This morning the group of us met for a final wrap up and question/understanding session in regard to Unitus, MFI’s and their goals. After that we went to a jewelry store because Hyderabad is famous for its pearls. We didn’t buy any but quite a few people from our group did, and Dave was a tremendous help in bartering and negotiating price.
Dave and I took off on our own after that and decided to venture out by rickshaw to a muslim site in Hyderabad called Charminar. It is a tall four pillared structure and you can climb up to the top and look all around. Right next to it is one of the largest mosques in the world, Mecca Masjid. It is also Ramadan at the moment so there were absolutely masses of people – 70% of the women walking around were in full black covering – only their eyes showing through. There were thousands of people in this particular area and Dave and I decided to head down this one street, called Laad Bazaar where you can buy all kinds of trinkets, purses, tops, bangles, and all kinds of other stuff. We were the only caucasian people. We never saw anyone else and I experienced being stared at like I never have so far in my life – that was an interesting, unusual, fun, wonderful experience. I did feel very sad for the woman though – a disturbing feeling of oppression that was hard to sit with. What was so interesting to me was that all of these women, completely covered in black, were all in the sari shops purchasing absolutely beautiful saris, silks and clothing. They wear all of this beautiful clothing underneath. It was helpful for me to remember some things from a novel that I read about a year ago, “Reading Lolita in Tehran.” Not that we are there, but even here the oppression imposed upon women because of “religion” is very real and present. I didn’t feel unsafe, just that I was in a completely different world. It was a good experience and I just tried to take it in. The colors of the fabrics are spectacular, so it is strange to have your eyes landing on brilliant color and complete black, all at the same time. People are also incredibly persistent and pestering in terms of their begging. I’m not sure if I’ve just hardened my heart or that you just have to put up incredibly strong boundaries. We then took a rickshaw back to our hotel which was another entire adventure in itself . Tomorrow we head over to Delhi, early in the morning, and will hook up with Sunil and Pam and their family.