Rolling and Smoking Will – A Ghazal

Rolling and Smoking Will – A Ghazal

Leftovers marked impending will
Let go if you can bending will

Old China, teak furniture, books
His never-ending quill

I closed the suitcase lid
No hope left in swallowing pills

A garden of roses and jasmine
He wove magic with his tending till

What is gone can’t come back
Time is never standing still

Tumble bumble rumble forth Das
Life is a spellbinding drill

Pictures from the weekend: Amsterdam Bos, Boerderij Meerzicht, Little Gym Amsterdam, De Veranda

The Normal Heart – VU Book Club

Things I learnt at the VU Book Club session conducted by Dirk Visser on Larry Kramer and his play “The Normal Heart.” It was a learning experience for I had little knowledge on AIDS and almost no idea as to how it was directly linked to homophobia:

  1. The AIDS debate is, “Not a rational but an emotional debate.” It was not a medical panic but a moral one. We discussed whether drama (if at all) counter-acts this rhetoric.
  2. AIDS did not get its name for the longest time. The first article that appeared on the disease was in the NY Times, “Rare Cancer seen in 41 Homosexuals” – the cancer was called Kaposi’s Sarcoma.
  3.  As late as 1987 (as a disease it had already been around for almost 10 years) did Ronald Reagan, the then President of U.S., use the terms AIDS.
  4. One of the first names given to AIDS was GRID – “Gay related Immuno Deficiency.”
  5. The word homosexual first appeared in 1869 – heterosexual as a term came much later as a reaction to this.
  6. You need to read Susan Montag to understand how illness is used as a metaphor in relation to blame.
  7. Larry Kramer consistently juxtaposes the holocaust with the predicament of the AIDS victims and the gay community.
  8. There have been many conspiracy theories around why and how AIDS came about – one involving alien kidnapping, another to do with the elimination of gay people, amongst many others.
  9. The words epidemic and plague have different reactions in different people. Many attendees commented on how the plague had Biblical connotations as opposed to epidemic, which somehow seemed more manageable. This had no co-relation to actual meaning but seemed more to do with assumption (perhaps sound).
  10. Larry Kramer is an angry man. And I understand now why he is.

I wonder if this play can ever be staged in India. Will they permit the film to reach theatres there? If homosexuality is illegal – does it make all representations of it illegal as well? Won’t that make all action movies illegal, so if that argument does not hold for cinematic liberty – then why does it not apply to staging of plays? My mind tied up in knots as I drift between the rational and the emotional. Even more than before (if that was possible) I value the freedom to be critical.

The VU Book Club is organised by:
Manon Stassen
Nezjma Ramdas

Emmanuel Moses in Amsterdam

Location: Broodhuys

Only  a poet could go through pain, heartache, agony and say, “it was beautiful.” Only a poet. Thank you Emmanuel.

Nitasha Kaul – What Does it Mean to be an Internationalist Today?

Having known Nitasha and read her articulate, precise and insightful work, it gives me immense pride and pleasure to share with you this video of her speaking at a conference in London about what it means to be an internationalist today.

“Beyond the nation state and concentric circles of self” – if there is one thing that you listen to or watch today – let it be this.

Naz and its detractors: A response by Jordan Osserman

Diligent Candy:

A very sound analysis: “Perhaps the issue is not so much about decision to fight 377, but the unequal distribution of wealth among Indian queers (and society at large), leading some to live in relative safety and comfort over others, no matter the social/legal climate around queerness. Moreover, it would be a mistake to assume that the Supreme Court judgement will necessarily increase gender- and sexual-based violence. After all, the defeat has generated widespread sympathy for the cause.” This makes for an intriguing read given the regressive nature of the law. India continues to be largely homophobic. A latent double-standard regarding the issue.

Originally posted on Kafila:

Guest Post by Jordan Osserman

Amidst the outcry of queer rage and mourning against the Supreme Court judgment has emerged a strand of skepticism (For examples See here , here and here)  from within queer circles, directed at the participants in the anti-377 campaign. These skeptics allege that the 377 organizers failed to adequately consider the impact of their activism on the most marginal queers in India (lower class/caste hijras, kothis, MSM, etc.). In the most biting version of the critique, the 377 campaign is portrayed as an elite middle class movement, fueled by foreign-funded NGOs, against a largely symbolic, immaterial enemy. 377, these critics allege, was never a central cause of LGBT oppression; a paper tiger, relatively unknown by police and Indian society writ large until middle-class queers arbitrarily put it on the agenda and invested it with symbolic meaning. To the extent that marginal sexual minorities have…

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