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VOL. I FALL 20161


The Hindi word “gaali” is often translated as “swear word” or some form of cheeky language, one that is as biting as it is raw. In the same breath, it is also language socially conceived as being an improper vernacular, unladylike, and unfitting for a model minority. We hope to channel this term through these pages, creating a platform for messy subcontinent expressions to fight the silencing many of us face in a world that constantly tries to extinguish our voices. We elevate the queer, the misplaced, the lost, and the forgotten. We spread across tongues, ethnicities, religions, and countries. We are the children of the diaspora - hear us roar. gaali gang is a radical zine focused on elevating the narratives of all South Asian diasporic intersectional identities, no matter how complicated or unconventional they may be. We hope you find as much enjoyment, strength, and community in these pieces as we did. We are greatful to our contributors for the trust and faith you had in us. Thanks for sharing your stories with us.

In solidarity, Payal & Jasmine

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THE CONSTRUCTION OF IDENTITY >> ayesha wadhawan Recently, my Indianness has come apart from me Pointless cotton, the unraveling edge of a kurti I cut shorter; in temperate weather, it makes no sense. I emit consonants like sudden drumbeats deafening and without rhythm Everyone looks up to see what the noise is. Indianness has become a character in a story I never stop telling but didn’t write. The moment I thought to search for it, it was lost When I tried to hide it, I identified it for others to see. To me, it feels false Not who I am, (I don’t get to just be) but something made up, and crudely pieced together. British leftovers with American condiments Ayesha Wadhawan studied A rubbery ham sandwich South Asian history at the On white bread. University of Chicago. She has lived in both India and the United States, and recently moved to La Rioja, Spain to pursue a teaching position.

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TO A YOUNG INDIAN GIRL >> amandeep dosanjh To a young Indian girl: Our ancestry is filled with beautiful and brave women and their blood flows through our veins and shines through our skin Our thick eyebrows resemble an army on our foreheads showing defiance and resilience in the face of harassment Our black hair is thick with the various aspects of our culture the beautiful clothes, mesmerizing music, and savory foods Our hairy bodies cover and protect our skin making us bold from any abuse, insults, racism, and prejudice thrown our way Our brown skin glows, radiates, represents our pride in a race that is marginalized and isolated Our big brown eyes tell a story of pain and oppression as we watched the women in our family become subordinated Don’t let anyone tell you that our women aren’t beautiful and brave despite all we’ve been through and all we have.

Amandeep Dosanjh is a SF Bay Area high school senior that enjoys spending her time watching T.V, creating art, and getting involved with social activism.

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GUAVAS IN THE QUIET >> urvi kumbhat

Seeds catch between teeth Like keys clicking in locks. I crunch on guava wedges Rock salt spread liberally like balm Coating my tongue in memory. The fan hums its whirring song, Warding off the summer afternoon. My dog slumbers, blissful, silent Brothers at school, parents at work I hunt for the perfect song, These are my quiet hours. 6


Juice weaves a river down my chin. My denim-clad legs are tributaries, Unfolding lazily on grey couches Pen poised in one hand, Guava in an outstretched palm, The corner of my eye rests on crows, resting in branches, And a page of my green and white diary lays unadorned, waiting. Thoughts tiptoe in my fugitive solitude Exercising restraint, for they know these are my quiet hours. I wallow in nothingness. Pen poised, diary open, scrawling Sifting through crawling thoughts. The cook makes me nimbu paani How does it feel to be back? Doorbells crash into the quiet, a rude alarm, A flurry of footsteps, spinning on marble Schoolbags clatter to the ground, forgotten. The hours that shimmered in the air, Hung up on time’s washing line, all for me Disappear as voices rise to the ceiling Everyone is home. Everyone is home, And I haven’t moved, haven’t said hello, Haven’t finished the guava in my palm But I’m home too.

