Here’s your world this week according to Finger.
Let’s begin Saturday morning with a roar. The roar of motorcycles, that is. In 2016, Pakistan’s Punjab province launched a scheme called Women on Wheels to encourage women to ride motorcycles. This week, the government gave away 700 motorcycles to women and organised a rally to promote this idea of two-wheeler mobility.
Nighat Dad, (prominent activist and lawyer) was at the Lahore rally and jubilant. Watch a little video that Dad shot here and enjoy the back-and-forth shouts of kya haal hai in a sea of pink wearing motorbike riders.
And a little extra fun? Among the many others that Dad fights legal battles for is singer-actor Meesha Shafi who recently accused singer Ali Zafar of sexual harassment. Shafi tweeted this.
Meanwhile, across in Saudi Arabia, men had been deploying the hashtag #YouWon’tDrive because they are enraged that women are now finally allowed to drive. Saudi women are having none of it and are trolling men right back with hilarious pictures and tweets. This one from a young biologist is our fav.
You know what else is perfect, hilarious and online? Instagram comics by 24-year-old artist Exotic Cancer. The sketches are about things that happen at her day job as a stripper and about the clients she meets there. You can read a full interview on the excellent blog Tits And Sass which is run by sex workers. Closer home, the non-profit CREA recently created this great graphic in collaboration with the All India Network of Sex Workers.
We have to admit we looked at the ‘first look’ of Lihaaf, a movie adaptation of the Ismat Chughtai short story with rather a lot of suspicion. It seems so pretty-pretty. The movie has been made by Rahat Kazmi and stars Tannishtha Chatterjee, Sonal Sehgal and Namita Lal. But perhaps it will be brilliant!
Meanwhile, no need to feel na ghilaaf na lihaaf. You could read several excellent translations and refresh your memory. You could go to the Manushi archives and see their translation which is accompanied by a brief reference to reviewing Fire in the previous issue and get a warm historic glow. You could also read Parvati Sharma’s sexy, funny homage to Lihaaf in her exceptional short story collection The Dead Camel & Other Stories of Love (Zubaan Books).
Talking of Zubaan Books, have you watched the fascinating docu The Books We Made by Anupama Chandra and Uma Tanuku? It traces the history of Kali for Women, the pioneering feminist publishing house in India, founded by Urvashi Butalia and Ritu Menon before each went on to found one more publishing house (Zubaan and Women Unlimited respectively).
While on the subject of books, you have to watch young Sania and her mother Milan talk about going to a wonderful library in Delhi run by The Community Library Project. In this delightful short film, Sania Aur Milan: Ek Library Katha both talk about each other, books and the library.
We are thrilled doubly that one of Sania’s favourite books is Sowmya Rajendran and Niveditha Subramanian just perfect Nirmala and Normala.
When we celebrate the genius and creativity of Nirmalas and Normalas everywhere, do we assume that artistic powers are accompanied with mood disorders? Apparently, science says that it’s totes bogus. You can read about it at length in this prim essay by Christa L Taylor. Our favourite passage goes thus:
“Believing that creativity is due to some underlying, uncontrollable factor reinforces the idea that few people are capable of true creativity, which prevents many from realising their own potential. It also undermines the skill and effort that creative endeavours require, if we can simply chalk it up to the consequence of a disorder. And the connection between mood disorders and creativity influences the very way we view the creative work of others: university students who were told the story of Van Gogh cutting off his ear before they examined his painting Sunflowers (1888) took a more favourable view of it than those who weren’t told the story. Similarly, students priced a piece of artwork higher when a fictitious artist’s biography briefly mentioned that he was ‘often described as very eccentric’.
This is a dangerous message for those engaged in creative pursuits – and for those creators who do suffer from a mood disorder: It could keep them from seeking treatment if they believe treatment would diminish their creative ability.”
Obviously, this reminded us of Rebecca Solnit’s essay, Women’s Work and the Myth of the Art Monster in which she contests Jenny Offil’s idea that one can only make art by being profoundly selfish. Offil said, “my plan was to never get married. I was going to be an art monster instead. Women almost never become art monsters because art monsters only concern themselves with art, never mundane things. Nabokov didn’t even fold his umbrella. Véra licked his stamps for him.” An exasperated Solnit wrote, “… the selfishness of writers is a recurrent motif, one I wish I could tie lead weights to so it would never bob to the surface again.”
So, go make art this weekend because we need it and because we can. You know the Indian hockey team is planning to. They have been slaying it in the Asian Champions trophy games. Tomorrow in the finals they will be playing hosts Korea. No one is broadcasting it but you can livestream it here at 11.30 am (IST).
Wishing you kisses and helmets. See you next week!
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