I’d like to dedicate this post to my co-fellow, room-mate and friend Shruti. Two months into the fellowship and I can’t imagine them without her. It’s surprising how both of us, being the introverts that we are, got along so well in such a short time. I have always been reserved and reticent. Sometimes it makes me believe that I might be socially awkward or challenged. But it is meeting people like her that keeps me from believing that.
It was during a chat with my coordinator few days back that I realized how effortlessly Shruti and I get along. She asked me, ‘Are Shruti and you getting along well?’ And my first thought was ‘why wouldn’t we?’
I might have sounded all happy and excited about working in Rajasthan in my last blog post. But spending two months here has changed my opinion drastically. I’m not saying I was wrong but life here has been far from what I had imagined. Being a girl, working for the cause of girls’ education in the ‘most backward blocks of India’ as they’re called where most of the people, women included, don’t even believe in the concept of ‘gender equality’ hasn’t been easy.
We are asked unimaginable questions about our caste, family background and career choices which makes us really awkward and puts us in a spot. Being stared at by men, not only on the streets but also in offices and on field locations since they form majority of our field staff is something we deal with on a daily basis. These are situations neither of us has faced before. If I had to deal with them alone, I would have either been freaked out or enraged. But I guess what makes it easier for us is being there for each other and not having to face these situations alone. We manage to find a way to dodge questions that make us feel awkward or simply avoid them. Sometimes we even reply courageously, not giving a damn about being judged.
I’m constantly trying to improve my Hindi speaking skills thanks to her amazing Hindi, with a slightly Punjabi accent which she really likes! Thanks to her, I’m way more comfortable and confident conducting field meetings today than I was when I had started and would slip in a word or two of bambaiya Hindi and embarrass myself on field.
The long, tiring day at work and the hectic travel to and from field locations leaves us absolutely drained out. But there’s never a dull moment in the room thanks to the peppy songs in her playlist that keep playing in the background. And isn’t it amazing to find someone who shares the same taste in music as you? Sometimes we even treat ourselves by putting on our best pair of jeans and a pretty top, not caring about the awkward stares and remarks, and heading out to dine at a lavish local restaurant.
I just want to thank her for being the amazing company that she is and for making my daily grind easier and my fellowship journey all the more memorable.