Iâ€™m making my documentary on Hijras (transgenders). I have a meeting with some TGs and an organization on November 3rd, so wish me luck!
I have not blogged in over a month! I apologize to all of you! Maybe we can just say I’m running on “Indian Time” because everything and everyone is late in India!
Let’s get everyone caught up on me!
I love every moment of being here! I really, really am so happy I’m here! Occasionally I wish I could go home for a long weekend and come back just so I could have a break. If I had a long weekend back home this is what I would do:
-Thank God I’m not sweating and being eaten my mosquitoes
-Take a long real shower
-Eat a cheeseburger
-Relax from having to kill ants (which I now do with my finger and have no qualms about it)
-Walk down as many stairs as I want without falling! Walk on sidewalks without falling!
-Use my fast Internet!
-Watch Grey’s Anatomy!
-Enjoy not having to take allergy medicine every day because of pollution
-Visit with my friends, family, and pets who I miss very much!
This is my average weekday:
6:45-7:15am: Wake Up
7:20am: Drink chai with Swapna (haven’t done this in a while because I don’t wake up on time)
7:40am: Go get a rickshaw
8:00am: Arrive at the Program Center
8:00am-8:20am: Eat breakfast (fruit, yogurt, boiled egg, and oatmeal)
8:20am: Walk to class
8:30-10am: Public Health or Contemporary India class (depending on which day it is)
10:00-11:40am: Go back to Program Center, use their wifi, socialize with other students, eat a snack, do homework, run errands, etc.
11:40am: Walk to class
Noon-1:30pm: Social Justice class
1:30-2:30pm: LUNCH (always with Jessica)
2:30-4:30pm: Nation, Caste, and Gender through Film class
4:30-6:00pm: Back to Program Center, use their wifi, socialize with other students, do homework, run errands, etc.
6:00pm: Get a rickshaw
6:30pm: Arrive home at my apartment
6:30-8:30pm: Jal tarang lessons (**twice a week**)
8:00-9:30pm: DINNER (drop in at the mess hall any time in this period)
9:30pm-1:00am: Homework, talk to Logan, talk to mother, work on Sex Week things, etc.
On Mondays & Thursdays, I only have class from 8:30-10am. The rest of the day, I attend Documentary class. Other students go to their internships. The documentary/internships only started recently. Before this classes would take field trips to the National Film Archives, historical sites, organic farm, etc.
I’m excited we are finally starting our documentary film projects. Our film professor is a wonderful lady, and all of her students love her! She’s quirky, kind, and hilarious. I’m making my documentary on Hijras (transgenders). Hijra is no longer the politically correct term. They prefer “TG.” They are physiologically male with a feminine gender identity. They have been in India since antiquity. TGs belong to a special caste in the Hindu context. They follow the mother goddess Bahuchara Mata or Lord Shiva. Bahuchara Mata is a Hindu goddess who was represented by an avatar princess. This princess castrated her husband because he “acted like a woman” and would not have sex with her. Gujarat is the temple of Bahuchara Mata and is a site of pilgrimage for TGs. NGOs have been fighting for recognition of this “third gender.” Almost all TGs are severely marginalized, the marginalized of the marginal. Most survive by begging or sex work. TGs often suffer severe violence and face discrimination in all aspects of their lives: education, employment, health, housing, etc. Some TGs sing and dance for special ceremonies and weddings. It is supposed to bring good luck and fertility. They are an at-risk group for HIV, and this is the angle I would like to take in my documentary. Focusing on gender and health, perfect for me! I have a meeting with some TGs and an organization on November 3rd, so wish me luck!
On the weekends, I travel to areas near Pune like Goa or take excursions to see Buddhist caves. If I don’t travel, then I enjoy myself in Pune! I see movies, meet up with friends, go out to dinner, go dancing, visit temples, etc.
I’m beginning to enjoy the Indian dinners at the mess hall more and more. I especially love the cucumber dish, beet dish, and carrot dish. I need to learn the names and recipes so that I can make them for friends back home. I’m the closest to vegetarian/vegan I have ever been. Unless I order a non-veg dish for lunch, I’m pretty much a vegetarian. Eggs are even excluded in the vegetarian diet. There is a donut shop called Magic Donut that sells eggless donuts, and they are actually very good! I was so surprised. Eggless cake=not so good. My favorite thing to eat/drink in India: PINEAPPLE JUICE! At almost every restaurant, I order pineapple juice. I don’t know what it is…it’s like they mix pineapples and milk together? It’s amazing! I’ll miss it dearly. There are ice cream shops everywhere, so we often stop for ice cream! The butterscotch flavor is especially nice.
I have two salwar kameez and several kurtis that I wear. Kurtis are long tunics; they can be short sleeve or long sleeve. Kurtis are worn with leggings. Salwar kameez is a matching kurti/pant outfit. The kurti part is usually fancier and longer (knee-length). The pants are loose fitting. Salwar kameez also consist of a matching scarf called a dupatta. Sometimes I wear jeans and my western shirts though. If I’m going out to dinner/dancing on the weekends, then I wear my western clothes. All pants need to come mid-calf, and shoulders/chest are not to be shown. I really enjoy my Indian wardrobe. It’s very colorful! I hope I can get away with wearing some of it back home!
I’m not nervous about catching a rickshaw anymore (even if it is late at night). I know some Marathi, and I am not scared to haggle the price. I really enjoy riding in rickshaws actually! I wish we had them at home. Crossing the street is no longer a scary experience either. I now know it just looks like the bus/car/two wheeler is going to hit me, but they won’t ever actually hit me! (**keep my fingers crossed**)
There’s a general update! More to come on specific topics!