Tag Archives: women

Hamari Pathri

After years of being harrowed by train travel, I have come to realise that in segregation lie a lot of answers to the problems of train travel in India for women.No lechering, unwarranted sexual attention and speculation on being a lone traveler. I think that my experiences will resound in those of a lot of women who travel by trains in India for work, or higher education or just for the sake of travel, be it hours of back breaking agony in having to bear excruciating sexual confrontation, or staring, or having to put up with advances again and again…

I set-up this facebook group in order to campaign for separate women’s bogies or compartments for long distance train travel in India.Join us to help see this through!

Blogging Women’s day

My day:

8:30 (roundabout) : Woke up to flatmates banging the door of our cinder filled kitchen.Bittersweet , bottomless bottomfull feeling.

9:30  stepped out to get meself items for a good  breakfast as well as the New Indian Express.My deluxe breakfast lasted a good hour with the newspaper.All in the kitchen.

11:00 Supervised the maid on washing my clothes.I’m used to doing this myself and need a machine.Usha,who does my washing and cleaning is an intelligent woman who runs her house and three kids on a pay-packet she makes out of working in some five houses.She also takes out the kachra in our building with her husband.

11:30  Conversation with flat-mates.Annie is a woman who left her home and husband with her child on her shoulder because he brought home another.She works as a house-maid too.She had a love marriage.She said that it wouldn’t have worked between her husband and her but that she still loves him.

14:30 Namaz.Stopped short by flatmate who is edgy about space.So it was the kitchen again.

15:00 Lunch.Bhajiya and rice with chutney powder.Long drawn meal.It’s hot in the kitchen with no fan.Snappy exchanges with Priya over lunch.My flatmates are worse off than I am.My relationship with Priya is the epicenter of lot of my woes against this world these days.

17:00 Sleep.Been a busy work week.

18:00 Namaz, and a two books.

18:30 Aida, in whose house I stay needs a clerical job.It’s the thing she does best.Does anyone know of one?

19:00 Some relays of telepathic voice chats: “Peice of Cake!”, “Whore!”, “We’ll see!”

20:00 Sleep.I have a feeling my grand-mother came to me in my dream.How of all things could a woman who was shy of even TV choose today to make this rare first appearance?I really believe in the power of this day.

21:30 Walk+Auto Ride to this blogging destination.

23:30 Thank You for surviving me.This was fun.

This women’s day…


Shivajinagar, Bangalore, 2006.

Creative Commons License

The day is not over yet, and I have to give you something before I step out.So I give you Chandra Talpade Mohanty’s version of

f e m i n i s m.

“Here is a bare-bones description of my own feminist vision : this is a vision of the world that is pro-sex and pro- woman, a world where men and women are free to live freely and create lives, in security with bodily health and integrity, where they are free to choose whom they love and whom they set up house with, and whether they want or not to have children, a world where pleasure rather than just duty and drudgery determine our choices, where free and imaginative exploration of the mind is a fundamental right; a vision in which economic stability, ecological sustainability, racial equality, and the redistribution of wealth form the material basis of people’s well-being.Finally my vision is one in which democratic and socialist practices and institutions provide the conditions for public participation and decision making for people regardless of economic and social location.In strategic terms this vision entails putting in place anti racist feminist and democratic principles of participation and relationality, and it means working on many fronts, in many different kinds of collectives in order to organise against repressive systems of rule.It also means being attentive to small as well as large struggles and processes that lead to radical change-not just working (or waiting) for a revolution.Thus everyday feminist, anti-racist, anti-capitalist practices are as important as larger, organised political movements.


Finally the critique of essentialist identity politics and the hegemony of postmodernist skepticism about identity has led to a narrowing of feminist politics and theory whereby either exclusionary and self-serving understandings of identity rule the day or identity (racial , class, sexual, national etc) is seen as unstable and thus merely ‘strategic’. Thus identity is seen as either naive or irrelevant rather than as a source of knowledge and a basis for progressive mobilisation.”

from Feminism Without Borders.


