Volume 003: City

Welcome to Our Imagination

“Imagine a country, half of which belongs to women.”

About 15 km north of Toranmal, on the border of Maharashtra and Madhya Pradesh, lies Sindhidigar village. You have to cross several rivers – big and small – to reach it. Jhalkar is a small river that flows between the borders. In fact the villagers believe that the river divides the land into two separate states and the river is why these states exist.

Can you measure patriotism with a literal love for the literal soil?

I don’t know what time of day it will be when you get this letter, but whenever you do, please sit under the branch that hangs over your balcony. And read it there. You have tall buildings before you – colonies of concrete – and banners and billboards that talk about the development of the city. But, perhaps, that branch will help you feel a little bit of what I have felt in the jungle.

Sheher Jaise Aag Ka Dariya

This is the story of a love story that has a brother, a sister and a smartphone. One of them dies. The story has a river of fire, which a true lover must drown in, in order to prove his love. And if you like connecting the dots, there’s also Sita, eulogised for her purity, which she proved in an agni pareeksha.

Our Cities are Designed For Men, By Men

Across the world, cities have been designed for men, by men – especially young, healthy, cisgender men. This leads to many challenges – for women, for the young and elderly, transgender community, and anyone else who does not fit into this fairly homogenous group of young, able-bodied men.

The Snakes and Ladders on the Road to Mobility

Eight of us – four young teenage girls and four women – move about the room imagining ourselves in different places. Sometimes we are walking in open fields, sometimes we are catching the metro. Sometimes we are shrieking in glee and running through unexpected rain.

Disability, Gender, Violence, Home and the City

We spent an afternoon with Nidhi Goyal, stand-up comic and disability activist, who experienced blindness age 15 onwards. She talks about how her city Mumbai changed for her, how notions of safety become fluid when your navigation is defined by dependance, the un-gendering of disabled bodies, and invisible forms of violence that often come within homes and caregiving.

Weddings, Funerals & Other Minor Details from Coronakal in Bundelkhand

In response, or maybe a rejoinder, to urban conversations full of lament – “Why don’t they just get vaccinated? Why are they getting married at this time? Will they ever learn?” – Disha and Kavita of Khabar Lahariya, after decades in rural Bundelkhand, come with a rather gentle reply (all things considered).

A Brief History of Arguments in Favour of Free Public Transit for Women

In October 2019, Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal introduced free bus travel for women in Delhi, adding free fare to a long history of gender-based public transportation policies. While social media forever boils over in heated response, feminist scholarship on gender and public transit helps clear the steam.

Illustrations by Iram Malik

I am a conspiracy theorist of my atiya body.

I am a conspiracy theorist of my atiya body by Kuumpiilei is the third step in the author’s Yaang-Huuk-Uun (YHU) project. It began in 2019 and started with the support of BangaloResidency-Expanded, an initiative of Goethe-Institut / Max Mueller Bhavan, Bangalore. The author worked with the SouthEast Asian (SEA) community as a resident at Zentralwerk in Dresden.

How Momo Aunties Changed Delhi

At Dolma Aunty Momos, a shop selling momos in central Delhi, crowds of hungry customers push to the front for a plate of dumplings in a day cloaked by deep summer heat. The shop is named after Aunty Dolma, which is the fond nickname for Dolma Tsering, a Tibetan momo chef and vendor, also known around New Delhi as the city’s “first momo aunty”.

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