work with OHM, The Netherlands

OHM is a TV channel from The Netherlands. They actually make radio and TV shows about Hinduism targeting the Hindus living in Netherlands. They wanted to make a documentary TV show about a young Dutch Hindu boy who was born and raised in The Netherlands in a Hindu family experiencing Hinduism in India. The character they had chosen was named Bramha and they wanted Bramha to live with a traditional Hindu family in India for a few days, experience their daily life, religion, culture and then make a presentation about it. Bramha was a 26 years old young energetic boy who did not have much interest in any religion.

To put a contrast in the story they wanted Bramha to stay with a Hindu family which is follower of Aghor. They had contacted several people across India to organize their work but none of them were able to do it. And I understand it very well because India and Indians have changed a lot after terrorist attack in Mumbai and now they do not want to take any risk by hosting any stranger. Finally they contacted me through my blog. At first I thought it would be easy but later I also felt the same issue. People did not want to host any stranger.

They wanted to film inside the Kina Ram Ashram which I knew wont be possible as I had already tried it several times but every time I got same response that they do not allow media inside the Ashram premises. They have done it because a few years ago some TV channel from India did some filming inside the Ashram and later played with the footage and story and presented Aghor and Aghoris as the people who eat human body flesh, use alcohol in the rituals and do other strange things. Anyways, I still went there but they did not allow me.

But they suggested me about a family who was devotee of Aghor. I knew the family personally but I did not know that they were devotee of Aghor. Another condition put by the TV channel was that the family needed to be a joint family and luckily this family had seven brothers living in the same house and sharing the same kitchen. It was perfect for the show but they were also not comfortable with hosting a stranger in the home. In any case this was the best option I could find. I was talking about an option of TV people meeting the family in person and asking about the option of hosting Bramha for a few days and luckily it also worked when Bramha arrived.

They permitted Bramha to stay with them. So Bramha stayed with the family for four nights and the other crew members stayed at hotel and did the filming. Other than filming with the family they also filmed some regular footage of Varanasi like the evening ceremony, sun rise, rituals, temples, river… They liked Lali Baba a lot and filmed with him also. I have no idea what was the impression of Bramha and what he will talk about the family or Hindus in India but I have a feeling that they were happy with my work and went back with a positive impression about the family they worked with.

Nirvana Travels lead character

Nirvana Travels is travel show done by NDTV Good Times TV channel in India.The show looks at the spiritual face of different cities in India. The idea behind the show is to meet people in different cities and see the city through their eyes. They contacted me regarding their upcoming show about Varanasi. Actually in this show they have one lead character and a few other regular but interesting people as well. They wanted to choose me as the lead character for this show because of my tour guiding work, research and social activism. I was kind of surprised when I heard about it first, actually I had no idea why they wanted to choose me only if there are so many other tourist guides, researchers and social activists.

Anyways, I asked them about why me only and they said that there are definitely other tourist guides in the city but no one is as popular as me online because of good references. There are other researchers but they usually study only one topic and never share it whereas I have been studying many different subjects and I write about it online. And finally they said that they did not want to work with any social worker who was a very big name, they wanted to work with new people in the industry. And overall I was doing all these things alone. I had never heard anyone talking all these things about me:)

Anyways, they came to Varanasi with the host of the show named Kaisha Hastu. She had already done other episodes of this show and some other show for NDTV Good Times. We agreed on filming and places and other details. Basically they wanted to film me in my environment, where I usually meet with my friends, the shop where I usually have my tea and such things. The first day they asked me to take them to my favorite chai shop. I was feeling kind of nervous being surrounded by cameras in my own neighborhood but it was fun.

They introduced me as a very popular tourist guide and researcher from Varanasi. At first they asked me general questions about Varanasi, its culture, people, tourism… They already knew that I was very much interested in cultural and religious diversity of Varanasi so they asked me a few questions about it also. Other than this there were questions about my personal life, research, activism… To be honest I don’t really remember how many questions they asked but they asked me questions about almost everything. Other than me they need some help with interviewing other people as well.

