Friday, July 16, 2010
WOMEN AND THE ART OF MOTORCYCLE MADRAS
My first post to the blog, I am shocked by the realization that time is running out for our class. What I assumed would be plenty of time to write a few blog posts has turned into an endeavor to sum up all of my emotions, all of my experiences, into a few words and pictures. Today is the last day of our internships, our last weekend together, and we will be departing for our various destinations around the world....in about 5 days.
That being said, each new day has presented a series of serendipitous opportunities to meet new people, try new foods, buy new things (a lot of things), and realize with each encounter, I know less about myself than I assumed. I have felt the anxiety of walking down a street at dusk, my ankles and calves visible to passersby--the bliss of seeing children playing on the beach, jumping off dunes into the wet sand below, the serene feeling I get from painting in watercolor and doodling kolams--or the deep sadness and frustration of coming to understand the intense family dynamics prevalent in India--and the ripple effect this causes for the lives of so many women.
I am in awe of the strength and resilience of the women of India. Their passion, their spirituality and devotion, and their light-heartedness.
Today, I asked for the assitance of the head gentleman who works at the Bed and Breakfast--looking for a tailor to make two dresses before we leave. Five minutes later, I was on the back of a motorcycle, blowing past rickshaws, cars, and buses on my way to the tailor. Most women sit side-saddle on the backs of these motorcycles, holding their children on their hip or carrying groceries. Facing forward, my hands gripped the seat tightly-aware that I was not wearing a helmet, and my life was in the hands of this kind man--it was the most fun I have had all week. The tailor's shop was only a few blocks away, and then ride ended minutes after it began.
While I cannot even say I understand a little Tamil, I have come to not only understand, but internalize many of the customs, removing my shoes at the door to the tailor's shop, knowing that the tailor's horizontal wiggle of his head (symbolizing "no" in the U.S.) actually means "Yes, I can do that."
Fresh from my motorcycle ride back to the guesthouse, I am re-energized--present and truly aware that I am alive, the chaos of the streets both exhilarating and humbling. I am ready to embrace my last day at TTK Hospital, working with men of all ages to understand their alcohol abuse through art.