Friday, October 30, 2015

The journey thus far - Shazlie speaks

Shazlie Khan

Shazlie is an Economics Graduate from the University of Delhi. She spends an inordinate amount of time contemplating converging world problems. When she's not busy playing an angst ridden non-teenager, she can be found engrossed in books and TV shows or chasing around dogs.

Shazlie is among the 20 fellows selected for the Pratiti journey in Delhi.
Read what she has to say about her experiences so far:

"Weary of my complaints about a perpetual feeling of what the Germans call ‘Weltschmerz’, a friend texted me one day and suggested I apply for Pratiti. The registration form turned out to be an outlet for my long contained anger towards gender disparity and I typed away fervently.

In the beginning, the prospect of self-disclosure under the scrutiny of twenty three pairs of eyes made me uneasy but I soon found Pratiti to be a place devoid of judgement and criticism, allowing free transaction of feelings. It has since then enabled me to examine critically the internal factors that inhibit me, to get in touch with my core values and needs, and encouraged me to find the strength to be my authentic self. It has helped me summon the courage to verbalise traumatic experiences and resolve suppressed emotions associated with them. But most importantly Pratiti has reaffirmed my belief that seeking emancipation from shackles of moral and social construct does not make me a rebel, and that my demand for equal treatment is fair. 

I had come there hoping to suddenly construct a gender equal world (a rather starry eyed vision, I now believe). Instead, Pratiti made me realise that external change must start with inner regeneration. Fernando Pessoa once said “A sensitive and honest-minded man, if he’s concerned about evil and injustice in the world, will naturally begin his campaign against them by eliminating them at their nearest source; his own person. This task will take his entire life.” This is sort of what Pratiti has been about to me. 

Keeping in mind our hope to build a city that is for everyone, my team’s project investigates the role of Gender in Public Spaces through a video tool created by filming a multitude of local perspectives from diverse genders. By mapping personal and political experiences it strives for cross gender communication and sensitisation. As the journey's end draws near I am filled with both excitement towards seeing the culmination of our projects and a dread of seeing the end of something beautiful..."

Follow the Pratiti blog for more beautiful updates from the fellows as they narrate their journeys of growth and transformation into gender leaders...

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

The journey thus far - Rakesh speaks

Rakesh Bhatt

Singer-Dancer-Puppeteer-Leader, Rakesh lives in the Kathputli Artisans' Colony, Shadipur. He wishes to learn and understand as much as he can about gender, sexuality and violence with the intention of using this knowledge to to improve the lives of people in his community. 

"I am Rakesh. I live in New Delhi but I belong to Rajasthan. I'm an artist. I've been abroad three times to perform dance. I like traveling because it gives me the chance to meet new people and get experience."

Rakesh is among the 20 fellows selected for the Pratiti journey in Delhi.
Read what he has to say about his experiences so far:

"Pratiti ka safar mere liye ab tak ka bohot hi behtreen safar raha. Jab humari pehli workshop thi USO House mein woh atmosphere mere liye bilkul naya tha. Us din mein bohot nervous tha. Hum 20 log chune gaye the jinme se sabhi logo se meri jaan pehchaan nahi hui the. Lekin phir humari 2 din ki Residential workshop aise me sabhi logo ache se jaanne ka maukamila. Sabhi ki zindagiyon se alag-alag awaaze sunne ko mili. Mene bhi apni kahani share ki or bohot hi dilchasp raha. 

Mera pratiti se judne ka main ek reason yeh thi ki mein yaha se kuch seekh kar jaun or apne doston or families me share karu. Is safar ne mujhe apne aap ko aur gehrai se samajhne ka mauka diya. Pratiti facilitators Aditya, Arushi and Sukhmani they all are very nice people. Inhone hume bohot achche se facilitate kiya. Mujhe zyada English samajh nahi aati. Jab bhi koi team member English me baat karta toh facilitators hume bohot hi ache se hindi me translate late karte hai. Mujhe bohot acha lgta hai. 