The world over, contemporary discourses science, media, women and the arts have begun to think about the body. This development has been due to womens studies and the deconstruction of rationalist enlightenment discourses, leading thought and thinkers away from the tight dichotomies of mind and body, physicality and intellect, thought and action…towards a praxis oriented research and analysis of human affairs and enquiry. I think that the time has come for us to move away from a mode of thinking where we see women as disempowered and gear our expressions towards terser, tastier and less tired territories. We are at a point where we’re capable of talking about this.


Under the aegis of trial and performance: yeh kya jagah hai doston…

Tamaan umr ka hisaab maangti hai zindagi.

When a tangential truth is sought brutally,

because existence has to be negotiated between

oppressive dark trials of morality,

Your jeering faces begin to look ridiculous to me.

I cannot pretend not to notice you.


Trial , however is a sterner thing.

thinner than a hair, sharper than a sword’s edge…


yeh kis makaam par hayaat mujh ko leke aagayi.

And ‘courting’ armpits of disharmony are the deepest furrows.

A student in Gujarat was gang raped and sexually exploited for over six months by her college staff ( report).


*beginning of a rendition on Shahryar’s lyric for the song ‘Yeh Kya Jagah hai Doston’, from Muzaffar Ali’s Umrao Jaan, sung by Asha Bhosle and performed inimitably by Rekha.

but , she swore.





click on the exclamation mark.
in response to the Mumbai New Year’s Eve Harassment case.Joining the collective action and debates at Blank Noise.
But, as always, I’m left wondering why my posts to Blank Noise remain sadly either rejected or ignored by the collective. Somehow, the answers are not forthcoming. Answers, anyone?

Ind-Linux, women and the ‘free’-world.



When you feel like you’re feeding all your talent and your accomplishments down a bottom-less pit, stop and think, woman. They just don’t get it.


SO, where is the hope?


I have been attending the Free Open Source Software conference in Bangalore for the past three days now, and this is the beginning of my blogging foray about it.



This conference has been good for me so far, although there are still technical glitches in my mind about what artists and designers can contribute to the FOSS world. I’m attending this conference more because I’m interested in the frame-works that open-source communities work around, because it’s the culture that interests me and because I think I belong to it. However, as an artist who can do much more than graphics,I think that there are still directions that need charting out for both the creative world and the software world. I hope that somewhere along the next few days, some of those directions will emerge in our heads.



When you meet ‘brilliant’ women who pretend like there is nothing wrong or exclusionary about the scenario, they can’t be that brilliant, can they?


Today among the many worthwhile sessions I caught was the BOF or Birds of a feather session for Linux Chicks (written ‘Chix’, wonder why) India. And it brought it all back. And maybe there is hope.


When the damn patriarchy starts to damn you, then you could damn them back, they aren’t that holy anyway. But they ain’t even worth the effort.


Why must you evangelise Free Software among women? Because it just gets more women in. And because the technological world has the same problems as the real world although it pretends like it doesn’t, but the technological world has with it the possibility of creating freer worlds.


Feminist knowledge has been community oriented and community driven. Open Source frame-works are a vital part of such synergizing, because we in the open-source world believe in the power of collaboration, of shared frameworks and non-proprietary work that should benefit all humankind irrespective of existing hierarchies of power.


How much of your effort is lost in just trying to fight? A lot of women gave up doing the work that only they could have because they were stretched too thin.

So here it is. Get more women in. This is the only way. Stop being exclusionary and defensive about your knowledge assets. Get more democratic and participatory. Get innovative. Get out of the box. Start talking to more women. Stop trying to prove yourself to mentors who are sexist. Don’t waste your energy in listening to sexist critiques which try to dictate to you. There is work to do.


The centers of power have shifted. Maybe we’re all lagging behind .Look around. See. Refresh.

And no one can afford to hold on to their knowledge anymore. Someone would have stepped over them already. It’s smart to share, because jargon is just jargon. Everyone has their own. You need to communicate to get across, and start the real work.

