Yesterday was India’s Independance Day, or equivalent of the Fourth of July for Americans, or Bastille Day for the French. India is 68 years old. We didn’t see any fireworks, nor military parades, but we saw quite a bit of patriotic fervor in Bangalore.
This gentleman tried to sell us pins while we were stopped at a red light. After he understood I wasn’t interested, he insisted we take a picture of him, without asking for spare change in return. Indians love to have their picture taken!
We spent the morning at the school where I volunteer. Like most schools, they had an official hoisting of the flag, and some dancing and plays by students. We saw an 8 year-old Gandhi who was bent in two laughing, and a 5 year-old General Something (sorry, I don’t remember the name), who, when probed as to who he was, shyly answered “Satish”, his own name! E. was amazed at how many people they can cram in the assembly/meal room. I counted at least 13 rows of 8 to 10 students, plus dozens of teachers, administrators and guests. Women I usually see wearing “western” clothes had donned on their pretty sarees. Next year I will get all decked out! Most of the kids were wearing wrist bands in the flag’s colors, wearing pins, or waiving little flags.
The school has no playground, it is nestled in the middle of a street, in an old bakery. It was sweet to see the neighbors peering from their balconies, or even trying to sneak into the assembly room. If only it could be an incentive to getting those kiddos in any school.
When Sathya came to pick us up after the event, he was all excited about Modi’s speech that he had been listening to while waiting for us. I think we came back too soon and interrupted it! (Reminder: Narendra Modi is the newly elected Prime Minister, a rather controversial figure, but an amazing orator). The media has summed up his one-hour comments in 7 to 10 points. Among the urgent need for more industries, and better sanitation (building a toilet in each school is a goal), the one that rang close to my heart, and which was the rallying cry of the school principal, is the answer to the question: “When will India be truly independent?”
When all women can safely walk alone.