Street Signs

designed by Action Hero Kinshuk

designed by Action Hero Saumitra Chandratreya.

Hudgi- kannada for 'girl'.
designed by Action Hero Neha Bhat.

designed by Action Hero Prerna Bishnoi

designed by Action Hero Pooja Gupta
context: street tales of love lust and possible misinterpretations

Approaching free to love zone

Designed by Action Hero Prerna Bishnoi
concept note: This sign is meant to be put up in a park keeping in mind the recent decisions made by the BBMP ( bangalore) to corden of parks and make them less accessible to “lovers”. so this is a sign to be put up in areas that are meant for the lovers (by default) to in a way let people know that they are free to love and warn people that the approaching area is where this right will be freely exercised.

text on sign: legal action will be taken against those who do not hum.
designed by Action Hero Tanvee Nabar

designed by Action Hero Pooja

Pooja, Neha, Kinshuk, Shrikar, Piyush, Prerna, Tanvee are students at Srishti School of Art Design and Tech. Blank Noise was at Srishti on a 2 week workshop. All street-sign ideas have been proposed by the students now aka Action Heroes.

We will be sharing student work here; a sign a day. The signs are not on the streets yet but will find themselves where they are meant to belong SOON. keep watching. stay tuned!

Street sign event annoucement

signs for citizens (2008)
srishti / blank noise workshop


A tale of love/lust/whateveritwas

It has been seven years since. Or eight. I don’t remember his name. Nor his number. He gave me both. He asked me for mine – name and number. I didn’t give him either. Now it seems quite funny and once it was over, I would laugh my guts out whenever I told this story. Yet, for a while, he had me frightened. He looked about 16 or 17, not a sign of hair on his face; thin as a reed. That much I do remember, though I wouldn't recognise him if I passed him on the street today. He was from a certain class, that much too I could tell. From his clothes, his voice, his accent, his body language. The first time he accosted me it was outside the Lower Parel railway station towards which I walked each evening (I worked at Mid-day at the time and the office was a fifteen minute walk from the station). Just outside the station, he stopped me with – “Excuse me, madam… madam, one minute!” How many times have I heard that phrase from a stranger and how many times have I cursed myself for stopping and listening to whatever he had to say? But, like each time, I was thinking that maybe the guy is lost and wants to ask for directions, or maybe he wants to know the time, or maybe I dropped something and he’s come to return it. And so, like each time, I stopped. “Yes?” He was grinning rather stupidly. I noticed there was another guy with him, around the same age, and he was grinning too. The young man (not his pal) began talking. “Excuse me, madam…actually, madam… I saw you madam and you are very nice… what’s your name?” I let out a groan and then a sardonic smile. At least, I had meant it to be sardonic, sarcastic, somewhat insulting. It was the sort of expression that ought to have made him back off without any further fuss. But that was not meant to be. He now started laughing – a half-embarrassed, self-conscious but wholly pleased laugh (and again, his grinny pal kept him company). He fell into step beside me as I walked away, and all the time, he kept talking. I have forgotten the exact words now. I don't think I was even listening very well for I was concentrating on somehow getting into a train and shaking these two guys off. But he was a determined fellow. I vaguely remember the gist of what he said – (a) he was attracted to me, which amused me a bit because, to me, he seemed like a child almost (b) he saw me everyday, walking down to the station, which made me very nervous (c) he wanted to 'do friendship' with me, which is a phrase that always fills me with a mixture of amusement, mortification and irritation. When I repeated this story to a friend, she told me I had made a big mistake by laughing. Indian men’s minds still work according to the old adage of “ladki hansi, toh phansi”. Maybe he thought I was gurgling with pleasure at his advances, she said. I did not think so. Anybody can see when a laugh isn't pleasant. Even a child senses that. Yet, he kept following me, asking for my name. When I reached the ticket window at the station, I decided that enough was enough. So I turned on him with as much fury as my partial amusement would permit, and spat out the words. “Look, I don’t know you and don’t want to know you. I am not going to tell you my name, or anything else about me. Go away… leave me alone.” He started arguing (with his pal with the stupid grin still hovering in the background) with me about 'why not?' I have to confess that I toyed with the idea of slapping him but slapping doesn’t come naturally to me. Besides, I took a second look at him and realised he was just a young boy, who was attracted to me and decided to take his chances. I decided to try gentleness. “Look, you’re very young. I’m much older than you think. I’m not right for you, that’s why.” He cocked his head and demanded to know: “Why, how old are you?” I