Men and Women
Making these movies affect me personally in so many more ways than I think possible. Hearing these personal stories that men and women tell often made me entirely speechless.
I remember this man- all other people before him had said that a man must provide financially for his children and then this man says- a good father is one who loves his children. Just loves.
I also noticed that the women always get it. They understand what the question is and what we mean to ask. While this man kept saying that the trainings and information provided leads to change, the wife exclaimed– when a man truly wants to change, only then he will change. He has to want it.
The weather is so hot and the land is so arid that the last thought on my mind would be what kind of a father or man I am or what I am being taught in trainings. And yet this man spoke about buying personal hygiene products for his wife. He didn’t even know what they were. His wife was unwell, he asked her what her problem was and then, encouraged through the trainings on gender and women’s’ health, he himself went to the market and bought them. This is a man who had skipped one year from school because the teacher had scolded him for hitting a boy with a stone. He said he was so scared of the teacher that even though his friends continued to go to school and he wanted to go as well, he missed one year. Now getting these products for his wife or getting his wife’s clothes stitched from the market doesn’t scare him.
I notice that there is a difference in filming men and women. While shooting women, if you look at them and nod your head in encouragement, the women tend to talk more. If you smile at their answer or look shocked or surprised, they will tell you in more detail. But if you do the same with men- they will end mid sentence. With men you have to keep a solemn face, without reaction to their statements. Also, you have to look at men through the camera- if you look at them while they answer, they are hesitant.
Talking about projects, interventions and trainings is easy. But to make people reflect is difficult. The first two days we were expecting a reflection in front of the camera, in front of onlookers. This didn’t happen. So we changed strategy. We divided ourselves in two teams and Shakti talked to the respondent separately without the camera around and started the reflection process. Once the man was in a reflective mood and started talking, then Vishnu and I went with the camera. Sometimes a good 45 minutes had been spent with the man before taking a single shot. Vishnu and I had a fun time roaming the village for good interview spots.
This is the only time in my life that I remember being so hot. It was so uncomfortable that finally I was feeling that this weather was impairing my decisions about the work. Deciding to walk under that sun to get that nice shot- that was a challenge. Also the non-availability of bathrooms in the village! It was so hot, I was so dehydrated, my lips were white and cracking. Even on days when there was a bottle of cold water in front of me, I would not drink because I know there was no bathroom. I did go to the village bathrooms, but they are really for flyby visits. I would take a sip of water but not swallow it and keep it in my mouth as long as I could because no matter how much I drank I was again parched instantly. Shreeti tells me that the village women get infections because they use the bathrooms only during early mornings and late evenings.
About Maharashtra Men
Neither Shakti nor Vishnu nor the driver were particularly ever in a talkative mood. We could spend hours driving in the car in pitch darkness, without anyone uttering a word. Shakti was managing everything- all I had to do was sit pretty. And by the end of 2nd day I was feeling quite useless. Also, the hotel reception men, the restaurant/ dhaba men- somehow all ignored me. I was not asked anything. Maybe I looked too Punjabi or maybe I didn’t get Marathi- either way I know I was feeling pretty miserable. Then, something funny happened. On the 3rd day right before we started from the hotel, the driver noticed he had a puncture in one tyre. Then he started walking up and down the road. I asked Shakti what on earth he was doing and Shakti said he was looking for someone who can change the tyre. Ah Ha! I can change tyres. I tell that to the driver. He doesn’t even look at me. And so again after 3-4 minutes of pacing, he tries to do the thing himself but has no clue. So I start telling him what to do. And he doesn’t even turn an ear. And then Shakti realized that I do know what I am saying so he started translating my instructions to Marathi for the driver and pretty soon, we were good to go. And the next day, the driver wished me good morning. And as it turns out, he knows Hindi as well as I do. Haha! Punjabi looking Delhi girls can be useful too!!
in Maharashtra for filming stories of fatherhood and caring, during 1st-10th May 2012.