Commonwealth Games 2010, New Delhi

India was so excited about Commonwealth Games in New Delhi and we were preparing for it for years. The Indian government was saying so many things like a lot of money would come, tourism will increase, we will get international identity… which is in fact true if we would have organized it well but because of the corruption everything turned out to be just opposite of what the government was promising. We lost billions of rupees, less tourism this year and very had reputation all over the world.

I was always suspicious if were prepared to host this huge event and I always had this idea that it was going to be bad for us and same thing happened. The bridge which was being built for the visitors collapsed only a few days before the event, how is this possible? and then Chief Minister of Delhi Sheela Dixit says that fortunately there no foreigners when the bridge collapsed.  What the hell is this. We were told by the government of India that the total budget of the games would be close to Rs. 16.2 billion ($365 million) but the final costing was Rs. 300 billion ($2.6 billion). How this huge difference is possible?

The games were full of corruption and I am sure that all the government officers and people involved in the games ate all of that money. They were holding the tickets hoping for foreign visitors to come and buy them but finally they had to give free tickets to the school kids so that they could show that stadiums were full. Games village was also a great example of the corruption involved in the games. They had built several flats for the players and we were always getting news that the roof was leaking, the bed was broken, the toilets were super dirty, animals were here and there, cobra snakes were also found… I don’t know what to say about this.

When I was doing my tour guide training last year in Gwalior, we were told several times by professors and tourism ministry officers that a lot of tourists would come to see commonwealth games in India and this was the only reason why our training was organized and we needed to ready to work hard but in reality not even regular number of tourists came. I think it happened only because of all the news people were getting all over the world. And of course the news said nothing nice about India and commonwealth games.

An Australian journalist was able to walk with a bomb inside the games village and nobody check him. What kind of security arrangement was this? Anyways, the government must have realized how happy people were by their corruption by the hooting on Kalmadi during the inauguration ceremony. I hope that government learnt something and would not even think about hosting any other event like commonwealth games in near future but the biggest question is that does government ever learn?

Condom usage demonstration & training to the sex workers

I, Seranna and translator   

Seranna and I did something that India had never seen before. On the last day of the conference we did a condom usage demonstration in front of at least 6000-7000 people. We gave training to sex workers about how to keep themselves safe from sexually transmitted diseases and how to make money. After interviewing sex workers we realized that they did not know much about any STDs other than HIV. So I asked Seranna to talk about STDs in her presentation. We knew that she would be performing on the last day of the conference so we thought that it would be good opportunity for us to spread the message to a huge number of people at the same time.

I (look at the mask) and Seranna

I (look at the mask) and Seranna

Seranna was sad to see how poor Indian sex workers are. She said that western sex workers make a lot of money. She charges $300 per hour which is like two-three months salary of an Indian sex worker. She wanted to talk about how sex workers can make more money from their clients. I know that it will long time for Indian sex workers to reach on that standard but I think it was a good thing to at least tell them about it. On the last day of conference there were about 6000-7000 people, most of them were sex workers.

I and Seranna

Seranna and I

Since we made the decision to talk about different things in the Seranna’s presentation on the morning of the presentation day, we could not organize well. We had only a few hours to decide what we would be talking about. We decided to do a play to make the conversation more interesting. I had asked Seranna to bring some sex toys and she had brought three dildos and Seranna wanted to use them for the presentation. I was concerned about using sex toys in front of that huge number of people because sex toys are illegal in India. 

I and Seranna on the stage

I asked Seranna to ask the organizer of the conference about using sex toys and the organizer said- go for it. But I was still concerned about showing them to people. So I also went to the organizer and talked to him about it and again his answer was same. Seranna and I  talked to each other about what we will talk about and decided that this presentation should not be a boring conversation kind of thing. We decided to put some comedy in it, as Seranna always does. Now it was our turn to do the presentation but the problem was that audience was Bengali so we needed someone to translate our words from English to Bengali. 

Seranna and I

Seranna and I

We asked the organizer about it and they provided us a Bengali-English translator. I played the role of a doggy customer who did not want to pay upfront and did not want to use condoms and Seranna played the role of a very smart sex worker. I was wearing a mask which was symbol of a doggy customer. This mask was in shape of a penis and balls. We started the presentation with Seranna asking for money up front but I did not want to pay the money first. I asked her to provide the services first but she always wanted money first. So we argued over this matter. I always say that I would pay money after services and Seranna would always say that she was selling her skills so she wanted money upfront and finally Seranna refused to provide services. 

