A Crappy Affair

World toilet day
The UN has declared Nov.19th as the world Toilet day.
We have lived and grown up with toilets, of course during our younger days when we travelled we never used public toilets since we were worried about hygiene with the advent of pay toilets those are taken care off too.
The impact of open defection never really struck in, after all at school we were thought that one method of seed dispersion was undigested seeds in the faecal matter.
At the medical school the impact of water borne disease and zoonosis kind of seeped in.
Last year when I went with the Banega Swach Bharat drive of NDTV I realized the greater impact of it, there was a man who wanted toilets constructed because he wife died when she slipped as she went out the fields. Gone were the days people looked at costing, the issue that the public presented was know how, they knew they needed toilets, they wanted the toilets too, the issue was how would the sewage handle it self they did not want it let loose into the fields and rivers as it would cause contamination. The knowledge partners organized by NDTV addressed this fundamental issue.
maybe if a year back somebody told me that the international toilet day was linked with equality, dignity and gender violence and sanitation I would have rolled with laughter. But the exposure a year ago and working with the migrant workers have really opened my eyes to something larger.
I heard stories of villagers who want to send their daughters to school but the fact that there were no toilets and the trees had been cut off to widen the roads made them aware of the desperate need for toilets and trees.
On the flip side were elders who were psychologically comfortable doing their daily rituals in the open environment so they had bowel constriction when they had to use the toilets. Interestingly the resource person suggested roofless toilets and planting of trees, or keeping flower pots.
When we are dealing with the migrant labour and informal work force things take a different turn. In a supermarket or a mall there are staff toilets and toilets for the public, but in a village market, or construction site we have neither.
Some village markets have now come up with pay toilets but construction sites are still open. The workers have nowhere to ease themselves through their 10hrs of working. Neither do they have access to potable water unless they are carrying it.
It is easy to say that India as a nation has no sense of hygiene/dignity/whatever, to a certain extent yes, but if we do not provide the toilets where on earth are the people to go, they have to ease themselves so they will go into the shrubs if they are available or go in the open.
An year back I met a company that dealt with portable toilets, when we asked them why were these not used in places where temporary toilets were required, we were told
• Their initial costing is high
• They were western toilets and Indians were not comfortable using it.
By the way the company has come up with an Indian model this year. The waste was dealt with chemically so there was no odour emitted.
The sanitation maintenance people on the Indian railway have another thing to say. Yes, the train toilets are public places. The Indian railway has recently shifted to bio-cleansing toilet units, they put up signage’s to tell people not to throw their diapers, the sanitary towels and tissues down the toilet , yet people do so, particularly in the first class section which is supposed to occupied by the more educated aware citizens as opposed to the plebiscites of the sleeper class.
The international toilet day would be a great point to start an awareness drive, and toilet training—yes I use it deliberately because we need to learn how to use a public toilet, keep it clean and conserve resources.
https://wordpress.com/posts/parwatisingari.wordpress.com?s=NDTV
https://parwatisingari.wordpress.com/2014/12/03/sanitation-for-the-roadside-worker/
http://www.un.org/en/events/toiletday/
http://www.lifestyletodaynews.com/green-living/a-visit-to-one-of-the-weirdest-museums-in-the-world-the-toilet-museum/

Smart Auto

The Telangana government has definitely been proactive,

At the Hyderabad Litfest there was the electric auto’s on display. With two owners giving passengers a tour round the literary festival zone.

The auto’s felt good, amazing colours that it came in and some how it did not look like the harassed communters rescue operation, but it felt like a luxury ride, smooth and clean.

Aslam Haidiri one of the drivers who is one auto driver who opted to volunteer to use this for 6mnths and give a feed back to the government. Impressive exercise in itself.

The noise level was extremely low.

Passenger leg space in the current scenario is extremely good.

At the drivers space it is good, too, it does have the option of self start but the drivers are advised against it.  the engine needs intial 24hrs after which the charge has to be maintained, at least that is what Mr.Haidiri explained to me, according to him it works to about 70paise for a km, which seems a very good deal.

auto rani (3)
Auto-Rani

There are also built in billing system, which gives a printed bill to the customer.  This comes with zero pollution.

As a driver Mr.Haidiri was commenting that it takes, few minutes for the bill to be generated and customers tend to be impatient.  After the trail ride I was however left with a few questions, where will the charging points be? I mean will we have public charging points like the mobile chargers have… again Mr. Haidiri says there is a move to have solar charges that will allow the auto to get charged as it is parked.

I only hope it won’t go the same way that the electric run two wheeler or the Rewa went.

