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04/08/2014

Stories of rape and watermelon

A French friend and I, both leaving in India for a long time in India, had an interesting conversation with an Indian guy, in his thirties, nice, owner of a resort in Goa. A bit agressive (to say the least).

Dialogue about the rapes in India (topic that the media have been extensively covering in the past few years – now I personally don’t know whether the number of cases has been tremendously increasing or we have just been hearing much more about it or if the fact that there is more publicity around it empowered more women to come forward as victims:

-         Him: You don’t understand anything to the Indian culture, how justice functions in the villages. The media have turn into business companies and rape makes sell.

-          Her: ...

-          Him: For example, if a village woman gets raped, the village authorities (the Panchayat) make the culprit to marry his victim, so that she is not marginalized and is protected (by her husband)!

-          Her: There you see, it may be just my point of view as a Westerner, but as a woman I find it atrocious that not only you are raped but you have to spend the rest of your life with your attacker. And the fact that this is the only way I don’t get all the drunkards of the village to fuck me hardly sounds like a consolation... It is kind of sad that a woman has no status, no life, as a person and has to be married to be someone...

 

Dialogue about cutting a watermelon:

-          Him (who is fasting today and can only have milk (and not packaged milk) and fruits): Fuck, I can't cut this watermelon!

-          Me (as a well-mannered host): Wait, I’ll do it for you!

-          He: Ok! But could you wash your hands before? Nothing impure should touch my food today and maybe your hands have touched your mouth or something like that and that would pollute my food.

-          Me: Ok! Well you know what, you can cut it yourself your watermelon!

Those balls! I know that there are special rules in India, especially when it comes to food. The Brahmins should only eat food cooked by a Brahmin. Hindus fast on some days – most of them choose a day in the week, depending on their “favorite” God. It kind of makes sense as from what I have heard, it is medically good to fast one day a week. It also makes sense when people can not afford food every day; it then gets justified by the religion and then people forget why they do what they do.

That my hands may be impure, I can live with that. Apparently, after starting food, you (and it is true for everybody) are not supposed to touch anything (pan, bowl, bottle) that the others may touch. No ...contact, no contamination and it is all for the best...

But here the point was that MY hands got declared impure on one day, the day HE decides to fast. I found that exceptional! He could have asked whether I had my periods while he was at it (in Hinudism, more impure than that you die...)…

India,purity,eating habits,hands

See this website

04/06/2014

Shots of Mumbai

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04/02/2014

The chawls of Mumbai

India,Mumbai,Bombay,chawls,slum,rent,frozen rent agreement

Chawls are typical dwellings in Mumbai, built in the 19th and 20th centuries (especially between 1920 and 1956) by landlords and industrialists to accomodate immigrant labor.

 Chawls are “buildings with one room or two room units of not more than two hundred square feet attached by a common corridor with shared toilets on each floor”. Living conditions are quite sordid in the chawls, most of which being about to collapse. ‘Legally’ they do not qualify as slums which refer to jodapattis, squatter hoursings on unused land and pavements dwellings, tents and huts, “shanties built on footpaths alongside roads/pavements, close to workplace”. The families who live in chawls refuse to vacate the premises. On one hand because of the low rent for places in the heart of the city, and on the other hand because the social networking that exists in these structures.

 The Bombay Rent Act of 1947, enacted at the time of Partition, froze the rents at the level of 1St September  1940, to protect tenants. This freeze lasted for more than 50 years (the Maharashtra Rent Control Act in 1999  took over the Bombay Rent Act (twenty times renewed) and allowed a 5% rent increase the first year and then 4%) and caused the ruin of the buildings – at this level of rent, the owners could not invest in maintenance or repairs. As a consequence of all this, living in a chawl costs 250 rupees per month to former tenants and one can find offers on the Internet for 1,000 rupees. To give an idea, renting a 700 square feet apartment (thrice the surface) costs in the same area minimum 25,000 Rs (100 times more!).

India,Mumbai,Bombay,chawls,slum,rent,frozen rent agreement

Chawls of Girgaum - one can note the Mercedes on the left side (contrasts of India!)

Sources: http://lib.dr.iastate.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=281... ; http://www.mcgm.gov.in/irj/go/km/docs/documents/MCGM%20Department%20List/City%20Engineer/Deputy%20City%20Engineer%20%28Planning%20and%20Design%29/City%20Development%20Plan/Urban%20Basic%20Services%20in%20Slums.pdf

http://www.businessweek.com/articles/2012-07-05/mumbais-boom-turns-renters-into-millionaires

http://www.mahim.com/et/epage61.htm