1. This is Bangalore, and most of the people at SCM House today will know what I mean when I say, Goddam, I never want to take an auto again. I want a car and a driver and a pony, and the pony’s hair should be tied up with a pretty ribbon and angels should follow me around singing my praises.
I’ll settle for an auto driver who doesn’t dump me in the middle of nowhere (okay, somewhere on Mission Road) vaguely telling me we’re right outside SCM House.
We weren’t. I was already 20 minutes late, which makes me nervous, anxious and unhappy, and I spent another 10 minutes asking people where CSI Compound was and keeping a beady eye out for Priyadarshini Silk House (mentioned in the directions on the Bangalore Pride site). In retrospect I realise I walked a nearly full circle before I found two women walking their dog who told me where SCM House could be found. Hooray for dogs! If those women had owned a cat I’d still be lost. I said hi to D, who was manning the door and taking care of the Queer Ink books, and made my way in the darkness to a chair.
Before the Pride and Queer Habba began, 20 people took part in a film-making workshop, which was led by T. Jayashree, Deepu, and Siddharth Chadda. After what seems like the funnest time ever, they split up into four groups, each group making a short film (ten minutes max?) about something close to their hearts.
Since I was late, I missed most of the first film. I caught the last few minutes, enough to gather that it was about Kiran, a transgender person who is wheel-chair bound. Kiran spoke of the ways in which he is vulnerable in our society, when his mobility is hindered, his body is weak, and his identity is ignored or dismissed. But the film wasn’t about his sorrows, it was about his strengths, and his ongoing journey – moving to Bangalore to live as he wishes to live. The film is called Prathibhatane, ‘Challenge”, and was made by Pavan, Christy and Kiran, who wanted to tell his own story.
Kaadhal Thirunal, or ‘The Festival of Love’ shows us two lesbian women sharing their life and love, with added poetry. Actually, “through the medium of poetry”. I must admit I found this one overly soppy, but a feel-good movie about love and the courage it gives us, ending with a kiss, about lesbians, is not actually a bad thing. And this peachy honeymoon love came with a price – both women have left home, their family and relatives, migrated to Bangalore, to have this life together. Bharathi, Gayathri and Rajesh made the film, and one of the women nearly cried when she told us that this was the movie she’d wanted to make – living like this, with the people we love, with financial security. That’s the fantasy, the dream, and really it’s not much to ask for, or take.
Amritha, Charu, Kannan and Siddharth, collectively ‘Sticky Juice Productions’, showed us A Dream Not Deferred – focussing on Charu and his life as a transgender man. The triumph of living as he wishes to be and the problems of living in a body that betrays itself as female unless tightly packed down. Charu left behind a husband and a child, and wonders how he will find the courage to tell the child, “I am your father”. Amritha said later, “Charu’s story is so compelling, we decided to go with it.” (There was a guy in the audience who asked “How is it a dream not deferred if she cannot speak to her child?” which is more faux pas than should be allowed in a single question. The rest of us [actually, I didn’t shout, too busy being embarrassed for him] that Charu is a “he”, at which point he bemusedly corrected himself and was told that living as we want to live, instead of waiting for our parents, husbands, children, what-have-you is the dream not deferred. At least, for some of us it is.)
The Flamboyant Flamingos, Charan, Sandeep and XX (I haven’t written his name down, I suck at this reporting lark) gave us On the Prowl, to the tune of ‘I wanna mmmm’ by The Lawyer. This is fun music video, detailing the epic quest of a guy cruising through the streets of Bangalore, the people he meets. When will his journey end? etc. The video is full of familiar faces and I don’t think there were any moments of quiet in the hall. At all. It was hilarious.
To close things off, the chief guest Ayesha (independent artist, filmmaker, served on the board of Sangama, currently on faculty of Srishti) gave each team The Famila Award, newly instated in memory of Famila, late activist who is dearly missed by her friends.
A woman – she looked maybe a few years younger than my mum came onstage, congratulated the film-makers, told us all that she and her parents had enjoyed it very much, but had one thing she wanted to ask us: No to call our Habba “Queer”. Because it’s such a word. She was very sweet about it. NMR informed her that we took back “queer” decades ago, made it our own. It’s for LGBT people, people who don’t fit into LGBT “categories”, for anyone who wants to be, I suppose. It’s our word now, bitches! (He didn’t say “bitches”, but the point stands.) At which point things broke up. I contemplated hanging around talking to people, but my frazzled nerves reminded me that it would be nice to go home and rest, so I went outside.
3. The universe had decided to make me prove my worth today, though, so as I was standing at the book table, buying some stickers (yes, yes, I know), AM, whom I’d met a week or two ago and had a long conversation with about prostitution and our attitudes to it (he: take them as individuals; me: I find it hard to accept that it’s a good job to them, even though money is a good thing and we need it to survive! though I am willing to listen, always) came up and said hi. It took me a few seconds to place him. Then I had to explain why it took me so long to recognise him, and my feeble “I don’t always recognise people outside of their original context” is making me cringe even now. I also had to defend myself from D and VP, explaining why I will not be going to the Lavender Night Benefit Party. (It’s simple enough: I don’t party.)
Enough was enough! I slunk off, hoping against hope I wouldn’t meet anyone else to whom I could say something utterly stupid or socially inept. I did smile at someone who smiled back and engaged me in conversation, but this one went fairly well:
She: Are you the blogger?
Me: Er, well, I am a blogger.
Me: Yes! This is a good thing, yes?
However, extracting payment for conducting a conversation without making me look like a tool, my brain has decided to forget her name. Still. I am famous now! All I need is a pony and a boob job and my life’s work will be complete.
(Edited on 28th November 2010 to add: Nithin in the comments reminds me that her name is Namita, which means she’d’ve been “N” here had I remembered it when I should have. N, you made my day!)
Queer Words is tomorrow, 6-8, at Jaaga. I am not committed enough to being bi to sit through two whole hours of poetry, so I am going here instead, on the off-chance that there will be prose. Tonight, I shall rest the rest of the introvertedly weary. I hope all the extroverts have extra fun for me over the next few days – I’m thinking of you guys!