Kathmandu Gay Pride 2010

BDS office

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

rainbow flag at the parade

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

loved their dress

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

Red is new Black

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


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

great idea

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

promoting tourism

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

Suman ji in the office

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

rain disturbed a bit

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

British ambassador in the parade

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

Mr. Pant on an elephant

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

chariot in the parade

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

Kolkata Gay Pride 2010

Begining of the parade

Beginning of the parade

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

Mr. Chakrobarty

Mr. Chakrobarty

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

the most important message

The most important message

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



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

Brave girl

Brave girl

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

Mr. Ranjeet Sinha

Mr. Ranjeet Sinha

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

Cultural dance performance

Cultural dance performance

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

He had a lot of fun

He had a lot of fun

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

Good message

Good message

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

Equal rights, yea!

Equal rights, yea!

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

Good slogan

Good slogan

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

Our rights, human rights

Our rights, human rights

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

She was very active

She was very active

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



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

Very colorful event

Very colorful event

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

Please click here to see more pictures:

Coca-Cola Varanasi

I worked with a journalist named Bart Spellers from Holland who was writing an article about the Coke issue in India. He wanted to visit all the disputed Coke sites in India including Mehdiganj, Varanasi and I worked with him in Varanasi as his local assistant and translator. I also look for an opportunity of visiting Mehdiganj and talking with people about their problems created by Coke so I was happy to get this job. I took Bart to Mehdiganj, arranged interviews with Nandlal Master, a few employees, the union leader at the Coke plant, a few women and a few farmers. Bart did not want so many interviews but he wanted to talk with the right kind of people because he did not have much time for Benares.

I was kind of surprised to hear that he did not have much time for his work. He was writing the article on a very controversial subject and I think he should have spent more time in Benares in order to come closer to the fact. Anyways, I think they did good job because they talked with few but the right kind of people. I had an idea but was surprised to talk with the people in Mehndiganj. I was very well aware of the situation but thought it might get better this year but after talking with the people I realized that the situation is still the same as it was four years ago when I went there the first time to work.

All of the people were still angry at Coke and the government. They all said that Coke is responsible for the lack of water in Mehdiganj and the government is doing nothing against Coke. They said that the situation has been getting worse and worse year by year which did not surprise me at all. We had less than average rain last year and I heard that Coke’s market increased within the past year in India which would of course cause more ground water shortage. Nandlal Master said that the committee constituted by the prime minister of India to study the issue has submitted its report to the PMO but has not made it public yet which sounded strange to me.

Why not make the report public since the study has been completed? Nandlal said that he has used a RTI to ask when the report will be given to him and the concerned department replied to him that they have asked the district magistrate to get him the report. It is okay if they are going to provide the report but I still do not understand why they tried to hide it? Why was it not given to the media? After all it is a big issue . So many questions again and the government and Coke both seem suspicious to me. Hopefully someday something will happen, but it is not sure when.

Finally the article is published here:

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.



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.


I think it has become our compulsion to use the word “Pending” again and again. Maybe we use this word most in the whole world. We have most number of legal cases pending before courts in the whole world. People file a case and spend their lives but never get any result. Now people feel better settling the case on their own. I never want to go either to the police or to the court for any reason.

If I go to the police then I have to bribe them and if I go to court then I have to bribe and wait both until the judgement is given. And sometimes judges are also bribed and their judgement is not judgement. Once I filed a case against a computer shop from where I had bought a computer about eight years ago. I filed this case because he had given me wrong price. The same computer I had bought from him was worth Rs. 23,000 but he wanted to charge me 43,000.

I told him to either give my money back or take the computer back. He took the computer back and gave me two post dated bank cheques. When I went to the bank to get my money from his account, the bank clerk said that there was no money in his account. I informed the computer seller about it and he told me to go to the bank again after few days. I did it several times but never got any money.

