Kya Dekh Rahe Ho- report


stands for 'What are you looking at?!'

Blank Noise + JAGORI

Location: Saket, traffic signal
Date: Dec 2006
Blank Noise event Director, Abigail Crisman

The idea:

looking, glancing, staring, leching, glaring, gazing can be forms of violation. We repeat, it is not in looking (verb), but in how one looks ( adjective). An individual could feel violated just by the way or manner in which she is even glanced at...

Most of us have been taught to not look back and to avoid situations rather than confront them. Hence we make ourselves safe on the streets by maintaining eye contact with the footpath and ignoring every passing comment, touch, whistle, pinch....accepting it as a way of life, as something to be expected, accepted and not dealt with.

'KYA DEKH RAHE HO?'/ (what are you looking at?)

This was a collaboration with JAGORI. 13 Action Heroes were asked to be an alphabet and stand at the traffic signal. Together they formed a sentence, KYA DEKH RAHE HO?

In the meantime volunteers ( male and female) from both Jagori and Blank Noise distributed pamphlets to people in traffic.

(A similar intervention has been done in other cities titled, Y R U LOOKING AT ME?)

Shruti Priya from JAGORI and also a Blank Noise Action Hero
This was my second intervention with Blank Noise. And just like the first one it was empowering to stand in a public space and stare back at men. I thought this intervention was particularly effective in terms of generating curiosity amongst on-lookers and attracting their attention.
People actually rolled down their windows to take the leaflets that were being distributed by JAGORI and Blank Noise. In the normal course they would shoo or simply ignore people distributing leaflets.

Suparna Kudesia , Blank Noise Action Hero
Aggression. Power. Control. Words we have gendered and experience in a gendered world. For being traditionally masculine concepts, the 13 women took them on in their own distinct ways. I, hesitantly, and with a prolific bout of shyness, put on my 'O'. One letter suddenly transformed me into a group member. I rephrase- a team member. Though it accorded me the gall to stand in the middle of the road (I was actually on the edge), it made me feel extremely self-conscious, like never before. Not to be mistaken as something awful, the ability to be self conscious is a rewarding and empowering one, if done in a certain context. Friday night's intervention was that context. It being my first intervention of any kind with Blank Noise, I went in without pre-conceptions and came out with many more questions and a few answered ones. As I mentioned in the post-intervention de-brief, the irony of the night struck me. My ability to stand on a crowded intersection, wearing what I desired, fighting against a system we reinforce everyday- the very system that allots me the (unquestionable) freedom to stand publicly with a shiny red 'O' stuck on my sweat-shirt. But this irony is not defeating, it's actually quite simple, if one sees that what we're asking for is our right to not have to be grateful if we walk out on the street at night in the clothes of our choice, and not get harassed. The air reeked of militancy and aggression- things I am personally not comfortable with. But also present was a sense of purpose. My sense of power came not from the ability to stare back, but from the knowledge that I have right to do so without the threat of retaliation. In all, an interesting experience would be very worth the while to try out in other places.

Ritambhara Mehta, Blank Noise Action Hero
I am not going to talk to about what happened and how people reacted. Will talk about how I felt ? The reason why I participated. I had a funny feeling inside on the way to Saket. This was my first time (had a chance before but was too unsure about attending it).
Being K (right in front, i chose it) made me even more nervous ( i tend to get panic attacks for nothing).The first few minutes were scary and I kept on figuring things out but then the feeling of being empowered, empowered to do something as big as this (i mean it) struck me. The feeling was wonderful, standing there with 13 other girls was AMAZING. How often can you look into someone' eye and without saying a word convey a message ?
The distribution of testimonials was scary. I could'nt see myself giving them to complete strangers without uttering a word but I did.

The best part about the evening was the trip back home. Catching a nice autowala was a surprise. Got down at Suparna's place, I was suppose to cover a short distance for my car. That small walk felt so good, was not holding onto anything, even my sweater.

Others who made this event happen- Annie Zaidie, Amit Kendurkar, Kalpana Vishwanath (JAGORI), Sidarth.

Apologies for the delay in posting this event. We have been waiting for the visuals to go along with it. ..they say its on its way! If any of you were present there and have photographs or short videos of this event, please send it to us at blurtblanknoise@gmail.com. Thankyou!!

PS: Blank Noise T shirts for women who take auto rides-

Presenting Kya Dekh Rahe Ho? t shirts for autos with rear view mirrors. Get one T for your self and two for your friends!

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