Walking the New Years Eve on MG Road, Bangalore

2016’s New Years Eve started with horrific images of New Year Celebrations at MG Road in Bangalore. People had gone wild, women were groped and pretty much everybody had a bad night. This is what the media wanted us to believe. For days there were national debates around women’s safety, Indian cultural values and everything one could think to spoil a party. Nobody really asked anyone about what could have been done differently. At Hidden Pockets, we were bit scared of the consequences ensuing post this traumatic night. In response, we resorted to walks. We decided to conduct a pleasure pockets walk in one of the lanes behind Christ University, a lane which was full of young people. We curated a walk, where people from very different backgrounds came together, discussed, fought and amongst all of this, walked. A lot of people questioned the nuances of safety, some of them shared their fears and some of them even disclosed their own prejudices against some communities. But we all had one thing in common; we really wanted to have fun and spend some good time together.

This was the background, so to my utter surprise when preparations for New Years Eve for 2017 began, the focus was completely on putting CCTVs, installing around 10,000 police personnels and putting barricades everywhere possible. I was amused by this focus on providing security to young women from young men. There was an almost whisper going around that this year also things would go bad. People would be assaulted. After all, Sunny Lione was banned from performing in Bangalore city. Surely, the city was not ready to handle fun.

At this same time, some of the students from research institutions and colleges from Bangalore  were getting agitated as well as saddened by the situation. They were one of those few bystanders who had witnessed the commotion at 2016 New Years Eve. Yes, it was bad, Yes, they had to protect their friends, but still wanted to go out and see the commotion. How does one make a public place safer?

Extremely tough question : How does one make a public place safer? A question that we at Hidden Pockets have been unravelling with.  How do we take back these public places, and ensure that women would like to go back to these spaces, feel comfortable and at the same time enjoy their time there. We have been conducting walks in various cities looking for this answer. Be it Jaipur, Ahmedabad, Bangalore or Delhi, what makes us leave the roads and stay inside to the extent we have forgotten public places.

As part of the solution, we decided that we would curate a walk for New Years Eve on 31st Dec 2017. Not at all an easy decision. Not something that our parents would have agreed off. Not after the media reportage of the 2016 night. There was nothing to look forward, nothing to be hopeful about.

But there were this bunch of college students who wanted to be there, who wanted to ensure these places are accessible for everyone.

After all, who were we actually scared off? 

So we started conversations, meetings, discussions, wherever possible ask those uncomfortable questions. How can we make roads safer? Who are we scared off? What if police tell us not to proceed with the walk? What if the crowd goes beyond control? What will we tell people? Why should anyone trust us?

As clearly observed, we did not start on positive note, it was a lot of self-doubt, fear as well as fear of the invisible stranger. We did not have much to hold on to, and even the optimist amongst had a tough time keeping the spirit of people up throughout these conversations. After all, women safety had become the utmost issue in the world, and here we were trying to take back a lane in a city that some of us were brought up.


On 31st night, most of us reached the starting point, around 2 hours before the midnight. We were completely not sure of the situation that we might be encountering. A lot of us had to back out, because lack of permission from parents, guardians and anyone who thought it was unsafe for anyone to be there at that time of the year. Remember, we are talking about New Years Eve in a metropolitan city like Bangalore in India, at the city center. Not just the guardians, a lot of us ourselves did not feel like being part of this narrative which had become completely about modern cities which are becoming decadent and about loss of cultural values. But there were some of us, who were still longing to be part of this mishmash of night, which had some real mixed signals to offer.

What is the night, if not fear of the stranger? 

Around 40 of us had gathered in front of the LIC building on MG Road. There were thousands of police everywhere with lathis. There were scores of young people around. There were plenty of people with their families also walking around and admiring the crowd, the noise and just seamless rush of people pouring into this part of the city.

I was busy noticing the strangers around. Most of them were men, walking around aimlessly, walking about in their own happy times. Some smoking, some busy taking selfies and most of them walking around in groups. As people trickled in for the walk, we started talking to each other, there were some senior people who had decided to join us and who happily told us that they had been coming for the New Years Eve as young boys, it was always like this crazy. It did surprise me. Such a waste of a night.

As the night progressed and we prepared ourselves for the walk, we did realise our original path curated for the walk, was blocked for security reasons. This is something that truly disappointed me. A beautiful path which could have been a great place for people to hold events was blocked because the government was scared of its own people. This was stupid, sad and at some level even kiddish. We still decided to continue with our walk.

The idea was simple, we will walk towards the celebrations as a group and maybe even attempt singing songs. Some of us sang, some of us attempted enjoying the sight around and some of were alert. It was not an easy walk.

With so many people running around, some people howling, some people screaming. It did get confusing after a point. Why was everyone shouting? Is this a way to celebrate an event?