Seranna giving message

Seranna giving message

Then I agree on giving the money first. By this we wanted to tell other sex workers to always ask for money upfront because in some cases the clients do not pay money after taking the services. After this Seranna shows the dildo and it brought dead silence into the audience. I felt really awkward doing it, but I hoped that it was useful for everyone at the conference. I wore that dildo and Seranna sat on her knee to milked it. She wanted to tell other sex workers to do the same with every client before providing services so that they can be sure if the penis is disease free.

Asking me if I felt good

Asking me if I felt good

After this she tells me to use the condoms but again I played the role of a doggy customer and I did not want to use one. I told her that I was married and she also looked safe and that is why I did not want to use condoms. But Seranna says that diseases are not written on the face. Then we talk about HIV/AIDS and other STDs and finally I agree to use the condoms. Then Seranna tells me to lay down on my belly on the bench and gave message and did a boob slide. By this we wanted to educate sex workers about how they can pass more time with their clients and how they can make them happy so that they make more money, and get even a tip. 

Picking the condoms up

Picking the condoms up

After this Seranna puts the condom over the dildo by her mouth. Actually this dildo was so big that she had to try twice to put the condom over it. Here Seranna mixed some comedy by saying that this boy is big.Before this sentence the whole audience was silent but after hearing this everybody started laughing and clapping. I am sure they were also enjoying it. After putting the condom over dildo she gives a blow job. We had few toys of the STDs viruses. Seranna would act like giving blow job and then show the different toys and tell about how they spread and what they can do. I liked the way she explained about all different diseases very much.  

STDs virus toys

STDs virus toys

And then she acted like we were having sex and she would ask me if I was enjoying it. This was also one very important part of this training to tell sex workers to keep talking to their clients about how they feel while having sex. This way the men become more erected and cum early (I believe in the idea of working smart, not hard). So good for sex workers. By this time our time and bench’s life was finished. It broke and we fell down on the ground and this dead silence amongst the audience turned into loud noise of laughing and clapping. I loved it. 

Going to put condoms over the didlo

Going to put condoms over the dildo

At last I give her a tip for her awesome services. I believe that this kind of sex services can change the lives of Indian sex workers. I am sure that Indian men would love to have that kind of services but I don’t understand why our sex workers do not do such things. I hope this presentation helps them to make more money and change their lives. Right after this presentation we were covered by the media, social workers , sex workers and other general people. All these people wanted to talk to us. They wanted to interview us. It was so fun doing it. Maybe we will also do the same thing in the US in the coming June.

Sex worker’s conference

Today it was the inauguration of the conference. We reached there around 9 o’clock. The conference inauguration was held in a very big hall. I think there were almost a thousand people present there and most of them were sex workers from different parts of India and abroad. I had never seen that big number of sex workers at one place. There were lots of Hijras as well. There were people from Bangladesh, Cambodia, Australia, Hong Kong, US and UK. But most of them were from India and Bangladesh. Mayer of Kolkata city, some religious leader and a lot of other VIPs were also there as chief guest.

I met Dr. Jana who is member of the advisory board to Government of India for HIV and AIDS programs in India. He was founder of the Sonaganchi project which has been really a huge success and now has become a model for the whole world. They have separated the programs in two session each day, 3 hours each session. The second session was the panel discussion about sex workers are entertainment workers. Different people put their thoughts but to be honest I did not understand most part of it because the whole conversation was in Bengali. But I understood about half of it, it was Okay.

It was very interesting to see how sex workers were putting their views and sharing their experience. Most of them were talking about the problems they face created by Police and discrimination in the society. A lot of them were saying that their children can not get admission in the schools only because they are children of the sex workers. They can not open a bank account or even buy a insurance because they don’t have any residential proof. It means they might not be able to use Internet either because now it is necessary for everyone to show their identity card at the cyber cafe. 

