Pallab Deb


Renaissance 2014, Kirori Mal College’s annual fest, came to an end with one of the country’s pioneer metal bands Parikrama drumming it away to a memorable night.

The evening was opened by Alice Rose from UK, whose offerings included an acoustic, folk cover of Lady Gaga’s ‘Bad Romance’ and a couple of originals.

Next was Andolan, KMC’s fusion band and the air filled with melodies of classical Carnatic intertwined with western blues rock. Starting with a cover of Coke Studio Pakistan’s ‘Aaj Latha Naiyo’, they moved on to ‘Manmohini’ and then ‘Tanha Tanha’ from Rangeela before closing it off with their original bluesy number. Andolan’s magic was followed by Aadhya, a local band, which gave the crowd their much needed staple of Sufi rock by starting with ‘Allah Hoo’ and following it up with ‘Teri Deewani’ along with a couple of others.


By then the sky had turned windy and as the night’s main attraction seized the stage, the weather played the perfect companion to the music. Returning to the college after two decades, Parikrama lead vocalist Nitin Malik reminisced about their time in the North Campus and how the band was formed inside the KMC Musoc room. From old favourites like ‘And It Rained’, ‘Vapourize’ and ‘Am I Dreaming’ to the newer ‘Sweet as Sugar’, the band laid siege to the crowd. Particularly admired were the lead guitarist Sonam Sherpa and the violinist Imran Khan, with Nitin Malik’s impressive vocals ending the session with a cover of AC/DC’s ‘Highway To Hell’, making Renaissance 2014’s closing night a roaring success.

Image Credit: Sahiba Chawdhary for DU Beat

Following the killing of Nido Tania, the harassment of the two girls from Manipur and the Khirkee incident, a protest march was organised in North Campus on 3rd February by a group of teachers and students to raise their voices against the recent examples of racism in the city. Protesters assembled at the Vishwavidyalaya metro station before starting their march which ended at the University Undergraduate Hostel for Girls. Led by leftist student groups such as National Socialist Initiative (NSI) and All India Students’ Association (AISA), the protest witnessed slogans of “racism down down!” and “nasalwadi ho barbaad!” filling the roads. Police accompanied the protesters all throughout the march, who paused in front of the Mukherjee Nagar police station to voice their opinions regarding the police’s alleged initial reaction concerning Tania and the shopkeeper where it was alleged that he was beaten up a second time by the police and a compromise was forced out.

Students protesting in GTB Nagar on Tuesday. | Image Credit: Sidhant R. Seth

People from the assembled crowd of protesters at the Undergraduate Hostel gave voice to their take on the issue. While students of Northeastern origins recounted their personal encounters with the city’s distaste for the different looking, others asked for stricter anti-racism laws. The issue of the persistent racist attitude against the African students studying at the University and living in the areas surrounding North Campus was also talked about. An appeal was made to include others suffering from racism within the same fold and to not make it an issue limited to Northeastern students only. Tackling racism as a menace which affects different groups of people in different and yet similar ways was agreed upon as the only way to move forward.

Similar protests were also seen the next day on 4th February, with students protesting in GTB Nagar.

From discussions on the Jazz Age to Jesus as a historical figure to contemporary Indian art, this year’s Jaipur Literature Festival covered a lot of ground and then some more. Be it Lord Meghnad Desai’s verbal duel with Pavan Verma over the metaphorical significance of Krishna or an over-capacity attendance for Prasoon Joshi’s talk, JLF 2014 had its moments. While it lacked the controversies that marked some of the previous chapters of the festival, it offered up to literature enthusiasts opportunities to listen to their favourite authors compare theories and simultaneously introduced them to a whole new gallery of writers and ideas.

Those unfounded concerns of homophobes around the country, who suddenly were facing growing discussions on Queer Rights after the SC judgement, finally have an answer. Known for their quirky sense of humour, All India Bakchod (AIB) came out with a new video featuring Imran Khan. Loaded with wit, the video answers concerns ranging from Indian culture to how gays drink coffee. Yes, the very same AIB that had previously made rounds around social media with bangs of sarcasm to advocate the reasons why women get raped.

Bani adds: One major element of the video is the message stated clearly at the end – ignorance is a choice. A choice many Indians make everyday – a choice our highest judicial body made some time back.

The recent Supreme Court judgement turned millions of Indians into criminals, something which took the Queer rights movement in the country 377 years backwards. Amongst all the heartbreaks and outrage, social media also teemed with an unprecedented number of non-queer allies voicing their disgust at their compatriots being stripped of their dignity.

