Do Din Shorts #1: Mallepally

One week since Do Din. We would like to start sharing short write ups about the different events which were part of Do Din. We will start this section with the Mallepally exhibit.

Mallepally in Hyderabad is adjacent to the Afzal Sagar tank which used look like the shape of South America, and was built by the fifth Asafjahi ruler – Afzal Ud Daula and was a largish tank. All of it has disappeared in the last 30 years.
There is a detailed map from a hundred years ago (including Afzal Sagar) from before any of the housing areas were developed. There is also a map of the City Improvement Board plans which created the CIB quarters in Mallepally.
Hyderabad City Improvement Board (CIB) was formed in 1914 A.D. The work carried out during the first 15 years since its formation is given in two reports one in 1919 A.D. and one in 1930 A.D. The board took on several tasks such as slum clearance, constructing and improving traffic roads, constructing drains and other miscellaneous works.
Slum land around the Khaiatabad, Habibnagar and Red Hill localities was cleared and people from the area needed to be relocated. Since the lands near Nampally below Afzul Sagar Tank were fallow paddy fields, the CIB reclaimed the land and constructed model houses which then housed those who had been disturbed by the CIB’s operations. This part of Hyderabad came to be called Mallepally.

During Do Din, there was an installation on Mallepally, the history of the neighbourhood and the 100 years of change that it has undergone.

Mobility Rights – An Important Gender Issue in Hyderabad

The following is a report on a discussion organized by Lamakaan yesterday as part of a series of events to create engaged public action and education. Since, it involves questions of data, maps, campaigns and civic action – I am posting it here as a curtain raiser to the kind of things we will be working on at Do Din on December 14-15

At Do Din, some of the issues raised in the note below  will be used as concrete instances for data sourcing, visualization, design and policy related campaign creation workshops.

by Maitreyi Karnoor. (PhD candidate at EFLU)

What is common between a female student in a university campus in Hyderabad not being able to access the library after dark, a woman in an old city basti not drinking water during the day to avoid having to use the toilet that doesnt exist, and a female security guard at a mall spending 20-30% of her salary on transportation?

Large university campuses where distance between hostels and everything else (libraries, classrooms, photocopying machines, internet centres etc.) is considerable; lack of toilets; unavailability of safe transit facilities in the night, which are the seemingly unconnected reasons for the above mentioned instances, all point to one common theme: lack of attention to mobility rights of women. Sexual violence (harassment, molestation and rape) is a very probable threat in all these places. Add the factor of class to gender, access to public spaces becomes incredibly unequal.

Yet, solutions to these problems—through policy intervention,  infrastructural changes or citizen-led voluntary action cannot even be imagined today because we do not have the tools to capture concrete data for action. It needs concerted action by civil society organizations, government agencies, technologists, designers, planners. But it needs careful collation of data contributed by the public to create evidence for policy change and inputs for solutions.

This was the overarching theme that brought together Madhumeeta assistant professor at English and Foreign Languages, Tejaswini Madabhushi of Yugantar, R. Sunita of Anveshi, and Harsha Devulapalli and Anant Maringanti of Hyderabad Urban Lab on 30 November, 2013 at Lamakaan for a discussion on “Women in Urban Spaces”.

Harsha showed a map he’d made of public transport in Hyderabad, a painstakingly detailed charting of frequency of buses on each route (1 bus every 10 mins, 11-20 mins, etc.) and it was found out that there are large gaps in the map: large areas in the city not covered by any public transportation and long durations during the day when there is no public transportation available. The only means of transit in these spaces are shared autos and cabs – “paratransit”. While this sector of transport provision accounts for the livelihoods of roughly 4-5 lakh people in the city, it is an unregulated system in which women commuters feel insecure. The challenge facing the city is to learn how to talk about this sector without criminalising an entire section and at the same time enhancing the quality of life of women, Anant said.

