Ayodhya court decision

Ayodhya, Ayodhya, Ayodhya…I think the most popular word nowadays in India. Everybody was talking about what was going to be the decision of High court about Babri Mosque demolition. Actually this mosque was destroyed by radical Hindus on 6th of December, 1992 and since then the legal case was pending at the High court of UP. Everybody was so excited and scared also. People were so scared of the possibility of riots after the decision. We had army everywhere in the Varanasi where usually our streets are police free, we had helicopters in our sky… it was scary.

Finally the decision came and the court tried to make both Hindus and Muslims happy but Muslims do not seem to be happy with the decision. They immediately decided to go to the supreme court of India to challenge High court’s decision. Actually everybody knew that the case will be challenged in Supreme court for sure but it was strange to see how these political leaders became angry on the decision who were talking about respecting the decision of the High court. All of the leaders were appealing us to respect upcoming decision but they were the first one who seemed upset with the decision.

I was talking with a Muslim guy about what he thought about the decision and he said that all of the Muslims were very sad and disappointed with the decision. He said that they feel like High court treated them like beggars and gave only a small part of the land but honestly they have the rights over the whole premises. I did not like his view because the whole world knows that there used to be a Ram temple which was destroyed by Babur so Muslims should also think about it and be happy with the land they got for the sake of India.

In reality, if we look at the mosque through real Islamic rules, the Babri mosque should not be considered as a mosque because Islam says that any mosque built by destroying sacred places of other religions is not a mosque which clearly means that Babri mosque was not a mosque. And after all Muslims should think that the disputed premises was birthplace of Lord Rama which makes that premises a really sacred place for Hindus, maybe the most sacred place in whole India. And Babri mosque was not an important or sacred place for Muslims so why they are unhappy?

I am sure that Hindus would not compromise with this place and Muslims should also think about it. Anyways, the good thing that happened was that no riots and any tension happened because of the decision. I know it very well that many people are angry but by God grace nothing serious happened. In the year 1992 hundreds of people died. And not only in 1992 but in coming years also around 6th of Dec. I think that the young generation is educated and we do not want to fight for a piece of land. I believe that God is the same whether Allah, Ram, Jesus or anyone so why to fight?

I asked several people the same question that what should we built: a mosque or a temple and different people had different ideas and after hearing all of them I thought why not built a pub instead of a temple or a mosque. If the temples and mosque create tension then just built a pub and I am sure it will help people becoming friends with each other. Imagine Hindus and Muslims both coming under the same roof and drinking together and talking… what else we need. Communication gap is the biggest reason behind any kind of tension and this pub will finish the gap.

And this idea is already approved by a very famous and respected poet named Harivansha Rai Bacchan who talks about how temples and mosques make people fight and how drinking places bring people together in one of his most famous poets called Madhushala :

मुसलमान औ’ हिन्दू है दो, एक, मगर, उनका प्याला,
एक, मगर, उनका मदिरालय, एक, मगर, उनकी हाला,
दोनों रहते एक न जब तक मस्जिद मन्दिर में जाते,
बैर बढ़ाते मस्जिद मन्दिर मेल कराती मधुशाला!।५०।

धर्मग्रन्थ सब जला चुकी है, जिसके अंतर की ज्वाला,
मंदिर, मसजिद, गिरिजे, सब को तोड़ चुका जो मतवाला,
पंडित, मोमिन, पादिरयों के फंदों को जो काट चुका,
कर सकती है आज उसी का स्वागत मेरी मधुशाला।।१७।

सजें न मस्जिद और नमाज़ी कहता है अल्लाताला,
सजधजकर, पर, साकी आता, बन ठनकर, पीनेवाला,
शेख, कहाँ तुलना हो सकती मस्जिद की मदिरालय से
चिर विधवा है मस्जिद तेरी, सदा सुहागिन मधुशाला।।४८।

Lets forget about such issues and make the earth a beautiful and a happy place. Peace!


Poem about Indian Court system

All of the Indians always talk about our lazy and corrupt court system and I am also one of them and definitely hate getting involved with any kind of court activity. In fact India has most number of legal cases pending in the whole world which is over 30 million and the average time to clear one case in an Indian court is about 15 years.

Anyways, my friend Ravi who recently completed his law degree and is now a registered lawyer sent me a poetry about Indian courts. This whole poem talks about what happens in our court and says that do anything, just anything but never go to the court. I also think it is true. This poem was written by Mr. Kailash Gautam from Allahabad. My friend Ravi, who is a lawyer by profession, also believes in this poem:).

भले डांट घर में तू बीबी की खाना, भले जैसे -तैसे गिरस्ती चलाना
भले जा के जंगल में धूनी रमाना,मगर मेरे बेटे कचहरी न जाना
कचहरी न जाना- कचहरी न जाना.
कचहरी हमारी तुम्हारी नहीं है,कहीं से कोई रिश्तेदारी नहीं है
अहलमद से भी कोरी यारी नहीं है, तिवारी था पहले तिवारी नहीं है
कचहरी की महिमा निराली है बेटे, कचहरी वकीलों की थाली है बेटे
पुलिस के लिए छोटी साली है बेटे, यहाँ पैरवी अब दलाली है बेटे
कचहरी ही गुंडों की खेती है बेटे, यही जिन्दगी उनको देती है बेटे
खुले आम कातिल यहाँ घूमते हैं, सिपाही दरोगा चरण चुमतें है
कचहरी में सच की बड़ी दुर्दशा है, भला आदमी किस तरह से फंसा है
यहाँ झूठ की ही कमाई है बेटे, यहाँ झूठ का रेट हाई है बेटे
कचहरी का मारा कचहरी में भागे, कचहरी में सोये कचहरी में जागे
मर जी रहा है गवाही में ऐसे, है तांबे का हंडा सुराही में जैसे
लगाते-बुझाते सिखाते मिलेंगे, हथेली पे सरसों उगाते मिलेंगे
कचहरी तो बेवा का तन देखती है, कहाँ से खुलेगा बटन देखती है
कचहरी शरीफों की खातिर नहीं है, उसी की कसम लो जो हाज़िर नहीं है
है बासी मुहं घर से बुलाती कचहरी, बुलाकर के दिन भर रुलाती कचहरी
मुकदमें की फाइल दबाती कचहरी, हमेशा नया गुल खिलाती कचहरी
कचहरी का पानी जहर से भरा है, कचहरी के नल पर मुवक्किल मरा है
मुकदमा बहुत पैसा खाता है बेटे, मेरे जैसा कैसे निभाता है बेटे
दलालों नें घेरा सुझाया -बुझाया, वकीलों नें हाकिम से सटकर दिखाया
धनुष हो गया हूँ मैं टूटा नहीं हूँ, मैं मुट्ठी हूँ केवल अंगूंठा नहीं हूँ
नहीं कर सका मैं मुकदमें का सौदा, जहाँ था करौदा वहीं है करौदा
कचहरी का पानी कचहरी का दाना, तुम्हे लग न जाये तू बचना बचाना
भले और कोई मुसीबत बुलाना, कचहरी की नौबत कभी घर न लाना
कभी भूल कर भी न आँखें उठाना, न आँखें उठाना न गर्दन फसाना
जहाँ पांडवों को नरक है कचहरी, वहीं कौरवों को सरग है कचहरी ||


Trip to Nepal for Kathmandu Gay Pride 2010

beautiful nature

beautiful nature

I traveled to Nepal with my friend Babu to attend Kathmandu gay pride and it was a really unforgettable experience. I took a bus from Varanasi to Sonauli. There are several buses from Varanasi bus station and we took the last one at 8.30 pm. It was an overnight journey from Varanasi to Sonauli and the bus ride was really uncomfortable. The road was terribly bad and I just could not sleep for the whole night. Finally we arrived Sonauli border at 7 am and took a paddle rickshaw to cross the border. I was carrying a few electronics like video camera, photo camera and voice recorder etc.  and wanted to declare them at the Indian custom office.