When in 2009, the landmark Delhi High Court judgement gave the non-straight part of the population the legal protection to love who they wanted to love, the halls of social media were still not ringing with as much support from those who did not directly benefit from the ruling. But this time round, tragedy did what triumph of reasoning and Human Rights could not do and the queer community gained more visible and vocal support from its straight allies. This video is not the only example. A married, heterosexual man started the Gay For A Day campaign, which even though was criticised by a few commentators, showed just how much support the queer rights movement has garnered throughout the years. Another example of how much has changed was the number of politicians coming out in opposing to the upholding of Article 377.

1. Get the kurta right

Before you decide on the issues(s) you want to start hunger strikes on, you must get the look right to compliment your now-future leaner physique. Look into your father’s closet and find the oldest kurta that you can find. If your father is the only-shirt-pants wearing bourgeoisie, don’t worry, FabIndia will come to your rescue. Sources tell us that the brand was formed to supply DU-JNU student activists with socialist-chic clothing which can also be worn for their Pammi Aunty’s Diwali parties. Step it up with the thickest nerdy glass that you can find, regardless of your need for glasses. More accessorising opportunities come with the winter, when Nehru jackets and shawls become the ‘It Things’ to have. It goes without saying, a jhola is a must.

Tip: While kurtas are mostly unisex, lady activists can also wear khadi saris, monotone or tribal prints, at seminars and other occasions of importance where you might get photographed. Male activists can try cross dressing to up their game.

2. Networking at D School

Now, as a rule every student activist worth their swadeshi salt hangs out at D School. Transcending the North Campus-South Campus divide, D School is the K Nags and Satyaniketan for students with enlightened views. Now as activists, you must network with others of your community to know about the new cool issue to raise your voice for. And what better place than D School! Though it was established as a premier institute for studying Economics, actual students of the school are hard to find with students from all over encroaching their habitat. A burgeoning issue amongst actual D School students is the ‘Gair D Schooli Chatra Bhagao Andolan’, which as a defender of the secular public space, you must oppose.

Tip: Brownie points to you for hanging out at the JNU campus at times. Try to regularly post pictures of you with your JNU/media/professor friends on Facebook to let others know that your network is wide and radical.

3. Deciding on Your Issues

With the look right and the networking done, now you can decide on the movements you can lend your support to. Try to listen in on what is bothering your senior activists and try nodding your head to them. You might not understand them much initially but a quick Google search later will take care of it. Try keeping up with the news. Immediately make an account on and sign petition after petition without any discrimination. Keep only a couple of issues as your primary ones but you can always make your presence felt in others. But try not to take up all the issues as your projects as this will only cause people to take you less seriously.

Tip: Read up on gender, sexuality, poverty, Kashmir and Israel. Your ability to quote case studies will decide your position in the hierarchy.


4. Learn to talk Much without saying Anything and understanding Everything

Remember the time when the darling of your hipster circle was talking about something and all except you were nodding their heads? Then you did not read the previous point closely. Nod your head to everything; that is the single most important thing you can and should learn. The ability to let people believe that you know more than they ever can is necessary for you to leave any kind of impression. One of the ways is nodding along but a greater method is to actually talk a lot and mean nonsense. Engineered by Literature students to pass their exams, it has now been adopted by the larger artsy population as one of the languages they are fluent in. Learn to speak in paradoxes as soon as you can or you will remain in the training period for longer than you need to.

Tip: Take a recorder along the next time you go to a talk, which should ideally happen weekly, and listen and try to replicate the way the speakers were speaking there. Remember, practice is the only way.


5. Learn how to belittle others because of their choices

While ‘Right to Choose’ and ‘Right to Express’ are one of the rights you must bring in any conversation and defend them whenever they are in danger, you must learn the proper way to judge people on their choices and letting them know that. Notice your classmates hanging out at Starbucks? Call them enabler of the war on Palestine. See them reading Chetan Bhagat and/or Durjoy Datta? Call their literary taste trashy and low. See them eating McSpicy Burger? Call them sell-outs to Multinational Corporations. See them parading their spoilt asses around in branded clothes? Scream BURGEOISIE! This may lead to multiple ‘unfriending’ on Facebook and subsequent stoning of your popularity in your college, but who cares about those merchant-minded dimwits when you can get popular in D School? This skill to belittle others will also come in handy later when you get promoted in the corporate world you joined right after college and want to make the minions know who the boss is now. Then you would also need to quash those two rights of your juniors mentioned above.

