Category Archives: Media Mentions

Stage Fright And A Lily

I found gratitude in February. Here are all things that were life last month.

A conversation on safe spaces – One of Mumbai’s performance/art spaces and Shamir’s former employer hosted a discussion on safety in performing spaces. We shared experiences, fears, ideas and some hopes for this landscape that we are all committed to.

SXArena: The Third Wheel, UnValentined! and Digital Dil – We decided to try a new format that included poetry, conversations and some simple games to explore ideas of sexuality and gender. The topics of our day were polyamory, relationships outside the primary romantic one, love in the times of hookup and connections beyond the commerce.

The SXonomics Show: Touch Me Not – We were invited to conduct a gender sensitisation drive for The Habitat. We rolled this out as a series of 1 hour shows that combine comedy, satire, music, poetry and dramatic performance to address hard questions. Our first show addressed sexual harassment. It received a good response and this very encouraging review. We have since done one more show on gender (im)balance and have another four coming up (every alternate Monday at The Habitat, 7:30PM).

We, The XX Chromosome: Women’s Web and SheThePeople hosted a two day Women Writers’ Festival 2018 and invited us to do a show themed ‘We, The XX Chromosome’. Our 45 minute performance addressed gender stereotyping, the casting couch, rape culture, outdated fairytales and consent violation.

I started a new friendship and that person came to one of our events just as a show of support. Their presence and their ideas expanded our world view on gender, sexuality and love.

I wasn’t nearly as good at the old friendships. I think after 2017, I found it hard to remember that there were still people who liked me and wanted to spend some moments of their lives with me. But friendliness came knocking in gentle, sweet ways. I went to another old friend’s birthday party without a gift because I had just had no time to get one. But on the way, I stopped and picked up a lily because it reminded me of her. She thanked me so many times, I felt bad that I had categorised our friendship as needing the commercial validation of a store-bought gift. And yesterday she told me that the flower had continued to bloom and spread its fragrance all across her house. This is so lovely.

We were featured in the press several times (1, 2, 3, 4). Ironically right after I posted this poem:

Let me just say life is mischievous at times. 😋

There are days when I fear getting carried away and that this will all crash land. I do love how much I’m learning, though. After a recent show, a member of the audience told us that she had seen one of our early performances and we had come a long way from that. That just feels so, so, so very good.

Every now and then, Ishmeet says or does something on stage and I marvel at how a mind can work and how a gesture or a facial expression can be used to convey an idea. It’s like learning a new language and I’ve always enjoyed that.

I am still awkward in my transitions on and off stage. But stage fright does not cripple me as badly now. I’m learning to enjoy even the mistakes I make, laugh at the times I am clumsy. And that’s the same lesson as life itself, isn’t it? Look up at the stars but also find time to laugh when you trip over the stones. And always, make room for the flowers.

Here’s a handful of SXonomics laughs coming your way. This is our first video.

What does the future hold? Well, Aadhar card linkages and income tax returns. But also four new SXonomics shows, SX-on-Mics (our first community event on Women’s Day) and more videos. And a lily or two.

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If you liked this post, you’ll want to follow the Facebook Page and the Youtube channel. I’m Ramya Pandyan (a.k.a. Ideasmith) and I’m on Twitter and Instagram.

LA-based GirlTalkHQ covers SXonomics: ‘Indian Band SXonomics Using Spoken Word Poetry To Talk Feminism & Fight The Patriarchy’

Late last month, LA-based GirlTalkHQ spotted SXonomics and carried our story:

“Indian Band SXonomics Using Spoken Word Poetry To Talk Feminism & Fight The Patriarchy”

They say of us,

“While SXonomics touch on topics that are universally understood, such as shaming other women for their choices, there are issues that are specifically directed toward an Indian audience. The two women have dissected the way sexism in India is deeply tied in with the caste system which discriminates against those of a lower socio-economic bracket. In this way they are reinforcing the notion of intersectionality, something today’s feminist movement can no longer ignore in order to stay relevant.”

They added to the Scroll.in story by also tracing our individual journeys through feminist viewpoints.

