They say the world is a book and those who do not travel only read a page. I had a very un-travel-ish childhood. Like every other middle-class Indian family, my parents did not believe in travelling or even holidaying for that matter. The only vacation we used to take as an annual trip was to visit my maternal grandparents who thankfully lived in Dehradun – away from bad and polluted Delhi (my hometown).
Travel and sexuality throws up different thoughts and feelings for us all. For me, it threw up the term travelling sexuality. I like it. Travelling sexuality. It sounds exotic or intellectual, adventurous, dangerous, depending on who you are and how you live life. A travelling sexuality could describe the way we evolve as sexual beings, shifting and changing identities.
If I had a dollar every time I heard an opponent of abortion rights say something like “If you remove the option for abortions, women will stop getting them,” it’s safe to say I would go up a tax bracket or two. In many places today, Global South or North, I would need all of those dollars in order to travel a considerable distance for an abortion that may neither be legal nor safe.
When the opportunity to work on a documentary film shoot about mapping Ramleela (a dramatic folk re-enactment of the life of Ram(a), an avatar of Hindu god Vishnu, and his wife Sita, an avatar of goddess Lakshmi) performance traditions across the state of Orissa presented itself, I had three thoughts in my head.
Employing a direct line of questioning in a booming voice, a tall drag queen shining in a blood red sequinned gown, strides to our table and shoots the question at us. I am not entirely sure how to respond and neither is my friend.
There’s a pregnant pause as he fumbles for his keys, and I, for a definitive answer. Packaged as an innocuous statement, there hangs a question between us: No one even knows your name here, in this remote corner of the antiquated town we’ve found ourselves in. And yet, we’re in front of a door, planning to know so much more.
Within the urban sphere, feminist discourse has for the past few decades centred on the constant anxiety and anticipation of violence, which permeates all of women’s movements within South Asian cities. However, something unusual is happening to that discourse in this cultural moment. Feminists are systematically and strategically shifting their attention from the anticipation of violence to the active search for pleasure in public space.