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Rainy days....

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I have spent the last two days sitting on the patio watching the pouring rain. The rain here is unlike that in the States. It is a beautiful tropical storm that comes and goes throughout the day. It forms a mist over a little patch of the village and pours then moves on. There is no blowing dust, thunder, or lightning like there is in the States. This has unfortunately prevented me from being able to go and meet with the widows or venture into town to meet with another bank chairman. When it rains the roads become even more treacherous because you have to drive down the middle to stay out of the mud on the sides. As a result it is a lot of swerving around oncoming traffic. Despite this...It has given me some personal reflection time as well as time to relax. I love the feeling that time is something fluid here...days flow into one another. Things are flexible and running late is ok.

Today a woman who used to run the orphanage came to visit. She is an American girl who married an Indian man who used to be the registrar here and they brought their new baby. The five month old baby boy was so amazed to see someone white like his mother he could not stop staring. The woman and I went upstairs to show the Mercy Home boys the baby. They all took turns taking pictures of each other and the new baby with my camera. They kept saying "Auntie one more photo" over and over. This is more English than they have ever used with me...up until now I have only ever gotten Hi and Cheeeeeese like I taught them when we took photos. I had no idea they spoke so much English until this lady came because she speaks English with them.... I will be using it with them from now on. Her husband used to be the registrar at the school here and he used to fine the boys of the Bible School if they did not speak English...I had no idea those students spoke that much English either. I think that they are intimidated to speak with me sometimes but I will definitely be trying to now that I know they can. I learned today that many of the orphans do very well in school but a few struggle...it was explained to me that just as in America there is a "no child left behind" mentality here that just keeps pushing these children through the system. After we talked and took photos the children headed off to Saturday classes and I was able to spend some time finding out how this American girl felt about India. It was very clear that she loved it here but was looking forward to returning to America. We talked about how long the trip is and American customs that are not the same here...such as you can throw your trash out the window or on the ground and that men often do not give up their seats to women. These things are just expected in the U.S. but are not commonplace here. I have come to believe that it is not a disrespectful thing it is just a cultural difference.

I have experienced many cultural differences since I have arrived here...some I have discussed such as bodily functions and dress. I think the most difficult cultural difference to understand is how the caste system still plays a part in India. The caste system was originally a Hindu concept but is very ingrained in the Indian culture. It is still unclear to me whether the people who wash my clothes and serve my food are doing so because they are of a lower caste or because they are of a lower socio-economic class (It was very hard to get used to people doing everything for you...I felt bad and wanted to say that I was capable of doing that for myself but that is how it works here). There are laborers here just as there are in the U.S. who are uneducated and work jobs that do not require extensive education...I wonder if they are relegated to this lifestyle because of their caste or because they were raised poor and it has just trickled down over generations. If anyone can shed some light on this please let me know...

India tip of the day: Do not touch centipedes they make you itch.

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michellee's picture

caste system

Hi,

I have been enjoying your posts--what an adventure! I am not sure if the caste system in India compares with that in Nepal, but Sunita recently wrote about the untouchable class in Nepal in her informative article "DALIT!! DON'T TOUCH ME". Once again, welcome to PulseWire and thanks for sharing!

Best,
Michelle

Michelle
World Pulse Technology Associate

JaniceW's picture

Connection

I so enjoyed this glimpse of life in the orphanage. You might like to connect with Subhadra Khaperde, a new member who joined PulseWire. She is a dalit woman from a poor farming family, who struggled against both poverty and patriarchy. She is now an activist and researcher in the field of women's rights. I think you would have some fascinating conversations about the caste system, from her perspective as a member of the Dalit and your perspective as a foreigner.

You can find Subhadra at:
http://www.worldpulsemagazine.com/user/3230

I think the dialogue will be interesting to our whole community as this is a topic rarely discussed in the mass media and so many of us have little insight into the oppression and discrimination directed towards people of the lower caste. Living in a somewhat egalitarian society, it is also sometimes incomprehensible to imagine fellow citizens being treated with such disrespect and indignity for reason of their birth. So, I hope you will connect with Subhadra and share your conversations with us all. Best wishes,
Janice

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