caste discrimination in India

Castism is a really huge issue in India and people have crazy ideas about it. Its really sad the way we forgot real castism and now discriminate against people on the basis on their caste. In the ancient time the caste was decided by somebody’s profession and not by the caste of their parents but at present the caste is decided by their parent’s caste. I had always thought that such practices are not very strong in Indian cities amongst educated people anymore but yesterday something happened with me which made think twice about it and made me realize that the people who discriminate against others on the basis of their caste are everywhere in India.

Yesterday my uncle, who is a professor, from Andaman and Nicobar Islands was visiting me yesterday. He first went to his village and hired a taxi to come to Varanasi. The driver of the taxi was also from his village and knew him very well. I was supposed to arrange dinner and accommodation for them at my home.  After giving a room to my uncle I was going to give another room to the driver but my uncle said that the driver won’t sleep on the bed and he would sleep on the floor. I asked him why and he said because he belonged to a lower caste called Pasi.

I was to shocked to hear these words from a professor. I told him that I had no problem with him sleeping on a bed in my home and he said that he won’t allow him to do so and all this conversation was going on in front of the driver. I was really ashamed to hear this and when I looked at the driver, he was also looking down with his head down. I did not want to see this happen and I told my uncle to let him sleep in a room on bed but my uncle just did not want this to happen. He asked me to provide a mat to the driver on the roof so that he could sleep there.

Summers are terribly hot and humid in Varanasi and I knew it very well that its not comfortable at all to sleep on the roof if the weather is not good. I was feeling so bad for the driver but I just could not do anything. Finally I had to provide a mat to him on the rooftop. Now it was the food time. I took food for the driver and was going to give it to him on the roof and then again my uncle appeared and asked me to change dishes. He meant to say that I should not give him the food in the dishes we use in everyday life. This was just too much but again I could not do anything.

I again told him it was no problem for me if a person belonging to a schedule caste eats in my dishes but he said that if I do such thing then he won’t eat at home as this process would make my home impure. I think it was biggest surprise for me within past a few years to hear such wordings from a well-educated person. He asked me to take a plastic plate and serve the food in it. I took a plastic plate but I did not have a plastic bowl hence I again used the steel bowl what we use at home and he did not even want this. Finally I had to arrange a clay pot to serve food. I was so angry that I did not even want to see my uncle or listen to him hence I had to do it.

I felt really bad after seeing what happened with the driver and was wondering how my society could change if such evils like my uncle are still there in the society? A well-educated person doing such thing, unbelievable. Politicians are also taking full advantage of this system by introducing new reservations everyday and not talking about ending them at all.  India talks about becoming a world power, IT hub, super strong country but if we don’t even respect our own people, our own society then how can we can even talk about development? Is money the only happiness? Happiness and equal rights don’t mean anything? Is India really changing? Are we really developing and becoming a super power or happy country? After going through this incident I can easily say, “NO”.

 

 

the food in a plastic plate with clay bowl and plastic glass

Kolkata Gay Pride 2010

Begining of the parade

Beginning of the parade

I got to attend Kolkata Gay Pride as well which was on the 2nd of July. I arrived in Kolkata on the 1st of July after attending the Chennai pride and spending a few days in Bangalore. My friend Sourendra from Mumbai had introduced me to Mr. Rajshrei Chakrobarty who was Secretary of Dum Dum Society and one of the organizers of Kolkata Gay Pride. I knew that Kolkata was the first city in India to start gay prides and I was expecting it to be the biggest one in India this year as well but when I arrived at the parade venue I was shocked  to see that there were hardly 50 people in the parade.

Mr. Chakrobarty

Mr. Chakrobarty

Mr. Chakrobarty told me about the reason of few people before I asked him about it. He said that most of the organizations working on gay rights in Kolkata boycotted the parade because of some internal politics hence they could not make the parade as big as it used to be in the past. He said that Dum Dum Society and one other organization called Anandam were the only two organizations that organized the pride this year. I was surprised to hear that most of the organizations boycotted the parade but at the same time I was happy also that at least someone organized it.

the most important message

The most important message

The parade started from Jatin Das Park near Hajra crossing and ended at the Academy of Fine Arts. The parade started with only 40-50 participants but it was really interesting. I have been to all the big prides taking place in India within past one year and Kolkata one was the most liberal parade I had ever seen in India. I noticed that nobody was wearing the masks. They had an auto rickshaw with loudspeakers and the participants of the parade were singing songs of human rights, equal rights and gender equality. They were passing out pamphlets which had writing about LGBT rights.

Cool

Cool

It was raining most of the time during the parade but it could not stop people from joining the parade. The parade started with 40-50 people and ended with at least 100 or 120 people. A lot of people joined at the Academy of Fine Arts where the parade ended. In fact, the end was the most interesting part of the parade for me. At the academy a lot of young lesbian couples joined the parade. I had never seen that many lesbians before in any of the parades whether Mumbai, Delhi or Chennai and very interesting thing was that these girls were young.

Brave girl

Brave girl

They being young surprised me the most because in India lesbians coming in public and very rare and whenever I see any lesbian I always find them over 35, living either alone or with their partner and always have no connection with the family but these young girls were really young and I don’t think they were living alone or had no connection with their family. They were so open and they knew that their parents were going to know about their sexuality if they participated in the parade but they still did it which meant their parents either knew about it or these girls knew that their parents would not mind knowing that their daughter was a lesbian. I liked it.

Mr. Ranjeet Sinha

Mr. Ranjeet Sinha

The parade ended with speeches from Mr. Ranjeet Sinha, Mr. Rajarshi Chakrobarty and a few other social activists. After the parade ended, I went with Mr. Chakrobarty to attend a cultural dance and performance program organized by an organization called Saathi. This program was basically a platform for the LGBT community to show their talent and have fun. I spent about an hour at the program and then headed back to my hotel for overnight. Dum Dum Society had organized a cultural program about 2 hours bus ride away from Kolkata two days after the parade.

Cultural dance performance

Cultural dance performance

This program was really something and I could easily see how Dum Dum Society was working honestly with the LGBT community and how they had strengthened the people belonging to the community. The program was just awesome. They had several dance performances, some of them based on Bollywood songs and some on traditional  Kolkata songs,  they had fashion shows where all the clothes were designed by the people belonging to LGBT community and I was shocked to see the quality of the program. It was really awesome and I enjoyed it a lot. The chairman of municipality was the chief guest of this program.

He had a lot of fun

He had a lot of fun

There were more people in this program than the parade. I think there were at least 500 people at this program.  I was able to interview a few people including Mr. Rajshree Chakrobarty, Mr. Ranjeet Sinha and a few other people from LGBT community and all of those interviews were really interesting. Mr. Chakrobarty told me about the history of gay activism in Kolkata. He said that it first started in Kolkata in the year 1989 which clearly shows that they were one of the few who started gay activism in India and at present there are about six or seven organizations working on LGBT rights in Kolkata.

