A Museum of Women’s History and History of Women planned as a Power Museum set up with electronic equipments reproducing events in women’s history and stories of individual women as film strips, electronic images, games, puzzles, sound and visual recreations. A museum, which the public can visit, where history will be absorbed in an entirely novel way.
Website & Newsletter
To inform and dialogue
Film and Cultural Festivals, Exhibitions and Writers’ Camps
To educate, to provoke, to stimulate, to express and share ideas.
Release of Dr. Neera Desai’s book
The third event, a much-awaited one, was the book release function of Dr. Neera Desai’s book, Feminism as Experience: Thoughts and Narratives. It was held in S.N.D.T University’s mini-auditorium on 14th March, 2007. The venue collaborators as well us supporters of the event were, of course, the Research Centre for Women’s Studies, S.N.D.T., Juhu Campus. Dr.Vina Mazumdar came all the way from Delhi to release the book to an extremely appreciative and warm audience who were there to express their solidarity for the subject and the author. We give a few photographs below:
Release of Dr. Neera Desai’s book
On 28th January 2010, the launch function was held at Crossword, Linking Road along with Pen India to introduce the book to the public. BEING CARRIED FAR AWAY is the second in the series of five volumes to be published by SPARROW supported by Prince Claus Fund. This volume is a literary journey into Assam, Bengal, Manipur, Meghalaya and Mizoram. The book teaches that one’s geography lessons are never complete, not to talk of one’s knowledge of Indian literature. It is not just a matter of learning about unknown flowers, trees, food and dresses. It is also about the people and the languages that emerge from these surroundings. The experiences narrated in the interviews and the poems and stories become a gallery of paintings of still life, nature and portraits drawn with dexterity in exquisite colours that begin to invade one’s mind as one goes along. Dr. Mitra Mukherjee Parekh (Post-graduate Department of English, S N D T Women’s University) released the book. SPARROW’s Founder Trustee and Director, Dr. C S Lakshmi, made a presentation on SPARROW and the editor, Shoba Ghosh, gave a talk on her experiences of editing the volume. Malsawmi Jacob, one of the writers from Mizoram and also working in SPARROW, read her poems. We give a few photographs below taken by Priya D’Souza.
Release of the Book: HOT IS THE MOON
On 11th February 2009, a pre-launch function was held at Kala Ghoda Festival to introduce the book to the public. Hot is the Moon that contains excerpts from interviews, stories and poems of writers in four languages- Tamil, Kannada, Konkani and Tulu was launched at a function at Crossword, Grant Road, on 25th February, 2009. Shanta Gokhale, writer, translator and theatre critic, released the book. SPARROW’s Founder Trustees and Director, Dr. C S Lakshmi, made a presentation on SPARROW and the editor, Arundhathi subramaniam, gave a talk on her experiences on editing the volume. We give a few photographs below taken by Priya D’Souza.
Women’s Words, Women’s Lives
Although the bomb blasts in the local train in July disrupted SPARROW activities somewhat, we picked ourselves up quickly and proceeded to work on the events we had planned. The first event was the SPARROW film festival held in collaboration with Mahila Vyaspeeth (Y.B. Chavan Prathisthan) Vijaya Chauhan, the Secreatry of Mahila Vyaspeeth, was the one who first suggested such a festival of SPARROW films. The festival called Women’s Words, Women’s Lives was held on 3rd and 4th November 2006. Urvashi Butalia, Director, Zubaan, inaugurated the festival and Kalpana Sharma, Chief of Bureau, The Hindu, Mumbai concluded the festival. The festival attracted an appreciative audience. The project support for the festival came from The Global Fund for Women. We give some photographs below:
One River, Many Streams
Women Writers' Camp 2006
In 2005 SPARROW worked out a project to celebrate and publish women’s writings called Leaps and Bounds. The project aimed to do this with a Women’s Expression Camp and a series of five volumes of translated stories and poems from 20 different languages. The Women’s Expression Camp was planned as a camp to bring together writers from various regions. It was conceived as a work-holiday camp, which would create a space for communication and sharing. SPARROW wanted to make an attempt through this camp to open up regions and languages that have not received attention so far and also make it possible for other regional writers to receive their experiences and also share their own experiences with them.