Sunita spoke about the Midnight March that was undertaken to raise concerns over women’s safety, following the Delhi rape case. A major challenge there was arranging transportation for all the women participating in it since public transport was not available to the place the march was supposed to begin. This brought the issue of mobility to the forefront. Also an observation that the night-sweepers waited on the margins for the march to end before they could clean the streets, brought out questions of difference in viewing the street by different classes of women. While for a middle-class woman, the street is a medium, a space to be used to get to her place of work, for the sweeper, it is her place of work. Harassment on the road for her is harassment at the workplace, but there are no laws to give her her right.

Sunita alse spoke about OU campus where the women’s hostel is centralised for all women students studying in any of the colleges affiliated to it. There are about 4,000 women students living in this hostel, which is cut off from everything else and safe transportation to and from colleges, classrooms, libraries, etc. is an ongoing concern. RTC buses have been stopped from running within the campus and women students are the ones that suffer the most owing to this.

Tejaswini spoke about her own experience as a commuter and presented findings from her research. The main points that came up were: poor lighting at bus stops; buses not stopping at the right place; conductors making women passengers get off in the middle of the road far away from safe places when found to have boarded the wrong bus; enquiry counters crowded with men; lack of toilets and medical shops at bus stands (and the varied sensibility of cleanliness based on class) etc. Transportation for women security guards and janitors working late at malls, was discussed. Apparently only Inorbit mall provides transportation to its employees and the others do not even reimburse their transport costs. Most of these women live 5-6 km from their place of work – sometimes even further – and commuting safely is a daily gamble for them, not to mention expensive. She commented that safety is not an unconditional thing available to women. Not having to worry about safety everyday is almost a Human Right and wished that some of these conditions were taken away.

Madhumeeta spoke from the perspective of a university teacher. She said that university campuses (especially central universities) are ‘city islands’ where there is a large cultural disconnect with its immediate surroundings. This disparity has, on the one hand, lead to safety issues for women students when they step out, on the other, it has meant that the women workers (mostly contractual labourers) have to live far away from their place of work as the cost of living around the university has been rendered unaffordable to them. This brings in questions of transport and safety etc. that is being discussed. So gender issues become a question of ‘choice and agency’ or ‘survival’ based on who one is (student or worker).

Women’s hostels are a space of “doubled barrelled gaze,” she said, “of projected fantasies and policing”. While the former causes sexual harassment, the latter manifests in restrictions on freedom. For a woman student, it is a daily negotiation between these discourses.

Questions raised included that of accountability: who should be responsible for women’s safety on campuses – university admin or the government? Gender safety issues are always ongoing – why are they never completely resolved? Discussions around these by the speakers brought out several facts. One is that there are only 40-45% permanent teaching/admin staff in universities. The rest are ad-hoc and do not get involved in the concerns of the students. Another thing is that universities striving for ‘efficiency’ are cutting costs through reducing or stopping transit systems. Gender unequal policies, infrastructure etc. are anyway age-old concerns. While gender issues are looked at from the ‘atrocity’ lens, transport and mobility etc. do not feature as gender matters. Moreover there isn’t significant representation of women in student unions of any kind on campuses – they may exist as members but not in executive positions. There is a need to reconfigure gender violence based on equal accessibility.

Everything kept coming back to the question of data. While discussion is possible in abstraction, intervention of any kind (appealing to the government, quick-fix solutions by putting a group of people together etc.) needs concretisation to work with. This cannot be brought out by commissioned work, but can only be crowd-sourced… only that will bring into account people’s experience and subjective understanding of the city. All these disjointed issues must come together on one platform and seek universal solutions that might in effect mean safe and dignified lives for everyone.

Calling urban photographers!!

We invite you to submit images which show us stories from your city, its changing or static factors. People who make it, heritage which need not be measured in brick and mortar, culture which is integrated or still defining within new boundaries. Challenges and success stories, evolving and preserved, nostalgic personal tales, celebrations reinterpreted or transferred rural sensibilities now part and parcel of the skylines and by-lanes.

