A Passion for Peace

Responsibility, respect and a loving connection with all beings and for this Earth we share.

(A Very Belated) Shabbat Shalom

Growing up with a glorified Gandhi-centric image of modern Indian history I didn't realize the extent of the violent side of the Indian struggle for independence. With an opening motto of two ways to live: accept and endure, or take responsibility and change, the Oscar-nominated Rang de Basanti transports a group of Dehli college students back in time into five freedom fighters of the Hindustan Socialist Republic Association through a parallel story of modern politicians buying faulty parts for air force planes from the Soviets and then blaming the resulting pilot deaths on the own pilots' carelessness (this part is true), and ending with a dramatically violent and idealistic showing of their own (movie fiction, don't want to spoil it for you). As with any Bollywood movie, its intensity is offset with some lighthearted silly scenes and songs, but the movie also tackles the Muslim-Hindi divide and the legacy of colonialism. Indian history is another reminder of how much easier it is to unite against something (an end to colonial British rule), and not for something (creating a unified country, e.g. the current Kashmir conflict). And 'Oh my gosh!' in this movie was subtitled to our delight as 'Grandpa's hairy testicles!'

Favorite signs of the weekend: 'Persons who dirty public places are social criminals' and from a Jain restaurant:



I find Indians in general to be very kind. Since there are no maps, people always stop and ask each other for directions; it's considered rude to say they don't know, so people try to help even to the extent of sending you walking in the completely wrong direction. I'm slowly learning to recognize the subtle pause of unknowing before giving made-up as opposed to useful directions. People I have only emailed (alumni, friends of friends or even blindly) meet and spend substantial time with me, send suggestions of other contacts, and genuinely offer to help me any way they can. They're also very positive and don't want to say 'no,' so I sometimes get a run around of 'please call tomorrow to arrange a meeting,' and tomorrow the response is, 'oh yes, please call tomorrow,' until I eventually arrange something and they tell me they really want to work with me and have no money.

I began applying for jobs and post-graduation internships October of 2008. 65% of my graduating class is still unemployed. Friday, after yet another day of slogging through networking/interviews/meetings, I had a delicious dinner where we talked of being like Noah and building your own arc, being brave and taking care of yourself. I thought of a woman I met earlier this week who said worry is the most useless activity, and whenever she really wants something, she works and works for it and then releases it, saying, “Universe, if I deserve this, please provide it.” As I walked home I thought, 'Universe, if I deserve to pursue the career I have in mind, please provide a job.' When I got home I checked my email to find an official job offer to start an educational NGO in South Africa for six months beginning in January.

I can’t explain what a weight off and career confidence (and personal confidence!) boost that is. I've been ruminating lately on the idea of 'it's my job, not who I am' versus living one's work. It is not selfish to have a career to support yourself and live nicely. And it is easier to be brave and unselfish in my chosen career knowing I am from the US and have my family to fall back on, which children in the slums here can hardly say. As a new friend said yesterday, "Being poor in the States is not having a nice car." I admire the lucky ones who truly love and enjoy their work, and I really admire those who work to live despite a lack of passion in their profession. I happen to love child advocacy and conflict resolution, and I'm realizing more and more what a rewarding struggle of a career it is going to be.

As for working in India, I am giving myself one more week to find something, and then I will likely live at a home for street children just outside the city, knowing I have a position soon in January. Like the rest of the world, social-type work here is sorely needed and unfunded. Indians have no social services besides NGO's, many of which are fake and keep profits for themselves; people have no pensions from work unless they work for international companies with uniform packages, politicians are universally regarded as criminals (even charities are expected to pay bribes to get things done), and I was told an argument in favor of child labor that one daughter working as a maid in a nice home in the city can support her entire rural family. Girls on the street (orphans) are mostly raped by age 12, and family abuse and incest impacts millions of slum dwellers, but goes unreported because families can't afford to lose their breadwinners or shame the family name. In the news here a man in Mumbai locked up and starved his wife and three daughters for the past 7 years, and when an NGO helped one of the daughters escape, the man successfully filed a report for kidnapping to get her back and now the NGO is being sued. Although in good news, the women are now away from him.

Welcome to the second-most populated country of the world, an independent democracy for only 62 years. Indians are such an amazing and enterprising people, trying to rapidly advance on their own terms with colonialism still hovering over them.

Posted byValerie at 11:29 AM  

3 comments:

Niles said... October 29, 2009 at 9:55 AM  
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Valerie said... October 30, 2009 at 1:31 PM  
This comment has been removed by the author.
Searching for something said... November 17, 2009 at 7:27 AM  
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

Post a Comment