The City With Red Doors

[From the print] Our correspondent relates the experience of an anonymous prostitute on the streets of Kolkata.

Source: Sandra Hoyn

Society has always viewed prostitution as a universal evil and the people associated with it are vessels that harbour an unimaginable form of sin. Society has certain names for us, names that are meant to demean, for the purpose to abuse and shame. People in the sex industry can never escape the tag of their profession, I often feel as if there was a tilak (mark) on my forehead. Everyone I know, knows who I am and what I do. Most of them do not know my name but that does not matter because to them, I am a whore.

I was named after the Hindu Goddess of Wealth, Lakshmi. In the dichotomous framework that India finds itself in, Lakshmi was both a goddess said to bring prosperity and fortune and a prostitute with broken dreams and nowhere to go. Amma, the woman whom I was sold to by my trafficker refused to have one of her ‘girls’ be called after a goddess, whose legs were open like one of Lakshmi’s lotuses. Amma was a pious woman and her tolerance towards blasphemy, freedom, and justice was an incontestable nil.

For years, the only escape, I had was my tiny window with an ineffective mosquito net and broken dreams. I would take refuge in the dream of going back to my village but quickly shook away the thought. I was one of them, a whore, a sex worker. My village would never accept someone with that label.

So, eventually Lakshmi was forgotten and Munni was born. There were three other Munni’s where I worked. They all probably had stories similar to mine but we never asked one another. Our name had no character, no significance, a perfect fit for the profession. A prostitute was a person with no stories, to be used as an object to please and fulfil fantasies. If my client replaced my name with another, it did not affect me. I was an artificial host of the dirty and unmentionable, who was less than the rest and society had chosen her to be the sacrifice of its community.

Source: Bernard Henin

The words used to describe my kind are considered vulgar and offensive in almost every spoken language in the world. From Bengali to English, prostitution has negative connotations. My profession itself was an offence. A whore, slut, prostitute, hooker are words that are meant to bring shame to the person who is called one. Language, often provides, a good insight on society. For instance, the tone and language used for prostitution tells you just what the community feels about it: filthy and immoral. When one joins my former profession, it is near impossible to escape from its clutches. Where do we go? Everywhere we try to run or hide and all they can see is a woman who has lost her morality and ergo her identity. If you were to go to any sex worker their thoughts or educate them on societal labels. They would laugh at how little the world knows. How little the world knows and how much the world hides. The slurs that were thrown at me stopped bothering me after a while because they had helped erase all that made me human.

Source: Prateek Jain

The Sonagachi red-light district in Kolkata, my former home was and still is a favourite amongst men, the kind that always had narcotics with them and greeted us with slurs. It was also the home to men who had large bungalows in the affluent localities of Alipore and Park Street . They were awful, they saw me as nothing more than the products of their sick twisted fantasies. These men were responsible for Sonagachi’s prosperity but refused to acknowledge their acquaintance with the place. Sonagachi is known for a lot of things in the city of Calcutta but it is most certainly not known for its justice. The Government of India has failed miserably to rehabilitate sex workers. The promised voter cards have been given but we can’t do anything. The powerless do not give the powerful power, it is taken away from us. Sonagachi is a label that never goes away. Your identity revolves around it and society only fixates on that.

Yama, the Hindu God of Justice, was always a busy person and rumours spread that he had a bigger disdain for prostitutes than the society we lived in. We never saw him, he had become a myth, a legend, that would help us fall asleep but he never showed up. The police, the ‘protectors of justice’, turned out to be regular customers. So, as quickly as we had thought of Yama, he had given up on us and we were once again alone and still whores.

After all these years, it is very easy to vouch that a life of a prostitute in India can never truly escape the experiences of physical and mental displacement, feeling unrooted, and unlearning and relearning their identities. A prostitute can never forget staring at another sex worker’s eyes because the lifelessness of her eyes mirrors hers. One learns the truly understands society when one works in an industry that feeds on exploitation. Even when you have escaped the label, the profession, you can never forget the language and its meaning. Society and taboo, both do not believe in a fair trial. A name is enough.

This letter is in no means for sympathy but serves as a reflection on Indian society. The pride that we hold so close to us about the balance of the ancient and the modern is nothing more than a nicely wrapped fallacy. Oppression has not been moderated but has merely transformed into other forms, just as bad as its predecessor. We live in our own cocoons that keeps us ignorant to the grave injustice, millions face right outside our doors. We turn our heads away from taboos because of the blasphemous and licentious stamp stuck to it. Taboo is blasphemy and all the greatest truths start as blasphemy.

