Lipstick Under My Burkha

So I wanted to watch this film in at least 6 different theatres and write about the audience reactions – because there were so many and so varied. I couldn’t afford it but I wrote something. Tell me what you think.

It is odd that people lay claims to specific ways of being feminist as if there are clear–cut designs to patriarchy that make us open the manual and go, ‘this is right way to respond to that’, ‘we must go to Town Hall and protest this; otherwise we are not being political enough.’

Aren’t there little pockets of silent, clichéd rebellion that our mothers and sometimes even we wage every day? The quieter yet steady rebellion that made my mother go to her favourite tailor to get measurements done – even after my father had made a big fuss about a man making such measurements. She even went ahead and got him a suit stitched from the same tailor.

Read more at The Open Dosa

Credits - The Financial Express

Credits – The Financial Express

Some July Things.

On some days, my life fits in very well with a 90’s Hindi pop album song. I haven’t had time to review this semester. I blinked and June and July were merged and Meta Schools began and ended. Metonym begins next week and I’m yet to blink a second time. But here are a couple of things that I am thinking about now:

  • Construction is in full force outside and I feel tired all the time that I spend outside classes.
  • I’m unable to sleep for more than 5 hours. I feel old already. And when I do sleep, I dream the strangest dreams.
  • I covered three events for The Open Dosa and have enjoyed going to events since. I love reporting — more than writing personal essays and even short stories. This is something I thought I’d never say.
  • Adichie, Ambedkar, and Anne Lamott are keeping me sane.
  • Mansplainers are on the rise and I’m glad that this online dictionary thing that my WordPress has suddenly found recognizes the word.
  • I seem to have lost the taste for chai. Is there anything worth living for now? I don’t know.
  • Teaching is becoming more and more interesting.
  • I am becoming more and more unsocial.
  • Teeth problems are serious. Don’t get a root canal unless you are in too much pain.

 

Dreams and Demons

“We are not always what we seem, and hardly ever what we dream.”
― Peter S. Beagle, The Last Unicorn

Dreams by Duchess Flux via flickr

Dreams by Duchess Flux via flickr

In the first one, the sun is hanging dangerously low in the sky and yet it’s not a very bright day. My family and I are in a pit that has a bit of turquoise water in the back and enough dry land in the front. In the beginning we all stand precariously by the edge and watch. I am carrying Chiru who is delighted by the water. His mother is standing with his father, holding hands. They are both getting into the water. Then we all slowly walk towards the water. We are happy, there is chatter in the air, there are many families who are laughing and throwing handful of water on each other.

Suddenly the water goes back and we don’t suspect anything bad will happen because there isn’t enough water to drown us all. But with a nasty speed, a wave of water lunges at us like an anaconda, hitting us all squarely in the face and back to the edge of the pit. I hold Chiru tightly because he looks scared and it worries me that he’s not crying.

The sky breaks into multiple hues of the strongest purple I have ever seen. There is thunder and everytime it is heard, the purple becomes a shade darker. We all move at once to scurry out when four big boulders come in a menacing speed to kill us. But they all come at the same time, so they get stuck to each other at the top of the pit. It is funny but we don’t laugh. And it must seem darker now because I can only see purple everywhere.

Heaven's gate by Kainet via flickr

Heaven’s gate by Kainet via flickr

I wake up and still in my drowsy state, I try to go back to the dream to rescue myself and the family. Maybe dad has organised vehicles or a plane. Mintu is bound to get lost. We must make sure to hold each other’s hands.

***

In the next, I am watching a film but soon, I am inside the film. It is Golden Star Ganesh’s hit film – (not mungaru male) and has Sonu Nigam singing. The heroine has left him in my dream also (!) and he is singing mournfully. Flashback – goondas have kidnapped her and we are all on some hill. I am waiting for Ganesh to come save her but just when he has arrived, goondas cover her mouth and take her inside. Suddenly I am flung back and I wonder if I can rescue her if I throw snakes on the goondas. All around me are big anacondas. Bigger than the ones I have seen in films, bigger than anything I have seen. They seem brilliantly alive and yet they are muted, like someone said statue to them or something.

***

In the next, I am a boy and I am waiting to make out with my girlfriend. She is wearing a hot pink top and a black skirt (something that I have always wanted to wear) but I am a good boyfriend so I am waiting to drop her back home on time. But she wants to do me and keeps telling me that her curfew is 8:45 pm, not 8:00 so I take her to my home. Suddenly she is not wearing the hot pink top anymore. She is now wearing Aishwarya Rai’s blue fairy tale dress, without the fluffy skirt. It’s shorter and I’m hornier than I’ve ever been. We do the deed quickly and then I go to my computer to finish writing an article that’s due.

Image Credits: Reuters Pictures

Image Credits: Reuters Pictures

I barely finish when she wakes up so I have to take her home. We sneak out and then I wake up.

