It’s late at night and the page is blank so I turn to Laozi and Pooh bear.
Actually that’s not true. I turn to you…… to help me get the ball rolling, to create and share my and Manjula’s story. It’s the age old writer’s conundrum. As you see I have a pile of full notebooks but how to get the blank page filled to begin to start the actual story. Can you help?
If you know Manjula and I or even if you don’t 🙃 what’s the key ingredients of our story that might interest you or a wider audience. What are the main themes that will interest people?
Who makes monsters?
We do, partly, through acceptance, encouragement and reinforcement
It’s also actually how we make nice people.
It’s the process of
Clarifying and confirming what is and isn’t acceptable that helps creates and forms patterns of behaviour that is our culture(S). Evidence of this might be reflected in the whole organisation or society, community or just one of its sub sets.
So what’s brought this on?
Men in India who rape and/or murder because they can.
It’s an expression of power over others, reflects a degraded system, where there are few societal or personal restraints with limited accountability and recourse.
I wouldn’t want to colour a whole nation and it’s culture from individual incidents. After all I love this place and it’s people because it’s so open, friendly, easy-going, accepting contradiction, paradox and incredible diversity BUT there are limits.
This must however be seen, and highlighted as completely unacceptable. If we don’t, we’re also monsters.
We should hang our heads in shame.
Those in power whether politicians, police, whoever they, have a heavy responsibility to ensure their words, actions, inactions do not encourage or condone or create the monsters in our midst. Unfortunately the increase in these actions is also a consequence of political movements.
Quotes taken from ‘Maid in India’ by Tripti Lahiri :
“We eat first, they later, often out of food portioned out for them; we live in the front, they in the back; we sit on chairs and they on the floor; we drink from glasses and ceramic plates and they from ones made of steel set aside for them; we call them by their names, and they address us by titles: sir/ma’am, sahib/memsahib”
Think that’s in the past?
Well, think again.
“In today’s India its not unusual to see, often in largely empty restaurants, a couple seated with their child at a table for four, while the help is despatched to sit not one but two tables away….. or a nanny dandling a child on her lap at a nightclub while her employers and their friends drink cocktails as it creeps towards midnight, her hours of sleep dwindling since she is no doubt expected to be up and ready for another day at sunrise…. or for example children playing in a neighbourhood park, seeing a plump, light-skinned boy on a swing crook his finger at the petite darker woman standing nearby and utter a single word: Push”
Womens’ life experience is an incredible indicator of how a particular society works, from top to bottom.
In India the situation of women and particualrly those who are most socially and economically excluded, in this case, the ones that serve others, shines a spotlight on the social mores, the rules by which we operate, the structures and belief systems that helps maintain the status quo.
It also shows something else.
That is, how these women in often extraordinarily challenging circumstances not only manage but can thrive, can flourish and through that, show their astonishing abilities. In a sense, the influence they subtly exert and how they deal with the changes facing them can also demonstrate to us, on a macro level, how to deal with some of the challenges and opportunities facing contemporary India.
Let’s take a look.
Manjula is from a poor background. Her poverty, family instability and her experience as a woman in a patriarchal society is not atypical. She has shown great determination, fortitude, even stoicism. It’s a common story in India. Women (and men) managing to survive through very challenging backgrounds and life circumstances.
Manjula’s story helps illuminate what life is like for so many people living in contemporary India. There may be explosive growth of the economy and the middle classes – we can see the evidence in many ways – higher disposable income, rising prices, spare money sloshing around, building-building-building, the glorification of ‘development’, leisure holidays, flash cars, waste everywhere, traffic jams, disposable nappies (diapers), house dogs… you name it, we’ve got it!
But as with everywhere else and even more so in India, the rich and poor whilst living cheek by jowl are far far away from each other. People are left out and behind, there is the risk their story is not told or realised, their needs forgotten, a myopia of the modern age.
Manjula is from a poor background.
Her poverty, family instability and the consequences of being a woman in a patriarchal society are not atypical. She has shown great determination, fortitude, even stoicism. It’s a common story for Indian women (and men) coming from difficult backgrounds and managing to survive through challenging life circumstances.
Manjula’s story helps illuminate what life is like for so many people living in contemporary India. There maybe, explosive growth of the economy and with it the middle classes – we can see the evidence in many ways – higher disposable income, spare money sloshing around, leisure holidays, the shift to the cities, flash cars, house dogs, you name it, it’s here.
But as with everywhere else in the world, probably more so here, in India, the rich and poor have traditionally lived ‘cheek by jowl’ yet as the economy grows people are left out and left behind. The distance between the rich and poor actually becomes greater. There is always the risk that their story is not told nor realised, their needs forgotten, a myopia of the modern age.
Manjula’s fortunes, have changed, she has seized the opportunity of running Mysore Bed and Breakfast and in many, ways she not only survives but thrives. So, she’s sort-of-moved-on but is still a bridge between those different worlds and hence provides invaluable insights. I, therefore, believe it’s all the more critical that we share her story, her experiences and her world.
Of course, I’m in no way, biased. She is, of course, a beautiful woman of great character, with wonderful beguiling wit combined with an astonishing tolerance and resourcefulness….
The story shared through this site, comes from recordings she has made, the tales she tells me and our shared experiences since I came to live in Mysore six years ago when I first met Manjula.
…. do join us on our journey.