Day 7: Convening 3 – Kolkata, India.
We started Day 7 with a roundtable discussion, exchanging ideas with allied advocates, including Indrani Singha, Sarafaraz Ahmed Khan and Roop Sen.
This was a vibrant conversation in which we raised some of the issues that we have been struggling with in our work at home and questions that have surfaced for us during this convening; for example, the right balance of strategies that focus on the criminal justice system and those that focus on community accountability.
Our Indian allies happily engaged in a thoughtful analysis of these questions and raised their own struggles with our group – and with each other. One of the things we most appreciated about the roundtable was the way in which this community of activists very comfortably challenged each other and held each other accountable in a productive way, without rancor and clearly with the goal of pushing the movement to be it’s best in order to achieve the shared vision.
That evening, this group along with about 50 other activists and agitators joined us on a dinner cruise on the Ganges River; a fabulous way to network and share about our work while getting to absorb the sights and sounds of Kolkata by boat. As a special treat, Apne Aap arranged for cultural singers and musicians to provide us a live soundtrack for our journey. The energy and pulse of these songs, focused on the struggle for women’s rights and dignity, transcended language barriers to pull us in.
We stopped at a famous ashram and had the honor of observing a Hindu prayer service; with hundreds of people sitting cross-legged on the floor of an ornate temple, chanting. The resonance of so many voices singing individually and collectively as one was beautiful and completely engaging. Our beloved travel guide, Vishal Bhasin, was visibly moved by the chance to visit the temple. When I asked if he had been there before, he shared with me that he had not had the opportunity to do so, but that it was his destiny to work with MEV and come to the ashram in this way. (By the way, if you ever travel to India, you absolutely must use Vishal’s travel service called Indian Excursion. He worked for months to arrange this trip with us and was with us every minute of the trip, always silently in the background, helping our large group to maneuver through India on planes, trains, buses, cars, metro, by foot and even rickshaws without a hitch. He is a consummate professional, and now, a dear friend.)
Comments are closed.