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September 20th, 2005

14 th September 2005


Difficulties in relationships and dynamics of public space and community have begun to surface today. Last evening, Manoj Kumar asked me for my phone number. On the one hand, I was very reluctant to give my number. On the other hand, I felt that not giving my phone number would make me an upper class researcher. And here is where I have felt dilemma and questions – who is the subject? Is the subject simply a person of inquiry? Is the researcher ‘interested’ in the subject as long as the research goes on? What about relationships? Does research address questions about relationships and life?


I gave my cell phone number to Manoj Kumar. And just as I had guessed, my phone was flooded with crank calls and phone calls from Manoj Kumar since morning. Initially, it felt like I would never be able to go back to Marine Drive . I wondered whether everything which had been built was destroyed. I was sensing my own vulnerabilities as a woman. Yet, dealing with this situation is also part of the process. I cannot let this go just because a difficulty has arisen in the relationships – with people and with the spaces. Confronting and resolving difficulties is part of the process of relationship building.


While this issue has come up, I am examining the cultural aspirations which everyday people have (and here, as I write ‘everyday people’ I am sounding patronizing!?!?!). In dealing with Arjun bhai, the issue of aspirations had come up. He would tell me that the present times are modern times and women are too liberal in the present times. Yet, whenever I would meet him, he would insist on shaking hands with me because these times are modern times and instead of namaste , I should shake hands with him because he likes to be modern. Even with TC Zubair, I have experienced his aspirations to reach a certain ‘high culture’. He admires how I travel to different places on my own and tells me, “It is difficult to travel alone. I should know from you the various books you read. I should also be reading these books.” Whenever Zubair and I go out, he eats with a fork and spoon while I stick to the hands formula. I wonder whether difficulties arise because I am an English speaking girl, ‘modern’ if you may please, who is interested in everyday life? I battle with myself not to give into stereotypes and prejudices, to overcome these. But today, with Manoj Kumar’s phone calls, I am re-questioning my own self. What are the boundaries? Are there any? How do I deal with these?


I did not go to Marine Drive this evening …


  1. September 23rd, 2005 at 07:25 | #1

    Zainab, if you’re not behaving in the ‘traditional’ way people take it as an invitation to also behave not the way that is seeming to them in their cultural environment. Take it from somebody who obviousley is from another background and has experienced that. I think the only way to get things back into place is to actively draw private boundaries which means explain that having another bahaviour doesn’t mean having no rules and that conclusions can be treacherous. Ask Manoj Kumar if he thinks that his behaviour in phoning is becoming towards a young unmarried Muslim girl, that you don’t want to hurt him but that you have convictions and that you feel he’s interfering into your personal space: relations must be kept at clear level. That way you appeal on his sense of tradition, not on his feeling of class distinction. ( at least that is how I use to deal with such problems..)

  2. September 28th, 2005 at 08:39 | #2

    well…dual personalities i guess most indians of our generation have…but then most probs of indians are because we want to give that personal and emotional touch to all that we do–but then some people said that thats wat sets us apart—its confusing,..isnt it??

  3. September 28th, 2005 at 08:41 | #3

    hii…subscribing u btw… had seen ur name in some ccs thing…so guess ur research was also a part of the ccs stuff…