Urvi Kumbhat is an Indian student at the University of Chicago, and can often be found curled into various gravity affirming positions on her bed. She is a feminist and coffee aficionado. 7


POSTCOLONIAL

LANGUAGE hiba ali 8


(continued on p.18-19) 99


CHENNAI EXPRESS >> anirudh pennathur “Dai machan! Loosu maari pesatha, football-a pass pannu da!” (Dude! Don’t be an idiot, pass the football!)

acai bowls and great burritos and I’ve made more trips to San Francisco than I can count. But, at least for the initial part of my life, what came along with this Bay Area identity “Nee open-a-ve-illa!” (You’re not open!) was a surface-level understanding of my own culture. My idea of Indian culture, a “Naan open than da iruthen, sevudu!” function of what I was exposed to, was quite (I was open, you’re deaf!) westernizes. That is to say, I struggled to grasp India beyond Shah Rukh Khan and This abuse-laden amalgamation of Tamil and samosas. To be fair, my parents would do English was a medium I started thinking in. It their best to help me understand the roots was supposed to be Biology, but our acharya behind the traditions we participated in, the (we had to call teachers acharyas (gurus) at cultural significance of various pujas and my school) hadn’t arrived in 15 minutes, so they would try to maintain my competency what did us 8th grade schoolboys do but in the language by speaking to me mostly head down to the football pitch and play in Tamil. However, all of these things felt for the rest of the period though lunch. I like tasks though, and I always returned to was clearly open, but my friend couldn’t Bollywood so that I could talk about it with get a good pass in, so that gave me open all my other Indian friends at school. By the ground to mock him. Which really was 95% time 3rd grade rolled around, I didn’t speak of the fun of these games in the first place. Tamil anymore. Anyway, as I think back to running around in the hot Chennai sun I realize that in Fate, however, would see to it that I would retrospect, I should’ve probably been more be acquainted with a beautiful culture vocal about my friend passing the ball. I I’d never known by forcibly putting me should’ve been more vocal about a lot of in the midst of it. Sparing the details of things, not the least being one particular an emotional move, when I was actually problem I’ve noticed as my life has gone on. in the thick of schooling in Chennai, under a foreign school system, I found I’m your typical Bay Area boy. I was born myself taking in a lot of culture and and raised here for most of my life, I like inadvertently bolstering my identity as wearing shorts and sandals to work, I love both and Indian an as a Tamil. By virtue 10


of being close to my grandparents, I would hear stories about the evolution of language from ancient Tamil, great poets like Thiruvalluvar, the political climate in Revolution era Tamil Nadu and the confusing, often hilarious, web of Tamil politics. Not only did I gain historical knowledge, but I also acquired, as India’s first YouTube star Wilbur Sargunaraj calls it, cultural intelligence (CQ). I attended classical concerts during Hindu festivals. I would eat idlis and vadais on a banana leaf in the morning and then hang out in one of Chennai’s fantastic malls in the evening. I would shop for vegetables in the street bazaars, play street cricket with my friends, visit temples on weekends and make sure to catch all of Superstar Rajinikanth’s movies. I travelled to the beaches of Pondicherry and drank water right out of the coconut and visited ancestral villages and the beautiful hills of Ooty and Kodaikanal. But above all those little experiences, the value of my time in India lay in the realization that the spirit of the people there was something I’d never encountered before. I lived near a slum community where every mother would give their child more than they themselves had. The notions of a typical family were

broken down as the community became a larger extended family. Some of the boys even joined in our cricket games, and any characteristics that could theoretically divide us dissipated on the street. More than anything else in India, this spirit of community stuck with me. I lived a relatively simple lifestyle and missed out on a good chunk of American culture, but I wouldn’t trade the experience for the world. Which is perhaps why when I got back to the Bay Area for high school, I found myself very disillusioned with the Indian community. For an area that contains as much cultural diversity as it does, the elements of Indian culture that come out of the Bay Area are very much watered down and North-centric. The various cultural shows that occur throughout the year are often Bollywood dance extravaganzas with cheesy MC’s making references to Kuch Kuch Hota Hai on a yearly basis. Bharathanatyam, a classical Tamil dance, was becoming a stepping stone to Bollywood dance and college applications. The circuit of Carnatic music, became less about the cultural significant of the Tamil and Sanskrit ragas that were being sung and more about would be the next breakout star. I was fortunate enough to grow up