If you want to learn more about the lives of sex workers in Kolkata, you can give this short video by the Youtube channel Ross Kemp Extreme World.


Edited by Pailey Wang, Philippe Bédos and Maya Shenoy

« Grease », le musical débarque au Havre à la Salle François 1er

[English below] Après «Hairspray», «Mulan» et «Mamma Mia!», c’est l’intemporel «Grease» qu’interprète cette année le club de comédie musicale du campus du Havre de Sciences Po.

Une fois de plus, la troupe de comédie musicale du campus du Havre s’est surpassée pour proposer un spectacle de qualité qui enchantera les petits comme les grands.

La comédie musicale « Grease », introduite à Broadway en 1972 met en scène Danny Zuko, adolescent rebelle au style ténébreux, leader de la bande d’amateurs de cire coiffante et de courses de voitures: les T-Birds, et la douce Sandy Dumbrowski, un brin naïve, dont la pureté et l’innocence font le charme. Tous deux pensent se dire adieu après une romance estivale secrète, mais c’est sans compter sur la récente inscription de Sandy dans le même lycée que Danny, dont la réputation de « bad boy » est à défendre. La comédie musicale de renommée mondiale suit leur relation face aux pressions exercées par leurs pairs à Rydell High.

« Grease » à la Salle François 1er le 13 avril prochain :

C’est dans un véritable marathon que les 53 membres du club (24 acteurs, 24 membres de production et 5 capitaines) se lancèrent en septembre dernier pour la réalisation de cette œuvre qui verra son avènement le 13 avril, à la salle François 1er du Havre. En effet, durant les sept derniers mois, toute l’équipe répéta les quelques 2 actes, 11 scènes et 16 chansons qui composent la comédie musicale. « Les répétitions auront été fatigantes, […] mais la magie réside sur scène, sous les projecteurs, le micro fixé, lorsque tous les efforts sont oubliés et qu’il ne reste que la joie » nous confie Salomé Cassarino, interprète de Rizzo.

Cette longue préparation ne fut pas pas sans sacrifices, nous indique Tatsuaki Tsukuda, qui endosse le rôle de Danny Zuko. « On commença par deux répétitions par semaine, mais au fil du temps, le rythme s’intensifia pour atteindre les cinq-six répétitions par semaine. Il m’a fallu sacrifier quelques heures de sommeil ». Restant positif, celui qui a déjà participé à plusieurs performances musicales ajoute : « Je ne pense pas que cela affecte négativement mes performances scolaires, […] c’est parfois difficile, mais ça n’en reste pas moins excitant ».

Mais que se cache-t-il derrière un tel engouement pour le musical ?

« C’est avant tout parce que c’est le plus grand club du campus ; un sixième y prend part, et la diversité des gens investis couvre l’ensemble du corps étudiant » nous explique Noa Liaudet, la coordinatrice des danses. « Le fait que la performance soit le moment phare d’une année de travail ajoute également à l’attrait du musical. Le CROUS, l’administration ainsi que Vincent Fertey [le directeur du campus, ndlr] s’investissent. Tout le monde attend ce moment ! » ajoute-t-elle.

L’an dernier déjà, les représentations de “Mamma Mia !” avaient enchanté les spectateurs. Dans les couloirs du campus, on entend encore les louanges de ces performances passées et l’engouement pour la comédie musicale qui les accompagne. “C’était très professionnel, j’ai été impressionnée par leur jeu d’acteur et la qualité des chants!” nous confie Inès Benkacem, une étudiante du campus du Havre. “C’est l’une des principales raisons pour laquelle j’y retourne cette année, j’ai hâte de voir un spectacle organisé par des étudiants du campus, […] de découvrir leurs talents!” renchérit-elle.

Les tickets, mis en vente dans le hall principal du campus à partir du 1er Avril vous permettront de plonger dans l’univers pétillant de Rydell High. Alors succombez aux sons riches et entraînants de « You’re the one that I want » ; le rythme électrifié de « Greased Lightning » et les déhanchés endiablés de « We go together » et n’oubliez pas : « GREASE is the word ! ».

