Overworked, Overwired, Overtired? Then Disconnect by Kate Brunner

I would go for a walk on a quiet early morning or shut down the computer pretending it doesn’t exist, disable wi-fi and mobile network, and cover my eyes with mud mask [for five minutes].

Kate close up at Llyn MorwynionI have this belief that there used to be boundaries between work and home; between boss/employee and family. That there used to be space to take a deep breath and let go for a minute. That most jobs did not require one to be on-call nonstop. Perhaps this perception is erroneous. Perhaps it’s a notion I picked up from thirty to fifty year old sitcoms. Perhaps childhood memories aren’t as sharp as they use to be and I was just too young to be aware of any work-related activities intruding on my parents’ family time. But it is still there- this notion in my head that “back in the day” the work day actually ended; that we could put down our tools and go home to rest for a bit before returning to the assorted tasks at hand.

As a young Army lieutenant, my peers and I joked that mobile…

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Is #rapeculture winning?

Few weeks ago, I was at a friend’s place with acquaintances, listening to them talk about measures to ensure accountability against sexual harassers and perpetrators of sexual violence and sexism in left public places.
For some reason, my heart sank at their enthusiasm because I didn’t find any ambition or hope for introducing such measures when looking back at the years that have gone by.

The sinking feeling returned with full force days after that discussion when one of Jyoti Singh’s rapists and murderers was released by the High Court under India’s newly introduced Juvenile Justice Bill. Jyoti’s parents’ heart-wrenching response to it:

I died the day my daughter died,” her mother Asha Devi declares, disconsolate and in tears. It is hard for most of us to even imagine her pain and loss. “If I am alive today, it is only in order to secure justice for my daughter. But when the boy who raped her so brutally walks free after just three years, I feel I have failed our daughter.” Her husband Badri Singh agrees. “We are small people,” he retorts. “We can never get justice. Crime has won and we have lost.

Jyoti Singh was a 23-year old physiotherapy intern in Delhi who was brutally gang raped and murdered in a public bus in December 2012. It happened in a public bus and no one around had the courage to stop it, to beat the crap out of those fuckers, to cut off their limbs and penises. No one bothered. Everyone watched.  And now, one haraami walks free.

I had high hopes from you India, I had very high hopes from you.

That is not all. All of Mukhtaran Mai’s gang rapists were released by the Supreme Court in March last year, bringing an end to her decade-old struggle for justice. Mukhtaran Mai, now 40, runs a women’s welfare organization in Multan. She was gang raped and stripped in public by her rapists in June 2002. Nowadays, she is battling with ailment in a hospital in Multan.

During the same month last year, Amna, a student of medicine, set herself on fire in front of a hospital at Muzaffargarh after the police released her gang rapists on bail, only days after their arrest; she died of 3rd degree burns in Multan.

Two years ago, I was threatened with a lawsuit for naming certain international organizations harboring rapists and sexual offenders in Pakistan at an international feminist publication. The result: I gave up and lost, and quite frankly, I don’t know why I haven’t set myself on fire yet or shot myself yet.

Few days ago, a friend called me up for advice on what to do about a certain young woman who’s experiencing sexual harassment from her boss. I ended up telling my friend that this certain woman must be crazy or deluded because sexual offenders in positions of power are immune from any kind of accountability and she should’ve known better than to allow him that kind of access to her life.
I told my friend to tell her to grow up and figure things out herself or hire a bloodthirsty lawyer with the amount of good money she is making.

Having said that, I’m fairly convinced that we have graduated to the era of rape culture with flying colors. Rape culture has won. Rapists, sexual offenders and murderers are winning everywhere. What kind of system of accountability is going to stop them or correct them? More importantly, what kind of system can ensure the repair of irreversible damages? What’s gone is gone. It’s not coming back.

Partition is very real, as Dr Guneeta Singh says. Forced colonization and forced migrations are in full swing and they continue to ruin the lives of the fairer sex from the middle and lower middle classes. When there is no fairer sex left to uphold the system of accountability, rape culture wins.

I don’t know what good is coming out of campaigns like Girls at Dhabas in Pakistan and Why Loiter in India, with the exception that women now have something to rely on should they experience some kind of violation of their dignity and freedom in any space that they’re loitering in. That’s a good start.

Suggestion to young women experiencing harassment in a public place, take a picture, record the moments of sexual violence as and when they happen, and share on social media immediately.
The law and government will obviously not help you because like Sabeen Mahmud said, governments are stupid. Have faith in the good people who can not only help you but can also become a voice for you if you’ve been rendered speechless by all the traumas you’ve been through.