“THE SPIRIT OF THE PEOPLE THERE WAS SOMETHING I’D NEVER ENCOUNTERED BEFORE...THE NOTIONS OF A TYPICAL FAMILY WERE BROKEN DOWN AS THE COMMUNITY BECAME A LARGER EXTENDED FAMILY” 11


within two contexts and contrasting them, I was able to discern my own place within the Indian community and feel proud of my roots. But not everyone has the ability to have the experiences I’ve had, nor am I compelling people to want to. I just think to distill Indian culture to a couple of bite-sized easily digestible pieces greatly overlooks the diversity that makes Indian culture so wonderful in the first place. And unfortunate as it is, this isn’t uniquely a problem within Indian diasporas. Take the Chennai floods, for instance. It was easily one of the worst natural disasters of 2015, yet the national media did not report on it for a week. Instead, relief efforts were coordinated by citizens as well as local celebrities who worked nonstop to deliver aid. The fact such an event was not reported on for a week shows even in India there’s a way to go before we represent every region. Chennai might be the example that comes to mind, but this problem applies to East India and the other states of South and Central India as well. But despite all of this, following the spirit of community that was present in Chennai revived in me the spirit of pride I’ve slowly developed my entire life - to be a Chennaiite, to be a Tamilian, to be an Indian.

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Anirudh Pennathur is a second year at the University of Chicago majoring in Economics and Statistics. He’s from San Jose, California but lived in Chennai, India for four years. Some of his hobbies include singing, music production, creative writing and tennis.


‘THE CALLING OF ST. MATTHEW’ BY CARAVAGGIO REIMAGINED AS A SCENE FROM THE RAMAYANA WHERE RAMA IS SUMMONED BY VISWAMITRA. From left to right: Shatrughna, Dasharatha, Rama, Lakshmana, Bharata, Vishishta, Viswamitra.

Anjali Shenai studies Communications Design with an emphasis on Illustration at Pratt Institute.

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PALATABLE >> m. haque Growing up, I was described by words that made me sound more like the subject of a food critic’s latest review than a human. I am spicy, specifically a ‘curry’ in my homeland Australia I am coffee-colored, delicious, hot chocolate— round like a rasgulla Most of the time these comments are compliments Well-meaning remarks from even more well-intentioned friends In fact, I’m still not sure if this bothers me (I’m more hungry at this point than irate, admittedly) But it is a pause that’s given me food for thought Maybe I should reduce to a simmer before I burn somebody?

Born and raised in Australia and America, M.Haque is a college student in Chicago who has grown to love South Asian food more since she left home.

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WOMEN >> amandeep dosanjh He said That I can’t possibly have a moustache And be a women My mom said I had a moustache Because I’m human And it made me wonder Are women human?

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TRIGGER WARNINGS: abuse self-harm

ATROPHIC MORALITY >> swati sudarsan Was it perverse? That damaged love I made, The mishandled love I became. Or was it astute? To proliferate and expel my pain. Liquid heat pooled to my face from The voracity used to draw scarlet bullets. Each one begged for tears to embrace, Instead twisted in salacious sweat. In the gray between ruse and vow Was an exorcism of absent demons, Which sent my heart into my head To pound out the beat of attack. Thus an insidious love affair began between Cool metal lilting in me and on me. The only sedation the moment could bear Was a sympathy prayer for each slash. The smell of climax Murdered grandeur and trance. I was not quite a blank slate (a little marred for that), but reborn a sociopath unto my own. I hid my coagulated trophies For the four full weeks which I was tender: To the touch and to myself. Woozy in solitude of breathing raw, Literally wearing the pain that no one saw.

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THE AFTERTHOUGHTS >> swati sudarsan I thought of us as puzzle pieces Existing apart But meant to be together. And that’s why I let you Say I love you With the vigor one would spit spoilt milk. I gave in return a whisper so gentle it melted thorns from roses. You wondered why I stared at the horizon when I said it back. I never told you that I was lost a bit beyond. I’ve often felt in between: Happiness and tears Numbness and healing Forgiving and forgetting I loved my friends that chose you And hated them for the same reason. I wished you would stop drinking I wished I could stop feeling. I hated that believed you for so long That it took me so much numb To realize that I am everything You told me I was not. And more. He told me that what you did was unforgiveable. And I almost believed it. When I forgave, (it’s not been but 2 days) I felt clean, I felt me.

