By Nancy Benson, written as a part of Debby Gaines' Community-Based Writing class.
My knowledge of India was based on popular fiction and historical novels I had read, as well as movies I had seen. Shiraz Tata’s presentation at Womanspace in February gave me an excellent opportunity to experience Shiraz’s India through her eyes.
With digital photos we began our journey at the new and beautiful Mumbai International Airport, and from there to Shiraz’s birthplace, Jamshedpur, a place of beautiful, green landscapes. She described her life as a young girl at the Sacred Heart Convent School, an English school based on the British system. Administered by the Carmel Order of Nuns, Sacred Heart was an excellent girls’ school where Shiraz thrived as a student. Shiraz also spoke fondly of the Girl Guide program in which she participated every Saturday. The girls met to join in different programs and activities, very much like our Girl Scout program in the US.
Shiraz shared photos of her family: her 86 year-old father, who is living in the family home surrounded by treasured memories, and her sister and other family members who eagerly await Shiraz’s visit every summer.
In the discussion that evening we focused on India’s progress. Changes that Shiraz has seen are evident. The middle class is growing, technology and education are advancing, roles of women and dual careers are shifting, transportation and communication have become easier. And yet the values ingrained India’s history as a nation: respect for elders, family, duty and harmony are ever present.
I thoroughly enjoyed Shiraz’s program. I believe the more we, as global citizens, learn about other countries and cultures, the more we understand our world, its differences and similarities I look forward to additional presentations like Shiraz’s at Womanspace.