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It’s always nerve-wracking to read a close friend’s writing – and especially so when it is writing that has just been published.

Fortunately with Piyusha Vir’s “Just Another Day”, I needn’t have worried at all. This collection of three short stories, Vir’s debut book, is available on Kindle, and did not disappoint. Continue Reading »

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Words for Asifa

To the monsters that broke her body:

what twisted state of mind begets

belief of your claim to innocent flesh

in the house of your God, no less?

Was there an ounce of shame lingering

somewhere within your thirst for blood?

Or did you feel powerful when

you shredded her dignity and

squashed the life of a little girl

perhaps too innocent to

believe in an evil and

cowardice such as yours?

Did you feel proud that it took six

of you to tear her apart,

spirit and soul, bones and skin?

What is this darkness without

remorse where human life is cheaper

than a depraved gluttonous hunger

for power over an 8 year-old?

There are no words to articulate,

no torture or torment great enough

to make you feel what she felt

There is only our own self-disgust

and a growing number of

involuntary martyrs,

that bleed pain, despair and hopelessness.

Vengeance will never be painful

enough, to crush this disease that

breeds within our minds.

********************************************

This does not seem like nearly enough to address the horror of what happened to Asifa, but it is all I have. I don’t know whether to be angry or heartbroken – both seem equally useless against this sickness that plagues our society. How many brutalized bodies will it take us to change? It doesn’t look like that’s anywhere close to happening unfortunately. They gangraped her in a temple and then murdered her, because that’s how cheap human life has become. And there are people who defend the rapists like there is any justification for doing this to anyone, let alone an 8 year old girl. Whatever we are doing it is not enough. I am still reeling from this and I don’t know what else to say except we need to fix this, break off the root of it and crush it forever.

A few weeks ago, a woman named Shilpi A. Singh messaged me, as she was doing a piece on acroyoga (a blend of acrobatics, yoga and Thai massage) and wanted to speak to some practitioners and members of the community. Those of you who know me, know that I have practiced this on and off for a few years. Last year I became, what they called a jambassador, with the goal of promoting and facilitating jams, and helping build a community.  Continue Reading »

I’m taking a break from Kerala posts but just for today 🙂

Last night, I found myself pulled into a debate about the Aziz Ansari episode, as a friend of mine related a personal anecdote of mine on a group forum.

“Why didn’t she just do x?” “Why didn’t she just do y?” “Why didn’t she just say no?” The ladies on the thread wondered, questioning the legitimacy of my experience: one that many women have had.

So I took it upon myself to get on the thread and explain. I didn’t accuse, I didn’t get angry, I didn’t hurl around labels. At the end, the ladies came around and understood. It is sadly one of the only times that has ever happened to me.

The problem with labels we use today is that they’re loaded. Rapist, abuser, sexual predator: all these are very powerful and heavy-handed words.  Continue Reading »

It’s a four hour drive to Kumarakom, a sleepy little town by the backwaters, dominated by resorts. Kottayam is a short distance away, and there is apparently some sightseeing to be done there.

The roads of Kottayam remind me of Goa, low-rise colourful houses, with wide fields lined with rice patties, and peppered with clumps of coconut and palm trees. Gates are flat, as security is not a concern here.

There are small eateries lining marketplaces, with mom and pop shops of all varieties.

Continue Reading »

I hear a lot about a Thekkady-based joint called Grandma’s Cafe, so on my second (and last) evening there, I finally decide to give it a try.

This place is an institution, and is known for it’s mix of Continental, non-Kerala Indian, and Kerala cuisine, and being a favourite of travellers. I found it in my Lonely Planet guide book and on Tripadvisor, where there seemed to be a rather lively debate on whether they serve beer.

Continue Reading »

The kalaripayattu performance that follows the kathakali is nothing short of spectacular. The practitioners move like dancers, their bodies a combination of ridiculous strength and flexibility.

Kalaripayattu is an ancient martial art that originated in Kerala, with roots that date back to the Sangam period literature (3rd century BC – 2nd century AD). Every soldier during this period received regular military training. It takes elements from yoga, dance and performing arts, which are visible in today’s performance. Continue Reading »