Sunday, September 17, 2006

Definitions from Uncyclopedia -

- are growing funnier by the minute as people refine and add to this "encyclopedia of misinformation, nonsense and utter lies."

Such as:

"Polyamory is the love of tending and raising flocks of parrots as pets. Many polyamorists are therefore sea pirates."

first fight

Is it unnatural to be pleased when you have your first fight with a lover?

I think of it as a relationship strengthening exercise. It's this that teaches you what strengths and weaknesses both people bring in to solving issues, and what in turn you can do the next time to ensure the going is not so rough. (Of course, the difficult part sometimes is remembering this the next time!)

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

When did you last try to live a legend?

At Baijnath, legend has it that nine men can lift the large smooth rounded stone lying innocuously in a dusty arena outside the temple complex - kewal ek anguli lagaake (by using just a finger each). I challenged the men - my driver and the two from Haldwani who had found me at the riverbank and offered me fish food to throw to the rohu - to prove it true. They seemed eager to defend their masculinity, and soon we were calling out to other men passing by to join in the test. Here are the seven who formed the backbone of the team. Since the stone would not budge, they beckoned a rather senior citizen and a 14 year old gawper sitting on the railing. Women, they were firm, could not be part of the fun, since the legend decreed only men.

No luck in the first attempt, but the second time round our valiant nine, hooking one finger each under the stone, had lifted it up to their shoulders.

Monday, September 11, 2006

Over the Weekend -

- was at Kausani (here is a dreamy blog post on this hill station, which for the author has been "a fixation since I read about it in my Hindi textbook in school"). Working holiday, travelling to write, turned out to be quite marvellous, and not the least because S was a wonderful travel companion. Filled with curiosity and wonder and adventure, lots of bonhomous wise talk, and a love for walking.

And why is it that every time I return from a holiday, I find the carefully worked out schedule in my head has fallen by the hillside?

And I am all expansive.

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

In My Midriff

He had done all those
one would want to do in secret
with a language.
Like scratching his own back.

(from Riding Two Horses)

Sivakami Velliangiri has just released her chapbook In My Midriff (downloadable here from Lily Press). Her poems are by turns deceptively tranquil, eerie, and blazing with feeling. Such as

and thunder softer than the cracking
of a neck at an unusual hour.

(from Napoleon was the First, Hitler was the Second, So Are You the Third Antichrist?)

The striking imagery takes off from folk tales and modern tales, and can be often feminist (as in "To My Alma Mater") or very sexy (as in "Naughtiest Girl in School 1970").

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

BNP wishlist

Blank Noise Project is doing some amazing work. It has turned street sexual harassment into a subject of street performance, which can be quite a compelling method for influencing public attitudes.

I have my stories of harassment. There is this that happened two years ago (please try to be trigger-happy in the Jasmeen way, not mine!) - remembered more by being recorded on the blog. But what about that durga puja long ago, when I was shoved by one man, slapped across the butt by another, trying to make my way to another pandal with mum and brother and maid through thousands of people all out on the streets of Ranchi? Why does that memory stay somewhere at the top of all of my childhood memories?

Fortunately, today I've come quite far from the shame so many women are taught to carry around our bodies. I can choose to ignore innocuous looks and stares. If there's a stare I don't want, I can stare it down, or if that does not work - heckle it. There is a sense of power, of being able to do something, which means I can brush off these incidents from my mind more easily.

One of the first times I felt empowered this way was while walking down a crowded Brigade Road with my parents in 2003. A man pinched me and started walking away. Totally unrehearsed, I turned and grabbed his collar. Just a few minutes later - yes, fair Bangalore has its fair share of roadside romeos who all seem to be on this road - there came along another guy. I communicated some pretty unflattering things to him too. But what I remember most is being drunk on the knowledge, for hours after, that I had done something. The exhilaration heightened since this had happened in front of my parents, who had possibly never before seen - whom I had possibly never before allowed to see - me as a sexual being - being harassed, giving it back.

Yes, I celebrate my outrage. Let me say this again - I am fortunate in this. Still fear, shame, guilt, trauma remain a reality for so many women - across classes, regions, ages, education levels. Sexual harassment remains normal for so many men - ditto. Which is why the BNP initiative is so important.

Yet, I wish some things were different:

1. That we did not use Section 354 in the flyer, with its conservative moral tone and language.
2. Or the equally archaic term, "eve teasing". Even though, it is true, this is the term most laypersons recognise immediately.
3. That we did not list "leching" at someone as harassment. After all, we all lech. I lech. What is good leching? What is bad leching? What if someone wants to be leched? Can't you, when someone looks, "lech" back or (in many spaces) publicly object and get a public reaction/sympathy?

Some of BNP's strategies are fun. Can you imagine a row of women standing at a street corner, lolling or nervously purposeful, and a "stranger" tries to harass? Can you imagine the full force of a score or more eyes turning to him, boring into him, probing him? Wow. Kudos for imagining this and performing this, all of you at BNP.

Silly Photo

Okay, so I know my tree climbing (see right) and feet photos already, according to some, qualify for this, but every tag deserves a fresh attempt. So here it is: me at holi this year. After having prepared bhang ki thandai for the first time (though, honest, did not drink since its mother drug had handed me a not-so-pleasant time a few months ago) and, of course, many colours.

Also: tagging Em, Gautam, and Rakesh.

Friday, September 01, 2006


Having just finished a long, really long translation assignment, I sat down to journal. Today I deserve a break. Pizza delivery chains and other assorted stories for the editor can be written tomorrow. But surprise, I found my pen resisting any structured sentence or thought. I wrote no-sense, doodles, childlike sunfilled daubed up words. Happily. Make sense of this, the pen laughed. Don't you have enough sense in your life already? What will you do with so much of it? Just let go sometimes of sense, elegance, structure and your hair will grow much wilder, bushier and blacker. You'll see.