Swati is femme, queer, and indulges through writing and photography. She is a Masters student at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health. 1717


Hiba Ali is a digital media artist and writer from Chicago, Illinois, United States. She hol of Fine Arts in Film, Video, New Media and Animation and a Bachelor of Arts in Visual Critic media, its industry and technological infrastructure. She publishes reviews about socially e projects in Chicago (IL), New York (NY), Detroit (MI), Ann Arbor (MI), London (UK) and Dubai can be contacted at hibaaliatwork@gmail.com. 18


lds two undergraduate degrees from the School of the Art Institute Chicago with a Bachelor cal Studies. Her research focuses on the intersection of the history and theory of new engaged art in Newcity, THE SEEN and VAM Magazine. She has exhibited her digital media i (UAE). She is a MFA in Transmedia candidate at UT Austin, her website is hibaali.info and

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FAMILY, 4.0 >> minna jaffery My niece, Sofia, is a firecracker of a fiveyear-old. Her attitude towards everything is that she’s over it. She’s more like a 50-yearold divorcee than a toddler, if you can ignore her three-foot-tall frame, her chubby cheeks and her slight lisp. Sofia is everything that my family was scared of—my cousin, Kaiser, married Lily, a Catholic Bolivian. My large extended family loves Lily, but they weren’t sure if Sofia would be raised as the rest of us had been —in a strictly Pakistani, Muslim household. Naturally, Sofia is not raised in the same environment I was. Her home is filled with photos of smiling relatives, as mine is, but she has a Christmas tree and a distinct lack of Islamic art. She speaks Spanish with her mother, whereas I speak Urdu with mine. It’s not that my family isn’t accepting of other cultures—they are, so long as other cultures don’t infringe upon our own. We have been Pakistani since Partition, and though my cousin, Alina, married an Indian man, we always seem to forget that Lily is not the first non-Pakistani person in the family. The elder members of my family, my mother’s oldest brothers, claim that they only care about religion—that they want the best for the future generations of Khans, and that includes whatever comes after death. It has been a constant struggle against modernity for decades now—the Khans immigrated to Virginia in the ‘70s and ‘80s, and though they have adapted well to the multicultural climate, they have 20

not assimilated. All of our family friends are Pakistani or from the South Asian subcontinent; we have not branched out much from the place we all came from. My Virginia relatives are still concentrated within a 10-mile radius of the apartment where my grandmother used to live. We are not good at change. My cousins and I are the third generation of Khans to live in America; Sofia is the fourth. While the rest of the world encourages and embraces the melting pot of America, my family lives in utter fear of it. I understand their concerns about wanting to preserve our cultures and traditions; it is certainly something that I feel strongly about, too. But they seem to think that these traditions are things that are sacred and cannot be altered or adjusted. Despite the fact that Lily hosts our Sunday brunches, complete with classic Pakistani brunch staples, the family is still weary of any outside influences. Growing up in Bahrain meant that I was raised differently than many of my cousins. My female cousins typically did not have male friends, unless they were family friends, whereas my male friends have been a large part of my life for as long as I can remember. I went to my senior prom with all the pomp and circumstance it deserved, but my cousins snuck out with their dates to go to theirs. Early on, I was brought into the inner circle of secrets that exist only among cousins. Maryam, the only other female cousin who lives in Virginia, told me about the boy she had a crush on as my induction into the world of the “big kids”, where lying to your parents was not only necessary, but


“While the rest of the world encourages and embraces the melting pot of America, my family lives in utter fear of it.�

