Europe visa approved

Finding any category of visa to any developed nation has always been a huge problem for us Indians. In fact once I had applied for an American tourist visa and it was also denied because they thought that my economical relations with India was not strong enough to prove that I will be coming back after the trip and it happened only 2-3 years ago. This time I got an opportunity to visit Europe. I was invited to Hungary by a friend of mine, Attila, who started an education program for poor kids in Varanasi with my help. Other than Hungary Attila had planned a trip to Slovakia and Austria as well. I did not need to get separate visa for all three different countries because they are all part of Schengen countries and only one visa for Schengen area was enough for me.

I had so many invitation letters sent by my American friends when they wanted to invite me to the US and all of those letters were written on just plain paper but they had provided their residence and income proof with a covering letter stating that they will be taking care of me while I will be in the US but still my visa was denied. Attila did something different. He went to concerned government office in Budapest and wrote an invitation letter through them and sent it to me. The letter looked very professional, it had signature of Attila and some government officer. Other than this it had some basic information about Attila and me also.

I went to Delhi with all the supporting documents, in fact I carried whatever I had. All the certificates, residence proof, income proof and other documents. Now Hungarian embassy also works with VFS for visa document verification which was not the case only until a few months ago. So I went to VFS office instead of Hungarian embassy to apply for my visa. It was kind of confusing place but luckily I found it. The office was located at International Business Center next to Nehru Place metro station. This building had several different VFS offices working for different countries.

For popular destinations they had different rooms but for a place like Hungary, France, Italy, Switzerland they had only different counters in one room. I went to the counter for Hungary and as I was expecting there were not many people in the line because not many people go to Hungary. In fact Hungarian counter was working for France:) Anyways, the staffs were helpful. They checked all of my documents, charged me the visa fee, VFS service fee and that’s all. But they did not have any information about when I will be called for the interview. They just asked me to go back to Varanasi and wait for the phone call.

I asked him to just to give me a clue and said that it was jut not possible at all for him to make any guess. It could take any time up to 15 days. I decided to stay somewhere close to Delhi hence went traveling to Haridwar, Rishikesh and Dehradoon. I was expecting to get a call within next two-three days because Hungarian embassy doesn’t process so many visa applications. But I was not right at all, they called me on the 6th day after applying and asked me to come to the Hungarian embassy a week after which was on the 12 day after applying for visa.

Another interesting thing was that they asked me to bring the evidence of contract which I did not understand. They were asking me to bring photographs of Attila working with me, traveling in India, doing anything…they just wanted to see the proof of my relations with him. I had so many pics so that was not an issue at all. I returned back to Varanasi stayed here for a few days and then went back to Delhi again for interview. I arrived at the embassy on time but the counselor was late by 20 minutes. The counselor was just like the counselor I had met at the American embassy two years ago- she was nothing but a robot.

She would ask me questions and write about it on a piece of paper, then ask another questions, that’s all. She asked me for the pics but did not even look at it. It seemed like she was the busiest person in the world. She just did not want to talk with me. haha. To be honest American counselor was more like trying to read my mind, he was playing with my answer but this lady was only interested in asking questions and writing down my answers. Her questions were very interesting. The best one I liked was if I knew the last name of Attila and his wife. Luckily I knew their last name so it was no problem. After all these questions she showed interest in keeping my original documents for verification.

She took my income tax return document along with tour guide training certificate. She told me that I will be informed once they have made any decision. I got a call by VFS after a week or so that my passport was ready at the VFS center in New Delhi. But I was already in Varanasi by this time so sent an authorization letter to my brother to collect the passport on my behalf. He collected the passport and saw that visa was approved. They issued visa for Schengen countries which meant visa for 26 countries. Nothing was so complicated but I won’t say that anything was easy at all.

I had to go to Delhi at first and then nobody knew how long would it take for interview after applying for visa at the VFS, I was just wandering around here and there spending all of my money, and when they called me for the interview it was after a week. Anyways, I am not really upset with anything but I think such things could be easily avoided if they want. They just need to book an appointment right away for the interview or take maximum of one day because the passport and application is sent the same day to the embassy from VFS office. If they could have informed me the date of the interview even the next day then I would have saved at least Rs. 25,000 which I spent just traveling here and there near to Delhi.

Delhi Gay Pride 2010

Delhi pride

Delhi celebrated its Gay pride parade this year on 28th of November and I again went to attend it. They used to organize it in the month of June until last year but this year the date was changed because Delhi gets horribly hot during the month of June. I also feel that it was a nice decision. This year was important for me as it was Delhi’s first biggest gay event after decriminalization of section 377and I wanted to see the reaction of people. This year I went to the parade with my friend Babu. Later Ravikant also joined me who was me in Delhi for some personal business.

participants

I had already been to so many gay parades taking place in India hence nothing was surprising for me but Babu and Ravi were just shocked. They had no idea of what was going on. Anyways, the parade started from Barakhambha road and ended at Jantar Mantar which was around 2 hours of walk. When I arrived at Barakhambha, there were already a few hundred people. A lot of them were dressing up, a few people were distributing masks, pamphlets and candies. I have noticed one thing that Delhi pride has always a good number of Hijras.

demands

The parade seemed way bigger than the last year and it was more diverse as well. There were all kinds of people- families, Hijras, LGBT community people, students, straights… The parade started with dancing, music, slogans… and very soon hundreds of more people joined in. The paraded was guarded with hundreds of police who would sometimes stop the traffic as well so that the parade could pass easily.  The parade lasted for about three hours and it was just like any other gay pride parade in India which was a blender of modernity and tradition. A few groups were dressed traditionally and a few people looked very very modern. The parade had a huge support of students. There were a lot of young people in the parade.

love

The parade finally arrived at its destination- Jantar Mantar where they had a few speeches of social workers, organizers and participants. A huge organization called NAPM also joined the parade this year and they announced that they are also with the LGBT community in India and would fight for them. NAPM is a huge organization working of several different issues all over India and if they also support LGBT community activity then I am sure it could bring a huge change in the society. I have been working with one of the state conveyors of NAPM in UP named Nandlal Master for a long time so it was good to see that NAPM also got involved. It was a good news because I have already been planning to organize a gay pride parade in Varanasi and if NAPM supports it then it could be a big help for me.

support

All the speeches happened and people talked about different issues but mostly people talked about how they are discriminated in the society. A few people came on the state with masks over their face but after arriving on the stage, they took off their mask and said that they were feeling so confident after attending the parade and now did not want to hide their identity and sexuality anymore. Finally they had a candle lighting program which ended the parade for this year. I was told that there would a party after the parade and I was so excited for it. I had already attended a few post parade parties and I really loved them. Somebody told me that since the number of participants increased in the parade, they have organized parties at several different places. Some of them were paid and some were free.

definitely

I asked about it to a few people and they gave me several different addresses which means this year the parade was bigger and they needed more than one place to host the party. I went back home, got ready and left again for the party. I went to a club near to Qutubminar. But after arriving there we realized that only those people were allowed who had some kind of SMS on their mobile sent by the organizing committee. I told the security guard that I came all the way from Varanasi and I had already talked with the organizers and I was actually invited to attend the party but still they were not allowing me. The system was completely different last time when I attend the parade. Last year anyone was allowed to attend the party and there was no restriction at all.

family

It was very disturbing and frustrating. Finally I met one of the organizers on the street near the club and I asked him to me. He called someone who was inside the club to pick me up. This guy showed up at the entrance and brought me in. The club was fantastic and they had a party on the rooftop with music, drinks and food. Everything was super expensive. They were serving a small bottle of beer for Rs. 600 which is usually available in the market for Rs. 50. One small shot of cheapest whiskey they had costed Rs. 600. Anyways, I bought a few drinks and was basically enjoying the party. My friends also enjoyed the party a lot. I could easily see how shocked they were but at the same time it was a interesting time for them, especially for Ravikant.

participants

Suddenly police showed up and asked the DJ to stop the music. Actually its not allowed to play loud music after 10 PM at public places anywhere in India. The organizers tried to settle the police but these guys did not want to hear anything. Finally party was stopped and we were asked to move out of the club immediately. I was kind of disappointed because post pride parties are different than regular parties, are so much fun and I enjoy them a lot but this time I could not.  But I do not regret at all, I was happy that at least I got to attend the parade. It was a nice experience and I got to learn a lot. Hope to attend Delhi pride again next year.

Please click here for more pictures of the pride parade-

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?

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:)

Guide training program – week 7

The seventh week of the guide training program is done which was the orientation tour of Agra>Jaipur>Delhi. Our first city was Agra where we visited four monuments- Taj Mahal, Red fort, Sikandara (Tomb of Akbar the Great) and Itmad Ud Daula. We had one guide for fifty participants. Agra was a crazy city. The water there was so sour. We were suggested by our institute to use only bottled water. There were touts everywhere trying to sell something all the time to everyone near the monuments. We were brought to a few tourist shops also. Those shops were huge, literally huge.

The shops in Agra, Jaipur and Delhi had arranged our breakfast, lunch and dinner. It was a good opportunity for them to bring two-hundred tour guides all together to their shop at one time. They showed us around their shop, explained us how do they work and gave some gifts also to all the participants. I am sure it was a good deal for them. But the shops were so expensive. All the stuffs in those shops were at least ten times more expensive than the normal market rate but the quality of the product was also very nice.

We visited four monuments in Jaipur as well- Jaigarh Fort, Amber Fort, City Palace and Jantar Mantar. The condition of water in Jaipur was exactly same as the water of Agra. I liked all the monuments but City Palace. The City Palace was a very very commercial place. They had opened only a small part of the palace for the visitors. If somebody wants to visit other part, which is not open for visitors, they can do it by paying extra money and this extra money is decided by looking at the visitor’s profile. The City Palace doesn’t accept tour guide licenses given by the government of India; they issue their own license.

If somebody wants to have that license, then they will have to pass an exam organized by the City Palace. If a government approved tour guide goes to City Palace to do the guiding, then either he hires a City Palace guide or he pays some money to the City Palace. Our guide in Jaipur told us that City Palace is open for all kinds of activity. If someone wants to celebrate their birthday in the palace, they can do it by paying some money to the king. If somebody wants to hire the king and have him welcome the guests, it is possible by paying him.

After Jaipur we headed to Delhi which was crazy as usual. I heard something really crazy that TGFI (Tour Guide Federation of India) had instructed all the tour guides to not train us during our orientation tour of Delhi and that is why our institute had a hard time getting a guide to give us tour and train us. None of the guides in Delhi agreed to work with us. Finally the institute had to hire a monument guide. It was crazy to see how opposed TGFI was. They are the people who had sued the government against this training program but when they saw nothing happening in their favor, they did this crazy protest.

The shops of Delhi were also not so helpful as the shops of Jaipur and Agra. Even though our lunch, dinner and breakfast were organized by the shopkeepers in Delhi but the experience was not as good as the Jaipur and Agra one. My overall experience was nice but I did not learn much during the tour because there was only one guide for fifty participants but it was okay. I know that I will not start working somewhere out of Varanasi right after getting the license because I want to study first. I will start working in Benares first, then study about other cities, maybe go there and hire a guide and then work in other cities.

Delhi Gay Pride 2009 – afterparty

So confident today!!!

So confident today!!!

Megan and Adam were getting late so I asked them to go but I stayed for the party. I was wandering around and stopped by a bus stop and sat there for a while. Two people, who seemed rural, came and sat next to me. It seemed like they had also seen the parade and were talking about it. One of them was really angry about the parade. He was swearing at the government and the people who had organized it. One of them was saying that people are making fun of Indian culture openly and the government allows them to do so. I think he has not read Ramayana, Kamasutra or have visited Khajuraho because Ramayana talks about hijras whose sex practices are also like gays, Kamasutra also talks about homosexuality and Khajuraho is stuffed with homosexual sculptures.

She had most number of posters

She had most number of posters

I have not visited Khajuraho but I have read Ramayana and have looked at Kamasutra book and after looking at these books, I feel like India has the oldest gay culture in the whole world and gay culture was accepted in our society but the British made it a crime. I spent an hour just wandering here and there and then came back to the place where bus was supposed to start from. I met a guy there who was a 20 year old student of Delhi University. I was just sitting near the bus and he came and sat next to me and started talking. He said that he was feeling very confident and open after attending the parade. He said that he was also shy before coming to the parade but after attending the parade he did not have this problem of being shy about himself anymore.

No fear

No fear

He wanted to talk to me about the problem he was having with his boyfriend. He said that his boyfriend doesn’t talk to him anymore. He said that his boyfriend had slapped him few months ago in front of his friends and then stopped talking. He was so sad about it and wanted my advice but at the same time he said that his boy friend used to love him a lot and he could not believe that they could ever breakup. He was in too much love with his boyfriend. I advised him to wait for a while and keep trying to contact his boyfriend and see how things go. He seemed so happy after hearing that he should try to be in touch with his boyfriend.

Lets dance

Lets dance

I asked him if he had informed about his boyfriend to his parents and he said no because he was scared of his parents getting mad at him after listening that he had a boyfriend. I asked him if he would like to get married with his boyfriend and he said this is what he wanted. I asked if he thought his parents would ever allow him to marry a man and then he was quiet for a while and said no. I asked him if his friends knew about his boyfriend and he said that they know but very few of them are supportive of him, and most of his friends just make fun of him.

The leading banner

The leading banner

He wanted my advice to dress himself look sexy in the party. He had an extra sleeveless t-shirt which he had brought specially for the party, and he had a piece of cloth which he wanted to rap around his waist so that he can look sexy. I am not a fashion expert but I tried my best to help him look as sexy as he could. After talking to him I was wondering what would happen if he is forcibly married to a girl. He did not need to marry a girl. It would be bad for both his bride and he himself. A lot of homosexual people in India are forcibly married to the opposite sex which sounds like a crime to me.

I believe it.

I believe it.

I also notice one other thing- that a lot of homosexual people were calling each other by feminine and funny names, like a lot of them using the word randi (slut) for each other. I did not understand why they do it. Hijras always take a feminine name but homosexual people usually don’t use feminine names but it seemed like they like doing it. One other very interesting thing for me was that homosexuals were making fun of hijras. When we were going to the party place by a bus, there were a lot of hijras also in the bus.

Very nice

Isai is Christan and bhai means brother

Hijras are known for their clapping and hijra songs. All the hijras were singing their hijra songs and were clapping in hijra style but a group of homosexual people, who were being interviewed in the bus, were making fun of the hijras all the time. They would be like “Oh my God! Where did they come from, these hijras, randi… There was a guy who stood up and said loudly that if anyone has a coin of Rs. 1, then please give to these randi hijras, otherwise they will keep clapping and singing. I know that there was no anger behind it but they would always make fun of them and they seemed so friendly to each other. It was a fun ride, though.

Supporters

Supporters

I liked that bus ride a lot and would not forget it ever. People were so happy, they were laughing, singing, hugging each other, making fun of each other… it was so fun. Finally the bus stopped and we arrived at M Lounge Bar in Sector 15, Noida. I had thought that I was going to a place where they would be having food and a little bit of drink and people would be talking, that’s all; but this place was something beyond my imagination. Actually it was a disco. As I stepped in, everything I saw was new to me because I had never ever been to a disco before.

Yea, 377 quit India

Yea, 377 quit India

People were dancing, drinking, hugging, kissing… I had never seen anything like that before. There was a bar also in the disco and I also thought to drink a bit but I did not know that things were super expensive there. Entrance was free for the participants of the parade but the rest of the things were really expensive like drinks, food, cigarette… I drank a shot of whiskey and a bottle of beer but I still wanted to drink more because the atmosphere was thrilling there. I was enjoying myself a lot.

We really need it

We really need it

Finally I had to come out of the disco and buy some alcohol from a shop and drank it. Before buying the alcohol I met the organizer Mr. Amit Agrawal and talked him for a while. He was too drunk to talk actually so he asked me to talk with one of the other organizers, who was a 25 year old student. He said that he was also a gay and when I asked him if he had informed about it to his family he said “No”. When I asked him if he thought that his parents would allow him to get married with his boyfriend, he said he did not know about it. But he would not like to get married with a girl.

Yes.

Yes.

He said that they had organized the parade without taking any financial assistance from any other NGO or institution or charities. Everything was organized by a group of gays. They had contributed money from their own pockets to make the event happen. He was also very high and he gave me his mobile no. and asked me to call him the next day so that we could talk more. After talking to him I got in the disco again. Now the party had reached at its top. �Whatever I saw there was completely new to me.

Queer Freedom

Queer Freedom

I saw many gay couples kissing, hugging and dancing together. I saw a couple of a 60+ and a 20 year old guy. They were also dancing and kissing, actually they had the longest kiss. I think their kiss lasted for something like two hours. There were a lot of hijras also who had their partners and they were kissing. I saw few lesbian couples also. I noticed that the daily visitors of that disco would come and sit at a corner and see things going on. I am sure they had also not seen anything like that before. I could easily see their shocked and curious face.

My body my business

My body my business

I don’t think that any of the daily visitors danced that night. They were just watching what was going on that night. It was so fun. I was enjoying myself a lot. It felt a little bit strange at first to me and I was also shocked like other daily visitors but after spending few minutes everything seemed normal to me. I just felt like people were enjoying themselves and the most important thing for me was that they were happy. The feeling of freedom and joy is always awesome and I could easily see that feeling there.