 

 

The Magical Painters

Story telling has taken on many platforms and the scrolls are a great place.

From the middle east with the Arabs, came the “Kari” or the art of the “qalam” that is the pen, so qalamkari or “Kalamkari” found a new home in the Krishna district of Andhra Pradesh.

Silk or cotton fabric is treated with Buffalo milk, then natural dyes are used to create and fill the images. The Srikalahasta school of Kalamkari is more of religious scrolls and every image is hand printed, while the Masulipattanam school uses block printing.

kalamkari 2
various dyes used in Kalamkari

The qalam or the pen used is made of bamboo or date palm sticks.

Art form came to India in 10 century CE, and was patronized by the Moghal and the kings of Golconda.

The fabric, the dyes are all natural.

The current Telangana government in a bid to preserve it, support the Kalamkari artists, it was wonderful to see youngsters, totally immersed in the learning this art at the Hyderabad literary festival. For them it was a connect with their roots it gave them a sense of belonging and pride.

The Shrikalahasta school was used create scrolls that visually narrated the various rendering from the folklore, while the Masulipattanam school caters more to the Islamic taste of its patron kings. The Karrapur style developed when the Marathas took it Thanjavur

kalamkari 1
various dyes used in kalamkari

These artists were Jadupatuas, or Duari Patuatas, the magical painters, the British carried it with them and it morphed to chintz and for the Dutch it was sitz and for the Portuguese it is “Pintado”

Hindi Head Out

Do you feel? Is ignoring by Indian while country’s language is the root of the nation helping to represent their culture and tradition—blogger Dhruv Singh who blogs at https://kalprerana.blogspot.in/

Excuse me… who the F***k says that hindi represents India? It does not.

How does Hindi represent the Tulu culture can you tell me.. please? Why am I being forced to learn the language?

I go to the Canara Bank at Santa Cruz Goa… which is a small village, the village consists of Konkani, Portuguese and Kannada population. The bank staff have replaced and majority of the staff are from the Hindi-belt there are two staff members who have been here for at least two years, they have got the rest of the staff to speak hindi… the customers struggle and communicate in hindi, this person sprawls on his chair and is conversing to the Canara bank person in Mathura — to the day they do not speak a word of Konkani — would the when people cross the vindhyas not only are they asked to speak hindi but to speak whatever the dialect.

I walk into corporation bank at Manipal again it is a Konkani, Tulu and Kannada terrain, the manager Mr.Patni has been there for two years, there are only two out of the dozen staff who are cowbelters yet the entire bank speaks broken Hindi to accommodate them, while these uncouth slobs cannot learn a word of Kannada, Tulu or Konkani. This to me is arrogance. I now understand why people want to shift to post office account or a bank like HDFC where at least English is spoken, so we do not have to put up with rude Hindi person.

Would the canara or corporation bank dare put an employee who cannot speak Hindi to the Hindi belt?

Telecallers, not only call you at odd hours, but they rattle of in Hindi without having the damn courtesy of finding out if we know the language. When you ask them to slow down or repeat, or ask them to speak a language you can understand they use obscenity, this is the great Hindi culture that you are talking about. The call centre person at for Ola Cabs in Bangalore, which by the way is the capital of the Kannada country, says she cannot understand Kannada, so this caller who wanted an car should speak to her in Hindi because this great woman has come from the north. Oh! Yes, the call centre connect to the ambulance had the same problem.

I remember the early congress slogans would be in Tulu, today everything is in Hindi, when Hindi enters the arena it is like a weed liking the local language, with the local language dies the history and the ethnic identity, instead of celebrating Onam, we are wished happy vamana jayanthi, instead of woman letting their hair loose with jasmine strings, we have women covering their head. Over than a hue and cry is made of Hijaab.

Look at any Hindi movie the south Indian woman is shown as loud, crass the worst one is the one by Rohit Shetty not only does he portray the south as uncouth, with ugly men and loud garish women is absolutely maddening.

Talk to taxi drivers of Goa, they do not want a customer from UP-Delhi because they never pay the fare they always underpay.

With the advent of Konkani Railway the Wednesday train that arrives from Bihar-UP brings in the migrant male worker who is so steeped in his Hindi culture, they have infiltrated into every class 4 employment, they join in on temporary basis, again their inability to speak anything else has holds the coastal community to ransom we are forced to learn Hindi, with the Hindi-man comes his mentality independent woman to him is someone, who he can make lewd comments on, he thinks they are prowling for attention from men, it is sickening.

