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Aligarh

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I have been meaning to write this down since the time I have watched this film. Is this a film review? Haha, no. Is it a rant on homosexuality and the dire situation human rights around one’s choice of sexual partners in the country is? Not so much.

Yes, I liked the film but, thats pretty much what I want to say about it. More than that has already been said and done. The film is about the incidents close to the eventual death of Prof Siras of AMU. He died of alleged poisoning in his flat one lonely afternoon soon after the revocation of his suspension. He was suspended on ‘moral’ grounds for sleeping with a person of the same sex on the premises (his own apartment on the campus given to him by the university to reside). It was through the sincere work ethic of a journalist that it was highlighted that the suspension and everything else that followed, including his death, were the results of jealousy and envy of his colleagues since Siras was also Head of the Dept.

While I do not want to write much about the part of the debate around homosexuality focusing on the difference between the public and the private and how the ‘personal is political’ becomes his experience eventually. However, what I truly was left thinking about after watching this film was the subtle smartness with which the film handles perceptions of different people involved. Namely, those framing him to bring about his suspension perceiving a homosexual man as weak maybe, as someone who would necessarily be weak and would not speak up. That could also be related to what is the perception of people in their native place against those who are a minority, perhaps, in another land known to be largely oppressive? There is also the understanding of the perception of the media – the part of it that goes berserk sensationalising things / events / lives for business while there is also that part of the industry that just does its job and when done well is lauded by the cynical part of the society as an army of great crusaders.

This however, was somewhere on the fringes. The main perception that the script questions and that grabbed my attention was the idea of one homosexual person in the minds of those actively involved in getting human rights in place with respect to sexual orientation. That is shown by way of the protagonist not bothering or fathoming his identity as a homosexual man at conflict with the law as disinterested in the court proceedings, using the time there to translate his poems or simply done off. Another beautiful dialogue resonates the thought when he talks against the need for society to label a feeling in his heart as a three letter word (read: gay) questioning how merely three letters could express the intense attraction or feeling he might feel towards another human, albeit of the same sex.

When engaging with the community myself or simply browsing through pictures of pride parades etc., I have always had this question which I never dared to voice – all participants or at least, the representatives of the community, seemed exactly the same to me. Now, I am not totally critical of this because looking at where we as a society come from, a community / support group is needed when one is targeted simply for being who one is in one’s private life. However, there used to be this constant question if such cliched representation would not be bad for the community and wasn’t stereotyping the persona actually a contradiction to the idea of the freedom to just be?

After watching this, seeing where Siras seems to be a victim of not just envy but, also loneliness after the stalwarts who were the face of homosexual rights go back to where they came from leaving him alone in the same town where his dignity was undermined for a multitude of reasons using his personal life as the excuse. I can say that I like the film for maybe answering these questions of mine. Maybe the homogeneity of the group in fitting with the perceived stereotypical image is their way to talk to the ones who don’t understand in their own language? Just, maybe.

Bombay

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Bombay, 2014.

I have abstained from choosing any emotion for this city in order to avoid any kind of thoughts all together for the worry of not being happy. I knew thats stupid but, thats how I coped.

I believe I have a tremendously intense love and hate for this city altogether. The love comes from the liberation of thought and being and the hate comes from the city snatching away that same reason for love from right under your nose – almost reminds me of the Joker.

The city has truly made me question the meaning of freedom day in, day out and I can safely say that I have understood and learnt quite a lot. One imagines that one has all the freedom of thought, freedom of being here in the city of dreams which is the only and true hybrid assimilation of population from all over the country (and outside). I swear there is a whole parade of people who become extremely happy at the idea of being able to wear anything, to walk out anytime of the day, to do anything you want! I am sure I have been there too and continue to be in love for the space that the city gives to you to just be. That might be one good reason to keep me here ‘cause being answerable comes with a lot of difficulty.

But, the hate for the city; a sudden fit of blinding rage, comes only from the games that fate plays with people here. Very blindly thinking, the level to which the dignity of life is brought down to in a city like this brings a wave of anger and sadness that topples over everything else at times. One believes one is free and looking at the place one has come from, one is definitely free-er than that but, freedom is again subjective to power here.

These thoughts were churned back when I visited Madhya Pradesh after long recently. It wasn’t surprising to me how easily I fit in with people there; talking as if I’ve always done that and mind you, I do not do that very easily here ‘cause everyone’s too busy talking about Snapchat, or a trip to Lavasa / Lonavala / *insert other places nearby*, or a check in, or a weekend plan, or a new bakery / club / bar / pub / resort / gallery show / conference blah blah. Its not that I judge without knowing them or anything. I have tried to tolerate and understand if there was actually something fun or new or value creating there. But, as they say one must trust one’s gut, I realise I was right the first time around. I don’t connect with people of the times simply because I don’t see the point in snapping / tweeting everything that you do or think. Maybe thats why this tumblog suffered my disillusioned state or as a friend would have said “disenchantment” with the world and its ways.