During the conference few people from media came who wanted to interview Seranna about the documentary we are making. She was interviewed first and then they interviewed me also. They wanted to talk me about Sanjeevani Booti. After my interview they talked to other foreigners, Hijras and sex workers. I also want to inteview few sex workers cause it seems something different than what I have already known about them. There are a lot of things that I need to know and this is a good opportunity for me. I will try to interview them tomorrow.

kamasutra

I met a 85 years old man at Delhi railway station when I was waiting for my train. I had reached at railway station about 2 hours before of train departure. His name was Lance Dane. He came and sat next to me and we started talking. He said that he is a specialist of coins and have written over 40 books about Kamsutra. His father was a Indian and mother was British. He was born in south India, grown up in India, speaks fluent Kannada but Hindi. It was amazing to meet a guy who was specialist in Kamasutra. I always wanted to learn about Kamasutra so obviously I asked him a lot of question about it.

He said that Kamasutra temples are not only about describing different pose of intercourse, it describes the whole life of human being. My brother had also told me same thing so I became sure about it this time. He told me a lot about different Kamasutra temples in India. We discussed about Nepali temple in Varanasi also which has few Kamasutra sculptures and Lance said that this temple is very new and was copied by other Kamasutra temples in South India and Khajuraho.

He was going to Varanasi to participate in a conference about Art and Archeology of Kashi (Varanasi) where he was invited as one of the chief guests. I asked him if I could also participate in that conference and he invited me. He took my mobile no. and said to inform me next morning. He called after reaching Varanasi to invite me to conference. It was so nice to hear a lot of things about my own city which I didn’t know before.

Mehdiganj Conference 30/03/08

It was last day of conference and protest day in Mehndiganj and we wanted to cover it as much as we could. As we reached near the conference place, I saw more than 10 cops sitting there. I had seen the video of protest in the year 2006 when Police bate protesters hard. I was a bit sacred to see them but I knew they couldn’t do it again because everything was covered on camera and Police had to answer the court for beating people.

We wanted to interview few people who were from out of Varanasi. Amanda was interested in activists from Kaladera, Rajasthan. There is a Coke plant in Kaladera also and have created same problem as Mehndiganj. We interviewed a activist named Mr. Kudi ji who runs movement against Coke in Kaladera. He was very nice and honest person. He told us about the problem in Kaladera. He told us that they had very good quality water before Coke but now it is very bad. It has sour taste and bad smell. TERI (Tata Energy Research Institute) have also suggested Coke to leave Kaladera.

He had two other activists with him who were wearing Rajasthani turban. I had heard a lot about length of Rajasthani turban. I wanted to see someone wearing it. I had heard that it could be made of up to 15 meters long cloth. I told them to tie their turban. I was shocked to see the length, it was 11 meters long. Amanda and me couldn’t believe it.

After interviewing him, we interviewed a guy from a laboratory based in Chandauli district that had done some research at Coke’s rain water harvesting sites. He told us that he went to several rain water harvesting sites of Coke but no one was working properly. He said that most of the water filter compounds were stuffed with bricks. Coke says that they are trying to balance the ground water by rain water harvesting but he said that if there is no rain how Coke could do it. I agree with him. We have less rain since past 5 years. His ideas were different. He thinks that we should try to bring rain, which is possible by only planting huge number of trees.

Mehdiganj Conference 29/03/08

On the 29th we moved to Mehndiganj around 12’o clock. I was so excited for Medha Patekar. When I reached there, I found Regional Pollution Control officer giving speech. I was shocked to see him. I just couldn’t believe it. He is anti Lok Samiti guy. I had interviewed him 2-3 times with other researchers and he was always so rude with us. I remember once he got mad on us while interviewing him and told me to don’t come again to his office. But his speech seemed so nice, he was talking in favor of Lok Samiti. He said ” I am here because I care about environment, and I am so happy to see that other people also think about it. Usually I am so busy but when Nandlal invited me for this conference I couldn’t stop myself by coming here. ” I knew that everything was a lie.

I asked Nandlal about how he was there. Nandlal said that he went to his office to invite him but he was not agree to come. Then Nandlal told him that if he would not come, he should be ready to face the result. It was funny. During this time Medha Patekar came in conference. She was sitting next to me. She was so simple dressed. Regional pollution control officer wanted to meet Medha Patekar. He contacted Nandlal and Nandlal got him meet to Medha Patekar.

