Tuesday, July 14, 2009
On Saturday and Sunday, besides all the other celebrations, meetings and marketing that I had to complete, I came across one girl who impressed me while choosing a teacher. We had a three member team to interview the girl who is just touching her twenties. Her name is Piyali Roy. She hails from Bhatol, and her father used to work as a cleaner of a vehicle; he gathered some money, and purchased a jeep on loan, and runs it to manage a family of five, while he continues to pay back the loan. Piyali on her part contributed to the family actively since she was seven years old. She used to be a “paper girl” in that little Bhatol which boasts of a population of about 1,500 residents. She was issuing 100 newspapers every day. That is really impressive for a village like Bhatol, because for about 300 families and 30 odd shops, that is really a good reach. So, our questions revolved around how she made a successful business? She had the mantra. Reach the paper on time! People wanted the papers at the same time each day. So, she would go around on her bicycle to reach the 100 families and shops to deliver the newspapers. Then she came out with the truth. “Since last year I have not been delivering the paper on regular basis. May be five to six times a month. My brother takes care of it.”. “Why?”, we enquired. “Because people think that I am too old to deliver papers as I am a young girl. And so they make funny comments about me from behind. So, I go to deliver the papers only when my brother has something else to do.” We insisted on enquiring further : “Do you really mind the comments?” Piyali replied, “Those damned people, I don’t give a damn! That’s why I deliver the papers even now when my brother is out, or for study. I had to stop my studies three years ago, to support my family. But I want my brother to study. I shall continue to deliver papers even if I get a job or not!”
Needless to say, Piyali got the job!
I have begun to observe a trend in the emerging global power –
Besides the economic reason attached with it, as we have explained above, I can see two important elements that are afflicting the parents. Firstly, the pressures of parenting are so high that the elders do not have the strength to withstand the pressures of a modern world that communicates across the globe in seconds. The generation of parents we talk about are well meaning decent people, but they have not culturally out grown their age of slower communication. So, in a globalized economy, the socio-economic pressures and cultural wedge seem to be so high that the parents themselves fall into depression and they find it hard to handle the needs of their children.
The second is equally important. There is a conflict of moral values which the parents have not been able to digest and so they react by doing nothing about it. Let us take the same example of marriage again. The world of fidelity and long-lasting love of the parents has been challenged severely by increasing divorces, infidelity in marriages and rampant “love” marriages that does not give a damn to the opinion of the parents. In this cultural alienation some parents have become, in a sense, dumb spectators while few others have become arrogant exploiters of the lucrative economic benefit at the cost of women—to say, their own daughters!
Wednesday, July 8, 2009
We still saw good many people, still living in some of the huts beside the road, made of black polythene sheets given by the government. The huts were not bigger than the size of my bed - 3 ft x 6.5 ft. I could see children and women inside them, trying to cramble for space. If this is all life is all about, I feel like a guilty bystander. I wish to do more for these people. I wish to show them some ray of hope. I wish to be their father...brother...and friend. In the rain the whole day went without doing anything, but for visiting and meeting some volunteers who were braving the rain to be in touch with people. The volunteers had nothing to give, but to alert the people about drinking water safely, so that cholera or any other endemic disease may not take their lives. Already about 40 persons have died of diarrhea since the Aila.
No more relief materials are in sight. No food. No clothes. No gruel kitchens that were feeding thousands. Suddenly all seem to have come to a halt a month after the Aila is gone. It is time for rehabilitation. But, these people.... they are still in water. It all looks like a sea. By noon, the high tide had hit. Once again you could see the whole area was under water, as if everything was one large sea. If only I had the means....and if I have more hands... Should gods be blamed for this? Or, should we blame ourselves?
Wednesday, July 1, 2009
There was a thinner ever smiling and very sociable Michelle. She had joined a few of us as we were conversing about my own future options. And she got excited about it, and started following the story as if it was all happening to one of her own close friends. Michelle is inquisitive and curious to know how things are happening. She would always wonder at the way the India Machine (the whole country as it operates : its transport, the people, administration and everything) operates. I also found her to be very religious with strong trust in the Lord, and dedication to the poor.
I also met a Professor of Accountancy, Christina. She had traveled alone. She has some friends in Chennai. She too is equally inquisitive and extremely sharp in mind. She would always inquire to understand the why of the things. I had the opportunity to spend quite a bit of time with her over the meals. She too would walk each day to the Shishu Bhavan (the children's home close to Mother House) to spend time with the kids, wash their clothes and care for the poor. I began to admire her over the period although I did not see her everyday. Somehow she seemed to portray a mature woman who was willing to take on the world by understanding its undercurrents of extreme poverty, channels of exploitation and discriminative social fabric.
Christina, Michelle and I planned a dinner for the night of 30 June, Tuesday. Michelle brought along with her three more volunteers. Cora (she too was with Fr. Bob's group) from Michigan, Cait from Ohio and Banks from Tennesse. Cait was the most vocal among all. She is a student of micro-biology and said she can help me out in relief work, if required anywhere. Cait is a good company, and you would never get bored in hers. Banks had been to Bangladesh to study the Psychological Impacts and Patters in Micro Finance! (Hi, I have been promoting micro finance for long....but I never thought of that.) He is tall, focussed and well meaning. Cora was not in best of her health. So, she did not talk much. I must come to know her more later.
For now, it is all a great new world.... Lord make me an instrument of your peace..... where strangers become friends, and enemies begin to speak to one another!