[English translation]

“Grease” the musical set to take Salle François 1er by storm

After “Hairspray”, “Mulan” and “Mamma Mia!”, the Musical Theatre Club of Sciences Po, campus du Havre will be performing the timeless “Grease” this April 13th.

Musical club has once again outdone itself, and is set to offer a first class show that gets the whole audience jiving.

“Grease” the musical, introduced on Broadway in 1972, tells the story of young teen rebel Danny Zuko, the leader of the leather jacket-clad T-Birds, a gang of drag race aficionados; and the sweet, yet a little naïve, Sandy Dumbrowski whose beauty and innocence becomes the center of Zuko’s attention. After an intense summer romance, they painfully say their goodbyes, but suddenly find themselves head to head again, when by a sheer stroke of fate Sandy enrolls in the same high school as Danny. The classic bad boy-good girl story narrates their relationship amidst the pressures exerted by their peers at Rydell High.

“Grease” at Salle François 1er this April 13th

It has been a long run of preparation for the 53 members of the club (24 actors, 24 production members and 5 captains) which started in September and will culminate with two showings on April 13th at the Salle Francois 1er. During the past seven months the whole team has poured their hearts into the 2 acts, 11 scenes and 16 songs of the two-hour show. “The rehearsals were tiring, […] but the real magic will be on the stage, under the lights, mic turned on, when all the hard work is forgotten and only joy remains” said Salomé Cassarino, who plays Rizzo.

The long preparation took a toll, as Tatsuaki Tsukada, who stars as Danny, explained: “We started with two practices per week, but with time the pace picked up to reach five to six practices per week. I had to give up a few hours of sleep”. Perhaps drawing on his previous experience in several musical performances, he added: “I don’t think it negatively impacted my academic results, […] it’s sometimes difficult, but that doesn’t make it less exciting”.

But what explains the campus’ passion for musicals?

“It’s first and foremost; because it’s the biggest club of the campus, one in six students are part of it, and the diversity of its members covers the whole student body” Noa Liaudet, the dance captain, pointed out. “The fact that the performance is the apogee of a full year’s work also adds to the great appeal of the musical. The CROUS, the administration, and even [campus director] Vincent Fertey have given us their support. Everybody is waiting for this moment!” she noted.

Last year’s performance of “Mamma Mia!” enchanted spectators. In the halls of the campus, you can still hear praises of the past performances and the fervor that the annual theatre production brings with it. “It was truly professional, I was really impressed by the quality of the acting and singing!” Inès Benkacem, a student of the campus, commented. “It’s one of the main reasons I’m coming back this year. I’m looking forward to seeing a show prepared by the students of the campus, […] and to discover their talents!” she continued.

The tickets, still on sale in the main hall of the campus, will allow you to dive into the thrilling world of Rydell High. So let yourself be swayed by the catchy tunes of “You’re the one That I Want”; the electrifying rhythm of “Greased Lightning” and the joyous tune of “We Go Together” and don’t forget: “GREASE is the word!”

Edits and translation by Philippe Bédos & Pailey Wang

L’appel de l’océan | Starry Waters

Un poème de Clémence des Déserts et sa traduction par Paramveer Gupta | A poem by Clémence des Déserts and its twin poem by Paramveer Gupta

“Marine, navigation au clair de lune”, Claude Monet, 1864

L’appel de l’océan

La plage endormie luit

D’une douce noirceur

Rayonnant dans la nuit

De splendides couleurs.

Assise sur un rocher

De granit et de fer

Je contemple à mes pieds

L’assourdissante mer.

Et ni l’onde bleutée,

Ni le ciel orageux,

Ni le phare agressé

Par les flots tumultueux,

Ni même ce frais vent

Qui chante de très longs

Et séduisants chants

Ne me retiendront.

Mes ailes vont s’ouvrir.

Je vois le soleil poindre,

Au loin comme pour dire:

«Vole, viens me rejoindre.»

Starry Waters

The beach reflects the darkness

Off the soft sand

Basking in the starry night

The colours of the delight

Sititing on the beach

I hear at my feet

The roaring sea

Calling something

Deep inside of me

The starry night

The sleepy cries

The hollow plights

The darkening lights

Nor the windy hollows

And the ricketing wallows

Shall keep my dreams shallow

I see the sun rise

And look into the sky

To see with my eyes

A prophecy for me to fly

What’s On Le Havre: September

Welcome to the first edition of What’s On LH for the new academic year. This monthly guide brought to you by the Bureau des Arts includes our top picks for art, music and culture au Havre.