Boundaries are no issues, definitions fluid, left to your interpretation and that of your audience. We aim to share your stories with an audience which rarely sees the inside of a gallery. Your subjects now your audience.

Selected stories will be printed and put up as part of a public street exhibition.

Please send images to by logging on to

Send in your work of no more then 25 images [2500 px (300 dpi)].  Images must be have with a short write-up on the project along with an up to date bio. Please zip the files to help our workflow ( filename :’name_projectname’ )

Projections and short films are also welcome, including project write up and bio. The file needs to be in .mp4, .avi, or .mov format in 720p (1280x720px). Please zip the files.

By submitting, you agree to give “Do Din” a limited license to print, use and distribute your image in physical form or digital form for the run up to and duration of the event on Dec 14th and 15th, 2013. Copyright of the images will remain with the photographer.

Send in your submissions by Dec5th.

If you have any questions please write to us at


Fragments of notes from a Do Din meeting on visual cultures

Here is a bunch of notes we made when we first met several weeks ago to discuss what photographers can do for the city (or should we say with the city). We will return to these ideas during Do Din because a group of visual artists have been working away at projects that panned out of these notes.

Power to return the gaze: There are a lot of people in the city now who are able to shoot pictures. At first it appears to be only hypermobile techies with smart phones shooting pictures of the plates of food before and after polishing to be broadcast to the world via fb and twitter. But if you pay attention, there is a whole world of people out there shooting pictures. Autorickshaw drivers, traffic police, people who hate traffic police, young women turning the gaze back on the oglers, angry residents shooting pictures to document neighborhood change due to the construction of the metro rail. Visual cultures are clearly among other things also about power.

Memory, pain and pleasure: There are a lot of people holding on to visual memories in the form of old photographs, prints etc. Visual cultures are among other things also about memory, nostalgia and pain and pleasure.
3. Photo exhibitions are generally done in sanitized environments where you are allowed to look but not touch. And rarely do people talk to each other while viewing them. Visual cultures among other things also about interaction and the public sphere.
Tactical technologies: There are a lot of spaces that are already used for exhibiting and displaying things. Dont pee here signs, hoardings, paintings on footpaths, wall writing and so on. Visual cultures are among other things also about urban spatial practices and behavioural norms – in some sense – technologies – being deployed for tactical purposes.
Histories of visual technologies: There are a lot of old studios and practitioners of visual cultures in Hyderabad. Their histories reveal much about the city itself. Visual cultures are about history and erasure. They are about walking and remembering and talking and changing.

Taking a heritage walk: Do Din style

Heritage, in its popular version, is an evidence of history – a relic of times past; a monument or a meme that’s survived the destructive forces of ‘nature and nurture’ (irony intended) to be seen by consciously detaching it from the present and appreciating it’s ‘authenticity’; a museumised product to be consumed.

But there are other ways to take heritage walks as one discovered in preparation for Do Din Dec 14-15, last Sunday with Debashish Nayak conseervation activist and a group of around 20 people. This was a walk to connect people with neighbourhoods, to rediscover neighbourhoods. It was  a walk where the visitor and the host affirmed each other’s presence. The hosts were the tourism department and Madhu Vottery but only nominally. The real hosts were the people who lived around the places that the group  walked through. This was not a walk to consume heritage. It was not a prepackaged history byte but a story, in fact it was multiple story lines that opened out without worry about the urgency to find closures.

It began from under the Charminar, a rather unflattering angle of the great monument, but a more promising place to start weaving in perspectives and ended in Chowmahalla palace with breakfast. It was not somuch about the buildings along the way but about the people we ran into and the things they wanted to share. Here are some of the vignettes: A woman who just bought a rooster for a sacrifice to the Balkampet temple happily posing for the photographers;  a school teacher surrounded by three pretty children jumping in to explain the details of this king or that brick formation, (it didn’t really matter what it was because they were all equally exciting in his rendition); a karate instructor training girls and boys in spotless dresses and all too happy to give us a demonstration; a shankh and chakra engraved below a moon and star on an old building—a story of peaceful coexistence of religious symbols, hence ideas, hence people. Heritage suddenly appeared as life itself, the built environment and what it enabled.

