Posts Tagged ‘ politics ’

Some politics…

After deciding that I was going to stay in India a bit longer I realized that I don’t know much about the political situation here. I mean, I know basics, but when I open a newspaper I immediately turn to the international section. A long time ago, I remember that I used to ostracize expats for living in a country and not paying attention to local politics. I’m trying not to have an opinion, as a part of India I’ve become, I’m not Indian and don’t understand a lot of the background or cultural contexts to where I live. Bal Thakery is one example. He was the founder and leader of the Shiv Sena, a political party in Maharashtra. He died last week and the entire state shut down. It’s pretty amazing how everyone can stop to recognize a political figure, I just wish he was one that I could respect a little more; it makes me wonder how so many people have so much respect for him. Sound familiar…he blamed non-Marathis for the economic woes of Maharashtra, he wanted all of the non-Maharashtrans to leave. He was also almost single handedly responsible for the Mumbai riots in the 90s between the Hindus and the Muslims. Some things he did were positive, like create infrastructure – the highway that connects Pune and Mumbai was his pet project. Mumbai shut down. Pune shut down. If people didn’t shut down, some people from the Shiv Sena paid a visit and told them to shut down; a girl in my salsa class is a dentist and while working on Sunday someone told her to stop and close her office. How do the two relate if you have nothing to do with the guy who died and, if you’re not in mourning? They want to erect statues for him. Two girls were arrested in Bombay for making an offensive statement on facebook which protested the complete shutdown of the city. Her friend ‘liked’ the comment and both were arrested. The police are now being sued and there was quite an outrage about the arrest. The CM is trying to get those police officers suspended and arrested themselves. It’s just very crazy for me to comprehend all of this; Even more surprising for me was the amount of people who expressed so much sadness at his passing.
The second big news event was the hanging of one of the men responsible for the 26/11 terror attacks, Ajmal Kasab. He was secretly transferred to a jail in Pune. The man hanging him didn’t even know who he was. I found it strange that it was kept a secret…from everyone.

Away from politics, things are great. This week begins my after school arts program at one of our schools. I’m nervous. It’s my initiative. We’ll see how it begins. I spoke to my dad today. It’s snowing. Here it gets to the low 50s in the evening, sometimes, but remains in the high 80s during the day. It’s confusing for your body and hard to dress for. Some interesting instances occurred on the road last week, but I can only seem to remember one. I was riding with Sachin, each on our own bikes, and a cop pulled me over. I have all my documents, it wasn’t at a light and I didn’t do anything wrong, it was just a check. As soon as I pulled all the way to the side, he walked over to me and just whisked me forward. Who gets told to move on after being stopped?

Indian Yom Kippur

Why is my roommate amazing? We were on our way home and there was an older man who seemed like he was struggling to walk. We waited for a moment (we were in the car) and he was having trouble breathing; if he was drunk we were going to leave, if not we would help. Manoj got out of the car to see what was wrong. Apparently he was working but then went to the hospital and didn’t have enough money for full treatment and they asked him to leave with partial treatment. He was trying to get to the bus station by foot. He showed signs of an asthma attack. He needed to get home which was around 4 hours from Pune. We dropped him at the bus stop and as we were telling the bus driver that he wasn’t well and asking him to look after him, he proceeded to kick him off the bus. His excuse was what if something happens to him on the way, who would take responsibility? He didn’t want to be responsible. Both of us were shocked. He finally agreed that if someone would watch over him on the bus he would take him. We spoke to one man on the bus who said ok but when we put the old man back on the bus, he was immediately kicked off again. Manoj and I were in awe at people’s inability to be nice to be someone. We argued with them for a while and called the man a bad man, the bus driver obtuse. I argued that they shouldn’t take anyone on the bus. What if something happened to him? It was awful. The old man felt bad. We put him on another bus and walked away. We didn’t say anything that time but when the bus pulled off he wasn’t on it. Apparently he vomited. We tried to get him on another bus but he said he would take the train at 10pm. Were we swindled? We don’t know. But we did it with good intentions and Manoj fought for him the whole time. I don’t know many people who would do that. It was valiant.
That same day I did a full day meditation at the Vipassana center about 10 km from my house. It wasn’t the same. I found it very difficult but a part of the teachings include not getting frustrated with obstacles. I have to accept them. What was very beneficial from the day was that I found out they have kids classes the first Sunday of every month. Next week we’re bringing a few of our kids and I’m brining some of work kids as well. I’m very excited for this.
Other goings on…I went to a conservative Jewish temple for Yom Kippur tonight. It was kind of by accident and very much for the experience. My friend Daniel invited me and I accepted. It was interested. I don’t think I’ve been to a synagogue since my Bat Mitzva and I would rarely identify myself as Jewish. I usually explain how in my blood I’m Jewish but don’t do anything Jewish. Anyway, it was interesting. Everyone was in white. I was in a maroon skirt with a green shirt. Everyone was very nice. It was also a Safardic Conservative temple. I went to an Ashkenazi Reform temple. When I went back in the evening for the blowing of the shofar I met Daniel’s mother. After the service I got to speak about his grandmother whom I also met. Daniel’s grandmother goes on my list of amazing people who I’ve met in my life. When she was 16 years in Burma, during the second world war, she was coming home from school and told her grandmother that she saw silver falling from the sky. They were bombs. With her sister and grandmother, they walked from Burma to Assam in India. At that time it was all one country. Her uncle and cousins were taken captive by the Japanese and then released once the war was over. Her two cousins were two of the first children of Israel after the war. They were children of the state. She walked at the age of 16 from Burma! I’m completely amazed.

A Rare, but Short, Post About Work

There are many different kinds of teachers. There are teachers who aren’t very good but try and consistently ask for feedback, strive to implement what they’ve learned ask for your support and will work with you as team; some teachers work very independently and do great; others, as I’ve recently found out, don’t like you, don’t want to work with you, and think that you’re mean and insensitive (this has been a struggle with just one and no one agrees with that person); others are good teachers, take your support and will do ten times more than they’re asked for. It’s important to always recognize what’s going well, what needs improvements, and where, as a team, you can work together to make sure there are the best outcomes for the children. I work with teachers across the spectrum. I’ve recently been dealing with one teacher who is Indian but lived for quite some time in the US. I was called rude, culturally insensitive, not helpful; my boss had to intervene. It was a successful meeting and I don’t feel I should discuss it further except to say that I take these things to heart. She said that she thinks I’m more Indian than many of the Indians. I appreciate and really love my coworkers so much. Anyway, back to the teachers. This one teacher went above and beyond on her own and when I asked her for more she delivered. I sent her a text to say that she’s awesome. Her response, “Thx! Bt it’s all because of your support and motivation. ☺” I love moments like that.