Wednesday, November 29, 2017

Letterbox Resistance: Day 4

On 28th November, Radhika, 3 interns, and I set out to write, but mostly encourage other people to write, letters to end gender violence. We started off with Cafe Coffee Day in Ispahani Centre, where we made the mistake of trying to ask the management if we could interact with the customers. He made a snap decision and said we could, if we gave them business for Rs. 1000. Of course, to that we told him that we would not: but we decided to do it slyly anyway. I ordered a lemonade (which I must say was a lemon soda and not quite appetizing) for Rs. 144 (mentioning prices because we did not even touch Rs. 1000), and put it on the table as something to share between about 6 of us.

Thus having completed this small formality, we started writing: luckily, the couple right next to us was immediately interested, and listened to us, and joined us. Emboldened by this, Radhika and I proceeded to go one by one and (subtly) talk to customers while the waiters weren't watching. Although our plan failed about an hour into this exercise, we had covered atleast 6 tables, and the interns decided to speak to people outside CCD, so they couldn't prevent us from doing that!
We moved to Tea Trails where Swarna ma'am was waiting for us, alongwith another person who had arrived specifically for letterbox! We spread out our material; and before the Tea Trails management could ask us anything, Swarna ma'am (using diplomatic skills level: ninja, I must say) convinced them into tying a ribbon for our gender violence solidarity tree, and encouraged them to write a letter! They were a bit taken aback and realized they couldn't tell us not to set up, since she very swiftly and subtly won them over, so we spent quite a bit of time there. We even bumped into Prajnya's first ever volunteer!
We moved on to Forum Mall Vadapalani, where we had our first upsetting experience: a man who thought it was necessary to tell us that gender violence is not valid because women dress vulgarly. But as Radhika aptly put it. "These men are exactly why we're doing this", and that got to me: so much I even repeated it to our audience at Ethiraj the next day. So, ignoring the stares he kept giving us, we continued with our work, and thereby reached out to so many others.


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