Good message

Good message

I asked about the condition of the LGBT community in Kolkata and he said that the condition of the LGBT community living in Kolkata city area is in much better condition than the LGBT community living in the other districts or suburbs of Kolkata because of the influence of media and availability of organizations working in the city. He told me that the condition of the LGBT community is much better in Mumbai and Delhi when compared with Kolkata because Mumbai had started working on this issue way before Kolkata and since Kolkata is the poorest metropolitan city in India, the life of LGBT community is not easy here.

Equal rights, yea!

Equal rights, yea!

Mr. Chakrobarty told me something really interesting that transgenders are more discriminated against when compared with gay community because their sexuality is more visible but when we talk only about discrimination then yes, the whole LGBT community is discriminated against on various levels. I asked the same question which I ask to other people whom I interview about many people thinking that homosexuality is a disease or a fashion and it being possible to change it by getting people married or making them practice yoga (Baba Ramdev Says). His answer was like the others in that he said it is not possible to change somebody’s sexuality by getting them married.

Good slogan

Good slogan

He said that many people get married with a woman under family or social pressure but they are not happy and they practice sex with a same sex person even after marriage. I know several people who do this and I definitely believe that it just not possible at all to change somebody’s sexuality by getting them married or teaching them yoga. I asked him about the existence of the LGBT community in Hindu culture and religion and he told me several stories which proves that the LGBT community has always been in existence. I also believe the same because I have read several Hindu sacred books and have visited temples where same sex behavior sculptures are shown.

Our rights, human rights

Our rights, human rights

He told me something really intersting that I did not know before. He told me when Hanuman went to Sri Lanka to search for Sita, he saw that Ravan had kept several women but he was not able to give time to all of them hence these women had started making sexual relationships with each other which clearly shows that there were lesbians during Rama’s time also. I asked him about the revocation of section 377 and he told me that homosexuality was accepted in Hindu society and temples of Kamasutra and several other books clearly proves it but British made it illegal and this judgment of the High Court of Delhi was a right judgment and most probably it will help changing the society in the future.

She was very active

She was very active

It was really informative talking with him. He was a real and honest social worker working on LGBT rights in Kolkata. After Mr. Chakrobarty, I got to meet Mr. Ranjeet Sinha who was a transgender himself and was working with transgenders in Kolkata and nearby districts. He also told me about the problemswhich the transgender community was facing in Kolkata. He told me that there are reservations on the basis of caste and religion but no reservation for transgenders. He demanded for a separate toilet system at public toilets because when he goes to the male toilet, people make fun of him and if he goes to the female toilets then women are scared.

Great

Great

Mr. Sinha told me a story of his one friend, who was a transgender Hijra himself and was a well known social activist in West Bengal and was suffering from AIDS. He had to go to the hospital once and the doctors forcibly took off his clothes, made him wear men’s clothes and only then they admitted him in the hospital. Mr. Sinha demanded that their identity should also be recognized on official documents such as passport and voter ID card. He said that all the NGOs are focusing only and only HIV and AIDS but they must do something on other issues also related with LGBT community. He mentioned all the South Indian states, especially Chennai, as being especially progressive working on transgenders issues.

Very colorful event

Very colorful event

He also said that it is not possible to change someone’s sexual identity and if one tries to do so then the result is always horrible. Kolkata taught me so many new things. I was especially thrilled to see the work of Dum Dum Society. It was really a nice experience meeting with people like Mr. Chakrobarty and Mr. Sinha and so many other people who helped me in Kolkata and educated me about their issues and their work. I hope to go their next year as well and will hope that all the organizations that had boycotted the parade this year would join the parade again by ending the internal politics and making Kolkata a city of equal rights for everyone.

Please click here to see more pictures:

Chennai Gay Pride 2010

My friends and I

My friends and I

It was Chennai gay pride yesterday on the 27th of June and I came to attend the festival. This festival was not as big as I was expecting it to be but big enough to bring attention of local people and make them aware about something called “gay”. I was expecting for at least 1000-2000 people but it had hardly 400-500 people. The parade started near Labor Statue at Marina beach at 5 PM and lasted for over an hour. The parade was organized with the help of many organizations working in Chennai for LGBT rights but most probably Shakit Center was the biggest name.

Participants

Participants

The people at the parade seemed to he really happy and energetic, especially people from LGBT community. Delhi and Mumbai pride had music and many people were dancing whereas Chennai parade did not have any music but still people were singing something in Tamil- which I did not understand for sure, jumping, laughing and dancing. They were hugging each other and seemed so happy. There were all kinds of people: gay, lesbians and hijras. But I noticed one thing that Chennai parade had fewer lesbian couples when compared with Delhi and Mumabi parade and this parade seemed less open than Mumbai and Delhi one.

I also think so

I also think so

Participants of Delhi and Mumbai pride were much open in expressing their relations with their partners like they were holding hands with each other or just walking together which showed that they were a couple but Chennai Pride did not have anything like this. The participants of Chennai pride were more like did not want people to know about their partner. I think since South India is more Hindu part and people are seen as more religious, maybe this is the reason why gays of Chennai want to hide their relations more than Delhi and Mumbai people. Anyways, I was happy that they at least organized such event.

They were cool

They were cool

I was talking with one of the organizers of the parade and he said that last year the parade was bigger than this year but the important thing was that this year more community members participated whereas last year there were more outside supporters which increased the number of people in the parade. I had also noticed the same that Chennai parade did not have many outside supporters whereas Delhi and Mumbai had big number of supporters like students and families as well. The Marina beach area is a big picnic spot for Chennai people and since the parade was on Sunday, there were thousands of local people who watched the parade.

Exactly

Exactly

It was good the parade took place at such place where locals got the see the parade. I also distributed pamphlets to the people around and masks to the people who seemed interested in joining the parade but seemed confused. The usage of masks was on a bigger level here in Chennai than Mumbai and Delhi. I saw a few people wearing two-three masks at the same time to cover their whole face. I talked with a few participants of the parade who were wearing the masks and they said that Chennai is still so conservative about gay culture hence they did not want others to know that they were also at the parade.

Mr. Annirudh

Mr. Annirudhan

Their wording was “if others see me participating in the parade, they would think that I also have the same taste.” I know that gays are made of fun of all over the world and many people hate them just because of their sexuality but I expect the big cities to have a better view about gay culture but Chennai did not seem to have this better view for gays. I asked Mr. Annirdudhan Vasudevanthe, one of the organizers of parade, about the change in conditions after Delhi High Court decision of making gay relations legal and he said that there is some change for sure but not really much or not something that really changed the society.

People from the organizing committee

People from the organizing committee

Annirudhan was happy to say that at least people have started talking about it and now at least they know that there is something called the “LGBT” community and they have also their rights. He said that the condition is not going to change really soon and that it will take sometime but hopefully someday they will also have equal rights in the community. He said that the LGBT community is discriminated against everywhere in the country and they demand protection and medical health care from the government of the India. He said that many people think that homosexuality is a disease which can be cured by giving some special therapy which is just not true at all.

