Tagged Under: Vartanama

  • This is an artistic, close-up shot of leaves in multiple bright colours. In the forefront are a few deep brown and young leaves on a slender stem; the stem itself branches out from a larger stem with golden yellow leaves. Water droplets can be seen on the stems and the young leaves. In the background is a blurred mass of green leaves interspersed with dark, unlit spaces in between. The contrast in colours seems to symbolize hope and a blend of the ‘new’ emerging from the ‘old’ over time. Photo credit: Vahista Dastoor
    Feb '20

    Bioscope of your intimate dreams and public protests!

    By Pawan Dhall, Vahista Dastoor

    The Varta website has transitioned again – amid many contentious social transitions!

  • This photograph is a selfie shot taken by the author at an event organized by NGOs SAATHII and Thoughtshop Foundation to mark the first anniversary of the Supreme Court’s verdict on Section 377, Indian Penal Code. The event was organized at Thoughtshop Foundation’s meeting space in Kolkata on September 6, 2019, exactly one year since the verdict. The participants included around 50 individuals associated with the youth groups that Thoughtshop Foundation works with. Staff members of the two NGOs were also present. A diversity of genders and sexualities was represented at the gathering. The author shot the photograph with the phone in his right hand. A part of his smiling face peers and looks up into the camera, with around 30 other participants to his left, some seated and others on their feet. While half of them are smiling at the camera, flashing victory signs, the other half are smiling and waving excitedly at another photographer, who is not visible in the photograph. Overall, it is a photograph with much happening and with everyone in a celebratory mood. The top right hand corner of the photograph has a small inset photo of a large chocolate cake that was cut on the occasion. The icing on the cake says “One year of breaking free 377”. Photo credit: Pawan Dhall"
    Sep '19

    Explorations of ‘self’ pride beyond Section 377

    By Pawan Dhall

    Stories of pride may be tucked away from all the rainbow glitter going around

  • This photograph is representative of some of the thoughts expressed in the article around the futility of the approach of liberal academics and activists in responding to current socio-political challenges. It shows a round dinner table inside what appears to be a dimly lit dining room in a convention centre. The table is set out for a meal with wine glasses, knives, forks and napkins on the table, and 10 chairs around it. The table also has a jug of water, salt and pepper containers, and a couple of lit candles. To the right of the table is a French window that shows some plants and daylight outside. The window has ceiling high curtains on one side. Right behind the table is a large rectangular mirror with an ornate frame mounted on the wall. The mirror reflects a corner table lamp, chandelier and other elements of the dining room. It also reflects the author who is clicking the photograph on his mobile phone camera. There is no other human visible in the photograph. In all likelihood, the dining room will soon witness participants in a conference indulging in animated conversations over a lavish meal. In time, the room will empty out and fall silent, the conference too will draw to a close with several resolutions and promises, but little may change in relation to the problems deliberated on during the conference – all quite symbolic of the phenomenon of arguments and counter-arguments inside an echo chamber, which has little or no impact on the world outside. Photo credit: Sayan Bhattacharya
    Aug '19

    Comfort of echoes in a chamber

    By Sayan Bhattacharya

    Sayan Bhattacharya points at the inefficacy of queer activisms in India in the face of larger socio-political challenges

  • This main illustration is a combination of two graphics created with pen ink on art paper, combined and modified with Windows Microsoft Paint software. The combined graphic is rectangular in shape and vertical in orientation. The main part of the combined graphic consists of colourful abstract patterns, somewhat floral in nature, making up about two-thirds of the graphic. To the top left corner of the graphic are simple line drawings of two human faces, next to each other, and partially visible such that the left eye of one is next to the right eye of the other person. The eyes and lips seem to have generous proportions. The eyes have a vacant look as they are drawn without pupils. Most crucially, the faces seem to be gender neutral. To the bottom right corner is a small, square-shaped graphic superimposed on the larger rectangular one. It shows a milestone with “6 years” written on it, symbolizing the sixth foundation day of “Varta” webzine (August 1, 2019). The milestone has flowers and foliage growing around it on a grassy patch. The background to the patch also has abstract patterns in different colours. Artworks credit: Anupam Hazra
    Jul '19

    Queer as six

    By Pawan Dhall, Anupam Hazra

    Here’s some unsolicited advice on queering it up as Varta webzine turns six!

  • This graphic has three components to it. On the top left is a long shot photograph of participants gathered at the starting point of ‘Friendship Walk ‘99’ at Park Circus Maidan on the morning of July 2, 1999 – this walk is considered the very first edition of ‘Kolkata Rainbow Pride Walk’. Around a dozen participants are standing under a gazebo wearing bright yellow t-shirts emblazoned with the walk logo (not decipherable from a distance). All around the gazebo is lush green grass, with the park largely empty and some buildings in the background. A child is leaning on one of the pillars of the gazebo, staring at the participants, while a few people sleep on the floor of the gazebo behind the participants. Below this photograph is a much larger one that makes up the lower half of the graphic. This is a close sideways shot of six of the first time walkers and one other individual at the starting point of the 20th anniversary events for ‘Friendship Walk ‘99’ on June 29, 2019. The venue is again Park Circus Maidan but at a different spot. The participants are all smiles looking at the cameras (not visible in the photograph), standing behind a long banner that says “Friendship Walk 20th Anniversary – Celebrating 20 years of ‘Kolkata Rainbow Pride Walk’”. In the background is a crowd of people gathered for the event and a bright green canopy of trees, fresh from a sharp shower of rain. It rained similarly on July 2, 1999 as well. Part of a small truck decorated for the event is also visible. On the top right of the graphic is the logo created for the anniversary events – a rainbow-coloured graphic showing outlines of human faces and footprints combined in an artistic manner. The logo has text that says “Kolkata Friendship Walk ’99 – 20th Anniversary”. Photo credits: LGBT-India and Prosenjit Pal. Anniversary events logo credit: Rafiquel Haque Dowjah
    Jul '19

