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“Indian Women Find New Peace in Rail Commute”

Jim Yardley

September 15 , 2009 — The New York Times

Men peered into the Ladies Special train as it sat idle on the platform in Palwal. | Chiara Goia for The New York Times

Men peered into the Ladies Special train as it sat idle on the platform in Palwal. | Chiara Goia for The New York Times

PALWAL, India — As the morning commuter train rattled down the track, Chinu Sharma, an office worker, enjoyed the absence of men. Some of them pinch and grope women on trains, or shout insults and catcalls, she said. Her friend Vandana Rohile agreed and widened her eyes in mock imitation.

“Sometimes they just stare at you,” said Ms. Rohile, 27.

Up and down the jostling train, women repeated the same theme: As millions of women have poured into the Indian work force over the last decade, they have met with different obstacles in a tradition-bound, patriarchal culture, but few are more annoying than the basic task of getting to work.

The problems of taunting and harassment, known as eve teasing, are so persistent that in recent months the government has decided to simply remove men altogether. In a pilot program, eight new commuter trains exclusively for female passengers have been introduced in India’s four largest cities: New Delhi, Mumbai, Chennai and Calcutta.

The trains are known as Ladies Specials, and on one recent round trip in which a male reporter got permission to board, the women commuting between the industrial town of Palwal and New Delhi were very pleased.

“It’s so …

article continued here.

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I know it’s a little late to post this article, but it’s a good one:

 

“A Life of Algebra and Adventure: Geoffrey Langlands has dedicated 20 years to education in Pakistan”

Declan Walsh

August 10, 2009 — The Guardian

Major Geoffrey Langlands outside the school he founded in the Hindu Kush mountains. Photograph: Declan Walsh

Major Geoffrey Langlands outside the school he founded in the Hindu Kush mountains. Photograph: Declan Walsh

Much has occurred, and much has changed, since Geoffrey Langlands, a young maths teacher-turned-army commando, landed on the shores of British India on a troop carrier in 1944. Since then the intrepid Englishman has lived a life of algebra and adventure. He has scraped through several wars, been kidnapped in Waziristan, educated world-famous cricketers, and taken tea with princesses, several prime ministers and a ruthless dictator.

Some things, however, never change. Every morning the retired major, who turns 92 in a few months, rises at dawn in his cottage in Chitral, in the upper reaches of the Hindu Kush mountains in Pakistan‘s North West Frontier province. He puts on a blazer, tie and polished shoes. Then he sits down to breakfast served by his loyal servant, Sufi. It is always the same: porridge (“Quaker Oats, of course”), a poached egg (the poacher bought from Selfridges) and two cups of Lipton tea. He leafs through a newspaper, which has arrived via the valley’s irregular plane service and is a few days old. Then it is out of the door, through the gate and up a winding hill to the school he founded and to which he has dedicated the last 20 …

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Here’s a good update on the struggles of the Slumdog Millionaire kid actors in Indian — scenes “that seemed straight out of the gritty film,” as the journalist wrote. I also like the antithesis of hope pitted against desapir in the following quote:

” ‘Slumdog Millionaire’ brought to light an equally true reality: the hardscrabble lives of many slum children of an India brimming with optimisim and eagerness to be the world’s next superpower.”

 

Boston Sunday Globe — August 23, 2009

“For Child Actors, Life After ‘Slumdog’ Full of Promise, Poverty”

by Emily Wax (Washington Post)

MUMBAI – Never again would Azhar Mohammed Ismaill, 11, sleep in the overcrowded warren of shanties and festering lean-tos known as Garib Nagar, literally “city of the poor.’’ Azhar, one of the child stars of the Oscar-winning film “Slumdog Millionaire,’’ recently moved with his family to a new home in Mumbai: a modest two-room apartment on the ground floor of a high-rise called Harmony.

The apartment was a gift from “Slumdog’’ director Danny Boyle, whose film grossed $300 million. On the rooftop of his new building, Azhar, 11, danced as he watched jetliners take off from the airport. He recognized the emotion as similar to what his character, Salim, must have felt as he looked out over the Mumbai skyline and said: “India is the center of the world now, brother. I am at the center of the center.’’

Azhar’s real-life journey – and those of the other child stars in “Slumdog,’’ including his elfin costar Rubina Ali, 9 – has been a roller coaster of personal tragedy and red-carpet glamour. In many ways, they are experiencing at warp speed the masala of euphoria and turmoil that India’s vast poor feel as they emerge from the iron bonds of caste …

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