#PleasurePockets walk in Jaipur

When you are a stranger in a new city, the best way to get a feel of your new neighborhood and to map out interests close to you, is by foot. This essentially means long walks through a maze of streets, buildings, bazaars and the works.

Many cities in India have a reputation for being ‘unsafe’ post sundown. Walks and vigils have been conducted across the globe by professionals, student bodies and others alike who, like us, believe that the streets (no matter what time of the day) must not be feared in any respect. These streets were made with a sole intention of public use in mind and if that purpose expires with the setting of the sun, it is lost and the forces in play that perpetuate the visage of it being unsafe automatically get the upper hand. This is what we aim to stop. Reclaiming the streets is more than just speaking out for our rights to use them at any given time, it is also about us debunking the myths that surround certain spaces. This is a problem that affects both women and men.

Hidden Pockets is back to its walking spree and this time we are busy reclaiming the streets of Jaipur. Join us as we walk the streets of Jaipurand enjoy these streets 😉

 

 

#PleasurePockets walk in Ahmedabad

When you are a stranger in a new city, the best way to get a feel of your new neighborhood and to map out interests close to you, is by foot. This essentially means long walks through a maze of streets, buildings, bazaars and the works.

Many cities in India have a reputation for being ‘unsafe’ post sundown. Walks and vigils have been conducted across the globe by professionals, student bodies and others alike who, like us, believe that the streets (no matter what time of the day) must not be feared in any respect. These streets were made with a sole intention of public use in mind and if that purpose expires with the setting of the sun, it is lost and the forces in play that perpetuate the visage of it being unsafe automatically get the upper hand. This is what we aim to stop. Reclaiming the streets is more than just speaking out for our rights to use them at any given time, it is also about us debunking the myths that surround certain spaces. This is a problem that affects both women and men.

 

Hidden Pockets is back to its walking spree and this time we are busy reclaiming the streets of Jaipur. Join us as we walk the streets of Ahmedabadand enjoy these streets 😉

#Pleasurepockets walk in Mumbai

Single woman exploring Mumbai for the first time!

Mumbai is known for its stardom, for its local trains, Marine drive, Mumbai wala attitude and many more things. It is a city which never sleeps. It’s a city made of beautiful public spaces, yum food especially vada pav, expressive people, highly active dabbawalas, the list never ends 😊. So, I got this chance of staying in Mumbai for a week and that too during January so the weather was good. This is the first time I travelled alone in Mumbai and saw the city alone. So, four things for single women travellers who want to explore Mumbai 😉

  • The Local Trains: The local trains are so well connected around the city. If one wants to enjoy a real ride, they should try local trains. You would learn about the city map soon. The women coach makes the local trains more approachable. One can see that the women who have a fix time table about their travelling time, have already made their own friends in the coach. Most of them know each other, most of them work in the same office.  The Female students also take woman coach. By the time you end your journey you would probably speak to at least one co woman passenger. Most of them have travelled through local trains for decades, so all will give their valuable inputs if one would ask for help. And these inputs would really help you in your travel. The train from Bandra to Churchgate normally remains lesser crowded than the other trains. If one is planning to travel from Bandra to south Mumbai, then this train would be helpful. Maximum it costs INR 10.  The feel of the women coach is really different. It somewhere gives the feeling of being united. It gives the feeling that we all are together and nobody can touch us. Each and every women passenger in the coach sits as if she owns that space and most of them are very comfortable with each other.  I felt as if they were my protectors. I felt safe. So, women try out the woman coach in local trains and explore the city and your own self.
  • The Kali Pilli Cabs– I landed at the Mumbai airport at 9:30 pm. I came out and started checking city maps. I had byhearted the direction but still was feeling bit hesitated to take cabs. Then suddenly a woman approached me asking where I wanted to go. I told her the place and told her that I was looking for a cab. To my surprise, she told me she is a taxi driver, I was shocked. I had never seen a woman taxi driver. Suddenly I got my lost confidence and I took her cab. I felt very relaxed cause she was with me. She told me that she was from Priyadarshini –  Taxi Services (Only women taxi drivers), they provide 24 hours’ services. I forgot to check my map and the only thing now I remember is the beautiful drive we had, talking about our lives and laughing.  I felt relaxed and safe. We reached my destination by 10:30pm. She said a sweet good bye and left. Women taxi drivers!! I am still amazed. So, ladies if you are alone and you need a taxi at night and you are not sure what to do, you can always call up – Priyadarshini –  Taxi Service.
  • Free Public Spaces– When it comes to public spaces, Mumbai is one of the first cities which comes to anyone’s mind.  Mumbai never sleeps!!! Yes, it is true! Starting from Marine Drive, Chowpatty , Juhu Beach, Nariman Point, Colaba market, all these public spaces are free. One can sit and enjoy the place and wander in dreams. The beauty rises at night, when the yellow lights from the street lights lit up the place. Here one can sit for long hours staring at the sea, looking at people and the food stalls. Here there is no time boundaries. Men, women, families, can sit and enjoy the breeze as long they want to without any time constraints. So, ladies if you are alone try visiting these places. More than fun these places are meant for relaxing and breathing.
  • South Mumbai infrastructure– The architecture of the buildings in south Mumbai is amazing. “It blends Gothic, Victorian, Art Deco, Indo-Saracenic and contemporary architectural styles.” Says The Hindu (Newspaper). In simple words, the architecture is beautiful. One can walk around the place and have one’s pleasure walk around these architectures. The CST Terminal, Bombay High court, St. Xavier’s college. One should walk these lanes and see. Evening walks are the best.