    Kolkata pride: Then and now

    By owais

    owais on the 20th anniversary of ‘Friendship Walk ‘99’, which grew into the ‘Kolkata Rainbow Pride Walk’ Then: Change is the only constant. Now: Change is the only constant. Then:...

  • This long shot photograph has a symbolic association with the accompanying article. It shows a large banner pasted on a wall outside a cinema hall somewhere in an Indian city. The text of the banner consists of Hindi words written in English alphabets – it says in large red letters against a white background: “Picture toh abhi baaki hai”. A literal translation would be that the film is yet to be over, while a deeper meaning would be that there is a twist in the story and more is yet to happen. In the context of the article, which is about the 2019 Lok Sabha poll results and the strategic role that civil society stakeholders need to play in India today, the banner text means that one should not give up hope and persevere – all is not lost. A short distance away from the banner some people can be seen standing around a ticket counter. The photograph is a night time one, taken using the light from the lamps outside the cinema hall, including those outside the ticket counter. Photo credit: Pawan Dhall.
    May '19

    Time for some deep cleansing?

    By Pawan Dhall

    We must be the change we want to see. Are we missing out on the first step? Overheard during an auto ride back home from work today – this was...

  • Quote: The good fight for queer and other activisms is likely to get only tougher in the time to come, and visibility during the polling season can only be but a small part of that fight. A lot will depend on what stand these activisms as well as queer and queer-friendly politicians take against the blatant attempts to destroy the ‘idea of India’.
    Apr '19

    Queer turn to stand up and be counted

    By Pawan Dhall

    Pawan Dhall wants the ‘queer rainbow’ to resist the saffron t(a)int! Five years ago, the editorial for the April 2014 issue of Varta focussed, in part, on the 16th Lok Sabha elections....

  • This illustration shows a poem titled ‘The Other Shore’ written by one Lakshmi (pen name), who had started a queer women’s support group in Chennai in the mid 1990s and who is the focus of the accompanying article. The group was called Sisters and it was quite short lived (from 1994 to 1995). But it was an important early queer initiative in India. The poem was published in the July-December 1994 issue of ‘Pravartak’, a journal published by Counsel Club, also an early queer support initiative in Kolkata that functioned from 1993-2002. The poem reads as follows: “She puts her arms around me – Blows away my tear. Can we make it – My eyes ask – Her smile says – We ‘will’ make it – To the other shore. Is it worth the bad – With the good? There is no other way.” The poem is bylined Lakshmi and below the poem is a stylized sketch of fishing nets with their reflection in the water. Illustration credit: Pawan Dhall
    Mar '19

    Chennai flashbacks

    By Pawan Dhall

    Sisters (1994-95) was one of the first queer activisms in Chennai, remembers Pawan Dhall These series of articles intend to create an archive of the queer movement in Bengal and...

  • This main illustration is a simple graphic that has just one line of text: “It’s completely misplaced!” The text is in response to the question posed by the article headline, which says “How’s the ‘josh’?” This line or comment has gained currency based on a dialogue in the recent Hindi film ‘Uri’, and more so since the Pulwama terror attack and the subsequent military action undertaken by India against Pakistan. Many politicians from the ruling party at the Centre and many citizens as well seem to have adopted this line as a symbol of India’s nationalistic pride. The accompanying article questions this rhetoric and urges readers to say no to war! Graphic credit: Pawan Dhall
    Feb '19

    How’s the ‘josh’?

    By Debjyoti Ghosh

    Debjyoti Ghosh on why we must #SayNoToWar Our country has been walking the edge between communal harmony and hatred for a while now. Every now and then, acts of hatred...

  • This lead photograph symbolizes the tongue-in-cheek theme of the associated article, that is, ‘lyadh’, a uniquely Bengali word that is possibly best and yet imperfectly translated as ‘sloth’. The photograph shows someone’s bed that has not been made after a night’s sleep and is in complete disarray, the handiwork of someone revelling in sloth. The bed is piled on with a blanket, two pillows, a discarded vest, used hand towel, open book, empty tea cup, and a piece of scribbled-on paper and pen – all lying in a scattered heap. A couple of cushions and a part of the bed railing also can be seen in the background. Photo credit: Pawan Dhall
    Jan '19

    ‘Lyadh’!

    By Pawan Dhall

    Vartanama, Jan '19 What better way to avoid a tedious editorial than to write about lyadh? ‘Procrastination’ doesn’t even begin to explain this quintessential Bangali expression – lyadh! Neither does ‘laziness’, though...

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