Moments in and away from the milling crowd……

Time: 5:51 pm, May 7th, 2006
Place: Food World, M. G. Road

And what was I doing there?Yet another evening, yet another Blank Noise performance, yet another experience………and here’s me penning my experiences down, yet another time………

This time, I have more to pen down than just my experiences as a Blank Noise volunteer. I want to write about my experiences as an individual in the middle of a milling crowd, busy going around doing its work……….

As usual, we all met up (stipulated time was 4:30 but I was late due to certain unavoidable reasons). The venue for the meeting this time, Barista, M. G. Road. And the moment I entered, I heard Chitra announcing that there was going to be a performance by Blank Noise. I reached and before I could sit, I saw the Barista officials walking up to us and telling us that such “activities” are not allowed on the Barista premises!

Well, this certainly came as a news to me that our “activities” could hamper their business in any way! If any of the readers of this blog get any bright ideas, I’m all ears………….

This time was a different effort…………..compared to the last time. The last time, we realized that the people (particularly men) were largely unaware of the impact of “harmless fun” they get out of staring, whistling, singing songs etc.

So, we decided that we shall take prints of some testimonials by women who have written about their experiences of being eve-teased/harassed.We hoped to make some of them aware of what goes on in the mind of a woman who is being teased/harassed. And we were hoping to spark a thought in their minds about the way they affect women by harmlessly having fun!

So, there were these testimonials printed and folded, ready to be handed over to people on the roads (only to the ones who seriously gave a thought to the whole performance, or were curious).

After folding all the testimonials, we moved off from Barista and stood about 6 feet from each other, in a row, IN THE MIDDLE OF THE PAVEMENT………And it was very interesting to see people respond in different ways. Here are some of the responses we heard (we = all of us, not just me)…..

———————————————

“Dear Stranger? What does that mean? I’m not a stranger to Bangalore……..” (I wonder if he understood that by stranger, we meant, stranger to US and not to the city)”

What are these people doing standing in the middle of the pavement?” (These were the ones who were mostly given the testimonials)

“Is this some sort of a Fashion Parade?” (Interesting one there……………..)

“What is this going to change?” (Every thing has to start somewhere na? This is our beginning)

“They’re statues, don’t ask them anything, they won’t talk…..” (I wonder if they ever saw that we breathed)

“This looks so funny” (Sure it does, but then, humour is the best way to catch attention, ain’t it?)

“All of them look good……” (Ahem ahem, I would want to believe this one)

—————————————

Here’s me at M. G. Road as a part of the performance……………

So, we stood at the M. G. Road, distributing testimonials and hoping to change an infinitesimally small fraction of the crowd moving around there. If not anything, plant a seed of thought in their minds………

Watching the crowd milling around me was also an experience in itself. The plethora of reactions to our unusual setup was also pretty intriguing! The reactions varied from ignorance to indifference to mocking to noticing to curiosity to walking up to ask us!

There were some interesting incidents that happened there that made me think twice about things!

1. Four girls, standing in a group, giggling……….and saying things like: What are these people up to? Are they asking for funds for something? Are they nuts?

And on being given the testimoinal to read, there was silence that followed. And they read the testimonial………the giggles vanished. I would like to believe that they gave the testimonial a thought. The look on their faces changed, from that of indifference to that of instrospection (I hope I read the expression right). And after some time, they walked off. Beyond my earshot, so I don’t know what they talked about but they seemed deep in conversation.

2. One guy (walking with a girlfriend, arm-in-arm) refuses to take the testimonial and behaves as if he never saw us.

One of us was being continuously being stared at by this guy who was walking with his girlfriend. And on being given the testimonial, he gave one of those “I don’t know you, I didn’t see you” looks and hurried off…………..probably because he realized that he was not SO right in staring afterall…………….

