Thursday, April 24, 2008

passion vs programming

Of late, the transsexuals have to, often, straddle between passion and perfection.

On one side is the raw desire to live a carefree life. On the other, there is this programming by the NGOs wanting to transformthe life of transsexuals. Wednesday's fashion shows at Villupuram, organized on either side ofthe KanyaKulam Road, by the locals and an international agency, were reflective of the two entirely different worlds of the present day*aravanis*.

Ms Koovagam, organized by the local *aravani* welfare group with networks in major cities in the nation and the world, was that of the old world, full of flesh, glitz, high decibel and all chaotic. The who's who of the *aravanis* in the state were there. Along withtheir companions (One of the badmouth was beaten up by the localmedia). And they were all honoured on stage by the organizers. Thedancers were not great but their enthusiasm was infectious. At least,one dancer was asked to the item number again.

The fashion show, as elsewhere, was mostly boring. The cute as well asthe intelligent never reached the final stage much to thedisappointment of the crowd. Ms Koovagam went to Ms Mantra. She hadglamour but importantly she was from the right gang. Governmentofficials being the judges, the third prize went to a transsexual whowas dressed as, of all things in a fashion show, *Bharat Matha*.
``Education is the most important thing,'' said Ms Koovagam beforerushing out of the hall and flew off in a car. Once the hall was empty, the organizers were finding it difficult to get back to normal life. ``We have spent over a lakh of rupee. The government has stoppedfunding. Now, it gives it only one NGO. First, the NGOs have to bethrown out of the lives of transsexuals,'' said Radha, president,Villupuram District Aravanikal Nala Sangam. She has been organizing the fashion show for sometime and now suddenly she has no funds from anywhere.

Bang opposite, the Tamil Nadu AIDS Initiative (of Bill & Melinda GatesFoundation), has a parallel fashion show. A well organized one. Onlythe perfume was too much. There are no gangs but there are teams of*aravanis* (SHG members). The team spirit and bonding is evident. Theyhave dressed up in folk, classical and modern and perform at ease the respective dance forms.

The group monitors, female facilitators, are with the members, givingthem tips. And an Australian team is documenting the event from startto finish. The crowns went not to the glamorous but to the diligentand intelligent. Noori, Chennai's 59-year old veteran, got the secondprize for her service to the community. Malavika, the winner, was all in tears. She never thought she was beautiful and so never thought she will win Ms Koovagam. In both, only one thing was common. The fashion shows were evidently fixed.

The transsexuals, true to their style, straddled both the worlds with ease.

Sunday, April 13, 2008

times launched...

``Hey,'' said Jojo. Almost a shout.
Vikas, with his greenish meditative eyes over the monitor, has just cleared the front page.
Many of us shouted aloud. It was the moment. The magical moment the city has been waiting for years now. Tomorrow, the city will wake up to a new paper. An aggressive, intelligent, proactive paper.
As an afterthought he said: ``Let us hope that the other papers don't come up with something special.'' Like him, the editors of other papers might have gone through sleepless days. It has been a dream come true.
``Ok guys, lets start work on tomorrow's new edition,'' Derek says, with a laugh. Sunil gets a pat from everyone around. ``You owe us a big treat,'' he is told. Everyone is relieved. The past one month has been spent for this moment.
``We will read other papers tomorrow,'' says Priya and Ayyappan. ``I am sure the others will have special stories for tomorrow,'' says Suresh. Hundreds have been working day and night for the past 20-odd days. It will be some of the most memorable days in their career. No one is interested in leaving the office. Everybody wants to stay till morning. May be, we will go to the press to see the first copies despatched while the city is sleeping. We are awake.
The city will have to wake up. Tomorrow will never be the same.

Stories From The Soul Town

There lies a magical land. Surrounded by the green ghats to the west, gurgling great rivers on the east, the valley with the very blue sky. A temple town of the tamils. Sitting on the dancing rock on the highland overlooking the valley, the writer procreates the lives of the people of this lesser known south west. Full of strange yet simple souls.