So if you are looking for a place to unwind and a place where no one is going to stare at you cos you are woman, Mumbai might just be your place! 🙂

Walking the New Years Eve on MG Road, Bangalore

2016’s New Years Eve started with horrific images of New Year Celebrations at MG Road in Bangalore. People had gone wild, women were groped and pretty much everybody had a bad night. This is what the media wanted us to believe. For days there were national debates around women’s safety, Indian cultural values and everything one could think to spoil a party. Nobody really asked anyone about what could have been done differently. At Hidden Pockets, we were bit scared of the consequences ensuing post this traumatic night. In response, we resorted to walks. We decided to conduct a pleasure pockets walk in one of the lanes behind Christ University, a lane which was full of young people. We curated a walk, where people from very different backgrounds came together, discussed, fought and amongst all of this, walked. A lot of people questioned the nuances of safety, some of them shared their fears and some of them even disclosed their own prejudices against some communities. But we all had one thing in common; we really wanted to have fun and spend some good time together.

This was the background, so to my utter surprise when preparations for New Years Eve for 2017 began, the focus was completely on putting CCTVs, installing around 10,000 police personnels and putting barricadeseverywhere possible. I was amused by this focus on providing security to young women from young men. There was an almost whisper going around that this year also things would go bad. People would be assaulted. After all, Sunny Lione was bannedfrom performing in Bangalore city. Surely, the city was not ready to handle fun.

At this same time, some of the students from research institutions and colleges from Bangalore  were getting agitated as well as saddened by the situation. They were one of those few bystanders who had witnessed the commotion at 2016 New Years Eve. Yes, it was bad, Yes, they had to protect their friends, but still wanted to go out and see the commotion. How does one make a public place safer?

Extremely tough question : How does one make a public place safer? A question that we at Hidden Pockets have been unravelling with.  How do we take back these public places, and ensure that women would like to go back to these spaces, feel comfortable and at the same time enjoy their time there. We have been conducting walks in various cities looking for this answer. Be it Jaipur, Ahmedabad, Bangalore or Delhi, what makes us leave the roads and stay inside to the extent we have forgotten public places.

As part of the solution, we decided that we would curate a walk for New Years Eve on 31st Dec 2017. Not at all an easy decision. Not something that our parents would have agreed off. Not after the media reportage of the 2016 night. There was nothing to look forward, nothing to be hopeful about.

But there were this bunch of college students who wanted to be there, who wanted to ensure these places are accessible for everyone.

After all, who were we actually scared off? 

