The idea of women not being allowed in mosques, or not being able to do certain Hindu rituals has bothered me a lot. It seems sexist. Why am I not allowed in there, and why can’t I do the “fall” in front of the temple? However, in my own religion, Catholicism, women are not allowed to be priests, cardinals, or the pope. And, this is something that I don’t really lose any sleep over. “Why would I want to be a priest anyways?” I tell myself. Maybe it’s because I really have no interest in it, or because I have been Catholic all my life, that I fully accept and fully don’t care that women can’t be priests. So why should I judge the customs of any other culture, especially so far as to disrespectfully joke that I’ll just dress up as a man and walk in to a mosque?
Many women here cover their hair, or faces. In the US, many of us wear make up, change up our hair, get spray tans, and also judge those who cover up for religious reasons. But in both cultures we alter or hide our appearances. I urge you to consider the differences and similarities between these.
I get frustrated when our Uber drivers are pulled over and forced to pay a bribe for no reason. This seems like a major flaw in the governing system. But what about the American issue of police violence – the occasional escalation of small violations?
India’s caste system is still strong. In many parts of India your caste still determines your occupation, and if not, it is at least a strong indicator of your socioeconomic status. Intercaste marriages are still uncommon. This all seems ridiculous. But in the US, race and class are strong determinants of how much you will make in the future. And social mobility is only declining (1). From my experience, interracial and interclass marriages are also sometimes or even often, less desirable.
There are many things that do not make sense to us, as Americans visiting India. It has been awesome to see a place with fresh eyes, and be critical of everything. At the same time, it has been important to be humble and acknowledge that our own country and culture have plenty of issues as well. Through my thoughts, I have realized that hypocrisy is human nature. I’ve decided that we should not beat ourselves up over that, but it is certainly worth being aware of.