Monday, October 09, 2006

Field Research

... And back at Sun City, 8pm, Monday evening, getting measured for salwar suits (tunic and pants combo) in signature Jodhpur "banda" print, or "tie and dye" as Indians translate it. I wore out my last tie-and-dye tunic getting grubby on the train circuit last year--but won't have an opportunity this time around for 29 hour train rides in three-bunk non-ac class. I can't believe I only have five days left.

Today I tracked down an old student from a village called Khatawas. She passed her class 10 exams, a great feat for village girls, but still got shipped off to her in laws (she was married at 10). She's knocked up now, 3 months, at 15. We found her by off-roading in our white Jeep across dry fields, then walking for three miles in the hot midday sun across some prickles-choked bean fields. Her little brother navigated. A sweet skinny as a reed kid in a neat yellow government school top, he'd tried to visit, with another sister, a few weeks back and was turned away by Nirmla's rabid mother in law. Practically foaming at the mouth, this woman is every newlywed Indian girl's worst nightmare: critical, rough talking, and physically abusive. She beats Nirmla because her dowry was inadequate. Even at 5', in a bright yellow langa suit (long skirt and top), she was scary as hell, and I didn't understand a word she said. Veerni's would-be translator called in with a motorbike "accident" (someone joked that I scared her away) so the situation is still a bit fuzzy, but basically this girl is miserable. To make matters worse, her husband is a homely, five-foot-two (max) 23 year old, with a distracting, inappropriate grin over his large moustache. He was working as a carpenter in Mumbai--all I could think was AIDS, a common plight of migrant workers--but now is back in his village. Not sure why but will get the story when the interview is translated.


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