Conversations with an Angsty Teenager

Today I had an awesome conversation with a teenage girl from Reliance Greens. We met her last week when she and her friends found us on their way to the mini mart and talked to us all the way home. They loved Landon and kept calling  him a doll. Anyway, she has been trying to find me ever since. She likes speaking English, but does not have very many people to practice with. And she wanted to see Landon. So I was out for my morning walk/run and she biked up. We talked for about an hour as we wandered through Reliance Greens. First she was going to take me home, then I was going to take her home, and then she ended up escorting me home so Landon could have some lunch. It gave me great insight into the current life in India, although it is biased because it is the viewpoint of only one person.
I didn’t know where to put these pics- our driver took us to look at a
market outside the walls of Reliance Greens where some people from
the compound get their veggies, fruits, clothes, etc.
Kind of like farmer’s market except no tables

 First we talked about her school. They just were let out for summer vacation-which lasts only a month. She told me she has to prepare a portfolio of 20-25 pages per subject (5 subjects) for review by some educational board in Delhi. If she gets high marks, then she gets to go on the science track, which she really wants to get into because she wants to be a gynecologist. Her family is going to visit their hometown during the break for a wedding, so she is trying to get all her schoolwork done in the next week or so.

Clothing section of the market
Next we talked about marriages. Most marriages are still arranged here in India. I asked her if her parents were arranging a marriage. She said that she would not allow it- she wants to find someone herself. It seems like her mother is more laid back and ok with that, but she said that her dad doesn’t trust her to find someone good for her. She has a twin brother, and she bemoaned the state of discrimination against women in India. She says that her mom treats her and her brother equally, but that her dad definitely favors her brother. She says that he punishes her when her brother does something wrong. She talked about how when women find out they are pregnant with a girl, sometimes they get an abortion because they just want boy children. She kept saying, “How does the mother feel?” after doing this, probably at the request of her husband. Abortion is illegal in India, but she talked about how they still do them in storage closets in the hospitals. She was definitely against abortion and was passionate about it.
She said that she does not like the current cultural climate in India of corruption, discrimination and the remnants of the caste system. She said that her father had told her not to talk to her neighbors because they were of a lower caste, although they both work at the refinery. She says that she doesn’t care, that she talks to them anyway. She is a believer that no matter the caste distinction, people can make their own life.  She talked about the gang rapes that have been happening all over India and how the perpetrators, even if they are sent to prison, can bribe the prison wardens to let them out early. She does not like how people act here, and how undeveloped India is as a nation.
This girl was awesome! She likes American music and speaking English. She desperately wants to live and work somewhere where girls and boys are treated more equally. She did not like how people just get finished with something and throw the wrapper on the ground, leading to a gigantic trash problem and dirty cities. When she goes back to her hometown, or where she grew up before Reliance Greens, she says that the boys taunt her and say lewd things to her because she dresses in shorts or skirts instead of long pants and long shirts. 
Veggies at a market outside the gates of Reliance Greens

I told her about America and how she might have a problem finding vegetarian options at restaurants. She assured me that she is only vegetarian because her family is, but that she likes meat. I encouraged her to go for her dreams; she is tenacious enough to achieve whatever she wants. If the young people in India are like this girl, and enough of them get the education that they want and need (and don’t all move away to America) I think there is hope for this country to become more developed. 

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