considered this carefully. He couldn’t be more than eighteen years old. A ten-year gap should suffice as a dampener, I thought, so I lied. “I’m more than twenty-eight years old, okay? You’re way too young.” “But it doesn’t matter, madam. My mother is also older than my father,” he said. Mother? Father? What? What was going on inside the boy's mind? Matters, I thought, were very quickly getting out of hand. So I decided to turn around and run. And that is what I did, except that he began to follow. “Arre, just listen to me, madam. Just one minute. At least tell me your name.” “No, I won’t.” “Why not? Please.” “Look, I am NOT going to tell you my name.” “But, madam, please … just your name.” I stopped once more and looked at that boy, still with his stupid grin pasted in place, and his pleading, stupid-grin-face companion still at his shoulder. I sighed. “What is the point? If you harass me too much, I’ll just give you a false name. How would that help?” “Okay then, just give me a false name.” I was incredulous but since he had asked for it, I decided to give him a name, all the while descending the stairs rapidly with him in hot pursuit. The name of an old schoolmate popped into my head just then. “Rashmi,” I muttered. “Okay, Rashmi… Rashmi ji, your phone number?” At this point, I was so amused and so incredulous that I burst out laughing. Here I was, telling him I’d give him a false name and there he was, asking for a false number? He stood there while I continued laughing loudly, shaking my head, hoping the train would arrive quickly so I could escape. But he wouldn’t give up. “Why are you laughing, Rashmi ji? Okay, at least tell me where you live.” I laughed some more. “Come on, just tell me where you live," he persisted. "At least tell me the area, Rashmi, please.” The train’s headlamp was curving into view. I rushed forward; both boys followed. “So that’s where you live… Borivali?” I was amused again at their na├»ve logic. It was a Borivali local that I was rushing to board and so the boy conveniently assumed that I lived in Borivali. I would be getting off at Andheri, and could have gotten off at any of the half-dozen stations in-between. Boarding a local headed in a certain direction means nothing in this city, but I wasn’t about to correct him. So I just nodded and hopped into the compartment. He began calling out a series of numbers. It took a few seconds to for it to register that he was calling out his phone number. That, of course, made me laugh once again. Did he seriously think I was going to remember his number and call him up? He repeated the number twice. As the train bega nto move, he called out: “Call me… remember the number, okay? Give me a phone ring… Rashmi!” The train pulled out of the station. And you’d have thought that was the end of the matter. I certainly did. But I was wrong. A few weeks later, I was walking down again to the station when I heard a voice calling out. “Rashmi… Rashmi!” I hardly paid any attention. As the voice called out again and again, I walked along briskly, wondering who this Rashmi was and why she didn’t listen to whoever was calling out to her. Then the voice got closer and caller sounded very loud, just behind me. I stopped and turned out of sheer curiosity. And that's when I saw them: those boys again! Their reedy, teenaged bodies with those stupid, permanent grins. I groaned with annoyance and disbelief. “Hi, Rashmi.” I took a deep breath and without answering him, swung back and briskly marched to the railway station. I wasn’t going to talk to him this time. “Rashmi! Please, one minute, listen. What’s your problem? I really like you… one minute!” This wasn’t helping. They kept following. And then, suddenly, it occurred to me that this could turn into an unpleasant scenario if I were to walk down every single day and have them at my heels all the way. Once again, I thought it might be better to try and get some sense into him. “Look, I told you; I’m much older... You’re in college, right?” “Yes, second year… I’m twenty.” Liar, I thought. He didn’t look it. But by now, my annoyance was replaced by pity and amusement. I felt the corners of my mouth threatening to curve upwards. “So why don’t you find a nice girl from college and try to pataofy her. There will be many girls of your own age whom you like.” “But, Rashmiji, I like you.” “No, you don’t. You don’t even know me. Besides, I told you, I am not suitable for you.” “That’s okay. I will tell my sister to talk to you.” Gasp. Splutter. Sister? “Yes. I told my sister about you. I want to marry you. I’m going to make my parents meet you.” And his pal's stupid grin got wider, if that was at all possible. I really wanted to slap this other boy. Yipes, I thought. Marry me? This boy's imagination was moving ahead in leaps and bounds. This was no time for gentle remonstrance. It was time, once more, to run. Of course, he followed. “Rashmi, I will marry you, I promise. What’s the problem?” I wanted to scream at him by this time. It wouldn't have helped, I knew, to just point out that that was not what I wanted. I had already done that the first time he followed me and he was clearly not listening. So I just kept walking towards the platform. “You’re going home? Don’t go