We are told what are our duties but never our rights.

Jaipur Travel Blog

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Walking down the road and you will notice women are scarse.  The streets are swaming with men.  The men are the ones working the shops, driving the cars, and lounging about.  There are a couple women here and their but not many.   Women are usually expected to stay at home and tend to the children and house. They often wait on the husbands when they are home and don't seem to have jobs. 

One of our teachers told the class, "From birth a women is told these are your duties but never their right". Living in an Indian home the duties of the mother are relatively clear but I do not view our host mother as being oppressed or anything.  She does a lot of work around the house, especially in the kitchen. I feel like she is always preparing food or Chay(tea) for us. Despite how much pride she takes in her duties, I do my best to help out with the little things even though she always says, "Hahi" or No. 

The same teacher also told us, "The women of India have grown and the men have not". Our mother is taking night classes to get a government job.  I think it is very exciting for her.  Most of the men I have encounter have an arrogance about them and say things which are closer to repulsing me than sweeping me off my feet.  Most of the time I ignore them, which is easy to do. They usually don't speak unless you make eye contact, easily avoidable but sometimes you look up or over at the wrong time.  Our teachers keep warning us about body pinching, which I veiw is just like getting sick, it's inevitable.  It's weird to walk down the street wondering if you will be grabbed and how you'll react.  Although I feel it's inevitable I still the precautions such as, staying full clothed. This means cover your shoulders and legs, however according to one of our teachers "Stomachs have always been seen." Since I don't show my tummy as is, I am more covered then most of the Indian women.

So far I have felt completely safe in India but do not feel the need to walk alone.  There's really no need to go anywhere by yourself anyway and although many people speak English there is still a strong language barrier.  Plus my Hindi still needs a little spit shine.  Today we learned the rest of the aphabet.  I like forming the letters cause it's like drawing so it's fun. 

I am late for dinner and must be going! Achchhaji (Good bye!).

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Indian's are clean but India is not. There is trash all over the ground and it keeps accumulating. There are no garbage cans around only sparatic dumpsters in the middle of select side streets.   Indians however are physically clean.  They take daily bucket baths and wash their hands before and after every meal, that is if the resources are availible.   I shower everyday too by filling a pale full of water then using what looks like a large measuring cup, to pour the water over my body.  The first time I tried it, I was in Delhi and the water was warm and it felt exotic.  I could hear the Sihks prayers from the near by Gurdwara and the pigeons cooing in the window as the rising sun slowly illuminated the white tile bathroom.  Since then the novelty has worn off and warm water is rare and hot water is non-existant.  I find washing myself with cold water ineffective and temporarily miserable, especially when I am continuously dodging the water I have attempted to pour on my body.  Showering is more of a chore than a delight but it's a msut.  It's more important now because of the environment change. There is more dirt and pollution around and my new diet has changed my body odor to be more pungant and spicy smelling.  I can't stand it and I'm assuming other can't either.

Staying physically healthy seems like less of a chore than bathing, except for when it comes to getting exercise.   There is no where to run and with streets lined with men I don't really want to. Plus the air is hazy with pollution and I don't want to inhale more than I have to.  So instead I have purchased a months worth of yoga lessons, Mon-Fri 4:30-5:30pm.  I have never done yoga before coming to India and it is incrediably difficult.  The class is usually all women, most are from our school group but a couple are from the area.  The women from the area are middle aged or older and have fuller figures.  I find it light-heartedly pleasant to watch the women during the breathing exercises.  They sit and breathe out in short puffs and you can see their voluptuously plump bodies shake and giggle under their sari's.  It's oddly cute. 

The other day at yoga the woman in front me passed gas.  In India they don't think anything of passing gas because it's a natural process of the body.  Unfortnately I was raised in America where this is exceptionally humorous.  I felt like a tea pot ready to burst with laugher, but I shoved my face in the horse hair mat and swollowed hard. It reminded me of Uncle Russ' funeral where the old woman in the turquiose suite  standing in front of me farted during the moment of silence.  There's nothing you can do but try to keep the laugher inside. 

Yoga is great and I find myself feeling more flexible and in shape which is helpful for keeping my spirits high.

