On 28th April 2013, CHSJ helped set up and participated in a rally for Justice and Peace at Select Citywalk mall. This is the reaction of Lavanya Mehra.
My role was to be reference point for CHSJ for the core team of Organisers. As a member of the core team, I had to be part of the phone/ mail communication, attend meetings and be part of the planning process.
During one such core group meeting, we offered to provide volunteers. On the day of the event, there was a core group meeting at 9am. Apart from other things, the Core Group was worried about celebrity security. Therefore, we decided that the senior core team will take care of the celebrities and stage management and the rest of the volunteers will do crowd ushering, material dissemination and crowd control.
CHSJ had promised to send 6 volunteers. Eleven of us finally came, but there was some delay in other volunteers coming, throwing the planning completely out of gear. The entire day was almost uneventful, till Shabana came to the main foyer and started dancing to a popular song being sung by Usha. We were expecting this and so we all jumped in to create a human chain circle around Shabana. The crowd kept pushing against us and tried to enter the small circle but we held on- a lot of fun indeed! We had to move the circle to get Shabana back to her seat. By now the whole crowd had converged to the centre of the amphitheater and some were also on the stage- Shabana and Usha were unfazed and so were we but we had a job at hand and so we moved people away and created a long cordon at the base of the stage. This was the most fun I had because apart from being 5 feet away from Usha who was singing great songs, we were also 5 feet away from the crowd that was singing and dancing and having a whale of a time. The energy was unbelievable.
The last minute event planning was challenging because the detailed agenda and invite for the event came just a day before the event affecting our own networking and information sharing around the issue.
Other learnings included that the Flexes need to be tied to pillars/ trees as the heavy winds make them topple over. This event’s organisation was very different from that of the OBR. There were uncertainties till the last minute. The youth group singer was finalised on the day of the event after an audition in front of the core group- but through a mobile phone kept on speaker mode! The video clip was played where a senior feminist gave a message on VAW and the need to rise in solidarity against violence. The 2- minute video stopped around 10 times during the screening and this horrified the organisers and the person who had taken troubles to get the clip. This reminded me of how anxious I get when one of my films is ever played.
In spite of a 12 hour shift I enjoyed the day a lot – also because I could call my Mother for it and see her listening to the discussions and enjoying the evening. I am ready for the next event!