Monthly Archives: October 2008

It’s hard to see the light.

Reflections on work with Apne Aap Women’s Collective.Part 1.

I work with a collective called ‘Apne Aap’ and they are an 8-year-old organization looking at rehabilitating and providing sustenance and education to second-generation young women and girls in and around the Red Light District of Kamatipura in Mumbai. I’m really excited to have started work on their documentation and it has been interesting so far.

My first few days started with trying to get perspective over the roles of women. I remember passing the area out of curiosity and then recoiling completely (Ya Allah!) in shock on my taxi seat, being driven around while being feeling aghast moral religious far observer absurd sentiments take me over as I bent lowly while the cab driver ferreted me out.

I’ve been observing the flesh trade for a while now. Women wearing glittering embroidered saris of the sixties sort that my mother has from her dowry, with gaudy sequins walk around alone and engulfed in the inky darkness of the sea-shore, almost gliding, almost singing, almost riding the waves, radiant in their translucent make-up. You couldn’t call them brazen. It’s just their job.

What’s astounding is a newer arrangement I’ve seen with auto drivers who ferry them from their homes to Juhu Tara Road and then the client and the woman are taken elsewhere. Sometimes I hastily presume that the flesh trade is only comprised of women, and I haven’t cast the same eye on the young men that are sometimes vacantly poised on this street.

Sex -Work is a vicious trade and Apne Aap’s work is in trying to prevent younger women in the community from getting absorbed into the trafficking circle.

I have always felt that it’s really easy to ‘have a slur on your name’, and in my work have always resisted the sort of moralism that makes you ‘safe’ from questioning righteous judgement. Sexuality is a burdensome domain that rakes heavily on the ones who defy its neat questions. It’s hard to see the light.

On BarCamp

BarCamp Mumbai was good.I certainly enjoyed presenting my work in progress.I expected a more mixed crowd; the participants were largely aspiring tech-entrepreneurs.

I love geekoid and geek-culture.There were free pizzas and coffee and my presentation got hijacked twice by their nitpicking impatience.

Consider this:

‘ I thought this was about gaming .’Contrasomething’ ; Now thats a game that gives you an experience’.

‘Can you tell me a little about it?’

‘Well, you just get on the game and shoot everyone in sight.’


Bar Camp is an ad hoc gathering of people, who are technologically inclined to learn and share their work in an open environment.In the list of presentations was stuff like social media and tagging, twitter, Internet based start-ups etc…

Thanks Rae, but, I’m no Labrat.

Dear Rahima

We are pleased to inform you that you have been nominated by your friend Rae to join our research facility at Monsterco. At the outset we would like to tell you that we are a very exclusive team working on a pioneering technology and our requirements are extremely stringent. Firstly we will explain a little about our technology and then pass on to the role that we would like you to play. In our labs we create some thing called Genetically modified food. This means we take genes from one organism like bacteria, spiders; scorpions etc and insert it into the cells of another organism like rice, corn, wheat etc. so it develops certain new characteristics. (Doesn’t that sound absolutely delicious?). The good news doesn’t stop there! We have already fed this food to mice in our lab and they have largely done fine except a few labrats who experienced precancerous growths in their digestive tracts, inhibited development of brains, damage to the liver, enlarged pancreases and intestines and damage to the immune system. You will certainly agree with us that keeping all this in mind we found it absolutely ready for human consumption. Well infact we will be launching this wonderful technology in the form of BT brinjals in India in the near future. This is where you come in, we would like to join our great effort and accept the post of “Chief Lab rat”.

This is a designation of tremendous importance to the growth of this technology in India . A post where you could help create history and become a martyr in the commendable cause of the multinationals. We are certain that you have all the requisite qualities like a lack of intelligence, ignorance, lack of concern for the health of oneself and those of your loved ones etc. However if you still feel that you do not have what it takes to become a lab rat please click on the following link and let the concerned authorities know.