Babu

Babu at Pashupati nath temple

When I told Babu to about declaring the electronics at Indian custom office, he laughed at me and said that there was no need to do such thing but I had already experienced the problem before when I went to Nepal first time in 1996. Actually I was traveling to Nepal with my family those days. We had a camera and we informed the custom office at Sonauli border about this camera and got a receipt but we lost it somewhere in Nepal and returning time they checked our baggage and found that camera and said that it was not allowed to bring any electronics from Nepal to India.

very colorful country

very colorful country

We were shocked and we told them that it was our camera which we had brought from India and we had a receipt but we lost it but those crazy custom officers said that it was not allowed. Actually they wanted a bribe so finally we gave them some money and only then we could move. I still had that story in my mind hence I did not want to take any risk. So I went to the custom office at Sounali border and told them that I had a few electronic goods and I wanted to declare them but as I told this, all those officers laughed and said: you are very smart.

carving on Nepali houses

carving on Nepali houses

Anyways, I declared my stuffs and got a receipt for it but they again asked for a bribe only for giving me this receipt. I was like why bribe now? He said that this is system and I have to give them some money otherwise they would not give me my receipt. I gave him Rs. 20 but he said that he wanted at least Rs. 50. Finally I gave him Rs. 40 and took my receipt. I wast thinking that I declared my electronics in advance to avoid any kind of problem and corruption but there was actually no way to avoid it. After taking the receipt, we crossed the border and arrived Nepal.

carvings on temples

carvings on temples

Although Nepal also used to be a Hindu country only until a few years a go and I was hoping for Nepal culture to be close to Indian culture but Nepal was different starting from right at the border. Different looking people, different clothing, more working woman, different vehicles… there was a huge difference between India and Nepal. I really felt like being in another country. But there was something very similar to India- touts fucking tourists all the time. It was really overwhelming. Several people approached us right at the border to sell bus tickets to Kathmandu. They all wanted to sell bus tickets to Kathmandu and hotel rooms.

forest

forest

Babu said that they were all touts and tell  lies all the time. All of the touts were saying there was a bus going to leave within one hour but Babu said that these buses never leave before 4 pm. I did not believe Babu but my rickshaw driver also told me the same thing. Actually there are direct buses from Sonauli border to Kathmandu but only in early morning and late afternoon time like around 6-7 am or 4-5 pm. I was lucky that Babu was with me and I did not go with them. We took a bus from Sonauli border to a place called Bhairava which was hardly 30 minutes bus ride.

green and wet

green and wet

Bhairava is the biggest bus station near Sonauli border and they have regular buses to Kathmandu. We arrived there by 9 o’clock and came to know that there was a bus a 9.30. I realized something really strange that Nepal has no government bus service; all the buses are private hence there is no fix fare or anything. I did not know that I was supposed to bargain even for bus fare but Babu managed it. There was a counter at the bus station and they asked us for Rs. 450 NR but ended up paying Rs. 350 NR.

pashupati nath temple

pashupati nath temple

The bus started at 9.30 but was stopped again right after 15 minutes by The army. I thought that he would check everyone but he just came in, looked around and started checking the bags of a few people. The strange thing about this check up was that they were not looking for arms only but they were looking for potatoes and sugar also. I started laughing when Babu told me that he was looking for potatoes and sugar but it was true. Actually the rate of sugar and potatoes and and other vegetables are different between India and Nepal hence they do not want people to smuggle cheap stuffs from India and sell them in Nepal. It was interesting.

family voilence

family voilence

Nepali buses were really crap. They were too small and had no space for my legs. It was raining continuously all the way from Sonauli border until Kathmandu and believe me the water was coming through the window even after closing it. I was wet all the time continuously for more than 12 hours in the bus. The nature was just awesome; clean river, fresh air, greenery… I noticed something really different in Nepal. I saw that there were more working women in Nepal than India. I notice that most of the shops were run by women and Nepali women seemed to be in better condition than Indian women.

Nepali girl

Nepali girl

Nepal seemed to be more progressive in terms of women rights when compered with India. The women were traveling alone, going to office, running shops, women auto rickshaw drivers and the women seemed more friendly with men… it looked really cool to me. I was happy to see it. I saw so many alcohol shops run by alone women. I had never ever seen anything like that anywhere in whole India. Once I saw an alcohol shop with a woman owner and I decided to talk with her. I went there and started asking about alcohol first and when we became friendly I asked her about her life.

liberal Nepali girl

liberal Nepali girl

I asked her if she feels safe sitting alone at alcohol shops and dealing with male customers who are drunk sometimes and she told me that she managing the business is just like any other male member of her family managing the business; no difference so problem to her. I asked her if people in the society mind women working at the alcohol shops and again she said that Nepali society is very progressive when it comes to equal rights for women. I asked her if she had ever been to India and she said that she had never been to India before but had seen India on TV. In reality she did not seem excited about visiting India.

the most beautiful alcohol bottle I had ever seen

the most beautiful alcohol bottle I had ever seen

I told her that it is just not possible to see any women selling alcohol in India and that there are less percentage of working women in India and she said that she was very well aware of the situation of women in India. She said that there are so many Indian families living in Nepal and they also do not allow their women to go out and work. I asked her what Nepali people think of this situation and she said that to be honest, we think that Indians are crazy and backward people. I was surprised to hear this but in reality yes, we are much backward than Nepal in terms of women rights and equal rights for women.

the most luxry way to travel in Nepal

the most luxry way to travel in Nepal

The nature was just awesome all over Nepal. One could easily see that their nature is still untouched. Beautiful thick jungle, beautiful rivers, less industries, less people, less traffic and lots of mountains… it was just awesome. I really enjoyed nature a lot in Nepal. I also noticed that I saw only five big factories in my whole bus ride all the way from Sonauli till Kathmandu. In fact, two of them were Indian factories which sounds nice because there is less pollution because of less factories but there is another truth that there are less jobs because of less industries which means more poverty.

