Tag Archives: Books: I like them

Being Proud – somewhat vocally this time

(You will note that today’s post (if you are in fact the sort to note such things) is neither tagged not categorised regarding my various social handicaps. I did very well today, and deserve a cookie. Two cookies! The whole damn box!)

I spent the last two days at home, recharging batteries I didn’t know were drained, which is code for “I stayed in bed and read books and watched Star Trek: The Original Series while dreaming of being girl!Spock and marrying Kirk.” (Shhhh! Don’t tell anyone.) This is what I missed:

a. Queer Words – In essence, poetry. I am not a poetry person. When I am, it’s emo poetry. You know the type, you probably wrote some yourself back when you were thirteen years old. I was thinking of attending a TFA meeting instead, but decided that I could not risk the potential poetry of the event. Someone is going to have to tell me if I missed anything good.

b. LGBT experiences in Karnataka – LGBT activists from smaller cities in Karnataka, as well as rural areas we in Bangalore can sometimes overlook in our urban perspectives,  led ‘a discussion on state-wide LGBT activism and possibilites of collaboration’. TN tells me it was a really good discussion, very informative. Also, there was dancing. I’m sorry I missed it, and I guess next time I’ll keep it in mind that I can’t afford to be lazy and hide behind my social nervousness to get out of doing stuff.

But today! Today I put on my Functional Literacy Hat. I ate my vegetables. I girded my loins to go to the Book Readings! Yay!

I got there the teensiest bit early and Helped by sitting at the t-shirts and stickers table for five minutes, selling five t-shirts and one sticker during my monopolistic reign of consumerist terror.

Vivek Shraya was our first writer today, reading out excerpts from his autobiographical collection, God Loves Hair. Shraya details life and love as he grew up, son of immigrant parents in Canada. His reading style was very clear – he’s obviously done this before. I gathered the sense of a bittersweet collection, rooted in a mature nostalgic perspective. I would have bought it if I’d had the cash for it. (500 ruppees! Fat chance.)

Illustrated by Juliana Neufeld

Shraya is also an alternative musician of some sort (sorry, Mr. Shraya, I’ll do better next time I blog about you!) and had one very enthused fan in the audience. (He has a lovely voice.) N was jumpily pleased to have met Shraya and got his autographed, and we jumped together to express her excitement. It was fun. Hi, N! I’m hoping I see you tomorrow!

Mahesh Natarajan is a very different sort of writer (for one thing, he has a lot less hair). His voice is, unfortunately, less clear (I always think it a pity when one speaker has a clearer voice than the other. I don’t think I’d notice if it weren’t for the comparison.) For all that, Natarajan’s stories hit a bit closer to home, if only because they’re set a bit closer to home. Natarajan now works as a counsellor (for Swabhava? I think he works for Swabhava).

Cover design by Aditya Dubey - the sheep are cream coloured, oddly enough

This was Natarajan’s first reading – I did pick up his book, since the domestic publisher (Gyaana books) priced it at a very comfortable Rs. 165/-. Natarajan’s parents haven’t read the book yet, but his mum says she will. Slowly. The official book launch in Bangalore is happening on the 8th of December, at one of the Oxford bookstores. Apparently Dr. Sekhar Seshadri from NIMHANS will be presiding as guest of honour, which is quite a coup for a book release, it seems to me. 🙂

After which, we broke for tea; I bought a pride tshirt (with the lovely mango logo on it) and I made sure I had pens to spare. (I also did other stuff, but since I didn’t write it down I don’t remember it. Oooh I talked to N for a bit. And I think someone told me he needed to speak to me. Who was that? Damn.)

Part two of this event has no pictures! 😦

Reflections and Post-377 Priorities

Sumathi from Sangama and Swathi from – I dunno where. Damn. I shall find out when Niruj puts up the report tomorrow. Anyway. Swathi and Sumathi chaired the open forum that followed. I took notes sporadically, but I shall type up a basic summary/list of the nearly-three hour multi-pronged conversation that followed:

  • Vinay (of Swabhava/Good As You goodness) pointed out that pretty much everything that was raised as an issue – employment, adoption, housing, the lot – would be tackled across all points by some sort of anti-discrimination law/official state policy.
  • Activism might have to aim at forcing social/government acceptance of LGBT peoples – in which case, activism would have to decide who its target audience is. Activism would also need to be a process, as opposed to contained events hoping to raise awareness.
  • The issue of the medical establishment – costs of procedures such as Sex Reassignment Surgery, behaviours of the professionals involved in our care, access we (LGBT people in general, though I think at these points the conversations got specific to the transgender communities and perhaps those who were HIV+) have to hospitals and medical care. There’s also the issue of the patient’s own knowledge – you cannot be an advocate for your own care if you do not know what your options are, or if your doctors will not give a damn.
  • We were all agreed that education – first in th simple “raising awareness” sense – was of some priority. JM reminded us that at some point raising awareness had to mean “bringing forth an understanding of acceptance and toleration” as opposed to simply informing the world that LGBT people exist. College students need to be approached in a way that makes them feel cool, since the youth these days, according to him, tend to sit in theatres and text all the time. We must bow to his more recent knowledge of college behaviour. Sumathi reminded us that education can happen in a more informal setting, completely divorced from schools and colleges – and that our containment to these institutions was rather discriminatory of us.

There was quite a lot more – remind me to talk about the desecration of dead here sometime, since that’s a fun topic of conversation, but these are the bits that stay with me.

After which, I was interviewed by someone doing research on queer women in urban spaces – they bought me dinner! (I’m not sure I should blither their name all over this post, so I shall not.) I felt very important and coherent, though really the interview just reestablished that I am very ambiguous and have no set opinions of my very own.