And yes, one of my favourite session was with Arushi ‘heart to heart’. Session se pehle mein bohot hi nervous tha. I felt like I am in panic zone. Lekin hum dono jab baithe toh bas apne aap hi jo baate mere dil me thi sab baahar aane lagi. Is session me mujhe bohot acha or halka mehsus ho raha tha. Dil kar raha tha bas ye session chalta hi rahe. I am actually very happy to have this beautiful experience and journey. Thank you Pratiti..."

Follow the Pratiti blog for more beautiful updates from the fellows as they narrate their journeys of growth and transformation into gender leaders...

Monday, October 26, 2015

The journey thus far - Pratibha speaks

Pratibha Arya

"Hi I’m Pratibha. I am doing my Masters in Gender Studies from Ambedkar University Delhi. I love to interact with new people because I think everyone has some unique thoughts and perceptions and you can learn something new from them. I also love to read fiction and epistolary novels. "

Pratibha is among the 20 fellows selected for the Pratiti journey in Delhi.
Read what she has to say about her experiences so far:

"One of the most courageous things one can do is to identify the violence within oneself and how one is going to go against it. I would be starting from the very first day, when I got to know about Pratiti the fellowship. I found it very intensive and was deeply resonated by it. 

This journey began with a workshop over 3 days. I was very excited, thinking that now is the time to reflect and explore more about Gender Based Violence (GBV). The residential workshop proved to be very energetic and intensive. It helped me to disperse a lot of the violence present inside me and brought a major change as I began to develop into a non-judgmental person. I have been able to begin to challenge GBV in my life. 

The other fellows are very supportive and I think for me, it is incredibly motivating to be surrounded by such enthusiastic group members. It’s already been four months into Pratiti. With work ongoing on action projects, my team is all set to speak up and act, on making some steps to unchain the dichotomy of gender stereotypes in public spaces that will hopefully forge a small, meaningful change for all genders and bring gender equality. The Pratiti journey continues to grow for me and I believe a lot more is still to come as I continue my fellowship with such beautiful fellows..."

Follow the Pratiti blog for more beautiful updates from the fellows as they narrate their journeys of growth and transformation into gender leaders...

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

The October Update + Arushi's sharing!

On Sunday, the 11th of October, 2015, the PfP Pratiti family got together for one of their penultimate workshops to celebrate what has been an eventful and memorable journey over the last 4 months. The day began with the usual gupshup and catching up between all the fellows before they gathered together in a circle to individually share about their journeys with each other.

Aditya (right) introduces the group to the day's sessions

Beginning with an energizer session which saw everyone refresh themselves through a fun, relaxing exercise, the day moved on to include processes that facilitated deeper interactions and engagements with fellows sharing in larger and smaller groups alike.

Ms. Aqeela Datoo, representing the Aga Khan Development Network was also invited to join the space in one of the sessions. Aqeela was able to gain insights into PfP and Pratiti’s processes by herself actively participating with the fellows in a discussion on understanding sexuality. 

Megha (left extreme) shares about her journey

Like always, the workshop was interspersed with laughter and conversations during breaks for tea and lunch, as well as for the in-demand Secret Angel presentations, where loving, personal gifts were secretly bestowed and joyously received within the entire group.

An intense session on conflict resolution was followed by the eagerly awaited icing on the workshop cake - the visit of Vasu Primlani. Vasu, an internationally renowned stand-up comic, acclaimed environmentalist, athlete, openly gay feminist and healer introduced the Pratiti fellows to somatic healing, a practise she held deep personal faith in and wished to share with those seeking healing in the PfP family (more on that below!).

Arushi (right extreme) facilitates a session

The day concluded with a quick review of each group’s projects and a sharing of individual experiences within them, with the fellows looking forward to presenting their work at the Pratiti Delhi journey’s upcoming closure event.