beautiful windows

beautiful windows

Poverty in Nepal really hurt me. There were so many family houses right along the Sonauli-Kathmandu highways so I got to see so many people doing things. But the really interesting thing for me was that nobody was doing anything, just sitting or talking with people, that’s all. It seemed like they just don’t have any work. I had never seen that many young people just sitting here and there and passing time. There were so many kids selling water bottles and snacks on the road. Nepal has been suffering a lot from its political instability for the past few years which seems to be the biggest reason of poverty of Nepal. I dont know, maybe some other reason but Nepalis were just not happy at all from their political system.

cremation at Pashupatinath temple

cremation at Pashupatinath temple

Finally we arrived Kathmandu by 8 PM and it was still raining. I had read about a neighborhood called Thamel which was full of hotel. I wanted to stay there. I asked Babu to ask some locals about where was this neighborhood and he told me that Nepali people are crazy and never tell you the right direction. He suggested me to go to any shop run by any Indian and ask them about the direction of Thamel. We went to a paan shop, bought a few things and asked him the direction to Thamel and fortunately he was a nice guy who told us the right direction to Thamel. It took us about 10 minutes of walk and we had to ask a few other people also the direction to Thamel but we arrived there.

life and death at same place

life and death at same place

We arrived Thamel which was full of hotels, in fact it was the most popular neighborhood in Nepal for backpackers. We went to several hotels but their price seemed too steep to us. Babu was telling me that we could easily find a hotel room worth 500 NR but none of them wanted to charge us less than 1000 NR. Finally we reached a hotel Annpurna hotel. They wanted to charge us 800 NR per night. I told him that I was a government approved tour guide in India and all the hotels give me discount in India then he agreed to give me a room for 500 NR.

Nepali food that I didn't like at all

Nepali food that I didn't like at all

The hotel seemed nice at first but later we realized that pillow covers and bed sheets were used, cable connection was not working properly, telephone was there but dead. We complained about it and were promised to get everything on work by next morning but in fact this next morning never came before we left. In any case, I was not there to enjoy luxury, watch TV or make phone calls from my room hence I also did not mind it. We went out to take our dinner at some restaurant but most of the shops were closed by 8.30 PM. We found a restaurant opened and had our dinner there.

Nepali highways

Nepali highways

I had read several articles about nightlife in Nepal including dance bars and massage centers. A lot of the articles said that Nepal nightlife was safe but most of them said that it was really crazy and dangerous. I had several articles talking about how people went to a night club, spent a few hours, had a few beers and dinner and paid Rs. 40-50,000 and were misbehaved. Several articles talked about how 14-15 years old kids are involved in sex industry and work as pimps. I was curious about what was going on and we had decided to visit at least one night club while being in Kathmandu.

I was just walking here and there in Thamel and saw so many massage parlors. Once we were just passing by a shop which had a sign board saying massage parlor and I was showing this to Babu. Suddenly a hardly 15 years old guy came to me and asked what I was looking at. I told him that I was just watching the advertisements and he said that no, I was looking for something else, something special. I was like no I was just looking here and there. He again asked me if I needed some special service and I told him that I did not need any special service.

We walked away from there but this guy was keep following us and was asking if we needed a girl. He offered us young beautiful girls for really cheap price. He was not alone, there were so many pimps here and there watching tourists. Anyways, I was able to get back to my hotel safely. The next day we worked for a while, walked around, did some shopping… and it was a nice experience. I really missed veg Indian food as it was meat everywhere. But I liked something that they had drinks very easily available so I was enjoying all different kinds of alcohol.

I wanted to use an ATM in Kathmandu but was concerned about paying international transaction fee but Babu told me that a few Indian banks also have their own ATMs in Kathmandu like State Bank of India and Punjab National Bank. There was one State Bank of India ATM near Darbar Square. I used this bank and did not pay any transaction fee. So I would suggest anyone holding Indian bank card should just look for Indian bank ATMs in Kathmandu. Telephones were also so cheap in Nepal. I paid only Rs. 1 per minute for a phone call to India.

Since we were so interested in visiting a night club in Kathmandu. we were gathering information about it through online sources. But fortunately I met a guy at the NGO, where I was supposed to work, who was a male prostitute. I thought who could provide better information than him about night life in Kathmandu. I asked him about it and he suggested me not to visit any night clubs in Kathmandu as they are not safe at all, especially for tourists. He also told me the same thing what I had read online so finally we decided that we would not visit any night club in Kathmandu.

We visited a few temples, markets and participated in Kathmandu Gay Pride. Finally my time was over in Kathmandu and now we needed to head back to home. Babu told me that they had overnight buses from Kathmandu to Sonauli until 10 PM. We arrived at the bus station around 8 PM but all the buses were already gone by then. They said that the last bus was at 7 PM. So we took our dinner, stayed at a hotel near bus station and took an early morning bus to Sounauli and then another bus from Sonauli to Varanasi. It was a successful journey full of learning. I really plan to go back again to Kathmandu sometime for longer period of time.

Please click here to see more pictures:

Kathmandu Gay Pride 2010

BDS office

I went to Nepalafter 7 years but this time motive was different. When I went to Nepal last time, I visited Narayanghat and Kathmandu and basically I was just a regular tourist. But this tour was more than tourism for me. My main intention was to attend Kathmandu gay pride and learn more about gay activism in my neighboring country. Kathmandu Gay Pride is organized by an NGO called Blue Diamond Society. The main guy behind all the activities of Blue Diamond Society and all other gay activism in Nepal is Mr. Sunil Babu Pant, the director of Blue Diamond Society. He is one of the members of Parliament and Constituent Assembly in Nepal.

rainbow flag at the parade

We arrived at the Blue Diamond Society office the day before the parade and I was surprised that nobody was present there. We knocked the door and one person showed up, in fact he was the only one present at the office. He said that since everyone was working hard for the pride and their preparation just ended yesterday, today everyone was celebrating and it was vacation for them. Anyways, he gave me tour of BDS office and explained me basic work of the organization. Luckily I was traveling with my friend Babu who speaks Nepali hence language was not a barrier.

loved their dress

We talked for an hour and finally left with an invitation to attend the parade. I arrived to the BDS office on the parade day around 10 am. The whole office and its surrounding was full of people. They were wearing very colorful dresses and rainbow was everywhere. There were so many people dressed in traditional Indian wears which was really interesting to see. Later I was told that so BDS has networking all over Nepal and these people who looked like Indians came from the Nepal border close to India. The office staffed looked very confident and when I talking with them they were so open with their sexuality.

