Laal Salaam

Reblog <>
Here is the winning entry by Neha Bahuguna. Watch this brilliant poem called “Lal Salaam”, we also had a chat with her about her story.

Could you  briefly explain the process of writing this story?

Neha: When I started writing it, I thought of all the experiences and events related to me and the experiences of people around me regarding menstruation. Honestly, I always took advantage of those days by not doing many household chores and sleeping. However, at times it is really painful to go through the whole 4-5 days period, so I wanted to include all of this in my story.  When I first got my periods, I totally thought that something wrong had happened to me and maybe by chance I have managed to bleed due to some injury while playing. But like every other girl, I learnt to accept it and not share anything about it. I look back at all that time and laugh at the stupidity of the situation.

Please also explain why you think this medium works in breaking the taboo around menstruation. What do you want to achieve through your writing about the subject?

Neha: No one wants to listen to any more information in today’s world as everyone thinks that they know it all or it does not matter to them. But if you know how to tell it in story-form, people want to listen to you. Since all women go through it but not many of us want to talk about it, it’s important to present it in such a way that no one is hurt but the message still comes across.
What I wanted to achieve:
I had called my mother before writing this piece and asked her if she had any insights to share; she told me that something should be kept behind the curtain and not be talked about openly. I totally understand where she is coming from and that’s why it becomes my responsibility to be able to break her barriers as well my own. So I challenged her that she will laugh her gut out with my story about periods and even once she will not feel the disgust associated with it. And guess what, I won!:)


Briefly take us through your journey of  being a poet and a performer.

Neha: I grew up in the hills and stories have been a very crucial part of my childhood. After graduating from NID, I shuffled between various kinds of disciplines related to design; from graphics, animation, art curation to becoming a creative director for children’s shows and meanwhile I kept on writing something or the other. It was not that easy though, but there was this thing about Hindi as a language, which I really wanted to explore and I even designed a Devanagari font (Kunkun Devanagari) hoping that I would find the connection between design and Language, but it was not enough.

However, I used to go to various poetry slams and performances, to perform and to be an audience as well. In one of these performances, someone asked me to tell a story and I told one of the story related to the caste issue. People liked it a lot and I liked the attention and since I always wanted to write about important things and in Hindi, I realised that satire and humour are quite natural to me so why not write fun stuff and convey the message that I want to. The journey has just started and I have been looking to take it forward in workshops and through other visual mediums.

How has the response of your viewers been? Do you wish to continue writing about gender issues? 

Ans:I knew that people liked the way I talk but I never imagined that they will be able to understand the hidden meanings behind every single line I say. My Hindi can be put into difficult category and I am amazed with the response of the audience. Never underestimate your audience!

I do wish to write about gender issues. Not just male-female but other genders as well. I am actually working on a web series where the protagonist is queer.

You can watch more videos on her YouTube channel: NehaBhai

Edited by Divya Rosaline


Story telling – Bhole Firangi

I have been writing stories for a while now but its so much fun to have an audience who would want to hear your stories! Here the link of my story telling

For all the house wives

It was a nostalgic experience for me, when I picked up this Hindi magazine called “Grahshobha”. I remember how all the aunties of my neighborhood would share their winter special issue to get new designs of sweaters or the summer ones for some cool shake recipe.
So here I am very excited to read these magazines after decades.
I went through some pages; nothing has changed same kind of stories about extra marital affairs and young love stories. After reading some second hand filmi gossips, I was getting bored with the book, when a column related to personal problem caught my eye. To find something interesting I started reading it, and then I realize Oh my God! What is this…? What are these people feeding to naïve housewives … No wonder house wives are not strong enough to fight back? So here it was, a woman’s query about her husband who drinks every night, want to have intercourse with her wife every night and does not like her food, she does not want to have sex with her husband so regularly and also feels that since her parents are no more, and her husband mistreats her.
Poor lady in hope of finding some helps is writing to this magazine and what magazines replies, “Take your husband to some rehab (as if he is sitting there to go to a rehab) and do not stop him from having sex, it’s his right… yes you read it correct…  do not stop him… it’s his right

Yes my friends, the magazine is telling poor woman to submit to marital rape, and to all the woman who must be reading this magazine to submit to a crime.
I can imagine it’s not that easy to be revolutionary and tell the women to go to police because even police might not help or one cannot expect some house wife to suddenly become Jhansi ki rani (a warrior queen) and fight against her husband and then to society for making it a big issue.
But I am surprised that the magazine could not think of some easy solutions like, just tell your husband that I am not willing to do this or at least let him know what you feel… in place of total submission. Or since he is already drunk, let him sleep and finish your house hold work, its better to save yourself then being a victim Or talk to your husband when he is sober. Or give some helpline number for woman.

This magazine is more than 25 years old and I am sure thousands of women must be reading this magazine… For such a huge readership we do not even have a system to check on literature like this, to critically approve the content.

No wonder, thousands of the household harassment cases are never reported. Dear Ladies, just accept it, if you raise your voice, your so called social honor will be at stake, your parents will not be able to keep their head up and imagine what will your children think about you? You are meant to be harassed by everyone, be it your husband or society. And that’s what all the literature tells you… Be it Manusamhita, written ages ago or Grahshobha, printing every month.

देवता (Deity )

(The post has been translated in English below, by the author itself.)

