Sunday, 12 May 2013

Arrest a Tourist Carrying no ID?

This is the first-hand account of a 28 year old French tourist who was stopped on the night of May 10th 2012 by undercover policemen on ECR Road. As he forgot to carry his ID, he was taken to the police station and threatened to be jailed, passport confiscated and visa canceled. He knew that it's always advisable for a foreigner in India to carry a photo ID. However even at this point, he is not sure if forgetting to carry an ID on one night can warrant an arrest. 

Also what happens if it is a female tourist who is alone and speaks no English, and is only carrying her credit card with her name on it but she forgot her photo ID. 

Below is his account:

"Last night (May 10th 2013), around midnight I went to the bus station to take an ECR-direction Chennai bus back to my home which is 20km north of Pondicherry. Coming there, I saw nothing. I realised  that no bus is there because of the mob strike of the past two weeks. Some ECR buses were targeted by people so for security reason the drivers are in strike waiting that the political situation is cooling down.

So I decided to took one rickshaw. I negotiated and we went. At the end of Multhialpet, at the cross road of Salai Street, the rickshaw was stopped by policemen  ( they always there at night time); The driver and I went out of the ricshaw. One guy (a plainsclothes policeman) asked me my ID card. I was very relaxed as I did not know he was a policeman and I said "no, I don’t have".

He thought I was treating him like a fool I guess because he became very angry as if I insulted him. He said "How is it possible you have no Id, you are terrorist? Where you come from? France? What? Show you ID card now!"

He insisted more than ten times!! He was basically shouting at me. So I said that " I do not have on me. It is in my place that I'll bring it to you tomorrow.  I can show you my ATM card there is my name on it. It is the only thing I have."

The second guy also with no policemen costume came to me and said: "Do you think you can roam around in India with no ID paper. You know you can go to jail for this?"

I said "Sir, I am sorry."

Firstly  I did not know I was speaking to an officer. I said "You have no dress so…"

So he asked his collegues (ten policemen were there) to confirm his identity even if he did not show his ID!!

And then they took the rickshaw driver as a witness, by asking his paper ID and where he came from. He showed me and said, "Look he has his ID. Can you stay without your ID in France I don’t think so. If me Indian I go to your country and the policemen arrest me they will ask me my ID, am I right?

I said "I don’t know, yes probably."

Then he said, "You know I was staying long time in singapour and there policeman asked my ID and I gave him because its compulsory. You understand. You can go to jail. I'll make a report to your embassy and  let see what happened!! Your visa can be cancelled!"

I was not so sure of myself anymore, but these guys seems to have very rough night to speak to me like if I was a thief or something like this. I tried to justify that I had no idea about it and it won’t make the same  mistake but they were pissed off already saying "Do you think in India you can do whatever you want? At this moment I called my Tamil colleague because he is from the neighbourhood., I asked this officer to talk to him but he refused. Then he said "Ok we go to the police station we make a report."

I told my friend where I was and where we were going. This guy was listening so he told me afterwards, "Oh , you know very well the neighbourhood"

I answered "yes I know little bit."

He shouted "Ah suddenly you know something hein! Where were you before?"

I said that I was with a friend having a diner in Karthik hotel. He said that it is not what the driver said. He said that you come from the bus station,.

I say "Yes of course but before…"

"You are lying!" he shouted!

I was fed up already! So we arrived to the police station they make me write my information on a paper. Not even a register book or something; just to show my passport information and where I am living now. What am I doing here and in france.

He said "So I will write a report tomorrow to your embassy and they will deal with it; you cannot round like this with no ID"

I asked if there is any reason because it is the first time it happened to me  and it been 1 year almost I am living here. He answered strongly, "Read the newspapers!"

I kept quiet this time even if I knew very well about the situation. My friend called me and said he asked our common friend working as police officer to come to the police station. Then, between five minutes they asked what am I doing here? Where have I been?

I answered gently. Afterwards, some minutes after, I don’t know what changed him but he asked me to go and to come back tomorrow to the office to show my identity before 9 am. I said ok no problem. But he wanted to keep my credit card.

I did not understand so I told him that I thought it was no use for you when I earlier showed it.

He said, "No I need something to prove you will come back"

I answered, "But you told me you will send a report to the embassy if I won't come back tomorrow, I don’t understand."