In many of our conversations, I find myself saying, “I’ve thought/felt this for years and I thought I was alone!”. Protesting rape culture disguised as romance. Hitting back at misogyny.

Surviving hate labels like MANHATER, BITCH and SLUT. Coping with harassment, abuse, discrimination, body shaming, social pressures. Searching in vain for role models. Watching yourself go from person to battleworn warrior. Choosing to be the social outcast in an unsafe environment, because the other choice is unfit for human dignity.

So much of SXonomics is about solidarity, about finally feeling NOT ALONE in a world intent on turning us into mute sex objects/caregivers. Our individual journeys have made us who we are and now the stage gives us a chance to brew these together into a potent mix that fights back at an oppressive system. And beyond that, standing together has given us a chance to remember that we are human beings beyond being crusaders and human beings must have fun, pleasure and inspiration. SXonomics is all of that.

SXonomics is on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. Here’s our first event in February:

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SXArena: Alt-Valentine: A series of short events that combine performance, poetry, improv, roleplay, readings and audience interaction. Please contact Mr.Aniruddha Chatterjee at +91-99769118555 for details. The sessions are: The Third Wheel, Un-Valentined & Digital Dil.

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If you liked this post, you’ll want to follow the Facebook Page and the Youtube channel. I’m Ramya Pandyan (a.k.a. Ideasmith) and I’m on Twitter and Instagram.

SXonomics in DNA AfterHours: ‘ These Bands Are Giving Out A Strong Message In Music/

I’ve been relatively quiet this month, on the blog. But the words have been hard at work. My collaboration with Dr.Ishmeet Nagpal, SXonomics, has gone on to the next level. We decided to take January to take stock, figure out where we wanted to go next. And maybe as a sign from the universe, we’ve started getting noticed and counted in some very flattering worlds.

DNA reached out to us for a chat about our work. It was so heartening to know that someone somewhere thinks we’re doing something right, and not being foolish to do what we do. They featured us in a story about performing bands using art to further social messages. Do we do that? Yes, yes, we do and not just with music. But sometimes, you need the world to tell you that it sees you, as you are. Thank you, Dhaval Roy, for seeing us for our true work.

The story is ‘These bands are giving out a strong message in music‘ and we’ve been quoted as saying,

“Spoken word feminist party SXonomics use satire, improv, poetry, music and audience-inclusive performance to project feminism as a fun and relevant way of life, while sparring with “patriarchy, toxic gender roles, relationship politics and mental monsters”, like founders Dr Ishmeet Nagpal and Ramya Pandyan tell us. “

“SXonomics, on its part, is alarmed by the things that have been passed off as culture, romance and poetry. “Problematic messages in Bollywood where a woman’s consent is not respected — like, ‘Tu haan kar ya na kar’ and many other such things are a matter of concern. Films are a huge influence on the common man’s way of thinking,” says Ramya.”

For SXonomics, the goal of their caricatures, poetry and collaborations is to prompt people to think about the current state of affairs in the country. “We want to create reference points in our listeners’ heads and make them realise when something wrong happens. Many of them have come up to us and said that our pieces like Shaadi Ka Laddu and Chaar Log (a satire on chaar log kya kahenge?/ what will people say) keep coming up in their daily lives,” says Ishmeet. Ramya adds that many of their listeners (including men and women) have told them how their performance has been an eye-opener to many aspects that existed in their lives but they were unmindful of.

Ishmeet says that when a message is propagated through music or any other art form, it is likelier to stay longer with people and make an impact.

We’ve been quoted alongside bands like Kerala’s black metal caste protest band Willuwandi, Buddhist Dalit rights activist rock band, Dhamma Wings, McLeod Ganj’s JJI Exile Brothers who sing about Tibetan freedom, Imphal Talkies‘ work on North East India’s insurgency and Aisi Taisi Democracy‘s satire. It’s a privilege, an honour even, to be counted among people who are crusading for these causes using art and performance.

Thank you every one of you who has listened to, read, clapped/snapped for, sung along with, commented, liked, talked about or even thought about what each of us has had to say. You make what we all do, possible. You make it a world that can be shaped by artists and love and passion, not just guns and politics. You allow us to believe the world can be made a better place, one song, one poem, one beat at a time. Thank you.