VISHA KANYA neha kapil

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also cool. I was seven, walking around an outlet mall. I just wanted a sparkly hairbrush; instead, I was saddled with knowing things that I could not tell my parents. Years later, she ran away with a boy she was seeing, only to be tracked down in New York by a cousin who lived there. I told my mother that I knew of the boy she was with, but I had never imagined that she’d take her lying this far. I choked through tears, and my mother felt betrayed that I hadn’t told her sooner. Now that we are all older, there are fewer secrets. Hidden boyfriends became cousinsin-law, and stories of rambunctious dating are long-gone, replaced with overlapping talk about where to move next, what careers their husbands will pursue. Discussions of pregnancy and children fills the living rooms during family brunch, and we all watch as Sofia and her cousins run around, squealing with excitement over seeing their relatives from far away. Subtle pressure to get married is applied roundly to us unmarried folk, no matter what age we might be. We marry for efficiency, not love. My mother did not get married till she was 27, which is still considered on the later end of the spectrum of eligible women. She married my father because their parents essentially told them that they should. From the time I was five years old I knew separation was inevitable. That’s not to say that arranged marriages do not always work out; my aunt Sarah, my mother’s sister, seems happy with her husband, a marriage that was arranged through the parental forces that be. Marriages cannot fail in our family; if they do, it happens in secret. I’m still not sure how many of my relatives know that my parents 22

no longer speak. The secrets come and go, but decorum will always prevail. My grandmother mostly assembled my mother’s siblings’ marriages. She was a titan with the take no shit attitude necessary for raising seven kids. She kept a close eye on all of them, even as they navigated immigration and their careers. Three of my uncles were pilots in the Pakistani Air Force, and while they were away training, she focused her attention on making her two daughters suitable for marriage, as was expected in 1970s Pakistan. My mother brags about cooking and cleaning from a young age, seeming to think that because I take after my father, I must not know how to be a proper woman the way that she was taught to be. She has decided that since I did not struggle the way that she did, I have no understanding of how she was brought up. She may be right. My mother’s family struggled when they moved to the States, as did my father when he entered America as a student at a small college in Ohio. They worked hard for everything that they earned; they were scrappy in ways I have only heard about in stories or seen in movies. They fought to give me the life that I have been afforded, complete with living as an expatriate in an area defined by its luxury. I never had a summer job until I started college, and when I did, I did not have to worry about how I would pay for my next quarter at school. I was never fighting to get married so that I could get a meal ticket for the rest of my life. The women in my family are whip smart


BIRTH OF SATYAVATI neha kapil

“My family is not good at change...But as the family grows, so do our opinions, the body of advice we have to offer younger generations.�

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and quick witted. They are not unintelligent, yet very few of them have made careers for themselves. They stick to the old conventions of staying at home while their husband remains the breadwinner. That being said, I bear witness to what a big commitment it is to have children, how much time and love and effort they require. Perhaps by the time I get married and have children, my family will have progressed to the point where having a career won’t be looked down on. Though there has been a great deal written about women having families and fulfilling careers, none of it seems to have made its way to oursmall pocket of Northern Virginia. Marriage is considered a career of its own, and I don’t doubt that that’s true. Taking care of a family and a home, especially one that welcomes so many so warmly, is a worthwhile endeavor and one at which the Khan women excel. They are kind and gracious, always generous with their love and their bountiful cooking. The women in my family love fiercely and wearily. They will care until it kills them, and they think this grants them the opportunity to give advice on whatever they deem appropriate, from how to set a table to the kind of person I should marry. They invest themselves wholeheartedly in the next generation, but they cannot accept the things that make us different. My aunts will always have complicated feelings about Sofia; they love her, but she also represents the future of the family, a future in which our culture mixes with others in ways that they cannot comprehend. They love her brother, Mikhail, who is four months old. He cannot 24

exhibit signs of otherness yet, and thus he is still one of us. They find Sofia’s lisp adorable until she slips into Spanish, when they think her loud voice is too much. My family is not good at change. We can adapt but we refuse to change what is fundamental to our beings. But as the family grows, so do our opinions, the body of advice we have to offer younger generations. And though Sofia is growing up faster than I can anticipate, I wonder what secrets she will keep, if any. Right now, she thinks boys are icky, except for Prince Eric from The Little Mermaid, and she prefers napping to being with her friends. Her brother likes sleeping and being quiet, and she bellows excitedly through the house when we arrive for brunch. I cannot say whether she will be told that she should get married immediately after college, or if going to school out of state will be frowned upon, but I do know that the advice I have to offer her is different from the advice my mother gave me.