They were very much interested in the idea of Nirvana hence wanted to interview someone who had some real knowledge about the subject. I suggested them to meet with the manager of Kashi Labh Mukti Bhawan. Mr. Shukla, the manager, is a very knowledgeable person about the subject of Moskha or Nirvana. I had already interviewed him several times. After interviewing him they showed interest in interviewing some young artist from Varanasi, preferably a tabla player because Varanasi is very famous for its Tabla players as well. I organized this with a very famous and young tabla player from Varanasi named Prashant Mishra. Finally the show was completed with a big interview with me and four-five smaller interviews with other people. I look forward for the show on air.

work with e3 Foundation, Texas

I got to work with a non profit organization called e3 Foundation from Texas. Their project was very interesting. They were making a documentary about religion and what it means to people. It was a series of documentaries which was based in three different countries. They wanted to make one episode about Hindu religion and this episode was based only in Varanasi. I was was responsible to do research, find different people who were interested in talking about what religion and God mean to them, schedule appointment for interview and do interpretation. But they did not want just anyone, they wanted each person to be different from other so that there is diversity in the show.

It didn’t really take me much time to organize it as I already knew many interesting people. I think my interest in people helped me a lot here. There is a public call booth at Assi crossing which is owned by my friend’s uncle. I always found him different from others because whenever we were sitting next to his shop, he would usually come and stay close to us so he could hear what we were talking. Sometimes he also became part of our discussion. Only a few days before e3 contacted me, the show owner, friend’s uncle, had shown me his diary. His diary was full of poetries written by him.

These poetries were basically about his life, his religious practices, the way regular people practice religion, the world and questions about religion and God. It was really impressive. He had told me once that people who are not curious and do not question things are just like animals. Because the God has given us mind and we need to use it. His another writing which impressed was – Are we really worth getting blessings of God? I was really impressed with his writings. And when I was thinking about right people for the show, he immediately clicked in my mind.

And when I asked him if he would like to be interviewed, he was so happy and agreed on getting interviewed. I took e3 to Kashi Labh Mukti Bhawan also where we interviewed the manager about the idea of death in Hinduism. We also filmed a family who had brought their mother to die a Varanasi. We filmed evening and morning rituals as well at Mukti Bhawan. It was again very intense experience translating the manager, because he loves talking and talks too much and the atmosphere at Mukti Bhawan. Anyways, it went very well.

I introduced the director to a boat rower also who is known for his singing skills. He writes his own songs and most of them are religious. He loves singing his songs when he is rowing the boat and his voice is really beautiful. This interview was also very good and interesting. Other than this we interviewed a lady professor of Hindu religion and definitely her interview was very nice. Overall we did 10 interviews with different kind of people and did some regular touristic things like evening ceremony, morning boat, temples, rituals etc. It was nice working on this project because it was mostly about interviewing people and I got to listen a lot which is always a nice experience for me.

Another project with VPRO

VPRO hired me again for their documentary project called From Bihar to Bangalore. This documentary project was bigger than the last one I worked with them in 2011. The host of the show Mr. Jelle Brandt Corstius wanted to show how India changes from one city to other. I was responsible for organizing their work in Varanasi. Mr. Jelle spent 4 months studying Hindi and exploring India to prepare for the documentary. I met him about 3 months before the crew arrived in Varanasi. Mr. Jelle told me that the whole world knows Varanasi but they only one classical picture of Varanasi but he wanted to show something different.

We went to a few places which is shown in all of the documentaries about Varanasi. Apart from those regular places we went to Kashi Labh Mukti Bhawan where they allow only 15 days of stay for the people to die, we met with Mr. G. D. Agarwal and the king of Doam society. They wanted to interview one of the members of National River Ganga Basin Authority also. I suggested them to interview Mr. Rajendra Singh because I was very well aware of his honest activism for environment, especially Ganga but we could not schedule an appointment with him as he was going to be busy somewhere else during the filming time.

We decided to work with Mr. B. D. Tripathi, professor at BHU, instead of Mr. Rajendra Singh. Mr. Jelle was very much interested in the king of Doam society, the people who work at the cremation ghat. Arranging an appointment with him was kind of a pain because this person was seriously commercial. The only thing he cared about was money. VPRO wanted to film Shivratri festival in Varanasi and I arranged the filming at a temple called Tilbhandeshwar with consent of the temple management committee and Shivratri organizing committee.

Everything seemed very well organized. I knew what we were going to do and when. Everything went smoothly except filming at the Tilbhandeshwar temple and interview the king of Doam society. When we arrived at the temple to start filming, it was too crowded. We got in the temple and by the time we were going to go on the rooftop to film the preparation, a policeman stopped us. He said that filming inside the temple was not allowed. I told him that I had permission but this guy just did not want to hear anything.  One of the persons from the management committee also said that it was not problem for them but he still did not allow us.

VPRO understood that it was not my fault but it was crazy to see how this policeman behaved us. The king of the Doam society was also a crazy guy. He did not want to speak anything, his answers were too short and finally we decided not to work with him. We filmed a Sadhu also at the biggest Ashram in Varanasi which was very nice. The Sadhu was very cooperative and he invited us to join him at his personal Ganga ritual. VPRO just loved this footage. Everything went very well and finally we completed the filming in Varanasi and VPRO told me that it was one of the best episodes they had ever produced.

work with Richard Dawkins

Mr. Richard Dawkins in Varanasi

It was something that I had never expected but I got to work personally with Richard Dawkins. Actually BBC world and Channel 4 were making a documentary together and Mr. Dawkins was the host of this show. The name of this documentary was The meaning of Life. I got a call from the director of the show 10 days before the shooting was going to be done in Varanasi and they wanted me to organize their work. They contacted me only 10 days in advance because they had already hired some production house company in Delhi which had promised them to organize their work in Varanasi also but they finally they seemed unable to do it. So they found my blog and contacted me to manage their work in Varanasi.

Mr. Dawkins and I

They were looking for the people who have been discriminated against in the society for the reasons they are not responsible for. They had chosen two kinds of people to work with i.e. a Dalit and Hijras. They wanted a Dalit boy who was discriminated against because of his caste, had to suffer a lot but he struggled and finally he had a stable life. They wanted Hijras because Hijras society has always faced discrimination because of their sexuality and they wanted to hear their stories. They wanted me to do the research to find the right people and schedule interviews.

Mr. Dawkins and Babu

I had already done such kind of research several times and knew exactly where to go so it didn’t really take me a lot of work. I just had to make a few phone calls and everything was organized on my end. One of the guys from that Delhi production house company came to Varanasi two days before the crew was supposed to arrive to check if everything was all right and in any case they needed to show that they were working really hard. Anyways, this guy wanted to meet with the people whom I had chosen for the documentary.

Mahendra

He was a nice person just trying to prove how experienced and knowledgeable he was but I was not really impressed with him because first of all he had taken the responsibility that he could not fulfill and secondly he was just trying to impose his ideas on me and the people whom I had chosen whereas I knew very well what I was supposed to do because I was talking personally with the director of the show and I knew what I needed to do. Anyways, finally the crew arrived and I was more than super excited to see Mr. Dawkins. It was really funny that I had not even heard about Mr. Dawkins before but when I asked my western friends they were all like he was one of the most famous scientists present in the world, a celebrity, a star…

Mahendra with Mr. Dawkins

I read a wiki article about him and I also realized that I was going to meet with someone really important. I was super excited to see him but at the same time I was super nervous also. It happened for the first time in my life that I was nervous about working with a westerner. I don’t really have good experience of working under an Indian because I worked with Indians for a really little time so I am a little bit nervous whenever I have to work under an Indian boss. I do kind of good work as a boss for Indians but I am not really comfortable working under some local guy.