हम लोग जब भी आपस में बैठते थे तो, देवताओं की बातें ज़रूर होती.
ये देवता वो नहीं जो मुकुट और पीले वस्त्र पहनकर हाथों से दिव्य किरने छोड़ते हैं.
ये देवता वो थे जो हम सबने देखे थे, कभी न कभी.


Whenever we used to sit together, we would talk about the deities.
Unlike the Gods, who wear crowns and yellow material, beaming lights all over the place, these Deities were different, these were the ones whom we have seen, at one point of time in our life.

Translation, from the Narrative in illustration.

– “My sister looked up at the window…and”
“It was smiling…heeeeee, without a sound. Its teeth were big”
– “What…? I mean who was it?”
– “Narsingh”
“Its their village- deity, they have not prayed it no… so it used to come again and again”
– “Then? is it bad?”
– “No man! deities are suppose to protect, but you have to pray them, time to time.”

ओम दर ब दर

एक किस्से को हमने
देखा इस कदर
की गोल- गोल घूमती
रेखाएं गयी बिफर

है फिकर जो मेंढको की
तू नौजवां बेसबर …
ये दास्ताँ-ए-इश्क है
के है हर रोज़ की खबर
गायत्री मंत्र है ऐसा
तू जप निरंतर निडर

रोज की बात नहीं पर
रोजाना की है डगर
अगर मगर और नहीं
रे ओम दर ब दर
ओम दर ब दर

“Om dar ba dar”  is a cult film, which took years to be recognized by its people.
When I first watched this film in my 2nd year of collage in auditorium, I could not understand a thing in it. I was very surprised why people appreciate it or its only for some cool kind of people who understand meaning beyond ordinary.
After some time I saw some more films from all around the world and got familiar with different kind of story telling.
For me, story telling is like mathematics. Most of the people deal with only basics of it, but there is much more to it, there is algebra, trigonometry,calculus and many other higher forms to reached “hence proved” one has to assume something and create calculations out of nowhere.

Bhojpuri and Politics (भोजपुरी और राजनीती )

ये संभव है की आगे लिखी जाने वाली बातों में से कोई भी बात इसके शीर्षक पर न जाए. परन्तु पढ़ने वाले यदि इक रोमांचक घटना से दो- चार होना चाहते हैं तो आँखे गडाये रखें.

It is quite possible that the following text might not have any relation with it’s Title. But if the reader wishes to know of a very adventurous tale, keep reading.

मुंबई- जुलाई की भयानक बरसात
मैं लिंकिंग रोड बांद्रा के पास ट्रेफिक जाम में फँसी हुई हूँ.
मेरे चारो ओर खड़े लोग इतेजार में है की कहीं से थोडा आगे निकलने का मुका मिल जाए.

Mumbai- July- Raining cats and dogs
I am stuck in traffic jam somewhere close to linking road , Bandra.
Everyone around me is waiting for the next vehicle to move a little so they get a little space…

आमतौर पर मैं रिक्शा के  बायीं ओर हि बैठती हूँ, घुसने और उतरने में आसानी रहती है… मैंने अपनी दाईं ओर नोटिस किया इक कार ( जोकि स्कोर्पियो से थोड़ी छोटी और संत्रो से थोडा बड़ी थी) बड़े मज़े से हिले जा रही है. त्रफ्फिक थोडा आगे बढ़ा और कार थोडा आगे हो ली… सलेटी रंग चढ़े कांच…इक खाते पीते घर का आदमी नाचने कि कोशिश कार रहा है… हाथो को हवा में उठाये ज़ूम रहा है… त्रफ्फिक जाम कि वजह से फैले तनाव से उसका कोई लेना देना नहीं… मैं सोचा ” बड़ा गजब आदमी है यार”.

Normally I sit on the left side of rickshaw, it’s easy to get in and out… I noticed on my right, a car (smaller then Scorpio and bigger then Santro) is shaking … Traffic moves a little ahead and the car moves in front of me… Gray tinted glasses… one healthy man kind of dancing come shaking… his hands in the air… completely unaware of the tension of traffic jam outside…

मुझे लगा हो न हो ये ज़रूर कोई छेत्रीय कलाकार होगा जोकि अपने डांस कि तैय्यारी में लगा है… टीवी कलाकार या फिल्म अभिनेता…उसके कार से भोजपुरी सा लगने वाला कोई गाना सुने दे  रहा था… गाना इतना तेज कि चारों ओर के वाहनों कि चिल्लपों को धता बता दे.

I thought this guy must be some local tv actor or film actor since i could figure out from the tune, music being bhojpuri. I thought he is rehearsing or something….music was so loud that it actually gave a tough competition to the honking autos and cars.

मैं इस सब विचारों में मग्न थी कि त्रफ्फिक थोडा आगे बढ़ा… मैंने देखा कि कार के पिछवाड़े में वी आय पी लिखा है, और तिरंगे के बीच में इक राजनितिक प्रतीक मुझे टाटा कार रहा है.
मान गए भाई, अपने देश कि राजनीती… भय्या लोग नहीं पसंद लेकिन  भोजपुरी गाने पर तो सरे आम नाच हो जाये…

Then slowly the traffic moves and I see a V.I.P.  written on the back of car and a political hand with tricolour waving at me. Wow … Politics can dance in any tune at any time…i say

Visual Poetry

“Some stories can not be written

Some songs can not be sung

Some thoughts can not be real
When life takes a full circle, frangments make sense as one”
for more illustrations go to :