Exploring Bangalore

Day #7 – Sunday, July 21, 2013

It’s Sunday. No classes today. NLSIU Training Centre rather quiet than usual. Some friends decided to continue the discussion group, some work on reading, and some took the initiative to the City Center. Me and some friends of Indonesia decided to go to Mahatma Gandhi Road. Initially we wanted to use the public bus, but because we wait too long, the next option is a three-wheeler transportation. After bargaining, fixed prices, we also drove to the center of Bangalore city using the three-wheeler. Travel time about 45 minutes. We passed several mosques, also recognize some people who passed us as Moslems from the attributes they use. However, knowing that the Muslim women in India are generally not allowed to worship in the mosque became a concern for me. Regardless of the interpretation of religion, or my position as a non-Muslim, it was sad to see the subordination experienced by women. As far as I becoming friend of lots of Moslems in Indonesia, I do know that the desire of women to greet their Lord no less terrible with men.

Upon arriving in the city center, we started down Brigade Road towards Mahatma Gandhi Road and surrounding areas. Unfortunately the Bangalore city center is not as we expected. There we can not ‘see’ India, but more internationally renowned brands with western style. There are several stores that sell apparel and souvenirs of India, but its smaller in size and the price is quite high. Much different from the atmosphere of shopping in Malioboro, Yogyakarta. Here, hard to find road signs. Also asked not always help. People tend to say ‘I do not know’. Nonetheless, I was comforted to find some stores with a collection of good books and cheap price. We can not linger, since it’s now a Monsoon season in Bangalore, and will be difficult to find a vehicle to return to Naagarbhavi when dusk, and the rain fell. When bargaining with three-wheeler driver, a middle-aged woman approached us with a cupped hand and said ‘hungry, madam!’. What should I do? I do not know. In Indonesia, I was included in a group that campaigned to not give money to beggars, especially children. Our initiative is to be their friend, to help them gain access to education and health, as well as make sure they know their rights as a child in Indonesia. But what about India? This woman may have been one of the Dalit groups, such as the community that we visited in the Byata Village yesterday. But what is done in community empowerment at her place, I also do not know. Even a visit yesterday still leaves a lot of questions in my head. Questions may be not answered by single visit.

When we returned to Naagarbhavi, power outages still NLSIU Training Centre. I and a colleague decided to look outside. We found a clothing merchant who spread out his wares on the sidewalk. The price is cheap, the quality is moderate, my colleague decided to buy some as souvenirs for the family. With limited English, we chatted with the seller. He introduces himself as a Moslem, and again we were told that here, Muslim women can not pray in the mosque. They are quite worship at home. In fact, women are also not always get adequate access to education and so forth. Not just Muslim women, from conversations with Jagadesha yesterday, caste issues also often place women in a subordinate position regarding access to education and public policy. I was an outsider, but in my opinion, the changes in India should start from the woman’s movement because they are critical to distinguish which one is given and which is socially constructed.

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