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On Short Skirts, Smoking and Shaming Sexists

Indian social media had a video go viral recently, made by some young women in Gurgaon. In the video, they’re following a middle-aged woman, demanding an apology. The older woman had earlier shamed one of them for wearing a short skirt. She then went on to tell some men in the restaurant that they should rape such women.

The release of this video on social media led to all sorts of responses and raging debates, including whether the video ought to have been uploaded in the first place? Is public shaming an appropriate response when someone is misogynistic? Legal action is appropriate perhaps, and sometimes, maybe, deflecting the situation using conversation perhaps is appropriate. As per reports, the younger women did both.

I remember when a random man once accosted me. This was in Calcutta, and I remember he was old, and out on his evening walk. He stopped me on the street because he wanted to inform me that it was wrong of me to smoke, because I’m a woman, and I was dishonoring my p…
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Wear, Repair

Walking around in Macleodganj, Dharamshala about 6 years ago, I turned a corner and saw a tiny door to a tiny shop. 

Rogpa sells items made by Tibetan women, and serves to integrate the Tibetan community in exile. Their aim is to create a self sufficient Tibetan community while preserving their culture and identity. 

This bag from Rogpa is perfect for daily use, fits my wallet, keys, lip balm, smoke pouch and other stuff. Over the years with daily use, it's soft and faded, and started ripping in places. The little clippy buckle also broke in the humid climate here in Goa. I replaced that with two travel hooks, and started stitching in patches wherever it would rip. Most people tell me to just get a new bag. But I like this one. It's handmade, and helped people when I bought it. It's traveled the country with me, and has seen some super bizarre shit. 

I'm also thinking of a few things here, every time I choose to repair my bag as opposed to buying a new one. 
1. Growing up,…

I wouldn't be me, without you

"Your perception of me is a reflection of you;
My reaction to you is an awareness of me." ~Bobbi Chegwyn

Here are some friends who've taught me so much in the last few years I've known them...each of them are amazing, free-thinking, radical individuals who are out to change the world in their own strange, silly ways. And no, we didn't co-ordinate outfits 😁 your vibe attracts your tribe n all that cool shite happened.

Here's to standing strong with each other,
to keep pushing ourselves to be better,
to laugh till our stomachs hurt,
to being silly together,
to working hard, with dedication, and compassion,
to poetry and singing songs of freedom really, really loud,
to lazy floor dancing,
to multilingual jokes being lost in translation
Here's to the one who never says no, and the one who taught me to be proud of what I believe in, the one who taught me that i can be afraid and still so strong, the one who taught me to be dispassionate, and to…

Awakening the Alternate

"Buddha doesn't refer to a person, but a state of mind which we all are innately equipped with. Buddha means awakening..."
~ Rinzin Dorjee,
Writer & scholar,

Vikalp Sangam is a platform for groups and individuals working on alternatives to the currently dominant model of development and governance, in various spheres of life. Its major activity is the convening of regional and thematic Confluences across India to facilitate networking of these groups.
The briefing note on the ideologies of this Alternates Confluence read much like a theoretical module from my University degree! We were hosted at Prakriti Sadhana Kendra, Vidya Bhawan. Barely 15 km from the city, the Ashram is cocooned in the dry forests of the Aravallis. The crisp, cold air of Rajasthan was radically different from the lush, tropical Goa.

Ninety or so social activists, healers, herbalists, teachers, trainers, farmers, khojis, feminists, social media entrepreneurs, daily wage labourers, altern…

Anjuna Honey Collector

Friday morning had Vaibhavi bawling “Honey… Honey…, striding purposefully through the office, announcing the arrival of the local honey collectors…as people argued about the scams and scallywags these guys were, a colleague declared his faith in a yogi endorsed ‘ayurvedic’ brand. I scowled in disapproval; the ‘face’ of this disputed brand is a self proclaimed yoga guru, formerly a television yogi, who built a business empire while his supporters canvassed for political campaigns.

Over the years, several cases of fraud, and land grab have been raised against his syndicate. Make no mistake, this brand has billions of sheeple swearing by it, but the Baba’s company conducts product tests on animals, immediately knocking it off my shopping list. The products have been proved below par in quality, and the company has forcefully acquired acres of land in an eco-sensitive Himalayan state, also acquiring massive tracts at a pittance in the next.
Hobnobbing with the head honchos sure has it’s be…

Arabian sea to Amternaut

“You come from the Arabian Sea to swim in the Amternaut?”
She’s amused, watching me, as she catches fat tadpoles and small shrimp lurking in the shadowy coves of the clear cold river. I’m transfixed, floating on my back, watching clouds scurrying across the sky, deep shadows and sunlight glinting off giant spider-webs spiraling crazily across thick forest foliage. This is different from the usual floating reveries…a strange change from staring at the sunlight-spangled Arabian sea, gliding on the green waves with a million sea creatures…
Originally, there’d been some obscure plan to travel through the state with a friend, and I’d instead ended up sulky and alone in Shillong. After a day eating jadoh, and walking through the city bazaars, I’d run away, preferring to be in a tiny forest village where no one really goes, to live with a little old lady everyone around Amlarem knows.
With the unerring sagacity that all schoolteachers come with, Lakhmie had realized I wasn’t expecting to be al…

A World built on Good Wishes - Part II

The country is suffering, while the elite are engaged in Facebook wars. Nothing is going to change till each of us makes up his or her mind to fight patriarchy, caste, communalism and injustice. The working class continues to exist on a pittance, and the politicians continue to roll in rivers of money. I was standing near a chai-paratha shop on the streets of Delhi when a luxury sedan pulled up. The obese man behind the wheel rolled his (illegally) tinted glass down, bellowing, ‘abbe oye bhen-chod, paani laa.’ The little chai-shop boy complies, holding out the paani-bottle from a safe distance…I’m assuming that comes with the experience of being cuffed by the customers, and he says, ‘ye lo’ … (please note: no bhaiyaa!) As the man stretches out for the bottle, he shouts,  ‘Izzat se baat kar, chutiya…’ I struggle to keep the disgust from showing on my face as I wonder why anyone should respect this heaving, gasping, sweating blob of flesh with complete disregard for any fellow living be…