In the end, I would again be politically correct and say that I have zero emotion for Bombay because thoughts change like everything in this city – I would say that if only, I am appreciative of what possibilities this city brings out in people’s minds hoping that one would understand that it is only the self and not anything else that brings all the joy as well as the grief.

Home

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Have been wanting to write on the idea of home for months now but, could not really get the words flowing.

I remember understanding home to be the house and times from childhood – such as a stray memories of coming back to the coolness of the house on a hot summer afternoon with a glass full of cold of Rasna ready in the fridge – essentially linking the idea of home with nostalgia. However, today that feeling of being ‘at home’ has come far away from that nostalgia as well which brought the question to the fore again, what was home exactly. I remember the feeling coming first while watching the sun rise or while watch trees go by as I moved further on the highway. This strange feeling of comfort was something that I did not understand then but, fell in love with deeper than the last time.

Comprehension dawned in another city which was alien and distant when seen from outside on a particularly breezy evening which complemented the warmth emanating from the setting sun’s rays. The joy which was felt in that moment was exactly the same that my mind had so far associated with nostalgia of home. That is the moment that mind started seeking to understand – the idea essentially was to understand and think through the concept of ‘home’ – in lieu of the constant tussle in my head as to where was home for me as so far the head believed home only to have a place in nostalgia. Was it a place, a person, an experience, a time or was it, after all, the version of self one is most comfortable being? Was it not the spatial or time based understanding? Questioning and looping in the same thought process for some time, I left the question hanging again since there did not seem to be a concrete answer whatsoever.

The thought process sprang back to action last Thursday after visiting an exhibit of four artists who basically express the idea of home in urban dwelling today – looking at smaller spaces, killing of natural and open spaces to build concrete jungles etc. The idea around which the question of home and spaces as represented in a few art works was more around the developmental critique of mindless urbanisation, creation of gated communities at the cost of a ruined environment and the foolish association of culture and status with being a part of these gated communities.A few strips from the latest series of Adarsh Balak (literal: the ideal male child) – the only one artist I knew of before visiting the show – were also up for display. His work being presented at the exhibition talking about ‘home’ is precisely what got the cogs of the machinery in the brain running. I won’t really get into the varied topics around urbanisation, environmental concerns etc. here – more on the show later in another post.

Going back to the point of this post. What is home exactly – I think home is a feeling that you associate a place, house, person, time with that makes you happy, that really soothing feeling of contentment. It could be anywhere, with anything being the trigger of contentment but, essentially, home is where one is absolutely happy – be it alone or with people or in communion with nature.

Custom Made

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Can I be in love with your voice?

Can I only desire
And yearn for the sound of you
Slowly blending in my ears and
slowing me down, bringing my heart
To momentary stops
As you hum, as you talk and drawl into my ears?

Would it be a crime if I told you that I want you not for who you are;
If I told you, that I am in love with your mind?

Would you be here if I told you that listening to you makes me long
For an emotion so deep and passionate that it burns me from within?
Would you stay if I say that the blood flows in me with your every breath?

———————————————————————————————-

Pretty intense lines I found in my ‘Notes’ on the phone. A random scribble somewhere out of home on 10th September this year. Don’t really know what triggered this but, re-reading them brought a pretty good perspective / thought to the fore. Everywhere around me – in physical space as well as virtual – people are getting hitched or engaged while I go from one flea market to another in search for the perfect herbed chicken seekh courtesy these guys. However, on a more serious note, it is funny – this intense emotion that these lines express. Funny and intense would ideally not go hand in hand but, here they do. The concept of ‘being with someone’ – romantically, I mean – is so varied in some senses when the idea is pretty simple and basic and commonplace, if you may.

Meeting a friend after three years and catching up on our lives in the time, the discussion inadvertently went on to dating and relationships – a great energy usurper for many around me. Cutting long story short, my brain just keeps coming back to the woes of who they call millennials who don’t want to go through the risk of making a choice in any sphere of life because we (yes, we!) just have the (mis)fortune of too many choices. Career options, dining out options, options between various telecom operators and finally, options to open our lives to multiple possibilities by swiping right one more time on Tinder. In effect, playing out the old school “many fish in the sea” analogy but, using it as the norm rather than the once in a while offering of help to a distressed friend.

Why these semi – intense lines seem more semi – funny to me? Because stumbling upon these lines, so many conversations with so many people came back to the mind wherein the first sight of trouble in a new connection is the reason for running away since “there are always more people to connect with”. Good area to choose between the two greys of balancing self esteem in case of a failed connection and looking out for a custom made human.

