Twenty two-year-old Rahul Rajkhowa is no stranger to mobs. And the Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU) student, who raps his protest against subjects ranging from his university vice-chancellor to rape jokes, now has an incident from his own life to trigger a new song (video above).
Rajkhowa recalls an incident from 2012 when he was attacked by a mob in Guwahati. His cousin, a model in Mumbai, was surrounded by a crowd for wearing “inappropriate” clothes – jeans and a sleeveless top. They started tugging at her clothes, while a news channel recorded the incident.
This occurred days after news of a woman being attacked and stripped naked by a mob in Guwahati made headlines. His cousin may have met the same fate, but Rajkhowa and his father reached the spot and tried to control the situation. Rajkhowa’s father managed to move her to safety – but 16-year-old Rahul, outraged, started shouting at the cameraperson and the crowd of some 45 people.
The next thing he knew, the entire mob tore into him.
“They started punching me on my face, pulling my neck and hair. Meanwhile, my dad managed to get my sister to safety and into the car. But I was stuck. I couldn’t come out. I was getting beaten up. And the news channel people were recording the whole thing,” he told Scroll.in.
“In the evening, they put out the video with a report saying ‘Young boy tries to interfere in lovers’ quarrel and gets beaten up by public’. I went into depression for a good two or three months, because it’s difficult to see yourself getting beaten up on national television with a false headline like that.”
With mob lynchings and mob violence becoming the norm in the country in the last few years, Rajkhowa, reminded of his bitter experience, decided to write a song and film a video (above) shot by Politically Incorrect Films, to make a strong case for peace.
“Mob violence brings back scary memories for me. And these days, mob lynchings are all I see in the news. It’s a regular affair now – people are killing each other because of religion. I find it deeply upsetting. It’s such a primitive, heinous thing to do. And it just brought back flashbacks of the situation I was in. So I just felt like writing a song about it, because we are better than this,” he said.
Rajkhowa hopes his song, No God Ever Taught To Hate, which stands against religious and mob violence of any kind will lead to conversations and informed debates about these urgent issues. The bluesy number, easy on the eye and on the ear, with a John Mayer feel to it, films Rajkhowa sitting on a rooftop in Guwahati, singing, and rapping: “First things first, let’s talk about those that are hurt.”
Here are some lines from the song:
How long we gotta wait, Till we can put an end to this war? How long we gotta wait Till religion don’t decide who we are. How long we gotta wait? Till we treat humans for what they are. How long we gotta wait? Till we gotta wait, no more.
First we are humans then we are Indians There is no point in fighting over religions. This is a man-made divide.
From Indian pizzas in San Francisco to bhangra competitions in Boston
A guide to the Indian heart of these American cities.
The United States of Americahas for long been more than a tourist destination for Indians. With Indians making up the second largest immigrant group in the USA, North American cities have a lot to offer to the travel weary Indian tourist. There are umpteen reasons for an Indian to visit vibrant education and cultural hubs like Boston and San Francisco. But if you don’t have a well-adjusted cousin to guide you through the well-kept Indian secrets, this guide to the Indian heart of Boston and San Francisco should suffice for when you crave your fix.
If you aren’t easily spooked, Boston is the best place to be at in October due to its proximity to Salem. You can visit the Salem Witch Village to learn about present-day wiccans and authentic witchcraft, or attend séances and Halloween parades with ghosts, ghouls and other frightening creatures giving you a true glimpse of America during Halloween. But the macabre spirit soon gives way to a dazzling array of Christmas lighting for the next two months. The famed big Christmas trees are accompanied by festive celebrations and traditions. Don’t miss The Nutcracker, the sugar-laced Christmas adventure.
While it upholds its traditions, Boston is a highly inclusive and experimental university town. It welcomes scores of Indian students every year. Its inclusiveness can be gauged from the fact that Berklee College of Music released a well-received cover of AR Rahman’s Jiya Jale. The group, called the Berklee Indian Ensemble, creates compositions inspired by Indian musical styles like the Carnatic thillana and qawwali.
