And strand by bitter strand we wove it
To help our victim die.

Read the rest here.

Sunday, February 07, 2016

I'm a Ladyfinger!

I'm thrilled to have a piece published on the Ladies Finger. It's a very personal piece about my grandmother's death and my visit to my relatives, which turned out to be a much happier event than I'd anticipated.

I very much admire the Ladies Finger -- it's my favourite Indian website/publication! If you're not reading it already, you should.

Bonus: here are a few pictures of the trip.

Wednesday, February 03, 2016

Books I read in January

I'm going to copy Aishwarya and keep a monthly tally of the books I read, with a few sentences on what I thought about them. 

One Point Two Billion, a book of short stories by Mahesh Rao: I attended the book launch, which featured an interview of the author by Jerry Pinto, and was immense fun. I brought both Rao's books home, planning to put them aside to read later, since I had other books I'd planned to read. But I couldn't help looking inside this, and was quickly drawn in. Each story has a very distinct point of view, and each was intriguing, some incandescent. It's rare that I don't dislike - or like less - at least one story in a collection. Each narrator/protagonist was sympathetic even though some of them did awful, and in one case, horrific things. Each one managed to surprise me. The writing is beautiful, with some radiant phrases that you learn to look out for, much like a treasure hunt.

Sunday, January 31, 2016

Feeling less alone, and discovering art that echoes my life and feelings

I have identified as a feminist as long as I can remember, since I was a little girl and discovered the word and realised it applied to me. But for a long, long time, I never knew anyone else who was feminist. I was too timid to embark on a crusade against the whole world. But I was never entirely silent, and I hoped to grow up and discover my tribe.

I grew up and moved to a bigger city, but I seemed as alone in my feminism as ever. It was only years later, when I discovered blogging, that I found other feminists. Feminist blogs have therefore been responsible for my feminist education. I read only a couple of feminist books, and only discovered those due to blogs. But these blogs — all international, because if there were regular Indian feminism sites ten years ago, I failed to discover them — taught me so much, both the theory and the practice (how to be a better feminist, how to be an ally to other marginalised groups). I also discovered other feminists in India who blogged (they blogged about their personal lives, but were staunchly feminist) and made friends. I met some of them in real life — most of my friends in the last few years have been made online.

Tuesday, January 05, 2016

I sing a song

Hello, people.

I've told you I've rediscovered music last year. I've been singing, and the Guy recorded a few things, and I was too embarrassed to share it.

But here goes. This is part of an Assamese song that I sang in public when I was a kid, once in an impromptu performance on the radio (long story) and once, an old classmate recently informed me, in a school competition.

The song is about nature -- trees and flowers and bees.

Monday, December 28, 2015

Experiences I loved this year

This year was probably my best year ever. I recovered from depression, became happy again, and started things I had loved and lost in the last decade. So I've been taking music classes and a course in literature.

I also attended a ton of live performances of music and theatre: never before had I had the time, money, and most importantly, access. Here's what I loved most, in no particular order:
  • We heard Parikrama twice this year. The first time, at Hard Rock Cafe, was disappointing, and I had looked forward to it so much. But I suspected the sound quality had something to do with it, and wanted to try again. So we went to another gig later in the year at Blue Frog, which also had Shilpa Rao (and they sang one of my absolute favorite songs, 'I Believe' from the Dewarist collaboration (which now that I looked it up, I realize might be plagiarized! oh well)). 
  • Anyway, they also had Soulmate, who I quite liked, and then even more when I caught their performance at NH7 Weekender in Pune.
  • So, NH7 Weekender. It was amazing to hear AR Rahman live, and Mark Ronson. Both were great and I hadn't expected to ever have the experience. Other performances I really liked were Madboy/Mink (surprisingly, amazingly political), Swarathma, Gabriella and Rodrigo, and Lagori.
  • Also attended a Lucky Ali concert, and while I've always only been a half-hearted fan, I was surprised to find myself knowing most of the songs (most words of most songs), which is due to the Guy being an unabashed fan.
  • I am a fan of Indian Ocean, and was glad to be able to attend a concert this year, after first hearing them live a few years ago.
  • The Symphony Orchestra of India was also a wonderful experience.
  • We watched the play, A Walk in the Woods, performed by Naseeruddin Shah and Rajit Kapoor.
  • Of course, I saw A Twelfth Night - a performance that blended rock and physical comedy with the play.
  • But my favorite theatrical performance of the year was Deepti Naval as Amrita Pritam in 'Ek Mulaqat.
What fun things did you see/do in the last year?

Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Happy holidays, folks!

And if you want the lyrics (just promise me you'll sing it out loud):

Tis the season to be jolly
Fa la la la la la la la la
Thand mein qyo uthna hai jaldi
Fa la la la la la la la la

New year ki nehi hai chutti

Monday, December 21, 2015

One day last week

I have a busy but productive day at work. I spend some time sitting quietly at my desk and editing, which always relaxes me. I have lunch with office friends, and we eagerly polish off the chicken the Guy had cooked. I go for a walk after lunch with a colleague, and it is a lovely sunny, breezy day, and I almost skip down the footpath. 

I work with colleagues who have become friends, and we discuss and take on work and even argue good-naturedly. I leave work at a reasonable time -- though it would have seemed unreasonably early to me just a couple of years ago to stop working before 7. 

I had RSVP'ed to a free event. I take a taxi  one of Bombay's ubiquitous kaali peelis  and face less traffic than usual. I get to the mall where the event is to be, get my pass, then walk around, shop a bit, buy myself a bit of food and walk into the enclosure for the open-air event. There are very few people there yet, so I seat myself on the second row and eat and drank as I read on my phone. 

The performance starts nearly half hour late, but we are served free wine! I chat briefly with the woman who sits next to me. 

It's a production of Twelfth Night with music and dance and even a sort of juggling act. The cast members run through the audience and interact with us; in fact, at the beginning of the play, Viola asks audience members to lend her a jacket and cap which she then wears through the performance.

It's fun, though I don't quite enjoy every moment. Afterwards, I walk out and wait on the street till I can get a taxi to take me home. It's nearly 11 when I get home, just a ten minute ride.

But all of these pleasures are due to Bombay: the weather, the ease of getting a taxi with an usually very polite driver, the colleague-friends at work, the opportunity to go to world-class events (some of them free!) without inconveniencing myself, and most of all... Most of all, being able to easily go out alone! at night! for fun! 

The last time I was alone in public much was when I was in college, and then I used to get home before 6 every evening (or my parents would be thinking of a search party). I've never had this freedom, these choices, this life. I know a lot of it is due to my privilege, but I can't imagine having this in any other city in India. (If I'm wrong, do correct me — I'd love to know.)

It's been over two years in this city, and I've been harassed on the street just once (after I crossed the two year mark). It was in an area I rarely frequent, and I am pretty sure my part of town is much nicer, in all the ways I've documented above, than much of Mumbai. (I say this not to gloat but again acknowledge my luck and privilege.)

But thank you, Bombay, for finally pulling me in and letting me call you home.

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

December Tweets

Happy winter, unless you live in Bombay, in which case enjoy the less humid but sunny weather!

Some more tweets, while I'm being too lazy to put up an actual post.

I love this pun from the Delhi Pride.

Some interesting reads.

Monday, November 30, 2015

Fun reads

Sharing some thoughts and reads that I had already shared on Twitter, in lieu of an actual post.

First, the most important thing: laughs.
On a more sombre note, check out this thread on abuse and not blaming the victim.

Also, wow. People are awful.