Monday, August 17, 2009

How many do you think we are?.. a small report on the 16th August 09 Mumbai Pride Parade + 195pictures and 3 videos



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“How many do you think we are?”,  asked Anand Grover pointing out to the huge procession at  the pride parade yesterday (16th August 09) as they started marching from August Kranti Maidan in Nana Chowk taking the road to Mumbai’s Chowpatty beach. Grover , by the way, is the one who heads Lawyers Collective and is the brain behind the Delhi High Court victory.


“I heard the police say in his wireless 500 people of which he said 100 belong to the tritya jaati ( third sex)”,  I told Anand.


“500? No way just look properly.. may be 5000”, said Grover, looking distinctly pleased. And then I looked again properly, and realized that it could not  be just 500.  The riot of colours, placards and slogans  were stretching at least  half a km long.


And I had to revise my earlier estimates of  500. In my reckoning may be around two thousand.


And that’s huge. Never mind the muggy sweltery weather… Never mind the swine flue scare, never mind that it was a extended holiday, never mind that Central/Harbour  Railway services had virtually shut down and were not moving an inch beyond Wadala and Dadar…  both  the places pretty far off from the  parade venue. Never mind that many from Pune did not come because of the swine flue problem..


The weather was LOUSY. Yet, the hot  and muggy weather  did not stop the LGBT and their well wishers  in Mumbai taking to street on Aug 16. They turned out in huge numbers. There were celebrities like Celina Jaitely, Alaque Padamsee, Model Carol Gracias,  Professor Nandini Sardesai ( Rajdeep Sardesai’s mother)... There were many more. It was heartening to see  so many non LGBT persons  come out in support of the community. Celina came pretty late, some 45 minutes past  3 pm,  when the procession was supposed to start at 3 pm. But she did make up for it… and gave a  nice speech asking gays to  march ahead and that she would be there for the LGBT community now and for ever. Right to the end till the procession reached Chowpatty,  Celina danced , cheered and turned out to be a show stopperJ


The LGBT leaders too were out in full force. Ashok Rao Kavi, Prince Manvendra, Vikram Doctor, Dee, Swapan, Dibs --and all leading lights of Gaybombay, Vivek Anand and Nitin Karani of Humsafar, Anand Grover,  Laxmi Tripathi… the list is indeed long.


So what did I see? Umm lots of plunging necklines  ( as you can see In some of the pictures..  and no I am not a closeted heterosexual or bisexual),  wigs  and plumes and feathers of all shape, size and colour, coloruful masks, hundreds of placards that had very creative  slogans which would have  made a copywriter proud.   Those who participated  had adorned themselves in all kinds of clothes.. from traditional Indian clothes to use of saplings and  tree branches  covering the body parts strategically. Fashion designers must have really worked hard for this parade because some of the dresses on display  were the ones that you could only see on the ramp… and  may be you and me would not have the courage to wear it outside… but people did and boy they carried it off with a panache!


And oh yes, the dance and merry making.. the loud beat of the drums and the swirling figures  breaking into impromptu dance  every few minutes .. with gay abandon.. it  was  proof enough to believe  that the gay community is  indeed happy and gay or may be vice versa. Even  one  good looking constable (oh well good looking for me at least)  who was trying to guide the procession was breaking into a smile every few minutes even though his boss was yelling at him in Marathi and instructing  him not to let the procession stop on the way. “I am not going to allow this procession next year if you guys stop every few minutes and start dancing”, the senior Inspector scowled in Marathi at me and Anand Grover .  But, really who cared? It was our day.. the first pride parade in India after we were declared “legal”.. oh ok, the love making was declared legal if it was kept private and between two consenting adults by the Delhi High Court in July 09.


One look at the crowd and  it was as if hundreds of rainbows had come together. The composition of the crowd was  a mini India . And yes, class, creed , colour and religion took a back seat.  The divide between the so called upper class gays and the so called lower class  kothis  melted  in a show of solidarity.


For me the best part was towards the end.. when the procession had reached the shores of Chowpatty beach.  The gentle waves of Arabian Sea seem to just amble up to the shore. In stark contrast, a few hundred meters from the beach was  not so gentle, almost feverish dance  going on.. a huge group of  Karagattam transgender from Tamil Nadu   were  performing to beat of  traditional music (Karagattam is  a traditional folk dance performed in Mariamman (Devi) Temples of Tamil Nadu).  Never mind the low-end  garish make up, or their false braids.. the enthusiasm with which they danced to the  ebb and flow of drums and nads, vowed  the small crowd and  made me believe that we  can look forward to a better LGBT world because there are thousands out there who live for us and are willing to tell the world..  openly, defiantly  and proudly… that we LGBT are  as much human as the rest. ( see the last video.. I hope you like it as much I did).











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