How things have progressed in just the past three years, I see no hope, only darkness all around, with my books and my cup of coffee and that sinking feeling in my heart anchored by a faint belief that miracles do happen and fortune smiles on the brave.

Merry Christmas, and Happy New Year.

Copyright Fakhra Hassan. All Rights Reserved.

Excuse me, your #sexism is showing

This is a serious post that has been sitting with me for quite some time. I’ve been thinking for the past few years about sexism everywhere, from home to work, to public places.

It was easier to deal with sexism at home, but like my private life, it is none of your business unless some prick is bugging you at home or in your private or work life.

Karte hain logon ki baat:

Having spent a great deal of time with left leaning, progressive, liberal men and wymen, I come across many salutations thrown at me like man, biologically deprived, dick, mister and then in the not-so-left leaning, conservative circles who address me with terms like paa ji or janaab or jatt or sir jee.
And then there is the blatantly classist, racist category of men and women who address me Bibi or Behan Ji or Aunty Ji or Motapa Maasi– lekin yeh categories qabil-e-muaafi hain because quite frankly, I am not sweet sixteen and to this mal-nutritioned, bulimic South Asian society, I appear to be horrendously fat like a woman who is either pregnant or mother of ten 10-pound infants, woh acceptable hai beta/beti, koi baat nahi.

I need to ask this question to the left-leaning, pseudo-intellectual liberals, what’s wrong with addressing someone with their name? What’s wrong with Fakhra? Why do people suffer from this toxic disease of genderizing anything that doesn’t fit their idea of norm? Too much of that harami Freud? Ya phir Fanon wali cognitive dissonance hai jis ko admit karne mein maut a jati hai aap logon ko.
What pleasure is there to derive in screwing with someone’s head like that? I really want to know. No wait. Please carry on. In fact, why don’t you just straightforwardly ask me to take my pants and shirt off, and probe my genitals, to check if I really am a man [with or without a dick], and really telling the truth about being raped and really bear evidence of corrective genderization?

That’s what you people are trying to do, no? Ready for another lesson, Fakhra? Let’s know about who you have feelings for and cage them for ourselves, how dare you have feelings for someone, Fakhra? You’re destined to stay loveless all your life and bow before us, Fakhra. How dare you fall in love, Fakhra, when you don’t have the privilege to? Gutter mein jaye tum sab ki gender wali PhDs, world-renowned statuses aur your feminisms.

I’m sorry to say this to anyone reading this (I don’t mean the 54 subscribers of this blog, not you, you are absolutely fantastic), I’ve had this frustration bottled up for over seven years! And enough is enough!

Shame on everyone ridiculing people like me with these gendered salutations, body shaming names, tactics, sexual and emotional abuse. Baghal mein churi, munh mein Ram, Ram teh Allah, Allah, may Wahe Guru instill some shame in you.

And to the left-leaning, liberal artiste category: Stop fucking publishing my pictures in the papers, without my consent! I’ll sue you!

Genderizing and objectifying a person is the worst form of sexism, people. It is showing like a voluptuous woman’s cleavage from a badly stitched dress by some beghairat tailor.

To associate female strength with male strength, wah wah, yeh sexism nahi hai to kya hai? Man hogi teri maan!

I’m a shareef insaan. I have character. I’m going to adhere to my sharafat and not name-shame anyone on this blog because some of them have tried to shut my mouth with money jobs and happy things like I’m a 2-year old toddler bound to bliss with the lure of the candy. Some of them think sugar-coated words will do the trick. Go fucking koochy-koo someone else, you bloody perverts! Sorry to disappoint, meri dunya paisay ki ghulam nahi hai or na hi sexual favors ki or na hi jhooti taareefon ki but sadly this is what you people have reduced me to.
Praise be to God for the love I have in my life now, I’m fighting to reclaim my real self aur khuda ke wastay mujhe ya to muaaf kar do ya maar do mujhe bhi because know this: You cannot force me to be who I’m not, try and there will be consequences because Khuda ki laathi be awaz hoti hai. 

And to the men/wymen/boys thrown off by my biological depravity, fatness, ugliness and zero marital status: your dick is showing. Shove it and then zip it tight, you bastards!!

