Celebrating Exclusion- The Question of Cultural Appropriation

I had promised myself nearly three years ago that I would not engage in inane Facebook arguments. But like an idiot, I found myself in the middle of one just this evening. The topic of the debate- Cultural Appropriation. I am a brown-skinned woman living in Trump’s America. I have experienced casual racism of varying…

Once upon a time in Punjab- Khoon Aali Chithi

“Attwadi maa di garabh ton ni aunde– Pucchin kissi attwadi nu, ohdi ki narazgi hai?” (Terrorists don’t come from their mothers’ wombs– Try asking a terrorist why he is so angry?) — My Grandmother The corpse of a young boy lies in the unruly, wild grass. His once neat turban is lying at his killer’s feet. His hair is…

Kashmir- An Old Man’s Dream

“Ranj se khoongar hua insaan, toh ranj mit jaata hai… Mushkilein itni padin, ke sab aasaan ho gayin…” (Man is so bloodied by all his life’s battles, that now all troubles seem like trifles…..) My grandfather was a strange man. Like all grandfathers, he was warm, cuddly, and full of stories. He loved munching on junk food with…

The Rohingya Refugee Crisis- Myanmar

“We ran away from Burma to avoid the bad things they do to girls.” -Mazeda, a  12-year-old Rohingya child in a refugee relief camp in New Delhi They are stateless people who are not recognized by the Myanmar government as legitimate citizens anymore The Rohingya people claim a centuries-old lineage in Rakhine, but according to…

Yogi Adityanath- The Undoing of UP

I was thousands of miles away from home, more concerned about Donald Trump’s radioactive visa policies than the various state elections in India. Of course, as a politically conscious person, I was keeping one ear on the results, but no amount of preparation readied me for the news that tore through my eardrums from across…

Trans women are women. Period.

The world has always found ways to narrow down the definition of a woman. If one is too fat to be a real woman, another is too skinny. If one is too aggressive, another is much too coy. It is absurd that something as basic as who someone is, must be defined by qualities they should…

Why I cannot forgive Modi

In 2014, when Narendra Modi became the prime minister, many of my friends rejoiced. They were hopeful that he would usher in a new era of economic development, an abundance of jobs,  an end to black money, stringency towards corrupt businessmen and politicians, among other fairly amazing things. One of my dad’s employees distributed sweets…

ABVP, I am not scared of you

My city is burning. The place I called home for three years, is fighting an existential battle. My alma mater, the University of Delhi, is standing strong even while being battered by people who say they want to protect the country from corrupted ideas. Corrupted ideas of freedom. Corrupted ideas of justice. Corrupted ideas of…

Iconic Superman: America’s Gentlest Superhero

Dusty old footpaths in the innermost ghettos of Delhi were littered with vendors selling all kinds of things. Any number of trinkets, toys and everyday items shimmered under the hot afternoon sun. And among these shops, a man sat with six piles of T-shirts. While most shirts sported logos of major American brands like Nike, it…

Your Selective Outrage is Disturbing

So you are pro-life. The sight of a little baby makes you go ‘awwww.’ You dress your own toddler in pink booties and lacy frocks. You say ‘amen’ in church when the pastor prays for peace in the world. And then you don’t even bat an eyelid at pictures like this. This is your compassion. And…

Remembering Anne of Auschwitz and Bergen-Belsen

It was a warm summer day and there was a bite to the hot wind that blew sand into our school playground. The other girls were playing inside while the boys were out in the sun, throwing fistfuls of sand at unsuspecting teachers. I was seldom invited to be a part of the games. That day…