Wednesday, May 14, 2014

What Our Cities Are Made Of : A Photo Story of an Urban Street

The images below have some symbols which are probably quite common place today and no longer catch our attention. However, there’s a story of humankind that they tell. Following are some observations. 

Part I: A Walk 

Observation 1: The trees are no more in the foreground; they occupy a secondary status today as compared to concrete.

Observation 2: A man who has labored all day walks to return home with a sickle in his hand, wearing rubber slippers. His labour has been consumed and he has no more a share in what he built, like the painted english words on the wall state in no ambiguous terms who the site belongs to. Private property of the capital owner of this concrete! Well, since when did people start “owning” land and then, also “owning” what is constructed on it? And how do we decide who “owns” it? The contributor of labour or capital? How did one gain precedence over the other? And wait, how do we fix the value of the land or the construction so that it can be owned? Who does it? These questions have no easy answers and anyway, we seem to have taken them for granted.

Observation 3: And just in case anyone tries to object to these basic ground rules that human kind seems to have developed over the years, we have “keys and locks” to protect the territory from “trespassers” and yes, of course, the whole state machinery ensures to keep all the non-owners from disturbing your privacy of property.

Observation 4: A road is laid down by the state for the ease of transport of those who own these buildings so they can commute to and fro between their private properties with vehicles again owned by them which need roads of course. Well, the labourer who toiled all day to build can use his feet to commute, however long a distance he might have come from. He doesn’t seem to own much other than his sickle and a small bag of items that he probably uses for work.

Part II: How to become confident!

Not feeling confident? Try plywood!

Still not? Try getting a hairdo!

Still no? Try learning spoken English!

Or much cheaper! Just have a Coca Cola!

Part III: Our World and Their World

While we get our spacious two or more bedrooms with attached bathrooms and a balcony with a view constructed, they who construct them are packed into the corners, not disturbing the scenic beauty around us. While we dine in our expensive hotels, they are threatened from even entering such spaces lest they spoil the experience.

Part IV: But we just want to live life king size!

We fancy ourselves along the royal heritage of kingdoms and their castles, our colonial rulers, our ‘fairer’ cousins, if only we could be fairer and lovely too. We too want to go global like they did. Vulgar display of wealth? But our wealth is legitimate. Through legitimate systems which favour us just a little more than those who couldn’t compete with us. Earned through our hard work. They might work harder than us too but theirs is physical labour which has not much value. Who fixed that value? Nevermind. It’s the government’s job to take care of them. What can we do?

Part V: Our Private and Our Public Spaces
Which class are you? Premium? No? You can belong to the ‘premium class’. Just buy this!

Public-private partnership?

Sunday, May 4, 2014

The Invisibility of Women

For since I was a child, I heard of man and man everywhere in my so called enlightened modern English education. I read, “Man” is a social animal. Even in poetry and prose considered in all greatness and glory of the classical poets and writers, with due respect to whatever they were articulating, all I read about was “man” and even if I heard of women, it was from the eyes of a man. So was the case in my daily life when I was accustomed to consider myself, a girl, invisible, always lingering in the background unless absolutely necessary, it needed reason to make myself visible. Without good reason, I had no place anywhere. I wasn’t significant or important nor did I matter as a human in my own worth.  As a girl, one needs a reason to become visible while it is just the other way round for a man, who needs a reason to become invisible. And visible, women become, only when they play to the eyes of men, playing out their roles to their male chauvinist taste.

Stay indoors. If you want to go out, you need to have good reason because of course, a woman’s place is in the kitchen.  Let me adapt it to today’s times. Even if a woman works, her place in the kitchen is still reserved only for her.