TDWS | E23: Pathu Is Dying

Pathu has been coned!

The Dog We Stole is the definitive biography of Her Majesty Begum Pathumma. Read earlier episodes of the series on the TDWS page.

As many young girls do, the onset of periods made Pathu believe that she was dying. She was leaking from her chu-chu and her days were numbered. She even made Echo, her most trusted ally, check that this was the case by showing him her bum repeatedly. As always, not only was he not helpful, but he also made a tortured face that reminded Pathu of an assault victim.

Pathu had such lofty plans for her life. Plans fit for a queen. But now, they were all laid to waste. She wanted to sniff her way around the world, discover forbidden salty, sweet and spicy food from different cuisines and learn to play the jal tarang to distract the pigeons.

Pathu, never one to despair, knew that this was an opportunity for self-discovery. With limited time on her hands, she had to make something of herself before life leaked out of her vagina. Laying luxuriously on the human’s king-sized bed while he was safely secured in the bathroom, Pathu dreamt of a career she could excel in.

But for Pathu, surveillance was simply a passion. Something she did for leisure. She enjoyed it too much for it to be work.

She would be excellent at surveillance, of course. With her relentless notetaking and impeccably keen eye for detail, she could make a mark in this field in a relatively short time. But for Pathu, surveillance was simply a passion. Something she did for leisure. She enjoyed it too much for it to be work. Pathu knew that work had to be something that brought in good money and something that she only vaguely enjoyed doing. That way work would be challenging enough not to bore her.

As Pathu stared at the humans’ dinner, willing a piece of carrot to get up from its juicy bed of cucumber slices and fly through the air into her mouth, it struck her. She would be a wet waste recycler! As an advocate for climate change action, this would be the perfect job for Pathu. She loved going through garbage. The humans waste so much edible food. This apple is too brown, this chapati is too old, this curry died in the fridge. The garbage bin was a heavenly buffet of sorts. She loved eating vegetable and fruit peels, leftover rice with or without condiments and meat bones. Yummy! She was sold on this option when she saw the human dump a load of coffee grounds into the bin. “Urgh. No way! I cannot work with coffee grounds. Thanks but no thanks!”

Next day, like an alarm, Pathu woke up on time and supremely agitated. She had stayed up late thinking of other options—a voice trainer, a high jump coach, an apparel model, an acting coach, a twerking champion—but nothing seemed right. She woke up her wayward humans and barked at them till they fed her. She made sure Echo got his daily brain activity by doing circles around him and forcing him to play with her. She was settling into another great day of surveillance, and boom!

Of course, it had been before her eyes all along. How could she have missed this? How could she have been so blind? She would become the operations head. She was always overseeing these buffoons. She made sure that this household worked without glitches. From screening visitors, to round the clock surveillance, to deciding timelines, to building processes and even taking care of their garbage. Begum Pathu, the Chief Operation Officer. It had a ring to it, didn’t it? She was a natural fit.

Pleased with herself, Pathu waited for the clock to strike 11.30 am to make sure everyone took a tea break!

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Next episode | E24: Pathu Has An Action Bias

Workshop on Gender Inequality in India

Gender inequality is not just out there, it’s in here too

On 21 October 2020, development consultant Smita Premchander and I ran a series of workshops for the students of a school in Bangalore on Gender Inequality in India. This 50 minute workshop was crafted for a group of 14-17 year-old students.

Gender inequality in India is a vast topic, one which Smita has spent her lifetime working on. We faced two challenges:

  • Providing a substantial overview in a 50 minute workshop
  • Personalising the problem of gender inequality

We decided that we would look at three facets of our lives where this inequality is apparent: family, institutions and society.

We began the session with this icebreaker: Share with us your first or strongest experience of gender discrimination? As expected, participants shared a range of responses. From not being selected for football because it was considered a ‘boys sport’ to not being allowed to walk in the city alone because ‘it’s not safe’ for girls. We used this opportunity to discuss ideas of social conditioning about gender and women’s access to public spaces.

From the personal, we extrapolated to how these experiences look back at us as data. We ran a data quiz and followed it up with a discussion. The discussion unpacked data and made it relevant to them. For instance, we said, if your class of 25 students were representative of India, 8 of the girls here would already be married.

Next, we took the recent case of Vijay P Nair, the YouTuber who made an abusive video titled “Why feminists in Kerala don’t wear underwear” and turned it into a roleplay game. This case, we figured, summed up very well the deep hold patriarchy, sexism and misogyny have on our society. We divided the participants into Women, Police and Society and had them discuss the case.