It seems enough. I was going a bit crazy, so I was taking my phone to make another call and then he said "Ok you keep and come back tomorrow."

By taking my stuff, a young policeman, said to me, "You come before 9 am or you will have some problem!"

 I answered by moving my head from right to left meaning that I understood this already.   He said "What , are you fooling me!!??"

I was completely fed up with this. So I went. And I came back next morning  another officer was there, some guys told him about the story in Tamil, even saying that I was lying to them about the place I was coming from ( I understood some words), . so he checked my passport; asking me my information to check.

What I am doing here.? What did I know of Pondicherry and what I did in pondicherry.

I said that most of the time I stay in the village I don’t go so often to Pondy. I came there just to meet friends. He said "That's all? No other place around?"

 I said that I didn't like Auroville, so I prefer to go further so not in villupuram district.

He asked, "Why you don’t like Auroville?

I said I don’t like the mentality. He was laughing and reporting this to the policemen around.
"Ok have a nice day, but don’t forget to have your id always on you."

The point I want to make by narrating this experience is that I never knew that I could be arrested, my passport confiscated and my visa canceled if I did not have an ID card on me. I am not sure if every French citizen in Pondicherry knows this rules.

I think that even without the phone calls to my colleague and the Tamil policeman friend, the same things would happened with the same end.

The important point is that they wanted to afraid me for showing that in India you cannot do whatever you want and there is rules that foreigners have to respect and you have to respect the policeman."

Saturday, 4 May 2013

Miss Sonik in India - In Conversation (In English and French)

Bonjour India 2013 enjoyed a good sojourn in Pondicherry with so many unforgettable performances such as Miss Sonik's set by the waterfront. And I confess that I've never seen Pondy's locals execute a series of such manic, disoriented but simultaneously militaristic, marching dance moves. Was it the ocean salt in the air from across the Bay of Bengal or the eclectic sounds floating through?

Either way, this gig was a living testament to Mr François Richier's speech about Bonjour India 2013 where he said, "We want it to be an exchange of ideas, cultural inspiration between French and Indian artists. We want to reach out to all groups in the Indian society, so all events will be free." 

Held on promenade, the festival was open to all sections of the public -- Pondicherrians, French expats, passing tourists, families with children, beggars, policemen, hawkers, students. Everyone was having a good time, - just like in a Brave New World...

Here we are in conversation with the French DJ/Producer herself -- Miss Sonik as she speaks about her music, time in India and impressions of Pondy. First an interview in English and then in French. Thank you Hedi for the translations!

You call yourself Miss Sonik and not DJ Sonik.  How are you different from a regular DJ?

Actually, a Dj generally mixes tracks created by somebody else. He is on turn tables (vinyl or cd) For my part, I am playing my own compositions live, and on devices such as sequencers, synthesizers, samplers, etc. I am developing them live by interacting with the audience.

And the transition from a rock guitarist to a DJ composer? Is there a rock band you would consider playing for again ?

This transition happened initially because in a band , all the members don't necessarily have the same motivations and the same desires. I found myself with the desire to compose which has led me to the world of electronic music which itself could offer me the possibility to write drums tracks, even if I am not a drummer. I involved myself in this way with no pre-conceived ideas and I began composing electronic music on machines. Nowadays, i am in agreement with this dynamics, i want to continue alone this way and I am not in the idea to join a band as a guitar player.

Edith Piaf and Gainsbourg are synonymous with French music.However several Indians (especially those in Mumbai) are huge fans of AIR, Emmanuel Santarromana and Stephane Pompougnac (Hotel Costes) who have been resampling old tracks and even making new ones. What do you think of these guys?

They are indeed artists that cannot be ignored in the French electronic music scene from the last 10 years. Their work is interesting but they are not particularly part of my major influences..

Has house, trip hop, chillout or minimal music interested you? Do you ever sample your own vocals. Your musical influences while growing up.

I don't stop myself on a particular genre...All that you mention is in my listening catalog but I have a very wide approach of the music..  Having grown up in Western Africa, I have been listening a lot of reggae music and afro-beat music. I have always been inspired by 70's music , as well as psychedelic and blues music. Metal and hip hop are still feeding me today. As a guitar player in a band, I was inspired by more hardcore elements. However my coming in the electronic world opened me to this very rich and fascinating music style.

