Voyage [en]

Connaught Place (Wimpy’s), 15 septembre 01

Me voici à  Delhi. L’endroit est bien moins effrayant qu’il y a deux ans. Pas grand chose à  signaler durant le voyage depuis Rishikesh avec Delphine, mis à  part un homme étalé sur son vélo au bord de la route, dans quelque chose qui aurait pu être une mare de sang si la vitesse de notre bus nous avait laissé le temps de voir. Je crois pourtant l’avoir vu remuer un pied – et bien sûr personne n’était en train de lui porter assistance.

A Delhi, le rickshawallah tient visiblement à  impressionner ses deux étrangères hindiphones. Nous avons droit aux virages sur deux roues (je ne plaisante pas!) et à  deux ou trois accidents évités de justesse, à  une vitesse folle. Le tout arrosé d’un sourire ravi aux dents presque blanches lorsque je lui fais un commentaire sur sa conduite. Il profitait également de l’attente aux feux rouges pour expliquer à  qui voulait bien l’entendre que nous parlions hindi.

Mes amis Arif et Shireen (ceux que j’ai rencontrés à  l’aéroport de Delhi en arrivant de Bombay) m’invitent à  manger. J’ai droit à  mon premier repas avec viande depuis mon départ de Pune, dans un excellent restaurant dont j’ai bien sûr oublié de retenir le nom.

Nous arrivons chez eux vers minuit. Je suis très heureuse de pouvoir me laver (on n’imagine pas ce que voyager en Inde est salissant!), à  la lueur d’une bougie, puisque Bijli Devi (la déesse électricité) semble être en grève à  Delhi aussi. Dormir sans ventilateur est par contre une autre histoire, et je m’en tire relativement mal, d’autant plus que les moustiques me trouvent tout à  fait à  leur goût. En somme, je passe une relativement mauvaise nuit.

Plus tard

Me voici installée chez deux excellents amis d’Arif et Shireen. Ainsi fonctionne l’Inde: les parents d’Arif ont avancé leur visite de Dubai (en raison des événements récents?), et la chambre d’amis sera donc occupée.

Contrairement à  ce qui aurait été le cas il y a deux ans, cela ne me dérange nullement. J’ai appris à  faire confiance. En fait, le logement est presque plus confortable ici. Siddharth et Sandeep sont très gentils, et les voisins du dessous, Uma et Susheel, sont des gens adorables.

Similar Posts:

Marasme [en]

L’Inde n’est jamais calme, mais en même temps elle est désespérément inerte. On s’enlise dans la lourdeur de la passivité ambiante – et toute notre énergie s’en trouve drainée. Déplacer un caillou requiert autant d’efforts que de faire bouger une montagne. Le temps s’étire en longueur, mais on ne peut rien en faire. Les projets tombent en ruines comme la voiture sans roues abandonnée dans le jardin de notre hôtel: c’est certainement le travail de quelqu’un d’autre de s’en débarrasser.

On y apprend l’attente. On y apprend la passivité, si on avait encore besoin d’entraînement. On y apprend aussi l’ennui, cet ennui qui ronge au fond de la solitude; car en Inde on est seul, même si la foule autour ne nous laisse jamais tranquille.

L’individu est seul, parce qu’il n’a pas de place, parce qu’il n’est pas reconnu. Il n’y a que les rôles, ici. Le groupe, la famille, la communauté, et dedans, rien que des rôles. On s’appelle “Grande Soeur” ou “Petit Frère” – pas “Juliette” ou “Léopold”. Le petit “je” est oublié, caché sous notre rôle de videshi.

Mais pourtant, d’une façon un peu inexplicable, j’aime ce pays.

Similar Posts:

Unrest [en]

I know it is easy to worry when someone you know is far away. I won’t say anything about the situation, apart that there is too much to say, and that I have the feeling it has all been said.

I just wanted to assure you that I am safe, that there is no unrest in the country, and that I will be travelling back to Pune until the middle of next week – so don’t you worry if I’m not answering emails.

Similar Posts:

Words [en]

Here are some more extracts from Bitter Chocolate.


‘What can it be called,’ she [Vidya Apte of Terre des Hommes] asks, ‘when they marry off young girls, except Child Sexual Abuse?’ A socially sanctioned environment which crushes the girl-child as she grows: that mother hood can be her only mission, that she therefore has to be ‘married off’ at the soonest possible legal age even if she is not mentally or emotionally ready for it. What kind of mother can such a child herself make? Most research clearly states that men do not have an in-built ‘father touch’, they have to actively work on it if they genuinely want to be decent fathers. Young men—nor older ones, for that matter—are not expected to be fathers in the complete sense anyway. But young mothers are expected to ‘mother’ from the time they are born. Most research also proves that ‘natural motherhood’ is a myth, there is no such thing as ‘mother pangs’, except for social pressure. A woman feels ‘motherly’ only from the third or fourth month of her pregnancy and this is a primal feel which continues for the infant’s food and physical protection. There is no other in-built manual on child-rearing in a young mother who is otherwise bewildered, exhausted and very alone. What kind of ‘complete’ mother can she make to another child?