Mahendra with Alison, the director of the show

I have always worked with Westerners and I also very comfortable with them but it was first time in my whole professional career when I was seriously nervous. When I saw Mr. Dawkins first time I could not dare even to shake hands with him. He was very reserved and a serious person even with the crew members. The director and other crew members would plan the shot and then just ask him to act like that. Mr. Dawkins would either come on camera to interview people or sit alone and watch the surroundings. He was like a super star for sure.

The crew

Finally I made myself strong enough to go and say hello to him. Maybe it was second or third time in my lifetime when I called someone Sir. I had already planned what I was going to tell to him but was so nervous that I forgot everything and ended up saying that- Sir, I read a Wikipedia article about you a few days ago and I really impressed with your work and think that you have done really good work. I was thinking like, “Hell, how could a person like me evaluate work of such a scientist like Mr. Dawkins. hahahaha.” Mr. Dawkins response was very polite and he said, “Yes, I also think so.”

I did not know what to tell him so I just started talking about how my western friends are big fan of him and what did they tell me when I first told them I was going to work with him. Anyways, I had chosen a Dalit boy named Mahendra from a village called Mehdiganj which is situated around 20 Kms from the Varanasi city. Mahendra works with an NGO called Lok Samiti as a teacher and is expert on RTI. Everything was set to start the filming and they needed a translator. They asked the Delhi guy to translate the interview and he immediately surrendered, I am 100% sure that he did it only because he was also too nervous.

He grew up in Delhi, went to an English medium school where they speak English as their first language and his Indian English was way better than mine but still he did not want to translate. He wanted me to translate for Mr. Dawkins. Again it was first time in my life when I said that I did not want to translate because I was also so nervous. The crew was stuck in between me and the guy from Delhi. He was smoking like a chimney and my heart was making sound like an Indian train. The crew requested me to translate and finally I had to agree.

I did not know what was going to happen but I started. I was listening to every word very carefully and tried my best to translate and finally everything was good. The interview was really nice and I was appreciated for my research of finding a right person for the interview and translation work. I was really happy and kind of proud. This happiness and proud feeling gave me enough strength to ask Mr. Dawkins to have a picture together with him but fortunately Mr. Dawkins came to me asked to have a picture of Varanasi crew with him. I was so happy to have a picture with Mr. Dawkins.

The second interview was with a group of Hijras. We arrived there the next day. Everything was all set and we completed the interview. We had organized a dance performance of Hijras because this is what they do when they go for work- perform certain kind of traditional dance, sing traditional songs and bless the baby. Hijras have this really strange reputation that they go naughty with their clients, tickle them, sometimes jump over their clients and maybe even go nude in front of just anyone. During this performance Mr. Dawkins was sitting on a chair, watching the performance and everything was being filmed.

Hijras asked me if they wanted me to play with Mr. Dawkins (playing means tickle him, kiss him or maybe ask him to dance with themselves) and I asked the director about it and she said that it doesn’t sound bad. I indicated the Hijras to go for it and two of them went to Mr. Dawkins and started doing all the naughty things. I could easily see the angry face of Mr. Dawkins, he was face was just red. As soon as the first performance was over, he asked the crew to send him to the taxi. I was a little bit concerned about him being angry but the crew said that it was fine. In the second performance the whole crew danced with the Hijras and had fun.

Finally the work was over in Varanasi where I spent hours watching and listening to a person like Mr. Dawkins who is very controversial for ideas of being atheist, anti-religion and having no existence of Gods and Goddesses. I have grown up in a country which is birth place of three major religions of the world. I have grown up as a Hindu and Hindus believe that there are 33 million Gods and Goddesses. I grew up in a city which is known as cultural and religious hub of Hinduism so I grew up hearing about religion, Gods and Goddesses and have seen religion being a serious part of one’s life.

