HT Image
HT Image

Of Lesbithians & mandakinis

Call it the result of social engineering or blame it on the kind of men I discuss what kind of curtain material should go with what kind of furniture, but I realised that I was a victim of identity stereotyping, writes Indrajit Hazra.
By Indrajit Hazra | Hindustan Times
UPDATED ON JUN 14, 2008 10:19 PM IST

L ike queen Victoria and the existing law of the land in this country, I was completely unaware of the existence of Lesbos. I mean, I love almost every song sung by that fabulous chanteuse, K.D. Lang, and have in my youth vociferously cheered on every forehand volley delivered by the sinewy, muscled Martina Navratilova. But until I came across the information that it was located at the latitude of 39°10’N and longitude of 26°20’E, I was naively ignorant of the Greek island in the Aegean Sea. Call it the result of social engineering or blame it on the kind of men I discuss what kind of curtain material should go with what kind of furniture, but it was only last week that I not only realised that I was a victim of identity stereotyping, but that I wasn’t the only one.

Being a Bengali who learnt when to keep an article in a sentence and when to drop one the hard way, I know the perils of being ‘short-handed’ into a representation of a community. Like a few days ago when someone, in a very matter of fact way, told me that writers like me — “You know, Indo-Anglian writers” — have a particular kind of writing style and readership. I stopped her in her tracks and told her that I had no idea what she meant by “Indo-Anglian writers like me”. Why, it was only a few days before that someone had complained that my fiction writing was “too Bengali”. (The constant complaint that my journalistic writing is “totally unintelligible” has been duly noted and awaits action by a higher authority.) In the case of the person who tagged me as an ‘Indo-Anglian writer’ (whom I tried to convince that I’m a Bengali writing in English), just because I wrote in English, I had to be... In the case of the other one who saw me as a ‘Bengali writer’ (whom I tried to convince that I’m an Indian writer writing in English), since all my novels were steeped in ‘Bengaliness’, I must be... The funny thing is that both of them were right. And sort of wrong too.

And that’s when I heard about the Lesbians. Three Lesbians — two women and one man — had taken a Greek lesbian rights group to court for calling women who like each other much, much more than my mother likes Jayalalithaa lesbians. I understood their pain. While the lesbian group argued that ‘lesbos’ took their name from the island home of Sappho, that fine poetess from around 600 BC who wrote about the love of one good woman for another good woman, the irate (but not necessarily homophobic) Lesbians insisted that they were all being painted with the wrong brush. Now imagine if all Sardarjis were consigned to being stupid thanks to ‘Santa-Banta’ jokes. Don’t you think intellectual giants like Manmohan Singh, Montek Singh Ahluwalia and Daler Mehndi would have gone to court to correct that bigoted perception? (Don’t answer that if you’re Navjot Singh Sidhu.)

There must be so many others who face such humiliation on a daily basis. The cultured Mozart-loving Philistine (the late Edward Said developed such a complex that he had to invent Orientalism to protect himself and other ‘Palestinians’); the comfort-seeking, champagne-swilling Spartan; the gentle, addicted-to-Sound of Music Hun; the non-identical twins from Siam (okay, so they changed the name of the place to Thailand); the gigolo from Babylon (modern day Iraq); and, of course, the heterosexual Lesbian.

One way out of the islanders’ anguish could be to rename their island Mytilene, after its Capital. After all, it’s not that big and if New Yorkers and Delhiites can be comfortable about having a state and a city of the same name, so can the Lesbians. But then, why should Lesbians change the name of their island? After all, they are the minority who need a strong sense of identity more than the lesbians who can easily call themselves something else. Okay, so how about a compromise? The Lesbians can call themselves Lesbithians (a few jokes about ruffled collars and virgin queens won’t last as long as the prevailing one). The lesbians, on their part, can call themselves mandakinis. It has a certain Greekish ring to it, no? And no islanders are offended.

SHARE THIS ARTICLE ON
app
Close
The AAP MLA from Delhi’s Malviya Nagar was arrested in Uttar Pradesh’s Rae Bareli on Monday, shortly after a man threw ink at the AAP leader as he was leaving a guest house.(PTI)
The AAP MLA from Delhi’s Malviya Nagar was arrested in Uttar Pradesh’s Rae Bareli on Monday, shortly after a man threw ink at the AAP leader as he was leaving a guest house.(PTI)

Somnath Bharti gets bail; to remain in jail

By HT Correspondent, Lucknow
PUBLISHED ON JAN 16, 2021 06:03 AM IST
Somnath Bharti had reached Rae Bareli on Sunday night to inspect its state-run primary schools, and was stopped by the police when he was leaving the guest house on Monday morning,Bharti, however, will remain in prison in connection with a second case against him that will be heard on Saturday.
Close
Farmers said on Friday, the ninth round of talks also failed with the government and every failed negotiation had only further strengthened their spirit and has fuelled the ongoing agitation.(HT_PRINT)
Farmers said on Friday, the ninth round of talks also failed with the government and every failed negotiation had only further strengthened their spirit and has fuelled the ongoing agitation.(HT_PRINT)

