Delhi Walk Festival – Mehrauli and You

[sg_popup id=”2″ event=”onload”][/sg_popup]Delhi Walk Festival conducted a first of its kinds where streets of Delhi were covered by people trying to find streets and galiyan. Spread across a week, 21-28 February 2016, it brought around 50 walking groups to conduct 85 walks in different parts of Delhi.

Hidden-Pockets along with Reclaim the Nights, Delhi chapter conducted a Mehrauli walk, locating safety discourse within walks especially walks at nights.

 

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We walked from Ojas Art Gallery => Bhool Bhulaiya => Jamali Kamali => Qutub Minar Metro Station.

With around 41 walk lovers it did seem like a huge task, walking through this maze of Mehrauli, talking about safety and trying to understand the hidden layers of city and night. What we encountered host of questions, host of curiosity, willingness to peer through one’s own thoughts and resistance to a certain model of development

The walk was divided into 3 neat zones. The first zone included the walk from Ojas Art Gallery to Bhool Bhulaiya, which encompassed the main road that connected the Mehrauli village to the city. Devoid of pedestrian paths, the walk was bit tedious, especially since most of the walk lovers were new to this place. At Bhool Bhulaiya, the beautiful tomb, we took a small break to read some poetry by Ravish Kumar. We were also trying to open up conversations around night, Delhi and pleasure, and how we could re-think this safety model and make it more inclusive.

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From there, we headed towards Fruit market and finally took a break in front of ridge. We were about to enter Ridge post 8 pm and it was not much lit. We wanted to experience the idea of a walk at night, without street lights. We wanted to engage in conversations around safety and ask ourselves, why do we feel so safe within lights.

 

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We did realize it was poetry and conversations that kept the walk going. It was a wonderful experience of enjoying a slow walk, along the lanes of Delhi, lanes that might not intersect your daily paths, but still one would like to experience.

Pallavi reading Ishq mein Shehar hona by Ravish Kumar. Photo Courtesy: Ankit Gupta
Pallavi reading Ishq mein Shehar hona by Ravish Kumar.
Photo Courtesy: Ankit Gupta

 

Photo Courtesy: Pallavi
We are back with the walk on 29 July. Book tickets here.

Young Feminists Meet Ups – Lodhi Garden

This time around we decided to walk our talks and collaborated with Reclaim the Nights, Delhi Chapter. Young Feminists met in the Lodhi Garden and decided to try a new mode of talking and experiencing the city; we walked and explored and shared our experiences with each. Some of us were not really feminists, some of us were first time walkers, some of us were not from the city and some of us felt that city looked different at night.

 

We all walked this time

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We discussed about nights in Delhi, our experiences of walking in Delhi at night. It is more difficult to walk and talk, and that too about experiences that can differ from person to person. We even added a slice of poetry, as Shreya would call it: the Circle of Poetry.

It is difficult to measure safety when we walk in groups, it is difficult to measure safety when we talk about it. We have to walk it, experience it, and maybe think about it, Do we all have our own safeguards and biases?

Fourth Young Feminist Meet-up discussing feminism

22nd January, 2016, Castro Café, Jamia Campus, 10:30 am, Dilli ki sardi and two brave souls battling the cold with the warmth of the discussion and a hot cup of chai. The love of the puppies surrounding us reflected in their attachment to our our mufflers and coats.

The discussion started with a reflection on previous young feminist meet ups. In every meet we end up discussing and deliberating on the ‘crammed up’ definition(s) and concepts of feminism and fail to push the envelope to encompass the growing changes around us. The disconnect between the theory and the practical world lead us to the topic- ‘employability of women’ and how we haven’t focused on the unorganised sector and the problems attached to it. Maternity leaves and its extension is largely limited to organised sector and, there has been no initiatives to reach out to women working in other sector. The state can at least arrange these women in a community or a collective which would enable them to seek benefits and redress their rights.