Definitely

Definitely

It was funny that one of the guys came to me and started dancing and touched my ass but I did not know what to do. He touched me for few seconds but after no reaction from my side, he left me and joined someone else. I really liked the way he respected my feelings and I think the same way we should respect their feelings as well. None of the homosexuals made fun of me, or insulted me or tried to disturb me because I was a straight but I don’t understand why straight people always make fun or insult homosexuals. Why don’t straights also respect gays’ feelings the way they respect straight people’s feeling?

Who can stop us???

Who can stop us???

Now the party was over I headed back to home. I really enjoyed the party.It was really a fun night. I felt like it was one of the best things I had ever done with myself by participating and supporting the parade, and the obviously party was also so fun. I was supposed to talk with the two members of the organizing committee next morning and I was really looking forward to it but I could not because when I called them next morning, both of them said that they had drunk too much last night and now they just wanted to sleep so I could not talk with them.

Candles

Candles

I will try to talk with them next time when I go to Delhi. Mr. Amit had asked me to organize the Gay Pride Parade in Benares as well but I am not sure if Benares is ready for this kind of event. My overall experience was awesome and I really felt good to be in the parade. I saw the pain of the gay community in India, I listened their issues, I talked with them and finally I would say only one thing that they also deserve equal rights, equal rights for everything, and social acceptance. I don’t know how long will it take for them to get equal rights in India but one thing is very sure that it will take a long time for the gay community to get social acceptance in India.

Lots of hugging in the parade

Lots of hugging in the parade

They gay community is everywhere in each and every part of this world, somewhere it is hidden because of social pressure and somewhere it is open because of more awareness and education and liberalization. I was reading a newspaper article about an NGO that works with the gay community in Varanasi and it said that NGO was working with 1500 gays only in Varanasi. I am sure this number is not a real number, the real number is a lot bigger than this because most of the gay people do want to make their relations public because they are not accepted in the society.

Participants with the candles

Participants with the candles

And finally they are married forcibly to some opposite sex partner and their life is destroyed. I don’t understand what anti-gay people have to do with acceptance of gay culture. They don’t harm anyone. I think gay culture is all about having sex with the same sex partner or interaction towards the same sex, nothing else, rest of the things are just like anyone else whether they are straights, hijras, transgender or whatever… And who are we to stop anyone from exposing their thinking or stopping them from what they want to do with themselves?

Enjoy

Enjoy

Gay culture is only different inside the room and how could someone know what anyone what does inside the room? �It’s bullshit idea to think that we should even try to know what someone is doing inside the room. Outside room activity is same for everyone, whether they are homosexual or straight. When anybody is born in India, they get a few of the basic human rights and freedom of speech, freedom of thinking and equal rights for everyone are a few of those basic human rights. I think gay culture as just different thinking, nothing else, and everybody has rights to think whatever they want to think.

Like this poster

Like this poster

A few people think like they want to have sex with an opposite sex partner, they have it and few people think like they want to have sex with a same sex partner so they should also have it. And if there is any idea of equal rights, then gays also deserve equal rights as anybody else living on this planet. �What if a straight is married forcibly with a same sex partner? It is hard for me to think what would have happened with me if I was forcibly married with a boy, I would have no fun living with a same sex partner. The same question should be raised for everyone who thinks that homosexuality is abnormal or whatever…Just think about it.

Please click here for more pictures of the Pride-

Delhi Gay Pride 2009 – parade


Rainbow salute to Delhi

Rainbow salute to Delhi

I attended Delhi Gay Pride on the 26th. I heard a lot about gay pride festivals and how fun they are but had no idea about it so I was so excited to be there. I arrived in Delhi on the 24th and Adam and Megan also joined me for the parade. They were supposed to go to Benares but they changed their flights and came to Delhi to join me at gay pride. The Gay Pride started from Barakhambha Road and ended in a bar called M Lounge in Sector 15, Noida. I arrived at the parade place with Adam and Megan and what I saw was just amazing.

I am a girl and love a girl

I am a girl and love a girl

They had hired band parties for music. When I reached, there were about two thousand people present. I had asked the organizer how many people were they expecting and he had said that last year they were expecting somewhere around 500 but about 1500 participated and this year they were expecting something like 2500 participants. He told me that the media was also very supportive to them last year and he was expecting for the same this year as well. When I reached there, I found a lot of media people covering the event. Police were also there to help them. I don’t know if they were helping the organizing committee because they were supposed to or they just wanted to but they were helping.

