CityScripts : UDAIPUR


How do we feel about a city when we are just about to reach there? What are our thoughts? How much does it resonate with the recent TripAdvisor advert that popped up on your screen which you couldn’t resist clicking? Or is it layered with your last search #udaipur in Instagram? Or is it the books you read, the characters, those lyrics from your favourite music that runs through you? 

Beyond my banal excitements, I always travel making and breaking assumptions, keeping tabs on learning and unlearning about people and places. But Udaipur, the city was very confusing for me. I couldn’t follow its beats, or, does it have one at all? Or is it just that cities tell different stories to different people? Beyond question, the city has its own quaint charm. With beautiful lakeside palaces, English gardens and terracotta bridges, it is perfectly designed for your suite dreams, but fortunately or unfortunately I have never had one. Or it might even help if you go gaga over destination weddings and marbled splendours all around Lake Pichola. But, I felt so resistant to the romantic imagination of the city.

After an all wound up, twisting road journey through the hills of the Aravalli range from Mount Abu, I arrived at an amber-lit late afternoon in Udaipur. Trying to recall the numbers in a temperature display board that flashed wayside, I thought over whether to keep the sweater for rest of the evening; also because Rajasthan winter was yet to ring a bell for me!

The touristy life-line in Udaipur runs around the Lake Pichola. Watching Pichola’s tranquil waters shimmering with reflections of grand palaces and designer hotels, I was already curious about the other side of the oldest lake in Udaipur. As the sky turned into pale mauve and birdies flew over to their island retreat, I slipped away to my rustic thoughts making a pass at falling for the fancy boat-ride.

Udaipur has always been an elite city in my imagination. But then, that is a convenient assumption to make about any city! Howbeit, Udaipur was yet to roll out in its full-on mix and blend for me. It was just the second day in the city I got a glimpse of elite existence here and there, except for the flamboyance of lofty palaces and hotels on the east bank of Lake Pichola which are also the fast held fixtures to the royal legacy. Like always, they have made themselves comfortably exclusive to the city. Look at the Monsoon palace, atop a hill, away from all the everyday nuisances of the city, stands the royal seasonal hideout- beyond all the laymen outcries. If it was the monarchs then, it’s the monied now.

Undoubtedly Pichola Lake is an offbeat beauty to Udaipur, may be the only thing this city can flaunt about. After all, how hard it tries to transcend itself to royal and glitzy, the lake cannot hide away from drips of hardships and suffering haunting its banks, on the other side!

A stroll through the City Palace would show you the already one-sided history of cities like Udaipur and how the power dynamics which once existed is reconstructed and made a marvel for the public.  Well, heritage spaces are emphatically valued, but why is it always the history of that particular ‘one’?

Indeed, this is a very pretty town, but I was neither shaken nor stirred of it.


Yes, The Same Communalism Shit!


I remember questioning the term sometime during high school, regarding its usage erred on the side of violence. Because nowhere in my childhood I have heard the stories of hostility between religions. No lessons were taught to me about this fumes, instead our textbooks had the illustrations of temples, mosques and churches. Though now I do question about this same curriculum which was predominantly occupied with mainstream perspectives, let me keep it aside for time being.

The idea which I earlier couldn’t absorb has now become very familiar and visible to me. No doubt, my first reaction upon the knowledge of the communal idiocy would have been of shock and disbelief. But since then there has been a processing worked out by the media, politics, local and national events, experiences, and thus goes on the list. Today I was watching this documentary on Al- Jazeera and felt very indifferent towards the ideas and message conveyed. Every single frame, every single faces which appeared and their woes and intimidation were familiar to me. In to my fool’s paradise where I questioned the validness and rationality of the idea of communalism, this very dampening phenomenon entered through the news of communal riots, both national and regional, and now it has caught up with me along the slices of my beef platter. It is everywhere now, I can see the ripples in ordinary experiences of  everyday life. It’s dreadful knowing that the reason behind cold stares at my hijab is not unfamiliarity to the culture, but uneasiness arising from intolerance towards the culture I represent. The implied conversation about hidden intentions of minorities to invade this nation through population explosion are no more strange to me. Giving shots to newer forms of venom by throwing up older ones, making use of sufferings of one community to afflict worse scourges on the other has become natural and acceptable at surprising levels. I am no more shocked to have confronting questions regarding Pakistan and Saudi Arabia,nations which I am no way related to. I have some how become indifferent to the nonsense that I am alien and predatory in my own country and therefore have to abide by the major.

One uneasiness I had while watching the documentary was about the fact that these frantic repercussions under the label of religious intolerance is no more a rare occurrence and that it has become so typic even for the victims. Normalization has become the new norm in case of communal violence. It has become an acceptable part of India’s contemporary political landscape. For instance, when issues like these come up for discussions in social media platforms where tweets, posts or articles brings in a reaction like ‘Oh, the same communalism shit, anything new?’. This normalization is indeed very much difference from acceptance. But remember, this is not the first time we are into this phenomenon of being at the cold end! We bear the scars of having normalized sexual violence, misbehavior to women in public spaces, even the heinous crime rape!

Before we reach the point of no return, we definitely have to take a flight back!

Take a Note. Next time, you lecture me about safety, do question yourself about who and what make spaces unsafe. Because ‘staying’ safe comes with a lot of costs for us!