We ended the session with this reiteration: We don’t know what ground zero is for gender equality because we have inherited an unequal world. As demonstrated today, inequality exists in families, institutions and society at large. And the best way to tackle inequality as individuals is by asking the tough questions that need to be asked to these structures of power. 

The detailed breakdown of the workshop is available for free download. Sign up to access the workshop.

Picture Credit: Photo by Lindsey LaMont on Unsplash

Project On Her Own_Version 2.0

I feel as though September 2019 was spent on an entirely different planet in a parallel universe. It seems like eons ago that Yasho, Sunayana, Thej and I received the Gender Bender grant and pulled off a multimedia installation project at Gender Bender 2019 while holding down our full time jobs. As I write this, that thrill of building on an idea from scratch is almost palpable. 

For the uninitiated, Project On Her Own is a call-in service where you (can still) call +91 80660 84304 and listen to everyday stories of women and share your own. We had little over a month to put this together. We organised phone booths in Cubbon Park, ran workshops with women and had over 1000 calls to show for it. You can read more about it here, here and here.

Earth has gone around the sun once and life has changed in many ways. But when the anniversary of our epic feat came around we couldn’t but revisit the ‘what next’. We’ve always talked about building out an archive for the everyday stories of women that are still getting collected behind the scenes. What if we could harness the asynchronicity of WhatsApp as an upload mechanism for stories? What if we collected stories in workshop mode from communities and groups that we are keen to engage with? Questions like these and more finally got us thinking about Project On Her Own_Version 2.0

I am delighted to report that we have begun reconvening on this idea. On Sunday afternoons, I drag myself from sleep at 3 pm to groggily join the discussion on how to move forward with Project On Her Own. I give up my nap only because I tremendously appreciate the opportunity to work with this team that works like clockwork.

More on our progress soon!

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A Wednesday In September

Photo by Annie Spratt on Unsplash

If you are here for The Dog We Stole series, it resumes on Monday.

I wrote this on 1 October 2020 in response to two events that occurred on 30 September 2020—the cremation at Hathras and the Babri Masjid verdict.

Yesterday’s events belch up leaving an acrid aftertaste. I spent all day refusing to think or talk about what was happening in this country and the world. When a friend mentioned that she was too sad to read my series The Dog We Stole, I laughed at her asking, “What’s the point of being sad?”. She said, “it’s to acknowledge the emotion and to sit with it”. Through the day I was successful in hiding away behind a veil of indifference. I stayed away from all mentions of Hathras, Babri Masjid and the American presidential debate. But then came evening. 

Before bed I just couldn’t hold it in any longer and we talked about the absurdity of the situation and not knowing how to react to it. When you question absurdity with logic, you end up being the fool in the conversation. But in this post-truth world it feels absurd to ask, what do you mean no one demolished it? What do you mean you cremated her without her family’s consent? See how I didn’t even mention the insolence of the upper caste men who gang raped her and how you didn’t think anything of it till I mentioned it? Notice how stupid these questions sound when said out aloud? That is where we are at. The audacity of the administration to deny this brutal gender and caste-based violence does not shock me. I am well past shock. I feel sad, hopeless. Today, I am right where they want me to be—resigned to living in this intolerant Hindu nation as an object called woman, just the way Manu intended it. I feel powerless and disoriented in this dystopia.

With a simple sleight of hand, one of the tenets that makes us, humans, stand up straight has been violated—the basic right of affording one’s last rites in the presence of our loved ones. And with every passing day the bar slides further; faster now than ever before. What is this if not a dictatorship? It is probably true that there are millions of Dalits and Muslims who will suffer before these issues knock on my doorstep but that is a function of India’s population and my privilege more than our democracy.

This week, a popular dubbing artist in Kerala took law into her own hands and thrashed her online abuser, Vijay P Nair. What else was she to do when the law of the land turned a blind eye? Of course it’s her class and caste privilege that makes this a plausible reaction for her. I know that the time for being polite is long gone. A woman with patience will end up a fossil. But what is the way forward? Today, I simply don’t know.

That I can shut the world out when I choose to is a mark of my privilege. A privilege offered to me because I am perceived as an upper class, upper caste Hindu woman. In the hierarchy that runs the world, I am placed above a Dalit woman and a Muslim man or woman. Am I entitled to represent their experiences? I don’t feel that I am. But do they have spaces to represent themselves? And it’s 2020! Not mentioning that this is the lived reality of a vast section of Indian citizens just because they are Dalit or Muslim is unconscionable. Babri Masjid verdict does not come as a shock. It comes as a show of power, an entitlement that victims of patriarchy will instinctively recognise. Hathras has not been my experience simply because I am not a Dalit woman. But this experience is not alien to me as a woman. Socially and culturally I am conditioned to believe that I am asking to be brutally raped and have my tongue cut off if I don’t conform to patriarchy. 

