I arrived in India 32 days ago. And let me tell you, even if I am not in the most intense and culture shocking part of the country, I still experienced what it means to be a woman in a place like here. In India, a woman is simply NOT treated with the same respect as a man. She is not of the same importance. She is clearly seen as something very different.
What to wear and how to behave is a daily issue. Who to talk to and how. How to stay free while respecting the local culture? How to gain men’s respect without being rude when they just don’t get it? How to protect yourself? What is a cultural trait and what is simply bullshit and unacceptable? These are difficult questions.
Tonight I spent some time with a local man talking about what it means to be a woman in the West vs here. It’s obviously my own personal opinion and based on my experience, plus some facts: women can be single, women can be unmarried, women can marry other women, women are independent of the men in their family. At least this is the law (I know there are exceptions, but I was trying to give him an idea). He looked at me like he was staring at an alien.👽 . “What about the future? What about kids? What about family?”. There were some of his questions.
It’s difficult to have these kinds of conversations without giving the impression of looking down at someone else’s culture, but it’s impossible to establish connections without conversation. He was listening and he was very interested. And then I listened too.
He asked me why I don’t want to live in India. My answer was not about infrastructure and healthcare, my answer was: because I need to be free to be the kind of woman I want to be, not one who is defined by someone’s expectations.
Today I am grateful for my freedom. For being a female solo traveler and for being able to be one. For being a woman, and being proud and happy to be one.