The discussion then moved towards the lack of intersectionality in our approach towards legal provisions with sociological/economical/psychological factors. There exists a lacuna between the need and implementation of the law . Like for example we wish to abolish child labour completely, but how will we be able to help the child to sustain himself/herself and those dependent on him/her in the absence of any viable opportunity tendered to him/her by the state. Also, the child who is out to work is psychologically more developed as compared to other children of the same age. Thus will we be able to call him/her/ze a child?

We tend to provide solutions to problems within society in an isolated manner which only caters to peripheral solutions and fail to knock-out issues at hand. Hence, not only legality but, social factors are also to be taken on board considering the fact we are dealing with social concepts and social problems.

As a backdrop of our talk:
Pictures from the Art Exhibition that was put up in Zakhir Hussain Art Gallery.

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Article Courtesy: Aakash Chandran
Photo Courtesy: Pallavi

Third Young Feminists Meet Up

The third Young Feminist Meet took place on 15th December, 2015 at Indian Coffee Home, CP, New Delhi.

The discussion this time was around Development, Urban spaces and sexual/romantic love.
The main question that formed the underlying theme was – which are the spaces or ‘hidden pockets’ in cities like Delhi where young people can meet and mate in a safe and healthy manner.
Interestingly, this led to a pensive self-inquiry for the participants – we all started to ask ourselves – which are the places that we ourselves would be comfortable ‘loitering’ around with a partner. We realised that spaces that are usually deemed to be democratic such as gardens, parks, historical monuments, etc – are slowly becoming out of reach for a number of reasons. Which include strict monitoring by the caretakers and extreme displeasure shown by them for any amount of PDA. The only places left are the ones which only a handful can hope to access – malls, private parties and the likes.Not just that, there is also a time bound element in this equation. Which got us all reflecting on how our minds have been conditioned to look at certain hours of the day and night as safe or otherwise. We might say a lot of politically correct statements when it comes to women’s safety and their right to be out in the public at all hours of the day, but if a close relative or friend is out late at night, we tend to worry a lot. Strange and scary images run across through minds and this adds to the anxiety we feel. And admitting to this was a big deal for a lot of the participants – because we realized that speaking out about these issues helps us all fight our own prejudices.

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And this also led us all to discuss the importance of images – and how the media plays a HUGE ROLE in the way women’s safety is viewed in the society. The alarmist approach to accessing spaces after a particular hour is no doubt due to the way newspapers and channels report on sexual assaults females face when they are out. Also, there is a lack of information about areas that are safe and accessible to young women at all times. It would be truly great if more stress was given on providing information that can aid women’s travelling than scaring them away from doing so.

Since we all were talking about love, we realized that somewhere places are also tied to how we approach love itself. Were we as feminists, liberal thinkers open to the suggestion of falling in love/lust/being infatuated with someone we might meet in say a bus, metro, auto? Would we be okay if someone who does not belong to the same class approaches us? Are we prejudiced in the way we look at an innocuous subject as love and romance?
At this point, we started talking about how ‘otherization’ happens and if we partake in the process somehow. And why these discussions are important to fight biases in our daily lives.

 

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In all, it was a lovely chat with wonderful people willing to open up and have a heart-to-heart about their own experiences.

About the author:
Aindrila Chaudhuri is an engineer who now works as a sexuality educator. She recently started a project called ‘Sex N Gender’, which is a weekly web series on different gender, sexuality and body image related issues.

 

© The copyrights rights of the images belong to Pallavi.

Events conducted in 2015

EVENTS CONDUCTED BY US:

Informal:

  • Young Feminist Meet ups : When young feminists come together and discuss anything under the sky.
    http://www.hidden-pockets.com/second-young-feminist-meet-up-jnu-new-delhi/
  • Pleasure Pickings: When people meet up and discuss their work in progress – be it artists, artivists, scholars.

 

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Art:

  • Gender Trouble Workshop: A workshop on performances and gender.
    http://www.hidden-pockets.com/gender-trouble-workshop/
  • Spoken Word Performance – Abortion: A spoken word performance on abortion.
    http://www.hidden-pockets.com/spoken-word-abortion-rights/

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Formal Workshops:

  • HIV and AIDS workshop : A workshop with young HIV positive girls
    http://www.hidden-pockets.com/camera-and-girls-revert-the-gaze-for-a-person-living-with-hiv/
  • Workshops with Feminist Approach to Technology (FAT) – workshops with adolescents on themes related to sexuality.