As a woman, I feel ashamed to call myself Indian. Tell me why I should feel patriotic about a country that terminates its girl child, molests, rapes, mutilates and murders its girls and women, does not accept its womxn, makes arrests based on gender and overlooks complaints made by women. Patriotism is not a one-way street.

Rationally I know that hope is the only light that leads us. But today, as I sit with my grief for our loss of decency and dignity as a nation, I am blind, my head hangs in shame and I don’t know how to go on.

It is here

30 September 2020

I start my day laughing

Another day is dying

A cremation and an acquittal

Welcome to the denial.

Laughs wear many meaning

Some cheerful, some lashing. 

This one is at me,

witnessing the anomie.

I go about my day—isolating.

It’s my only way of coping

Away from the newspaper, 

TV is a blur.

Zero doses of Instagram

Against the tide I swam. 

When dinner is done, that familiar dread

A blanket of dark awaits in my bed.

I watch trash on Netflix, suppressing the chill

All the while waiting for the downhill.

It is late,

birds are awake,

I prepare to sleep—

That is when I break.

The intense dread of being a woman

Less than nothing in this nation.

And the shame of being born Hindu

in this bestial zoo.

It is here,

my bier.

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You Are Alone

Image of a single flower
Photo by Masaaki Komori on Unsplash

You are alone. In your heart-racing stress and its consequent quest for calm. As you press your hands to your body or to a wall to find grounding, you are alone. In the alleyways of your mind where alternate scenarios to events past perform playback theatre, you are alone. When your unshakable morals stand their ground, there will be no audience. When human logic escapes you, there will be no sister to turn to and consult with. Remember! That logic is elusive to you alone. That infinite circular staircase of dissent that leads nowhere you will climb, wondering if the world has left you behind or if you are ahead of the curve. You are alone in your anxiety, silent screams that no one hears. For them you are too successful, too old, too disciplined or too privileged to be anxious. In the moments leading up to the end, you are alone. 

In reading a book, falling in love, memory of a dish, selfishness you feel or the taste of a December morning in 1999 you are alone. You can explain what the flapping of a wraparound skirt in a small town made a 14-year-old feel. Invincible, beautiful, modern and free. But words will fail you. The exhilaration you felt at the start of the day, the deep sense of shame you were gifted that day, the confusion of not understanding why a bare knee was a problem, the feeling is not in those instances. The feeling is in your mind—doubt; etched. The stares, the giggles, the stern whispered warnings.  

Live life as if you are alone and be surprised when you find a helping hand. A helping hand on your shoulder or holding your hand. Accept it without question. Give into its charm completely. But until then, live for yourself, as if you were alone. Because to believe in the other, to hope for the other, is foolish. It is foolish to believe that someone will walk with you. Of course, if you have faith, He will walk beside you through the night. But this is a PSA for those living outside faith. There is no one. If everyone’s life has a purpose, the purpose of yours cannot be in service of another. And if life has no purpose, then there you have it.

Crusty eyed, camera shy: Life and work in these Covid times

On a regular day, I wake up, make coffee, have breakfast, pack lunch, get ready and leave for work. In a tumble I could fit all these activities into 45 mins. That was in my life pre-March.

Since the world as we know it ended, I go to sleep around 1:30 am. I wake up around 8.30 am. Mostly because the trash gets picked up at 8:30 am and I need to put it out. Meanwhile, Thej wakes up and parses data

I wash the dishes. Then make coffee. Warm up our dog Echo’s food and refill his water bowl. Along with this I fill all our water bottles. I make rice in the rice cooker for lunch or other eventualities. There’s usually some leftover sambar or rasam in the fridge. So lunch is sorted.

By then, Thej and Echo are back from their walk. Like foragers, they bring back from their walk, single packets of milk or curd or whatever is available in the shop. I put out Echo’s food. While he eats, I drink coffee, read the newspaper. Thej and I talk about the world going to shit. Talk about where to get meat for Echo’s meals. Often, we check on our househelp Selvi. Meanwhile, we have cornflakes or overnight oats for breakfast. I clean the balcony where the raintree’s flowers and leaves congregate. Sometimes I do a quick cleanup of the living room from where I work.

