I am in India. This is an amazing country.
India has so much to offer to the world. And India has so much to learn from the rest of the world.
I have loved traveling in India. One of the reasons is that English is taught in school so there is less of a language barrier and that has blessed me with a lot of interesting conversations. Like yesterday evening when I had my evening ginger lemon tea at my favourite chai stall.
The owners are a married couple, husband 42 and wife 37. They have one daughter 17 and one son almost 16. Yes, almost 16 he stressed when we talked. Every morning at 5 he comes to the stall and opens up, organises the stall and prepares before either of his parents takes over. Then he goes to school between 9 am and 3.30 pm. In the late afternoon he comes back and helps out with the serving and closing of the stall around 9-10 pm. Every day.
We have seen each other previously, greeted but never actually talked. But yesterday he asked if he could sit next to me and he started asking me questions. I love his young innocence and curiosity. It is so refreshing. He is very aware of the traditions of India but at the same time he is still open minded to other ways of living, questioning both the known and the unknown.
When I told him I have three daughters his immediate and from the core response was
He is almost 16 and already having the feeling of being superior to his sister because of his gender.
Every native Indian I have talked to is telling me the same story. Girls attend school. Young women get their masters in different subjects. They get to taste the fruit of being well educated. They want to pursue a career of their own choice but then suddenly they are stoped. Restrained.
I talked to my father about me wanting to work as a lawyer but he said no. I talked to my father about working but he said no. My father said No.
So they all get their masters and then their fathers expects them to become housewives.
The sister of the almost 16 years old is not even allowed to visit the tea stall. She wakes up, goes to school, comes back home and takes care of the household. That is her life.
She is not alone and there are different degrees of this suppression. But it is still a suppression. Different degrees of suppression against women all over the world.
Just now, writing this, just a few meters from the Ganga river, I see men taking their morning ritual bath wearing only their underwear while the women are fully clothed. Men showing their naked bodies for the whole world to see. Because that is totally fine. But if a woman shows one bare shoulder she is considered …
Indians are frustrated. Because both young women and men are forced into a life they neither want or agree with. Gender inequality, arranged marriages and sexuality are the main issues. Indian young women and men are extremely frustrated and they talk about it openly about it. And from what I have learned this frustration occurs no matter if they are rich or poor.
India is an amazing country that has so much to offer but also so much to learn.