This is a very gentle reminder to check your privilege before you open your mouth and carelessly violate someone’s sense of self-worth. Sharafat isi mein hai keh aap apni sharafat per qaaim rahain aur mera peecha chor dain aur na hi koi umeed rakhain mujh seMein aap logon ko ab baddua tak nahi de sakti.

Mujhe ummeed hai sharafat ka najaiz faida nahi uthao ge agar auraton wali sharam baaqi hai aap logon mein.

Shukirya!! 

Sincerely,

Fakhra

Copyright Fakhra Hassan. All Rights Reserved.

 

Thank You, Lorde

To encourage excellence is to go beyond the encouraged mediocracy of our society… but giving into fear of feeling and working in capacity is a luxury only the unintentional can afford and the unintentional are those who don’t wish to guide their own destinies.
There are many kinds of power, used and unused, acknowledged or otherwise. The erotic is a resource within each of us that lies in a deeply female and spiritual plane, firmly rooted in the power of our unexpressed or unrecognized feeling.

For the erotic is not a question only of what we Do; it’s a question of how acutely & fully we can Feel in the doing.

…The principal horror of any system which defines the good in terms of profit rather than in terms of human need, or which defines human need to the exclusion of the psychic and emotional components of that need – the principal horror of such a system is that it robs our work of its erotic value, its erotic power and life appeal and fulfillment. Such a system reduces work to a travesty of necessities, a duty by which we earn bread or oblivion for ourselves and those we love. This is tantamount to blinding a painter and then telling her to improve her work, to enjoy the act of painting. It is not only next to impossible but profoundly cruel.
For once we begin to feel deeply all the aspects of our lives, we begin to demand from ourselves and from our life-pursuits that they feel in accordance with that joy which we know ourselves to be capable of. Our erotic knowledge empowers us, becomes a lens through which we scrutinize all aspects of our existence, forcing us to evaluate those aspects honestly in terms of their relative meaning within our lives. And this is a grave responsibility, projected from within each of us, not to settle for the convenient, the shoddy, the conventionally expected, nor the merely safe.

If I didn’t define myself for myself, I would be crunched into other people’s fantasies for me and eaten alive. I choose not to live outside of myself and let external directives limit my life. I live from within myself (intuition-internal knowledge & needs) outward, in touch with the power of the erotic within myself and I allow that power to inform and illuminate my actions upon the world around me. I am responsible to myself In the Deepest Sense. As we begin to recognize our deepest feeling we begin to give up the necessity to be satisfied with suffering, to be satisfied with self-abnegation and with self-negation, and with the numbness that seems like the only alternative in this society. We begin to empower ourselves to action.    

-Audre Lorde

Cecilia

[In English] Is this a reference to the Simon & Garfunkel classic? No. Is this a reference to the patroness of musicians? Yes.

Let’s try another language.

[In Schrödingerese] Is this a reference to the Simon & Garfunkel classic? Yes/No. Is this a reference to the patroness of musicians? Yes/No.

…another one.

[In Mary’s] Is this a reference to the Simon & Garfunkel classic? Dear Lord! Is this a reference to the patroness of musicians? Good Lord!

…nah.

[In Saussurese] Is this a reference to the Simon & Garfunkel classic? The form and concept of the question fail to establish a link between the signifier and the signified – what relationship does “this” have with “Simon & Garfunkel”?

Is this a reference to the patroness of musicians? The form and concept of the question fail to establish a link between the signifier and the signified – what relationship does “this” have with “patroness of musicians”?

[In Steve Jobstch] Is this a reference to the Simon & Garfunkel classic? I’m sorry, which app?

Is this a reference to the patroness of musicians? Haha..that’s a good tagline for the iPod.

[In Musicianese] Is this a reference to the Simon & Garfunkel classic? What’s the frequency, Kenneth?

Is this a reference to the patroness of musicians? Mmmm Mmmm Mmmm Mmmm

Take your pick, before the pick gets pickled [In Punjabese].

Copyright Fakhra Hasan 2015. All Rights Reserved.

Trains

I’ve been thinking: What could possibly be going on in the heads of lovers who were possibly separated by the emergence of borders or united by them, in retrospect. Could the following songs be indicative of various untold love stories of 1947 in a post-colonial context? Dunno. But here they are, the modern-day Dil Phainks aur Pyar Ke Mare.

Loco-motion

“Everybody’s doing a brand new dance now. Come on, baby, do the locomotion”. Originally performed by Little Eva in 1962 – you can see the train-chain silhouette in the background.