On most days, Thej and I have calls from 11 am. Truth be told, I open my computer earliest at 10:50 am. I sit in front of the computer/phone, crusty eyed and camera shy, mostly on mute. For me, social distancing is actually the best part about Covid-19. I don’t have to meet people and for the most part, I don’t have to make polite conversations. This bit is truly divine.

I answer emails if any, I get on calls (of which there are unreasonably more these days) and I plan for the next FY. But beyond this, I have to work on some content and an internal grant but my covid priorities are always running on loop in my head. For instance, at 3 pm I have to remind Thej to head to the grocery store to join the queue. It’s only been a week since we got Echo home, so we take breaks to play with him, pet him, groom him. I manage to keep calm thanks to this cuddly bum and the belly rubs he demands. 

In the evenings, I talk to Amma about the sensex, Pinarayi’s efficiency and what’s for dinner. Thej and I drink coffee and try to talk about our work day. It usually spirals into Covid talk or we end up watching the news. There’s a palpable tension in the air as we try to act normal to recreate some peace. We tiptoe around discussing the heartbreaking scene at Anand Vihar bus stand. Clothes need to be folded and put away.

Thej washes the dishes in the evening, makes coffee, grates coconut. Alongside, I whip up some dinner that’s labour intensive. Like chapati. Just to stay occupied. I’ve already cleaned out our storage and the cupboards in the kitchen. 

In the evenings, Thej vacuums the carpet and sometimes our bedroom. Echo sheds even more in order to keep Thej occupied. We have dinner ignoring our begging, drooling bum-wagger under the table and I Netflix late into the night. 

Why am I talking about my daily routine? Because, workplaces (mine included) seem to think that we are just working from home. No, we are not. We are in the middle of a global pandemic. And now is not the time to harp on about productivity. I would ideally have the leadership everywhere address the vulnerability we feel. Talk about the importance of business continuity: the merits to keep on keeping on. Do what you are doing but at your own pace. It’s not enough to see this messaging on Instagram. There’s authenticity in hearing this message from our leadership; a sense that they care. Acknowledge and address that elephant in the room: employee morale. But I understand it’s too much to expect. 

I imagine a typical woman of my age; 35. In most likelihood, she has two children, a husband whose work is “more important” than hers and she lives with her in-laws. Financially, she has a home loan, a car loan and children’s education to worry about. On a regular day, work hours are her time slot to focus on work and herself.

But in Covid times, she has two children who are thrilled that their mother is home all day. She has to deal with her “in-laws dynamic” during the day as well. She has to do the dishes, wash clothes, water plants, clean the house and cook food because the house help isn’t around. She has to keep her children entertained and her in-laws safe. I am sure there are husbands out there who are equal partners but you know that you are not the majority. She or her husband has to go out to get groceries because the other members of the household are highly at risk. If the household has a pet, then getting meat supplies for his/her food also weighs down on her.

No, we are not just working from home. This is a stressful time full of uncertainty. With next to zero direction from the state and central administration on the plan of action, people are having to cope in their own ways. My organisation might be working on changing the world but right now, I need to Netflix trash late into the night just to stay afloat.

Filed under: my-privileged-world-view.

Comfort in the Collective

ProjectOnHerOwn had its first focussed offline event on Tuesday, 6 August 2019 with 22 women facilitators working with Buzz Women. Buzz Women trains low-income women in financial literacy so that they can be drivers of prosperity. Three of the four people on the team have below average to poor Kannada skills that we make up for in smiles and enthusiasm. Apart from the nervousness of not being able to respond in a common language, we were also anxious about how we would say what we want to, will anyone be as excited as us about this thing, and why should anyone even talk to us? 

Turns out games are a good way to make shy people smile, awkward people more awkward, and a group of 25 women make a huge amount of noise. After a round of names and a short introduction to the project by Thej, we started with a complicated game of ‘stacking’  involving advanced hand-eye coordination and memory skills as an icebreaker. Though this exercise was absolutely useless in helping us remember each other’s names, it did help us get a sense of the group’s enthusiasm and set the precedent for the rest of the hour. 

We then dove straight into the project, by playing a recording of one of the stories on a speaker to the circle of listeners. Very important note to self – must do a tech rehearsal and sound check beforehand. However, we had a very patient audience who listened to two stories on the speaker. 

