Viewing from western eyes it can be very difficult to see the differences between how men and women are treated in India and I'm certainly not going to use the blog as a forum to air my views, but in my opinion, Indian women are the lifeblood of this country and the strongest I've ever met in my life.
Our wonderful cook left last week for a job in Kuwait and this got me thinking about how much she does and has achieved. Without going into her background she's had a hard life and now lives in a small hut put together with corregated iron, coconut leaves and plastic, while earning a living as a housemaid to try and build herself a new house. She gets up at 5am every morning (as most the women do) to cook, clean and help the neighbours with their kids. She then looks after us with pretty much everything - in the picture she's clobbering open a coconut to use for our dinner. She then goes back to her tiny house to cook for herself and sleep ready to start again the next day. The past few weeks she's been getting up even earlier to look after her 3 month old grandson and build her new house, actually laying the bricks and cutting the iron for the foundations herself. She did all this with the most wonderful smile on her face and an easy optimistic laugh.
Ulmakoolsa is just one example of the wonderful women I have met here who work extremely hard, sometimes in very extreme conditions, but remain elegant, beautiful, optimistic and confident. One thing that always strikes me when I teach my classes is that the girls will grow into these women, some already have (marriage at 16 isn't rare), and I hope I can help them on their way. I think more likely is they have helped me.