Regional pollution control officer came and touched her feet. Then Medha Patekar asked him about the water and pollution condition in Mehndiganj and he said “water level is decreasing in Mehndiganj.” Then Medha Patekar asked why it is decreasing in Mehndiganj? Then Pollution control officer replied because of less rain. Then Medha Patekar asked if Coca-Cola is doing any damage? He said “NO”. It was funny to hear him saying “NO”. Everybody knows that less rain is the biggest problem in Mehndiganj but we cant say that Coke is not responsible. We don’t have any control over rain but we can control Coke.

While Medha Patekar was talking her, other social activists also jumped at him. Everybody was asking him about pollution level and he was trying to satisfy them but he couldn’t do it. He was like a goat with 10-15 other lions. He was sweating a lot. He had brought some official documents to show to Nandlal and Medha Patekar. He showed a letter written by Coca-Cola to state pollution control board, Lucknow requesting them to renew their license of waste disposals. That letter was written in July last year.

That officer said that government had not renewed the license yet. As social workers heard it, they all jumped on him. Coke was not supposed to operate the plant even for one day without that license but the plant had operated several times after July. It was a new issue for social activists. They wanted a copy of that document but officer didn’t want to give it to them. Somehow while watching the document Nandlal went to market and got it xeroxed. I also got copies of those documents.

The officer invited Nandlal and other social workers to his office in Varanasi to discuss about the situation and he promissed that help them as much as he can. I know he would not help Nandlal or his organization.
After he left, we went for lunch. After the lunch it was Medha Patekar’s turn to hold the mike. She was something, she was a true lady, very strong. She could make others do what she wants them to do. She had very practical ideas. I liked her speech a lot.

She talked about situation in other states also. She was not only against bad companies, but she was talking against government policies also. She said about a story from Chattisgarh state where state government had sold a part of river to some private bottling company and that company covered that part of the river with ropes and hanged a board saying that “this river is property of the company and no individual is allowed to use the water of this river without company’s permission.”

It created a huge problem for the people who live along the bank of the river. She is still fighting against that issue . After her amazing speech, 29th was over. It was amazing day in Mehndiganj. I heard Medha Patekar and other social workers. I saw Regional pollution control officer sweating.  Amanda talked to Sandeep Pandey, Medha Patekar and Amit Srivastava also. It was incredible day in Mehndiganj.

Mehdiganj Conference 28/03/08

I hired my auto rickshaw driver to take us to Mehndiganj. We went to Mehndiganj on 28th of March. We reached there and saw that there was a big conference going on. There were more than 500 people attending the conference. Amanda was shocked to see that number of people. When we reached, there was a musical group presenting folk songs regarding Coke issue. I had already seen them a lot of times and always liked their songs. I enjoyed them. It was too noisy there but I liked everything. Lok Samiti was to inaugurate a pond in Mehndiganj. There were no famous people when I reached there, everybody was at inauguration function of pond which was about 2 Kms away from conference place. We went there and found that Nandlal Master, Sandeep Pandey and other social workers were distributing sweets to villagers. The pond had already been inaugurated. I missed it but took lots of pictures.
I met Anurag who was Sandeep Pandey’scousin and working with ASHA. He was so interested in people. He wanted to talk everyone. I met Mr. Rajiv who was from New Jersey. He was also very nice man. He was also a member of ASHA. Amanda wanted to interview few people but it was too noisy there so we decided to record the speeches and not interview anyone that day.

Lok Samiti had arranged lunch for everyone. We had lunch with 1000 other people. Everybody was trying to feed Amanda and Dave hard. I don’t know if Amanda likes Indian food or not but Dave was in love with India. He finished all his food but Amanda left the food as she always does. After the lunch we came back to conference place again.

It was Dave’s turn now. He gave a big speech. Anurag was translating his speech. I know he didn’t do a good job but it was OK. Dave talked about a river in the U.S. that got fired because of heavy pollution. It immediately made me remember about Ganga’s future. I don’tknow what is going to happen with Ganga. Well, I liked Dave’s speech. He told about importance of wetlands and government’s role in preventing the environment. He thinks that government should come forward. I agree with him. He was so nice.

After Dave’s speech a lot of other social workers gave speeches and everybody was so nice. One of them was from south India. When he came to hold mike, his first wording was ” I couldn’t speak Hindi because I am from south India. I would give my speech in English and need a translator.” I thought he really didn’t know Hindi. He started giving his speech in English and one translator started translating his speech but he was not happy with translator’s job. Then he started speaking Hindi and if I know Hindi then I must say that he spoke perfect Hindi. There was no problem with his Hindi. I don’t know why he wanted to give his speech in English where 99% of the people were villagers who don’t understand a single word of English. I think he was targeting foreigners, who were in number of 7-8, as his listeners.

