More Than a Travel Story

I really enjoyed Rajesh C. Oza’s article (“A Migrant’s Holiday” India Currents, Dec ‘15–January ‘16)and felt you captured the journey through the people you met. Images of the places you mentioned careened through my mind like a film that is slowed down and sped up at the same time, like stills on a reel forming a sequence of images.

I imagined myself being present on the train with you as an observer; hearing the conversations, watching the facial expressions, the countryside roll by, the gentle rocking and swaying of the train.

However the best part is how you captured the people.

You told your story through the people you met. So I imagined myself as being MARS+1. Not part of the inner group but a close observer. So I was popping in and out of the scenes like in the reel above.

I particularly like how you captured Gabri. You captured the essence of her character and conveyed that to the reader (makes me want to meet her and stay at her flat).

You describe your article as a travel piece but it is so much more. You artfully carried your theme of liberté, égalité, fraternité and what it truly means in a modern sense. Or how immigrants, race relations and your own immigrant story fit into this broader theme.

So it was the best of both worlds. It captured the essence of the places and the people. The article was thought provoking and definitely more than a travel piece.
There was a glimpse into your own heart and soul. Not just of the places or people you met.

Sid Prudil, website

Sex Inequality and Hinduism

Sarita Sarvate’s article (“We Were Midnight’s Daughters” India Currents, Dec ‘15–January ‘16) prompted me to write this letter. Sex inequality is ingrained in our sub-conscious and inherent in our culture and religion. We need to acknowledge this bias to get rid of inequality.

Sex inequality is given sanctity by our Hindu religion. Our scriptures plead Vasudheva kutumbakam (The world is one family.) But in this family, women and shudras (lower castes) have lower status. Manu (the progenitor of man and the legendary author of the Manu Smriti (laws of man))pleads that the woman be under the supervision of her father when she is unmarried, under the husband after the marriage, under the son when widowed. For her there is no freedom.

We talk of swayamvara (marriage of one’s choice), but that is merely in name. For example, Sita (in the epic Ramayana) did have a swayamvara (a ceremony to select her husband) but the choice was not really in her hands. Her father had a pre-condition. Whosoever broke the “shivadhanusha,” (Shiva’s bow) would get Sita’s hand in marriage.

There’s the story of Samyukta who wanted to marry Prithviraj Chauhan around the 12th century. But he was not invited for her swayamvara. Where was the choice for Sita and Samyukta?

Even today, I hear of cases where if the daughter brings home a boyfriend and requests permission to marry him, the first question asked is often about his religion If the family is Hindu then a Muslim boyfriend or a boy from a lower caste Hindu background is met with shock. This has been going on through the ages.

There is also the way we deal with rape as a society. When a woman is raped the general reaction is “uskaa sab kuch lut gayaa, ab rahaa hii kyaa hai?”  (She’s lost everything, now what is left?) Can we not teach our girls to get back on her feet and to try to lead a normal life? In reality, however, it takes a long time for a raped woman to get back to leading a normal life.

Unless we as a society acknowledge this hypocrisy and address the root cause, we will continue to carry this burden through the ages.

Ram Prakash Saxena, Foster City, CA

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