It was an international event

It was an international event

I was just wandering here and there and watching people doing things. I had thought that I would be talking to the participants but after reaching there, I decided not to disturb them at that moment because they were extremely happy and enjoying themselves and I did not want to disturb them by making them talk to me. The most interesting thing for me was that the participants were not only gays, but a lot of straight people and families were also there. A lot of foreigners were also there. I talked with a few of the foreigners about why they were there in the parade and all of them answered almost the same thing- to support the cause.

Posters

Posters

The organizing committee had arranged masks to cover the faces for the people who did not want to reveal their identities and a lot of the participants, even straights and families, were using these masks. I know that gay culture is not accepted yet in India so it made sense to me for the gays to wear the masks but I did not understand why straight people were using the masks. What was their reason to participate in the parade if they were so shy? I did not like it. �I think everyone should come forward and talk about the issue; only then the gay community in India can get its social identity.

Band Party

Band Party

I heard a few gays talking with the media and when the media asked them how they feel being a gay, all the people said the same thing- that people make fun of them and they do not have equal rights. The parade was getting started now and the energy, joy and happiness could easily be felt there. The band players had started playing their instruments, everybody was so happy, a lot of people were dancing with their partners, a few of them were alone and they were just dancing and jumping by raising the rainbow flag in the air.

I liked this poster

I liked this poster

The parade was supposed to start at 5 PM but obviously it was also delayed�as most of the things in India, but this was the first time in my life when I was enjoying the delay. Finally the parade started sometime around 5.45 and to be honest this instance of my seeeing the energy, joy and happiness I saw there, was only my second experience in my whole life. I had seen the same amongst the people of Mehndiganj in the year 2007 when they were going to start their rally against Coca-Cola. Lots of loud music, people jumping, shouting, dancing, laughing… It was awesome. The atmosphere and the people there made me full of energy.

The rainbow flag

People jumping with the flag

They had a huge rainbow flag and almost twenty people were holding it, jumping with it and people were dancing under this flag, music was on… wow…it was just awesome. The participants of the parade were very mod and liberal, they were wearing very modern dresses. A lot of them had designed special masks, caps, hats and dresses for themselves. �I saw a few girls wearing only shorts and bras, and they had tattoos which is very uncommon to see in India. I had never ever seen those kinds of dresses on Indian girls. A lot of hijras were also there. They were also dressed somewhat differently than what they usually dress like.

The parade attracted good number of people this year

The parade attracted good number of people this year

The parade started moving and more and more people started joining it. A lot of students came to join us. The number of participants had reached up to something like 3000 by now. A lot of people were standing at both sides of the road and just watching the parade. I saw many people coming out of the restaurants and other shops and they also joined us. The participants had designed different kinds of banners, posters, flyers and a lot of them had got different slogans written over their clothes and bodies.

Adam distributing HIV & AIDS education pamphlets

Adam distributing HIV & AIDS education pamphlets

A lot of people had gotten their face painted in rainbow color. I had brought HIV & AIDS education pamphlets to distribute amongst the participants and general people and Adam and Megan helped me doing it. I gave them about 100 pamphlets and they distributed them within a few minutes. I noticed something strange that a few people just did not want to take the pamphlet but a few were very curious. A few people came to us asking for a pamphlet. There was an old guy who took our pamphlet and came back to Adam and he wanted to talk about the material written in it.

Thanks, Adam and Megan

Thanks, Adam and Megan

Adam asked him to talk to me and he came to me and asked do you work for HIV & AIDS and I said yes. And then he asked me if I was supporter of the gay community or gay rights and I again said yes. And then he told me something strange. He asked me how I could be a supporter of gay rights and then work on HIV & AIDS at the same time. He said that gays are responsible for the spread of HIV all over the world. He seemed kind angry when he was talking and I wanted to talk to him about it but the parade was moving so I just gave him my business card and asked him to meet me later.

Avoid Girls?

Look at the T-shirt

He never contacted me but it was strange to see him blaming the gay community for spread of HIV & AIDS. I know that gays are at higher risk of contracting HIV than straights but it doesn’t mean that they are responsible for the spread for this disease. Many people say that gays do much safer sex than straights. I think the Indian government’s HIV & AIDS program and corruption in the public health sector is responsible for the spread of HIV, not gays. I listened to a gay guy talking with a journalist and this guy was saying that he had been in gay relationship for the past five years and he was proud to be a gay. He said that gays are the people who do safe sex and know a more about STDs than straights.