There were families also

There were families also

Annirudhan said that being homosexual is neither a fashion nor abnormal at all; it is a natural process and anyone could be born with such human nature. I also believe the same. He talked about the Aligarh Muslim University’s professor Srinivas Siras who was found having sex with a same-sex person and was suspended only because of this reason. Prof. Siras later committed suicide because the university administration had funded a sting operation to video Prof. Siras having sex with a same sex partner.

Foreign participants

Foreign participants

Mr. Annirudhan said that even though gay relations have been legalized in India, Prof. Siras was still punished. I was talking about the same matter with one of the participants and he said that said that the government should ask the university about how they dared to record Prof. Siras personal life without his consent. Recording somebody’s personal life without without their consent is a punishable offense under Indian law because it comes under the right of privacy act and government police should register a complaint against the university administration and punish them, not Prof. Siras.

Right

Right

I also think that it is true that nobody has rights to do such thing. There are so many beautiful laws in India but implementation of these laws, how affective are they??? So many problems with gay community in India. I am happy that I came to attend the pride and I would like to come here again and hope that the Chennai gay community will have fewer problems when I come here next year and there will be more support from outsiders as well. One thing is very sure that the gay community will not be able to get equal rights in the society until we straight people support them so please come together to help our LGBT community and make a better world.

Kothis and Varanas are Hijras

Kothis and Aravnis are Hijras

There was a party also the night before the parade whereas Delhi and Mumbai had a party on the parade night. This party was organized at a four-star boutique hotel called Le Waterina situated at Kotivakkam Beach, Trivanmauyr, Chennai. This was the most expensive party I had ever been to. There was no entry fee in Delhi’s party, Mumbai party was Rs. 500 but drinks were not so expensive inside whereas the entry fee for Chennai party was also Rs. 500 and the drinks were really expensive. Anyways, I got in and met a few locals who had come to attend the party.

Rainbow flag of Chennai Pride

Rainbow flag of Chennai Pride

I met a guy who did not even know about the parade taking place the next day but he knew about this party. I asked him how did he come know to about the party and he told me that he got an SMS on his mobile about the party. I asked him if he would come to the parade as well and he was like why would I come to the parade. He seemed hesitant to talk about the parade and the party but I saw him the next day in the parade. I think he was also a gay but did not want to talk about it and I expect such behavior from the LGBT community in India because I know that the LGBT community always hides their sexual identity because there is so much discrimination against them and they do not have equal rights.

Go-Go dancer at teh party

Go-Go dancer at the party

This party showed me something new, something that I had not seen before: a male go-go dancer. I was thrilled to see it. The party had a famous DJ from Delhi who was playing western music all the time and then he announced that they had a dashing boy from Bangalore who was going to dance tonight. This go-go dancer appeared in shorts and a T-shirt but later he took off his T-shirt and was wearing really short shorts. He seemed like a popular dancer because many people knew his name. I think he was in the party for more than an hour and I think his presence boosted-up the party. People went crazy to see him. I had seen such only on TVs before and it was so fun to attend the party.

Please click here to see more pictures:

Dying in Benares

I worked with a photographer named Jane Becker from Canada. She wanted to photograph widows and hospices in Varanasi. Since I had already worked with a researcher from the University of Venice who did research about widows in Varanasi, I already knew where to take them. About two years ago I worked with a researcher from the University of Berlin who was interested in people who come Benares to die so I had some idea about this subject also. We decided to start working with hospices and ashrams first. I took her to an ashram near Assi ghat and we interviewed a few people and she did some photography also.

Next day I took her to another ashram where more than 2,000 people stay to live their last part of life. This ashram has a section for Sanyasis and a separate section for family people. The ashram was huge with so many people in there and there was a school also for Sanskrit studies. We visited this ashram but did not photograph. The next day we went to a place called Kashi Mukti Bhawan which really different than other places in Benares. Benares has so many places and ashrams where people stay to die but this place was entirely different.

Kashi Mukti Bhawan is owned by the Dalmia family. The idea behind founding of this hospice is that once Mr. Dalmia was visiting Varanasi and he visited so many ashrams where people stay to die. His grandmother also wanted to live her last part of the life in Varanasi so he decided to built a free temporary stay for the people who want to die in Varanasi. Kashi Mukti Bhawan has a rule which could sound strange but they offer only 14 days of stay. So most of the people come to stay at Kashi Mukti Bhawan are the people who are just going to die at any moment.

They do not allow anyone who is below 60 years old or looks like they are not dying. The building has ten rooms and when I went there only one room had people and the rest of the rooms were vacant. They have a temple also inside the building where they have puja going on most of the time. The manager said that until four years ago they did puja 24 hours a day but they decreased by a few hours because not many people come anymore. In the past all the rooms used to be full all the time but now sometimes they have only one visitor, sometimes two or three and sometimes just no one.

And if there is a person dying there, then the priest of the temple goes to the this person and reads Ram Charit Manas for him at least for five minutes at four different times in a day. The idea behind it is that if a dying person hears the chantings of Ram Charit Manas, then he gets salvation. We interviewed a woman staying at Kashi Mukti Bhawan who had brought her father all the way from Sasaram, Bihar to Kashi Mukti Bhawan so that her father could die in Varanasi and get salvation. We asked her why she chose only Kashi Mukti Bhawan in Varanasi, why not some other ashram and she said that all of her family members come to Kashi Mukti Bhawan to die, very interesting.

She also talked about the importance of dying in Varanasi but at the same time she gave some importance to Kashi Mukti Bhawan also. She said that Kashi Mukti Bhawan has an ideal atmosphere for dying. She said that Kashi Mukti Bhawan has chanting all day long and the priests read Ram Charit Manas for the dying person which makes it a special place for dying. We asked the manager why they allow only 14 days of stay and he said that 14 days are enough to die. In case the person is still sick and feels like they are going to die even after 14 days, they allow them to stay for a week or two more but usually people die within a week.

The manager said that in some cases people came and returned home by recovering from their sickness. So they came to Kashi Mukti Bhawan with serious sickness and felt like dying but they recovered and did not die. Well, in any case Kashi Mukti Bhawan seemed different than most of the other ashrams in Varanasi and I would like to learn more about it.

Ghosts haunting the neighbors

There is a Yadav family lives next door. There are six members in the family- three girls, their parents and grandma but none of them work. Grandma is a retired nurse and gets pension and they have rented a few rooms in their house which is the source of income for them. I don’t think that their monthly earning is more than Rs. 13,000 which is kind of sufficient to survive for a family of six members in Benares if they live very simple life but this family is always in trouble because they spend most of their money on exorcists.

They believe that their whole family is affected by ghosts. The biggest problem is that grandma, who used to be a nurse at BHU, also believes that her house and family is affected by ghosts. The mother of the kids has gastric problems and she burps like crazy all the time. Her burps are extremely loud that I can hear even in my home. I am sure that she has serious problem and she gets stomach ache also all the time and sometimes she feels like her whole body is burning from inside. But the whole family says that this problem is caused by ghosts.

The sound of her burp is said to be sound of the ghosts and the stomach ache and burn inside her body is also believed to be caused by ghosts. They say that the ghosts attack her every evening and in night times. The grandma was talking about it with my father and my father advised her to take the patient to a doctor but this grandma was telling that she had already contacted several doctors but her daughter never got any relief. She was trying to say all the time that doctors are not the one who can do something, only and only exorcists can help her.

She asked my father if he knew any good exorcists but my father suggested her few doctors but she did not want to hear anything. She was telling my father that he should come and see her daughter when she is on. She was telling that her daughter starts screaming like crazy when the ghost attacks her. She said that somebody has sent the ghost to kill her daughter and her whole family and the ghost will not go away until he kills everyone.

I have also heard some strnage noise coming out of that house. I seen strange people coming to her home and doing strange pujas. A few months ago they had rapped a thread all around their house, and then I saw a big bamboo on the roof. Every evening they burn something smoke their whole house and then start coughing like hell. Smoke is done by the husband of the patient and when he does it all other members of the family go inside the rooms and don’t come out thinking that the smoke would kick the ghost out of their home and if they are seen by the ghost, the ghosts will kill them.

Sometimes I hear them shouting in the night – look he is coming, kick him out, why do you live here etc. and other family members shout go to hell, what are you doing here, who has sent you, why do you want to kill us… Its crazy. They always want to meet a new exorcist. I heard them talking with a person who was suggesting them to go to a tomb near Lucknow. This exorcist was saying that whoever have been there, got rid of their ghosts. He was telling that puja for a ghost at the tomb is not expensive, it is only Rs. 15,000 for the whole family.

Rs. 15,000 is still something and how someone can spend that much money for ghosts? I know that Hinduism believes in ghosts but at the sametime we super cheap and convenient way to get rid off them, if you don’t like them. The word “Ram” is believed to be mahamantra (huge mantra) and it is said that one can get rid off all kinds of crazy ghosts, demons, evil or any bad spirit only by repeating the name of Ram. If don’t want to believe that there are ghosts around me but if I would have do something to get rid of ghosts, I would choose this super convinient way of repeating name of Ram.

Child sponsorship in Varanasi

I came in contact with a Hungarian guy, Attila, who is a computer engineer in Hungary and volunteers for a Hungarian NGO (www.afroaid.hu). This NGO runs a child sponsorship program in Africa. Attila wanted to volunteer in Varanasi. He wanted to come to India next year with his wife for a year and was interested in the NGOs working with children. He was mostly interested in education programs for children. I took him to different NGOs and he was interested in working with few of them. I was already interested in working on the same kind of program so I just asked Attila if we could start our own program in Varanasi.

Attila liked this idea a lot. He said that he had very good experience of working with kids in Africa and would love to use his experience to establish the same kind of program in Varanasi. We talked about how we can start this program in Varanasi and decided to do some research first. We went to a few schools nearby to get an idea of estimated cost of the education fee for one child. Attila was interested in providing one meal everyday to the children so that they don’t have to waste time preparing their meal at home. We decided to start the program with 30 kids, 10 from the city area and 20 from the village area.

We visited Mehndiganj once because Lok Samiti has an education program and Attila wanted to see it. We visited Lok Samiti’s school and training centers. We talked with the kids and a few of them had terrible stories. Lok Samiti has a evening time classes for the day time child workers. I love this program, it is my favorite amongst all of their programs. Mehndiganj has a lot of child laborers and most of them are bonded laborers. It was really interesting to see the kids work for 12 hours a day but they still come for evening classes. I think there were more than 30 kids at the evening center.

The kids at the evening center were so innocent. They just did not know anything except what they had. They asked Attila if he had any goat at his home in Hungary, what did he grow up at his farms, how did he come to India, how much money does he make. The kids make about Rs. 1000 per month so it was very hard for Attila to answer this question. We visited a few of the training centers of Lok Samiti which is for the girls above 14 years of age. They get sewing, embroidery, dance and basic education training like reading and writing. The idea behind running such program is to make the girls self dependent.

We asked Nandlal Master, the president of Lok Samiti, to choose 20 kids from his education program who are poor but interested in continuing their education and whose parents are also supportive. We did the same thing in the city also. I knew of a few families who are really poor and want to send their kids to the school but they cannot afford it. We met twelve families and chose 10 kids who seemed interested in learning. We met a 12 year old girl who used to go a English medium private school but had to stop because of the financial problems.

I think she is the most impressive girl in our program. Her name is Rashmi and she went to the school up to 6th standard. My niece who also goes to the same school where Rashmi was going, told me about her. My niece told me that her teachers still talk about how smart Rashmi was and how she had to stop her education. We met her and I found her to be a really smart girl. She was the only girl who really knew what she wanted to become and she answered all the questions Attila asked her. Other kids also knew what they wanted to become but this girl was something different. Her mother was also very concerned about Rashmi’s education.

Attila asked her what she wanted to become and she said “engineer”. Attila asked what kind of engineer and Rashmi said “computer engineer”. Attila asked why and Rashmi said she wanted to develop some computer program that could help poor people. Neither Attila nor I were expecting that kind of answer from a 12 year old girl. All the kids whom we met were super interested in going to the schools but they were having problems. A few of them had already stopped going to school only because their parents could not afford it or there were a few kids who were smart enough to go to a good school but they were going to a government school which is just like passing time.

Finally we have chosen a few schools and we will send our kids to the nearest good school to their residence starting from March 2010. A few of the kids need basic English language training so that they don’t have any problem at English medium schools. We are working on organizing two hours of evening classes for the kids whom we have chosen for the program. Now thirty families have a hope from me because I was the local guy and I am completely dependent on Attila. Attila is back to Hungary now. He has already found few supporters and hopes to find supporters for all the kids.

We have decided to not have any office expenses until we have 50 kids. Attila will be living in Varanasi with his wife for one year and he will be managing the office work for the program. We have decided to not have an office so that all the money goes for the program. I feel so happy to be involved in this program and I am looking forward to work with Attila.

Delhi Gay Pride 2009 – afterparty

So confident today!!!

So confident today!!!

Megan and Adam were getting late so I asked them to go but I stayed for the party. I was wandering around and stopped by a bus stop and sat there for a while. Two people, who seemed rural, came and sat next to me. It seemed like they had also seen the parade and were talking about it. One of them was really angry about the parade. He was swearing at the government and the people who had organized it. One of them was saying that people are making fun of Indian culture openly and the government allows them to do so. I think he has not read Ramayana, Kamasutra or have visited Khajuraho because Ramayana talks about hijras whose sex practices are also like gays, Kamasutra also talks about homosexuality and Khajuraho is stuffed with homosexual sculptures.

She had most number of posters

She had most number of posters

I have not visited Khajuraho but I have read Ramayana and have looked at Kamasutra book and after looking at these books, I feel like India has the oldest gay culture in the whole world and gay culture was accepted in our society but the British made it a crime. I spent an hour just wandering here and there and then came back to the place where bus was supposed to start from. I met a guy there who was a 20 year old student of Delhi University. I was just sitting near the bus and he came and sat next to me and started talking. He said that he was feeling very confident and open after attending the parade. He said that he was also shy before coming to the parade but after attending the parade he did not have this problem of being shy about himself anymore.

No fear

No fear

He wanted to talk to me about the problem he was having with his boyfriend. He said that his boyfriend doesn’t talk to him anymore. He said that his boyfriend had slapped him few months ago in front of his friends and then stopped talking. He was so sad about it and wanted my advice but at the same time he said that his boy friend used to love him a lot and he could not believe that they could ever breakup. He was in too much love with his boyfriend. I advised him to wait for a while and keep trying to contact his boyfriend and see how things go. He seemed so happy after hearing that he should try to be in touch with his boyfriend.

Lets dance

Lets dance

I asked him if he had informed about his boyfriend to his parents and he said no because he was scared of his parents getting mad at him after listening that he had a boyfriend. I asked him if he would like to get married with his boyfriend and he said this is what he wanted. I asked if he thought his parents would ever allow him to marry a man and then he was quiet for a while and said no. I asked him if his friends knew about his boyfriend and he said that they know but very few of them are supportive of him, and most of his friends just make fun of him.

The leading banner

The leading banner

He wanted my advice to dress himself look sexy in the party. He had an extra sleeveless t-shirt which he had brought specially for the party, and he had a piece of cloth which he wanted to rap around his waist so that he can look sexy. I am not a fashion expert but I tried my best to help him look as sexy as he could. After talking to him I was wondering what would happen if he is forcibly married to a girl. He did not need to marry a girl. It would be bad for both his bride and he himself. A lot of homosexual people in India are forcibly married to the opposite sex which sounds like a crime to me.

I believe it.

I believe it.

I also notice one other thing- that a lot of homosexual people were calling each other by feminine and funny names, like a lot of them using the word randi (slut) for each other. I did not understand why they do it. Hijras always take a feminine name but homosexual people usually don’t use feminine names but it seemed like they like doing it. One other very interesting thing for me was that homosexuals were making fun of hijras. When we were going to the party place by a bus, there were a lot of hijras also in the bus.

Very nice

Isai is Christan and bhai means brother

Hijras are known for their clapping and hijra songs. All the hijras were singing their hijra songs and were clapping in hijra style but a group of homosexual people, who were being interviewed in the bus, were making fun of the hijras all the time. They would be like “Oh my God! Where did they come from, these hijras, randi… There was a guy who stood up and said loudly that if anyone has a coin of Rs. 1, then please give to these randi hijras, otherwise they will keep clapping and singing. I know that there was no anger behind it but they would always make fun of them and they seemed so friendly to each other. It was a fun ride, though.

Supporters

Supporters

I liked that bus ride a lot and would not forget it ever. People were so happy, they were laughing, singing, hugging each other, making fun of each other… it was so fun. Finally the bus stopped and we arrived at M Lounge Bar in Sector 15, Noida. I had thought that I was going to a place where they would be having food and a little bit of drink and people would be talking, that’s all; but this place was something beyond my imagination. Actually it was a disco. As I stepped in, everything I saw was new to me because I had never ever been to a disco before.

Yea, 377 quit India

Yea, 377 quit India

People were dancing, drinking, hugging, kissing… I had never seen anything like that before. There was a bar also in the disco and I also thought to drink a bit but I did not know that things were super expensive there. Entrance was free for the participants of the parade but the rest of the things were really expensive like drinks, food, cigarette… I drank a shot of whiskey and a bottle of beer but I still wanted to drink more because the atmosphere was thrilling there. I was enjoying myself a lot.

We really need it

We really need it

Finally I had to come out of the disco and buy some alcohol from a shop and drank it. Before buying the alcohol I met the organizer Mr. Amit Agrawal and talked him for a while. He was too drunk to talk actually so he asked me to talk with one of the other organizers, who was a 25 year old student. He said that he was also a gay and when I asked him if he had informed about it to his family he said “No”. When I asked him if he thought that his parents would allow him to get married with his boyfriend, he said he did not know about it. But he would not like to get married with a girl.

Yes.

Yes.

He said that they had organized the parade without taking any financial assistance from any other NGO or institution or charities. Everything was organized by a group of gays. They had contributed money from their own pockets to make the event happen. He was also very high and he gave me his mobile no. and asked me to call him the next day so that we could talk more. After talking to him I got in the disco again. Now the party had reached at its top. �Whatever I saw there was completely new to me.

Queer Freedom

Queer Freedom

I saw many gay couples kissing, hugging and dancing together. I saw a couple of a 60+ and a 20 year old guy. They were also dancing and kissing, actually they had the longest kiss. I think their kiss lasted for something like two hours. There were a lot of hijras also who had their partners and they were kissing. I saw few lesbian couples also. I noticed that the daily visitors of that disco would come and sit at a corner and see things going on. I am sure they had also not seen anything like that before. I could easily see their shocked and curious face.

My body my business

My body my business

I don’t think that any of the daily visitors danced that night. They were just watching what was going on that night. It was so fun. I was enjoying myself a lot. It felt a little bit strange at first to me and I was also shocked like other daily visitors but after spending few minutes everything seemed normal to me. I just felt like people were enjoying themselves and the most important thing for me was that they were happy. The feeling of freedom and joy is always awesome and I could easily see that feeling there.

Definitely

Definitely

It was funny that one of the guys came to me and started dancing and touched my ass but I did not know what to do. He touched me for few seconds but after no reaction from my side, he left me and joined someone else. I really liked the way he respected my feelings and I think the same way we should respect their feelings as well. None of the homosexuals made fun of me, or insulted me or tried to disturb me because I was a straight but I don’t understand why straight people always make fun or insult homosexuals. Why don’t straights also respect gays’ feelings the way they respect straight people’s feeling?

Who can stop us???

Who can stop us???

Now the party was over I headed back to home. I really enjoyed the party.It was really a fun night. I felt like it was one of the best things I had ever done with myself by participating and supporting the parade, and the obviously party was also so fun. I was supposed to talk with the two members of the organizing committee next morning and I was really looking forward to it but I could not because when I called them next morning, both of them said that they had drunk too much last night and now they just wanted to sleep so I could not talk with them.

Candles

Candles

I will try to talk with them next time when I go to Delhi. Mr. Amit had asked me to organize the Gay Pride Parade in Benares as well but I am not sure if Benares is ready for this kind of event. My overall experience was awesome and I really felt good to be in the parade. I saw the pain of the gay community in India, I listened their issues, I talked with them and finally I would say only one thing that they also deserve equal rights, equal rights for everything, and social acceptance. I don’t know how long will it take for them to get equal rights in India but one thing is very sure that it will take a long time for the gay community to get social acceptance in India.

Lots of hugging in the parade

Lots of hugging in the parade

They gay community is everywhere in each and every part of this world, somewhere it is hidden because of social pressure and somewhere it is open because of more awareness and education and liberalization. I was reading a newspaper article about an NGO that works with the gay community in Varanasi and it said that NGO was working with 1500 gays only in Varanasi. I am sure this number is not a real number, the real number is a lot bigger than this because most of the gay people do want to make their relations public because they are not accepted in the society.

Participants with the candles

Participants with the candles

And finally they are married forcibly to some opposite sex partner and their life is destroyed. I don’t understand what anti-gay people have to do with acceptance of gay culture. They don’t harm anyone. I think gay culture is all about having sex with the same sex partner or interaction towards the same sex, nothing else, rest of the things are just like anyone else whether they are straights, hijras, transgender or whatever… And who are we to stop anyone from exposing their thinking or stopping them from what they want to do with themselves?

Enjoy

Enjoy

Gay culture is only different inside the room and how could someone know what anyone what does inside the room? �It’s bullshit idea to think that we should even try to know what someone is doing inside the room. Outside room activity is same for everyone, whether they are homosexual or straight. When anybody is born in India, they get a few of the basic human rights and freedom of speech, freedom of thinking and equal rights for everyone are a few of those basic human rights. I think gay culture as just different thinking, nothing else, and everybody has rights to think whatever they want to think.

Like this poster

Like this poster

A few people think like they want to have sex with an opposite sex partner, they have it and few people think like they want to have sex with a same sex partner so they should also have it. And if there is any idea of equal rights, then gays also deserve equal rights as anybody else living on this planet. �What if a straight is married forcibly with a same sex partner? It is hard for me to think what would have happened with me if I was forcibly married with a boy, I would have no fun living with a same sex partner. The same question should be raised for everyone who thinks that homosexuality is abnormal or whatever…Just think about it.

Please click here for more pictures of the Pride-

Behavior of ghosts in villages

I have always been interested in the people who feel like they are affected by bhoots (ghosts) and destroy their lives going to some baba or exorcists to get rid of the ghosts. I have always wanted to hear more about ghosts by people who say that they are somehow affected by ghosts or have seen the ghosts or whatever and finally I got the opportunity of meeting few people who feel that they have ghosts inside their bodies and destroying their life. I was in my village a few days ago to attend my cousin’s wedding. I used to talk to him and my other cousin about stories of ghosts in his village and they had told me several things which were very interesting to me.

They had told me about a place where people, who think that they have ghosts in their body, go to get rid of the ghosts. After attending the wedding I asked my cousin to take me to this place which was about 5 Kms from my village. We headed there, crossed a lot of narrow paths, saw beautiful village life and finally we were at this place where people go to get rid of their ghosts. It was a tomb of some Muslim Baba who had died several years ago but people believe that this Baba had some super-natural power to fight with ghosts and he can still help even after his death.

There were two tombs- a small one and a big one. We went to the small one first. I was told that Thursday is a special day for that place and more people come that day; I don’t know why Thursday but it has something to do with the baba’s life. It was Friday that day so I was hoping to not see many people there. But after reaching there I was shocked to see that about 30 families had built a temporary house there to stay for long time. I looked through all those houses and saw that there was no stove or a bed or anything that I use in daily life. They cook food outside and sleep under the sky.

They needed that temporary house only in case of rain or something. I walked around that tomb and a few things seemed like a disaster to me. I saw three people locked up with a chain and this chain was locked to a tree. I just went near one person who was locked up and sat near him. There was one other guy sitting over there and he asked me to come to him and he invited �me to sit with him. I did not know how to ask him what was going on but fortunately he started explaining what I wanted to know.

His first statement was that he was in a lot of trouble because of the ghosts. I asked him why he was there and he said that he had come there with his brother. I asked him who was his brother and then he indicated towards that person locked to the tree. I asked him what had happened to him and he said that he used to work in Mumbai as a tailor and that his brother used to work at a factory in Ludhiana. One day his sister-in-law called him and said that her husband had some problem. He would not come home, would do strange activities, make strange noise etc…

His condition sounded like he was suffering from ghosts to his brother and he told his sister-in-law to bring his brother to their village immediately. This person living in Mumbai left his job and came to take care of his brother at his village. I asked him how he knew that his brother had some ghosts in his body and he said that he also had some supernatural powers and had been involved in this kind of work so he knew it. After coming to the village they took this possessed person to the tomb. The possessed person did not want to stay there and would always try to run away from there and that is why they decided to lock him to a tree.

He said that his brother had several different kinds of ghosts. One of them was the ghost of an Aghori, one of them was a Chamar, and one of them was some other caste ghost. I asked him how he knew this and he said that he already had some idea because of the activities the possessed person used to do like he used drink his own urine it which seemed like an Aghori’s doings, he used to spit in his own food and tear-off his clothes which seemed like a Chamar’s actions to him. This was the first indication to him that he should believe that his brother had several different kinds of ghosts.

But the thing that confirmed it to him about it was his talk with the baba whose tomb was there. At this time I was walking away from that affected person and we were about 20 meters away from the tomb when he said that the baba had told him that his brother was possessed by ghosts. I really did not understand which baba was he talking about because I knew that Baba had died several years ago. I asked him again whom did he talk with and he indicated towards that tomb and I thought that he was talking about one of the few people who were sitting there.

I was keen to know who that person was who had confirmed this for him and asked him again and he again indicated towards that tomb. I again thought that he was talking about someone else and then my cousin told me that he was talking about the baba whose tomb was there. I asked him how did he talk to the baba and he said that once you come here and pray to the baba, the baba talks to you. I just did not understand what was he talking about but I wanted to hear him more. So I asked him if the baba appeared in front of him and he said that the baba never appears in front of anyone.

The baba enters in the body of the people and talks to them through their tongues, it was crazy. He meant to say that the person asks the questions and then he himself answers it but the answer is given by baba who is sitting inside the person’s body. It was sad to see how strong their belief is about ghosts but I did not find myself brave enough to tell him that he himself had some mental problem. Well, I wanted to hear him so I kept asking him few more questions. I asked him about if he was not attacked by the ghosts because he was also involved in this fight against them and at this time he told it so loudly that ghosts have been continuously trying to attack him but since he also had some supernatural power, they could not do anything.

He said that once he was driving his bicycle, and some ghosts hit him and he fell down on the ground and broke his head. I asked him if he saw that ghost and obviously he said ‘No’. Then I asked him how can he say that it was a ghost who had hit him and his answer was that the kinds of feeling he was having was not like an accident, it was something different, it seemed like a ghost’s activity to him. After this we returned to his brother and I sat there for some more time. Now affected person’s wife came with his six month old child and started asking her husband about who had given him this ghost.

I clearly heard affected person telling someone’s name but his wife was not agree with this name. She said that the person he was talking about is not a bad person and he didn’t know how to give ghosts to others. Then affected person said that he had taken help of someone else but she was still not satisfied with this answer. She said that they will keep him locked up until he gives the right answer. It seemed to me that they had some name in their mind and they wanted to hear it through affected person’s tongue. The affected person’s brother told me that the ghost was making him tell a lie.

I asked affected person’s brother if his brother feels a bit better since he was brought here and he was so confident saying that baba had helped them a lot a now his brother feels a lot better after spending two months sitting in front of that tomb and being locked up. It was crazy, a 26-27 year old person locked up for two months. What could be worse than this? Now he started talking to me about the money and time he lost because of the ghost who had attacked his brother. He said that he left his job about two months ago and now he had no money at all, not enough even to go back to Mumbai but he still wanted to stay there and fight with ghost.

I was shocked to see the way he destroyed his, his brother’s and others’ lives. I was feeling so sad to see that six-month-old baby. Oh my God. I wanted him to feel that he must go to a doctor also and asked him if he never felt that his brother had some mental problem and he told it so proudly that he would have loved seeing a doctor if his brother had any mental problem but in fact there was no mental problem at all and his brother was attacked by ghosts. I asked him how did he know that it was not a mental problem and doctors could not help him and again the answer was same that he knew because baba had told him.

I understand what he meant to say but it was hard to believe that 21st century world is like this. I saw something that was more sad than this and it was number of children present there. I was numerous children there who had come with their families and had been living there for past few months. I was wondering how this time of their life will affect them in future, definitely they would also go to exorcists and would come to the tomb to get rid of their problems in future. The thing people see in their childhood time becomes part of their lives and these kids have been seeing their parents thinking that they have ghosts, what will happen to them in future?

After talking to this guy I wanted to talk to some other people and started walking around. I saw two other people also who were tied up to trees. I wanted to talk to their families but at that time there was no one with them, there were only few kids playing there. I saw many other people who were there to get rid of their ghosts. All of them were making strange sounds. I am sure they were telling something in Hindi but I was not able to understand it. I understood few things when they were talking about the person who had given them the ghost or about the ghost itself.

Few people people were talking about the baba. They were telling something like they had come here to take help from the baba and they knew that baba would help them. Some of them were drawing strange features on the ground, some of them were laying down on the ground and were talking to the trees, some of them were talking to the walls of the tomb, some of them were just rubbing their body on the ground and screaming loudly… It was really sad to see those mentally retired people wasting their time for nothing. I feel so sorry for the kids whom I saw there, very sad.

Now I decided to visit that other tomb which was about 2 Kms away from the first one. We went there and I saw the same situation there as well. But this place seemed more organized. There were few convenience stores near the tomb. I saw something really interesting that a guy who was doing strange activities and seemed like was affected from ghosts got fainted and his family made him lay down on the ground, brought a bottle of Coca-Cola and made him drink it. After drinking Coca-Cola, that person was happy again and started doing same activities again. It seems like ghosts also like Coca-Cola:)

Now I was getting late because I had to return to Varanasi the same day so I had to leave that place. I was sad and shocked about whatever I saw. After coming back to Benares I talked several people about it and most of them seemed like they also believe in ghosts. Some of them told me that there are 8.4 million different kinds of lives like trees, animals, insects …a person goes through, and being a ghost is also one of them. So they meant to say that each and every person becomes ghost some time. My one friend told me that ghosts are also like humans, some of them are bad and some of them are good.

Good ones do not disturb humans and bad one always try to do something crazy. They said that the people who are affected from ghosts have bad ghosts in their body. These ghosts enters in the body, take over the mind and make people do strange things. Sometimes ghosts don’t enter in the body, they just do strange things. My one other friend told me a story about his village where there are lots of ghosts everywhere in his village. He told me a story about one of his friends who was also affected from ghosts.

He told me that his friend lives alone in his house. He cooks only one time in the morning and eat the same food in the night as well. But every now and then ghosts piss or shit on the food he keeps for the night time so when he comes back, he has to cooks again. And when he goes to sleep, all the ghosts stick to the walls of his room, and make strange noises, abuse him, and don’t let him sleep. He told me that if you are afraid of the ghosts, then they can kill you but since his friend is not afraid, ghosts can not do anything bad for him. Ghosts abuse him and he abuses the ghosts, and everything is settled, cool.

He told me about on another story about a ghosts who smokes beedi. This ghost is in a room which has been locked for several years. This ghost start knocking the door from inside when his beedi is finished, and when people hear this knock, then bring a big packet of beedi, open the door, and put the packet inside. People say that whenever they open the door, they always find half burnt beedi thrown everywhere on the ground and it seemed like somebody has smoke those beedis. People say that since the room is always locked and there is no human inside and it means there must be some ghost who smokes all those beedis.

I read an article about ghosts in the local newspaper which talked about a English ghost living somewhere in Bihar. This ghost is of some British soldier and always wanders around his cemetery. People offer him toast with butter, coffee in a cup and plate and few cigarettes (English style, because the ghost is English) every morning and evening and if they forget about it then ghost start beating people passing over there. People say that they have seen this ghost. He looks like a British soldier who has a sword and wanders around with his horse.

They also tell the same thing that they leave the toast, coffee and other things in the morning time and when they return in the evening time, it seems to them that somebody has eaten it. Well, who would like to miss this beautiful English style breakfast, no one for sure. But it is a strong belief amongst the people that the British is eating everything. A lot of people say that a person becomes ghost if he dies unnaturally like if he commits suicide or dies in an accident etc…

Few people say that if the death sacrament is not done properly then dead person becomes ghost which doesn’t sound fair to me. Why this much dependency on others? If I die and my children do not perform death sacrament for me, then I become a ghost, not fair. I talked to Aghoris about ghosts and they told me that there could be something called ghost but usually the ghosts do not bother others. If others bother them, then they bother others. I like this idea better than being afraid of them.

I often think about ghosts because I often hear about them in my society. But to be honest I try to not be afraid of them. A lot of people are scared of going alone in the nights because they think that some ghost could appear in front of them and kill them. But I am more scared of dogs on the road who go wild in the night time or I am scared of the police who sometime do strange behavior with the people going out in the night time.

My few friends told me about flash back and I really liked this idea. But it is hard to make people believe that the ghosts that they see are not ghosts but it is all affect of flashback. I heard that sometimes something appears in front of eyes but in fact there is nothing or sometime we listen some noise but in fact there is no real noise and it is called flash back. It happens with me also sometimes. If it starts happening again and again then people should see a doctor, there is a treatment for it. But many people think that it is affect of a ghost and they go to exorcists or go to babas and destroy their own life.

I do not know how to help those people whom I saw in my village but I want to do something for them. I am thinking of making a video of the people who used to think that they had ghosts in their body and they destroyed their life by going to exorcists and got nothing. Finally they went to some doctor and got rid of their problem and show this video to the people who think that they have ghosts in their body. Maybe this could help them, or maybe make them think once about seeing a doctor, or maybe no positive result. I seriously do not know if this idea will work, but I would definitely like to do it if my resources allow me to do it.

Dowry – How much do you cost?

My cousin is going to get married soon, maybe in December this year. My relative who has a permanent job in a bank is too much interested in getting people married. He knows several families who want to get their daughters and sons married. He asked my uncle to get his son married with one of his relative’s daughters. This girl is doing a masters from the Sanskrit University and my cousin works for a travel agency in Delhi. My cousin is crazy about getting married. He has always wanted to get married and now it seems like his dream is going to come true.

Neither of bride nor groom have talked to each other ever in their lives. It is all arranged by the family. They were presented in front of each other a few days ago when my cousin was in Varanasi and that’s all. He saw the bride and liked her and decided that she was the girl for him. It was his engagement yesterday. He called me a few days ago and he was telling me that the girl will not be good for Delhi because she has completed her studies in Varanasi through the Sanskrit board but he will still marry her because she has only one other sister.

He said that after her father dies, he and the husband of the other sister will get all the assets. He was most happy about having their own house in Varanasi. He asked me how much that kind of house would cost and when I said that it would cost something like five hundred thousand rupees, he became more happy, started laughing and said that his bride is worth at least two hundred fifty thousand rupees at present and her value will increase with time. He asked how long will her father be alive; five years? ten years? fifteen years; and after his death he will get half of the property.

His engagement was something different because neither the bride nor the groom will be present during the engagement. Only families will meet and do some formalities. The bride’s father gave Rs. 10,000 ($200), a few fruits, some sweets and a suit for the groom. The wedding will be held on 12th of December at which time rest of the things will be given. I heard that the bride’s father will give Rs. 50,000 in cash, a gold chain for the groom, five kinds of gold jewelleries and clothes for bride, and other household stuffs like a bed, refrigerator, wardrobe, TV, music system etc… all these things will be given on the wedding day.

Since they have already given Rs. 10,000, they have to give only Rs. 40,000 more on the wedding day.Groom has asked for cash instead of household stuffs because his wedding will be held in Varanasi but he lives in Delhi, and he has already bought a few household furnishings like a TV and a bed in Delhi for him. The groom has planned to spend the money given by the bride’s side to prepare for his wedding which means he will not have to spend anything from his own pocket but bride’s family will have to spend a lot.

The bride’s father is a retired employee of Municipality of Varanasi. He worked as a temporary employee for most of his life which means he would be getting something like Rs. 2000-3000 per month; I am sure not more than that for a temporary employee. He became a permanent employee in 1999 and got his retirement in 2008 which means he made good money only for nine years. I am sure he will spend a good part of his savings on this wedding. I think my cousin should not have asked for cash instead of household stuffs if he has already bought them but…

This wedding seems more like a business setup where one party will win the game and will make good amount of money, and other party will lose everything, and even they will even have someone wishing for their death. Dowry has become a huge problem in India and is one of the biggest reasons behind decreasing rate of sex ratio. I used to think that dowry would decrease with the decrease of sex ratio but it never changed actually. Ratio of girls has been decreasing continuously and dowry is increasing. People joke sometimes saying that grooms will have to give dowry in the future because there will be fewer girls but when I look at the people like my cousin, it seems to me that this joke will be only a joke forever.

Neetu in Pain

Neetu is a sixteen-year-old girl who lives with one of my relatives in Mau district. She was thrown out in the garbage right near Mau railway station after she came on our planet. She was in the garbage and just kept weeping and weeping. A lot of people were there but they were just watching her crying and not doing anything. Nobody picked her up from the garbage. One of my relatives saw Neetu crying and then he could not stop himself picking her up from the garbage. He picked her up and brought her to his place.

He showed Neetu to his wife and his wife started yelling at him. She was angry at her husband because they had already seven kids, two daughters and five sons. She did not want to keep Neetu but her husband told her that Neetu was in the garbage and if he puts her again in garbage, maybe some animal would kill her. They still did not know that Neetu was a female. They were thinking that Neetu was a male baby. Finally aunt took Neetu inside her house and gave her a bath. While giving the bath she realized that Neetu was a female baby.

She started crying thinking that how will she manage Neetu because she had already two more daughters. She was concerned about the dowry for Neetu’s wedding. Aunt again told uncle to take Neetu out of the house. But uncle did not want to do it. Finally they agreed on keeping Neetu in the house. Now Neetu is sixteen years old and has passed 10th class with good marks. My aunt died a few years ago and now my uncle lives with Neetu. My uncle’s other children do not take care of him. My uncle is now old and retired from his job and his children don’t want to see him anymore. They live somewhere away from his place and not take care of him.

Now my uncle is completely dependent on Neetu and is very proud of his decision of making Neetu part of his family. But he is concerned about Neetu’s wedding. He wants Neetu to get married as soon as possible and has been looking for a groom for Neetu. But the problem is that when people hear that she was found in garbage, nobody wants to marry her. Neetu wants to live with my uncle but he wants her to get married because he is not sure what will happen with Neetu after his death.

Neetu lives in Mau district which is kind of undeveloped district even on Indian standard therefore the society is very very male dominating. None of uncle’s son want to help Neetu and it is also one of the biggest concerns of uncle. I have heard of people rejecting girls if they think that girl is not beautiful or is not educated or is not fare or whatever strange reasons but this is first time when I heard people rejecting a girl because she was found on garbage. She is being punished for the reason she is not responsible for.

I think Neetu needs to get married and it will be better for her to get married before uncle dies because there will no one for her after uncle’s death but I don’t know if it possible. The way uncle has been looking for the groom for past two years and every time people rejected Neetu, it seems like it will be very hard for uncle to find a groom for Neetu. Uncle wanted to get Neetu married in the same caste but now he has changed his decision and is agree to accept even a inter-caste groom but still no hope for Neetu. People hear that she was found in garbage and reject her right away.

I don’t know how to help Neetu but I hope that someday she will get her dream boy. I don’t know when people will stop discriminating between girls and boys. I see this problem because in Indian society boys are given more importance than girls. A lot of people get aborted if they have a female baby because sometimes they are concerned about the dowry, and sometime they just don’t like the females. The people who have only girls have hard time in our society. People criticize you in different ways if you have only daughters.

Sometimes they say that there will be no one to give you shoulder (carry your body) when you die. The thing to be noticed is that only males are allowed to give shoulder to a dead body. I don’t think it is a problem if females give you shoulder. And now it is happening. I heard of lot of cases where somebody died and he had only daughters and these daughters gave shoulder to their father and cremated the body. It sounded strange to a lot of people but I don’t see it as any problem. Hinduism has give very high place to girls but I don’t know when and where the problem came from. But I still have a hope that someday there will be no discrimination between boys and girls and girls like Neetu will not be thrown out in the garbage again.