I always believe that religion is like a government, a serious belief, a Windows operating system for the computer and if it is corrupt then we need to change it or replace it with the virus-free version. I believe in Vedas which gives the real idea about Hinduism and I like to be a Hindu. The best thing I like about Hinduism is the openness, flexibility and respect for everyone and this is how I like to be (note- these ideas exist in real Hinduism, not the present one that we practice nowadays) but Mr. Dawkins was really extremist about his ideas. I really respect his ideas of Gene-centered view of evolution, concept of the meme,  advocacy of atheism and science but I really wondered blaming a religion only by looking at wrong parts of it is good?

His questions with the Dalit boy was like- Do you think that you were discriminated in the society? Do you think that you were discriminated because of your caste? Do you think that this idea of castism comes from Hindu religion and finally do you admit that religion is bad? Only by asking these four questions within five minutes how come someone can declare a religion bad? I wondered why he did not ask about how the idea of castism changed over time? I wonder even if Mr. Dawkins was aware of it. Maybe he was just told that there is huge discrimination against people based on their caste and and made a few questions for them.

I believe that the world is about change, things have changed, things are changing and they will keep changing in the future as well. I won’t go against Mr. Dawkins if he start a new religion which has his own ideas but saying really extremely that faith of over 95% people of the world is bad is not something I really respect. I respect Mr. Dawkins, his ideas and he is still like a super hero for me but I would have respected him more if he was more like looking for the reason of change in the Hindu society and then say that look these are reasons behind discrimination against this Dalit boy and if this is what happens then why not become an athiest.

There is no way for me to question Mr. Dawkins and his style of working but I personally believe that he should become a little bit open for other ideas also which has been making the society for endless times. Anyways, it was just an awesome experience to work with a super star Mr. Dawkins who has brought change in the world in positive way and I really wish if I could work with him again.

work with VPRO

I worked with VPRO which is a broadcasting corporation from the Netherlands. They were making a travel show for children between eight to fourteen years of age group and my responsibility was to arrange everything for them including hotel, transportation, local assistants and choosing the right characters for the show. They just gave me an idea about the characters they were looking for and my responsibility was to do research, find the right characters and schedule appointments for interviews.  An employee of VPRO named Barbara Smith visited me a month before they wanted to start the filming. Since this show was a children show, they were looking for special children from Varanasi.

I asked them why they wanted to work in Varanasi only and they said they were really impressed by the cultural diversity of Varanasi and they could easily film the whole India only in Varanasi itself which was true. I also love the cultural diversity of Varanasi. Finding the characters they were looking for was a kind of challenge. At first I thought it would be easy but when I went talking with the kids and their families they all seemed suspicious about the work and because of this it was not easy at all to find the characters.

The characters of the show were really interesting. They were looking for a kid who practices Malkhamb, a bollywood kind of girl who comes from a rich family and has a dream to become either an actress or a model, a smart girl who comes from a poor family and was going to an NGO by some NGO’s support and a young couple. These four were the most demanded characters for the show and apart from it I was also responsible to find some other interesting characters. Once we were walking on the ghats and I saw a young snake charmer. I asked them if they would like to film him and they immediately agreed to work with him so a young snake charmer also became part of the show.

They already knew about an NGO called Saraswati Education Center which was basically a yoga school and an NGO running education program for poor kids. Barabara asked me to take her there so that she could arrange an appointment for filming when the crew arrives. I had not heard of this place before but when I reached I was surprised to see their work and meet with the owner named Sumit. He seemed like a nice guy and the NGO also seemed okay. We talked with Sumit and agreed to work with his school. But Barbara was not sure about them hence she did a random visit of the NGO and everything appeared to be fake. Sumit was saying that so many kids come to the school and they provide good education to the kids but in reality when Barbara arrived there she saw hardly 4-5 kids who were playing with a few hippies in the classroom.