Take a Note. Next time, you lecture me about safety, do question yourself about who and what make spaces unsafe. Because 'staying' safe comes with a lot of costs for us!

when safety becomes a convenient box to shut women down..

നമുക്കുള്ള കുറിപ്പുകൾ

നിന്നോടെനിക്ക് ചോദ്യങ്ങളുമില്ല !
  നമ്മുടെ ഇടങ്ങളൊക്കെ 
ഞാൻ ഇനി ഓർമ്മകൾക്ക് പകുത്തുകൊടുക്കുന്നു,
പുതിയയിടങ്ങൾ വാടകക്കെടുത്ത് എനിക്കായ് കാത്തുകൊള്ളുക !
ഇന്നലെകൾക്ക് വേണ്ടി നിനക്കൊന്നും തന്നെ ചെയ്യാനാവില്ല,
ഇന്നിനോടും ഇന്നുള്ളവരോടും നീതി പുലർത്തുക.

India’s Shame

What should I be ashamed of?
Of a documentary that dug the dirt out of the ‘Indian Image’?
Of a government dropping its sick face down and hiding away into comforts of ancient glory?
Or of people who flung stones against the mirror held up to their own frame of mind?
Prime Minister Narendra Modi vowed to end discrimination against women on the occasion of International Women’s Day. “Today, we renew our pledge to make women an equal and integral part of our development journey,” he said. “My government has initiated several measures aimed at bringing about a positive change in the lives of women. That is central to our vision of India’s progress and a life of dignity and opportunity for all our citizens.” But my ‘head hang in shame’ reading the news of ban on the documentary ‘India’s Daughter’ by Leslee Udwin But this is what Modi government want to bestow us with, on Women’s Day ! Instead of confronting the real issue for shame it has bowed down and proved ‘ban’ is the only effective ‘policy’ we can actualize. It had always been an instrument to cover up the real shame and the stories are on loop. 
Following hundreds of tweets and wondering about rationale behind the hash-tag #DontRapeAgain, what I could see was a repro of the culture of shaming around rape. The same notion of ‘honor and shame’ attached to rape ‘victims’ seems to be regenerated in one or other form through such responses. Instead of viewing the documentary as part of a strong campaign against rape, violence against women and gender inequality, our government, judiciary and supporters of the ban has took the wildest imagination that the documentary is part of a global conspiracy to defame India and thereby silenced conversations that could take place on real concerns of the documentary.

The documentary may leave many of us disturbed and sickened with the comments made by the offender and lawyers. But haven’t we heard the same from many around us. You may cut down my contention as a mere generalization and as a weak profiling of Indian society.
But isn’t their statements more or less same from what we heard from our own politicians and ‘god-men’ ??
Doesn’t it echo the common mindset shared that women are fragile and delicate and therefore to be protected?
How is it different from the everyday reality that majority of Indian women go through??? 
A screen shot from ‘India’s Daughter’
പുറത്തേക്കുള്ള വാതിലുകൾ തുറക്കപ്പെടുമ്പോൾ നിങ്ങൾ നിങ്ങളിലേക്കുള്ള വാതിലുകൾ തന്നെ കൊട്ടിയടക്കാതിരിക്കുക…

കാരണം, എല്ലാത്തിനുമൊടുവിൽ തിരിച്ചുപോരാൻ നമുക്കെല്ലാവർക്കും ഒരിടം വേണം !

വാനം മുറ്റെ കൂറ്റൻ ശാഖികളുള്ള പടുവൃക്ഷങ്ങൾ വേരുവിട്ടു വളരാറില്ല…

മുകളിലുള്ള നീലിമയേക്കാൾ നമ്മളിലൊക്കെ  ഉള്ളത് മണ്ണിന്റെയും ചേറിന്റെയും മണമാണ്!

[അല്പം post modernism എവിടുന്നൊക്കെയോ വായിച്ചത് കൊണ്ട് എന്ത് കോപ്രായവും എഴുതിക്കൂട്ടുമെന്ന് മനസ്സിലായി ]

ഇങ്ങനാണ് ഭായ് !!!

ഞങ്ങളിങ്ങനാണ്  ഭായ്…
മുള്ളാൻ തോന്ന്യാ ഞങ്ങളെവിടേം മുള്ളും.
തല്ലാൻ തോന്ന്യാ ഞങ്ങളാരേയും തല്ലും.
“ചരക്കാരായാലും” ഞങ്ങൾ കേറിപ്പിടിക്കും.
പക്ഷെ, ഉമ്മവെക്കൽ…. അയ്യേ, അത് ‘മറ്റേതല്ലേ’ !!!
അതൊക്കെ കണ്ടുനിൽക്കാൻ മാത്രം ശേഷിയില്ലാത്ത പാവം ഞരമ്പുരോഗികളാണേയ്…
സംസ്കാരമൊക്കെ നമ്മൾ തോണ്ടീട്ടും പിടിച്ചിട്ടും ഉയർത്തിപ്പിടിക്കണം 
സ്നേഹമൊക്കെ ആഭാസമല്ലേ ….സംസ്കാരമുള്ളോരാരും സ്നേഹിക്കാറുണ്ടോ ഭായ്…

NB:നിങ്ങൾക്ക് തോന്നിവാസം ചെയ്യാമെങ്കിൽ എനിക്കതെഴുതാം.