We swear these guys are better than in the video.
Perhaps women’s empowerment is not taking out morchas on the Janpath, perhaps it’s sitting beside the driver in a shared autorickshaw. Perhaps women’s empowerment is not having Pink Coaches in the metro, perhaps it’s undertaking a bumpy ride jostling with sweaty males. Perhaps women’s empowerment is not dressing up for discos, perhaps it’s sitting in a men’s bar smoking and drinking as if no one’s watching you. Perhaps women’s empowerment is not instagramming sitting in cool cafes, perhaps it’s sweating it out at the vegetable markets. Perhaps women’s empowerment is not Delhi, perhaps it’s Calcutta.
The lakes at night.
'Aap ice lenge?'
'Nahin, rahne deejiye.'
'Achha ice hai, hum ghar pe banaate hain. Baaki jagahon jaisa nahin… koi koi to morgue se bhi laate hain. Doon ice?'
'Will you have ice?'
'It's hygienic. we make it at home. Not like elsewhere… some even get it from the morgue. Will you have some?'
At the fish market
Shaheed Minar combines three styles of architecture - Egyptian, Syrian, and Turkish.
The Unbearable Heaviness of the Bladder
Back home, urinating in the open is rampant. Most public offices have a secluded area, usually behind the establishment, where men relieve themselves. Other public spaces like bus-stands, markets, cinema houses, etc. have ambiguously marked corners that cater to the needs of the bulging bladder. Urinating in the open isn’t great fun, but when one has to go, one has to go.
This relief, however, comes at a price - the perpetual irritation of those who inhabit in close proximity to such places. The ground that soaks in the urine repays in kind with a stench that makes one wish one were born without the olfactory sense. And the malodour that emanates from all the piss slowly seeps into people’s lives. The shopkeepers, residents, and others who conduct business or live their lives near such places bear a frown that is long lasting, if not permanent.
Occasionally, someone comes along who belongs to the tribe of square pegs (the kind that don’t fit in round holes) and in a moment of pure ingenuity devises an idea that promises to keep the urinating Indian public away from his neighbourhood piss-ground. This man uses religion, a most potent weapon that’s resorted to when the laws of the land fail. He puts up an image of a deity on a wall or on a makeshift mound at the site. The divine presence among the squalor doesn’t get rid of the stink, but ensures that people no longer pee there. In the setting we have back home, this method is effective. However, the poor bladders, much like the elephants in the region, now-a-days suffer from this unabashed encroachment of their ‘rightful’ territories.
Image: Bhowanipore neighbourhood, Calcutta
Hand-pulled rickshaws, Calcutta, 2014