Barabara said that nothing looked honest to her hence we decided to cancel the work with Saraswati Education Center. I had already introduced Dora and Attila to Barabara and she knew that they were also running an education program in Varanasi. She asked me if I could find a child from Chance India’s program which was not hard at all as I was also working with the same program and I knew all of the kids. We chose a girl and Barabara immediately decided to work with her. The biggest challenge was to find a Bollywood dancer girl because no family wanted their girl to appear dancing on a foreign TV show but fortunately I found a really nice girl in Varanasi whose parents were very nice and they allowed me to work with their daughter.

The film crew arrived after a month of Barabara did the research and we started filming the show. At the last moment they decided that they did not want to work with Malkhamb boy as it was not a very traditional practice. They asked me to find a kid who goes to Akhada, There was an Akhada nearby Assi so it was no problem to arrange filming there. I gave them a few walking tours of Varanasi and introduced them to a few cool characters of Varanasi. They filmed Varanasi city, cows, cow-dung on the street, Sadhus… We worked together for five days and completed the project successfully. The crew seemed happy and said that they came to Varanasi to produce one show but they had got enough material to produce two TV shows which was a compliment for me and I was so happy with it.

After completing the show we had a party at the Radission hotel in Varanasi. It was the evening before the crew was going to leave India and they got a call that the producer of a commercial, which they had filmed in Rajasthan on their own, did not like the work hence they needed to film it again. They asked me to arrange filming to a girl from rural area urgently. Fortunately I was able to arrange it for them on the way to the airport next morning. Everything was done happily and show would be on TV in February 2012 and I am so excited to watch it.

Crew members and I at the party after finishing the project

Winning a television

I was watching news on India TV news channel today and it made remember of my best video of the day prize I had won on India TV three years ago. Actually once I and Lane went to see the untreated sewage discharge in Nagwa, Varanasi and Lane had a digital camera and used his camera and captured the video of the untreated sewage mixing in Ganga. Later I sent this video to India TV news channel and selected my video as best video of the day and I won a prize a color TV. I was so excited to have won this prize and actually I did not have a TV at that time and no money to buy it so the prize was really nice.

I contacted India TV and they asked me to send them a bank draft of Rs. 2300 which was supposed to be a tax which is given on lottery winning amount. I was so happy for the prize and I decided to give them Rs. 2300 as tax. I sent the money and then sent me a letter saying that I had won a TV and I could get it at the nearest Sansui TV store. Actually this latter was written on Sansui’s letterhead because Sansui was the sponsor of the program. They had mentioned their Varanasi office address on the letterhead and I went to the address mentioned.

When I arrived at the address, I came to know that the office was closed an year ago. I immediately contacted India TV again and they asked me to contact Sansui Mumbai office. I contacted Sansui Mumbai office and they asked me to contact their Lucknow office. I contacted Lucknow office and they asked me to contact them after a week. I contacted them again after a week and they told me that no Sansui dealer in Varanasi had the TV model I had won so I would have to wait again. I again contacted them after a week but same story.

I contacted India TV to make a complaint and they told me that their responsibility was only to collect money from me and send it to Sansui, that’s all, now it was Sansui’s responsibility to give me the TV. I was shocked to hear their answer. I told them that I would go to police if they don’t help me and they said I was free to do so. I was continously in touch with Sansui Mumbai office, Lucknow office, Varanasi dealers, India TV and nobody was helping me. The letter they had given me was only valid for three months and now I was going to pass this six months and I was really worried about it.

I called to the Sansui’s Lucknow and Mumbai office and told them that I was going to police and they also said it was up to me. Their Lucknow office would tell me again and again to contact them later and I just did not know what to do. Lucknow office was telling me that they were running in shortage of TVs because of the festival season. Finally I decided to go to the police to register my complaint so that I could have a written evidence of me contacting Sansui and India TV before expiration of the document. I went to my nearest police station and asked them to register my complaint.

But their response was more shocking than India TV and Sansui. The policemen told me that they did not know under which act they would register the complaint. I told them that my complaint should go under act for cheating but said they were not aware of such act. They asked me to contact the bigger police station. As I was about to leave the police station, one of the policemen sitting there called me and asked if I knew someone at the bigger police station and I said no. And then he told me that if I did not know anyone at the bigger police station, then my complaint would not be registered.