Morning

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Varca, 2015.

From the Ummeed Walk 2015.


There were those mornings
Which started
With collective laughter and joy.

Then there were 
Those that started with
The stench of yesterday

Now there are these
That bring in 
The chilly breeze 
As if the calm coolness
Is a reminder of
The beauty that’s today.


Writing this came from a faint (and final, hopefully) acceptance of the beauty of letting go – not in a sad and fatalistic sense of doing so but, rather a very empowering way of having had whatever experiences one does have. I wrote this one on a particularly nippy morning when things around me were changing majorly; reminding me that even though things change which can be painful while going through it but, in retrospect it all makes sense, and quite beautifully so.

The Lady in White

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Had this scene in mind with a faint idea of a poem since January 2014. Sometimes the scene came out but, the words didn’t and sometimes the words were fine while the scene didn’t match. Finally sketched this the other night. Text below:


I had seen her every morning,

The lady in white;

Trudging along the pavement.

She would be constantly mumbling.

Maybe, she saw someone?

I would peer at her through the 

White lace of mother’s curtains, 

My heart thumping with fear – 

What if she saw me?

I was eight then. 

I left home.

I heard she died one morning,

How did they figure out, you ask?

She wasn’t seen mumbling, 

hollow eyes darting, trudging along 

for a week.

They say the stench traveled

Till the end of the road.

Why didn’t they go earlier, you ask?

Pope says, ‘Ignorance is bliss.’.

I still dream of her

at times.

No, she doesn’t haunt me with

Those empty eyes.

It is the emptiness of her life

That kills me now.


Was reminded of this sort of incomplete poem written a few months ago while talking to a friend about the idea of loneliness tonight. I remember writing this with the thought alienation that an urban life can bring in at times weighing on my mind – the desire to connect with human beings but, the simultaneous hesitation and mistrust to do that ultimately failing to recognise that we are a religious, casteist, regional group later but, a ‘human’ community first.

The concept of loneliness used to be pretty alien (as well as pretty scary) to me earlier especially while doing a project on it for an Archaeology class back in 2012. I remember the five of us dwelling on the concept of loneliness and what people resort to as a coping mechanism. We covered the likes of art as a way of venting out to addiction as another escape. While the former can be cathartic in a way, the latter has worse consequences by way of slowly taking away ‘life’ from a person. Of course, what one implies by ‘life’ can be rather subjective. Precisely why I chose not to dwell on the reason why addiction as a way of dealing with loneliness is not the best idea. I couldn’t really point out which part of the subjective answers to ‘what is life?’ I related to.

However, talking to this one friend today I realise that life means to have the will to move ahead – a step a day maybe, but to move ahead. And I say this not in the ‘move-ahead-only-career-wise’ way of thought (can take it as that too if one pleases) but, essentially to keep pushing oneself to grow as a human being a step a day. Sounds vague? Maybe. But, in each one of us is a tendency (or many tendencies) which makes one unhappy. The will to change that trying harder every time one feels defeated is the essence of life.

Where does loneliness fit in all this? Loneliness stems from the occasional or regular lack of the desire to be better every day. When lonely and lacking in this desire one would loop in that constant feeling of self pity (and anger maybe?) that grabs the focus of the mind so strongly that one cannot think of anything but, being lonely and miserable and unfortunate; totally, forgetting that one is an independent entity with one’s own choices and to choose to not grow and learn is what brings the stagnation that is loneliness.

War

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Been thinking of organising my writing properly now. A conscious move to cut down social media helped but, a lot of things were written here and there. Now, in the process of streamlining my thoughts and writings, merging poetry blog and posting final works here while that shall still remain as a draft board.

This one is called ‘War’. I have profound love for detailed conversations around totalitarianism, democracy, gender, sexuality and am fascinated by imagery. Imagery and visuals are what stimulate writing for me otherwise, it would just be a drab academic piece which’ll get tossed in the bin.

‘War’ is, like other poems, open to subjective interpretation, of course. Those who do read it are encouraged to comment and share their views maybe(?). However, for me images and emotions of nostalgia, love, loss, fight and surrender in today’s times made me pen this down. This is a little expression of the constant battle between fighting in an unjust environment versus maintaining a silence and minding one’s business. Will not say more than this lest it taint different interpretations.

In the batting of her lashes,

In the quiet smile that played

on the corner of her lips,

In the memories of her warmth,

I found myself again.

I walked up ‘head in the shadows,

One eye always turning behind,

Awaiting unknown dangers.

I knew victory in the battle was certain but,

Left a refugee in my own home, 

She is the only trace now

of a feeling that was snatched away. 

All’s fair in love and war they said,

Unfairness of their privilege they didn’t let on,

As her womb swells with our love,

I am left with the choice of silence now.