Red is new Black

Nobody wanted to hide anything. I interviewed so many people including Mr. Pant and learnt a lot. Mr. pant told me that Nepal is way more progressive than India in terms of gay rights. He said that Nepali society is very much accepting the LGBTI community and he seemed very happy with the progress. He said that when he started his activism he had face problems with political parties because all of them were opposing him and his demand of equal rights for gay community and he had to struggle a lot in the beginning.

great

But only after a few months when the same politicians and political parties noticed that he was getting huge support in Nepal, they all started to contact him and they were all requesting him to join their party. Later he participated in the elections and was elected for parliament. He did so much advocacy for equal rights for LBGTI community and finally in the year 2008 supereme court of Nepal ruled in favor of laws to guarantee full rights to LGBTI people, and all gender minorities must be defined as “natural persons” under the law; this included the right to marry.

great idea

I was really surprised to hear that Nepal had already legalized gay marriages. Mr. Pant told me that in fact they were using this status of gay marriages in Nepal to attract tourism and kill poverty and they use the same slogan in gay pride parade also. The gay pride is celebrated on the same day when whole Nepal celebrates a festival called Gaijatra. Mr. Pant told me that Gaijatra has been celebrated in Nepal for ages and the idea of this festival is that everyone is supposed to be happy, make jokes, dress strangely and make other laugh and happy.

promoting tourism

I asked Mr. Pant about his hope from the future and he said that if the condition goes on the same way then very soon they won’t need to organize gay prides in order to make LGBTI community strong but the only idea behind the parade would be increase tourism and bring more money jobs to Nepal because the society would accept the LGBTI community completely and it won’t be any issue at all in future. He said that even he started a travel agency called Pink Mountain to attract LGBTI tourists and it was getting very good attention.

Suman ji in the office

Mr. Pant said that definitely there is discrimination against LGBTI community in Nepal but not as much as India or many other countries. Whatever he said was very interesting for me, especially the status of LGBTI community in the society. LGBTI community heavily discriminated in India but Nepal seemed very progressive. Anywyas, I interviewed a few other people including Suman Ji who was in-charge of Lesbian community work. She also told me the same thing that society in Nepal was changing its views for LGBTI people and very soon there won’t be any discrimination at all. She said that Lesbian community is more discriminated compared with Gays or Bisexuals but she was satisfied with the progress and had a good hope from the future.

rain disturbed a bit

Finally the paraded started and I was part of it. Everyone was so happy, dancing, laughing, shouting and cheering-up… the same way in India. There were a few groups who were performing traditional Nepali dance and songs. It was raining that day hence parade was not really organized and in fact it was stopped for a while but in any case at least 1000 people attended the parade. I saw many people just jumping in from the restaurants or shops and joined the parade. The non-participants seemed cool to me, I did not really feel anyone was disturbed.

British ambassador in the parade

I once left the parade and went to a shop and then started talking with the owner. I asked him if he knew anything about the parade and he said it was Gaijatra parade. I asked him if he was aware of any connection with gay pride and he said no. So I am not really sure if everyone even knew that it was a gay parade. The biggest shock for me was presence of British Ambassador along with a few other country’s consulates in Nepal. I was thrilled to see the British Ambassador participating and supporting the parade. It immediately reminded me of section 377 in India which criminalized same sex practices in India and was introduced by British themselves.

Mr. Pant on an elephant

Anyways, it was happy to see British Ambassador there in the parade. Mr. Pant was sitting on an elephant in the parade and I noticed non-participants calling him, raising their hands which was a clear indication that Mr. Pant was a popular guy in Nepal and people liked him. There was a chariot which was provided by Nepal Art Museum and the elephant was provided by National Zoo in Kathmandu for free to support the parade which was again a wonder for me. All these things made me feel like definitely Nepal was more progressive than India in terms of equal rights for LGBTI community. And not only in terms on LGBTI rights but in Nepal was way ahead than India in terms of women rights. I was really impressed with the condition of women in Nepal, in fact it was the most impressive thing for me.

chariot in the parade

Finally the parade ended with candle lighting and a speech by Mr. Pant. Whatever I saw in the parade was not a wonder for me but when I think of the country Nepal and when I compare it with India then everything was a wonder for me. I was surprised to see how this small country which used to be a Hindu country, like India, only until a few years ago has accepted the LGBTI community whereas in India we are more developed, we have more money, better education but still the condition of LGBTI community is very bad. Anyways, it was really nice that I attended the parade and got to talk with Mr. Pant and other people working BDS. It was very inspiring and a blessing for me. I would definitely like to attend the parade again in Kathmandu in future.

Kashmir

I returned from a trip to Jammu & Kashmir state a few days ago. Although my trip was not successful because  the police stopped us from entering into Kashmir valley due to the bad weather and violence there but I was not regret as I got to talk with the locals and Indian Army about the biggest social issue of India: Kashmir and tension between Hindus and Muslims. I wanted to go to Amarnath temple which is one of the holiest places on planet for Hindus.  I had been to Kashmir before about ten years ago and that time was the beginning of good times in Kashmir valley.

When I was Srinagar ten years ago, I did not see any violence and people seemed so happy. I had talked with locals that time also and they seemed so welcoming and were happy that tourists had started to come to the valley again and terrorism was getting defeated. The income of Kashmir valley is completely dependent on tourism but whenever there is any tension between India and Pakistan, the tourism collapses completely in Kashmir. We arrived Jammu by train and hired a taxi for Pahalgam which is the base camp for pilgrims going to Amarnath.

We left the hotel around 10 o’clock and were so excited for the trip but police stopped us saying that the weather was bad in Kashmir valley that nobody was allowed to move further. My taxi driver said that sometimes police just stop people for nothing and suggested to us that talk with them. We asked J&K police and they told us to wait and contact them later. I saw an Army check-post near where we were stopped and saw a few pilgrims going inside their office and thought that I should also talk with them.

We went to the army office and explained our situation to them. We were told by our driver to tell that we did not want to go to Amarnath but that we wanted to go to Katra, another pilgrimage about 40 kms from Jammu. We told the army guy that we wanted to go to Katra but the police were stopping us from going there and he said that he would have helped us if we had any connection with the army means any of my relative or someone whom I knew working in the army. I have relatives working for the Indian Army but I did not want to delay the process by calling them and asking them to talk with this army officer so I told him that I did not know anyone working for the army.

The army officer told us that in this case he could not help us. He asked me where I was from and fortunately he was also from a city near Varanasi and after knowing this he became more friendly to me. I asked him if there was any way to go and he told me that it is neither his nor Indian Army style to suggest or accept a bribe but if we really wanted to know how J&K police work then we should offer the police a bribe of Rs. 500 and then the police would let us move. He said that he knew that police do such things but he would not go to the the police and talk for us because the army hates J&K police because they do such things.

I was surprised to hear that such thing was going on in J&K also but I was happy that now at least we had a way to reach our destination.We went to a police and offered him for bribe and he agreed to let us go by taking Rs. 300 per taxi. Unfortunately when we were giving him the money, one other police officer saw us and got really violent and this officer who had agreed to take bribe also changed and got angry on us. Finally we were in the line again. I was just walking here and there and saw one army guy standing alone and thought just to talk with him about his job.