So we started conversations, meetings, discussions, wherever possible ask those uncomfortable questions. How can we make roads safer? Who are we scared off? What if police tell us not to proceed with the walk? What if the crowd goes beyond control? What will we tell people? Why should anyone trust us?

As clearly observed, we did not start on positive note, it was a lot of self-doubt, fear as well as fear of the invisible stranger. We did not have much to hold on to, and even the optimist amongst had a tough time keeping the spirit of people up throughout these conversations. After all, women safety had become the utmost issue in the world, and here we were trying to take back a lane in a city that some of us were brought up.

On 31st night, most of us reached the starting point, around 2 hours before the midnight. We were completely not sure of the situation that we might be encountering. A lot of us had to back out, because lack of permission from parents, guardians and anyone who thought it was unsafe for anyone to be there at that time of the year. Remember, we are talking about New Years Eve in a metropolitan city like Bangalore in India, at the city center. Not just the guardians, a lot of us ourselves did not feel like being part of this narrative which had become completely about modern cities which are becoming decadent and about loss of cultural values. But there were some of us, who were still longing to be part of this mishmash of night, which had some real mixed signals to offer.

What is the night, if not fear of the stranger? 

Around 40 of us had gathered in front of the LIC building on MG Road. There were thousands of police everywhere with lathis. There were scores of young people around. There were plenty of people with their families also walking around and admiring the crowd, the noise and just seamless rush of people pouring into this part of the city.

I was busy noticing the strangers around. Most of them were men, walking around aimlessly, walking about in their own happy times. Some smoking, some busy taking selfies and most of them walking around in groups. As people trickled in for the walk, we started talking to each other, there were some senior people who had decided to join us and who happily told us that they had been coming for the New Years Eve as young boys, it was always like this crazy. It did surprise me. Such a waste of a night.

As the night progressed and we prepared ourselves for the walk, we did realise our original path curated for the walk, was blocked for security reasons. This is something that truly disappointed me. A beautiful path which could have been a great place for people to hold events was blocked because the government was scared of its own people. This was stupid, sad and at some level even kiddish. We still decided to continue with our walk.

The idea was simple, we will walk towards the celebrations as a group and maybe even attempt singing songs. Some of us sang, some of us attempted enjoying the sight around and some of were alert. It was not an easy walk.

With so many people running around, some people howling, some people screaming. It did get confusing after a point. Why was everyone shouting? Is this a way to celebrate an event?

We never reached the finish line. We stopped our walk in the middle of it, and decided to join the onlookers and stare at the sky. Yes, that is exactly what we did. We looked up in the sky, waiting for something awesome to happen.

No countdown, no fireworks, no Sunny Lione. It was not what I thought it could be.


While I was returning post the midnight, post a walk that could have been much more, I thought about some of the strangers I hugged as the New Years approached, some of the strangers who protected me from some  men on the streets and some of the people who decided to join the walk; well they did not have anything else to do or maybe they were just lonely. I remember specifically this one girl who kept on insisting that we sing songs. While boys were howling, some of us even attempted singing “Hum honge kamyab”.

Images and Video courtesy : Sekulu Nyekha.

Community Service

Hidden Pockets Collective believes that one has to be responsive towards the needs of community around. We do it in two ways.

a) Campaigns during flood times to ensure that sexual and reproductive health is also seen as necessities. We often noticed during the different flood that affected India last year, there was very little conversation around sexual and reproductive health services.

We raised enough funds to buy sanitary pads and other menstrual hygiene related products.

 

 

Climate Change is one of the crisis which has been affecting

Workshops

Hidden Pockets Collective has been conducting workshop programmes over the last few years. The collective has been helping organisations develop their module on Sexual and Reproductive health and bring in their health and care perspective.

Workshop with Disability groups

Different workshops conducted:

a) Comprehensive Sexuality Education for children from margnizalied communities

b) Reproductive health programmes for adults from disabled community.

c) Anti Sexual Harrasment  programmes for disabled adults who are joining the work force.

d) Workshops with college students on Gender and Sexuality

d) Community Service with local juvenile home in building referral systems for their children in conflict with law.