So helping to each other

So helping to each other

The journalist asked him if he had informed his family about his gay life and he said that his father knew about it but his mother sometimes told him that he is also becoming part of hijra community. I have noticed that people do not know the difference between gays and hijras. Finally the parade arrived at Jantar Mantar and stopped where they had organized speeches of social activists, gay rights supporters, different NGO members and a few gays also. Few gays who were wearing masks during the parade took their mask off when they came on the stage. It seemed like everything changed within a few hours. They were shy before starting the parade but not anymore.

I loved her dress

I loved her dress

They said very loudly that now they were not shy anymore. They were proud to be gay. Speech happened about section 377 and a few other gay rights related issues and finally the organizer asked everyone to light up a candle. I also lit up a candle. Finally the parade was over but now there was a party left which was supposed to start from 9.30 PM at M Lounge bar in Sector 15, Noida. It was about 7 o’clock now and they asked the participants to gather together again at 8.30. They had arranged a few buses to take participants at the party place. I was so excited for the party.

Problem with 2009 Delhi election

It was election day in Delhi yesterday. Mr. Naveen Chawla, The Chief of Election Commission of India also went to vote and found that his name was not in the list. His name was in the deleted list. It became news and all the TV channels started talking about it. The employees of Election Commission did something and finally Mr. Naveen Chawla voted. It has always been a issue for general people that they go to vote and find that their name is not present in the voting list. How can this happen that they forget the name of the Chief of the Election Commission of India?

Later Mr. Chawla said that there was some confusion because he had changed his apartment a few months ago and that is why his name was also shifted to the other list. But everybody knows that it was only an excuse. Media people were saying that they had seen the list and his name was in the deleted list. Well, whatever the reason was, the Election Commission of India should not say anymore that they can organize elections well. Now it is good evidence for the world that proves the quality of elections in India.

First day of work with Seranna

Finally I arrived Delhi this morning and went straight to Chandan’s place and then to see Chottala. Seranna had asked me to meet her at 4 o’clock so I could not spend much time with Chottala. I was not happy leaving him. I was supposed to meet Seranna at G.B. Road, brothel no. 71. Chandan drove me there. We reached there and I said Chandan to leave started looking for the brothel no. 71. G.B.Road is near the Ajmeri gate side of New Delhi railway station and is the biggest market of generator parts of Asia. Brothels and this biggest market of Asia was on the same road.

All the shops were at ground floor and brothels were at first floor. I sent a message to Seranna informing her about I had reached there but she did not reply me. I thought that maybe she was busy with shooting. I thought it would be good experience just to walk around so I did not stay near the no. 71 brothel. All the steps going up side to the brothels had few girls wearing all the makeups, calling to the people. I was also called up by several sex workers. They were all very well dressed but I could easily see that they were not healthy.

A lot of sex workers were at the windows and they were also doing the same thing: calling people upstairs. I went to a tea shop and sat there for an hour. All these sex workers were calling people like:- hey black pants; come upstairs, hey blue shirt, Rs.100 only, hey you look tired come to me… Each and every person walking on that road would look at least one to the windows. Now I had spent more than an hour so I thought to start walking. I noted something very strange that there was no education posters and writing about HIV or other STDs in the whole area. I wandered almost all over the sex working area but saw only two posters teaching about condoms and HIV. This was very sad.

As I stood-up, I saw one guy running. I asked few people they said that he was inside a brothel and he was looted by the sex workers. I had heard of the sex workers at brothels looting their clients but I never believed it. I had asked several people about it who go to brothels and all of them said that they never carry any extra cash or any valuable stuffs with them when they go to brothels because sex workers loot their clients sometimes, specially if they are new. I think it is only because sex workers for the brothel owner and give a big cut of their income to the owner so they never make much money.

After spending few more time now I was stopped by a pimp who wanted to sell me a girl. He just came to me and started walking next to me. He asked me would I like to have a girl and I said no and then he was like I will charge only Rs. 200 and give you a very nice girl, young and beautiful. I told him several times that I did not need a girl but he was kept walking next to me and asking the same question again and again. Finally he left me and a new and the most dangerous pimp appeared: the police. They probably did not want to sell me a girl but maybe, who knows.