There’s some sort of Pride Benefit party happening right now – as I type! – set to go on till 2 a.m. T, Niruj, S and co. told me I should come along, but I pooh-poohed and otherwise poured scorn on the idea of partying, and came home.

Tomorrow is the March! I’ll bring my party wrist bands, and see you all at Tulsi Park!

Being Proud Part Two: Still Quiet

Drama Baazi, the Bangalore Pride website told me, needed me to bring my stories, scripts, ideas, body and voice. Packing these items untidily into my Big Bag For Laptops (I packed my laptop in there, too, as well as books and sundry other items, freaking thing weighed more than I do), I showed up at 1. Shanthi road as close to six as possible. This is not because I was neurotically determined to be punctual, but because I was certain I would mostly meet the same people today I met yesterday. Surely all possible avenues of interesting conversation were broached yesterday? My conversational quiver was empty! Oh noes!

As it happened, there were new things to talk about: S and I exchanged books. I now hold hostage his copy of The City and the City, while he has his claws sunk deep into my Perdido Street Station.  We are now officially Book Buddies, which sort of makes up for every social blunder I made today.

An ex-classmate was there. I vaguely remember Thangamma making jewelery in college, but she’s been doing this seriously for over a year now. Thangamma makes jewelery from stuff (technical term) – discarded coins, broken earrings, bottle caps, the lot. The result is casual chic, at nice, friendly rates. I sat and watched her for a bit.

T (ref: last post, where I refer to her as ‘tiny’ a lot) showed up, looking snazzy. She’d read the blog! She objected to being called “Tiny T”, which I didn’t! (I swear. It’s like “Elementary, my dear Watson!” Canonically never happened.)  It is her birthday today, by the way, so: Happy Birthday, T! Hope you had a good one, and don’t see this post till late tomorrow morning. 🙂

The actual event took place in the exhibition room. We all dutifully congregated on the chaapes – my padamasana has done yeoman’s service lately – noisy until someone called out “kill the lights! kill the white lights!” which seemed unnecessarily violent to me. S was forcibly reminded of the medieval English custom of drawing and quartering, which must have been very unpleasant for the poor horses. Not to be outdone, I told him that the labourers who died toiling over the Great Wall of China were mixed into the foundations to strengthen them –

– at which bloodthirsty point, the show began.

LesBiT is an offshoot of Sangama, fighting for the advancement of human rights for this particularly invisible community. Musical Chairs is a compilation of various true stories LesBiT has come across over the years. Unfortunately, the skit – it was short, very emotional – was multilingual and had no English. I wasn’t able to follow all of it. In fact, I only really understood the last, Kannada narrative. Two I could not understand at all – so I’ve lost something here. An F-to-M transgendered person, I gathered, was the protagonist/narrator of the third part; he spoke of (again, I am speculating) his discomfort in traditionla female wear, the disrespect he was shown in the streets for not behaving or looking like a “proper” “woman”, the more intimate and mundane issue of going to a public toilet in a bigendered public world… The fourth narrator spoke in Kannada, andreaffirmed my belief that the Kannada word “preethi” is somehow one of the loveliest words for “love”. She loved a girl. The parents didn’t approve. She was forcibly married. She was forced to be a mother. She was forced out of her homes. She turned to sex work. She remembered her first love.

The second play was, again, interlinked short pieces alternating in English and Kannada narratives. Sumathi (from Sangama), Kauveri (she wasn’t here, but I suspect this is KRI in the last post) and Gee wrote the entire set and put it together. We revisted Dr. Srinivas Siras’ suicide, and the collective washing of hands that occured after – I think this section reminded me that the personal might be political, but it is still, most intensely, personal. The next narrative took us into a hijra’s family as they beat her, drugged her, cut her hair off – because she wasn’t being a man. Because. The third narrator is the sister of a victim of honour killing. Such as that is. She describes her sister’s budding, chaste romantic relationship, contrasted with its insanely dangerous risk. The murderers were her own brothers. The last narrative was voiced by Sumathi, with Chitra performing (Chitra was in the first play as well – she and Sumathi have fantastic voices, and Chitra is a strong, dramatic performer). Chitra enacted the strengths and vulnerabilities of a woman who didn’t want to be “her” but “he”. Parted from the woman he loves, scorned by society, beaten, hurt…

All the plays, all the narrators, whether I understood them or not, remind me that confession can be strong, it can be cleansing; it can also be a very lonely thing, a great deal to bear until it is done. And there are so many of us out there who are lonely, or hurt, unhappy. I wish we had some happier confessions today. Just for the reminder.

Fuck this, I’m changing the subject. The venue for the past two days has been 1 Shanthi road. It’s a studio gallery that provides living space and a gathering space for artists. It’s all for creativity and cutting edge art, and it has a very laid-back, calm feel to the place. If I were an artist, I’d want to drop by. (They have a swing on the veranda! Baby, I’m sold!)

I forgot to talk about Queer Ink yesterday! Queer Ink is an online bookstore and publisher, specialising in us highly unusual people, or whatever we multitudinally want to call ourselves. There’s been a table of books from QI for sale the past two days, and I think there will be for the next few events as well. There’s a nice-ish selection, meant to tease, to make you go to the website and browse for fuller fare. My personal favourite sort of marketing.

I hung out with Thangamma for a bit, watching her make an anklet – it’s soothing, really, those quick, repititive motions making this complicated-looking shiny thing – and then I left when she got inundated with potential customers. (Go, Thangamma, go! Do that capitalist thing! [I need to learn to cheer. And swear. And slang.])

A good day, all in all.