In mid-May, I started pursuing a 6-week course on edX titled ‘Gender and Intersectionality’, offered by the University of Iceland and GEST (Gender Equality Studies and Training Programme under the auspices of UNESCO). It’s going well so far—I’d recommend it to anyone interested in the subject. The term ‘intersectionality’ was coined by Kimberle Crenshaw in 1989 and has proven to be incredibly crucial in understanding the ways in which gender intersects with other realities/identities of class, race, religion, disability, nationalism etc., all of which affect one’s experience of being female in different ways. Simply put, analyzing gender without taking these aspects into consideration—early waves of feminism, for example, focused solely on the lives of middle and upper middle class white women, dubbed ‘white feminism’—merely leads to women from other marginalized communities remaining on the fringes.
Virginia Woolf’s work, of course, features in the course’s reading list, alongside other prominent feminist thinkers including bell hooks, Alice Walker, Rita Mae Brown, Betty Friedan, and others. Here is a striking excerpt from her essay, ‘A Room of One’s Own‘:
“..Here I would stop, but the pressure of convention decrees that every speech must end with a peroration. And a peroration addressed to women should have, you would agree, something particularly exalting and ennobling about it. I should implore you to remember your responsibilities, to be higher, more spiritual; I should remind you how much it depends upon you, and what an influence you can exert upon the future. But those exhortations can, safely, I think, be left to the other sex, who will put them, and indeed have put them, with far greater eloquence than I can compass. When I rummage in my own mind I find no noble sentiments about being companions and equals and influencing the world to higher ends. I find myself saying briefly and prosaically that it is much more important to be oneself than anything else. Do not dream of influencing other people, I would say, if I knew how to make it sound exalted. Think of things in themselves.
Continue reading “Excerpt | A Room of One’s Own”
“To me it is the melancholic beauty, abandon, and loneliness of Sofia’s backyards, with the narrow, often dilapidated balconies hanging above. And the trees, the lindens above all. In early summer there are whole streets lined with them, and the smell of linden blossom can make your head spin. Then, there is also Mount Vitosha, with parts of the city creeping up its slopes. Of course, a mountain can hardly go unnoticed, but I remember that as a child I used to believe that every city had a mountain, so natural it seemed to have one so close.”
Continue reading “Visual Diary: Once Upon an Afternoon in Sofia”
— Bulgarian writer Elena Alexieva, when asked to name an extraordinary detail about Sofia
This is an excerpt from my piece that was originally published on Atlas Obscura on March 12th.
On a bright morning in August, 1965, a young man named Gurumurthy ushered his parents and sisters out of their home in the Burmese capital of Rangoon. They shut the wooden gate behind them, glanced at the stark-white façade of their house for a final time, and began to carry their modest belongings to the nearby port.
Continue reading “Colonialism, War and Exile: The Little-Known History of Indians in Myanmar”
We didn’t expect 2020 to turn out like this, did we? I certainly didn’t as I watched fireworks erupt over the Bosphorus at midnight, marking the start of a new decade. Kids peered into cars unceremoniously stalled in traffic on Inonu street, persuading drivers to turn their music up loud, and danced in the middle of the street. A few days later, thunderstorms across Istanbul forced people to stay indoors all day. At the time, I didn’t mind being cooped up in the house with four adorable cats and some nice humans for company. Little did I know that we were going to be doing a whole lot more of this in the months to come.
Continue reading “Well, Here We Are.”
This piece was originally published in The Hindu Sunday Magazine.
The cobblestoned streets of Skopje’s Old Bazaar are lined by barbershops, grocers’ and Ottoman-era inns, offering a portal to another time. Nearby, the 6th century Kale Fortress overlooks the city, and the historical Stone Bridge connects the Old Bazaar to the main square. As you make your way across the bridge, however, authenticity becomes increasingly harder to spot, obscured by newly erected buildings with classical facades, shiny bronze statues and marble fountains. Continue reading “Notes from Skopje”