When things get tight, the air needs to be let out, because that’s the only way to breathe.


Post Gujarat

Dear fellow human-beings and women,

In the past few days we have seen a brave intercession in the country’s political sphere. In what is becoming an increasingly stifling atmosphere for diversity and difference, it’s time to take a backseat and readjust our gaze.

To speak for all women in India one needs to stifle some aspect of one’s identity so that your voice comes through and is easily translatable. But to speak today, I’m going to stop trying to stifle the angst that is keeping me so narrowly focused, or else, I would just buckle-up and abandon the fight. So I speak as a woman and as a Muslim.

After Gujarat 2002 the psyche of the nation was shocked beyond belief that it was actually possible that the fabric of the country’s humanism had eroded. Had 60 years of being citizens of a secular republic not had any effect on us?

If what we saw in Gujarat is the success of a laboratory experiment in Fascism then it is important to analyse with great care its philosophy and hypotheses. To know how the symptoms were bred and where the zeal came from, to look at both perpetrator and victim and the real difference between them.

What effect the massacres of Gujarat have had upon the women in Gujarat will show itself in time. Because implicit in the understanding of sexual violation and rape as a means of extermination is a thinking that is at its root the gravest danger to feminine life.

Can we talk about this easily? No. Because we are suffering from it. There is no tenderness in the act of disclosure. No safe vantage point where our grief will find utterance. We’ve buried ourselves with and in it in order to exist so as to safeguard some other means of being. We will try to reach it, point fingers at it and leverage it on other indirect causes but our loss is as clear as the silence and rebuttal after an outrage. Nothing that can be said carries with it any meaningful articulation when it comes to this. Where there should be pain, agitation, aching and remorse there is grim intolerance set in sullen eyes, all too willing to look away.

What distance or gap could separate a woman from another’s pain? It could only be the vindictiveness that makes one want someone else also to suffer and feel what you have been through. This only means that the difference between pain is just of degree. When inhumanity is bred, that process is one of pain. In cold blood. Wanting to put someone else through the endless road to doom that you are already walking. Because you have been bred, not to immunity but to the vice. Because you can see better but you don’t want to because you didn’t have any better. When one woman is violated, all women are at shame. And all men are to blame. And this makes the massacres of Gujarat a telling systemic register for the sexual ethics in our ‘nation’.

Hope is still a better vision of the world because one has the imagination for change. The deepest precipices are written over but the outcry needs to be addressed first.

We all have been wronged.

More from the Feminist Front in Ultra-Violet.

And if you disagree with what I have said, because you can feel, then, lets come together.



No more fear.


Did you hear the latest?



This time it’s not a little bird,



It’s a huge shout that rings through the air.



Women are free.



Yes. We are.



You may not have noticed. But while you were dreaming, we woke up and started to think. We have decided to let go of our inhibitions.



Our internally built rules.



We cannot pretend to ignore anymore.



We will not be apologetic about just being.



We are.



We’re free.



Inconsolably . We swear. We believe. We KNOW. For Sure. That the time has come, we will not bend. We will just swoop and soar.



And tomorrow, has.Already.Come.



So when I want to take a walk, whatever be the time of the beautiful night, I take a walk. And I walk the streets with no fear as to where I may go or how far away from home. I walk when I walk. Daringly, fearlessly, I explore my territory. I will not relent this right.



And when I want to take a profession, I go out and create my domain. And not wait for anyone to take notice of me. I live it with my blood, sweat and brains.I create new worlds for me and fellow human beings.



When I want to wear something, I wear it, for whoever, and for me.



I cut my hair short. I take a break from work. I like to live. I have no fear.



When I want to blow my top, I take a walk. I get angry. I have to scream. I have a temper. I feel like shit. It’s amazing but I can really think for myself. I dream also. I really like the mist. I can’t wait to see the day I make the most of my talents. I will go on and on and on.



And on…