I take back all the frustration I expressed yesterday. I mean, it was authentic. I just think I was taking everything a bit too seriously and getting kind of high strung. Maybe I was experiencing the "cultural shock" that they were talking about in the cyberjeunes orientation (the U graph -I'll explain later). Maybe I just miss sex and espresso and peanut butter too much But today is a different story. We had our first my first field visit today to the Balikuda district, to one of the poorest parts of India that was completley hammered by the '99 cyclone. After sitting with a women-run self-help group (that distribute money on a microcredit program to the most in need) and having them braid my hair pull me by the arm, insist on posing for pictures, and showing me their children, fathers, and homes. After witnessing their determination and cameraderie and astounding warmth of their huge spirits. I am speechless. (Except in the runon sentence form, it seems.)
Sunil from Action AId with the tear drop birthmark on his cheek was translating for us from Oria. Apparently one of the bossier women in the group addressed the seemingly more dominanat women across from her and said: "this one will be my friend that one can be your friend" in reference to me and Sasha.
One of the women told me about the story of being at a huge meeting of women's self-help groups (15,000 women converged on a town in Orissa for this conference). She said the police told the women congregating on the street to go back to their dorms because it was night. This struck a chord for me in paternalistic Orissa where I feel that everyone wants to impose a curfew on me. "Do you think the police were right to tell you to go inside?" "Oh Yes. They did the right thing. It is not right for a woman to be out at night." "Why?" "Because it is not safe" "If a woman comes to your village, is she not safe at night?" "If we see a woman walking in the street in our village at night, we will say:'come inside our home! have something to eat! Talk with us!' We will be like sisters, with our arms around each other." She then proceeded to cuddle me and insist to Sunil that we stay the night. Now it is 12:30AM and I am the last one awake at the Jagatsinghpur office. Early day tomorrow. Dogs, cats, a parrot outside seem to be battling each other or something. Time to let them have the night, I guess.