Space plays a very important part in the lives of women. Given a certain space, women can bring out from within what they never knew was there. Maybe one does not want to break into poetry or colours or music but would like space to just be—to look out of the window and stare at a flower or a squirrel. Creating such a space can create dialogues, communication and a sharing which may not otherwise be possible. The idea of a shared space even while having a private space to retire to was the notion that was at the heart of this extended and exploratory activity structured as a work-holiday camp planned for five days from January 26 to January 30, 2006.
The invitation we sent out told the writers that it would be a five-day camp where along with sounds of different languages they would also hear the sound of the sea waves.
For the Women’s Expression Camp, the participants were chosen through a process of conversation and exchange of ideas. We felt that the participants— about 50 in number—must be those who would feel that this expression camp would be an important dimension of their creative work. There would be no pressure to have results or obvious declarations of transformation. The idea was to create a space for sharing.
The camp that we organised had a programme of morning reading sessions organised in the dining room, a beautiful room surrounded by trees and evening reading sessions in the sand-filled courtyard of a formal seminar room. Nature walks, music programmes, film viewing, visit to the beach, games and open heart sessions in the night with different themes, with a cup of hot chocolate, were all built into the daily programme of the camp. We chose Kashid Beach Resort, which is an hour away from Alibagh for its beautiful Spanish-style bungalows and because of its enterprising manager Praveen. Another reason for choosing it was that mobile phones were non-functional there! We also decided to record the camp as it progressed, on video.
The camp was planned in this manner because we felt that a process of sharing, learning, communication and creative archiving would get linked with it. This is an open method that allows sharing and learning at various levels and is a participative method of working, generation of material and innovative archiving. It is also a method that combines several aspects and unifies them as an archiving and sharing experience that conscientises in the process of execution. Planned like a work-holiday, the Women’s Expression Camp, we felt, would dissolve tensions of interacting with one another and generate a camaraderie that would open up dialogues.
MADE Designers designed the camp with a lot of creative input from SPARROW. We decided to overwhelm the writers with huge 6ft by 3ft posters with their photographs and quotations from their works. Light bulbs were strung all over on the trees and other surrounding areas making the place look like a fairyland. We are happy we did that for when the writers arrived, after a six-hour bus ride that seemed endless, they were carried away by the gigantic posters and twinkling bulbs all over. In the twenty-four rooms we put impossible people together with a lot of loud complaints that this camp would be a bore. B.K. Sangma, a writer from Meghalaya, had to share a room with a young Punjabi writer, Deepinder. “I am sure I am going to have a terrible time with her broken English and my broken Hindi,” she complained. “Maybe it would generate a whole new way of communication,” we told her gently. On the last day, B.K Sangma, came to the mike and said with tears in her eyes that she was wrong; Deepinder and she were now sisters.
That was the kind of reaction the camp generated. There were a lot of readings, heated discussions, performances, dance and drama and a lot of laughter. The four editors of the volumes planned, Arundhathi Subramaniam, Menka Shivdasani and Sampurna Chattarjee made the reading sessions into lively listening sessions. At the end of the camp all of us felt exhausted but euphoric. The SPARROW girls were witnessing a camp of this nature for the first time and while it meant a lot of hard work for them it also meant a lot of enjoyment that was combined with learning. The photographs below, we hope, will speak for the camp and its success.
The camp was also covered in a digital film From Silence to Words, From Words to Silence.
Marching on the Roads: Making Oneself, Making History –Photo Exhibition on Double-Decker Buses
A Non-gallery Based Photo Exhibition
SPARROW has been involved with the work of alternative methods of narrating women’s history. Throughout the history of the nation, women have been out there on the roads fighting for the nation, demanding their rights, raising their voice against injustice, fighting for human dignity and demanding a world without war. Unless constant efforts are made to remember this history, it will be forgotten, hidden and ignored. In March, 2006, SPARROW decided to celebrate 8th March, International Women’s Day with an unusual celebration. On four double-decker buses running on four important routes through the city of Mumbai, SPARROW put up a photo exhibition of women marching on the streets from 1931 onwards fighting for various rights. The exhibition was entitled Marching on the Roads: Making Oneself, Making History. SPARROW also printed one lakh photo posters with the same photos and distributed them along with newspapers in Mumbai.