Saturday, April 16, 2011

Small Talk

After doing group discussions and personal interviews, I've gotten to know some of the women in the self-help groups pretty well-- especially when they spill their life stories about their husbands' alcoholism, beatings, female foeticide, harrassing in-laws and what not. Except it goes from them to Jyoti in the local dialect, then she thinks a bit to process it in Hindi, and then translates it to me in English. By this time it's a 2 minute delay before I can try to show compassion to the women sitting right next to me. Anyhow, they often invite us back to their houses for chai and to meet their families. Here are some phrases that I never anticipated using in small talk:
"Is that your cow?" In reference to the cow half in the doorway since cows can literally do whatever they want.

In response to the question are you married, which I get about five times a day. "Not yet. No I don't have children. No, I don't want any children." This get about 30 seconds of frustrated Hindi mumbling and the question "Really?" about six times. "Yes, I will have a love marriage. No, my parents won't be angry about a love marriage. Okay, I will try to come back to India for my marriage ceremony."

"Were your in-laws mad that your first three kids were girls? Have they pressured you to have an abortion?" Mother in-laws in India can be SUPER cruel and awful.Also, sex-selective abortions are a huge problem in India. Some states have as much as a million more men than women.

"No, at home I don't eat burgers everyday."

"No, I've never met Barack Obama."

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