home right now. Rashmi, stay for a while… Let’s talk.” I ran towards the train. They followed, still calling out to me. The phone number was called out again. With pleas to call him up. The train chugged out. Believe it or not, this still wasn’t the end of the matter. There’s more. The third time he caught up with me en route to the station, it was almost two months later. Without any calling out of false names, he said ‘Hi’ softly into my ear. I almost screamed with panic. Then I saw who it was and began to walk more briskly. He (with his grinning pal in tow) kept pace. As they walked beside me, my anger mounted. Also, there was a new shred of fear. I don’t like being followed, especially by people who seem determined to marry me even before they’ve touched the legal marriageable age. He said, “Rashmi, listen. You had said I would find another girl in college, someone of my own age.” “Yes, so what?” “But I have not found anyone yet.” The expression on his face and his choice was words was such that I was tempted to double up laughing, but I bit my lips hard. “So, what should I do?” “Rashmi.” I snapped, “My name’s not Rashmi.” “Then what is it?” “I’m not telling you. I told you that before. I don’t want to have anything to do with you.” “Why not?” I sighed. He just would not get it until I packaged my 'no' in layers of a context he could understand. So I decided to tell him one more little lie. “Because my heart is elsewhere.” “What?” “My heart is with someone else. That’s why. Understood?” “But Rashmi...” "Oh Jesus Christ! I told you. No." I started descending the stairs. He tried to move faster than me and block my path but he slipped and took a tumble down the stairs. For a few seconds, I stopped, then started on my way again. He was already up on his feet, biting his tongue, half-smiling, muttering, “Oh shit! What an insult… and that too in front of a girl!” I can’t quite describe the way this statement made me feel. At that time, it made me laugh. Now, when I think back, I see it for what it was – an open admission of embarrassment from a relatively uncorrupted boy who hasn’t yet learnt to cheat on feelings and isn’t afraid of plunging headlong into a pursuit, confident with the brashness of youth and unaware of class or other social barriers. Even so, I turned around and was going to ask if he was alright, if he was hurt, because I did not really want him to get hurt. But just then, he caught my wrist to make me stop. And that was it. I was at the end of my tether. I jerked my hand away and turned on him with all the fury I could summon. “Don’t you dare!” “Okay," he said. "Okay, but you weren’t listening to me, Rashmi.” “I don’t want to listen toyou. Next time you come after me, I am going to yell, collect a crowd and have you beaten up.” I walked away, not looking back over my shoulder. I don’t know whether he followed or stayed or went back and when. Once, much later, I saw him and his friend, grin-faced as ever, walking down to the station. I was walking towards the Mid-day office in the late afternoon. Both boys saw me and saw that I recognized them. But this time, the boy did not make an attempt to stop me. He just grinned. I looked at the road straight ahead and tried not to laugh. He and his pal kept grinning as I hurried past them. My reaction was: "Phew! Thank god." And that's the end of that story. Why am I telling this story now? Because of this. Blank Noise is collecting street stories of love and lust, about the way these emotions are negotiated in public spaces in an attempt to undestand harassment better. Was I feeling harassed by that young college kid? I don't know. I actually wanted to be kind to him. And all these years later, I think of the entire episode with amusement and a little pity and remorse because of how he must have felt. But at the time, I was only a couple of years out of college myself and being followed everyday by two grown-up boys was a frightening thought. No, let me be honest. It is still a scary thought. A nineteen year old is no more or less dangerous than a fifty year old. Two nineteen year olds stalking me would still make me nervous, especially if they knew where I lived, what route I took, what train I waited for on what platform. I ask myself questions now. I ask if that boy had really done anything wrong in following me and proposing marriage outright. I ask if I had done right in allowing myself to get sucked into a conversation. I ask what could have been done differently? I have learnt to harden myself to strangers over the years - to slide on an impenetrable mask of indifference and cold comtempt on my face when accosted by strangers whom I don't want to speak to. I like myself lesser for it. It is a terrible thing to do to a human being - to reduce him to an object not worrthy of acknowledgement even, to make him feel like that. On the inside, I cringe each time I do it. But what are my options? When accosted by a random stranger who refuses to take 'no' for an answer, whose sense about where and how conversations about romance or marriage should be conducted, whose sense of propriety is so vastly different from my own that he seems scary, what should be done? I still don't know.
[Crossed-posted here]


