I want to give thanks to the India Literacy Project Hyderabad chapter, which opened the door for me to jump back into government schools during my time here. I will miss reading books with some of the brightest and sweetest 4th graders you could ever meet!! I’m in the wonderful/horrible whirlwind of leave-taking, which tends to shut down my capacity to form coherent thoughts…so I will wait to write an in-depth post about what ILP and this school came to mean to me. For now, a few pictures.
Goodbye for now…
This Rihanna photo shoot incident is too interesting to pass up. When I saw the headline “Rihanna asked to leave mosque,” I thought, great, another situation where everyone can misunderstand/criticize/polarize Islam because someone was too ignorant and insensitive to be respectful. Instead, I found myself cautiously impressed with Rihanna.
She visited a famous mosque in Abu Dhabi and posed for an “Instagram” photo shoot. Her poses are very restrained, and I suspect it was the fact that she did not ask permission for the photo shoot, rather than any risque or suggestive posing, that made authorities ask her to leave. The pictures are beautiful and actually seem to showcase the stunning features of the mosque more than focusing on Rihanna. It’s a shame that she was asked to leave.
One of the main criticisms made against the photos is the idea of turning a head cover into a “fashion statement.” Well, why not? Choosing to cover your head is a form of self-expression–it is not by definition a form of repression or a symbol of oppression! There is an entire world of style and fashion revolving around the hijab and the burqa. From subtle details to daring fabrics, most of the women I work with are like any other, with their decisions on how to dress factoring in style and appearance at least to some extent. A woman fully covered can be just as beautiful and empowered as a woman in a T-shirt and shorts. Fashion is fashion, and women are women, regardless of how we choose to define ourselves as individuals.
Rihanna (for once in her life) has actually done something that helps to break down misimpression and stereotypes. I especially liked the following picture that Rihanna captioned “Bitch stole my look:”
The Internet world took offense, but I feel that the caption acts as an equalizer. Rihanna undermines any “mystery” or fear surrounding Islamic dress and instead treats these women as she would any other. Way to go Rihanna?
Sunday afternoons are nice no matter where you live, but somehow a lazy, hazy Sunday in the markets of Hyderabad creates a special kind of peace. Yesterday was one of those days, defined by wandering and small, shared adventures. Hot jalebi and newspaper napkins, glimmering kites, row upon row of marigold garlands…an almost unendurable happiness and acute awareness that perfection like this can’t last.
Watching the popcorn being made was almost even better than eating it.
The kite caught my eye first, because it seemed determined to maintain its dignity aloft (unlike others I’ve seen caught and crumpled). Next I saw the tree, growing from air and dirt and Hyderabad magic. Finally, D.L. Krishna, Cloth Marchant.