As I wrote about literacy in villagers of Mehndiganj, it made me remind about 7 months ago when I was in Mehndiganj working with a student from University of London. We were there to interview Nandlal and fortunately there was some cultural program organized by Lok Samiti that day in village. There were more than 500 people in that program, we were sitting with other villagers. Suddenly Nandlal went on stage and invited my friend to light up the candle and start the program. Nandlal said that we have a very special guest from London.

As my friend moved towards the stage, all the people started talking about him. I heard two people talking each other about where London was situated. One of them asked other “Is it far away from Lucknow? Another one replied “What are you talking about. London is near Delhi.” Both had already been to Delhi so one of them told other that “I have heard that London is at other side side of a ocean but we didn’t see any ocean while we were going to Delhi” His friend replied that “All the oceans are after Delhi.”

I just mean to say that most of the people in Mehndiganj are uneducated and don’t know anything about what is going on besides of Mehndiganj and that social worker was trying to speak in English. If he was targeting western listeners then it was his very big mistake. He was there to help Mehndiganj’s people not to interact foreigners. Then there was a folk song show again. After it 28th conference was over and we came back to home.

American Biologist at BHU Conference

I had a tenant in my home from USA. His name was Dave. He was a Biologist. He lives in Fresno, California. There was a conference going on in BHU about world environment and my tenant was also invited there to give a speech. It was his speech at 3’o clock at BHU on 28/03/2008. I went there with my another friend from USA named Amanda. She was doing research on history of Coke in India. I was working with her as translator. We all went together to BHU. Dave wanted to introduce his company in India. He loves India a lot. He always wants to come back, live here and learn Hindi. He wanted to tell people about wetlands.

Dave was supposed to give a speech about wetlands at 3’o clock. We reached there at 2.45. We had a special seat of guests. It was my first time when I was sitting at guests seat (thanx Dave). I, Amanda and Dave were waiting for Dave’s turn but unfortunately his turn didn’t never came. We were there till 7.30 but nobody called Dave to come on stage and give an speech. I was not hoping for such a disgusting thing by one of the most famous universities of world. We were all so sad and contacted BHU officials. They said sorry to us and called again next day at 10’o clock.

Next day, we were again on time and waited till 2.30 but nobody called Dave’s name. It was Dave’s speech in Mehndiganj Water Conference at 3’o clock. So, finally we decided to kick BHU out of our mind and went to Mehndiganj. We reached there 30 minutes late but Dave got a chance to speak there.
Dave still wanted to give speech in BHU. He contacted BHU officials again but they had no answer. Well, it was only 3 days conference. So, Dave never got opportunity to speak there.

Mehdiganj Water Conference

There was a conference in Mehndigani about water rights from 28th to 30th March, 2008. I was invited by Nandlal to attend the conference. I was so excited when I heard that Sandeep Pandey and Medha Patekar were also going to give speech. Then Nandlal told me that there was a girl from the U.S. who also wanted to attend the conference and interview local villagers about their problems caused by Coke. She wanted a translator which made my excitement double because I was going to get a job. :)

I called her and scheduled an appointment at Assi Ghat. I met her near Assi Ghat and we had a big conversation about Coke in Mehndiganj. Finally I took her to my home where I showed her all the documents regarding Coke issue in Mehndiganj, Plachimada and Kaladera. Finally she offered me a job as her translator. She was a PhD student of history at very big university in the States. She asked me not to mention the name of the university. She seemed like such a nice girl to me. She was so educated and friendly. She was interested in history of Coca-Cola in India.

She was staying in BHU hostel which was arranged by her university but she didn’t like it because there was no Internet access in her room. She had to walk for 10-15 minutes every time to use Internet. There was another tenant in my home that time who was a biologist whose company could be very helpful for her because one part of her research was about decrease of ground water. She saw rooms of my guest house where there was Internet in all the rooms and and a biologist in next room which made her decided to switch to my place.

I attended the Mehdiganj conference with her doing translation work. We interviewed a lot of people, including social workers from Kaladera also. I have not written her name in this post because she was sexually harassed during her work and she wanted her name to not be written here. If you want to know the story then read this post.