Minna Jaffery is a Pakistani girl living in northern Virginia-stan.


URVASHI neha kapil

Neha Kapil is a visual artist based out of Minneapolis, specializing in painting, illustration, and mixed media work. Her work is strongly influenced by her Indian heritage and upbringing in the South Asian American Community. Through her work, she aims to explore the connections between traditional Indian patterns and fashions, storytelling, Desi pop culture, and the portrayal of women throughout Indian history.

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chai tea naan bread ghee butter chutney sauce Zakir’s a queer & desi Chicago artist looking to make friends! Visit them at zaqueercutie.tumblr.com! This piece was originally drawn as cover art for a Desi Electronica track of the same title, which can be found at soundcloud.com/zaqueer 26


THE GHOSTS OF MURDERED TRANSFEMMES PROTECT ME

zaqueer 27


“IF I MUST DIE, LET IT BE AT THE HANDS OF A WOMAN”*: REFLECTIONS ON THE GODDESS OF DESTRUCTION >> anisha kali is my desi feminist heroine. i was an anxious nerdy young brown girl when i said that kali is my favorite goddess, that her strength made me feel powerful in a world that convinces me that i am obsolete. every time my parents would take my unwilling, non-practicing, non-believing self to a temple, i’d always spend some extra time in front of kali. her garland was created by the heads of the men she has killed, her bright red tongue always sticking out, and her fierce eyes constantly gazing upon her terrified worshippers. sometimes, she would wear a skirt made out of bloody human arms, or wield a blood-stained knife in one of her several hands.

classmates who were just talking about how they watched the recent Saw movie. despite my undying love for kali and these comics, i can’t ignore hinduism’s obvious issues with colorism & casteism & antiblackness.

in one story, kali saves a brahmin monk from being sacrificed to her statue by a group of thieves. did she only save him because he was a scholarly light-skinned monk? would she still have saved him if he was dalit? that is why my mother still reminds me “don’t forget we’re brahmins.” my brahmin privilege means i get to go to college, i get to assimilate into white supremacy, i get in 2004, i became obsessed with goddess to get told that “i don’t sound like i’m not kathas. not that i really believed in it, american!” because at the end of the day, but because my mother would buy me the caste system to me represents how india AnantPai’s comic-book version of these tries to overcome the terrors of colonialism: stories. and i liked comics. i brought one of by instituting our own fucked up power the comic book kathas called “Tales of Durga“ system that makes no sense. (amarchitrakatha)** into my english class. two literal brown-skinned goddesses, durga kali’s skin is usually extremely dark, and kali, were beheading a group of evil portrayed in a way that reminds me of a men, with only their divine female power. my disturbing outdated racist caricature. but white Australian english teacher said it was it isn’t just her, the other dark-skinned “extremely violent” and wouldn’t let me pass characters in kathas are the monsters, the it around class. these hindu stories were my demons, the thieves, the “bad guys.” as a first exposure to comic books and my first non-black person of color, it’s obvious that feminist connection to my desi heritage… even though i experience racism i still have yet they were deemed too violent and to unlearn anti-black prejudice. southasian inappropriate for my rich, white expatriate culture has constantly reinforced anti-black 28


sentiments - for example, the skin whitening cream: “fair and lovely: transforming faces and impacting lives!” - and the dark-skinned religious images are always cast as the evil, violent and destructive powers, which clearly reinforces our internal issue of anti-black racism. even though i’m not religious, i care immensely about kali. she showed me that women are powerful, that indian women can hold power over strong men, that indian women can work together to combat evil forces. i have such a lack of powerful south asian woman role models in my life and she fills that gap while also satisfying my sci-fi/horror obsession. i wish to wear her garland of heads one day - except the heads on my garland would represent the white heteropatriarchy that holds me back after i finally conquer them and establish myself as a strong, powerful desi dyke. *the title comes from the anantpai comic mentioned in this piece: tales of durga. mahisha (an evil dude) says this to brahma to escape death and achieve immortality because he doesn’t believe a woman can harm him. then he is killed by durga. **kalimaa is an incarnation of durga, who is the most powerful and strong goddess in hinduism. she is the destroyer of evils, an all-around badass divine lady being.