Below we have Arushi Mittal, the PfP co-founder, sharing a beautiful personal account of Vasu’s visit:

Finding Boundaries with Vasu Primlani

"The physical human form interests me as much as the mental one, if not more. My curiosity about the body and mind connect and the relation of self to these two often leads me to unexplored territories. Interacting with Vasu Primlani at a People for Parity community meet-up was one such experience.

Early evening on a Sunday, as I sat in a typical PfP circle with Pratiti fellows, Vasu began her session by explaining to us how our bodies store trauma, and how different bones protect our vital organs not only from physical injuries but also from mental trauma. This seemed plausible. But what happens to these protective shields then, I thought? I was to find my answer soon as Vasu went about “auditing” each of us in the room for how much trauma do the bones in our upper body store. She seemed to be gentle in her approach (though serious in her demeanor), and it was interesting to observe that people reacted quite diversely to her audit. But what was even more intriguing was her comments on each person’s personality and approach towards dealing with the outside world, which seemed to fit uncannily for most of us. As she moved form one person to another, the atmosphere grew more focused towards her, and people anticipated what would their results be, at least I did.

Vasu Primlani (seated center) conducts her session with the group

Vasu shared her experiences with GBV survivors and asked all of us to rate the pain we felt on a scale of 1 to 10 with 10 being the maximum pain we have ever experienced during the audit. When my turn came, and she reached for my bones and applied pressure with her fingers at a few specific points, my face distorted. I had to try hard to not let out a scream, as the pain I was experiencing was 8-9 for me discounting just a few instances of physical injury in my life. 

Vasu had mentioned that sometimes people don’t even know that this pain exists, but I felt that I knew about it, albeit without knowing why it does. And this mystery remained (and remains) even after I volunteered to understand my inability to say ‘no’ in the next part of the session with Vasu. She invited me to the center and to help me understand and define my boundaries, she asked me to raise my arms parallel to the ground and gesture “NO” in her direction with my palms facing towards her. As it turns out, it was difficult for me to do so, as I tried to bring my arms up, my entire body (and being) trembled, and it was quite a stretch to even stand still in that position. Then she walked towards me and asked me to accompany this with a verbal no – define my boundary – and as I attempted this, I broke down – in the moment because I could not believe I was establishing a boundary beyond which another human will not be able to reach me and harm me if I do not want. 

I couldn’t believe I was creating this safe perimeter for myself, and I was doing it on my own. As she tried to help me dig out what has made this so difficult for me, I could not find the reason from my past experiences but I could imagine that I am afraid of not being able to give people what they need, of disappointing them. Afterwards, while thinking about all of this I have also been postulating, if it is because I do not know how to take no for an answer myself, or can I not take no as I don’t feel I enjoy the same freedom!

Later, I was also asked to go around in the circle and say no to each person and observe their reactions which made me both happy and somber depending on my connect with these people. I feel it has been one of my most publically vulnerable times where I didn’t really have much in my power to restrict myself from being in the flow and this short experience has shaken me quite a bit. I was amazed by the warmth and kindness that Vasu and other participants offered to me during the exercise, and feel that the knowledge that I can set my own boundaries, that I can protect myself, that I can be my own hero has brought me face to face with a power I didn’t know I possessed.

The fellows and facilitators with Vasu

I understand it is a long uphill run ahead of me – of letting go of the pain that my body holds so close to my heart, of understanding my limitations, stating them (and without the angst, without turning them into thick walls or a glass house for that matter!), building respect and empathy for other’s limitations and appreciating the support (or the denial of it) they are able to offer to me in a moment. So, keeping my fingers crossed, and requesting you to do so too :) ..."

As the Pratiti Delhi journey winds to a close, the Pratiti blog will continue to send out updates about the fellows and the beautiful work they have been engaging in. Stay tuned!

Monday, October 19, 2015

The journey thus far - Megha speaks

Megha Mukherjee

"I am Megha, an aspiring lawyer, a travel freak & a foodie. 
My philosophy is 'Never let the fear of striking out keep you from playing'. I love adventure sports & I’m an avid reader. An inherent fighting spirit, a strong persona & fearless attitude defines me. I am passionate about helping people & for the same I’ve been working with an NGO for the past 3 years."

