Housekeeper Kareena went out to do the grocery shopping yesterday morning and came back empty-handed. The shops and produce stands were all shut up. It was the latest development in the strife between the Dalits and the Hindu Nationalists.
I can’t really say more than that without revealing my ignorance and no doubt also over-simplifying one of the many complex and interrelated issues troubling this country with so many cultures, languages, and religions clashing and blending and layering over the centuries. I know little about it but now I am living in it for a time. It feels like a lot of excitement for only my first week.
The photo above shows some Dalit demonstrators in our neighborhood, the only thing happening in the emptied streets. Tom took this one, and it is blurry because he didn’t want to get too close to the action.
He and I had been planning to buy lunch out before going to visit Baby Boy and his mom, but all of the eateries were closed, too, so we ate some leftovers from last week, and then walked back to the hospital.
I had become familiar with this intersection from our trips to the hospital over the last couple of days. The same man was constant in roasting sweet potatoes on the corner near our apartment building, and at the side of the road across the street from the hospital, several cows always stood with their keepers in two groups, three cows and two cows.
But the sweet potato roaster was not to be seen, and even the cows were gone. Rickshaw drivers slept in their vehicles, shopkeepers slept outside their shops, and for the first time I had to walk around a man sleeping on the sidewalk. The street in the picture below is normally filled with hundreds of cars, rickshaws and pedestrians all flowing around each other in close and chaotic streams.
By the end of the day someone in power had met for talks with the police, and the Dalits called off further protests. I have been too busy holding a baby to read much about the situation (This is the article I am starting with), but we were all glad that last night the shops had opened again, and this morning the shopping got done and we now have spinach paneer and chicken tikka masala in the house, with fresh chapatis. The cows are back in their place.
On our walk home from the hospital after dark, the neighborhood church was in the middle of serving food to the poor. Its Light and its lights had not stopped shining for even one day.