We never reached the finish line. We stopped our walk in the middle of it, and decided to join the onlookers and stare at the sky. Yes, that is exactly what we did. We looked up in the sky, waiting for something awesome to happen.


No countdown, no fireworks, no Sunny Lione. It was not what I thought it could be.


This is small glimpse of it:

While I was returning post the midnight, post a walk that could have been much more, I thought about some of the strangers I hugged as the New Years approached, some of the strangers who protected me from some  men on the streets and some of the people who decided to join the walk; well they did not have anything else to do or maybe they were just lonely. I remember specifically this one girl who kept on insisting that we sing songs. While boys were howling, some of us even attempted singing “Hum honge kamyab”.

Images and Video courtesy : Sekulu Nyekha.

Walks Free Like Pockets Spree: Pleasure Pockets experience

At 8PM on a Friday Night, my friends and I were standing outside Christ University Main Gate for the walk to start. Yes, I had invited half my friend list on Facebook, and yes, the event page on Facebook says 39 going and 100 interested, but I still wondered if people would turn up. Within a span of 10 minutes, 30 people were standing at the venue. A few regular faces, and others unknown, all of us eager to know what will happen next.

By 8:10, the Hidden Pockets team had inaugurated the walk. All of us stood in a circle with Jasmine in between explaining to us what the walk is all about.

“Why should we suddenly wake up one morning to reclaim the streets?”

“Do we actually feel safe walking at night?”

“Isn’t it a bit awkward to walk around with strangers?”

While a few of these questions were thrown at us at the beginning of the walk, we were asked not to walk ‘with our friend/known face’ and observe the streets carefully. Quite frankly, I was doubtful regarding what difference this walk could make. Till I reached Stop number 1: Under the Dairy Circle Bridge

The Junction under the Dairy Circle Bridge in Hosur Road is one of a kind. With not a single street light on the road and nobody around, it could be one of the creepiest spots of our area. Again, we stood around Jasmine as she asked us if we have ever commuted via that road. Everyone were quite participative and she asked about our experiences traveling in a dark/shady road. Each one of us had different answers. While, one of the girls in the group was afraid of tall bulky men walking behind her in the evening another boy was afraid of Transgenders following him in the night. Each one of us had our own stories that we are embarrassed about and this walk made us open up about it. Not only were negative experiences shared, every possible utilization of a dark/shady road was discussed.

Jasmine: Have you ever made out under a bridge?

Me: Well, not bridge specifically..

A few my friends raised their hands. Good thing it was dark, no one remembered their faces in the morning in order to tease them to death. The next stop was somewhere in the middle of the main road. We got into a discussion on whether or not CCTV cameras in streets is a good option in order to keep the streets safe. A few of us felt that it was a good initiative as everything is recorded and can be under supervision while a few others thought it was a major invasion of privacy. This particular discussion got me thinking. I used to be someone who used to think that the more the security devices (CCTV cameras, Safety Apps etc) the more the safety. But, with 1,500 police men present in the New years eve in Brigade road, many, many women got molested. A CCTV footage of a group of men grouping a girl on a street went viral on Facebook. But, did that really help change any mentalities around? Do I feel safer to walk after 8PM just because a CCTV is capturing my movement?

The last two stops where in SG Pallaya. (A well known street near Christ University where most of the students stay). One was near a park, the other was near a famous theatre in that area. We got into many interesting discussions and debates. While we gathered in a big circle to listen and respond to Jasmine, we also noticed random strangers in the streets joining behind us to find out what was happening. One of the most interesting discussions included whether or not our safety depends upon the income group of a person, or the ‘class’ they belonged to. Yes, we were after all a group of strangers strolling around the streets together and having discussions, how is it that I felt safer around them, but suddenly felt conscious when a stranger from a lower income group joined the gathering? Are we being stereotypical of people? Are we judgmental with people on streets? Am I being too comfortable with my Facebook-user-Activists group that I’m forgetting to educate everyone in the movement?

While all these questions were shot in the air, all of us kept walking and reached the end of the walk. Quite frankly, we were not only searching our way back, but also the answers to all those questions. I must have walked the same route a million times in 3 years, but this was the most insightful and thought provoking walk I’ve been in. While a few of us were inquisitive as to what can be done next, a whole group of others were confident that changing mentalities is one of the biggest challenges. No, not every problem needs to have a solution right now. I know that CCTV on roads isn’t the answer, I also know that moral policing and staying “back at home” isn’t the answer. I also don’t have an alternative, but sometimes, acknowledging that the principle is wrong is all we need to start a movement and make a change. The Hidden Pockets Team made a difference by creating a thought bubble among us. We need to do something, and we need to start now. Looking forward to more and more #pleasure pockets walks. Here’s to reclaiming the streets, inch-by-inch, street-by street and debunking myths about spaces around us.

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Mira is an ardent left leaning feminist who prefers pizzas over pastas any!

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








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?