The greatest take away from the heritage walk was the surprised smile lighting up on the creased face of an old cloth merchant when someone asked him for a telia rumal. He said, you sound like an old time customer. And without looking up he said, see that corner, that is where my father used to sit and sell this very material.

During Do Din, there will hopefully be a heritage walk. Hopefully, many heritage walks. When you think of heritage walk as an act of affirmation, then it becomes conceivable that one could take a heritage walk anywhere anytime. It is, in some sense, learning to walk as we should: with respect and with preparation to recognize and engage with the place and its inhabitants.

Join us in making Do Din happen!

Do Din (d̪o d̪ɪn meaning two days) is a community driven event to bring together different groups of people who live and work in cities. The idea has two sides to it. The first where professionals of various kinds: hackers, cartographers, planners, policymakers, administrators, citizen groups will meet over two days in workshops, training, and brainstorming sessions to develop new skills and insights into how they can work together to make cities better.

The second is more public oriented where we will have artists, poets, film makers, photographers and ordinary people coming together to share their experiences of Hyderabad as a city. While everything is open to everyone, the workshop sessions require a commitment of two days over the weekend of December 14-15 and a longer term interest in continuing voluntary work (anywhere between 3 to five hours a week) on projects that will emerge from these workshops.

Do Din needs your help!

We are barely three weeks away from the event. Since we will have about 75 participants from outside Hyderabad, and a cost estimate of about Rs. 5 to 7 lakhs (Approx. $10,000). We do have some offers of corporate sponsorship but we are trying to avoid being part of a corporate branding exercise. So, we are looking to raise as much of the funding as possible from friends and from people who care for Hyderabad city.

Contributing in the US Dollars?

Contributing in Indian Rupees?

You can make the contribution directly to us in Indian rupees by online payment or in cheque to:

  • Account Name: Right to the City Foundation
  • Account No: 33260100002656
  • Bank Name: Bank of Baroda (Tarnaka Branch, Hyderabad)

    Please note in the code above,  it is numeral zero after BARB and not aplphabet O.
  • Bank Address: G1G2G3 Surya Toweers, 12-13-483/32 St. No. 1, Tarnaka 500003

Contributing in kind? 

  • Help us find accommodation for the guests. We will have up to 75 guests and we need to find places where they can stay. So if you work for a company that can provide guest accommodation or pick up the tabs or if you can host them in a hostel, please do let us know. Contact us if you can help
  • Volunteer at Do Din. It is a lot of hard work involving logistics. We are taking on volunteers. Their expenses need to be covered. So, you can simply sponsor a volunteer’s expenses or better still offer to work with us those two days.
  • We need a lot of nicknacks to fall into place. Just stay in touch and help by giving us moral support. 🙂

So, what is Do Din?

This morning we received a call from a friend who said when he first saw the name Do Din, he thought it must be some complex French concept or a play on a passionate slogan like Do or Die or the name of a Russian playwright. The coin dropped only after he heard it pronounced.

Then he said, “but this is so simple and ordinary! Some times we don’t see the ordinary, obvious thing because we are expecting complexity and complications all the time.”

Do Din, is the Hindi word for two days. That is what we are calling the event. What we intend doing in those two days is to think, talk, dream and experience the city in all different possible ways. You may ask but that is what we do all the time. The truth is that that is precisely what we do not get time to do ever. We go through the city without thinking and reflecting on how it came to be what it is and where it is headed. We don’t connect with the city.

So the idea is that during those two days, we will create several occasions where people can sit down, think and talk with other people who are also doing the same. So, there it is folks. It is a very ordinary event. For very ordinary people for a very ordinary city (with thanks to Ash Amin, who first popularised the expression the ‘ordinary city’ as an alternative to all the academic and policy taxonomies)