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Mumbai: resilience and resistance

Oh no, not again. Not as bad as in 1993. Worse than in 2003. Can we actually compare suffering by numbers? Can we compare suffering at all? Only when the world forgets some 7/11s and remembers others. We’ll see how long this memory lasts.

And Mumbai awakes to another day, another journey by local train, another round of fear, cheek by jowl with resilience and courage: the extraordinary strengths of ordinary people.

While the politicians, the terrorists and the TV channels plan in separate conclaves (we presume), how best to maximise the impact for themselves.

Beyond the magic

Eight years ago, if you can remember that far back, there was another World Cup in football (soccer to y’all North Americans). Another World Coup for advertising gimmicks and general all-out consumerism. I was cheering for Brazil – which self-respecting Indian was not? However, I was living in England at the time, and a friend – who happened to be Irish and studying French literature (a combination that was nearly as fascinating as his accent) – asked me to reconsider. It would transform politics in France, he said, to have a winning team whose core players were immigrant, Muslim and non-white. I cheered for France in those finals, and I did so this time too (once Brazil had been knocked out, of course). Though politics in France seems to have suffered far beyond French football in the last few years.

Zizou does weave magic. No doubt about it. He also head-butts with ferocity. No doubt about it; no excuse for it either. There might be explanations beyond the lack of excuses, though: the doubts are in the whys and the wherefores. Was it sledging – a continued stream of racist abuse? Till he breaks the silence, we won’t know for sure. But I hope he does tell us what happened. Icons can be human, but they have to speak up for their own human-ness and for the human-ness of others. It might make sports – and the rest of the world around it – a little more humane. And a little less racist.

Vive le difference, le debate, le dissent…

Around the time Ashwin and I decided to set up this space (Ashwin with energy and enthusiasm, and I somewhat diffident and uncertain… I mean how self-indulgent can one get, I thought??!), I was sent the link to a raging debate around the (possible) racist implications of the cover to a book edited by Shamillah, Kristy and me: Defending our Dreams. Without going into too much detail about the book – of course you have to read it – it was a wonderful privilege putting together what is possibly the first anthology of its kind. A collection of young feminist writing from across the world, representing a range of issues, with contributors from eleven countries and all the populated continents, including a piece by male feminists (yes, they exist; if you don’t think so… you got it. Read the book.).

Coming back to the debate on rabble.ca, Defending our Cover turned out to be a strangely joyful task: infuriating and inspiring at the same time. Infuriating, because initially it seemed perverse that Southern (read: black, brown and white from South Africa and India) feminists should be defending the cover of their – international – book against a bunch of Northern (read: possibly white) feminists. Inspiring, for exactly the same reason. When I got past the upside-down-ness of it all, I was amazed by the range and depth of the debate around race, racism and its implications. A debate conducted on a bulletin board by a dozen women (of different ages, I suspect): serious, funny, passionate. And I could pop right in with my comments around our interpretations and intentions, including the fact that the cover was inspired by a great self-portrait by Jasmeen, a young woman from Bangalore whose art and activism are beyond doubt. A book that had been created almost entirely virtually (that’s another story) continues a life beyond its covers in exactly the same way: through virtual communities who share its convictions, debate its contents and hopefully, live its ideals in real, tough, worlds.

Continue reading “Vive le difference, le debate, le dissent…”

Gladly Beyond Any Distance

Inspired by one of my favourite poets, and symbolising my tentative – but joyful – first steps into a strange and wonderful universe: to go where I have never gone before. The blogosphere is peopled by the personal, the reflective, the analytical, the experiential – and sometimes, it seems, in a great serendipity of fusion, all of them at the same time. I have no idea yet what remains to be written (if at all), but the categories put out are for navigation and not necessarily deep sea diving.