Finally I decided to go to the court for it and filed a case. It took more than seven years and a lot of my personal time and lawyer’s fee and finally judgement was given in computer’s seller guy. I had made the computer guy write on stamp paper that he took my computer and had given post dated cheques, I had receipt of the computer, I had everything to prove that I was cheated but still judge gave judgement in favor of computer guy because he was bribed. So it took eight years and no judgement.

I had applied for a tour guide license two years ago but have not got it yet. The whole process is stuck in the several courts of India. First of all it took almost one year for government to see the paper and organize exam and then later old guys sued government because they don’t want new blood to come in this sector. Even though I have qualified the exam but Government has been giving temporary license which nobody likes at all, we need training and a permanent license. I don’t know when I will have the training and permanent license, but doesn’t seem like I will get it within next one year.

I applied for one other tour guide license which is issued by state government about two and a half years ago and same thing with this program as well. Government was sued by old guides and the case is still pending in the court. To be honest I had forgotten about it and I believe it must be same with everyone. We had to pay Rs. 500 with application which doesn’t seem to come back to us again. Maybe this exam will never ever be organized because we have not heard of any hearing of this case.

I applied for a registration for paying guest house before one and a half year but have not got it yet. They call me after ever fifteen-twenty days and tell the same thing that they are doing survey and will start issuing the license soon. Once they told me to apply again because they had lost my papers. It was not expensive to apply, but it again took at least few hours. I have been hosting guests at my place without having license. I just inform to the local intelligence unit but I will feel better if I have a license.

Will No Smoking work in India?

It sounded like a joke when the Indian government prohibited smoking in public places. They introduced this law on the 2nd of October, the birthday of Gandhi. I was always suspicious whether people would follow this rule. In the very first week after the law was implemented, media people took pictures of people smoking at public places and showed it to the DM (district magistrate) and asked if this rule was made for Benares or not. DM said that they hadn’t got the written copy of rules yet, and that is why they did not know in what case they should stop people.

I was in Delhi few days ago. I went to the Delhi High Court for some work. I was surprised to see that a lot of advocates and the police were smoking inside the high court premises. First of all I thought that I had come to the wrong place because I just could not imagine that law makers would go against the laws that openly. There was a canteen inside the court premises where people could smoke, I am not sure about it, but a lot of people smoking outside of the canteen and most them were advocates.

I came out of the court after finishing my work. There was a tea shop about 50 meters away from the high court. I went there and asked for a tea and a cigarette. The shopkeeper did not have cigarette. I asked him where was the nearest cigarette shop and he said – inside the high court. I asked why he was not selling cigarettes and he replied that it was not allowed to sell tobacco products near the high court area. Then I told him that I had seen a lot of people smoking inside the high court. He also did not know why it was allowed to sell tobacco products inside the court but not outside.

I often see people smoking at public places including inside the trains and buses which has been prohibited for years. All the restaurants that are for foreigners allow their customers to smoke. People talked about this law for the first few days after it was implemented but I am sure nobody ever followed it, and nobody will ever follow it. Just nobody just cares about it. Everybody makes fun of this law. They know that it will never work in India.

Indian government made the law to stop the smoke that comes from cigarettes but the same government took the law called ‘POTA’ (The Prevention of Terrorism Act) back, which was implemented by the last government of BJP, to stop the smoke of gunpowder (terrorism). Terrorism still existed even when this law was in, but it was not too much. Terrorism was very much under control. The number of terrorist activities have increased rapidly after the government took out this law.

The whole world is making new laws to stop terrorism but I think India is the only country which is taking the existing laws back. This law was taken back only because of political reasons. We had sixty-four bomb blasts within the last six months. I don’t know how many people died but we had never seen this many bomb blasts.

Meeting advocate for tour guide lawsuit

I went to Delhi on the 9th to be part of the case that is going to be filed against the Ministry of Tourism for the Government of India for not the starting tour guide training program in 2008. This training was supposed to start from the 6th of October but could not because the Guide Association of Jaipur sued the government for organizing training in different way than their training. I had a lot of work to do in Delhi but I could not do anything except meeting the advocate because the train was delayed for three hours and the advocate was busy with someone else.