SXonomics is on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

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If you liked this post, you’ll want to follow the Facebook Page and the Youtube channel. I’m Ramya Pandyan (a.k.a. Ideasmith) and I’m on Twitter and Instagram.

Scroll.in Covers SEXONOMICS: ‘With humour and sass, Sexonomics the Band aims to make feminism fun for Indian women’

Scroll.in did a story about SEXONOMICS this week. SEXONOMICS is my collaboration with friend and fellow feminist-poet Dr.Ishmeet Nagpal.

“With humour and sass, Sexonomics the Band aims to make feminism fun for Indian women”

SEXONOMICS made its debut at Mumbai’s most prestigious venue, the National Center for Performing Arts at the South Asia Laadli Media Awards earlier this year. Since then, we’ve showcased our feminist ideologies in the form of several performances that take the form of dramatic satire, poetry, spoken word and music. We’ve performed for activist forums, pop-ups, college audiences and even had a ticketed show.

“The band uses spoken word poetry to provoke conversations about sexism, misogyny and gender roles.”

It has been a journey, teaching us a lot about ourselves and about our ideology. This is our story in the public media and it feels wonderful to be finally understood.

We were interviewed about a month ago. And in that time, we also made a trip to Delhi, performing our first outstation gig titled #PillowTalk at the Love Matters ‘Pleasure as a human right’ event. And starting this weekend, we are trying a new interactive format that involves audience participation in addition to our own performances.

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SEXONOMICS: Ramya Pandyan & Dr.Ishmeet Nagpal

I have been quoted in the press before in the context of blogging, then Twitter and even Spoken Word. It is always flattering. But this story is extra special because it is one that each of us individually has struggled to communicate to the world. We’ve faced harassment, abuse and a whole lot of misunderstanding before being able to polish our ideas into entertaining, thought-provoking performance. We have managed to make people laugh and even think about things like patriarchy, toxic gender roles and social pressures. I can only feel immensely grateful for all of this finally.

I want to thank Damini Kulkarni for believing in us and taking our story out to the world.

SEXONOMICS is on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook. Our next event is an audience-interactive/performance workshop called ‘Relationships Redefined’ in association with BeHiver.

Relationships Redefined – A SEXONOMICS Workshop in association with BeHiver

Date: Saturday, 16 June 2017
Time: 6PM
Venue: QTube, Bandra West
Fee: Rs.500/-
Registration: You must be above 18 years of age. Please carry a proof of identity. Call Aniruddha Chatterjee at +91-9769118555 to register your seat.
Facebook Event: https://www.facebook.com/events/581000048898732/

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If you liked this post, you’ll want to follow the Facebook Page and the Youtube channel. I’m Ramya Pandyan (a.k.a. Ideasmith) and I’m on Twitter and Instagram.

 

Quoted in Mid-Day: Health – Speak Up Against Substance Abuse

I’m writing this post a little late since last week was such a flurry of activity. I performed at the Unerase Poetry against Drug Abuse event. And in the week leading up to it, I also got quoted in a Mid-Day story about using poetry to bring awareness to this cause.

Here’s what I said:

“When I was a kid, I remember a TV serial called Chunauti. It was trying to raise awareness against drug abuse. The Archie comic series that I read around the time also carried messages like, ‘Say No To Drugs’; I felt these were redundant messages. But, when I went to college and later to work, I realised they were a regular part of the world around me,” shares spoken word artist Ramya Pandyan, who goes by the name Idea Smith.

This week, Pandyan will be sharing her thoughts on drug abuse at a spoken word poetry event titled UnErase Against Drug Abuse.

Pandyan, meanwhile, hopes to share her thoughts on being startled at how “normal, everyday and invisible the addiction is – cigarettes that actually contain marijuana; detailed discussions among ‘cool’ people about the smoothest weed, the best rolling paper, etc. I’ve learnt not to judge the habit at face value. But I’ve also seen friends lose large parts of their lives to this addiction.”

My poem was a story of our individual journeys into addictions of different sorts. The video of the performance may come up in a few weeks.