Spiritual maintance in the religous sense has not been a concern of mine. I have visited a couple temples and places of worship but the other day our Grandmother, Dadiji, invited my roommate and I to participate in a prayer service for one of the gods.  We were instructed to wear yellow.   At the prayer service five of us sat in a circle cross legged around a square fire pit for at least an hour or closer to two.  It was horribly uncomfortable sitting on the concrete floor. My foot kept falling asleep. Everytime I tried to rearrange my position the man next to me politely instructed me to sit properly.  It was painful and I kept wondering, respectfully, when the hell it was going to end. 

During the service rice was thrown over us and water thrown on us.  They dipped a flower into a brass pitcher filled with water then sprayed us with it. They gave us pieces of gold and maroon string to tie around our wrists and my first thought was "U of M colors"!  I don't know what the string was supposed to signify but I like to think they were supportting the U of M.  During the ceremony the person next to you was supposed to tie the string for you. I attempted to help the older women next to me, who strongly resembled the witch in Snow White when she was disguised as the old women with the apples, but she would not have it.  She was stubborn and preffered to struggle and do it her self.

Throughout the whole thing she practically ignored me.  When the women put the bindis (the little dot above the eyes) with rice on those participating she hesitated before putting one on me but the man next to me encouraged her. Once everyone had one we had to wait until every deity and animal in every picture recieved one also, then we could continue.   As everyone watch my Dadiji dot the Gods I notice the old women next to me had only one piece of rice clinging to her for head.  It stuck out at a noticeable angle which I thought strongly resemble the penis of Michelangelo's David.  I couldn't stop staring.

Finally every picture had red paint and rice on it, we continuously repeated prayers and someone told us Indians repeat things three times.  The way I interpreted it was they repeat prayers 100 times then do that three times, because that's what it felt like it.  I just remember sitting their later in the ceremony throwing oiled soaked wood chips into the fire as billows of smoke blew into my face, with my foot completely asleep, and little bits of rice were falling into my eyes.   The old man across from me put on sunglasses to protect his eyes but I was stuck helpless as me  irritated eyes watered.

I sat the farthest away from the fire so I had to throw the farthest.  Apparently I was missing the pit and some of my woodchips were landing in the holy food offering. I didn't notice until the mean old woman next to me placed a huge silver plate over the saucer size bowl.  I don't know why it was that crucial to do so since we ended up burning it anyway.  I'm pretty sure the woman just want to make it known to everyone what I was doing.

The fire continued to smoke as we fed it not only more woodchips, but actual food.   Once again I am amazed people are starving especially if we are capable of buring that much food.  At the end of the ceremony The old woman and my dadiji were distributing food and the old women wouldn't give us any, but dadiji was there to feed us.  When I stood up I immediately felt relief in my hips and needles in my legs. The man next to me told me I need to pick up yoga.  I just kept quiet about my membership.

Well I am getting hand cramps and internet is expensive, so I must be going.
Finally I have settled into a routine in India.  I originally was going to entitle this blog as "The culture that keeps you regular" because the last attempt I had at starting my blog I logged in and had to go. I wasn't sick but my diet is strictly vegetarian now and public bathrooms are a rare occurances. It's not uncommon to walk down the street and see men urinating freely. Women, not so much. 

So today is my second day of school and it is exciting but Hindi class is beyond intense. Our teacher is strict and seems determined to teach us the whole language within the six weeks we have class.  I love school. It starts at 10, we have tea at 11, lunch at 12, tea at 2, and school ends at 4.  At home we have tea at 9am and 5pm. Everytime is tea time in India.  It's great. At home our host mother serves it with short bread biscuits, delicious! 

Food is not scarse and I'm surprised I have not gain weight. In fact I think I lost a little. One thing I have learned about mothers in india, they don't care whether you are full or not, you need to eat more.  The amount of food I am corsed to eat amazes me people are starving.

Street kids and people are everywhere but you learn to ignore them quick and hug your personals. We were told not to give them money because the India mofia is a big problem.  

I have not gotten sick yet but I figure it is inevitable despite how careful I am. I only drink filtered water and haven't bought any food off the street. So far I have stayed away from salads too.

I have to go because my friend is waiting outside and I think she is being hassled by men. Unfortunately, a rather common occurance.

photo by: oxangu2