street tales of love lust and possible misinterpretations

“Neev ibbaru thumbaaa chennagiddira”( the both of you are veeery beautiful). It was perhaps the tone in which they stretched the ‘very’ that just made us girls turn and say “Thank you”! - Naksha Erappa+ Sheetal (friend)

Dear Blank Noise Action Heroes/ BN Guys.
Over the last couple of years we have been discussing issues related to street violence and its impact on us. While continuing to do so , we would also like to build testimonials of another kind...testimonials that address the nature of wanting to 'get to know' someone and therefore take the form of stalking, persistently approaching, not hearing no for no, eye games, mutual flirting, passing remarks in perhaps a way of assuming that one is 'giving compliments' but may or may not have been the same experience for you, as the recipient.

eg: http://actionheroes.blanknoise.org/2009/07/blank-noise-action-hero-shreyasi-kar.html

We want you to blog your street interactions. we will be cross linking your blog post here: http://actionheroes.blanknoise.org/
or at http://bnguy.blanknoise.org

If you don't have a blog, you could email us your story instead.

Yours affectionately
Blank Noise Team


birthday wish

Dear Blank Noise
(members, readers, volunteers, core team, well wishers, every body!)

We are 6 years old this August 15th!

On our birthday we request you to send us a thought, a wish , a suggestion, a question or even a promise.

Happy Birthday to all of you!

Blank Noise Team

e: blurtblanknoise at gmail dot com


Step By Step Guide to Unapologetic Walking:

Step By Step Guide to Unapologetic Walking posters.



When? Where?
Every 2nd weekend in your city. your street.

How to?
Simple! BUT needs time and a some running around; not that much running around if tasks are delegated.

Appoint Step by Step poster event in team + Action Hero in charge ( eg. Bangalore= Naksha)
Get text translated to the local language of your place . ( eg. Vishaka Vinod + her uncle )
Get someone to write the text on the comp/ or source a printer who would be willing to do so.
Find a local printer/ CHEAP printer.
Raise funds to print. ( here's how you can also support us/ help us meet our expenses. to donate email us)
Get posters printed- appoint one person to deal with the printer/ do the running around.
Choose a specific location for the event/ map the location + interactions.
Make glue ( eg Naksha made smelly but efficient glue with maida, carried it in little packets for everyone to use).
Announce on the city specific google group/ facebook.
Make a calendar- share it online with your city Blank Noise googlegroup so that anyone can sign up / mark dates with details such as ' date/ time/ place'
IMPORTANT-you need to give time for planning and making events happen.
Sustain it!