Anisha is a south indian activist & fake gaymer grrrl who spends most of her time thinking about cyborgs, donuts and lesbian vampires. Originally from singapore, she currently lives in Boston, MA. 29


say goodbye to the nightmare on automatic pilot.

collars too tight or the wallet's too tight. 30


i ain't abt to sacrifice my body for machine parts auxiliary. Clockwise from top left: UNTITLED CONSISTING OF DRIPS AND SWIRLS FACES IN CLOUDS, BYE-BYE GHOST: A DRAWING BY MY COUSIN, ADWIK IN REACTION TO A RECURRING DREAM @1gunda1 from the kunj. garb n prints. pce n pwr

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GLASS, RICE-PAPER, AND OTHER TYPES OF CEILINGS OBSTRUCTING WOMEN IN THE WORKPLACE >> preethi raju In the second largest country in the world by population, and one that is fast growing, it’s frustrating that India ranks 11th from the bottom in the world for female labor-force participation. In fact, labor force participation from Indian women actually fell from nearly one-third to 24 percent last year.

that females working and controlling assets lowers domestic violence and increases female decision-making in the household. However, if women are allowed to take jobs, they are often offered lower-paid and less qualified positions than which they deserve for their education level.

Why?

Notable examples in South Asia include Bangladesh, where the garment industry which accounts for over 75% of national export earnings has an 80% female labor force in this market. The economic growth in this sector in the past caused more parents to invest in female education, and delayed marriage. Also, only one in ten Indian companies are led by women, but more than half are in finance; women are more commonly found as leaders of top Indian public and private banks. Additionally, slightly more than one in ten Indian pilots are women (this is more than three times the percentage worldwide).

Truth be told, this is still a country where the period was considered taboo- and still is, in many places. It was not uncommon to hear of shocking practices to protect from public or private spaces from “impure” women who would “contaminate”. But let us focus on the women’s advancements. More women are becoming educated (it has been shown in many countries women earn equal or more college degrees than men), and many housewives wish to work. However, the opportunities simply aren’t available to them. The general patriarchal consensus to keep women from working exists to protect women from non-familial males in the workplace- in other words, to keep them “pure”. The double standard is staggering. Purity and chastity seem to be two key traits which, when prized in women, also hold women back from realizing their true potential. Having a job actually pays women more than in just wages- it has been shown 32

One article I read postulated that we needed more quotas for female leaders and female workers in order to shorten the gender gap. This policy, when implemented on a small level, has been shown to have successful and positive results in India. But the article bemoaned that there wasn’t enough political action towards this end, only talk of it.


Unfortunately, even when women fight to find a place in the top leadership positions (especially in a foreign country), they find themselves faced with an uphill climb. Only three to four percent of chief executive positions and 24 percent of senior positions are held by women worldwide. Surprisingly, Southeast Asian women hold 35% of senior executive positions. In China, this was fueled mainly by the fast-growing economy, the now-defunct one-child policy making more women only children, more male participation in family rearing, more domestic laborers freeing women from household chores, easy access to childcare, etc. Yet even women at the top face personal struggles integral to their gender or racial identity. It is not unusual for female leaders to be faced with stereotypes, derogatory comments, or demeaning remarks- i.e. they are often assumed to be supporting workers, not leaders; they are seen to be “different” from the normal stereotype of the housewife or the Asian; they are complimented for speaking English well (even those born in the U.S.), they were given their positions because of a quota or a diversity goal, etc.

just have to be qualified; they have to be more qualified, and willing to sacrifice more. Hopefully, the upward trends of women’s participation in the workforce will continue, drive by changes in policy and thought.

Preethi Raju is a junior at the University of Chicago studying biology, economics, how to subvert the patriarchal paradigm, and the art of shattering glass ceilings. In her free time she loves to dance and explore Chicago.