They came and asked several questions about my identity. It was okay but I was wondering why did they stop me? I was never stopped before at any place in Delhi. There must be some reason behind it. Maybe they wanted me to ask them for a girl. I saw many many young guys, only 13-14 years old, going to the brothels. They all looked kind of afraid going in but they went. Now after spending more than two and a half hours finally Seranna called me and said that she had left her mobile in her car so she was not the texts I was sending her. She asked me to meet her tomorrow. I am so excited for this meeting.

Good people and bad people look for jobs

The title of this post is upside down because I have noticed a few things where quality is thrown out and garbage is being collected by our people and government. First off I want to talk about my brother who is an Italian interpreter and works for a very big travel agency in India. He lives in Delhi and has been working as interpreter and escort with Italian tourists and researchers for the last two years. He doesn’t have a tour guide license but he has very good knowledge.

A lot of Italian travel agencies recommend him for their groups. He started working two years ago and his first group was of only two people. His last group consisted of sixty people. It means that he progressed rapidly. He has to hire a government-authorized tour guide in all the cities he goes to with his clients because non-licensed guys are not allowed to work. The guides that he hires are supposed to be quiet and let him work. They are hired just to protect him.

A lot of government authorized guides don’t like him anymore because he gets big groups, and those guides have to be satisfied with small groups. Last week he went to Jama Masjid in Delhi with his clients but he was stopped by the licensed tour guides at the entrance gate. They asked for his license but my brother did not have it, but he had a licensed guy with him. Government authorized guides asked this other licensed guy if he knew Italian. This other guide was a English speaking guide and did not know any Italian.

Government authorized guides told my brother that he could not go inside the Jama Masjid because neither did he have a license nor the licensed guy know Italian. Even though they are not authorized to check the license but they did it. All the guides have same license, it doesn’t not talk about any specific language. You just need to have a license and then you can work. But those government authorized guides wanted my brother to have an Italian speaking guide. I am sure this was all done to disturb him.

At the same time another group of my brother’s travel agency came at Jama Masjid and they had an Italian-speaking government guide. My brother sent his group with this Italian-speaking guide but he could not work. Same thing happened with him in Rajasthan also and again he had to find an Italian speaking government authorized tour guide. Finally he gave up and has stopped working now. He says that he will work with a few groups that had already propositioned his travel agency to send him with them and then maybe not work in the future.

He is not working this year. Now he has switched to operations. He never worked in operations but now it is his compulsion to work in this new department. He says that maybe the government guides will never let him work in the future therefore he needs to learn something new. I am not concerned about his future because he is very smart and can get a job very easily but I think about the politics in tourism industry. A guy who has very good knowledge and experience has been thrown out and the other guys who are outdated and don’t know anything are given work and support. UPSIDE DOWN.

Another story is about one of my relatives. He is a twenty-four year old guy who never wanted to go to school. He always wanted to be a criminal. He has been arrested by the police several times for several reasons. He went to school for a few years but never as a student. His father works at a Sanskrit university in Benares. He arranged 10th and 12th class certificates for his son by bribing some school in the state of Bihar. Later he arranged a graduation degree from his university. Now the son has a graduate degree without going to school ever.

His father got him admitted in a B.Ed. (Bachelor of Education) course somewhere in a university in Gujrat state. This was also done by bribing because the son never participated in any kind of admission test. The son still stays at home and is involved in the same kind of bad work that he has been doing for years but his record at the university is maintained properly. So after three years he will have a B.Ed. degree and will become a teacher. His father says that he can get a teacher’s job at some government school for his son by bribing government officers.

Last year I saw a news paper advertisement for peon job in the municipality of Benares. The requirements for this job were 8th class passed certificate and knowledge of bicycle driving because peons are supposed to visit the nearby areas and watch the illegal construction. But a lot of Masters and Ph.D degree holders had applied for this job. It shows that even Masters and Ph.D degree holders have no job here. Finally the municipality invited all the highly educated guys for the interview, and Masters and Ph.D degree holders got jobs as peon.

They said that since they were facing job problems, they decided to just start something. Now Ph.D degree holders will drive bicycles and watch the illegal construction and report it to the municipality. Their whole lives labor did not help them. I am sure they will be involved in lots of bribing because peons get very little money and usually they bear their expenses by getting bribe from the people who do illegal construction or do any kind of municipality-related work.

So a guy who never went to school will become a teacher in the future and the guys who have Pd.D degrees are working as peon in this municipality. I was wondering what my relative could teach to the students- how to loot people? or how to beat someone? And the guys who did research, did a lot of labor have the lowest job in the industry. UPSIDE DOWN.