Preferred: if you can buy a BN step by step tee and wear it for the event!

Next one in Bangalore is 2 sundays from now. Location Vasanthnagar.
To confirm write to us at blurtblanknoise at gmail dot com

We will share the Bangalore event report as soon as it's ready. It's on its way!

street tales of love and lust and possible misinterpretations


TO HIT BACK OR NOT TO HIT BACK: "Street Weapons" and Violent Self-Defense

chilly powder. bamboo stick. baygon spray. toy gun. body spray. big bag. eyes. elbow. steel scale. nails. confidence. rings. pens. pepper spray. paper cutter. pencil. angry look. mouth. hand. fists. feet. elbows. sharp pencils. teeth. handbag. comb. body spray. stilettos. fat psychology book. cell phone. cerebrum. swagger. attitude. mobile phone. books. files. bag. crossed arms. conversation. pens. pins. sewing pins. breath spray. bunch of keys. hair pin. blank noise pamphlet on s.354. dupatta. crossed arms. staring at the ground. scowling. talking on cell phone. not making eye contact.


These are just some of the "weapons" used by women to make themselves feel safer in public spaces. Most of the objects listed above are not weapons in the conventional sense. However these are used by a number of women all over the world to give them some sense of security.

:Can they be and should they be used as "weapons" of self defense?

:Is it ok to use pepper spray on someone who is harassing you?

:Would you use the pepper spray if he groped you breast once. Or would you only use the spray if you feel there is a chance of you being raped or murdered?

:What does SELF DEFENSE mean?

:Is it ok to hit back if someone hits you first? if he gropes you?

:If he may be likely to rape you is it ok to shoot him with a gun?


A few months ago Blank Noise initiated a discussion on facebook- "The museum of street weapons" to share and think through the things women use to make themselves feel safer in public spaces. This led to a number of number of questions regarding the legitimacy of violence as a form of self defense, and individual reactions to harassment being raised.

A lot has been thought and said about reactions to harassment, and how a lot of times our reactions serve as our defense to the act. With specific regard to violent self defense I feel it is important for us to think through certain issues.

Accepting violence as a legitimate response to harassment I feel faces the risk and possibly inevitable consequence of "naturalising" violent self defense to an extent where it is made possible to shift the blame for violence against women away from the people who perpetuate it and make prevention the responsibility of the female victim. Not very unlike "cautioning" women to dress properly and not go out at night in order to prevent harassment.

Accepting violent self defense as "the" way to solve the problem of harassment may also result in expecting women to be trained in wenlido/karate or carry pepper sprays/safety pins around with them to protect themselves. This again could very well be extended to courtroom where the defense may argue that if a rape-survivor didn't really want it she would have fought harder (since women may be expected to know violent self defense in order to protect themselves). (J. Lynch)

[And this is apart from the fact that something like a pepper spray- the empowered urban woman's must-have can be as or more easily used against her/by men as a tool of harassment as it can be used by a woman as a tool of self defense]

Feminists like Martha McCoughey(Real Knockouts) argue that self defense training for women is essential as it serves to "rescript" the body and abolish the identity of women as the "weaker" sex, and this would not only deter potential rapists and batterers, but also move feminism away from its victim orientation. I do acknowledge the importance of challenging notions women have about their capacity for physical strength, anger, and violence and also the fact that self defense may result in women no longer being perceived and perceiving themselves as physically weaker and hence inherently/biologically different from men.

However, are we willing to accept that if a woman chooses not to learn self defense techniques, she is in some way morally responsible for the violence committed against her?

Violent self defense should definitely not be the primary response to the problem of sexual harassment, but should it be a response at all?