Megha is among the 20 fellows selected for the Pratiti journey in Delhi.
Read what she has to say about her experiences so far:

"When I was asked to share my experience so far in Pratiti, frankly speaking I stared for hours at my laptop for I really couldn’t find words to express my journey. This fellowship has cleaned up my lenses now and I have a better view of the world itself. 

I still remember while surfing through my FB account, I came across the PFP link & casually filled up the fellowship form. On the first day of the workshop, I was intrigued to see such diversity. I guess curiosity took the better of me & I decided to continue my fellowship. 

I admit initially I resisted any attempt to open up in the workshop, that I robotically went through most of the part for the sake of it, but in reality even without me realizing it, I was getting out of my comfort zone. In the end it was so overwhelming I cried like a child and I have never been more thankful, for those tears were bottled up conflicts and pain that washed off that day. I was so afraid of broken bridges that I was burning whatever was left. I was not allowing anyone to be remotely near me. In short I was drowning. This fellowship has pushed me to a better understanding of my own emotions. It enabled me to let people in. I now have a better perspective on Gender & Violence. 

How can one word have a deep impact on who you are? My team MARS took up this very cause & we are trying to bridge that gap, establish self-realization and create awareness in relation to Mental Violence. One thing I have surely learnt in the past few months “our gender, our stories are different but pain is the same, only the level fluctuates, we all hope for nothing but a better future “. 

For the first time in years I hope we get our shot in that future. This journey for me has just started and it’s a long road ahead but now I am not afraid anymore, just very excited..."

Follow the Pratiti blog for more beautiful updates from the fellows as they narrate their journeys of growth and transformation into gender leaders...

Thursday, October 15, 2015

The journey thus far - Dhruv speaks

Dhruv Tejaswi

Dhruv is a law graduate from the University of Delhi and is currently working with International Planned Parenthood Federation (IPPF South Asia Region), Delhi, mainly dealing with governance restructuring of NGOs in nine South Asian countries. While not at work, he enjoys reading, poetry, singing and is obsessive about news feeds. He believes empathy can make the world a better place to live and should be the first step towards any change.

Dhruv is among the 20 fellows selected for the Pratiti journey in Delhi.
Read what he has to say about his experiences so far:

"What started out of curiosity to read and apply for Pratiti Fellowship, the journey so far has been a roller coaster ride. But a ride that is worth taking. The only reason I applied for the fellowship is because the questions asked in the application did not harp on the standard questions that are usually asked in the fellowship applications. They rather made me think and answer honestly about myself. 

The workshops that ensued in the fellowship made me stop for a moment and think about myself. I realised that over the years of the rat race, how less had I thought and asked questions about myself. The ‘stretching sessions’ as they are called at the fellowship, made me ask the basic existential questions about life and the purpose of my life itself. It gave me a sense of awareness and did prod my inner critic to ask uncomfortable questions about myself. But at the end of it, when I look back, they helped me immensely. They helped me to envision the future with clarity and at the same time made me realise that one cannot get answers to everything and it is perfectly fine to have open ends. 

A diverse and stellar set of individuals that I encountered along the path of the fellowship has given me strength and has made me more empathetic. It has put in touch with some of the most wonderful individuals and experiences I would cherish for the lifetime. From our mood swings to working late in the night on the project, the fellowship always pushed me to give anything but my best. 

The project I am currently working in creating a safe university space for LGBTIAQ students has made me realise that dreaming of making a difference isn’t a cliché after all. Every day, as I come back from work and automatically start thinking of the project, I realise how passionately I am involved in something after a very long time. When a 17-year old young girl calls me up in the middle of the night and discusses how she would like to come to the Queer Campus meetings but is apprehensive and nervous, I put the phone down after an hour-long conversation with a great sense of satisfaction that I could make a difference in my own small way. 

