Here, in India, the faces and colors are fascinating, maybe because of the diversity, maybe because of the cultural differences or just because behind every face, there is another life. Have you ever thought if it? How many different, unique lives are there? So, taking photos of people, of their expressions and movements is one of my preferred activities when I walk along the streets.
Some women and a man with a young child – it might be his grandchild – sit in front of the house. They’ve must have been observed me already for a while – me and my photo enthusiasm. When I pass in front of them they smile at me and ask me to join them. Very friendly, with a natural curiosity. They show with hands to my camera and to themselves. Aah, they want me to take a photo. One photo of the family, one photo of the women only, one photo of the young child. I like it and they like it too: An unexpected but nice photo session on the street.
One of the woman knows a little bit English, so we can exchange some basic information: where are you from? What is your name? What about your family? They asked me to show some pictures from my life in Germany. Some other women have gathered at the first floor on the balcony. It must be family members, maybe friends. They invite me to visit them in their home and to have a tea together. Why not? The woman who speaks English comes with me and all the other women from the photo session follow.
We enter a room with two beds and a shelter with some plush toys. It is rare that I saw this kind of children’ corner in a house of a worker’s family. A small kitchen, a second room. Somehow a cozy home. They offer me the only chair in the room. They sit on the beds around me and tell me that Saturday is always a special day. Because after work they all meet here – at the friend’s house. It is the only time in the week when they can have a tea together and can chat. Women time….
I ask the English speaking woman where she did learn the language. She tells me that she has been cooking in a hotel, for about 15 years now. She has listened to the strange words, when people talked English , again and again. She learnt word by word on her own. She just went 3 years to school … Now she is 36 years old. No kids. Her husband is a taxi driver. “The money we gain is not enough to give children a good future. In two, we can live with the money we have. Better not to have own children. My friend here, she has two. I help her, also financial- wise. These children are so nice. They should go to school, at least 10 years. Get good jobs …” , she adds. One of these two children, the 14 years old girl is also in the house. Indeed, she speaks English, as well. “One day”, she says, “I want to work for the government. This is a nice job.” A dream that many young Indian women share.
When we have a tea, I look around. The woman explains: “I am lucky. My hotel boss supports me wherever he can. Sometimes we get also some items from the hotel owner. Utensils, and bigger items he cannot use anymore. Like the fridge.” Indeed, there is a fridge in this house. Very proud they show it – the fridge: in front of the 2 beds.
I did not even acknowledge before, although having a fridge in those families is very rare. Probably, because I did not even care. The Western look of life …
After some more chats and a second tea it is time to say goodbye. They all stand at the door and shake my hands. They liked it – the women time today, this time with a strange woman.
When I turn back the road two hours later I just knock at the door to say thanks again – with a small bag with chocolates, chips and some nuts in it. For giving back a little of the hospitality they offered to me. Probably, they do not know what it can mean to us to feel welcome in a strange country and to be invited to their lives. For a short moment just staying together.
“The next time you visit Bangalore,” they tell me, “you have to come back. Ideally, during
a Saturday evening. When we women come together…”
I think we could become friends. One day. When I come back and visit them.