I went to him and we started talking and he told me something that really shocked me. He said that J&K state is not in India anymore, even he did not know where it was. He said that army is there to protect people and that’s all. He told me that we should also just go to the pilgrimage and enjoy our journey. He was seriously angry at J&K police. He said that if the army leaves the state only for one day then the J&K police will sell the whole state and people living outside of J&K state will not be able to enter J&K by the very next day.

He said that J&K police are completely corrupt and they are one of the biggest reasons of terrorism in the state. I had also heard similar things several times before and after seeing that they agreed to let us go only by taking Rs. 300, I believed that army guy. We were asked to go back to Jammu after waiting for ten hours. The police told us to come the next day at 4 am. We went back to the hotel and again came back at 4 am but were stopped again and were asked to get in the line. While we were in the line, I saw a young guy who looked local to me so I thought to talk with him.

I asked him where was he from and he told me from a village near Anantnag which made me excited because I often read and hear about terrorist activities around Anantnag area. I asked him if he was a student and he said that he could go to the school because of the poor condition of his family and had been selling hot water to the pilgrims going to Amarnath. After talking for a while with him I asked him something which surprised him and he felt uncomfortable answering my question. I asked him if he had ever seen any terrorist and after hearing my question, I could easily see by his facial expression that he was uncomfortable.

First he told me that he had never ever seen any terrorist but I knew that he was hiding something so I kept talking to him and told him that I was a general tourist and was just curious about the situation and finally he told me something that really blasted my mind. He said that terrorists often come to his village and stay with the locals. Locals do not want to host them but they can not do anything either. If they inform army about it then they will be killed someday for sure so it is their compulsion to host terrorists and help them in achieving their goals.

He said that when terrorists stay at his place, they sleep with his sister and he can not do anything to stop them. He started to cry saying this and I was also really sad and shocked to hear this true story. How is this possible? He told me another story of his very good friend who once hosted a group of 3 terrorists in his house. The same day army did routine checking and showed up at his house. They knocked on the door, came in and asked for ID of all the family members. Everyone had an ID but these three new guests did not have any ID because they were terrorists.

He told me that one army guy was inside the house doing his business and rest of the army people were outside the home. As the army guy asked for the ID card of one of these terrorists, the other ones started to fire on the army guy and killed him and started to fire on other the army officers standing outside the house. The army also responded and blew up the whole house. All three terrorists along with the family members were killed which became a huge issue and people came on the road and started protesting against the army. I don’t know what could have been the right decision, either to blow up the house or wait and see who was terrorist and who was not.

Once I asked my driver about what Kashmiri people want and I was surprised to hear his answer that Kashmiri people want neither India nor Pakistan and instead they want to be an independent state. I do not know how this thinking came because if they become an independent state then they will have to start from beginning which means poverty and so many other problems for a really long time. I think it is a much more practical choice for Kashmiri people to be with India rather than being an independent state or go with Pakistan because we have more money, we are developing faster than Pakistan and there is more security and opportunities in India.

When I asked my driver about tension between Hindus and Muslims and terrorism in Kashmir Valley, he did not want to agree with this fact that there is any terrorism or tension between Hindus and Muslims at all in Kashmir Valley. He said that the Indian Army and politicians are responsible for all the problems in Kashmir Valley. He said that the Indian Army kills innocent people of Kashmir for nothing which obviously I didn’t believe but he was seriously angry with our army and politicians. I also hate politicians but I don’t believe that the army kills innocent people.

My driver blamed America for all the problems and tension in this whole world. He said that Barack Obama, George Bush and other American politicians should be brought on the road and should be killed by beating with shoes because they want to rule the world and make people fight. I couldn’t talk with many locals but whomever I talked with was very angry with Indian Army, Indian politicians and America. I do not understand where this America stands between our problems. I think it is terrorist organizations, politicians and crazy religious groups that make us fight and create tensions, not America.

I could not make it to Amarnath but my two other friends went to Amarnath only a few days before I left Varanasi and they were able to reach the temple as the weather was nice when they arrived. They also told me shocking stories. My one friend Sonu told me that once they were stuck in a traffic jam near Sringar city and were just standing on the road when they saw three young kids, hardly 10-12 years old, passing by. Sonu called them because he just wanted to talk with them. Sonu asked them what they were doing on the highway and these young kids said something that shocked Sonu and his other friends traveling with him.

Instead of replying they asked Sonu what he was doing there. Their wordings were “Why do you come here? Do you come here to pray to the ice (Shivalingam in Amarnath temple is naturally formed of ice)? It’s not any God, it’s ice only which melts by heat and you should not come here to Kashmir as it is my land, not yours, you fucking Indians”. Sonu got angry and scared both at the same time. I wonder how much poison was there in that kid’s blood. Kashmir is the biggest issue and the biggest reason of tension between Hindus and Muslims in India and I always thought that Muslims wanted to stay with India but such things make me think about the issue again.

Sonu said that locals of Kashmir valley were throwing stones on vehicles of pilgrims going to Amarnath and that his taxi was also attacked. He saw over 200 cars with broken window glasses. People were throwing stones on the vehicles and were asking pilgrims and tourists to go back from Kashmir which sounds really scary. I would not like to go to such place where people welcome me by throwing stones on my vehicle. It is a really bad situation for innocent people of Kashmir because it is they themselves whose lives are most affected.

I don’t know what will be the future like of Kashmir Valley but one thing is very sure that if such condition continues in the future also, people of Kashmir will face serious problems and it will take them a really long time to make the situation better again. After hearing all these true stories and spending four days in J&K state, I really felt sad and questioned myself if I was really somewhere which was part of India. How can an Indian citizen call me an Indian visiting their land? I don’t know what happened that made people think that they are not Indian; but if this is the case, then what we are fighting for?

Are we fighting for a piece of land or we are fighting for the rights of people of Kashmir? So many questions and actually I don’t even know if I have any rights to question about the issues of Kashmir because it seems like the people of Kashmir want something else but I am an Indian and I feel like questioning each and every thing going on in India and my personal feeling is that Kashmir is part of India. I hope some day terrorism will be defeated and people of Kashmir will find wealth and a green life but for the time being my friends and I have decided that we will not go to Kashmir Valley again until this terrorism problem is solved and people welcome the pilgrims and tourists again with the idea of Atithi Devo Bhav. अतिथि देवो भव. Peace.

Kolkata Gay Pride 2010

Begining of the parade

Beginning of the parade

I got to attend Kolkata Gay Pride as well which was on the 2nd of July. I arrived in Kolkata on the 1st of July after attending the Chennai pride and spending a few days in Bangalore. My friend Sourendra from Mumbai had introduced me to Mr. Rajshrei Chakrobarty who was Secretary of Dum Dum Society and one of the organizers of Kolkata Gay Pride. I knew that Kolkata was the first city in India to start gay prides and I was expecting it to be the biggest one in India this year as well but when I arrived at the parade venue I was shocked  to see that there were hardly 50 people in the parade.