Hoga Tumse Pyara Kaun

Haye kaash we had stories like this or maybe there were but this video is not very convincing, he’s obviously not singing on a moving train. Cute song though. Mera rooth jaana aur tera manana re. Saiyyan dil mein ana re.  

Summer Rain

This part – “Whispering our goodbyes, waiting for the train, I was dancing with my baby in the summer rain. I remember laughing till we almost cried, there at the station that night.”  – makes me absolutely delirious. 

Teri Hai Zameen

Imagine, if only there were scenes and songs like this in the trains that never made it to the station alive.

One Way Ticket

“Choo choo train, chuggin’ down the track. Gotta travel on, never comin’ back. Oh, gotta one way ticket to the blues. Bye, bye love my baby’s leavin’ me. Now lonely teardrops are all that I can see. Oh, gotta one way ticket to the blues.” Nice.

Joyride

“Come on join the joyride everybody. Get your tickets here. She’s gotta train going downtown. She’s gotta club on the moon. She’s been telling all her secrets in a wonderful balloon. She’s the heart of the fun fare, she’s got me whistling her private tune. It all begins where it ends and she’s all mine, my magic friend.” 

I Feel the Earth Move

I am not sure if this song should be in the list but you’ve got to consider the constant shaking of the speeding train as well and of course, the hot (and somewhat familiar) lady or the gentleman in the train across the seats. P.S. Martika is uber hot.  

Hai Apna Dil To Awara

Safar mein hai yeh banjara, na jaane kis pe aye ga. 

Chal Diye

Oh the feeling of freedom underneath the feet

Yes Love 

Well, if love causes a flat tire or bust the engine, good luck with that. 

Hear My Train ‘A Comin’

“Too bad you don’t love me girl. Too bad your people let me down. Too bad that we had to part. I hear my train a comin'”

Chaiyya Chaiyya

“Woh yaar ho jo khushbu ki tarah, ho jiski zubaan Urdu ki tarah.” They’re actually doing this on a moving train. Wow.

Funkytown

And the winner is…

El condor pasa?

While transcribing yet another emotionally disturbing interview today, I found myself humming this tune. I’ve never needed to look up the lyrics to it because a) it’s a Simon & Garfunkel tune and b) it’s a Simon & Garfunkel tune. The transcribing process oddly led me to think of Hans Christian Anderson’s Ugly Duckling and whop, 19 years later, the song was on my lips again, with a religious fervor.

However, I’d completely forgotten the title of the song and vaguely remembered it had nothing to do with the lyrics. Oh okay, before moving on, the lyrics:

I’d rather be a sparrow than a snail

Yes I would   if I could   I surely would

I’d rather be a hammer than a nail

Yes I would   if I only could   I surely would

Away, I’d rather sail away

like a swan that’s here and gone

A man gets tied up to the ground

He gives the world its saddest sound   its saddest sound

I’d rather be a forest than a street

Yes I would   if I could   I surely would

I’d rather feel the earth beneath my feet

Yes I would   if I only could   I surely would

Moving on, it occurred to me I’d never bothered to check what El Condor Pasa means (except for Condor , courtesy of The Lost City of Atlantis – an animated cartoon series of the 80s I used to watch on television and which oddly has no mention on the internet). Condor is a gigantic mystical bird (like the Phoenix, I think) that appears to be a cross between an American Eagle and a Vulture.

Andean Condor

Okay, not so much like the Phoenix. It’s very real. Even I didn’t know that until now (so much for cartoon memories). El condor pasa (Spanish) of course means “The condor passes [by]” ….The Simon & Garfunkel melody is based on an 18th century Peruvian folk song – from the mountains of the Andes. Some sources say the song’s origin is Bolivian. The condor, however, is Bolivia’s national bird and found in several parts of South America including Peru and also Ecuador…and also California (but that’s North America)

Phoenix

So, what’s the connection between the sparrow and the condor? Shut up, Fakhra. Just enjoy the song. Yes. Precisely. That’s exactly what I’m doing….chirya naal mein baaz larawan?

Man gets tied up to the ground…oh God, is that a reference to the Bamboo torture….he gives the world its saddest sound?

Mhmm

According to Karen Hill: “The condor refers to the majestic vulture of the Andes. With its ten-foot wingspan and bald red head, the condor is regarded as a good omen by the Aymara, a Native American people of Peru and Bolivia.The S&G music builds on the Inca pentatonic (five-tone) scale. Plaintive and high-pitched, it is played on panpipes of cane or bone, drums, flutes, and conch-shell trumpets.

Shhh….