Concerning sampling my own voice , it has sometimes happened but today my voice is brought during the live in my music set by using a vocoder.

You performed in Pondy, a former French colony. The students here just love 'Savoir Aimer' -  Florent Pagny. Are you surprised or amused or horrified to know this? Many French people I know can't endure him.

(Laughs !!)  I don't know "savoir aimer" and I never listen to this french singer..Actually, i am very surprised because I have already had this kind of question in Brazil. Many young people liked his songs, they even asked me to translate them !!

You've played in Chennai and Pondichery? How were the gigs different from each other?

The places in which I played Chennai and Pondichery was extremely varied, so that we met an audience very different..  The Hilton Hotel roof top in Chennai seemed much more reserved to a particular social class who nevertheless has danced a lot on techno music I compose.. We were much more on a clubbing audience.. ISAI festival team which was the after-party planner was very nice.

The meeting with the audience in Pondichery and in particular on this Alliance Française stage in front of the seaside will stay an unforgettable memory. Open stage for all, it permitted to whoever wanted to stop and dance. This public has taken whatever i gave and more it has been so very generous which has led to give a real exchange between us.. People were dancing, jumping, screaming, rising hands up .. Such a happiness !!!

Did you see sights in Pondy? Tourism brochures describe Pondicherry as a 'Slice of France in India?' Did you feel that?

I have been here a short while but I have walked around the streets and I have been to see the Ashram , having read some writings of Sri Aurobindo, it  would have been unthinkable to not go there.. We have been to Auroville too..  I was able to massaged in the Ayurvedik centre, it was fabulous. The French have left an undeniable marks on Pondicherry but it is not for what I tried to see or to feel.

And our beloved Indian cuisine?

India is fantastic for a vegetarian who is quite unfortunate in France. France boasts of its gastronomy but it is a daily bad adventure of food in this country of carnivores!! They never worried about vegetarians who have to make themselves quite small when they ask if they can eat something without meat or fish...  As a matter of fact , I have loved everything I have eaten in India !! 

An Indian song you adore and why? 

"Bhimpalasi" from Ravi Shankar, I have been listening to it since I am a teenager..  Why?  It makes me vibrate..

One French song, musician/band  that everyone should know.

Zenzile, a French band I am  listening to for many years and whom I was lucky to play with in a festival..

The 1st Six words that come to mind when you hear the word 'India'

Beauty - Colors-  Spirituality - Caste - Noise - Silence

Thank you Miss Sonik for sharing your experiences about India and music.

Below are a few links where you can follow Miss Sonik:


                           En français 

Bonjour Miss Sonik!

Tu es Miss Sonik et non DJ Sonik. Qu'est-ce qui te différencie des autres DJ ?

En effet, un Dj mixe généralement les morceaux de quelqu'un d'autre, il est sur platines (vinyl ou cd..). Pour ma part, je joue mes propres compositions en direct et sur machines (séquenceur, synthétiseur, sampler..). Je les fais évoluer sur scène en interaction avec le public.

Et le passage de guitariste à compositeur de musique électronique?

Cette transition s'est faite dans un premier temps car dans un groupe les différents membres n'ont pas forcément les mêmes envies et les mêmes motivations. Je me suis donc retrouvée avec un désir de composition ce  qui m'a amenée à me tourner vers le monde électronique qui m'ouvrait la possibilité d'écrire des séquences de batterie par exemple, n'étant pourtant pas batteur. Je me suis engagée dans cette voie sans aucune idée préconçue et me suis mise à élaborer de la musique électronique sur machines.

Pour le moment, je suis en accord avec cette dynamique, j'ai l'envie de poursuivre seule dans cette voie et non pas de me réengager auprès d'un groupe en tant que guitariste..

Édith Piaf et Gainsbourg sont synonymes de la musique Française. Pourtant, de nombreux Indiens (surtout ceux de Mumbai) sont de grands fans de AIR et Emmanuel Santarromana et Stephane Pompougnac (Hôtel Costes) qui ont remixe de vieux tubes et créés de nouveaux. Que penses-tu de leur travail?

Ils sont en effet incontournables dans la musique électronique française des 10 dernières années. Leur travail est intéressant mais il ne font pas particulièrement partie de mes principales références..