Mr. Chakrobarty

Mr. Chakrobarty

Mr. Chakrobarty told me about the reason of few people before I asked him about it. He said that most of the organizations working on gay rights in Kolkata boycotted the parade because of some internal politics hence they could not make the parade as big as it used to be in the past. He said that Dum Dum Society and one other organization called Anandam were the only two organizations that organized the pride this year. I was surprised to hear that most of the organizations boycotted the parade but at the same time I was happy also that at least someone organized it.

the most important message

The most important message

The parade started from Jatin Das Park near Hajra crossing and ended at the Academy of Fine Arts. The parade started with only 40-50 participants but it was really interesting. I have been to all the big prides taking place in India within past one year and Kolkata one was the most liberal parade I had ever seen in India. I noticed that nobody was wearing the masks. They had an auto rickshaw with loudspeakers and the participants of the parade were singing songs of human rights, equal rights and gender equality. They were passing out pamphlets which had writing about LGBT rights.

Cool

Cool

It was raining most of the time during the parade but it could not stop people from joining the parade. The parade started with 40-50 people and ended with at least 100 or 120 people. A lot of people joined at the Academy of Fine Arts where the parade ended. In fact, the end was the most interesting part of the parade for me. At the academy a lot of young lesbian couples joined the parade. I had never seen that many lesbians before in any of the parades whether Mumbai, Delhi or Chennai and very interesting thing was that these girls were young.

Brave girl

Brave girl

They being young surprised me the most because in India lesbians coming in public and very rare and whenever I see any lesbian I always find them over 35, living either alone or with their partner and always have no connection with the family but these young girls were really young and I don’t think they were living alone or had no connection with their family. They were so open and they knew that their parents were going to know about their sexuality if they participated in the parade but they still did it which meant their parents either knew about it or these girls knew that their parents would not mind knowing that their daughter was a lesbian. I liked it.

Mr. Ranjeet Sinha

Mr. Ranjeet Sinha

The parade ended with speeches from Mr. Ranjeet Sinha, Mr. Rajarshi Chakrobarty and a few other social activists. After the parade ended, I went with Mr. Chakrobarty to attend a cultural dance and performance program organized by an organization called Saathi. This program was basically a platform for the LGBT community to show their talent and have fun. I spent about an hour at the program and then headed back to my hotel for overnight. Dum Dum Society had organized a cultural program about 2 hours bus ride away from Kolkata two days after the parade.

Cultural dance performance

Cultural dance performance

This program was really something and I could easily see how Dum Dum Society was working honestly with the LGBT community and how they had strengthened the people belonging to the community. The program was just awesome. They had several dance performances, some of them based on Bollywood songs and some on traditional  Kolkata songs,  they had fashion shows where all the clothes were designed by the people belonging to LGBT community and I was shocked to see the quality of the program. It was really awesome and I enjoyed it a lot. The chairman of municipality was the chief guest of this program.

He had a lot of fun

He had a lot of fun

There were more people in this program than the parade. I think there were at least 500 people at this program.  I was able to interview a few people including Mr. Rajshree Chakrobarty, Mr. Ranjeet Sinha and a few other people from LGBT community and all of those interviews were really interesting. Mr. Chakrobarty told me about the history of gay activism in Kolkata. He said that it first started in Kolkata in the year 1989 which clearly shows that they were one of the few who started gay activism in India and at present there are about six or seven organizations working on LGBT rights in Kolkata.

Good message

Good message

I asked about the condition of the LGBT community in Kolkata and he said that the condition of the LGBT community living in Kolkata city area is in much better condition than the LGBT community living in the other districts or suburbs of Kolkata because of the influence of media and availability of organizations working in the city. He told me that the condition of the LGBT community is much better in Mumbai and Delhi when compared with Kolkata because Mumbai had started working on this issue way before Kolkata and since Kolkata is the poorest metropolitan city in India, the life of LGBT community is not easy here.

Equal rights, yea!

Equal rights, yea!

Mr. Chakrobarty told me something really interesting that transgenders are more discriminated against when compared with gay community because their sexuality is more visible but when we talk only about discrimination then yes, the whole LGBT community is discriminated against on various levels. I asked the same question which I ask to other people whom I interview about many people thinking that homosexuality is a disease or a fashion and it being possible to change it by getting people married or making them practice yoga (Baba Ramdev Says). His answer was like the others in that he said it is not possible to change somebody’s sexuality by getting them married.

Good slogan

Good slogan

He said that many people get married with a woman under family or social pressure but they are not happy and they practice sex with a same sex person even after marriage. I know several people who do this and I definitely believe that it just not possible at all to change somebody’s sexuality by getting them married or teaching them yoga. I asked him about the existence of the LGBT community in Hindu culture and religion and he told me several stories which proves that the LGBT community has always been in existence. I also believe the same because I have read several Hindu sacred books and have visited temples where same sex behavior sculptures are shown.

Our rights, human rights

Our rights, human rights

He told me something really intersting that I did not know before. He told me when Hanuman went to Sri Lanka to search for Sita, he saw that Ravan had kept several women but he was not able to give time to all of them hence these women had started making sexual relationships with each other which clearly shows that there were lesbians during Rama’s time also. I asked him about the revocation of section 377 and he told me that homosexuality was accepted in Hindu society and temples of Kamasutra and several other books clearly proves it but British made it illegal and this judgment of the High Court of Delhi was a right judgment and most probably it will help changing the society in the future.

She was very active

She was very active

It was really informative talking with him. He was a real and honest social worker working on LGBT rights in Kolkata. After Mr. Chakrobarty, I got to meet Mr. Ranjeet Sinha who was a transgender himself and was working with transgenders in Kolkata and nearby districts. He also told me about the problemswhich the transgender community was facing in Kolkata. He told me that there are reservations on the basis of caste and religion but no reservation for transgenders. He demanded for a separate toilet system at public toilets because when he goes to the male toilet, people make fun of him and if he goes to the female toilets then women are scared.

Great

Great

Mr. Sinha told me a story of his one friend, who was a transgender Hijra himself and was a well known social activist in West Bengal and was suffering from AIDS. He had to go to the hospital once and the doctors forcibly took off his clothes, made him wear men’s clothes and only then they admitted him in the hospital. Mr. Sinha demanded that their identity should also be recognized on official documents such as passport and voter ID card. He said that all the NGOs are focusing only and only HIV and AIDS but they must do something on other issues also related with LGBT community. He mentioned all the South Indian states, especially Chennai, as being especially progressive working on transgenders issues.

Very colorful event

Very colorful event

He also said that it is not possible to change someone’s sexual identity and if one tries to do so then the result is always horrible. Kolkata taught me so many new things. I was especially thrilled to see the work of Dum Dum Society. It was really a nice experience meeting with people like Mr. Chakrobarty and Mr. Sinha and so many other people who helped me in Kolkata and educated me about their issues and their work. I hope to go their next year as well and will hope that all the organizations that had boycotted the parade this year would join the parade again by ending the internal politics and making Kolkata a city of equal rights for everyone.