 

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© The copyrights rights of the images belong to Pallavi.

Second young feminist meet-up, JNU, New Delhi

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11 souls met in JNU, for the second young feminist meeting. The crowd was a mix of old and new faces, a few of us were also there for the first meet in October.

The conversation began with people sharing what feminism meant to them and their experiences of feminist spaces within the city. We spoke about the difficulty in bringing people together to act; to come out in the open and meet one another, as one of us put it, “the city beats you down”. We all know that there are many young feminists within the city, and also people who may not identify with the term, yet think, write and discuss women’s issues with a lot of passion. However much we want to, we rarely get to meet face-to-face. It is in situations like this that a meeting such as this becomes extremely valuable.DSC_0079As we sat in a circle on the dusty grass, we talked about feminism and how it affects us and our relationships; in our workplaces, with friends, and with our partners. Feminism gives us a different view of the world, and becomes a part of our lives. One person spoke of feminism throwing the inequalities and occasional disingenuous workplaces into stark relief. Another talked about his relationship with his partner, and how his being a feminist has caused him to question the demands that he can make on his partner and on his relationship. At what point do our desires and demands become excessive? When do they start to impinge upon the freedom of others?DSC_0112DSC_0109

By: Vasudha Katju

Photo Courtesy: Pallavi

Gender Trouble Workshop

Performances as such take a route they say,  performance lets you take shapes, sizes and expand beyond one’s imagination. It helps you break the mold. Performance might be the ultimate gender blender.  It speaks more than the language of binaries and it takes it further and mixes it up.

Gender Trouble Workshop was one of Hidden Pockets attempt to discover Gender in its all ambit, to see it getting performed and to create a discussion between the viewer and the performer. The aim was to problematize the term ‘gender’ and see ourselves performing it.

There were two performances for the evening. We had a male dancer performing a dance recital on Devdas songs. His rendition attempted to combine both Bharatnatyam and Kathak dance forms and create a space for exploring masculine and feminine features. It was a wonderful performance which through its art and movements was trying to navigate a space which was fraught with tension. It was interesting to realize that after the performance the engagement between the dancer and viewer was more on the lines of dance forms; the viewer’s engagement was restricted as a consumer of the form, the viewer could not have experienced what the dancer felt while performing. It becomes a cerebral engagement, where we see gender getting performed within the domain of art and limit it to an aesthetics level.

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We are used to seeing dance being performed, we perceive it in one specific way and then we engage with it in a limited fashion. We expect no more from the performance, we don’t engage with it. Is there a space for the dancer to decide, to talk, to share his experiences, his inner most subjectivities in the performance. Can dance just be a performance for the dancer with a mask, which does not get into a repetitive mode?

This was in stark opposition to the next performer, which was a drag king performance. A women decked up in different attires took us through various bodies that one is used to seeing in public spaces. In this performance it was interesting to realize that audience was forced to occupy spaces, think about their bodies as subjects of role performances. On being asked to act as men, everyone automatically opened up their bodies, occupied more spaces, there was a sense of entitlement which was reflected in the bodies, where as acting as a woman led to curling up of bodies, act of closing, and occupying as little space as model. Even making people walk in the space in different gender roles was interesting. We all had our own versions of bodies, roles, and genders in our minds. We understood and played out roles even while watching a performance.

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Our very act of watching was a gendered experience. During the drag performances, one of the critical aspects of this is taking the makeup applied on one’s face,   the very act of putting make up to enact one gender to the act of taking it off, the movements, the parts of the face that went into the making of the roles, all play an important role. It was interesting to see the performer remove her make up, of being a man to slowly lightening one’s own skin, playing with shadows on one’s own face. How do we respond to these changing aspects of a face? At what aspect of the make up does one become a man or a woman? When does one stop performing?

It was interesting to employ the medium of art to engage in a silent meditation about gender, to 151018_DELHI_HP-GT_GENDER-TROUBLE_26view it, perceive it and then maybe try spelling it. 