Boston’s Bollywood craze is quite widespread beyond the campuses too. Apple Cinemas in Cambridge and Regal Fenway Cinemas in Fenway can be your weekly fix as they screen all the major upcoming Bollywood movies. Boston tends to be the fighting ground for South Asian Showdowns in which teams from all over the North-Eastern coast gather for Bollywood-themed dance offs. The Bhangra competitions, especially, are held with the same energy and vigour as back home and are open to locals and tourists alike. If nothing else, there are always Bollywood flash mob projects you can take part in to feel proudly desi in a foreign land.
While travellers love to experiment with food, most Indian travellers will agree that they need their spice fix in the middle of any foreign trip. In that respect, Boston has enough to satisfy cravings for Indian food. North Indian cuisine is popular and widely available, but delicious South Indian fare can also be found at Udupi Bhavan. At Punjab Palace, you can dig into a typical North Indian meal while catching a Bollywood flick on one of their TVs. Head to Barbecue International for cross-continental fusion experiments, like fire-roasted Punjabi-style wings with mint and chilli sauce.
Boston is prominent on the radar of Indian parents scouting for universities abroad and the admission season especially sees a lot of prospective students and parents looking for campus tours and visits. To plan your visit, click here.
San Francisco is an art lover’s delight. The admission-free Trolley Dances, performed in October, focus on engaging with the communities via site-specific choreographies that reflect the city’s cultural diversity. Literature lovers can experience a Dickensian Christmas and a Victorian holiday party at The Great Dickens Christmas Fair, a month-long gala affair starting in November.
As an Indian, you’ll be spoilt for choice in San Francisco, especially with regards to food. San Francisco’s sizeable Indian population, for example, has several aces hidden up its sleeve. Take this video by Eater, which claims that the ‘Indian’ pizza at Zante’s Restaurant is the city’s best kept secret that needs outing. Desi citizens of San Francisco are big on culinary innovation, as is evident from the popularity of the food truck Curry Up Now. With a vibrant menu featuring Itsy Bitsy Naan Bits and Bunty Burrito and more, it’s not hard to see why it is a favourite among locals. Sunnyvale, with its large concentration of Indians also has quirky food on offer. If you wish to sample Veer Zaara Pizza, Dabangg Pizza or Agneepath Pizza, head to Tasty Subs & Pizza.
There are several Indian temples in Sunnyvale, Fremont and San Jose that also act as effective community spaces for gatherings. Apart from cultural events, they even hold free-for-all feasts that you can attend. A little-known haven of peace is the Sankat Mochan Hanuman Temple. Their Anjaneya World Cafe serves delicious mango lassi; the beverage is a big hit among the local population.
If you’re looking for an Indian movie fix during your travels, the San Francisco International South Asian Film Festival’s theme this year is Bollywood and Beyond. Indian film enthusiasts are in for a treat with indie projects, art-house classics, documentaries and other notable films from the subcontinent being screened.
San Francisco’s autumn has been described as ‘Indian summer’ by the locals and is another good season to consider while planning a trip. The weather lends more vigour to an already vibrant cultural scene. To plan your trip, click here.
An Indian traveller is indeed spoilt for choice in Boston and San Francisco as an Indian fix is usually available just around the corner. Offering connectivity to both these cities, Lufthansa too provides a rich experience of Indian hospitality to all flyers on board its India-bound flights and flights departing from India. You can expect a greeting of Namaste by an all-Indian crew, Indian food, and popular Indian in-flight entertainment options, making the airline More Indian than You Think. And as the video shows, India’s culture and hospitality have been internalized by Lufthansa to the extent that they now offer a definitive Indian flying experience.
This article was produced by the Scroll marketing team on behalf of Lufthansa as part of their More Indian Than You Think initiative and not by the Scroll editorial team.