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If you liked this post, you’ll want to follow the Facebook Page and the Youtube channel. I’m Ramya Pandyan (a.k.a. Ideasmith) and I’m on Twitter and Instagram.

Poets Talk — Quoted In The Afternoon Despath & Courier ‘More Power To Poetry’

The Afternoon Despatch & Courier (Afternoon DC) ran a story today about the emergence of poetry as a modern art form. I’m quoted alongside viral stars Aranya Johan, Sudeep Pagedar and InkStation founder Harshit Anurag. It’s great to see something that we are all so passionate about, receive widespread recognition.

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If you liked this post, you’ll want to follow the Facebook Page and the Youtube channel. I’m Ramya Pandyan (a.k.a. Ideasmith) and I’m on Twitter and Instagram.

The Stage Was My Doorway Out

I’ve had a rather nice September after the rough times before that. Looks like my health diagnosis was a step in the right direction. I took a break from the Open Mic scene for a month which is why there haven’t been too many poetry videos. But if you saw this post, you’ll know September brought me a bouquet of special poetry performances. That this happened right during a time I decided to take a break itself seems like a sign from the universe to me. And living through them makes me sure. I feel like I’ve finally walked through the doorway of that dark, deep dungeon I’ve been imprisoned in for years.

So, in the order in which they happened:

Gaysi‘s DirtyTalk was the one that I wrote a special piece for. I was super nervous, not helped by an unexpected Encounter, minutes before my performance. Maybe I will write about that in more detail another time. Or maybe not, it was probably the fullstop that I’ve been needing for four years. I went on to deliver the following performance and it was a great one, if I do say so myself. I really want to thank the organisers as well as the audience. You have no idea how much this performance was a turning point in my life. It was reprieve after years of struggling.

The very next afternoon was the Radiocity Free Verses feature event, where I had the pleasure to meet the vivacious Harnidh Kaur who I’ve been hearing about for ages. I enjoyed her poetry. I wasn’t feeling very well and my hands were shaking (after a long time). But again, I think that added to the flavour of my opening piece ‘A Lover of All Things Digital’. It’s nice to remember how far I’ve come from a stage-petrified girl to a feature performer.

And finally, I got to be one of the 100 Thousand Poets for Change at a ‘Women Empowerment’ themed event hosted by the US Consulate at Kitabkhana. I know a theme like that seems tailor-made for me so I brought out my old favorites ‘Superwoman’ and ‘Feminist Poetry’. I am enjoying being the fun, irreverent, fresh end of things. I don’t think I’ve been the fun side of any group that often. I wish I were also the funnier side but that’s for another blogpost. Here’s my performance from that day.

Planet Radiocity Freedom aired my recorded performance four times this month. Eventually, they’re bound to put it up in the archives and I’ll share a link then. In the meantime, they also ran a short interview with me and the photo feature from the Free Verses September event is up on the site right now.

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For a lot of reasons, I feel like I was carrying around a gigantic boulder in my mind that was blocking everything. That boulder has just been set aside. I’m still raw from where it was dragged out. But I can suddenly breathe better and see more clearly. September has been about clearing the stones and letting the dust settle. I have been to hell and back. I enter October with a lot of hope and a nod to the Sandman.

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If you liked this post, you’ll want to follow the Facebook Page and the Youtube channel. I’m Ramya Pandyan (a.k.a. Ideasmith) and I’m on Twitter and Instagram.

 

Quoted In HT Cafe: ‘A Shot In The Dark: Why Artistes Love To Perform With The Lights Out

HT Cafe carried a story by Sapna Mathur on darkroom performances in Mumbai. I was quoted for my spoken word poetry. They were also nice enough to include a video of my collaboration with Karthik (performed in the light, so you can see) of the same act we did during the darkroom event – Lullaby.

The story is called A shot in the dark: Why artistes love to perform with the lights out‘.