Well worth the trip up the hill, the Tetris has a multi-medium exhibition on landscapes which is about to finish. Catch it before it’s gone! More.

WHERE: Le Tetris

WHEN: Until the 2nd

HOW MUCH: free

Né(e)s de l’écume et des rêves

Also finishing up soon is the temporary exhibition at MuMa. The eclectic collection revolving around the ocean is an interesting complement to the permanent exhibits, which are well worth visiting for newcomers. More.


WHEN: Until the 9th

HOW MUCH: free (for students)

Le Volcan: Open Door

Le Havre’s iconic theatre designed by Oscar Niemeyer will open its doors for two days to mark the beginning of the new season. A worthwhile behind the scenes look at an amazing building, and a thriving artistic hub. More.

WHERE: Le Volcan

WHEN: 15th and 16th

Ouest Park Festival

Le Havre’s very own summer music festival is nearly upon us, and with a great international lineup with names such as: Boys Noize, Romeo Elvis, The Brian Jonestown Massacre and Therapie Taxi, and many more. This isn’t one to miss! More.

WHERE: Fort de Tourneville

WHEN: 21 – 23rd

HOW MUCH: €26 per day (students), free on the last day.

There are a lot of public art installations as part of Un Été au Havre. Take a visit to the beach, or up the hill to the Jardins Suspendus to catch a few before they’re gone.

Some of our favourites are:


Unmissable and instantly iconic, our favourite abstract monument is back for another year. It can’t be missed on the centre of the beach. More.

À l’origine

Just a stone’s throw away you will find an impressive six metre sculpture by Fabien Mérelle. A man carrying the symbolically immense burden of an elephant on his back. More.

Jusqu’au Bout du monde

All the way at the end of beach at the Bout du monde, you will find another larger than life work by Fabien Mérelle, of a father and daughter looking out into the unknown. More.

Futuro House

A rare retro-futuristic house has descended on Le Havre, an interesting piece of architectural history worth visiting in the Jardins Suspendus before it’s gone. More.

Most of the public art will stay until the 23rd.

Hôtel de Ville du Havre, symbole de la reconstruction

Where better to hold an exhibition about the Hôtel de Ville du Havre than the Hôtel de Ville du Havre. A worthwhile history lesson about the symbolism of the building in the post-war reconstruction of the city. More.

WHERE: Hôtel de Ville

WHEN: Until the 23rd

Les Passagers du Son (2)

While you’re at the Hôtel de Ville, take yourself on an immersive auditory experience and discover the building through this spatial art installation. More.

WHERE: Hôtel de Ville

WHEN: Until the 23rd

Vélo Tour

Take a bike trip all around the city, as well as through some of Le Havre’s notable building. A great opportunity to discover the city and all for a good cause! More.

WHERE: All over LH! (starting at the Jardin Fluvial)

WHEN: The 30th


Pailey Wang is an Australian second year student at Sciences Po Paris Campus du Havre, and one of the editors-in-chief at Le Dragon. He majors in Politics and Government, and is also the incumbent Public Relations Officer of the Bureau des Arts.

“Transition Energétiques”: A Class Trip to the EDF Coal Plant of Le Havre

What is to be found at the foot of the far away EDF towers?

On the 16th of April, Roland Lehoucq’s class on energy politics and the move towards renewable energy, entitled “Transition Energétiques”, along with some energy amateurs who joined the excursion via Sciences Po’s newly formed Environmental Association, visited EDF’s coal-fired power plant in Le Havre’s industrial port.


In the hallway ,excited students are met with M. Lehoucq and M. Fertey to catch the bus headed to the industrial area. Fifteen minutes later, under timid sun rays, the group wanders around empty gravel streets to finally find the entrance to the plant area.


The group is welcomed by Malvina Devarieux, public relations assistant, who explains the history and functioning of the plant in a small conference room. Created in 1946, EDF played an important role in France’s reconstruction after the war and contributed to its later industrialization. Today, the company is the leading electricity producer in France. In 2014, of the energy produced, 87,8% was nuclear, 9,9% renewable, and 2,3% thermal.