One of the things that I’ve found works well both in groups of adults and children, are exercises where individuals are prompted to think on their feet and reveal something small about themselves without having the time to filter their answers. What this does is open up entry points into discussion without putting anyone in a vulnerable position. So to open into a discussion of why this project mattered, and what could its scope be, we had a quick rapid fire round. Our questions were who do you call when you want to talk about something?  Who reaches out to you when they’re in need? What word describes the feeling of a shared conversation on the phone? 

We moved very quickly from the rapid fire to a game where we had two minutes to share a story with a random partner. The story or incident could be one’s own, another woman’s, anything that came to mind. 15 minutes later, we gathered in a group to recount our experience of listening to someone else, and a word that popped up multiple times was ‘samadhana.’ 

Now while a lot of times that means relief, it also means comfort. There was comfort in listening to someone else, being able to speak to someone else. Comfort in the collective.

Written by Sunayana Premchander. Sunayana is a theatre professional based in Bangalore. She is part of the #ProjectOnHerOwn team.

Why We Need #ProjectOnHerOwn

I spoke about the need for #ProjectOnHerOwn at the Teach for India Sabha, last Saturday. My talk focused on the need for women to tell their stories. We all know women who are achievers and rebels, and those who have been harassed and taken for granted. We are those women. Then why do we shy away from sharing our story? Our stories are so similar yet different. And, they all matter. Below is the transcript of my talk.

I am Anjana. Today, I will tell you my story. 

Growing up, I was an obedient child. But once I realised that I didn’t really want to become a doctor or an engineer, everyone started calling me a rebel.

I chose to study Journalism and English in college. Soon, it was clear that I was not built for Journalism. I am not the most curious cookie in the box. For years, I was a content creator by day and wrote poems and stories by night. I would rarely share these with anyone. Finally, in 2016, I decided to give writing a try. I took a year off and wrote 10 short stories. Two of them have been published since. And 4 of them have been used in #ProjectOnHerOwn. 

I have never been a social person. I am happier being lost in my own thoughts than interacting with people. But today, I work at Indian Institute for Human Settlements in Sadashivanagar and I anchor a monthly event there called Public Texts, where we bring authors to talk about their work. I find these two to be huge achievements in my personal journey.

Moving on to less happier things, like all women I know, I have been harassed too. I’ve had my breasts pinched in the streets. Men have rubbed up against me in buses. I’ve worked with male colleagues who’ve made me uncomfortable. But I’ve also stopped an overnight bus in the dead of the night once and confronted my harasser while travelling alone. 

I’ve also been taken for granted. Right after college, I took two years off to care for my grandfather. The least I could do for my grandparents was to be by their side when their faculties faded. In the beginning I got a lot of flack for not focussing on my career. But these same detractors soon began to take me for granted. I was there 24×7, a primary caregiver, with no one to change hands with me. I am glad I spent time with him while I could, but being taken for granted was a frustrating experience. That is also my story.

These are the stories that make up #ProjectOnHerOwn. None of them are heroic. We have all experienced some version of these highs and lows in our lifetime. If not, we have at least seen and heard of the women around us experience these stories. These stories are important. All of them, however similar they are to each other, matter. It is not often that women’s stories are told. And when they are told, they are about women achieving extraordinary things like Jhansi Rani or Kalpana Chawla. We hope to create a space for relatable stories of everyday women.  

We are #ProjectOnHerOwn, an IVR-based art project done as part of Gender Bender Festival 2019. Call 080 6608 4304 number, listen to her story and share your story with us!

I would like to leave you with a story that was shared earlier this week at one of the #ProjectOnHerOwn focus group discussions. A lady who works at an NGO as a facilitator narrated how she was someone who could not talk to people. She would never leave the house alone. She would never eat at a hotel. And since she got this job, she has learnt to ride a bike, she facilitates conversations about financial independence in 100 villages, travels alone, eats out and is confident enough to talk to a crowd of people. It made me realise how big a deal eating at a hotel is to someone. If I hadn’t heard a first hand account of it from her, I would have thought, what’s the big deal in eating out? For me, that’s the point of the project. You never know how your story will affect another person. And my hope for the project is that it becomes a space to listen to and to share everyday stories of women.

Once again, We are Project On Her Own, the poster has all the details. Call this number to participate. If you have questions, find us after the Sabha.

#ProjectOnHerOwn FAQs

What is #ProjectOnHerOwn?

#ProjectOnHerOwn is a celebration of everyday stories. Stories of moments that make up our daily lives. While caller responses will build out the audio library, we’ve recorded some fictional cues and we hope that hearing them will encourage you to share a small part of your own story. If you have any query, Whatsapp 897 107 1985.

Why are you doing this?