It’s astonishing to me that Asian women still face so much pressure today. Even when they work for equal or better education, they have to contend with numerous factors to climb to the top. Personal anecdotes from women have led me to be critical of women being given the almost Sisyphean task of taking care of their children, cleaning, cooking, going to work, helping their husbands, taking care of extended family, taking care of bills, etc. I find myself wondering when they sleep. They don’t 33


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ROOTS >> anonymous i keep wishing that when i wake up before dawn one of these days, i can find some scratch paper write the world a hasty note like “i have nothing left” and slip out the door, quiet but my backbone won’t give. somehow i have become my mother’s daughter. born woven into this great legacy of overworked bravery night-shift work boot thumping strained shouting into telephones falling asleep on the couch over coupons erupting into a full sob in solitude over soapy plates in the sink always praying for the oceans to shrink cooking up a resilience of necessity by the bowlful, warm kitchen smells worth conquering continents comforting constantly as if by compulsion

thin skin and sunken-eyed sighing in the sun heart always stuck between a rock and too many longings, scattered across my body like seeds absence blooms in me, the inverse of spilling blood and i pack these spaces with dirt, tenderly if one day i become a field, will you tend to me? will you till my backbone, that it may give way at last under the weight of new life? eat whatever fruit grows with your bare hands, baring your teeth sharp like i taught you let the juices drip into your cavedstomach growling our bodies will never unlearn hunger

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LESSONS >> sudip bhattacharya not every Bengali who speaks Bengali is “Cultured� not every person who speaks English is Western not every bomb dropped is evil not every evil person get bombed. ... September 11, 2001: Terrorists hijacked airplanes and used them to kill thousands in NYC. We were 13 and in school and some of us got called down to see the principal. Some of us were told our parents had died. September 11, 1973: Chilean General Augusto Pinochet, with the help of the United States, overthrew the democratically elected government of Chile, and who for the subsequent decades afterward, imposed his own brand of fascism on his people. September 12, 2001: The cafeteria served chicken patties and some type of lasagna. ... January 20, 1981: Former actor and governor of California, Ronald Reagan, is inaugurated as President of the United States. Millions of Americans cheer and wave American flags. Once in office, he helps to create the biggest divide between rich and poor since the Great Depression, and continued to ignore the issues affecting communities of color. Reagan is reelected three years later. January 20, 2009: Millions crowd around their TV sets, computers, tablets, and around the White House to experience the inauguration of President Barack Obama, the first person of color to serve as president of the United States. January 20, 2009: We were 20 years old and watched with friends, our eyes filling up, our hearts feeling strong again. This was our time. Our time. This was it. We can do this, we knew. We can do this. January 21, 2009: Wake up, and go to class, go to work. ... April 3, 2007: At Rutgers University, we filed out of our classrooms and filled into the front lawns between college buildings, calling for an end to the Iraq War. We chanted and marched round and round the main campus and area around New Brunswick. April 3, 2007: We played Guitar Hero in our dorm rooms, as the protests swelled outside, playing music by the Beatles as the air got thick with prayers for an end. 36


April 4, 2007: We go to class. We finish our assignments with that person in class we have a secret crush on but don’t say anything cause it would feel weird to do so, right…? April 5, 2007: We smoke weed, and cry, and laugh, and then fall out of dreams. April 5, 2007: We don’t smoke weed anymore, unless with friends. ... not every Bengali who speaks Bengali is “Cultured” not every person who speaks English is Western not every bomb dropped is evil not every evil person get bombed. The Great Recession looped and looped, Reagan smiling from the coals beneath our feet People power Boarded up storefronts/ thousands of dollars in debt for that degree at Rutgers go, find a job, file out, file in, smoke some drink some find love. listen to some good music as you stay in your corner of the party, as the only one who doesn’t drink, who never smoke weed or anything, who writes and paints and prays, and then makes jokes about god cause god is your friend cause you and god are a first-name basis by now. listen to some voices at the party, and think about that person like you, the same age, on the other side of the globe. Sudip Bhattacharya is a writer, PhD student in political science, journalist, and believer in positive change in society.

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a l a s a M tion i d E

gaali gang vol. 1  

gaali gang is a radical zine focused on sharing the experiences of diasporic South Asian identities, no matter how non-traditional or rebell...

gaali gang vol. 1  

gaali gang is a radical zine focused on sharing the experiences of diasporic South Asian identities, no matter how non-traditional or rebell...

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