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continuums

i’ve been in a bit of an in between place here…unsure of my role in relation to the project i came here to be a part of. the upside has meant the space and time to adapt to delhi. so much has been resonate. little details of how things are done. the heat has melted away small physical issues that are usual in canada. the food is just what i crave – salty, oily, spicy. i’m drinking lassis and chai like there’s no tomorrow. i think there must be something about the reverence for the cow that is making the dairy here work for me :).

right now i’m staying in a guest house. i am free to come and go. although i usually don’t leave without my travel companion, i have attempted a few of my own excursions, mainly to gurdwara when i’m craving that space. i wish i could go more, but nightfall is around 6PM here, and i get nervous being out on my own past then. my lunch and dinner is usually provided at the guest house. i do my laundry in a bucket. i sleep with fleas, all of us protected from mosquitoes by a bed net. until now, i have accessed the internet down a little, easy-to-bypass ally way off the main drag in delhi gate.

i have access to things i don’t normally have in canada – the prepared meals, a cell phone, almost complete control over my time. it’s like being on vacation, except that every excursion out of the guest house is a bit of a psychological and energetic undertaking. mainly because there’s still so much to learn about how things are done here. every purchase is a dance. there is, of course, a lot of starring to absorb, a need for greater awareness of my surroundings. a bit of fear that is mainly nervousnesses about how to react should an emergency of some kind occur – the police here walk around with ak-47s and all of the ones i’ve seen so far are men.

in fact, i think one of the most difficult things to deal with right now is being surrounded by mainly men all the time. that, and the fact that i have to fill out my husbands/fathers name on every form applying for something (i.e. the internet – note the men filling out forms don’t have to indicate who their wife/mother is). i had a vision of a movie about a girl who woke up one morning in a world filled with only men – in the streets, on the magazines, on tv – even the women were men wearing wigs, and when the dogs looked up at her to bark, they had little man faces. i’ve been really blessed to be with the travel partner i am with right now. but i guess i am missing more time with women. that too will happen, once we head off to east india in a week or so.

people who are visitors here, especially non-Indians, like to talk about the contrasts in this country. about the sharp divides between the rich and the poor, between men and women. i can’t help but notice the hypocrisy of that type of comparison. i don’t mean to minimize these divides which are great (or to idealize things either), but women have access to a level of political power here that is unheard of in canada (for example, women politicians in canada make up 21 percent of elected seats, but at least 33 percent of seats in india must be filled by women). and while the poverty that i’ve seen so far is unlike anything i’ve witnessed in canada, the ‘third world’ conditions that most native peoples live in in canada are conveniently tucked away in reservations that are unseen by the white majority.

so while the inequalities here are more blatant, they are also part of a continuum of inequality that exists in canada, and worldwide, too. everyone, everywhere is struggling against similar economic forces that render certain people more disposable then others. and the creative ways that people find to redefine themselves are just as inspiring – women’s cooperatives, and other self-help groups, massive marches composed of tens of thousands of people, development projects that originate from the communities themselves, and respond to their needs as they define them.

in the next couple of weeks i will be learning more about some of these efforts, and i look forward to sharing my discoveries with all of you.

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