Tip: While still learning the ropes of the game, your senior activists may call out on the still lingering signs of your middle class upbringing at times. Don’t lose your patience and tell them “thank you, you are helping me mould my consciousness into the example of enlightened perfection that you project.”


P.S.: The author is only half serious and would still like to enjoy his Keema Dosa and Iced Tea at D School.

Image courtesy:,,

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The sixth Delhi Queer Pride 2013 was conducted on Sunday, 24th November 2013 at 3pm. People assembled at the Corner of Barakhamba Road and Tolstoy Marg basking in the glory of the rainbow colors! With shouts of “Hum Anek Hai” and “One India”, people joined in to celebrate the diversity within the gender spectrum fighting for the cause of gender equality.

Here are a few pictures that demonstrates in city in spirit of the rainbow colours!












Cost for two: 700 (approx)

Location: Matia Mahal Bazaar, opposite to gate 1 of Jama Masjid

Must tries: Mutton Biriyani, Shami and Shikh Kebabs

After a harrowing rickshaw journey through the lanes of Purani Dilli, in which yours truly turned a believer, we reached gate 1 of Jama Masjid. Before us stood the majesty of the 17th century Friday mosque and at the opposite side Bazaar Matia Mahal, the road to culinary heaven. The lane was home to the best and the second best Mughlai restaurants in the city. While Karim’s is the hyped offering of the lane, Al Jawahar is the other option that is its equal in the business, if not superior.

As with other Old Delhi restaurants, the ambience is nothing to speak of in the very traditional sense of the word. There is no subtle lighting and slow music. While it is not the most hygienic joint in the town, it still is one of the cleanest places to have Mughlai food in the place of its origin. We ordered Shaami Kebabs, Shikh Kebabs, Mutton Achaar Biriyani, Brain Curry and Chicken Jahangiri, of which the last was delivered late because the waiter forgot that we ordered it in the first place. Vegetarians don’t really get a lot to choose from in most of the eateries in the old quarters and our vegetarian friend had to do with Dal Fry and Mutter Pulao.

The first thing that hits you when the food is served is the aroma. The Kebabs were the perfect starters and melted in the mouth the moment you popped them in, leaving behind a faint smoky taste. The Biryani was delectable in ways words can’t describe. Given its name, each bite had a pleasant overtone of the achaar, while the mutton was just perfect, not so soft that it fails to register its texture while not that chewy that you tire yourself out over it. It was our first time with having brain as food and for the ones who have not had it yet, it tastes like eggs. Yes. The curry had a creamy gravy and the brain (yes, it feels weird even writing it) surprisingly delicious. While the chicken felt a little under cooked, the gravy it came suspended in more than made up for it. Finish off your Old Delhi meal with a Meetha Samosa and Rabri Falooda from the sweetmeat shops nearby.

Image Credit: Souvik Das Gupta on Flickr

Name of the author: Rabisankar Bal
Translator: Arunava Sinha
Genre: Magic realism
Year of release: 2013
Price: Rs 399

Who is the better storyteller: God or Manto?

Manto’s grave In Miani Sahib, Lahore, used to hold this epitaph before it was replaced by his sister fearing consequences from the newly independent Islamic nation of Pakistan. This race with God to be the better storyteller continued till his end and really is the essence of Dozakhnama. Within the conversation between two of the most celebrated writers in Urdu – Saadat Hasan Manto and Mirza Ghalib – the novel oscillates between two of the most important turning points in subcontinental history; the first war of independence in 1857 and the partition in 1947. In disguise of a literary masterpiece, it chronicles history in far more eloquent terms than any history book.

A journalist, unnamed throughout the book, researching on the tawaifs of Lucknow comes across an unpublished manuscript of a novel written by Manto about his conversation with Ghalib beyond the grave. He takes the manuscript back with him to Calcutta to translate it into Bengali with the help of his Urdu teacher, Tabassum. And then what follows is a world unleashed by the turning of pages where lost dastangos are found again, where Ismat Chugtai and Ashoke Kumar are living characters, where the last Mughal emperor, Bahadur Shah Zaffar is still holding onto glories long past. The decay of the Mughal Empire and with it the culture attached to it of Shahjahanabad is echoed in Manto’s description of the aftermath of partition. If history repeats itself, then there are no better historians than poets.