As the fellowship is nearing an end, I also realise that this is just the beginning of a long journey ahead and this journey continues. As clichéd as it might sound, I would like to quote one of my favourite poets Robert Frost – 

“Two roads diverged in a wood, and I — 
I took the one less travelled by, 
And that has made all the difference.”"

Follow the Pratiti blog for more beautiful updates from the fellows as they narrate their journeys of growth and transformation into gender leaders over the next 2 months...

Friday, October 9, 2015

The journey thus far - Deepak speaks

Deepak Kumar Jha

Journalist, poet, blogger and theater artist, Deepak shines as a beacon of creativity, constantly enthralling the rest of us with his beautiful Hindi poetry.
"I am a student of nature & this beautiful world. I don't want to use this life casually or with some purpose, rather I want to live this life to learn a lot, to explore myself and everything around myself. I'll not accept anything without examining the truths and the lies. I want to live with love, with success and failure."

Deepak is among the 20 fellows selected for the Pratiti journey in Delhi.
Find below some philosophical musings regarding his experiences thus far:

शेक्सपीयर के हैमलेटसे लेकर आज तक का सबसे बड़ा सवाल रहना है या नहीं रहना है।सपनों के सुंदर गुब्बारे, आश्वासनों का लेमनचूस, दिलफरेब दिलासों के बीच दुनिया की तमाम प्रार्थनाओं से बाहर पीड़ा के पथ पर रेंगते हुए सांसें लेना। मर नहीं जाना ही जीना है तो इस वक्त दुनिया में अनगिनत लोग जी रहे हैं। हर बात पर जो जीकहते हैं और जो जी न लगने पर भी जिए जा रहे हैं।

प्रेम जी की इन्हीं पंक्तियों के बीच जिंदगी के डीटीसी की दौड़ती बस कब प्रतीति के अड्डे पर जा रूकी पता ही नहीं चला। किसी ने हाथ दिया और रुक गया। जैसे चलती बसें अक्सर कहीं भागती भीड़ में खुद को ढूंढ़ने के लिए रोक लिया करती हैं। चौबीस सालों की उठा-पटक ने हालत जर्जर कर दी थी। मुश्किल था। चमचमाती कतार में खुद को खड़ा कर पाना। बड़ा गुमान भी था। सीने पर स्याह निशान लिए जिए जाने का। पर यहां रुका तो लगा जैसे इस अड्डे के लोगों ने तो त्रासदी झेली है। अपनों की। रिश्तों की। चुप रहकर। जहर का घुंट पी कर। वर्षों से। जिस्म पर दाग ऐसे की जख्म शर्मिंदा हो जाएं। तुम सब को मेरा सलाम। इसलिए नहीं की तुम जिगर वाले हो। बल्कि इसलिए कि तुमने जिगर को जिगर समझा है। क्योंकि तुमने धधकते आग में धड़कते हुए दिल को सुना है। इसलिए दिल में उतर गए हो। ताउम्र साथ रहोगे जबतक बस चलती रहेगी। तुम लोगों के साथ मैं सवारी भी हो गया हूँ – पहचान का। उत्तरदायी हो गया हूँ – समाजिक हिसाब का। पता नहीं तुम्हारा झंडा अपने उपर लगा पाउंगा कि नहीं पर हाँ, हार्न जरुर बजाउंगा  ‘No horn plz’ होने के बावजूद। समझदार लोगों के लिए पूरी दुनिया खुली हुई है। जहाँ समझदारी बिकती है और तौली जाती है। पर समझदारों के बीच रहकर भी अगर आप पहचान की बात कर नासमझी दिखाते हैं तो एक बार इस अड़डे पर जरुर रुकिए। फेसबुक की तरह किसी का टाईमलाईन देख लेने जाने जैसा ही। यकीन मानिए फ्रेंड रिक्वेस्ट भेजे बिना दिला मानेगा नहीं। स्टेटस बनाने के लिए एक बार अपना स्टेटस चेंज करके देखिए।

मैं बहुत दिनों से बहुत दिनों से
बहुत-बहुत-सी बातें तुमसे चाह रहा था कहना
उपमा संकतो में
रूपक में, मौन प्रतीकों में

Follow the Pratiti blog for more honest & beautiful updates from the fellows as they narrate their journeys of growth and transformation into gender leaders over the next 2 months...