Please click here to see more pictures:

US visa refused

It was my US visa interview at US embassy, New Delhi and it was refused which I was just not hoping for. I and other people who were supporting my trip were almost sure that I will get the visa. I had four sponsorship letters, my sponsor’s bank account papers, my own documents but the visa consular did not even see them. I arrived at the embassy at 7.45 am as it was my interview at 8. Everything seemed very secured at first. The security was organized by an private security company. I did not know see any Indian police there which I think was a good idea.

I never believe Indian police, private security guards work better than Indian police. I saw so many Sikh people for the interview, maybe more than half of the people for the interview were Sikhs, turban and beard everywhere. I had noticed something really strange on US embassy website which showed their special connection with Punjab. They have five different helpline numbers for four different regions of India. Actually they do not consider Punjab as part of North India, they have a separate number only for Punjab. On their website it is written: North India (except Punjab), very funny.

US embassy is no parking zone thus they do not allow any vehicle to even stop in front of the embassy. Even general public is not allowed to stand near the embassy. They want only and only people who have some business with embassy. First of all my papers were checked by the security staffs outside the embassy and then they allowed to get in the office. In the embassy the first thing happened with me was security check. They scanned each and everything I had, even my documents. After the security check they sent me to big hall where a lot of interviewees were already sitting.

Here one girl came to me and taught me about in which order I should keep my documents. Then she sent me to another officer who saw my documents and gave me a small receipt with my interview number mentioned on it. After this they asked me to wait for my number. My number came after 45 minutes. They were sending interviewees in group of 10 each time. I passed through a passage and arrived in a huge hall. I had to wait for 4-5 minutes here also and then my number came and I went to a counter where an Indian officer was sitting, most probably he was employee of US embassy VFS.

He just checked my documents and asked me a few questions which I had already mentioned while applying for the visa. I think he just wanted to make sure that I was the right person. After this one girl came to me who brought me to another counter and here I saw a foreigner first time. He wanted to take my finger print. There was a scanner where he asked me to put my both thumbs first and after scanning it rest of the fingers. It was first time in my life when my digital finger prints were taken. But I liked this idea better than putting ink on the finger then taking finger prints.

It had happened with me only a few months ago when I applied for my marriage certificate at Benares court. It made my thumb dirty. After taking the finger prints, they asked me wait for my number. I did not know what was going on as it was my first experience of any visa interview. I was just sitting, watching here and there, listening to the people… and finally my number came. I went to the counter and as saw a really professional looking person sitting at other side of glass and of course he was the visa counselor. His first question to me was where I wanted to go.

I told him Seattle and a few other cities and then he asked me why. I told him tourism and business and he smiled and said a little bit of both? He asked me several question within hardly two minutes. He knew a little bit of Hindi also. His last question to me was what was my income and I think here I failed. I told him how much money I made last year and then he wrote something in his computer, took booklet and passport and returned it to me saying that he could not give me the visa. I asked him why and he said that according to US laws I could not qualify for the visa.

I was really socked. I told him that my trip was entirely funded and I was going to stay with my friends therefore did not need much money for the trip but he said that those things doesn’t matter. I asked him what should I do next and he told me to try after a few years when my economical condition improves which indicated clearly that my income was less than what they expect from the visitors. Anyways, I was sad and left the embassy. I was so excited for this trip and I know that I was going get very good business if I would have gotten the visa but…

I do not blame US embassy or their policies for visas. I think everything was very well organized, staffs were super trained and everything looked so nice to me. The visa counselor was nothing but a robot. He did not have any attachment or detachment to me. He did what he was suppose to do and I respect him. And it was not the end of the world for me. I will try next year again when my economical condition will be better and I know it will be better for sure:)

Indian police

I completed my tour guide training in December and my license was printed in January. Now the Ministry of Tourism office in Delhi asked me to bring a police verification certificate from my local police station. The Police verification certificate certifies that there are no legal cases against me. Actually they had provided a proforma also and I was supposed to just go to the local police station and get it stamped. I went to my local police station with that proforma but the police officer did not want to stamp that document. He asked me to go to the DIG office and apply for a character certificate there.

By mistake I went to the some other police office instead of DIG office. I went there and told a police officer about the certificate I wanted and then he asked me why I wanted this certificate and I explained that I had completed tour guide training and now I need a police verification certificate in order to get my license. After hearing that I was a tour guide, this policeman told me “Oh, so your profession is to make tourists fool and fuck them”. I was really angry to hear this, I said my profession is a tour guide and then he said that its similar.

After asking a few other questions he gave me right address of the DIG office. I went to the DIG office and I was really surprised to see the condition of the office. The office was so dusty and dark. I met the officer who issues the police verification certificate and he gave me a form and asked me a fill it and submit it along with other documents. I was told by my local police station to take care of this officer which means to give him some money, so I gave him Rs. 100. After taking this bribe he told me to contact my local police station after two days.

He said that he will send my application to my local police station and they will verify my residence and other documents and then they will send their report back to the DIG office. I contacted my local police station and my application had arrived at the local police station. The officer at the local police station asked me to bring all of my documents. After seeing all of my documents, he said that it was not enough. He needed a domicile certificate issued by the court which I did not have and I knew that it would have taken me over 15 days just to get this certificate.

I had given him a xerox of my passport also which was enough but he said that a domicile was necessary. Fortunately there was an advocate sitting in the office who favored me and said to the police officer that a passport is also equivalent to a domicile certificate.  Finally this police officer agreed to accept my documents after the advocate’s interference. He asked me to wait for a few minutes. After that advocate was gone he again started looking at my documents and after reviewing them for a few minutes he told me that they would send someone at my place within the next week or so and after verifying my residence they will send their report to the DIG office.

I knew why he needed one week of time. I asked him if I was supposed to give him something and then he said that such works are not done without paying. I was told by a few of my friends that I should give Rs. 500 to the local police station so I gave him Rs. 500 but this police officer started saying that Rs.500 was not enough as there were 5-6 people to take a share in that money. Finally we agreed on Rs. 700. After taking this money something happened that I had never ever hoped for. This police officer taught me the right way to bribe.

He taught me that I should always take care of who is sitting in the office and try to bribe when there are not many people around and never ever tell this to any other officer working in the same office, this was very valuable information. Actually I had told him about that officer in the DIG office who took Rs. 100 from me and this local police station officer said that I should not tell any other officer whom I have already bribed.  Anyways, after taking bribe of Rs. 700 he said that my documents would be forwarded to the DIG office by the same evening.

I went to the DIG office and then the DIG office said that they would send my documents to the LIU (Local Intelligence Unit) now. My documents arrived at the LIU office after a few days and when I went there, the same thing happened which had happened with me at the local police station. First of all they said that they would send someone to my home to verify my residence but when I asked them how much I was supposed to give, the officer asked for Rs. 500 and said that nobody would come to my place anymore and my documents will be forwarded to the DIG office by the same evening.

