a walk to remember

I went to vidyaranyapura bus stand continued my journey till I felt a visible change in my own response due to change in environment in implicit ways.

It started with a chaotic bus stand of vidyaranyapura and it took me a moment to grasp my surroundings. As an endeavor to become part of it and understand I started observing.

Though I knew that the street had no explicit restrictions, I had my own inhibitions .This may be due to the fact that I could not utilize the street for my purpose as comfortably as the people native to that street could .In other terms in that public space natives had little private spaces that they didn’t mind sharing with each other.

I realize that I made efforts unconsciously to amalgamate myself in the environment and had kept my activities to minimum to avoid them from being noticeable.

What fascinated me that among these complexities how street functioned as lifeline and source of livelihood for hundreds of people. Most of the shops beside the street are so small that half of it spills on the footpath and one can linger into that space only if one had any relative business with that shop. In the midst of these small shops and houses there are also huge glass buildings like ccd ,banks who have embellished the footpath in front of their buildings .These embellishments serve as ‘Silent  markers’ for claiming it as their space thus making it as a restricted public  space.(people of lower income class  are not allowed to linger in those places)

The visual riot between the obscenely multicolored hoardings on every possible direction aroused a feeling of disgust and I before I could realize i was ignoring them .Contrarily ,the screen printed kannada  film  posters stuck on the walls were a great source of amusement  with its unique graphic style that is a vital form of visual culture or pop art.

The attire of the people and the street as a whole made me sense the deep cultural and religious roots. the idols, gateways, sculptures  and even flag poles with the yellow and red flag certainly were  symbols  asserting the presence of a  vernacular culture and its struggle of survival in the growth from rural to urban area.

One of the heart warming experience was that as the street gradually became less commercialized and  was occupied by indigenous  business (such as people working with bamboo and jute or the people who made earthen  pots or the vegetable seller) it was more friendlier and welcoming.  I was greeted back with vibrant smiles when I photographed them, contrary to the sub urban areas of the street.

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unveiling the reason


The burqa is not a sign of religion, it is a sign of subservience”: President Sarkozy

“It is a sign of reserve and can only honour its wearer”: Towfiq, an Algerian Muslim

its rather strange how a simple garment which got associated with meanings and identities created one of the most contentious global issue. I had always echoed the (General) western idea of veil as a symbol of subjugation upon women. But after scanning the matter in depth i find my judgement and generalisation baseless. I can observe the western paw is partially responsible for making it obligatory by Muslim clerics.

The veil has been there much before Islam and was used by men and women as masks against sand. In times of war and raids this veil served as a defence mechanism during raids for young women. Later Muhammad used veil for his wives to screen them against unknown people, but never made it obligatory for other people and it rose as a model and then as a status symbol. a

The argument of west about the veil as an epitome of backwardness and its constant derogations on different aspects belief and culture ignited this fire of revolt for obvious reasons. Culture ,religion practices play a vital role in construction of an identity of a group .Every individual has a great sense of belonging .any kind of derogatory interference creates a feeling similar to insecurity and inferiority complex. History may cite innumerable example where west has flaunted its identity as far superior. naturally veil became the symbol of dignity and revolt against these intrusions. And now since abandonment brings back those memories, it’s made obligatory.

The irony is clear; cause is raising voice against consequence.

If now west is really concerned about the lag, it should first endeavour to heal the wounds it has created and then help in improvising health, education and gradual alterations in gender relations. Islamic clerics should stop taking political advantages .patriarchs of both the sides need to understand that everyone has the right beyond any jurisdiction to practise his /her religion and culture including the attire. The final verdict to wear a veil or not should rest with Muslim women themselves.

Both the sides need to address these issues to resolve this identity altercation.

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Aamir

i tried to step into the shoes of a 16 yr old knife sharpener, umbrella repairer and a key maker boy named  aamir  .

while getting dressed ,a lot of things crossed my mind.however i dressed ,wrinkled and loosely worn shirt with unbuttoned sleeves,i knew that i would stand out due to difference in complexion and language.even rubbing little mud  over  didn’t help so i just hoped that my activities would help me to merge  in the space.

as  he came a bit late than his scheduled time i got to observe,imitate and help him in setting up his shop.the daily cycle  of packing and unpacking of  his hundreds of knives and dozens of tools  compactly in  small wooden and  steel  trunks compelled me to  reconsider my organisational  skills.as he took out a bunch of keys to open a cobalt blue steel trunk ,hundreds of knives arranged  according to their  type and size  were beautifully laid as if each knife knew its place in the trunk. i was awed as he would just pick bunch of knives by blades without any fear  untill i realised that each  bunch of knives bound together , had its sharp edge facing inwards;his way of taming these knives’.the way he tossed some of knives in his hand  just before keeping them on the display made the act  even more theatrical.But aamir seemed  to enjoy the awe on my face. i reminded myself of my purpose and tried to repeat  some of the activities he would do .as i looked up to him, he smiled and suggested “ sit ….you better sit down”.i knew that clumsiness in handling those knives could not be hidden ,but sill i was expecting  a more supportive reaction.as if he immediately understood this,he says” training….many years” and opened his fist to show the marks left by bruises.i  somehow foresaw  a hidden story these marks want to tell me,but before i can decipher anything he closed his fist with a rusted knife. as the stone wheel started revolving , the rusted knife was slowly brought to touch charging  sparks of fire. Soon Amir was gliding and bending the knife blade  with precise varying pressure as a musician would  glide the bow over violin strings.