I was supposed to arrive in Delhi at 9 o’clock but I reached there around 12 o’clock. I had planned to get my laptop and camera checked at some store in Delhi, and get some photos of the hills of plastic around Delhi city but I could not do anything because of the delay of the train. I went to meet the advocate at the High court of Delhi. He was already busy with some very important person. I had to wait in his office for more than two hours. The advocate said that he was talking to the DCP (Deputy Commissioner of Police).

The advocate said that there was some case against the DCP related to extra income beyond normal salary. I heard them talking that CBI (Central Bureau of Invistigation) was also involved in this case which means this DCP was too corrupt. A DCP gets around twenty thousand as salary, but all the DCP rank officers have very fancy cars, bungalow and a lot of other luxury items. How do we hope for a good system if the system makers are not systematic? If a DCP is corrupt then everyone working under him must also be corrupt because the bribe never goes directly to the upper officers, it always passes through the lower management people.

After waiting for two hours I finally met the advocate. I was surprised to see that a young, only 30-35 years old, High-court advocate knew nothing about computers. He was not even able to type properly. He took at least ten-fifteen minutes to type my name and address. He told me to type on his computer but I did not do it because I had enough time and because I wanted to see a High court advocate struggling with a computer. He printed the wrong paper three times. He would write my name but print someone else’s paper.

After spending one hour watching the advocate struggling with the computer my work was finally done. He told me to call him on the 22nd of this month to see the judgment of the court. He charged me Rs. 3000 as his fee. He had charged Rs. 2000 last time for the same kind of case so I don’t know why he charged me Rs. 1000 extra. It is worth giving three thousand if he can get me the permit. He said that this time he will appeal the court to order the Ministry of Tourism to provide a license which would be valid until they start the training program.

Last time permit was only valid for one month and I had to go to Delhi again and again to get it renewed. I hope this time they don’t do this. I walked all the way from High court to Cannaught place and took some time there just watching the modern people of modern India. I think now the time has come for the government to introduce some health-related subjects to all the students. I saw a lot of, lot of young fat people. I am sure it is neither from meat nor from ghee (butter). It is all impact of western culture.

People in modern cities of India like to have lots of fast food and soft drinks which is the prime cause of obesity. The percentage of literate persons is higher in big cities than small cities, but health of the people is still better in the old cities like Varanasi. I see a lot of people driving Mers and other luxury cars or the people who look very educated opening the window of their car and throwing rubbish on the road. I think we need a huge change in our education system.

I had planned to take some pics of dumped plastic near the railway track but could not do it because it was already so misty, and anyway I had already taken few photos morning time. I think I have to take pics in Varanasi. It was not very successful trip but neither do I regret I went to Delhi. At least I will get the license.

Another case against tour guide training

Now it seems like it will take another year to complete the guide training program. The guide association of Jaipur has sued the government again. They want the government to organize training exactly as it had been done with them. Their training consisted of classes for three and a half months and a orientation tour for fifteen days. This time the training is like forty-five days of classes, fifteen days of orientation tour and two months of research. I think this time training is better than the last one.

The guide association of Jaipur says that some candidates of this year program have submitted fake documents. They are asking the government to get each and every document checked through related office. I am sure they just want the training to be delayed as much as it could be. They don’t want new guides to work during the Commonwealth games 2010. About ten million tourists are supposed to come to India to watch the Commonwealth games and they don’t want anyone else to take benefit of it.

Since our training is postponed, the candidates of this year’s program are going to sue the government again for not starting training. I got a call from the advocate who is going to sue the government. He says that the government will issue temporary licenses to all the candidates who are supposed to get training this year. I will also go to Delhi to get the temporary license. I don’t know how long will it take to get the permanent license, but it is overwhelming now going to Delhi again and again and paying advocate’s fee.

