A few years ago I conducted a lecture about my nation and its independence.
A journalist from the largest newspaper of Slovenia called Delo observed me and found me worthy of an opinion.
Below I have attached her words which are translated by my dear friend Amadea Kovic.
Amadea is a young and talented published writer. At the age of 21, she had already published books and ventured into other arts. She is now an Erasmus student and travels across Europe to learn different forms of art and their evolution.
Check her work out on the above link.
Article in Delo, 19/08/2017
The Evening of Thousands of Years of Indian Knowledge
First contact with Slovenia: charmed and disappointed that she hadn’t heard of it before.
When tourists take over your favourite spots in the city, you don’t need to feel annoyed. Rather think about from what all beautiful countries they have come to us and how many interesting stories they’re carrying with them. Sometimes a conversation with a foreigner can be just as exciting as travelling to a foreign land. Indian Padmashree Ghangale created one of such type of experiences on Thursday in Ziferblat.
In a short and concise way, thousands of years of Indian history were presented in one hour in a well-attended room of Ziferblat, together with the most important political-economic-social-
She was born in a slum on the edge of Mumbai, in a lower caste, which would hundred years ago seal her fate on a worker with no rights, who performs the hardest jobs. If her shadow would only touch a rich person, beating her until death would be justified. However, her mom, a single parent, believed in the power of education. She was working day and night to pay for her children’s education. Despite that little Shree started working at the age of fourteen in a sewing shop. Not one of those slavery sweat shops that are shown to us in documentaries, but in a smaller production, where she was working in administration because she was going to school. ”I knew that education is all I have. If I wouldn’t have it, I could have, in a surrounding, I was living in, end up in one of those sweatshops or on a street as a prostitute”. However, she explained to her mom at the beginning that she won’t spend her gained freedom and opportunity on studying something that is not her interest, even if it brought lots of money. So she enrolled in English Literature and Psychology.
The freedom that wasn’t simple to gain.
She wasn’t hanging out with her peers a lot, who were talking about Taylor Swift and Kim Kardashian. ”I said to myself, if that is all that life is offering, then I’d rather end it now.” Instead, she preferred to listen to the wise words of her elders, when they spoke about political systems, problems in society and Gandhi’s philosophy, and decided that she will travel the world. She flew out of India on wings – as a Flight Attendant. And she moved to Abu Dhabi. At age 23 she planned travelling across Central Europe; she wanted to wake up in Split on her 24th birthday. On her journey, she stopped in Ljubljana and was ”enchanted and disappointed that I have never heard of this country before. I was almost crying when I had to leave. I decided that if it is possible, I would return immediately and stay for a month,” she said. She liked our understanding of personal space, non-invasive and modest behaviour. In Bled, she helped in a hostel and met Miha. Marriage in Jesenice a few years later was modest because Shree doesn’t believe in wasting money. Actually, she stands against consumerism with Gandhi’s teachings of civil disobedience. She generally doesn’t like rules, forced on us by systems, that is why she can’t imagine herself working in an office. ”I’d like to write, maybe teach. About history, politics and I think the world needs a bit of philosophy,” she added with rationality and a bit of idealism.
Philosophy is at stake the most in modern India, she told us after the official lecture, when people asked her many questions. When she was little, children were taught in school a subject called ‘Value Education’. They were taught morality through age old stories from different nations. Indian youth are today Americanized and Shree can’t understand why ”The USA is such a young country. Compared to India it’s only a child. Why would we let a child raise our children?”
Challenging The Reality
What kind of advice would she give to people who will visit her country? ”Before the trip get to know its customs and culture; that’s how you will be able to speak with people with respect and get to know them really well. Don’t do anything that could change the country. Don’t give money to beggars because that won’t make their lives better. If you want to help them, teach them something, like fishing, knitting, drawing, … If you really want to help them, stop the consumerism because that is what put them in that situation in which they are now,” said Shree with wisdom, which stunningly overwhelms the knowledge of an average 27-year-old.
”India challenges our understanding of reality, norms in already made borders”, she said about her city, which she is still learning from. A few years ago, in Bombay, she observed poor children swimming in the main gutter of the city. She thought to herself: ”Life gave them shit but they learnt how to swim through it.”
Text under the picture: Conversation with a foreigner could be just as thrilling as travelling to far away places, even though many tourists are bothering a lot of people, says Indian Padmashree Ghangale.