though language was a barrier i managed to sell 3-4 knives,but what bothered me that when aamir left the shop to me, every time a customer  came,he/she would look around to find the shopkeeper until  i would say “yes….”.a  game  which me and aamir were playing were guessing if the potential customer by just looking at the way they surfed their gaze through different knives  and aamir ‘s intuition worked for him in 9 out of 10 times.aamir suddenly left the shop and at a distance he turns back and calls me to come with him. i was apprehensive of leaving the shop unguarded but aamir seemed to  have no worries.he ordered two coffee and i  had decided to pay for it. but he quickly snapped and returned the note to me and replaced it with a note from his pocket.i was overwhelmed by this gesture ,but i knew that aamir felt quite offended.

i  kept wondering  how street had made a 16 yr old boy as mature and smart as a grown up man.aamir had learnt to dominate where he could and compromise where he should,a survival skill which even an mba graduate endeavours to master.my pre conceived notion of aamir as a kid whose childhood was ruined due to labour,turned out wrong.aamir enjoyed his small world,where he had true-friends whom he trusted for every thing ,namesake friends whom he had to do favours to and vice versa .He took pride in little victories like buying himself an electric motor or even winning an argument. the street has interwoven fragile relationships which depend on each other to survive and everyone seems to understand this fact hence  no one tends to disturb the system for his own cause at a macro level thus harmony and trust is instilled in the system.

aamir has a dream , i have promised him to bring lot of pictures of America next time i come.

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lata mani offered new glasses ,sometimes i look through them

It surprises me why for a couple of moments I could not remember anything rather I have memories of me being completely immersed in the discussion. Maybe I can term that discussion almost similar to an experience/incident so overwhelming that mind knows about its occurrence but hardly remembers what it encountered. Strange and complex are the ways by which mind and body function

Consciously rearticulating responses of “mind, body and heart” can lead to building up of new vistas and insights into the unconsidered. Awakening up to a kind of a awareness that will help in understanding and appreciating matter in a fuller sense. But how do you classify a response as conditioned/conscious or unconditioned/natural? It seems that this knowledge comes gradually by itself as awareness about conditioned and natural develops with practice of reconsideration.

Examining a subject with different perspectives reveals a whole new world of interconnected relationships. Lata Mani gave one such example. Our aversion from trash when examined through social, cultural, historical lenses exposes cause and effects at micro and macro levels. This aversion from trash reflects our cultural disdain from body and matter, the belief that value rests in function, our practice of alienation and discrimination by building up our own notions of hierarchy, social prejudice faced by labour class, the way first world treats third world countries

this way of observing profoundly challenges our sensibilities of” that’s how it is” which is often built without seeking any reason.

Also, observing beauty in the ordinary, in visual as well as ritual sense.

Much more has stayed with me than written here, which hopefully would be triggered and utilised during my project.

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dr jyoti

Theatre   in my mind has been a pre-choreographed array of interactions and always a medium to convey something may be a story, theme or a message for an audience than for self. it amazed me how they  could perceive   it totally in a new light.

After the exercise that we merged into public, Deepak asked me how i felt, i refused to call the exercise as a form of theatre, now after Jyoti‘s talk I realise what Deepak meant by “every interaction is a theatre practice”. It’s a completely new way to look at how we negotiate the self according to the receiver of information. i think i can relate to the idea of embodied knowledge or how we carry our history in our bodies when i look back to the sculpting exercise, when we had to forget at every other instant who we were and think of ourselves as  characters

Another idea that appealed to me was the relation between awareness that you are performing and subconscious notion of your power.   How power makes us realise of the self that we desire to project. And thus everyday performance may be termed as a survival tactic.

I do not agree completely with the idea of consuming experience. I think that even though if we “steal” an experience from the space, balancing it by “giving it back” is not possible. How do you make your “giving back” ENOUGH that it really matters to that space? During the switchboard exercise these questions were my prime concern.

Somehow the questions that were spinning in my head during the first week itself are making me dizzy again. I need to answer these before I can start my final project. if only i could frame them  …………

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sense and sensuous


The talk ‘sensuous and the sacred’ pointed out that the voluptuous figurines at sacred places were for common people. Does it imply that it was  POP ART ?As art  always reflects culture ,beliefs and ethics of that specific era, these figurines narrate how sexuality and body were popularly accepted and appreciated which now is commonly considered as unethical. These were the places where children, men and women of all ages visited .Hence awareness about body science and the embodied knowledge would have been far deeper than it is now.  Body and knowledge were sacred. To portray the sacred without sensuous was inconceivable.

