The large matrimonial portraits of women that formed the backdrop of the stage set the context beautifully. Without articulating it directly Srota was able to bring out a clear gender lens in the discussion. Initially some of the participants had been reluctant to discuss the politics of matrimonial photography and wanted to more broadly speak about studio photography, however the backdrop and Srota carefully designed questions brought out the politics very strongly. This to me was the biggest success of the event. By the end of the evening a rapt audience got completely immersed in a discussion on the changing expectations on women as wives, evolving notions on marriage and the man’s role etc. Some asked that the discussion be taken to wider audiences and made more direct in terms of its messaging. How the discussion and the engagement of the speakers evolves over the next iterations will be exciting to experience.
I was also relieved to see how the event had brought together many of the neighbours- the empty seats half an hour into the event were soon full, the tea and bodas were flying off the counter! It was comforting to see how engaging local residents had helped us to reach out to their neighbours. Srota's attempts to widen and deepen her engagement with people in the neighbourhood had paid off!
A few complicated and a few simple things to keep in mind for the next iteration-
- How can we build on the participation of the speakers and the Pal Bari? How do we balance the urge to reach new communities yet keep the project grounded by developing the existing relationships further?
- How can we consider the interests and motivations of the participants while designing the event?
- What do we hope are the outcomes?
- Signs need to be bigger.
- Need envelopes for gifts.
- Napkins and water are a must, along with Cha and snacks :)