With star and zee networks entering regional channels, we are forced to watch the vernacular translations of Hindi serials, these translations are bad, the values and ethos do not belong to the vernacular culture, and issues are not relevant. Which is why many of us subscribe to online channels on YouTube, whenever I give a public talk on media awareness, I bring it to people’s notice and tell them where the alternates are available.

At the end of the day Mr. Singh Hindi is as alien to me as English, I choose English over Hindi as it is a language that my grandparents taught me, they did not teach me Hindi, I learnt Tulu, Konkani, Tamil Kannada and English by the way I do speak Hindi, I have read enough of Hindi authors right from Tulsidas to Bacchan, Nirala, and MaithaliSharan Gupta, but if you demand I speak Hindi I do not. And once again HINDI IS NOT THE CULTURE OF THE COUNTRY, IT IS NOT THE LANGUAGE OF THE COUNTRY, it is Language spoken by a minority population of Majority non Hindi speaking population, Hindi can go Up…the…okay I shall curb the spontaneous word comes and up the pole.

 

I am angry so I refuse to apologize for either my thoughts or my language,

Until next March 8th

Can Women have some dignity…?

We have so many popular slogans and campaigns running, every Rotary club and any other club worth its salt is talking Women’s Day let’s not forget the feminist seminars and public debates, RJ’s screaming at the highest pitch that their voice about the greatness of women, lets look at ground reality through the eyes of  the PM’s banega swach bharat,

There are settlements where people can be forced to build toilets.

The group I am talking about is the labour force the woman working out in the fields, building your roads and houses, they work about 8hrs a day, having to leave their homes earlier than that, during the day they need to ease themselves, can we allow them the dignity of doing so?  people have offered to give them mobile toilets but labour contractors don’t want to take it on, people living on the flats and houses where these construction work is going on, look at these mobile toilets as contamination of their turf.

Then the women who work with garbage sorting, the non-biodegradable used sanitary towels are handled by them, rendering them open to infection, can we provide them safety?

Go to any women’s toilet most of them are dirty, with sanitary towels strewn and menstrual discharge around… it looks like the toilet came alive and regurgitated all over the floor and walls, the putrid water still trickling from the bowl.

We can talk about women’s rights, and dignity but where is it? unless we recognize that each individual is unique and valuable by the virtue of simply being conceived human, we cannot really talk human rights, this includes the right to be born, as  many of us have, and many have not just because they were female, the accidental attributes we acquire, maybe our colour, intelligence, our physical and mental abilities, these should not be a barrier to our dignity.

So thanks for the women’s day’s saccharine messages but no thank you.

 

Taming the Shrew…

De-fanging the Goddess,

Its woman’s day and the day begins with a whole hoard of simpering celebrate womanhood message, which is not only annoying it is demeaning and a colossal lie.

Starting from Sita, Valmiki’s Sita is not very aggressive, but she is assertive, but by the time it came to Tulasidas, who has displaced the non-judgemental story we have a Sita who suffers with her husband, conveniently the Urmila who  is abandoned for 14yrs of her life is totally forgotten, some stray mention of her here and there in some feminist conference. We are so busy inflating Draupadi, who to me actually represents the psyche of a woman, through her aging we do not talk about it.

Sita was a Kshatriya woman, if the women of Brahman cal households grew up scholars, daughters, and wives of teachers, women of Kshatriya houses grew up as warriors, warfare was part of their learning, caring of horses, political and statecraft was something that they grew up with. So defending herself from Ravenna should have come spontaneously in her… and why draw a Lakshman Rekha (this incidentally appears from Tulasidas onwards)  why not empower her to protect herself? Of course the doyens of patriarchy and Neo-Hinduism will talk about destiny, and her role in the larger event of things, but honestly there is something that we are not acknowledging here.

The visible proof of kshatriya women being trained in warfare comes with Kaikayi being Dasharatha’s charioteer, and then nursing him back from a war wound. Kausalya’s knowledge of statecraft is amazing.

Savitri’s powerful feminine energy is put down to the “sati-savitri” syndrome without understanding that she was a woman, who choose to marry a man who was doomed to die in a year, she brings him back from death, not because he is her husband and it was her wifely duty but because she choose to exercise her choice and manifest her power. We fail to acknowledge that and glorify that fact that she was a wife.

Somewhere I think these stories were re-rendered to fit into the pattern of patriarchy and neo-Hinduism.

Majorly because the textual stories which are considered authentic are written by men, many of them bachelors or definitely estranged marital status, so women and their role goes unacknowledged. The folk renderings are more natural where the woman takes her place.

Shakespeare could much lauded, and everyone might say that it was in the lighter vein but “taming of the shrew” is one of the most insulting plays to women.