3. One elderly person took the testimonial and read it. And came back to ask me, how’s this going to change anything?

Well, I didn’t say anything to him but I think the spark has to be there somewhere! Only then, can we expect a fire to light up. Of course, there’s dry straw (people willing to listen and respond) needed too, but then no matter how much straw you put, if there’s no spark, there’ll never be fire! So, this is OUR spark! And we hope that a conflagaration shall follow one day that shall consume this omnipresent evil named eve-teasing……

4. One guy took the testimonial and said, “Love letter hai shayad!” (and laughter followed)…..

Well, I really don’t know what to say to this!!!!!!!!!!!!!

But apart from all these, there was this undeniable sense of empowerment and self-respect that I had when I went for the performance this time. When there were stares, I could meet them head-on. Not only that, I could avert the gazed (it really makes me wonder as to how cowardly these starers generally are!!!!), could even make the starers hide their tail between their legs and run for their life…………..

My gaze had that strength which was lacking earlier. If Blank Noise could do this to me, I stand to only gain and not lose anything at all!!!!!!!!!!! If I emerge a strong human after all these performances, then a good part of the aim of this performance is acheived!

And now, to my experiences as a person in the milling crowd!!!!!!

I have always been interested in watching people. I love those window seats (except for in a plane) from where I can watch the crowd outside. In a train, in a bus, in a car…………and I always have wondered about whether I could ever get to see this or that person again! Whether there’s ANY intersection possible between his/her world and mine! Whether that person is happy, sad, anxious, worried, sorry…………………

I may be termed crazy but that’s how I feel when I look at people in general……..and that’s how I felt when I was there at M. G. Road…….I wondered when I looked at the crowd!!!!!!! Wondered if they had the same worries as I did! Did they care for things that I did? Did they even care that “I” existed? Did they know that I was an individual too!

Well, I guess that’s all I have to say about that!!!!!!!!

Pritesh

Advertisements

12 Comments

  1. Jasmeen said,

    May 9, 2006 at 11:14 pm

    thankyou pritesh!!

  2. Sundaram said,

    May 10, 2006 at 12:30 am

    Nice. Keep up. Call me for such activities – may help or at least watch

  3. fuse me said,

    May 10, 2006 at 12:46 am

    Hmmm..nice work. Looks like the next step has been taken. Please do take my suggestion of All-pin + Whistle seriously….

  4. Pritesh said,

    May 10, 2006 at 1:23 am

    Please Jasmeen, YOU don’t have to say thanks!

    Tata, thanks for being willing to be there……we can use all the help we get…..

    And yes Ananth, “I” follow it! Maybe it’s time I persuaded other women too…..

  5. unforgiven said,

    May 10, 2006 at 11:17 am

    Next time, do let us know in advance when and where. If nothing else, it’ll be a bunch of amusement..

  6. unforgiven said,

    May 10, 2006 at 11:45 am

    After reading the blank noise blog, one comment.

    I agree with the concept but still disagree with the method.

    If it works though, more power to you girls.

  7. Pritesh said,

    May 11, 2006 at 1:44 am

    I guess, so far it is working for us! And anything new experiences birth pangs……..the ridicule we receive could be just that! Not that we’re worried anyway………one has to make a beginning somewhere…….

  8. Karthik said,

    May 11, 2006 at 4:15 am

    My best wishes to you for your intiative in this venture…

  9. Pritesh said,

    May 11, 2006 at 10:53 pm

    Thanks Karthik……….

  10. Bhargavi said,

    May 13, 2006 at 8:01 am

    Its interesting… a good job you are doing by making at least some ppl think(I’m sure a few hv definitely given it a thought) and its interesting for you too!

  11. June 11, 2006 at 10:55 am

    at the end of the post I still have no clue of this blank-noise: mis-spelt opp of white-noise?? (sorry for the joke, couldn’t resist it) anyway being the jobless ex-iiscian I opened a new window and googled for it… I wouldn’t count on so much attention from my readers if were you (especially after your MG Road exp)

    and yes, great work 🙂

  12. Pritesh said,

    June 12, 2006 at 8:54 am

    As they say, be the change you want to see (Mahatma Gandhi)……I am a firm believer of the same. If this experience changes ME as a person, makes me strong enough to ward off eve-teasing, I am happy…..


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: