Sunday, January 20, 2008

Girls School, production, and Homesickness

It's true. I'm a bit homesick. I'm not sure for what exactly. I have met a group of really awesome people, who are kind and very happy. The world here does not , for me anyway, revolve around any sort of scene or drama. The nights are warm, and full of laughing and working on media. In general, this is a living fantasy land for me. It's full of color and joy.

Perhaps what has made me homesick begins with a trip to a girls' school just outside of the city. The school is for young women who are making the transition from labor to education. Many of them come from extreme situations involving arranged child marriage, labor, the loss of one or both parents, abuse- it is an endless list of horrors.

I found myself holding several competing ideas in my mind the entire time. The reminder to myself that these stories are extremes; The culture of arranged marriage does not contain within it as a rule being forced to marry a 35 year old man when you are 12. I attended a wedding that was an arranged couple, both of whom are educated and loved by their parents. Working as a child does not contain within it as a rule that the conditions are despicable and the work debilitating and miserable. The boy who sells chai at the gate is neither likely to be without a future nor is he unhappy. On the other hand, there are children who work in miserable conditions here, especially young women. Even one child forced to marry a man instead of being allowed to continue her education is a crime. On top of this, the young girls who are lucky enough to find their way out of the worst of these situations are, in those situations, the minority. It sounded to me that the ones lucky enough to escape are those girls who are headstrong enough to discard the force of respect for elders and tradition and abandon "duty."

In the face of this I found myself wishing I were home. It is a kind of escapist homesickness. For the time being I wanted to return home where these things are more theoretical musings of my fellow financial aid abusers, over a couple of Pabst before we retire to our Internet machines and cable television, which we enjoy without power outage or the intrusion of a six or seven day work week. I wanted to leave this place, which I confess to being completely in love with most of the time. It was mostly out of a feeling of impossible helplessness- what would be the cost of creating a society capable of supporting 1.4 billion people in a country without child labor, with a stable infrastructure, and a standard of living commensurate with the we have(since everything I see and hear claims that as a goal). In my mind, such a change will come at the cost of culture.

Then, it passed. Because seriously, what the hell do I know? I'll upload some pictures soon.

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