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Conversations can crystallize your own impressions and Sapna’s questions made me think about my craft a lot more deeply. Here are the things I said –

“Ramya Pandyan, a Mumbai resident who has been attending open mics since 2009, says she started participating in blind poetry shows because they offered her anonymity. They also made her more aware of her craft. “The biggest distinction between the performing arts and other art forms is that there is no barrier between the artiste and the audience. With writing, you feel a certain safety behind the computer screen or notebook. But when you’re on stage, you are naked and vulnerable in front of the audience and their judgement. But a dark room levels this playing field,” she says, telling us that she’s even recited her poem, Lullaby, to live music in the dark. “Once you get used to the darkness, you feel a certain warmth and closeness with the people who are in that room with you. You can hear people breathing, shifting and fidgeting. We tend to listen to each other better — both the audience and the performers,” adds Pandyan.”

“During her regular shows, where the lights were switched on, Pandyan had become used to finding encouragement from some “friendly faces” in the crowd. But trying her hand at open mics in the dark has brought her out of that comfort zone. “Removing the visual aspect of a performance poses a huge challenge, which can only be good. Also, stage fright deters a lot of good writers. Reading in the darkness, without the weight of the audience’s eyes on them, might encourage many more people to approach the stage,” she says.”

“What is even more trying is when artistes want to collaborate on a performance in the dark. Pandyan worked with guitarist Karthik Rao on a blind poetry show, and it was “tricky” to carry through. “Any spoken word performance is a spontaneous art form. This means your words, speed, tone and the order can change with every rendition. In collaborations, you have to communicate with each other during the performance without letting the audience know. Thankfully, Karthik and I managed to read each other’s sounds during the performance and didn’t miss any beats,” she says. Bad experiences or good, this is an activity these performers are willing to experiment with. “We grew as artistes because of it,” says Pandyan.”

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If you liked this post, you’ll want to follow the Facebook Page and the Youtube channel. I’m Ramya Pandyan (a.k.a. Ideasmith) and I’m on Twitter and Instagram.

DNA Feature: ‘From Business Consultancy To Performance Poetry, This Woman Manages It All’

Earlier this week, DNA‘s Anvi Mehta ran a story on my performances as a Spoken Word artist. Heh, I’m deeply flattered. The story is titled ‘From business consultancy to performance poetry, this woman manages it all

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Here is what Anvi wrote (quoted from her article):

Andheri-based Ramya Pandyan, quit her corporate business consultant job in 2009 to take a sabbatical. A regular blogger since 2004, Pandyan was introduced to open mics and poetry recitals during this break.

She is now known for performance poetry and spoken word.

“I visited an open mic event where I saw many writers read out their poems and perform them. As I used to write poems since my childhood, I thought of doing the same and very soon I started attending open mics at The Prithvi Café, The Hive and other such places and became a member of Caferatti events,” Pandyan explains.

As an ardent blogger, poet and performer she was in touch with other writers, poets and artists. The various groups for creative writers and performers influenced her to start a community of her own in 2013.

“This community is called Alphabet Sambar and we meet weekly to share our writing work. The members help each other grow by reviewing their writing works. We also have a series of activities like writing challenges, workshops and boot camps. As we support the worldwide annual novel writing challenge (Nanowrimo), where participants finish a novel in a month, last year we had conducted a novel writing boot camp,” she adds.

It was because of this writer’s community that Pandyan met a few performance poets and was introduced to spoken word. “A few members did performance poetry and spoken word. It interested me and now for a year and a half or so, I am following these styles to read out my poetries. I use music, expressions and actions when performing. Like for a poem called ‘Paper Plane’, which is not a typical rhyme, the piece goes further as I actually make a paper plane for the audiences,” she narrates.

Juggling with her consultancy, training and some freelance writing alongside her regular poetry performances, Pandyan also maintains her blog as well as a YouTube channel of her performances.

She performs every Monday at Tuning Fork, Khar, Tuesday at The Hive, Bandra and fourth Mondays at Prithvi Café on a regular basis.

If interested in joining her writing community, you can reach her at her Facebook page, the alphabet sambar page, Youtube channel, blog, and tweet @AlphabetSambar or @ideasmithy.

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If you liked this post, you’ll want to follow the Facebook Page and the Youtube channel. I’m Ramya Pandyan (a.k.a. Ideasmith) and I’m onTwitter and Instagram.