But something really funny happened while I was sitting in the LIU office. Actually I got a call on my mobile about my guest house inquiry and this officer heard me talking. After the phone call he asked me if I run a guest house also and I told him about my guest house and he asked me I had a restaurant in my guest house or not and I said no. And he asked me where do my guests eat and I told him that usually they go out and after hearing it, he seemed kind of sad and told me he would have loved coming to my place for a meal if I had a restaurant.

I told him that I lived with my family and we cook our own food and he was also invited if he wanted to have dinner with us and he said no, he was looking for some restaurant cooked hot chicken with whiskey.  I obviously said ‘No’ to him but I was really surprised how someone could be that stupid. Anyways, after bribing him, I left the office and came back home. The LIU office had told me that they would forward my documents to the CO office. The CO office is a kind of regional police office. I think there are 5 or 6 CO offices in the whole Benares district.

I contacted the CO office after two days and this office was also nothing better than the other offices I had been to. I met an officer at the CO office and he asked why I had applied for my character certificate. I explained my purpose to him and then he said that they had already checked my day time character but they did not know anything about my night time character. He said that- “Now we know about your day time character but we do not know about how many woman and prostitutes do you sleep with in the night or how many bars do you visit every night”.

He said the same thing to other officers also sitting in the office that they had checked my day time character but did not know anything about my night time character and after hearing it, all of them were laughing. One of them said they should check my night time character also. I was seriously shocked and did not know what to tell him. I could not believe that a police officer could talk in such manner. Anyways, I asked him check my night time character also and then he asked me to contact them after a week or so. I again knew why he needed to check my night time character and why he was asking for one more week.

I immediately asked him about the bribe and he also the said same thing which the officer at the local police station had told me that such works are not done without money. Anyways, I asked him how much and he said just give anything. I gave him Rs. 200 and asked when they would check my night time character and they said that there was no need to check the night time character and my documents would be forwarded to the SP ( Superintendent of Police) office by the same evening. I contacted the SP office the next day and the officers said that they will present me before the SP tomorrow.

I went to the SP office next day and I waited for the SP for an hour and finally I was presented before him. He just looked at my face and asked me why I needed a character certificate and that’s all.  I hardly got to talk with him a few seconds but just for this I had to wait for a hour at his office. I requested that he forward my documents as soon as possible and he was very nice with it. He immediately asked his PA to bring my documents, signed and stamped them and said that my work was done. After meeting him I contacted his PA and asked if I needed give something to him also and he asked me to come the next day and see if my work was done.

He did not want to take the bribe until my documents were forwarded to the next office. I went to the office again next day he said that he could not do it. I again contacted him after two days and this time my documents were already forwarded back to DIG office. Now I was sure that I was going to get my character certificate because all the formalities were done and I had bribed all the offices. When I went to the DIG office, the officer there said that they could not issue my character certificate until some other big police office stamped my documents. He also asked me to contact him after a week.

I again knew why he needed one more week. I gave him Rs. 300 and requested that he do my work faster and then he gave me the address of that other police officer whose office was also in the same building premises. He asked me to go this office and wait until the officer came and then return to inform him when this officer arrived. I went to this office, waited for hours in the terrible heat and finally this officer showed up after three hours. I informed the officer at the DIG office and then this officer brought my documents to this big police officer, got them signed and stamped and then gave me my character certificate.

This character certificate was nothing special but a really small piece of paper saying that there was no legal case against me. It seemed like they had not printed new character certificates for the year 2010 because the year mentioned on the paper was 2009 and the officer had to correct it by pen. I still think about all the craziness and corruption I had face,  the way they mistreated me saying that my profession is to make fools of tourists and fuck them, one officer said they did not know about how many women and prostitutes I sleep with…

I had to spend Rs. 1700 just to get this character certificate which should be given free of cost. I had to wait for almost a month and go to all those crazy police offices several times. Just to get this small piece of paper I had to go to DIG office>local police station>DIG office>LIU>CO office>SP office>DIG office>that big police officer’s office>DIG office. I got my character certificate and later I presented it to the Ministry of Tourism office in Delhi and got my license but when I think of all the corruption and those people working at police offices and those officers who approved my documents and my character certificate, it makes me feel like my character certificate was issued my the most characterless people on the planet.

Sunita Williams missing

I lived in JNU for two days with my Muslim friend. His brother and cousin are also student at JNU and they also live here in the hostel. They told me a really crazy story. They said that when they were in Aligarh Muslim University a few years back, once all the students were called together to listen to a lecture which was going to be delivered by a mullah (a religious leader of Islam). They did not know what this mullah was supposed to talk about but what they heard in his lecture made them really angry. The lecture was supposed to be about Islam but in fact it was against America.

The mullah talked about the India-origin astronaut named Sunita Williams who went to space under a NASA program in the year 2006. The mullah said that when Sunita was in space and looked towards the earth, she found the whole earth dark but two places- Mecca and Medina ( two holiest cities of Islam). He said that everything looked dark to Sunita but Mekka and Madina were shining like a star. It was a miracle of Allah and it proved that Allah is the greatest one and Islam is the only true religion. After seeing this, Sunita with other six astronauts, who were working together in space, turned highly devoted to Islam.

And after coming back to earth they converted to Islam. But the American government did not like it and they did something and now Sunita and the other six astronauts were missing. The mullah did not say anything about what happened with them but it was a clear indication that something wrong had happened with them. He meant to say that Sunita and the other people were missing only because they converted to Islam and the American government did not like it. My friend told me that the mullahs were so angry and loud when they were telling this story.

The mullah was saying that Sunita was always on Indian TV before she went to space and even after coming from space for few days. But after a few days she never appeared on the TV again. The mullahs were asking to the students where was Sunita? Was this her fault that she found Mecca and Medina most shining cities on the planet and realized the truth that Islam was the real religion and Allah is the only God and finally they converted to Islam? After hearing this students were so angry. Even my friend who is doing a PhD also believed him. My friend is not an exception but I was shocked to see such an educated person believing this kind of crazy story.

I knew that this story was bullshit so I showed him some information online. I already knew that Las Vegas was the most shining city on the planet and I told him about it. He was pretending to be against that mullah’s story after reading the Las Vegas article on Wikipedia but still it seemed like he believed that mullah’s story more. I remember that once my friend had told me that it was his dream to see the complete destruction of America sometime before he dies. I asked him why and he told me several stories of America in Israel, Afghanistan, Iraq…

I do not understand why a few religious leaders do such things. What is the problem with them. They must understand that spreading wrong information and getting involved in politics is also one the reasons why Christians have stopped going to the Churches. I don’t think religion is bad but religion becomes really bad when such religious leaders become the leaders of the religion. A few of my Christan friends told me that churches in the West used to issue a certificate saying that the all the sins are forgiven and they charge money for it. People stop practicing religion when such things take place and when people come to know about the reality and these religious leaders must understand it.

They must know that they are not doing something good for the religion, in fact it will show a terribly negative impact in the future when people will have information and Internet is spreading fast and they should consider it as a alarm of danger for them. People will question them and they will have no answer.