Kozhikode has always upturned my feelings about the male gaze. It is of course a cheerful, bustling, place, full of fabulously good-looking people of all genders. The cheeriness has a certain effortlessly defiant quality – already evident when you look out of the window as the train from the south pulls into the railway station, and see bright, healthy, merrily-swaying wild flowers raise their heads undefeated by the ferocious summer sun– wild sunflowers in hundreds, magnificent vines of kulamariyan flowers ( literally, ‘over-the-top’ flowers, but known here also, interestingly enough, as Antigone vines), creepers happily, constantly, and untiringly winding over little piles of rubbish and covering them with short-lived if emphatic trumpets of mauve, lavender, red, yellow, and white. You pass this eternal artwork-in-progress of the flowers and vines and city trash and enter Kozhikode, but realise that it actually tells you a bit about the men there only when you meet them. Continue reading Longing for the Future – Two Days with Penkoottu and AMTU at Kozhikode, Kerala→
The students arrested during the march conducted by Students Islamic Organisation in Calicut, Kerala on 26 March in protest of the police brutality in Hyderabad University filed a petition to the Kerala State Commission for Protection of Child Rights. The Calicut Town Police lathicharged the peaceful protesters near the Calicut Head Post Office. About 40 were injured and about 30 protesters were arrested. SIO leaders who visited the police station were also arrested. Several of the protesters who faced violence were school students. Worst, the arrested students have been charged with Section 153 for instigating communal riots!
[This article was written in response to the recent incident of vandalism and violence meted out by BJP- affiliated Yuvamorcha activists against a restaurant called Downtown in Kozhikode, Kerala. This was the incident that led to the protest – the Kiss of Love at Kochi, Kiss of Love in Kolkata, and now, most audaciously outside the RSS Office in Jhandewalan. Wherever it goes, it acquires a flavour of its own. Thus in Kolkata, hokkolorob (let there be turmoil) mutated into another set of slogans – hokchumban (let there be kiss – or, let us kiss) and now, Sanghi gunde hoshiyar, tere saamne karenge pyar (beware Sangh goons, we will (make) love right before you. Sudha K. F. gives a sense of what it felt like after the goons attacked, the sense of indignation that subsequently burst forth.]
The now “notorious” Downtown restaurant is 5 minutes away by foot, from my home in my hometown Kozhikode. During my schooldays, that place was an old workshop. The restaurant came up after I had been away from my hometown for quite a while for my higher education. I remember being thrilled at the sight of this fine looking restaurant/coffee shop with glass windows, near my home during one of my visits. Earlier a few establishments had replaced the old workshop but didn’t do well commercially and closed down hastily. As I passed Downtown one evening, its busiest hour, my father remarked that this might have a longer life because it is so crowded with so many people frequenting the place for dinner. Still I remained a stranger to that place. Continue reading ‘Downtown’ – Where the Kiss of Love Began: Sudha K. F.→
The city of Kozhikode in northern Kerala has seen many a spectacular public protest by women since the 1930s. Recently, it witnessed a truly unique protest which hopefully reveal the shape of things to come. This was over the denial of safe toilet facilities to women, especially the large numbers of underpaid and overworked women employees in the city shops.The issue was successfully raised by the action committee organized by Penkoottu,an organisation of women workers in the city– which included many organizations including the feminist group Anveshi,the Muslim women’s organization Nisa, some activists of the Mahila Congress, and independent activists. Continue reading Peeing in Peace and the Revival of Labour Activism in Kerala→