Will march in strength to Delhi, say farmers

By Anvit Srivastava, New Delhi
PUBLISHED ON JAN 16, 2021 05:27 AM IST
On Thursday, protest at Singhu border continued to be peaceful with farmer groups raising slogans, carrying out marches, cooking and distributing food at langars and delivering speeches. Manmeet Singh, a farmer from Jalandhar said more people known to him have joined the protest since he left home.
Close
During the lockdown in March last year, the victims managed to flee and met his mother. But the accused found out and the boy brutally beaten and raped again.(REUTERS)
During the lockdown in March last year, the victims managed to flee and met his mother. But the accused found out and the boy brutally beaten and raped again.(REUTERS)

Boy made to undergo sex change surgery

PTI, New Delhi
PUBLISHED ON JAN 16, 2021 04:15 AM IST
The victim was allegedly intoxicated and beaten up. After a few days, he was forced to undergo a sex-change operation. At that time, he was 13 years old. He said he was given hormones to make him look like a girl. The accused repeatedly raped him and pushed him into prostitution.
Close
The officials, according to orders of the administration, are required to address safety concerns of citizens through awareness drives, ongoing door-to-door health surveys and speak over phone with people registered for the vaccination(AP)
The officials, according to orders of the administration, are required to address safety concerns of citizens through awareness drives, ongoing door-to-door health surveys and speak over phone with people registered for the vaccination(AP)

Build confidence in Covid vaccines, govt tells districts

By Abhishek Dey, Anonna Dutt, New Delhi
UPDATED ON JAN 16, 2021 04:17 AM IST
This week, the revenue districts have been directed to systematically launch awareness programmes focused on confidence-building and addressing vaccine hesitancy.Starting Saturday, Covid vaccine will be administered to health care workers, their numbers estimated at 300,000 in Delhi.
Close
WhatsApp, through its counsel, had written to the court suggesting that justice Singh should not hear the matter because she appeared as a senior counsel against WhatsApp in a matter in the Supreme Court in 2016.(MINT_PRINT)
WhatsApp, through its counsel, had written to the court suggesting that justice Singh should not hear the matter because she appeared as a senior counsel against WhatsApp in a matter in the Supreme Court in 2016.(MINT_PRINT)

Delhi HC objects to WhatsApp asking judge not to hear PIL

By Richa banka, New Delhi
UPDATED ON JAN 16, 2021 04:24 AM IST
Justice Pratibha M Singh said the e-mail, which was later withdrawn, was completely unwarranted because she was anyway going to recuse herself from hearing the case filed by lawyer Chaitanya Rohilla, who has contended that WhatsApp’s updated policy violates the individual’s Right to Privacy.
Close
The Congress on Friday vowed to continue their protests till the farm laws are repealed by the Centre
The Congress on Friday vowed to continue their protests till the farm laws are repealed by the Centre

Farm bills have potential but cannot ignore those adversely affected: IMF

PTI, Washington
UPDATED ON JAN 16, 2021 05:55 AM IST
There is, however, a need to strengthen the social safety net for those who might be adversely affected by the transition to the new system, Gerry Rice, Director of Communications at IMF, said at a news conference in Washington on Thursday.
Close
Ex-IAS Arvind Kumar Sharma joined BJP on Thursday.
Ex-IAS Arvind Kumar Sharma joined BJP on Thursday.

BJP fields former IAS officer as its candidate for UP MLC elections

By HT Correspondent, Lucknow
UPDATED ON JAN 16, 2021 04:17 AM IST
On Thursday, former Gujarat cadre Indian Administrative Service officer Arvind Kumar Sharma had joined the party after taking voluntary retirement from service earlier this week. He was due to retire in July 2022.
Close
Rahul Gandhi and Priyanka Gandhi Vadra at Jantar Mantar in New Delhi.(PTI)
Rahul Gandhi and Priyanka Gandhi Vadra at Jantar Mantar in New Delhi.(PTI)

Congress won’t relent till Centre repeals ‘black’ laws, says Rahul

By HT Correspondent, New Delhi
UPDATED ON JAN 16, 2021 04:21 AM IST
“Congress will stand by the farmers in their protest as the three agricultural laws have been passed to destroy them, and help and benefit the big industrialists,” Rahul Gandhi said.
Close
On Friday, elected representatives from the neighbouring villages in Sattari submitted a formal request to Goa chief minister Pramod Sawant asking him to shift the project elsewhere.(PTI/ File photo)
On Friday, elected representatives from the neighbouring villages in Sattari submitted a formal request to Goa chief minister Pramod Sawant asking him to shift the project elsewhere.(PTI/ File photo)