When it comes to post colonial India, there is a strong change of concepts that are constantly being bombarded through the media that is the woman is weak, she has to be protected, she should not earn more than her husband, she should not be more educated than her husband oh! We assume that more educated means more knowledgeable… even if she is she should not voice that is patriarchy is being drummed in systematically.

Let’s not go very far, look at the 2014 election clippings of Priyanaka Gandhi we have a fiery woman, who takes on Narendra Modi, lashing out… look at this article by Thampu he has reinvented her into for the current election, the fiery woman has been clothed in a more demure garment of being low profile, choosing a modest college, dedicating herself to noble causes and coming into the political arena reluctantly to bail her brother out, thus defanging another powerful goddess, between you and me, I no great Priyanka or any Gandhi-Nehru fan, I definitely will not vote her to represent me, but none the less, I think her fiery nature should be acknowledged, if she wants to be a political power why not?

Just look at the rubbish that gets telecasted as television shows, demure girls with their heads covered, I wish the world would realize that being a biologic girl does not automatically put a girl into the cook, and clean slot. If she can go out and earn the man can jolly well cook and clean. He is not doing his wife a favour.

When I read Anandamath I realize the all potent mother goddess, who wild and energizing is restrained and constrained to become the domesticated Gauri, even when she reclaims her power she can only become a jagjanani and not a jagadhatri.

 

Community Radio

Travelling by the KSRTC Rajhansa I heard a language I had not heard in years, familiar, yet unfamiliar one got the drift of the language it was Byaari the language of the local Muslims. Which my friends Shameem and Naseem spoke. And it was being aired on the community radio.

The young twenty something kid told me, “aunty I listen to only this bandwidth” more curious about it asked him, he says they have small programs that talks of their community, the events happening there, it was like you are part of the community even you are not physically present.

“It’s better than YouTube, because I can hear when I drive, or when I work.” Actually it is true, I remember the radio from my growing days, since licenses were required to own them, and few people owned them. The Ajjarkaad, tower had a public broadcast which my father says was on since radio entered the human world. People would be seated on the rocks of Ajjarkaad, with their children playing in the sand dunes and maybe some even ambling in the park, the news and songs from vivid bharati or AIR would heard.

Dinner time began with the 8 O’clock news.  At the end of “swargiya kundanlal sehgal’s” song one began getting ready to go to school. Then of course there was fight to listen to the oral teasers of movies, sometimes ghazal programs, various debates and talk shows. I remember being part of the couple youth programs and being paid a princely sum of 105/-Rs. for it.

Somewhere the louder and more demanding sibling of the radio has taken over, the TV, it is intrusive and offensive unlike the radio which is rather more personal.

Goa had such a powerful airway that its bandwidth was available even in places like Angora, in 1961 when the Indians landed, the shut the station down for 25days and when it opened again, the station has become impotent. There are places in Goa where bandwidths are not available.

Content is another issue, with the centre controlling the airway, and programs the issues relating to the community, the language of various communities is getting lost. Like the Byaari and Nawayati communities of Konkan-Karavali, community radio’s maybe a good way of rebuilding the community.  we might actually escape the tyranny of the shrill screeching monotonous RJ’s of Radio Mirchi and 92.7 FM,

When Mr.Sajan Venniyoor made his presentation at ICG at the community radio awareness program, he shared with us the community radio’s in various states, and showed us the status of community radio in goad… it was blank.

Like I mentioned before 1961 Indians bombed Goa shut it down for 25 days, and has stayed stifled before it went right up to angora. Community radio would be a great platform to address the Goan community, revive the Goan culture, and since 2007 the government has opened airways to public. Though individuals cannot have bandwidths, NGO’s universities, colleges can all have them.

Community radio covers up to 10-15kms; it can be tweaked up to 20kms, if the towers are placed on the hilly terrain the radio waves travel much more.

Canada has a community radio called Mango Radio which addresses the Mangalore and Goan community. Kutch has mahila Vikas sangathan  radio which is for the women of Kutch, the issue that the central government came up with  was that it was close to Pakistan border, but how does it matter. After Pakistan has FM station along its border that broadcasts and the waves are received in India.

A community radio is a very personal experience, it is as if, the device is speaking to you, it can follow you where ever and give you company even as you work. It is like sitting in your living room and debating on issues that are relevant to your small community.

If I were to tweak the slogan of democracy a bit… community radio is of the community, for the community by the community. The management of this can be done either by a group of people, or an individual or it can be done to colleges and universities,

Community radio’s being smaller and locally organized it allows, inclusion and participation. It also creates a sense of ownership and belonging. It allows use of technology economically appropriate to the community rendering external controls out of the play.