Due to its relative flexibility, the thermal park is used to respond to the variations in consumption. Sometimes, important amounts of electricity have to be provided within a short period of time in order to satisfy the daily demand peak or to respond to a seasonal change. Devarieux explains, “A fall of one degree Celsius in mid-winter is equal to a rise of 7% of electricity demand”. Here, Le Havre’s coal plant has another special advantage on the French electricity market. Thanks to its portal location, it has direct it access to the coal cargo, bypassing costly and time-intensive transportation.

EDF also invests in innovation. Together with Alstom, ADEME and Dow Chemical, a Carbon Capture and Storage (CCS) experiment was conducted on the site of Le Havre and its sister plant in Cordemais. Reaching an overall efficiency of 0,05% for the moment, Devarieux points out that “there are still improvements to be made, but luckily there are also many other laboratories around the world.”


Students are standing in the coal park, built in 1983, where unit 4 of the power plant – with 600 MW of installed power capacity – is the only one functioning today. Two years ago measures have been taken to make it more efficient and durable: an important modernization of the complex was completed, taking 220 millions of investment. This large financial effort is in stark contrast with the recent decision of the government to close the plant, in order to assure France’s transition towards clean energy. The tour-guide, Sebastien Bertin, points out a key difficulty in energy policy, “the industry is not able to adapt to quick political shifts, as we are not on the same timeline that industrial projects are working on, which is 10 to 15 years.”


In a vast dark and chilly hall the group discovers the boiler. It is suspended in the air. Underneath, a yellow crab-like machine serves as a recipient of the excess coal falling down. “Back in the days, everything used to be black here, coal was laying around everywhere, and the machine was incredibly loud.”, explains Bertin. Even though on that day the plant wasn’t performing at its top capacity, the many earplug distributors indicate that the noise remains a necessary byproduct of heavy machinery.


At the upper floor, 12 meters higher, under the roof letting trough some water drops here and there, the group walks along boiler, turbine, and alternator on indicated pathways, listening to the commentaries of the guide.

Second floor of the coal-fired power plant (France 3)


In the very back of the upper area, behind a heavy door and thick blinds, lays the command room of the plant. “This is the very heart and brains of the plant – the cockpit of the boat, and the people you see working are the captains.” whispers Bertin. The students, fascinated by the many screens, buttons, and phones, inquire after function of every one of them. Learning that the operator (“chef de projet”) is responsible for electricity production sui generis, maneuvering the burners in the boilers for optimal combustion and controlling the good functioning of the entire plant. Assisted by a team of patrols who report everything going on in the different parts of the plant, serving as his eyes and ears around the facility. “In case of emergency, it is the operator who has to stay until the plant is shut down, even at the risk of his own life. Without him the plant doesn’t work.”, Bertin says. “The biggest danger is a “puff”, an explosion in the boiler, which would affect the plant, but not endanger the surroundings. Such a case occurred once in the history of the ‘Havrais’ plant: “They stayed in the smoke, helped by the firemen with oxygen masks until the thing was shut down.”, narrates Bertin.


While walking back to the entrance, Bertin answers questions about the environmental matters connected to coal-fired electricity production. He explains the multi-step treatment process which has been added to the regular electricity production to clean the vapor of ashes and toxic particles. First, 80% of the contained azote oxides are washed out through a process called de-nitrification. Secondly, in the smog passes through a dust extractor, where electrostatic current removes 99% of the flying ashes. Finally, desulfurization, that is a “shower of water and chalk”, washes the smoke of fine particles as well as 90% of sulfur dioxide. The byproducts of this treatment process are recycled: the bigger ashes are used for road backfill, trench filling and the making sound breeze blocks. Flying ashes and particles are also utilized in the production of cement.

(dossier de presse EDF 2015)


The visit is over, “It was cool!”, concludes Roland Lehoucq capturing the general feeling. The students also appreciated the visit. “What surprised me the most was to learn about the strong relationship that can emerge between the machine and the men that are using them day for day over years.”, declares Laureen Calcat, “Another thing that I found interesting is the strong emotional attachment the Havrais have for their coal plant. Le Havre is historically an industrial city and the factory has become an integral part of its landscape. It is also in this idea of affirming the industrial identity of Le Havre that these chimneys were embellished by illuminations that make them shine during the night, like two industrial lights watching over the city. Le Havre would not be quite what it is without the two large chimneys that rise to the sky.

Tshin-Ilya Chardayre is a Franco – Austrian second year student, and an active member of the Environmental Association.