We hope to collectively remember that the small victories of the day that only we may know, matter. The stories you hear may be of someone you have never met, but everyone’s story is different, and we hope that you will also leave behind something for us to listen to.

What’s the number to call?

Call +91 80660 84304 from anywhere in the world, 24×7. Please remember to use +91 or 0 before the number when dialling. However, WhatsApp calls are not available. 

Are all stories in English?

No, stories are available in English, Kannada, Malayalam, Tamil and Hindi. And you can leave your response in any of these languages too. 

What kind of story do I share?

You can share any of your experiences with friends, family, big and little wins and losses, friendships, courage, doubts, determination and choices. Here are some cues to get you started. Does the story you listened to remind you of someone? Share their story. Has something similar happened in your life? Share that story. What is that challenge you overcame or choice you made, the one you think is too insignificant to mention? Leave that as a story. 

What happens to my response?

The story you share as response, will be added to the system. It will be available for other callers to listen to. It will also be part of the final showcase at Gender Bender 2019 from 21-24 Aug 2019 at Bangalore International Centre, Domlur.

Where do I get more details about the project?

Find all details about the project on our webpage and on our Instagram.

Where can we read these stories?

Right now, it’s not available online to read. We will have some copies for you at the final showcase at Gender Bender 2019. But once the project is done, we plan to publish these online in all 5 languages.

Will you have copyright to my story?

You own the copyright for your story. When you share your story you are giving permission to use it only for the purposes of #ProjectOnHerOwn including Gender Bender 2019. 

Will you share my phone number with anyone?

No. We will use it only for the purposes of #ProjectOnHerOwn. It won’t be shared with anyone for any other purpose.

Where can we meet you?

We will be at Cubbon Park every weekend from 9-11 am till the final showcase. Location details will be updated on our Instagram. From 21-24 August, we will be at Gender Bender 2019 at Bangalore International Centre in Domlur. You will find the #ProjectOnHerOwn display on the 2nd floor landing.

Can I volunteer for this project?

Yes, please. If you are on Instagram, repost us. If not, talk about us to your friends and family. If you want to get further involved, come to Cubbon Park over the weekends and help us interact with passersby. If you have more time, you could run focus groups in your area and get users to listen to her story and share their own. For further instructions on volunteering, call Sunayana Premchander at 98330 49857. 

What is Gender Bender 2019?

Gender Bender is a festival that showcases new works of art around gender. It is a space for conversations on gender with artists and audiences alike. Gender Bender is a joint project of the Goethe-Institut / Max Mueller Bhavan and Sandbox Collective.

#ProjectOnHerOwn: It’s live!

Seems like it was ages ago that we won the Gender Bender grant. In reality, it has only been 35 days. But these 35 days have redefined what we can do as a team. I am incredibly grateful for our team who are at the same wavelength or ready to put the project above themselves. In the last month, I have often joked that we forgot a tiny detail while submitting the proposal. That all of us have fulltime jobs.

Over evenings, late nights and working weekends, we have put together an IVR-based phone system where you can call to listen to everyday stories of women. First task was to write stories and shorten them to fit 500 words so that they weren’t too long when recorded. If the stories were too long, it would make this a very costly project. Why do all stories about women need to be heroic? Where are all the stories of the everyday challenges, courage and choices that women face? That’s the question #ProjectOnHerOwn wanted to tackle. That’s how these stories of women’s self-reliance, self-discovery and self-assertion came about. 

Next up was translation. Right from the start, we wanted to make these stories available in as many languages as possible. We decided on English, Kannada, Malayalam, Tamil and Hindi. Getting them translated and recorded was possible only because friends and family rallied behind us. We have not been able to pay most of them and we have not been able to use some of their recordings but we truly appreciate them dropping everything to translate these stories on short notice.

Without context, we are fully aware that our logo with a number looks very much like a hotline. But that’s the idea too. What about the colour red, the word her and a phone number suggests that it’s sexual? We understand that users could have reservations about calling a random number. That’s why we are taking our project offline to Cubbon park (3, 4, 10 and 11 Aug) and possibly other venues across the city. Watch #ProjectOnHerOwn instagram for details. We want to engage a diverse audience in these stories and see how they respond. Do they think it’s a waste of time? Do they have a story to share about a woman in their lives? Do they have a story we can add to the IVR?

Call +91 80660 84304 to listen to her story and share your own. If you’re in Bangalore, come by Cubbon Park this weekend and the next to help us get more people to listen to these stories. If you can’t make it, share the number and spread the word in your circle.