Tuesday, October 6, 2015

The journey thus far - Samrat speaks

Samrat Sharma

"I am Samrat Sharma, 28 from Delhi. Presently, I am pursuing Mphil from Delhi University. I am also a certified commercial pilot in USA and India but my passion lies in reading and travelling. I enjoy reading a good book, a walk with my pet dogs and sometimes writing poetry." 

Samrat is among the 20 fellows selected for the Pratiti journey in Delhi.
Read what he has to say about his experiences so far:

"It’s a myth - that change is never good. I chanced upon People for Parity’s Pratiti Fellowship and applied for it without any prior experience or knowledge. Change was good. Until recently I had immersed myself in theoretical knowledge about gender within the four walls of my room and without any regard for the personal (not only of myself but others as well). 

It is during the workshops, which were spread over a period of two months, that I learnt several important aspects about gender with respect to the community and the ‘self’. What I particularly liked about the workshops was the fact that I met people from different backgrounds, who together questioned class, caste, gender, sex, age and other topics considered either sensitive or taboo. It helped me fight my problem of extreme anxiety and self-judgment. 

Nevertheless, I would not characterize Pratiti as merely a therapeutic space as it would be reductive and an insult to its purpose. It is a place of learning where I could let down my guard and debate on topics without feeling attacked. This I consider a milestone in my life as I stepped out of my comfort zone especially that in my house. I believe this is what Pratiti means when it stresses about being part of a community. 

Now being part of a team and our action projects near completion, the last few months seem surreal- a stressful surreal dream. We all pushed ourselves physically, emotionally, psychologically... but what we gained is permanent. 

I believe I shall not be too scared to question issues close to my heart, even if I am wrong (so what if I am wrong?). I will learn something new..."

Follow the Pratiti blog for more beautiful updates from the fellows as they narrate their journeys of growth and transformation into gender leaders over the next 2 months...

Thursday, October 1, 2015

The Pratiti Fellowship comes to Jaipur!

After the Delhi phase of Pratiti received an overwhelming response post launch in July, 2015, we are expanding our horizons and Jaipur is the next city on the list!

If you are a resident of Jaipur in the 18-30 age group and are passionate about identifying, understanding and challenging Gender Based Violence (GBV), APPLY NOW!

Initiated by People for Parity Foundation (PfP), New Delhi, with the support of UN-HABITAT and the Narotam Sekhsaria Foundation, Pratiti is a unique and transformative fellowship on Gender Based Violence (GBV) for young people hailing from diverse backgrounds and communities. 

Applicants for Pratiti should be residents of Jaipur and ideally be in the 18-30 age bracket. They can be from any background and representative of any color of the rainbow, including people who may be straight, gay, lesbian, transsexual, transgender, hijra, survivors or even sex workers.

The Jaipur phase of the journey will take place between December 2015 to April 2016.

Over the course of these 6 months, 20 participants will be selected to participate in
  • An intensive 3-day workshop
  • Action projects on issues affecting their lives and communities
  • Regular community meetings for sharing and reflection
  • A co-created closure and finale event which will celebrate the journey
Through powerful experiential processes, each of the participants will be empowered to:
  • Become an empathetic leader for gender equality
  • Use sharing, healing and facilitation as powerful tools for change
  • Understand what gender-based violence is and how one can challenge it
If you are a resident of Jaipur in the 18-30 age bracket and share a passion for challenging Gender Based Violence in your own lives, communities and in the society around you, click here to visit the Pratiti Applications page and apply today (forms available in both Hindi and English)!

Pratiti is a fully funded initiative and will not require any expenditure nor full-time involvement from the participants.
Application deadline for Jaipur is 10th November 2015!
For more details, visit the official Pratiti website and the People for Parity Facebook page.