A kiss could be really dangerous sometimes

Richard kissing Shilpa

Richard Gere kissed Shilpa Shetty in public and had to go to court. It happened during an AIDS awareness program where Shilpa Shetty, a Bollywood actress, was the hostess. Richard Gere has been working with lots of NGOs in India that educates people about AIDS. He came on the stage and started kissing Shilpa on her cheeks. At first everybody started screaming, clapping because they enjoyed for sure seeing a Bollywood actress get kissed. Since kissing is a very private activity, and is always hidden, it was a fun time for people.

But later some some Hindu organization sued Richard for doing sexual activity in public, and he had to go to the court several times. I am not sure what happened to this case, but one thing is for sure that neither Richard nor Shilpa would like going to court several times. The same kind of thing happened with� Rakhi Sawant (a Bollywood actress) and Mika (a singer). It was Mika’s birthday party and Rakhi was also there. First of all Rakhi kissed Mika on his cheeks, and then Mika kissed Rakhi’s lips.

Mika kissing Rakhi

After this kiss, Rakhi went to the police and lodged a case against Mika for kissing her forcibly. Mika said that she started first so he also kissed her. She kissed Mika on his cheeks and Mika kissed on her lips, that’s all. But Rakhi did not agree to hear anything. She was crying in front of media people, and was saying that Mika forcebly kissed her. She said that she was an Indian girl. She can get kissed on cheeks but not on the lips. It was one of the funniest things I had ever heard.� All this drama was just to get publicity. Later they compromised and case was taken back by Rakhi.

I met my friend Sharad yesterday who works at DHL, New Delhi. He books the parcels. He said that few days ago a foreign couple came and booked a 1.5 kilo parcel. As they entered in the office, they started kissing each other. Then they went to my friend and gave him the parcel. After giving the parcel, they were kissing until the booking process was done. Later they got a call from another office saying that they had found a packet of heroin booked by a foreign couple.

This call was to alert all other offices to not accept any package from such a couple. It made my friend remember about the couple who had booked a package. They checked the packet and found that it was also a heroin packet. This couple had booked the same kind of packet at two different offices. They did the same thing at all the offices- gave the packet and started kissing. Other offices had also accepted the parcel, but it was caught during the screening process.

I am sure foreigners know that we don’t kiss in public, but this couple was still doing it just because they knew that Indians would not be able to concentrate if someone was kissing in front of them. There are lots of stories in our religious books when demons sent girls to disturb saints and stop them from meditating. In some cases girls were able to do what they wanted to. Now it seems like we have to learn how to fight against this new Western weapon.

Guide Association forbids new guides

Now there is a problem again with the tour guide training program, which was supposed to start on October 6th. Now the Guide Association of Jaipur has sued the government for organizing the tour guide training program for only 45 days. They say that the government should again organize this program for four months, as they did with the old guides. Even though this year’s training program will also last for four months, it will not be exactly as it was the last time.

Last time there were only classes for the whole four months, and this time there will be classes for 45 days, orientation tour for 15 days, and students will have to submit their assignment report. This is the only difference between the last training program and the current one, but old guides are not happy with it. They want government to organize the program in same way, which means classes for continuous four months. Now the court has ordered government to stop the training program till further order.

I think the current program is far better than the old one but… I know that old guides are afraid of young blood in the industry, and that is why they want to get this program delayed as much as they can. Even though India has a lack of professional tour guides, and the commonwealth games are in 2010, these guides don’t want new people to come. I have seen guides sleeping in front of their clients, or chewing Paan (betel nut) and keeping their mouthes shut, and letting a escort talk to the clients.

I am sure that they are afraid that if new people come into the industry, they will be done. But these things will not stay for long time because the present training program was only preparation for the commonwealth games. So government has not a lot of time and I hope that they will do something soon. And after everything is settled, either old guides will have to improve their working skills otherwise they will be kicked out of the industry for sure.