When someone’s buffalo went missing people asked the local radio man “raga” to help it is so within the community it empowers the community to do its own problem solving. The community radio basically runs on content, access, community participation, self management are all part of it.

The initial layout cost is  a bit steep, for a good one, however the government does support a bit initially, the biggest disadvantage is the minute the bandwidth is allotted to an outfit its billing begins, and there is no exit policy,

community radio
recorder for radio transmission

Some interesting community radio heroes, the Deccan Development society in pastapur, is a women run station as is the Kutch Mahila vikas sangatan project at Bhuj. Bundelkhand has its station run in the local language as Bundelkand is split between two states and it does not belong to either state. The gurgoan community radio is sliced away the elite migrant dwellers, to address and connect to the original Haryanvi populations.

The story of Radio Raghav from bihar is quite interesting. Like the bootooth radio of madhyapradesh where the songs are shared through Bluetooth and broadcasted over speakers.

It might be an interesting option in community building and connecting.

Bed 15 — H1Ward.

Bed 15—H1 Ward

The clock ticked…

Against the quietness of the ward it sounded like pounding rather than ticking. Sarvishta looked; there was something about the terminal ICU that was inhumanly human.

H1 bed 15, was an elderly man, a powerful magistrate of his time, with him was his brother, a senior professor, and son, a leading businessman. Sitting very composed was the magistrate’s wife and younger son, all looking rather helpless.

It is quite scary at a point to see, the patriarch, the strength and the navigator of the family story lying helplessly on a bed with tubes connected all around.

Just that afternoon, her husband’s ex-girlfriend Sarasa had called from Chennai.

“Look at the two responses,” Sarvishta’s husband commented, “one hand there is Sarasa, who is very concerned about her father, she was telling me, that she would be flying down to Kenya as schedule and if anything happened to her father, she would have to return. On the other hand is Ajay, his father is on the ventilator, the doctors have given up, he has returned to states and is asking me what to do.”

Sarvishta wanted to ask him, so they are two situations, what do expect them to do, but she was too tired for a full blown discussion. Maybe because he had never been there, the point when you have to accept that mantle, take a decision. Actually she had not really heard the conversation through she wondered what did he expect.

She could empathize with the family at bed H1 or even Ajay, going back and forth, from being so young that the world was not so big, one could see everywhere and then papa was a hero and not a human being, to being so burdened with the choice of letting or hanging on.

When her own father had died she thought the world had crashed, she was drowned in this abysmal sense of loss that she wanted to whimper for everyone to hear, I have lost my father, my world is no longer the same, no more is warmth of the pre-dawn conversation, no more is the 6am call, my safety net has had been removed and I was endangered.  It was at that moment Sarvishta wondered if that was why father was perceived as God, father’s inspired us to measure up, while mothers loved us unconditionally or so it is believed.

Most of us learn to engage with the world outside, from the odd moments our fathers teach us, you know those moments when they are not trying to teach us, we are formed by little scraps of wisdom that we pick up and quilt on to the fabric of our conscience.

She was brought out her musings by the ward sister bringing in coffee, “Doctor, ami Piku bhagitle, the movie has brought out father-daughter tension and bonding so well.”

Sarvishta smiled, “sister ani dhon, cup coffee haad,” looking at professor and his nephew, the younger son had taken his mother home.

While sister went to brew the coffee, she slipped back to memories of her own father, his tears and fears unseen, his love never vocally expressed,yet his care his protection through out her life, to the day she had her morning coffee in his presence.

When in a moment of depression she had tried to end it all, he had held her hands and said,”I know you have done nothing wrong, I know don’t need someone else to tell me that, I know the daughter that I have raised. I fear for you future, not for your character, my love and trust accompanies you no matter where you go, my concerned is you should have that nest to return to.” From then came her moment of recovery.

“Sir,” Sarvishta called handing them the coffee.

It was as if, the coffee took the decision, the Professor who was normally everyone’s strength supported by his nephew, three of them had their coffee in silence.

Sarvishta was back at her father’s,

“Vishy, he is in pain, a person from beyond is calling him, you are the last bondage let him go child.”

The decision had been so painful, holding her father’s hand and telling him, “Papa, I am your daughter I am strong and will survive, you can move on when you are ready.”

A week later he was gone.

“If nothing changes by morning I think we shall take him home,” professor said handing the coffee mug back to her, they sat there in silence a moment of compassion, and strengthening.