Translators are important. Without them, Marquez would still be undiscovered, Murakami would still be an unknown name and Neruda would not have become the most quoted poet ever. Likewise, without Sinha’s translation, Dozakhnama would have remained a book only celebrated inside the Bengali reading audience. While a lot of the nuances of the original language get lost in translation generally, Sinha has still managed to keep the pacing of the words and the emitting imageries true. Interestingly, the journalist-protagonist in the novel is himself translating a work from one language to another. One paradox inside another, by the end, the novel magically opens up portals to our shared history which reminds one that the past is not always that different from the present.

The other day a friend shared a link over Facebook, which took one to a photographer’s site, who, amongst many things, specialised in weddings. The photos ticked all the marks of the usual cutesy wedding photo album. Happy people. Aww-inducing details. Heavy duty jewellery. The only thing different was the adjective of ‘LESBIAN’ before the word ‘WEDDING’ in the title. Unintentional on the photographer’s part, that qualifier set it apart from other weddings; a sign board with big blinking lights that says that a wedding is a wedding, unless it is a gay wedding. In extension, proximity to meaning and wide spread wrong usage of words, ‘wedding’ could be easily replaced by ‘marriage’ and it would still seem correct. If the gays are doing it, then they are just role playing. Everyone knows that a marriage is made by the union of a penis and a vagina, not love, trust and a jest for shared misery.

Britain recently became the 15th country in the world to legalise gay marriage, a country which took homophobia, both social and legalised, to all of its colonies, including India. As the Queen gave her royal stamp of approval, the less celebrated queens of the country found emancipation in the fact that they could now marry and not just be given the consolation prize of ‘civil union’. ‘Civil union’, in places where it is offered, carries almost all the legal rights associated with a marriage. People who worry about the sanctity of the ‘traditional marriage’ getting undermined by allowing queer people the right to marry get all boggled as to why the gays are being so adamant over the wording. Why do they want to be married and not civil-unionized instead? Marriage is between a man and a wife and it is true because we still like to be governed by laws made by wife-beaters back in the 20th century BC. How dare they be so disrespectful of tradition and antique ideas?

Yes, it is because they want equality of rights, which seems so logical when put like that. When a government actively sponsors different laws for people differentiated by superficial dissimilarities, it spells out that under the constitution which sees us all as equals, we will still be treated differently. The fight for gay rights is not a fight for special rights. Just like the Dalit movement in India, the American-African civil rights movement in the US or the women’s rights movement world over, the fight is about equality. The LGBTI community is too diverse in itself and recognises the inherent diversity in the world in large and in their immediate social space. But the wish to be governed under the same rights as any other average Tom, Dick and Sally is the only forward pushing force behind the Queer rights movement. They want no more privilege than any other, just what others already have.

People routinely ask why talk about gay rights when things like poverty, illiteracy and communalism are still doing somersaults in the country. Think about it in this way: will you still be asking the same questions if it were anti-caste discrimination or woman suffrage we were talking about? No, because even if you don’t really share the same enlightened views, you will be feeling uncomfortable airing such outdated ideas. The Queer rights movement is morally the same as any other civil rights movement. There is no logical counter for not extending the same rights to exist to non-heterosexual citizens as there were none in the case of women and Dalits. The only explanation is homophobia, which like sexism and casteism in the past, is no longer going to be okay to believe in in the near future.

In the international arena, especially and specifically the West, it is a good time for the LGBTI community. DOMA got repealed in the United States and England and Wales gave all their citizens equal rights to marry whoever they want to. Regarding gay marriage in India, it is not a question of why, it is a question of when. Indian mythology is spammed with examples of non-heteronormative characters and couplings. Already the Indian constitution defines ‘marriage’ in a gender neutral terms, whether an oversight or a foresight is debatable. Times change and with it definitions. Marriage was once exchange of money and cattle. And woman as much the property of her husband as his herd of goats. People want to get married and see their relationships getting the same respect as everyone’s. Definitions matter. Like the wisecrack Liz Feldman offered, “It’s very dear to me, the issue of gay marriage. Or as I like to call it: marriage. You know, because I had lunch this afternoon, not ‘gay lunch’. I parked my car; I didn’t ‘gay park’ it.”

Image Credit: Steph Grant Photography

There is an ancient Wimbledonian saying, mostly untranslatable but it goes something like “If chance made you a woman and you want to be a champion of Wimbledon, you gotta have big boobs. And blond hair. And body of some Amazonian jungle goddess from a hormonal teenager’s fantasy. If you are a man, you just gotta play well.” As the time passed, this sacred law has been withheld by generations of long legged Sharapovas and Mladenovics who have marched on and have become famous for their “supermodel looks”, their winning one title after another notwithstanding. Yes, that’s why female tennis players were allowed to play professionally in the first place, to look like supermodels giddying around on the court. Why didn’t they just get Kate Moss to do all that?

