Here’s our featured guest post by Rosheena Zehra. You can find more of her work at her blog here
It’s a fine bright day and the classroom discussion is about being stuck in an empty bus with only the driver, the conductor and a seedy looking passenger. The participants of the conversation sit and laugh about the number of times they have been stranded in similar situations, the fear they felt and how they are glad it all ended in a way that has allowed them to sit and chat about it in a classroom today. It’s indeed funny how the possibility of rape is part of the normative order to the point that there is no choice but to include it in our lives, garbed in the form of humour. We live a reality where it’s an achievement to survive every day without the threat of physical and sexual violence. Good, you were not asking for it by dressing in a particular manner. Pat on the back. Good, you were not out after dark. Pat on the back one more time.
It is a strange world where the eyes of a seven year old rag-picker at the nearest Community Centre have a disturbingly ill-placed maturity staring back at you. They tell me there is no hope left for the world, but sometimes I choose to believe otherwise. It is sad to have children lose their innocence before their due time. When a friend tries to adopt an orphan child from the same community, one of the two contenders of the struggle is the possibility of education, a stable roof over their head and regular meals on a daily basis- a phenomenon previously unheard of. However, it loses to its far stronger adversary – the addiction of sniffing a specific item of stationery. Soon the orphan slum-child refuses to eat with you, or take the clothes you give, or attend your lessons. He already accepted his fate somewhere during the course of his eight year old existence, and now refuses to see any other reality beyond it. They tell me there is no hope left for the world.
A country where land mines are part of the daily reality of school children is yet another achievement. Ladakh- it’s a bitter realization that there exists a world where courting death on an everyday basis is a lived reality, where warning signs of land mines are just as normal and mundane as the nearest sign post around the corner. Kindly stay close to the main road, to avoid being blown up into chunks smaller than your pinkie. Have a good day!
A little world of comforts- which in turn gives rise to more illusions prepared, garnished and served on the silver platter of neo-colonialism, patriarchy and First World privileges- is sufficient to make us feel good about ourselves, probably even indulge in a feeling of self-importance. However, beyond this world of palatable truths lurks a reality somewhere out on the streets -that place we have never been to, completely untouched by the naiveté of the existence we are often deluded into leading.
There are two books here. Yes, with the same name and pretty much about the same thing. Each worth going through- do so with caution. Caution caution caution. Sounds like
We Are Everywhere – The Irresistable Rise of Global Anticapitalism
Very 2000’s-sy, which is to say that thanks to the flashy editing and clean, uncluttered type, this book very nearly sucks and is almost unreadable because it looks so fucking boring, but there is some very good writing in there (check out the article by Kate Evans on page 290 and the one immediately after it by Medha Patkar and other stuff I haven’t had time to go through)
We Are Everywhere – Jerry Rubin
My kind of book, all stitched up and with pictures of kids posing with guns, using guns, getting shot by guns; though no idea what it’s about. Some stuff on Black Panthers, lots of naked hippies, writing like
“Can we take your handcuffs off, Jerry?” asked the sergeant.
“Will you behave?”
They got the message and stood back. “Cutting our hair is like taking off your black skin!” I barked to one sergeant.
“Jerry, I wish you could,” he answered. “You don’t know how much trouble my black skin has given me”
What contempt the black bourgeoisie hold for us white hairy niggers! They have fought so hard to become an equal in the white man’s society and we are trying to give up out white skin to become a nigger.
We don’t appreciate what they want so much.
The barber made good on his whispered promise and left much of the hair on my head.
Sheared, humiliated, beaten-yet still proud of ourselves for resisting…
And here’s our first guest post- a poem by Alia Sinha, a student of Media and Culture at the TATA Institute of Social Sciences
Before you spill your secrets to strangers
Or to me
This is the wrong time to be thus-
Wandering with swollen ankles and
Looking through curtained windows
Towers are crumbling into light splinters as
Helicopters crash in fields of wheat
While all along
Sorrow plays out in pink brassieres
Sold on the sides of streets
Here steel-shod golden eyed
Breathing mad music into sweet wine
Breathing sweet melodies into the night
They cannot roam with you
They can only grieve or charm.
Dreamers owned these once-forests
Fire they cried. They were not wrong.
But so what?
Weep no more for the sensuous or the tender
They were strong.
Meanwhile torn-eared hyena be
With gilded fur and moony eyes
With delicate shoes
With throaty cries
Grin yellow toothed for cameras,
and acknowledge irony.
Spike Jonze meets the Beastie Boys in New York for something like an interview
A sort of magazine I came across looking for pirated copies of Semitoext(e) books, after finding them all on Flipkart for over 1000 rupees each (recently I got some twenty books altogether for similar money). Some repeats from Hatred of Capitalism but interesting entries from John Giorno and Kathy Acker amid other, unspeakable things.
A great introduction to Thompson’s body of journalism (if you can’t get a hold of The Great Shark Hunt), originally appearing in Rolling Stone magazine- issue April 1971- about the American civil rights movement in that period.