Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Feature - Talking Life in GB Road

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Talking Life in GB Road

Conversations with sex workers in Delhi's red-light district.

[Picture by Shashwat Saxena; text by Mayank Austen Soofi]

I have been to Garstin Bastion Road, the city's red-light district, just next to New Delhi railway station (Ajmeri Gate), more than once.

Earlier I would only walk in the streets while sex workers would aggressively beckon me from the windows of their kothas. But I was scared to go in. There have been stories about how young 'inexperienced' men were lured inside and then robbed of their mobile phones, wallets, shoes and also clothes. I was better safe outside. Sometimes, being a wannabe photographer, I would take out my digicam and then there followed a volley of maa-behen swearwords directed towards me.

However, one evening, I gathered up courage, climbed the stairs, knocked at the door and walked into a kotha -- and into a living room.

There were around half a dozen ladies, a few looked as if they were in 40s while the rest were very young. None expressed disappointment or disgust when I confessed that I was not looking for sex and had no money to offer. That I only desired a few hours of conversation.

The ladies asked me to sit down on the floor and we all gathered together. I was served with chai, namkeen and anda-bread. We then talked life. They shared their secrets with me and I shared my secrets with them. Sometimes a customer would come in and any one of them would take her leave -- without much fuss -- and re-appear after a while -- without much fuss. But such comings-and-goings did not interfere with our chat.

I soon discovered that we all there faced rather similar challenges concerning money, work and relationships. The ladies talked about their families back home in the village while I shared notes concerning my folks. In the end, all of us performed namaz and thanked Allah for the happiness we have been able to snatch from the hands of destiny.

Such is life

Talking Life in GB Road

9 comments:

Garam Beni said...

Its a wonder how you manage to chat up anyone and everyone :)


PS They're all muslim? Or namaz is performed as a group activity regardless of the person's faith?

gunj said...

brilliant blog mate!

adi said...

I wonder what kinda lies behind there secrets !
nevertheless, you gathered the courage to go that part of old delhi for the second time , cheers !

kisha said...

hmm....the last time i heard of my friends going to that road...they told me they had been robbed....and once been threatened with a knife on their throats too...!...

(yes..teenagers too visit that place....the reason you maybe knowing well)

Anonymous said...

Hi Soofi

GOOD JOB !
Keep it up !

Next time you visit, take your LAPTOP and show them your blog. Good or bad, they are after all the daughters of Bharat Mata. Its not their falt but failure of the Bharat Mata to take care of her children. It is the failure of the democracy ! Yes we failed in the implementation of the land reforms, and most of the rural population is therefore migrating towards metros.... remember the CITY OF JOY ..... the rural folks with their rich heritage are unable to revolt as the political issues in the market are entirely different ....

even during black & white filmy days GURU DUTT asked the same question Jinhain Naaz Hai Hind Per Wo Kahan Hain...

So young man....

My suggestion is:

also carry a voice recorder and upload any one wants to convey a message to INDIA or Mother India..

Also tell them to take care of education of their children.. specially daughters .... have you read Ons Ki ek Boond by Rahi Masoom Raja, I cried at the conclusion...

umm i think thats enough

bahadur bachhe, lage raho

P P

Dibyajyoti nath said...

I was shocked just a few days ago when i saw a documentary on the indian prostitutes. Fathers selling their daughters, traffickers smuggling children from nepal, husband selling their wives. These are happening in India.

Just google video for Born into brothels: Calcutta's red-light disctrict(2004). A oscar-winning documentary. Must see.........

dewana said...

he u r brilliant boy
lage raho
god help u
i m mad
D't mind yar

Atinder pal Singh said...

at least the prostitutes don't sell our country like the politicians do.the corruption and the system is responsible for their lives.no one would like to be a prostitute i guess

S.Sharain.Z.Gardezi said...

i want to say that they aren't Muslims because one cannot be a Muslim if involved in prostitution...they have left the fold of Islam. And btw,in your blog about Heera Mandi,you wrote that it seemed that Allah/God was ''too sleepy'' to notice ''his faithful''performing sins...what nonsense...God doesn't have human characteristics and y would God feel sleepy? God is God -don't attribute animal characteristics to God because God created the concept of sleep etc. I may sound angry but it annoys me when u talk about Muslims and God/Allah in an inappropriate manner that misrepresents them. just correcting u.