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‘We give sex a good name’: an interview with Paromita Vohra Darshana S. Mini & Anirban K. Baishya

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  ABSTRACT In India's censorial climate where debates about pornography exist only in terms of criminality, illegality, and the underground circuit, a feminist and pleasure-positive space has emerged under the aegis of (non-state-sponsored) sex education. In this playing field, the multimedia project and website Agents of Ishq (AoI) has emerged as a major voice in normalizing conversations about sex, pleasure, and even porn. Founded by the feminist filmmaker, artist, and curator Paromita Vohra, AoI carries essays, videos, and images that focus on fostering a community of readers/interlocutors that talk, teach, and learn freely about sex. In a sense, AoI approaches these matters in the same spirit as Vohra does in her filmmaking and her other work. In this interview, Paromita Vohra speaks to us about her films, artwork, AoI, and the effort to create a stigma-free ‘private public’ where people can talk about their desires, pleasure and sexuality. Introduction Speak

STATION HALTS: Bombay's Quarter Bars

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This piece originally appeared in Time Out Mumbai, I think in October or November 2004 or 2005. It's a pity their archive is not online.   There’s nightclubs. And then there’s nightlife, that netherworld of the heart, easily unbound by a peg or two. For those who bemoan Bombay’s lack of café culture,where have you been? Bombay’s quarter bars – unexceptional, no-class drinking rooms – are full of men, the occasional women, and the moist buzz of a crowd drinking and talking about love, loss, art, stocks, office politics and cosmic truth. They are all here, salesmen, admen, managers, actors, teachers; the overworked, the unemployed, the enigmatically solitary, the habitually melancholic or alcoholic, the naturally gregarious or drunk on one beer, the eternally unrequited, the perpetually hopeful. Not seeing or being seen – just the citizenry, celebrating the bittersweet life and cheap booze.   Like many things in the clickety-clack rhythm of this city’s life, quarter bars are conc