Mumbai and its sexual minorities

Apr 20, 2012, 07:26 IST | Malavika Sangghvi

We judge a city � any city � by the manner in which it treats its most vulnerable citizens. A city can only be great if the needs of its minorities are respected

>> We judge a city — any city — by the manner in which it treats its most vulnerable citizens. A city can only be great if the needs of its minorities are respected. Which is why we were particularly delighted when we came across a website that is devoted to the sexual issues of the differently-abled.

Launched this week by ‘Point of View’ a Mumbai-based NGO and CREA, based in Delhi and New York, the site starts with the premise that says “women who are disabled are sexual beings - just like any other woman.” Also “the site has been constructed as a bunch of questions a woman with a disability might have - about her body, about the mechanics and dynamics of having sex, about the complexities of being in an intimate relationship etc.”

From our own sources we learn that the site has already made a difference in the lives of men and women who cope so bravely with a double whammy: the loss of their physical abilities and the ignominy of losing their sexual identities.

Similarly on the issue of Mumbai’s gay populace we asked senior journalist and activist Ashok Row Kavi, newly returned from his 5-year stint with UNAIDS in Delhi, to give us his views.

To our questions - how does the city treat its sexual minorities? He said, “Much better than before but that’s because we’re now part of the social landscape and the city can’t get away ‘invisibilising’ us anymore.”

But clearly there’s a lot left to be desired. “We need to change the attitudes of the mental health professionals who still think they can ‘cure’ us besides stopping the workplace harassment that LGBT go through every day,” said Ashok.

Clearly a long way to go, which is why the web site for differently-abled people comes as such a welcome move.

Abu -Sandeep go prêt!
>> The dazzling duo of fashion designers Abu-Sandeep, outfitters to Bollywood aristocracy, (read the Bachchans and Dimple Khanna) and Hollywood A listers like Dame Judi Dench, having completed a successful run of a quarter century in haute couture have now embarked on a stunning new career path: their Pret-a-Porter (Ready-to-wear) line of clothes.

Launched this month and to be sold at their flagship stores in Mumbai at Kemps Corner, and at Delhi's Emporio, the new label appears to be for their couture clientele desirous of casual and fun wear occasionally.

Known for championing and resurrecting forgotten craft forms and for their innovations like churi sleeves and double saris, the ever ebullient Sandeep (the talkative one amongst the two) had a string of names to give us when we asked him which Bollywood women their pret line would look good on: “ Sonali, Suzzane, Twinkle, Priyanka…” he rattled off; but then got uncharacteristically coy when asked if the two had got around to designing anything for young Aradhaya Bachchan yet.

“When the time comes and she grows up, we will,” was his cryptic response.

Police Commissioner speaks
>> What’s with the Bollywood-Underworld nexus these days?
No sooner had news that Vijay Palande, alias Kiran Rana, alias Karan Sood, the key suspect in the Arun Tikku and Karan Kakkad killings, whose modus operandi of luring victims with the alleged help of a model had ricocheted through the city, the beheaded body of a small-time model and Bollywood starlet, Meenakshi Thapa allegedly killed earlier last month by two junior artistes she befriended on the sets of Madhur Bhandarkar’s Heroine was found in a sewage tank in Allahabad!

Already, the media is reporting of Housing Societies being reluctant of renting to film and entertainment people.

But Police Commissioner Arup Patnaik is wary of jumping to conclusions. “These are one-off cases. It will be premature to generalise.” He told us when asked if the Bollywood - Underworld nexus had resurfaced.

But clearly we’ve not heard the last in the Palande case. “It’s throwing up quite a number of unanswered doubts which will take time to unravel,” said Patnaik “Our teams are on the job.”

The Lion In Winter
>> Art aficionados are looking forward to senior and eminent artist Badri Narayan’s solo exhibition on from today at the Viewing Room in Colaba.

Hailing from Secunderabad, Andhra Pradesh, Narayan has had over 50 solo exhibitions since 1954 and has won much acclaim and many awards including the Padma Shri in 1987.

Speaking about Badri’s work, Indian poet and art critic Ranjit Hoskote says “Badri is a poet of time, solitude and the textures of human relationships. He handles his medium as subtly as he treats his subject: through his play of tonalities, of shadow and richness, we are drawn into a changing sequence of moods and occasions.”

Speaking to us about his return, Badri says, “This is a special exhibition for me as I have spent most of life in Bombay although I am based in Bangalore now and I have lots of friends, admirers and well wishers who are looking forward to seeing my works after a gap of 6 years.”

On display will be his rare 1971 canvas work titled ‘The Family’, amongst other newer works.

Separated at the Kumbh Mela

Reader Neeraj Maheshwari who had earlier pointed out the similarity between Putin and Hussain has now sent in these pix of actor Vivek Mashru (of the TV series CID) and English comedian and actor Rowan Atkinson (Mr Bean).
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