Sunday, 9 March 2008

Mousetrap - 139

To the roof of the world
Tibetan Uprising Movement
A short while ago, this column featured the Bhopal survivors padyatra to Delhi. This is another such people’s movement. India is host to a large number of Tibetan refugees, including the Dalai Lama himself, and the Tibetan Government in Exile. This year, just after the Beijing Olympics, it will be fifty years since the Dalai Lama escaped from the Chinese army (who claim that Tibet is historically a part of China). This group, a united front for several Tibetan organisations, aims to bring international attention to the Tibetan cause at a time when the world’s eyes are on China, thanks to the Olympics. On the 10th March, they will begin walking from Mcleodganj, in Himachal Pradesh, to Delhi, and from there to the Tibetan border, where they plan to cross over into Tibet. They are soliciting support as well, so, if you’re not Tibetan, you can choose to walk with them part of the way, up to the Tibetan border. Or organise some form of protest elsewhere. All details are on the site. [Link from poet and activist Tenzin Tsundue, via Menka Shivdasani.]

Simple interest
This bank is an Indian NGO that wants your custom. They seek an unusual deposit: toys, used (in good condition) or new, which they make available to deprived children in state-run schools and hospitals, orphanages, NGOs who work with kids, and other areas where one might find families in need, like building sites. They offer to collect from institutions, corporate offices and residential societies, by prior arrangement, so you can organise collections yourself, and get in touch with them to make a pick-up. From the site, I gather that they’re active in Bangalore and Bombay. Details available on the site.

Wear your..
‘Exactitudes’ is a portmanteau of ‘exact’ and ‘attitude.’ It is a photography project, an online exhibition or sorts (though it has also had real-life showings, and been published in a book), which takes a wry look at the way people seek to stand apart from the crowd by literally wearing their attitudes. Of course, what happens turns out to be a conformity to the group, where all members wind up looking much the same. The photographers underscore this by shooting their sets of subjects against similar backgrounds in almost identical poses, thereby ‘an almost scientific, anthropological record.’ They go on to say that ‘The apparent contradiction between individuality and uniformity is, however, taken to such extremes in their arresting objective-looking photographic viewpoint and stylistic analysis that the artistic aspect clearly dominates the purely documentary element.’ Fascinating.

If I were a book
The young man behind this site is a most persevering chap. He sent in a note and several polite reminders, but we had a long backlog, so this is a bit delayed. What the site promises is an avenue for self-expression via a book. It invites members to post original manuscripts (or even the contents of a personal blog) and have them instantly converted into book format. Other members provide feedback and comments. And a few listed publishers (the site claims sixteen publishers and agents, but lists only seven) also have access, and can choose to contact authors, and, if everyone has, in their youths or childhoods, done something good, they could wind up in print formally.

Reader suggestions welcome, and will be acknowledged. Go to for past columns, and to comment, or mail The writer blogs at

Published in the Times of India, Mumbai edition, 9th March, 2008.

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