It was kind of obvious that long weekend was for travel. Scandinavian batch mates were excited to see India and Indian batch mates were excited to see South India. Some went to Andaman Islands, some to Munaar and some to Madurai. Rest except me went to Aurovill. I was alone in the three floor building.
I didn’t want to travel in geographical space but desired to travel in sociological spaces. Some days ago we were day-dreaming of a road trip nearby in a self-driving car to some archeological places through some countryside. Meanwhile I was getting connected to some NGOs in Pondicherry. It was a good opportunity to visit some other sides of mainstream society.
Our holiday started on Friday. The first day I wished to spend time without any compulsion of doing anything. I woke up late, brought country side chicken. Cooked and ate. I fixed my meeting at an NGO ADECOM Network which works to empower women in South India.
The next morning I rented a bike. It was ten kilometers away from the main town and while I was about to reach I missed the turn and got lost. Due to the language barrier it was difficult to find out the correct way but somehow I managed. Gautham who works at the NGO and is an aspirant film maker was, standing at the gate, looking for me. The gathering was for a training workshop for volunteers and workers on how to deal with contemporary women issues. It was interesting to see the dedicated participation of men in the women’s issue. The topics of discussions were: Nirbhaya rape case and restriction on women; dress restrictions; fair and lovely [fairness cream] and its justification of racism in India. Then we had lunch with some add-ons of my ideas. Post lunch the topics were love marriages and its challenges; Dowry and Royal Enfield [a motor bike]; Role of Sindur [vermillion powder]. I could not decode the language but I was flowing through the discussion. The folks there were not disciplined and pure idealists but shared pain and empathy among themselves. They didn’t have any personified enemies but they were like agitation within the caste-layered fancy mocktail. They were themselves the cases, learners and teachers. They laugh at each other, celebrate each other’s fights and were support to each other. The trainers there were to reflect not to discipline them. It was motivating to meet, down to earth Professor Jean Claude [who uses his earning to support the education of marginalized children], energetic social worker Fathima [a psychologist fighting against domestic violence] and aspirant filmmaker and social worker Mc Jothiboss who discussed with me to make a short film on domestic violence. They invited me for the next day awareness program at a nearby village.
To know more of Pondicherry, the next day, I travelled through the city by bus. Public transport is a good space to get more close to the real life of city. Sharing the seat is like sharing the journey and meanwhile through incomplete sentences we completed our introduction. The person next to me helped me to get off on the correct bus stop. After that Jean took me to around twenty kilometers of bike ride. We went to an awareness program where ANM health worker was talking to them about hygiene and adolescent health issues and the lady police officer was motivating women against domestic violence. The presence of cop was a boost for the enthusiast ladies. They then inaugurated a board to publicize the helpline numbers in that village.
They last day with Jean, we had a plan to meet some children at another village but due to some miscommunication it did not worked but we went on a bike ride. The long drive was the time to develop friendship from mere contact and we felt that our relation will go long.