After protests, Goa CM announces relocation of IIT project from Melaulim

By HT Correspondent, Panaji
UPDATED ON JAN 16, 2021 04:18 AM IST
The decision caps more than six months of protests largely by the residents of Melaulim village who had refused to concede land and had set up a blockade at the entrance to the site refusing to allow government surveyors to enter the village to demarcate the land.
Close
According to people familiar with the matter, Amit Shah is scheduled to attend programmes in Bengal on January 30 and 31.(ANI)
According to people familiar with the matter, Amit Shah is scheduled to attend programmes in Bengal on January 30 and 31.(ANI)

BJP leaders meet Shah over Bengal poll

By HT Correspondent, New Delhi
UPDATED ON JAN 16, 2021 04:32 AM IST
Bengal BJP leaders said that Friday’s meeting was held to review the Bengal poll preparedness against the backdrop of the report five central leaders prepared for Shah. Induction of leaders from the Trinamool Congress and other parties was also discussed at the meeting, said a BJP leader.
Close
BSP chief Mayawati also urged the Centre to accept all the demands of agitating farmers including repeal of the three farm laws(ANI photo)
BSP chief Mayawati also urged the Centre to accept all the demands of agitating farmers including repeal of the three farm laws(ANI photo)

Will go it alone in Uttarakhand, UP, says Mayawati

By HT Correspondent, New Delhi
UPDATED ON JAN 16, 2021 05:57 AM IST
Mayawati, who turned 65 on Friday, said just like 2007, the BSP will form a government in Uttar Pradesh on its own in 2022. “I have never compromised with principles for the sake of getting power. All BSP workers must unitedly start preparing for these elections,” she said.
Close
The CBI FIR states that “in the case of SSPNML, R K Sangwan, who was previous investigating officer of the case, offered and paid a bribe of <span class='webrupee'>₹</span>10 lakh in cash on behalf of Mandeep Kaur to Inspector Kapil Dhankad”(HT PHOTO.)
The CBI FIR states that “in the case of SSPNML, R K Sangwan, who was previous investigating officer of the case, offered and paid a bribe of 10 lakh in cash on behalf of Mandeep Kaur to Inspector Kapil Dhankad”(HT PHOTO.)

CBI ‘bribe-for-relief’ racket was running since 2018, finds probe

By Neeraj Chauhan, New Delhi
UPDATED ON JAN 16, 2021 04:22 AM IST
The agency has identified bribes worth 55 lakh paid to two of its officers– Deputy Superintendent of Police , R K Rishi ( 30 lakh) and Inspector Kapil Dhankad ( 25 lakh) – in lieu of favours extended to at least three companies.
Close
The Adani group clinched the six airports — Ahmedabad, Jaipur, Lucknow, Guwahati, Thiruvananthapuram and Mangaluru — in a global competitive bid by offering the highest revenue share to the government.(MINT_PRINT)
The Adani group clinched the six airports — Ahmedabad, Jaipur, Lucknow, Guwahati, Thiruvananthapuram and Mangaluru — in a global competitive bid by offering the highest revenue share to the government.(MINT_PRINT)

Panel ignored advice on bidder: Officials

By HT Correspondent, New Delhi
UPDATED ON JAN 16, 2021 04:26 AM IST
The Union cabinet chaired by Prime Minister Narendra Modi on November 8, 2018 gave “in-principle” approval for leasing out six airports of the state-run Airports Authority of India through the public private partnership appraisal committee.
Close
“The drones executed an array of artificial intelligence (AI)-enabled simulated offensive missions and close support tasks during the parade,” the army said in a statement.
“The drones executed an array of artificial intelligence (AI)-enabled simulated offensive missions and close support tasks during the parade,” the army said in a statement.

Army displays drone swarming prowess

By HT Correspondent, New Delhi
UPDATED ON JAN 16, 2021 04:24 AM IST
The army’s drone swarming capability is under development, though it has been tested for HADR roles, which are largely dropping medicines and essential items. The technology is being developed by the army in partnership with a Bengaluru-based start-up NewSpace Research and Technologies.
Close
Army soldiers demonstrate a drone attack during the 73rd Army Day parade, in New Delhi on Friday.
Army soldiers demonstrate a drone attack during the 73rd Army Day parade, in New Delhi on Friday.

Don’t test India’s patience, Army chief warns China

By Rahul Singh, New Delhi
UPDATED ON JAN 16, 2021 04:31 AM IST
General Manoj Mukund Naravane, in a media briefing on January 12, said the army was prepared to hold ground in eastern Ladakh “for as long as it takes” to achieve national objectives in case the ongoing military and diplomatic talks with China to reduce tensions are “prolonged”.
Close
SHARE
Story Saved
OPEN APP