I am going to get this typed quickly and will reflect more as time and travel allow.
On Monday we left the Tajmahal and drove about 3 hours (time has no meaning here...) to a small village where we were received as guests. The village was home to one of the families being treated for club foot. We had no background knowledge of the village upon arrival. We were greeted around a fire by some very old men and one younger man who was in western clothing. The village was Muslim, and we were told that 95% of the boys and about 2% of the girls receive education. We were welcomed into a home, we were fed around the fire where the Imam greeted us, and we visited the mustard fields that the community tended.
The people were beautiful and the children were so curious and engaging. I have lots of pictures but they are on the camera. We sang for them until we were told on behalf of the Imam that singing was not welcome. (Oops). The girls and boys marry at 14 or so, and the adolescent girls were veiled around men. I was able to linger behind in the home we visited so that the women would remove their veils and interact. It was amazing.
This was a world so far from our own...so far from even the starkest urban situations we have seen. Lots of questions we have about how disruptive our visit was. The young man engaged in conversation with Sathi. He clearly had a skewed and limited view of American Christians (much like our skewed and limited view of most tribal cultures -- especially Islamic ones). He said 85% of Americans are born out of wedlock... We tried to clarify that a bit. They didn't educate their girls because it was not good for them to be "modern"
It is all so fascinating and compelling. As we were back in the bus pulling away, a group of adolescent girls hung back, peeking through their veils. I caught their attention and put my own scarf over my head...but they gestured for me to take it off as they smiled and waved. I don't know what to do with this, and so for now, I hold it precious. There is so much more and time is running out.