 

Young Feminists Meet Up – New Delhi

One is always worried before a meet up; when one is supposed to meet one’s fellow comrades. Young Feminist Meet Up in Delhi was one of those days, when one was bit nervous about meeting new faces. Do all feminists look angry? Do they only talk about violence? Are there men who consider themselves feminists? Why would one call themselves feminists and thousand over questions that went through my mind while I patiently waited for the time to arrive.

There were they, the young people who had come together to discuss feminism, and it started on an extremely interesting note by one person declaring she was new to this feminist world and she really wanted to know  more, and her understanding limited feminism to anti- men world. For someone else, it was a fight, fight against the power, fight against patriarchy, fight against systems, and she found refuge in feminism. Someone brought in the concept of equality and thought of gender roles and the insistence of equality without placing it within contexts. It was interesting to realize everyone had their own narratives and their own entry points into feminism.

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While there were moments of tensions, atmosphere in Indian Coffee House in CP, Delhi did help in bonding. The sheer struggle to get waiters on our table and ensuring we retain our glasses was one of the things that kept us stuck to each other for hours! Some did mention that it was refreshing to see men as part of this discussion. Men also mentioned how it was equally difficult for them to live under different expectations and roles.

Laughter throughout the session did debunk the myth that feminists were angry or for that matter frustrated. Someone did mention about their desires and feminism providing people with the language to speak about love. For some it was the books that introduced them to feminism, for some it was their families, for some it was their life situations and then for some they  never considered themselves feminists, but indeed agreed with everyone on every aspect. They still resisted to call themselves as feminists.

Young feminists did find it difficult to organize and come together.DSC_0579 Some shared the lack of spaces to discuss issues and some felt it was all too academic and missed out issues. Someone beautiful summarized it as ” Getting out of our Pinjras” and being on the roads, and yet trying to understand if we really were out there.

It was indeed nice to catch up with fellow souls, who were all living their own lives in a small little feminist world and was nice to catch up with some of the ideas and conversations. For a lot of us, just the idea of having a space to chit-chat, rant and discuss our failures was a good enough step towards a wonderful world of utopia.

We indeed promised to meet up once a month, and agreed on keeping the format informal and open for everyone. It was interesting again to realize that we were aware of our privileges and most of us agreed to make this space more inclusive, not just in words but by actually trying to find out more people out there from different communities.

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While we walked back to our pinjras, we did have a smile on our face and bit of  a faith, that maybe it is possible to live in a world where there would be justice. Well, someone did mention they wanted to be dreamers.

Photo Courtesy : Pallavi

 

Spoken Word – Abortion Rights

As part of the September 28th movement on access to services related to Abortion, Hidden Pockets performed it first ever spoken word performance on issue of Abortion.

Hidden Pockets’ first ever #SpokenWord performance at ‘100 Thousand poets for change’ event organised by Bring Back The Poets, Delhi with Oindrila, Jasmine and Pallavi. We shouted for #abortionrightsand #AbortTheStigma and joined the International campaign to talk about #abortion by Women’s Global Network for Reproductive Rights (WGNRR)

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An excerpt from the performance :

Married? Hell, No!

I work 13 hours a day, I tried to keep a plant once, it died in 6 days

I can’t tell you how excruciating it is to even do my own laundry at the end of each day.

Are you telling me to bring 2 more people into this, throw all my life plans away?

What about my anguish, my choice to not procreate?

What about the child who will resent the bitter mother

who crumbles slowly under her dead dreams’ weight?

What sort of future do you envisage for all of us by telling me to get married?

Let this be a choice, not a survival tactic.

By Oindrila Duttagupta

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Photo Courtesy: Pallavi

Camera and Girls, Revert the gaze for a person living with HIV.

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P1050088P1050121Hidden Pockets Collective conducted a workshop with young positive girls using cameras. It was really exciting to talk to the photographers who covered the event, from the idea of “reverting the gaze” to muses becoming the photographer.

It was an interesting insight into the world of photography. Check out the podcast link below.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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These images were taken by the young girls.