Est-ce que la house, le trip hop, le chill out ou le minimal t’a intéressé ? Comment as-tu finalement choisi ton style ?  Tes influences musicales...

Je ne m'arrête pas à un style musical spécifique.. Tous ceux que tu cites font partie de mon catalogue d'écoute mais j'ai une approche très large de la musique..  Ayant grandi en Afrique de l'ouest, j'ai écouté beaucoup de reggae et d'afrobeats. J'ai toujours été très inspirée par la musique des années 70 aussi bien en rock psychédélique que le blues. Le métal et le hip hop me nourrissent encore aujourd'hui. En tant que guitariste j'ai fait partie de groupes sur un versant plutôt hardcore mélodique et mon arrivée dans le monde électronique m'a ouvert à ce pan musical très riche et fascinant.

Est-ce que tu samples quelquefois ta propre voix ?

Pour ce qui est de sampler ma voix, cela m'est arrivé mais elle est amenée aujourd’hui en direct dans mon set par le biais d'un vocoder.

Tu t’es produite à Pondy, une ancienne colonie française. Les étudiants qui y vivent adorent "Savoir Aimer" de Florent Pagny. Es-tu étonnée ou amusée ou horrifiée de le savoir ? La plupart des français que je connais ne le supporte pas...

Rires !!  Je ne connais pas "savoir aimer" et n'écoute jamais ce chanteur français.. Je suis en effet très étonnée car on m'a déjà posé ce genre de question au Brésil. Beaucoup de jeunes aimaient ses chansons, ils m'avaient même demandé de la leur traduire !!

Tu as joué à Chennai et à Pondichéry ? En quoi les concerts étaient-ils différents l'un de l'autre ?

Les endroits dans lesquels j'ai joué à Chennai et Pondichery étaient extrêmement variés, on y rencontrait du coup un public très différent..  Le toit du Hilton à Chennai semblait plus réservé à une certaine classe sociale qui a pas mal dansé sur la techno que je compose.. On était sur un public plutôt club malgré tout.. L'équipe du ISAI festival qui était l'organisateur de cet after était très sympa.

La rencontre avec le public de Pondichery et notamment sur cette scène de l'Alliance Française face à la mer restera un souvenir inoubliable.. Scène ouverte à tous, elle permettait à chacun de s'arrêter sans entrave.. Ce public à pris tout ce que je donnais et il a en plus été extrêmement généreux donnant place à un vrai échange.. Les gens dansaient, sautaient, hurlaient, les mains levées.. Que du bonheur !!

Pondy est aussi appelé "un morceau de France en Inde". Qu’en penses-tu?

Je suis restée peu de temps sur place mais je me suis baladée dans les rues et suis allée voir l'Ashram, ayant lu certains écrits de Sri Aurobindo, il était impensable de ne pas m'y rendre.. Nous avons fait un tour à Auroville aussi..  J'ai pu être massée dans le centre Ayurvedik, c'était fabuleux.. Les français ont laissé une empreinte indéniable mais ce n'est pas ce que j'ai cherché à voir ou ressentir.

Et notre cuisine Indienne ?

Fantastique pour une végétarienne culinairement malheureuse en France. Celle-ci se vante de sa gastronomie mais c'est une galère quotidienne de manger dans ce pays de carnassiers!!  On ne pense jamais aux végétariens qui doivent se faire tout petit lorsqu'ils demandent à pouvoir manger quelque chose qui soit sans viande ou poisson..  Donc j'ai adoré tout ce que j'ai mangé en Inde !! 

Un morceau ou une chanson indienne que tu aimes?

Bimpalashi de Ravi Shankar, je l'écoute depuis l'adolescence..  Pourquoi?  Je rentre en résonance avec..

Un artiste/un groupe français que l’on devrait connaitre

Zenzile, groupe français que j'écoute depuis des années et avec qui j'ai eu la chance de jouer dans un festival..

Les 6 premiers mots qui viennent à l'esprit quand tu entends le mot INDE

Beauté - Couleurs - Spiritualité - Castes - Bruit - Silence

Merci Miss Sonik pour partager tes expériences de l'Inde et de la musique.

Rejoignez Miss Sonik et écoutez-la au lien ci-dessous