Tuesday, March 21, 2006


I have half a mind to sit quietly in one corner. It's been well over a week, the wonderful weather in Bombay has vanished faster than beer on a hot afternoon and this post is now entirely irrelevant. I mean, there's really no point now in going on about how the weather was so perfect or that this time, the rain, light as it was, didn't bring slushy roads and maddening traffic jams in its wake.

No point either in waxing on about the rain also bringing overcast weather - the sort where you want to curl up under a blanket. With either a pizza, or a cup of tinned tomato soup, or a bowl of moong ka dal and rice. (I have funny rainy day comfort foods - what can I say?) One of those days when you put on some Miles and leaf your way through a book all day. In the evening, you catch up with friends, clean and roll their weed, while drinking gently into that good night.

I always mean to post every three or four days and if it isn't a tyrannical reviewer or my own sloth that prevents it, there's something else that requires my attention exactly then. And once it's done, my point and the post are usually immaterial. And that, my dears, is the fate of most posts in the Drafts folder.

But perhaps this once, both me and the post shall make an exception because of the overcast weather which brought such wonderful lighting for photography, even in the middle of the day when light is usually harsh. At the risk of stupendous immodesty, I don't believe I've ever shot as well as these and only on a few other occasions, enjoyed myself that much!

I was on my way to town to collect my transcripts, return books to the library, and watch a film perhaps. I do not wish to make the beauty of the day trite, ergo, I am going to let these images speak in their own voice. A couple of things though. These images are in chronological order and none of them has been touched up for the colours or improved in composition - among the reasons I am so proud of them. :-)

Behind the Sun

Into the Sun

35 Miles to Memphis

The Gates of Heaven


I can only be grateful that A was kind enough to let me monopolise his camera (since I had been stupid enough to forget mine) and patiently pull over wherever I asked - even if we were in the middle of the Western Express Highway, doing 70 kmph! The mercies, I tell you, of being driven by a fellow photographer. :-)

There are, of course, some more here.

Tuesday, March 07, 2006

To be Counted

I wasn't sure if I'd make this post.

When Ash first posted about it, I thought I'd participate in the Blank Noise Project blogathon. Six days later, there was a test to get familiar with, bugs to fix and close in the module I am working on, an SOP to finish. "There'll be other voices giving this better articulation than I can ever dream of. I can read if not write, right?" I reasoned with the twinge of regret early this morning.

My rickshaw ride to work this morning changed that. Posting this is quite bloody important to me now.

Eleven a.m and I asked a rickshaw driver if he'd go to Powai. He agreed and I started into the rickshaw. Casually he leaned back, with his elbow extending out abnormally, to put the meter down, ensuring that he would brush my breasts while doing so. Having had this happen before, I didn't get into the rickshaw but instead completely lost it. I asked him what he was trying to do.

"Nothing, Madam. I was only putting the meter down." Right. The pitch of my voice began to rise as I called him a liar and launched into a rant, and the security guards of my building came closer to see what the noise was. The rickshaw driver looked distinctly cornered and started muttering that I was misunderstanding him. I turned around, disgusted. And violated.

This is only one of many times. How many times has some man I've not had the courage to look in the eye pressed an erection against me in a crowd or a bus? How many times has some old pervert tried to stroke the side of my breast in the two or three inches between the window and the seat of a bus? Or "bumped" into me at a train station or crowded lifestyle store?

Or shall I recount the time I was eight years old, in grade three and getting out of my classroom? Some guy, whose face I can't even remember, stepped in my path and grabbed my vagina through my uniform. I stumbled, fell, and started crying. He was gone before anyone else could see him. A teacher passing by heard me, came to help and made sure I got home. I did not know then why I felt so terrified. But I do now.

Perhaps I could tell you about the time a female friend and I were going to her house for tuitions. We could not have been more than ten or eleven years old. This young man, not more than eighteen, came up to us and asked for directions, holding a piece of paper and his erect penis in his hand. Or perhaps the middle-aged men, sitting in cars with the windows rolled down outside school and masturbating?

Do you know - this is the first time I've ever spoken about these things publicly. My family, not even my brother, still does not know they've happened to me.

When do I stop letting people do this to me? When do I stop being a victim? Every claim I've made to independence, dignity, and other "noble ideals" is worth nothing if I don't live it. I've just realised that I am not as empancipated as I've told myself I am. Time to change that, I think. Time to turn around and slap the guy in the next rick who, at a red light, thinks he can make all the comments he wants, watching me smoke. This post is the first step forward.

I have, for a long time, thought that what this country needs more than anything else is a large-scale sense of social awareness. It is not enough for, or the sole responsibilty of, too few people to say and do something about the abuse and injustice against too many, especially women - of all castes, creeds, and social strata - in India.

All too easy to complain about the state of this country. When do you start making a difference? It doesn't have to be something very big. Something as simple as a post on your blog will do. You live here. Stand up and be counted.

I intend to be.