I was shocked to hear this. I finally gave up on this idea of registering a complaint and contacted Sansui’s Lucknow office again and I was pretending to be so polite with them this time. Finally after spending over six months I got my prize but I had to go to Lucknow to get it. I took an overnight train to Lucknow, got my prize there and brought it back by a bus. I am sure that I had spent more than Rs. 1500 on telephone calls and trip to Lucknow. I was not that excited for a color TV but I was more excited for a prize I had won but I had to go through some serious trouble to get it.

I have made several videos after this incident and I would have loved to send it to India TV but I just don’t want to do anymore because their approach after taking money from me was just as crazy as it could be. I just could not believe what India TV, Sansui and police did with me.

Comparing Countries Compassion

Laxmi and Seranna

Laxmi (a transgender) and Seranna

Seranna started her documentary calledComparingCountries CompassioninKolkata which is about sex work and sex workers in India. It is Seranna’s project which she will be doing in different countries but she wanted to start it from India. She has chosen me to help her organizing interviews and she wants to interview me also regarding my work with Sanjeevani Booti. She has hired camera crew from Delhi who don’t seem professional, especially the cameraman. He is crazy. He always fights with other crew members. Actually they all fight with each other in front of interviewee. Sometimes they start asking questions to the interviewee. Seranna was also upset sometimes but we did nothave any hope. This production company is big and is run by a award winning person for his direction but unfortunately he was not with us.

This documentary is about comparing laws in different countries regarding sex workers. I really liked this project and she has given me a very challenging job of giving ideas of direction and doing translation. I translated few interviews of sex workers. We interviewed a few sex workers, social activists, professors of university of Kolkata, transgender people, children of sex workers… it was awesome. We did a condom usage demonstration also and trained sex workers about how to keep themselves safe and how to make more money from their clients. This documentary will be a huge success for sure. I feel fortunate to be part of it.

Second day with Seranna

I met Seranna today at her hotel and talked her about two hours. We talked about how the shooting went last day. She said that they were supposed to shoot the sex workers at G.B. Road but could not because the sex workers and brothel owner did not allow her. She just talked them, actually she did not understand much about what they were talking about because the shooting crew was not good with the translation work. They talked to the sex workers but most of the time they did not transalte. She saidit was okay and she was happy withwhat she was getting.

Seranna said that the brothel owner charged her Rs. 20,000 ($450) just to get them in and organize aten minutes dance show by sex workers.They did not let her shoot this dance part or anything inside the brothels.She was still happy withwhatever happened.I am sure she is very cool and happygirl:). Isee this as a mistake of crew members. When I had worked forCBC and MTV Italy, we did a research first so this way everything was very well organized.But with this documentary nothing isorganized. I did not like it at all.

Seranna said that after spending few minutes at brothel,the Police came asking forbribe to Seranna. I don’t knowwhat reason they wanted bribe for, or maybe becauseSeranna did not have a legal permission to make a documentarywhich isgoing to be commercialized.I am sure crew members did not tell her about it either.The cameraman is very famous guy but I don’t know how these people can make this big mistakes. Seranna said that everything went well with her and she was so happy with the progress.

I had asked Seranna to bring some sex toys and she has brought a lot of didlo andfake pussy. Few of them will be give tome to use formy NGO. I had never seenit in front so I was exited to see them. She showed me by wearing this fake pussy. It was so funny. She said that she uses thosetoys to educate people about safe sex practices. I believe that these kind of things get attention and then you can make people hear whatyou want them to.I liked the toys a lot.

Seranna said that the crew members do not want me to come to the shooting for whatever reasons but Seranna wanted me to go the shooting today but I said no. Seranna is going to interview two high class sex workers,a politician and going to a conference organized by Delhi university about sex work in India. We will fly to Kolkata tomorrow to attend the conference. I am excited for it.

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.