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March 26th, 2005

24 March 2005


A mixed day today.


I went to the Cricket Club of India (CCI) today, with classmates. Adi is a member there. His friend Daraius tells me that he hates going to CCI because he is not allowed to enter the club in his shorts. It’s a rule that you must wear full pants in CCI. “It’s a British rule. I hate it. Hence I decided not to settle in the UK and chose America instead. In the US, no one cares about all this. You can be yourself. No problem,” Daraius tells me.


Inside CCI, the atmosphere is clearly Brit. Club, butlers, families dining prim and proper – it looked a bit surreal. My mind went back to the scene that I have frequently encountered at Nariman Point – a group of old Parsi ladies and gentlemen putting up their adda on the promenade, a little away from the entry of Hilton Hotel. It takes me back to the times of old Bombay which was shaped by the Europe-returned-Parsis. This adda of old Parsis is very ‘sophisticated’ and their space seems to be reserved. I am not sure about the dynamics of their presence on the promenade and one of my assignments next week is to watch this group – how it emerges, how it gathers, how it disperses and what their presence does to the space and the publicness of the promenade.


In the evening, I was returning via VT Station. I saw two drug addicts in a corner in the ticket area. They were feeding a cat with a cup full of milk. And they were watching the cat drink it. This relationship between animals and the people resident at VT is intriguing to me. It’s both warm and at the same time raises questions in my head. Once, in December, I had noticed how an urchin right outside the entrance of VT station, had clothed a dog with a sweater. The dog was being made to feel warm in the Mumbai chills (!). And I find animals respond to the people. There is an interesting relationship and a different kind of dynamics of space is produced with this relationship. Last year, around this time, when I was researching on water systems in slums, I would commonly come across individual slum dwellings where people had at least one pet – either a dog, or a cat or a bird. And it used to strike me that here there is extremely squashed space and yet, the animal is included and made part of the space. The animal in fact, has a very, very special space. What is this relationship? What makes the railway station dwellers, street dwellers and slum dwellers want to have this relationship with animals? What is the importance of the animals in their lives?


In the evening, I came back home and checked my blog and I saw responses to my postings. And I thought about my own role as a researcher. What kind of violence do I do as a researcher? I am already trying to investigate into the kind of violations of privacy and space that I do with my presence and note-taking on Nariman Point? Am I equivalent to the security guards or the surveillance machines?

These days, attending seminars and conferences is trauma for me. I hate them and find the same people everywhere (and wonder whether I get cynical when I sit inside the air-conditioned rooms and eat the continental food and intellectualize!). I think knowledge is also a source of power. To know means to put me in a ‘higher up’ position, to put me in a ‘controlling position’. Shuddha says it is important to be aware of this constantly. As a researcher, I have to as much look inside, inwards as I look outside, outwards. There are times when I take blind positions because I don’t know everything. And it is my earnest desire as an individual to enter through different thought/action/practice points and understand.

And there are times when I ask myself this question ‘Is research a profession for me?’ To be honest, it has become a way of life for me. Work and living are not separate. Many of my so-called ‘research subjects’ are actually friends, people in whom I have a genuine interest. And that’s another question which I ask myself repeatedly, ‘how much do I venture into people’s lives?’ Do I have to maintain distances as a researcher? If I maintain distances, am I hypocritical? Do I become academic? (I don’t want to be academic!!!)

For now, the greatest source of joy is knowing different stories and interpreting life from different lenses. Maybe I will survive ….


  1. March 27th, 2005 at 00:54 | #1

    nothing relted to this but wht i read in paper today…know one man and u can genralise genetically abt himm…and to know women is more than thta…maybe reasearcher is also like tht women…u cant genralise too mmuch there

  2. March 27th, 2005 at 00:58 | #2

    thank you! 🙂