‘From childhood women are geing primed to expect too much from marriage and motherhood and too little from anything else,’ says Prasanne Invally of Susamvaad which is developing ‘marriage workshops’ in Marathi. ‘Boy children are primed to expect everything from their wives in the marriage, and not give too much if anything at all.’ The workshops Susamvaad has conducted till now reveal young couples—about to get married—coming in with ‘they lived happily ever after’ dreams because the partner is being expected to heavily ‘adjust’.


Explains Dr Shalini Bharat of the Family Studies unit of the Tata Institute of Social Sciences, ‘We have a sacrosanct view of the family in our country, even if it teems with strains within. In such a structure human rights are not regarded as rights in the individual sense. There is a “we”, but if you hear an “I” the reaction is knee-jerk even if there is only negativity in this “we-ness”. Everyone is supposed to subsume their own individuality in a family, specially the women and definitely the children. Those who want to be an “I”, as is the wont of the young males, have to do it outside their family structure and home. This leads to our famous Indian characteristic: the duality-and-denial syndrome. Ghar mein kuch, bahar kuch; like being “vegetarian at home”. In such an environment it would be well-nigh impossible to get a family to admit that there is a horror like Child Sexual Abuse happening within the four walls of any house no matter how educated or rich or perhaps more so because the social image of the family has to be guarded. If we acknowledge Child Sexual Abuse in our middle and upper-class homes, we would have to look for reasons for this abuse within. We would then have to admit that these reasons are not as terribly complex as we would like to think. And we cannot have our families being seen as anything less than part of a great and ancient culture, can we now?’


[…]First there will have to be acceptance of the very existance of Child Sexual Abuse in all classes of Indian homes. And this acceptance is likely to take a very long time to come because if there is such an acceptance, it would affirm that there are a lot of adults abusing children. And then this would start to say something about Indian society. And its false facade of happy families. And the men in these families. And the kind of women who live with these men.


The world over fathers who have been sexually abused when they were little boys tend to sexually abuse children, their own and others, as adults.

Mothers subconsciously try very hard not to sexually abuse children, their own or others, even if they have been sexually abused when they were little girls. Instead women, specially mothers, take it out on themselves. They also physically abuse the child with slaps and other forms of beatings. They emotionally neglect them by mentally ‘blanking out’ their children from time-to-time; this space which the mother puts between her and her offspring is seen by psychiatrists as a desire on the part of the mother not to hurt her children the way she was hurt by her elders.


Well, has there ever been a time when fathers, along with their wives, have not impressed upon their sons, almost conditioned them into thinking, that they—the male—possess that magnificent trump card: the power of choice? Mothers tell their daughters only this: the male will come and choose from a sea of simpering young girls like you; on a white charger he will come and whisk you off your feet, please perfect the art of simpering till he arrives.

The male and his magnificent trump card: that power of choice. So now, before he ‘settles down’, and even during and after, he also chooses little boys. But will this be enough proof for the parents of young males that they need to explain to their sons that they need to behave with other mothers’ daughters, and other people’s sons too? If those parents had done this before, maybe the statistics would not be as bad as they are today? And now that the world is turning on its head, or so it may seem to the parents of only sons, with older—and much elder—men actively seeking little boys, what should the mothers and daughters feel?


Prema is now a child-prostitute in Calcutta’s Sonagaachi. She is not plump anymore, she has several sexual diseases including Aids. She says she never complained against her inspector-father at the police station because she knew they would suspend him and then what would her stepbrother, stepsister and stepmother eat?

Similar Posts:

Best Memories [en]

I have often expressed my regret that the portions of my Indian life which I get to tell over and over again are the ones which were the most painful to live. We all know this phenomenon: the worst moments make for the best memories.

Anne-Marie came up with the very simple answer I had been awaiting for ages: these difficult moments, these “adventures”, contain drama, and therefore they can be told. They make a good story. Happiness cannot be told. It is a state of being, not a series of events.

Do remember this when I write or talk about India: you are often hearing about the most negative things. I love being here, but there is no way I can really tell you this without boring you to death.

Similar Posts:

Pensée indienne [en]

La vie ici est fatigante. Apprends à  garder ton énergie pour ce qui en vaut vraiment la peine, et à  couler à  travers les désagréments mineurs.

Similar Posts:

Indian Thought [en]

Eat what is on your plate, as you do not know when your next meal will be. It may also very well be worse than this one.

Similar Posts:

Pensée IV [en]

Si je ne peux pas croire, peut-être puis-je au moins espérer.

Similar Posts:

Pensée III [en]

Je ne veux que de l’irréfutable. Suis-je condamnée à  croupir à  jamais dans mes certitudes terrestres et mes espoirs célestes?

Similar Posts:

Pensée II [en]

Il est important de séparer le domaine de la croyance ou de la conviction religieuse de celui de la connaissance rationelle – et cela, même s’il existe d’autres formes de connaissance que celle-ci.

Similar Posts: