Saturday, February 21, 2015


Vartanama, Feb '15
By Pawan Dhall

Come February, and love is in the air, what with Valentine’s Day, parties, roses, chocolates and all that! This month’s issue of Varta is also about love, understanding . . . and remembrance. Some of it in naughty ways – see Times and Lives of Girly Boys in ‘60s Kolkata, the first part of an interview with a journalist who provides a glimpse of the queer scene in Kolkata in the 1960s. Then there is this month’s lead story A Thought for Ma and Baba, which looks at the queer coming out story from the parents’ point of view – in particular about their unfulfilled aspirations and desires even as they come to terms with their children’s gender identity or sexual orientation.

A thought for Ma and Baba

Insight, Feb '15
By Pawan Dhall

“When I first came out to my family, it wasn’t the easiest of journeys – as is generally the case with many lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people. However, the basic difference that I found in my journey with so many others’ is that my mother, to whom I came out initially, never felt as if her dreams had been thwarted,” says Debjyoti Ghosh, a young advocate from Kolkata currently studying human rights in Budapest, Hungary.

Qatha: Times and lives of girly boys from ‘60s Kolkata (part 1)

People, Feb '15
By Pawan Dhall and Soma Roy Karmakar

Varta brings you the ‘Queer Kolkata Oral History Project’, an initiative to document five decades of queer lives in Kolkata (1960-2000). Our aim in this project is to go back in time and bring forward diverse queer voices through a series of interviews, which will provide a landmark to Kolkata city's queer history. Typically, the focus will be on the queer scenario in Kolkata during the growing up years of each interviewee – how it was to be queer in Kolkata in different decades since the 1960s till more recent times. The effort will be to bring forward a mix of the well known and the lesser known voices. Apart from the excerpts published here, the project also aims to publish a collection of the interviews in different formats. All interviews are based on informed consent and where requested, all markers of identity have been removed for reasons of confidentiality.

In this issue we bring you the first part of an interview with SD, a journalist, 62 years old, who has clearly seen and experienced 50 shades of queer in Kolkata right since the 1950s till recent times!

A psychotherapist’s angst

My Story, Feb '15
Pallav Bonerjee on his tryst with psychology, people and destiny – the fourth in a series of personal narratives

I recently made a road trip with my wife to Jaipur. We were very excited about the trip and enjoyed it to the hilt. It was our first journey by road, together. Needless to say, I was also a bit anxious. Before embarking on the journey, I took half a day to get the car checked and serviced. The mechanic cleaned, serviced, tuned and checked the tyres thoroughly. Then he sat in the car for a test drive and as I drove, he primed his ears to a certain whirring noise that seemed to come from the rear right wheel of the car. Something wasn’t right. We got out and he put the car up on the ramp to inspect. After fiddling for a while he concluded that the wheel bearings had lived their life and needed to be replaced with new ones. He took about 15 minutes to fit in the new ones and voila, I was good to go! Neat job, you would say. I agree. But it also got me thinking.

Son of enemy

Poetry, Feb '15
By owais

I sit in a group
of young gay men
discussing all under the Sun.

One of them wonders aloud,
“Why do we support our enemies?”