Lately I have been waking up eating breakfast and going to dance. It doesn’t seem that interesting, right? Well, it’s always an adventure in India. Bapa wants us to learn the art of stick dancing and the gentleman who teaches it is about 60 years old and he smiles the whole time he is fighting you, a little creepy, but he’s cute.
He taught me how to fight him with a bamboo stick and twirl around as if we were dueling, it was fun, but the part that gets me is that he only works with men. He is the leader of a performance group called the Bharvai, an all male troop that dress us as women when needed. He has been in the group since he was 15 years old and says that he was destined to be the leader because of the lines on his palm. Apparently if the three lines on the palm meet and form one into the arm then you are a born leader. He was filled with mythical stories and grandiose ideas, he was amazing; although he would not act out any parts of the play with me, he could only act with a man. He said that women were born with failure and therefore could not play roles because they would ultimately ruin the play. Yet another thing that is hard for me to understand. The culture is so, male dominant that sometimes it feels like we are just here to be stared at. The boys are addressed when we are out and we are not acknowledged unless there are no males with us. If you think the language barrier is hard then imagine not being able to join in on a conversation just because you are a female. The first two weeks were really hard for the women in the group, because we were not allowed to leave the compound without a chaperone. Now that we have been here for three weeks we are allowed out with a boy, it doesn’t have to be with one of the interpreters. It gives us a little more leniency, but it’s still annoying. In America we can come and go as we please, and here must be covered up and ask permission to leave the compound. It the staff feels it is unsafe to go somewhere then we cannot go, but the boys are in and out whenever they want. Sometimes I look around the town and I think I have travelled back in time. The era depends on the day, sometimes it’s the 1800’s, sometimes the 1940-1950’s, but never do I feel like it is 2012. It’s weird but it really makes you wonder what other places are like. It makes me want to learn about other countries that are not westernized and see what else is different. Would I feel like this in Africa? Would it be the same? I think it would probably be really different, but now I want to know.