1.7.13

Talk To Me:

Talk To Me was designed to fight fear itself. To get rid of biases and prejudice. 
To create space for a conversation, not threat. To make cities, neighbourhoods, streets friendly. To build empathy. 

Five tables,  two chairs per table, chai and samosa. 
The Yelahanka Action Hero invited a stranger to an hour long conversation about anything- fear, love, life. At the end of the conversation the Action Hero gifted a flower to the person across the table.

A conversation is a collaboration and requires openness, willingness, vulnerability. 

 After Conversation: Action Hero Pavithra


After Conversation: Action Hero Radha


3pm -7 30pm

Action Hero Masood

Action Hero Arushi

Action Hero Spandhana


Action Hero Mithra

Action Hero Anamika

Action Hero Shalini


Action Hero Arushi
Action Hero Rahul Singh with New Action Hero
Action Hero Anusha ensures a samosa at every table

Action Hero Pallavi






December 2012: In the past we have focussed on city specific Action Heroes eg: Delhi Action Heroes, Bangalore Action Heroes. In November last year we initiated the concept of a neighbourhood Action Hero network.  

"Yelahanka Action Heroes" was formed during a month long Blank Noise Action Hero course at Srishti School of Art Design and Technology ,with a group of 19 students. Team YAH practiced a range of events/ interventions from mapping, identifying places perceived or identified as unsafe and worked out strategies to build safe spaces . This location was known as 'Rapist Lane' by many students at Srishti. We have no reports of rape to justify it's name but several incidents of molestation/ sexual violence have created its reputation. Our objective was to make the Rapist Lane, now the Safest Lane

Factors that make it unsafe include it being dark, with no street lights, no commercial activity, men on bikes/ cars would occupy this space towards the evening to drink inside the vehicle. During the day the space was occupied by empty parked private buses. 

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There was a unanimous sense of having overcome their own fears when they participated in this event.  Biases work both ways. There's unsafe and there's a perception of unsafe. Often the unknown is feared, thus makes it unsafe. In this case unknown strangers who were further distanced due to the distance of  socio economic class, language, gender were brought together over tea and samosas. It was an open conversation with no agenda or pre set questions. They were asked to not talk about street sexual harassment . Being defensive, hyper alert to 'making safe'  doesn't ever lead to actually 'feeling safe'. We tend to make ourselves feel safe by building defence. We need to make ourselves safe by making familiar instead. It requires a purposeful unclenching of the fist.  Fear creates fear. Defence creates defence. We need to build safe cities with empathy.

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The team was asked to share their response by adding in what they learnt about the 'stranger' and what they learnt about themselves. Here's what they said-

Action Hero Vishaka The fact that I could converse with a stranger without hesitation increased my confidence. I was trying to make the other person comfortable, which shows that I was trying to think from his point of view. He was shy, so I tried to make the conversation light-hearted and fun. 
He was quite open and sharing. He was a teenage boy, focusing on his academics. He spends his day going to school, doing homework, going to tuitions and playing sports.
Action Hero Anamika
What I learnt about myself is that I can talk to a stranger, that’s something I had never done. This exercise actually made me feel a little more confident. and the guy I had my conversation with was one of those who stalk girls and drink on the safest lane, follow girls on their bikes. i was glad he was honest to me. what i learnt was not all ‘such’ guys are threatening, as in, yes he does all that, but he wouldn’t harm anyone physically, poor fellow is dying for a girl friend  . And the fact that I actually made him realize that his way of approaching wont get him any girl and that he genuinely wants to change made me feel really good about myself.
Action Hero SpandhanaWhat I learnt about myself was that I was more open talking to a stranger than I expected, however there were awkward pauses, what I learnt about the person was that she really wishes that she was allowed to study after she finished 10th grade, her dream is to study and earn her own living and not have to live off her husband’s earnings.
Action Hero Saasha:What I learnt about myself- I could carry on a conversation for more than 30mins even though there was a huge language barrier between me and my partner. After the conversation I realised that it isn’t that tough to talk to a stranger. I was so worried about what I would talk to my partner about but the conversation was so easy and fun! I learnt that my partner was very content with all he had. He loved his life just the way it is.
Action Hero Mithila:What really surprised me was that even with huge language barrier, it was kinda nice to talk to her. And after a while we just fell into normal conversation. We had similar views on a lot of things and after the initial awkwardness it was easy to talk her. What i really liked was that I made a new friend:)
Action Hero Astha: The conversation picked up at absolutely random topics and because we had a language barrier I was surprised to see for how long it went on. We majorly spoke about love and how it affects life. What I learnt about the person was that he was really sweet in the beginning and even towards the end but his intention towards me changed. He seemed to be a very emotionally sensitive person, who has family responsibilities. He is a person who works according to his will and mood. He makes sure he does things he love to do, in order to be happy. What i learnt about myself was that I could actually ever speak my heart out in front of a stranger. I always knew that I could make conversation, but I let go this time. Even though we hardly understood what each other said, I think we spent a good time. His change in behaviour and his courage was the only thing that really surprised and dissapointed me.
Action Hero Arushi:
Strangers are sometimes not so strange
Action Hero Anjali:When I first thought about this task, I felt a bit apprehensive about doing it, as I am not very comfortable with talking and making conversation with absolute strangers. However, after watching my classmates interact with the people on the “safest lane” i was completely inspired, and after some time I was eagerly awaiting my turn!When It was my turn, I was actually able to engage completely in a fruitful conversation with my partner. I learnt that no one is ever an absolute stranger and there is always something to talk about. I also learnt that if I push myself out of my comfort zone like I did for this intervention, there are always pleasant surprises that you find! I learnt that my partner Prajwal wasn’t very different from me. He too enjoyed playing with his friends and reading, and he was a very soft spoken person.
Action Hero Mariyah:What I learnt about myself was I felt more approachable, it gave me more confidence about my communicating skills.What i learnt about him: He had a thirst for life, he wanted to become a lot of different things. he had big dreams, and he seemed ambitious.
Action Hero Shipra:I feel that the fact,that I would probably never see him after that conversation, put me at complete ease and chatting with him was a piece of cake.
Links:
The Atlantic by Sarah Goodyear

5 comments:

  1. Can non-Srishti students be a part of this? If yes, how?

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  2. I would like to know when will be a similar talk conducted in Delhi? I would like to participate or volunteers.

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  3. Where are you writing from Jayati? please email us at blurtblanknoise@gmail.com to organise an event in your city.

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  4. Priya. Do send us your email. We had created Talk To Me in Delhi last November (2013). Would love to make it happen again.

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