***

Best way to begin a Sunday.

Heee Hawww!

Before I left to Goa, I was in a bit of a lull. I couldn’t write nor read. I was exhausted by the endless inspiration consumed from watching YouTube interviews of my favourite women. I needed newer, more productive ways of stalking them. So I tweeted to Carmen Maria Machado (haw) and asked her if she’d mind answering some questions about writing. She replied immediately – said she wouldn’t mind. After I recovered from jumping up and down 400 times, I sat down and messaged all the students I know who loved her writing. They sent in questions and I put them together and mailed it over to her.

And then I was quite kicked, I wrote about Ferrante, went to Goa and felt more powerful than I have in years, got back and felt like a queen. I forgot all about the mail sometime during the trip because it suddenly hit me that she’s getting married. But then yesterday, I saw that she had replied. My day immediately took off and I haven’t stopped smiling since 🙂

This is my favourite bit from the interview:

Do you sometimes find it hard to continue after you’ve heard something unpleasant about your writing? How do you deal with it?

I used to, but I don’t anymore. Eventually you learn to let that stuff roll off you. You just have to remember that you don’t–and you can’t–write for everyone. Some people won’t like your work, and that’s fine. Write for yourself.

You can read the rest of the interview here.

On Elena Ferrante

Finally, finally, finally. Sat down and wrote about reading Elena Ferrante. This is my first piece for The Open Dosa and I’m thrilled that it’s about Ferrante. My students and I were just dying to talk about her at Meta this year. The following picture is from the day of the panel.

TransFerrante-2017-1024x674.png

For Drishti, Ila, and Vismaya. With Louu.

This is my favourite picture from Meta. These girls and I have bonded over many other things – struggling with writing, reading, life, classes, clothes, and shoes. Now that we have Ferrante in common, these peeps will always be a part of me.

Read the piece here.

Lalbagh

Lalbagh has been the cause for many embarrassments in my life. The first time I saw it, I saw it two times but it felt like four. I had no idea there were 4 gates and sitting next to my friend in the bus, I saw the west and east gates in fifteen minutes and asked her if the driver was taking us round and round. Supriya slapped her forehead even as she struggled to keep from laughing rudely in my face.

She explained and I said, ‘oh’. Then I moved on with my life.

Many years later, my then best friend began frequenting Lalbagh. She’d sit there for hours, sometimes the whole day. She’d order from Dominos, eat cheese garlic bread and watch the lake. I never understood what she sought there but she went there every day. Whatever she sought, she must have found abundantly. She tried to get me to enjoy the quiet there and I did enjoy it, but it wasn’t something I wanted too much of. Now that I think about it, Josephine is probably the only woman from my past who knew how to be alone and enjoy it.

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One day in Lalbagh, Josephine and I were sitting on the bench and preparing to leave when suddenly, she grabbed me by the arm and started to whisk me away. ‘Whaaaat’, I moaned. ‘Don’t look back. Whatever you do, do not look back’, she muttered. So I looked back. A man who had been sleeping all evening had woken up and was now pleasuring himself quite ferociously. Like there was no tomorrow. The phrase ‘going to town’ came to mind.

That man effectively ruined our hitherto chaste friendship. We had never talked about bodily things before and suddenly we found it difficult to return to Lalbagh together.

After that unfortunate incident, I forgot all about Lalbagh and it went back to being that part of the road that smells nice when I ride past it. Occasionally, I’d give it a cheerless nod and bookmark it for the future.

***

Today, it rained so I thought why not and swerved right on Siddapura Road to park suddenly in the middle of actual riding. I parked and wondered if I had to pay. There was no counter so I walked on, looking back every now and then and half expecting an old man to come running after me, yelling at me to pay. Nobody came.

When I began looking around, I realised how afraid I am of my own thoughts. Every time a long walk is in the cards, I pack my ipod before anything else and rely too much on music to keep me away from myself. But the only music here was the crunchy footwear sound that I have come to appreciate so much. The after rain footwear on part dry crunch-crunch mud sound, like the sound people in cartoons make when they eat anything.

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The traffic noise seemed to be coming from an approaching city. It was drizzling and it seemed like the trees were making their own noise. Men in smart colored tees were jogging past me with their hoo hoo breathlessness. Somewhere an urdu speaking aunty was instructing her daughter to forget the ball forever if she dropped it into the lake. ‘Gaya tho uthech, bhoolna so’

IMG_20170429_180455

The lake became more and more real as I saw the birds near it. The faint traffic noise now seemed to be coming from above. I walked to the Lotus pond and trained my ears to pick up coastal sounds of frogs croaking. One, maybe two and then suddenly nothing. But the trees were having fun and continued making their rustling noise. I was understanding Josephine and began missing her terribly and missed also that outrageous man who molested himself.

It was a good day.