Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Reading and Ranting...

Dear all,

Winter was a myth this year, and spring just flew by like words out of a book of poetry.

Hope your summer is off to a good start. After a lazy, relaxed Memorial Day, it’s time for me to make some noise. Okay, partake in some upcoming readings and conferences. And I really hope to see at least some of your friendly faces in the audience.

Thursday, May 31, 6:30-8:30 pm
Ken Siegelman's Brooklyn Poetry Outreach: May Featured Poet Sweta Vikram
Barnes & Noble Park Slope
267 7th Avenue (6th Street)
Brooklyn, NY 11215

Sunday, June 17, 3-5 pm
Queens Council on The Arts
Crossing Art Gallery, Flushing
with Jacqueline Donado and Miguel Falquez-Certain

Sunday, June 24, 9:00 am-6:00 pm (My segment TBA)
Vishwa Hindu Parishad
New Dorp High School, Staten Island
Theme: Self Identity and Connecting with your Roots

Sunday, June 24, 7-8:30 pm
Brownstone Poets Anthology Launch
163 Court Street
Cobble Hill, Brooklyn, NY 11201 Phone # (718) 875-3677
Take the F or G to Bergen St., R to Court St., 4 or 5 to Borough Hall

Saturday, June 30, 1:30-3:30 pm
Cultural Consonance: A reading of cross cultural literature between Queens and the world
Greater Astoria Historical Society
Quinn Building, 35-20 Broadway, 4th Floor, Long Island City, NY 11106
(near the M/R train at Steinway or the NQ train at Broadway)
with Nancy Agabian, Ahimsa Timoteo Bodhran, Joseph O. Legaspi, and Margarita Soto
$5 suggested donation

In other news, I won a scholarship to Wesleyan Writers Conference in Connecticut and will be attending the conference (super-psyched) in mid-June. I've also been selected by the Queens Council on The Arts as one of six participants in their Build Your Own Business (BYOB) Program—a professional development program for writers. My poetry chapbook, “Beyond the Scent of Sorrow,” was nominated for the Indie Lit Awards towards end of 2011. One of the judges interviewed me, and we spoke about poetry and where it comes from. Kismet? A memorable trip to Greece in December of 2011 led to the birth of my newly published travel essay: “The Allure of Socrates’ Land.”

Between January and May 2012, several of my poems were published: and also personal essays:

The councilman from Queens invited me to share my poetry at Immigrant Heritage Awards while NY1 named yours truly as “Queens Person of the Week.”

Did I mention that my first column, "Femininity and Feminism--do we misuse the two F-Words?"  appeared in Delhi-based Democratic World:

Other publishing and mad & wicked news is on my website: www.swetavikram. But you know where to find me in person (at a watering hole near you:-)), email (, Facebook (, and Twitter (@ssvik)

Wish you a splendid week!

More until next time,


Copyright © 05.30.2012

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Revealing the Dirty Indian Psyche?

Sorry for being MIA. Work, work, and more work had kept me away from you guys. But I did read and watch the news. And a few stories ate me up alive! And many others filled me with shame.

Despite all the economic growth and materialism flooding India, certain behaviors and attitudes remain unchanged about the country. We still don't respect our women. It starts at home and the culture is reflected in the thought process of even lawmakers and protectors of the law.

A few weeks ago, there was an article in the First PostFrom the Delhi police: Why women deserve to be raped. Sure, women have a tattoo on their foreheads that scream: “Come, violate me. And then put my dignity on trial as the lawyers make me relive the nightmare while the perpetrator roams scot free!”

Did I mention that New Delhi isn’t just India’s capital, but it is also the rape capital of the country? According to a report by the National Crime Control Bureau, 23 per cent of rape cases in the urban areas took place in Delhi. 1 of every 4 rapes in India is committed in Delhi.

Tehelka stint aimed at over twenty police stations across the Delhi-NCR area revealed harsh, crude, misogynist testimonies of cops (30 senior police officers, not havaldars). I urge you to read the full story in details here because I am going to paraphrase—it upsets me to re-read the profanities and delve into the sick mentality of these police officers. These so-called protectors of the law gave reasons why they thought women asked to be violated. “If you’re “really” raped, you would never complain. If you complain, you were not “really” raped.”

Not too long ago, in Gurgaon, also known as “ the outsourcing mega-city south of New Delhi,” police authorities came up with a law that doesn’t permit women to work after 8 p.m. To combat sex crimes, these pervert geniuses put a curfew on women, the victims, but the perpetrators of rape enjoy freedom. Amazing how even the lawmakers are gender-biased! The desire to control the weaker sex under all circumstances!

On paper we might say great things about women, but in reality, in the Indian society we work with the notion that women are commodities that can be treated like dirt. Go back in time and remember; it started with Sita and Draupadi.

The hero of RamayanaRama, might have been a good ruler and a perfect son, but he was a lousy husband to Sita and an irresponsible father. He asked Sita to prove her chastity twice when she was abducted because of him! She was in the jungle, when Ravan took her away, because of Rama and his unreasonable promise to his parents.

In Mahabharata, Draupadi, like a platter of food, was shared between five brothers: the Pandavas. And then molested by her cousin brother-in-laws because her loser husbands made and lost a bet. I am appalled; who the hell gave the Pandavas the authority to use their wife as a chip at a casino?!

The situation is only slightly altered today. Sure, my generation has more number of workingwomen, which brings financial independence. But that doesn't mean women are empowered, safe, or respected. They are still considered as property. Education has enabled people to hide their animal instincts better.

Women are beaten up, insulted, burnt to death, but we barely do anything. In-laws choose to say what they want and behave inhumanly, but a daughter-in-law is expected to put up with it because she has the XX chromosomes. A woman. Whatever a woman does is never enough or adequate—there are always mistakes pointed out. There is one set of rules for the daughters and another for the daughter-in-laws. But no one says a word to the man—be it the son or the son-in-law.

I recently watched a commercial for an Indian product: hygiene wash called Clean & Dry Intimate Wash. This skin-lightening product promises Indian women “fresher” and “fairer” private parts. As if demeaning matrimonial ads in newspapers about facial skin color weren’t humiliating; for a woman to seem desirable, the society now wants her to have “brightened” nether parts. Wow, our Indian society is incredible at creating new ways of demoralizing women.

What do people fear about women that they feel the need to suppress them? Or to dominate them? Or break them psychologically? For a country like India with rich culture and heritage, poor thoughts about fairer feminine private parts or torturing daughter-in-laws or believing women ask for violence, is degrading. Don't you think the only goal these opinions and acts accomplish is in revealing the dirty Indian psyche?

More until next time,
Copyright © 05.01.2012

“The thing women have yet to learn is nobody gives you power. You just take it.” ~Roseanne Barr