In a world where feminism is a dirty word and where cracking sexist jokes are the in thing to do, sports were thought to be the great equalising force, a place where only talent and tenacity were the criterion to achieve greatness. Where not having the male member dangling between your legs was not supposed to be a handicap, a handicap which would underscore the rest of a woman’s life. But the silent sexism in sports all these years long, followed by the recent examples of not-so-silent sexism show how even in the supposed gender non-discriminating arena of athletics, the old ugly face of sexism persists.

The Bartoli vs. Lisicki women’s single match was one of the most famous this season and for all the wrong reasons. It would be expected that after winning the match, Bartoli would either be appreciated for her skills on the court or panned for the same. She was after all an athlete who had just won a major title. But the backlash that followed had nothing to do with the game but something so completely unrelated to the sport that it boggles the mind as to how people could connect the two. While single digit IQ levelled Twitter warriors had a field day branding her “undeserving” of the title because of her looking the way she does, the BBC commentator, John Iverdale jumped into a retelling of an imagined conversation between Bartoli and her father/coach, where the latter supposedly tells his daughter how she was “never going to be a looker” and because of which she had to be extra “gritty” in her game.

Another incident following Andy Murray winning the men’s single reflects on the retaining power of the audience of matters related to women in sports. After the win against Serbia’s Novak Djokovic, the British media went on to celebrate Murray as the redeemer of the British nation. Headlines like “A win after 77 years” crowded the newsstands. What went unnoticed until later was that in between Murray’s win and Fred Perry’s 77 years ago, three Britishers had already won singles titles in the tournament. The fact that those three were female gave the media the right to go into memento mode and forget about the past winners since Perry. Of the three, Virginia Wade was the most celebrated after her win 36 years ago. The other two were Annabel Croft and Laura Robson, who won the Girls’ singles in 1984 and 2008 respectively. The fact that people could just forget such achievements seem especially cruel after knowing what Wade said in an interview after her historic win, “You never forget how it feels to win Wimbledon.”

The incident involving Bartoli drags to the limelight the sexist practices that tournaments like Wimbledon are still preserving. While the male player is supposed to spend his time and resources on bettering his game, any digression being scrutinised and criticised by the media and the commentators alike, the female player is expected to only keep up the Disney Princess appearance.Such trivialization gains from the patronising attitude towards sportswomen in general, which leads to further breeding of such sexist understanding in the succeeding generations. This completes the circle where however much may the sportswoman achieve, at the end of the day her worth is decided by men on how pleasing she is to their eyes.

The Tumblr post by Public Shaming cataloguing the insensitive outcry on Twitter over how Bartoli was undeserving of her title because of how she looked showed just how wide spread sexism is. People who would not usually watch Tennis matches, let alone interested in women’s sports, would air their opinions on just how much they were offended by her winning the match and how much they wanted Sabine Lisicki to win. What goes uncommented upon is how equally insulting this is for Lisicki too, whose right to win the title was appropriated because of her looks and not by the fact that she had reached the finals in the first place.

In the Indian context, Sania Mirza was made popular more for her appearance than her skills, which reflected in the national love and obsession with her remaining constant, irrespective of her form on-court, from the start of her career to her marriage to Shoaib Malik, when she suddenly “betrayed” the nation by marrying a Pakistani. In contrast, no one cares about how Mahesh Bhupathi or Leander Paeslook on or off court. Their game matters, in case of Mirza, only her looks.

While on the topic of Wimbledon, another sexist practise that goes uncommented upon is the way female players are referred to in the tournament. While the names of the male players are used to refer to them respectively, the married female players are referred to by the names of their husbands. You may be Plain Jane off the court, but when you are trying to win a game on the merit of your own skills, independent of the dis/name of your husband, you will still be known as Mrs. John Doe. The fact that as recent as 2010, a female player was referred to not by her own name but by her husband’s should be infuriating enough. Queen Victoria might have had her last breath more than a century ago but the crooked notion of gender politics of her times still continues to survive to this date.

The least we could do is acknowledging the fact that sexism does exist, even in sports, something a lot of people feel uncomfortable accepting.

And until then, we could only yearn for a time and place when people would judge a person’s worth by the thoughts that crowd their mind and the deeds that come to pass by their hands and not the clothes they happen to wear.