Lubna Ahmed Hussein says she was arrested for wearing trousers.

more here:


asking for 'what' ?

thank you Vignesh (from Dindugal) for sending us the link and also for directing us to more such film clips!

tamil to english translation coming up:
anyone wants to volunteer to translate?

and Ramyah Veer from the BN Chennai mailing list has sent this in

"The perpetrator apologises to the male actor for misbehaving with the actress.But the actor drags the culprit near the actress and makes him brush his hands against the actress's hands.The actor didn't stop with that.
I think it would be better if i explain the dialogue in direct voice.
The actor to the perpetrator:
"Are you satisfied with this or u want something else from her?Are u behind her skin,flesh?If this is all what you want, then go get it from a meat shop."
Now the actor takes a complete look at the actress(top to bottom) and starts his next set of dialogues
Between the actor and the actress:
Actor : I don't find any saree or innerskirt.You are just wearing a panty.
Actress: This is called 'shorts'.
Actor : For you girls it is 'shorts'.For us(men), it is a 'panty'...... Then I dont find any blouse or duppatta.You r just wearing a bra.
Actress:This is called 'Sleeveless'
Actor: For you girls it is 'Sleeveless'.For us, it is a 'bra'..... Wearing all these for letting enough air get into ur underarms or showing off the body piercing done on ur navel or a tattoo on ur thighs .... is this a product exhibition or body exhibition(i.e. show-off)?You girls wear dresses in a way that let others count the moles on ur body and then complain if a perpetrator touches ur body..... This has become a job for u all... Just know this. God created men for women and women for men...Main purpose is that a woman is for man's need and a man for woman's need.God has created all of us in huge but it is us who has to be disciplined.Disciplined in the sense being true to one person in ur life.If u feel that u want to live with only one man forever,then showoff to him alone.But if you showoff ur body to everyone,then every men will want/desire to live with you only.
(The crowd applauds the actor by making some comments)
Actor:If you dress like a traditional Indian woman wearing a saree with whole body covered up, then men will treat u more than a woman ... they will treat u like Godess Mahalakshmi....
The actor then ends the dialogue by asking her to leave in a contemptuous manner.
This is what the entire scene conveys .


send a garment you wore when you were sexually harassed on the street

I never ask for it.

I never ask for it.

I never ask for it.

I never ask for it.

I never ask for it.


Street Tales of Love/ Lust/ and possible misinterpretations:

" Excuse me?"

if you've got a story on being approached by a random stranger

if you've got a story on approaching a random stranger because you found him or her attractive
write to us.


if you've got a story where you experienced sexual harassment from a stranger but now feel that maybe he was trying to stalk you/ talk to you (etc) because that's the only way he could express himself/ or his interest in you...

if you've got a story where you tried to approach someone / make conversation / express interest and you feel that maybe the other person interpreted it as sexual harassment.

write to us


feel free to send in movie clips, songs, texts that also look at the different codes and interpretations to street sexual behaviour.

you know where to find us!
blurtblanknoise at gmail dot com

reference blog post and more links here:


Action Heroes (source NDTV)

An incident of alleged molestation in Assam's Halflong town would have passed unnoticed, but for a girl who decided to take on an entire group of army personnel.

Thanks Maya Kovskaya, Jenelle Eli for sending us the link.

Got a story on how you dealt with street sexual harassment? Share it here. At Blank Noise we do not prescribe or suggest a formulaic response to street sexual harassment. We gather and archive your stories/ your testimonials and learn from your experience. We do not suggest you apply one person's reaction to your experience; but instead the Action Heroes blog focusses on how common and everyday these experiences are; and that it is important to respond, be pro active towards the issue rather than simply ignore it.

We also invite you to look at dealing with street sexual harassment in ways that do not necessarily always need aggression but sometimes wit? humour? a non defense approach perhaps?
Got a story? Tell us. Be an Action Hero.