Though after hundreds of years what has managed to survive is the image of a woman as devi. Image popularly retained, but lost its real meaning. Its sacredness does not exist beyond the temples and religious posters.
Now sensuous is sin-uous.
it reflects how ethical we consider acceptance of body and sexuality .The consequences are so obvious and ‘out there’ that stating them offends its seriousness.       What sense does it makes to discard sensuous from sacred?

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maybe
(street tales of love/lust or simply interest………………blank noise.)

After four years I saw a face in the market that truly resembled her, four years back she had left school and city due to unknown reasons. It was not as if we were good friends, boys and girls rarely talked to each other in school. But after four years, suddenly seeing her aroused curiosity and I was compelled to talk to her. Without any second thought i started following her with a puzzled mind. She was not alone; an unknown face accompanied her, maybe one of her friends. With her fierce gaze the unknown face just turned to burn me with embarrassment. I wanted to shout and tell her “I am not following you, but just wanted to say hello to my classmate. “Anyway I felt defeated and decided to never repeat this mistake. But my heart was questioning what had I done so wrong? After an hour, when I was struggling to pull my scooty out, i noticed her again in a nearby cloth shop.

“should I”….”shouldn’t I”, “should I”….”shouldn’t i, “should I”….”shouldn’t I”………..

I finally decided not to directly confront her, but stand somewhere to make sure, she recognised.

I stood strategically at a place where she could see my reflection in one of the mirrors of the shop. And I am sure she did…….. But before she could turn, I paced back towards my scooty.

Since then I have never seen her. I don’t even remember anything clearly about her, but I keep wondering why I left, what stroke me to leave all of a sudden.

Maybe because I really never knew if it was her, maybe because she had forgotten one of her classmates, maybe I was too embarrassed by previous incident to dare to stand there. Maybe.

Maybe, because we were strangers.

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blank noise Process.

aim: Introduce people to   the ideology “i never ask for it”

Whatit’s a common ideology or a belief that “in a public space a woman has to follow a set of rules and stay within boundaries to be safe. If she is not ready to compromise, it’s her fault completely when she is harassed. Men have the right to blame or harass any woman who is following her own mind. Women ask for it”

So men decide what a woman should be clad in? It’s not in our culture to respect even a woman’s choice of dress?

Is it just a matter of clothing? Why even “fully clad women” are harassed? Why women are looked upon just as object of desire?

Why the control should only be exercised upon women? What if women make men realise the exactly opposite scenario? Would it help them to realise the issue better?

Why many women themselves are embarrassed to address it and prefer to ignore/hide it? Is it how they are getting used to it and have accepted it as a suffering they have to undergo for being a woman?

Do we even sense it as a problem which should be taken seriously? How casually do we dismiss or ignore these problems? How many of us relate it to the way women are treated?

why: isn’t there  a increasing distance between men and women in public spaces, both mental and physical to an extent that it is  worsening the  situation? isn’t this gap and inacceptance/ignorance of body  often the cause of sexual harassment?  who can  bridge this gap and instil an equilibrium of trust and respect? Is it really impossible?

how: ?

The first step is to make people realise that this is a problem, the nature of this problem and how solution lies with us.

Addressing the problem , sparking up the questions through various mediums and spurring thoughts to make them realise the ideology. Their response and change of the perspectives is the “start” towards what we are striving.

they would respond certainly if

They feel a certain level of comfort.

there is lesser risk of being humiliated.

when forcefully confronted(with tactics such as shock) or psychologically compelled
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Kinshuk’s Reflections

2 responses to “

  1. geetu

    Kinshuk, your reflection assignment based on Deepak’s KR market intervention has been posted elsewhere but I will respond to it here on your blog. There are 2 comments that you could perhaps think about some more:

    1. “The visual riot between the obscenely multicolored hoardings on every possible direction aroused a feeling of disgust and I before I could realize i was ignoring them”

    Kinshuk- where do you think the origin of this feeling of disgust (towards the colors and hoardings all around) comes from? Does your visual landscape when you step out into public spaces normally not comprise of this plethora of information and riot of color?

    2. ” I knew that i would stand out due to difference in complexion and language.even rubbing little mud over didn’t help so i just hoped that my activities would help me to merge in the space.”

    This is an interesting approach that you consciously adopted- the activity versus the visual appearance. For Neha, the latter seemed more important and her observations were more about the visual appearance. What do you think makes you get into the skin of something more- in other words, which simulates the experience better, adopting the practice or the form? Or do you now think that both are necessary?

  2. Pratyush

    really moving. excellent narration. i never knew that you needed so many skills to be a good knife sharpner.

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