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GB Real-Life Dashabhuja – NELINE MONDAL

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Combined with circumstances like conditions at birth, how one is brought up, physical attributes, born talents, one’s life is much what one makes it as directed what is perceived as intelligence. I have always been strongly guided by a sense of mission and the intuitive form of intelligence much more than the need for Western comforts.

There was thus no hesitation whatever, when in the course of a scientific mission (AIDS) in India with UNESCO – CCIVS in connection with the Bharat Sevak Samaaj, my husband proposed to me in 1988, despite the strong orthodoxy of an old noble household to which he belonged. My absolute ignorance in any field of Bengali household plus the language factor created public doubts that I would ever be able to adapt to this new life in Bengal.

A multilingual ancestry combining apparent paradoxes of rigorous rules and values with social pioneering has helped much in this regard. Being an artist my mind remains free to travel under any restrictive conditions to the point of superseding the actual travels. I haven’t gone to Europe 24 years at a stretch. In 1989, my first summer in India, the full system of marriage ceremonies was held including creation of a simple ‘parental home’,  in presence of  family from my side too despite the very recent death of my mother, with their full agreement and outstanding achievement of my ‘jethu’ who was suddenly requested to come from Canada to assist my bereaved father under completely local circumstances.

Mental adaptation is a matter of choice and adaptation to the new food and climate took much longer to achieve, during which the pressure put upon me for getting pregnant, matched my own thoughts. So my second Indian warm season saw me pregnant with a really big baby.

Maybe it is an old tradition against infections rampant in tropical climate, in the first 2 months after childbirth I was locked in the bedroom with the baby, which my husband before marriage had said to be  ‘very small and broken.’ Having not seen the second floor until after marriage, I knew not he joked. 

Raising a child here is in a way very different from Europe but in the universal way of nature bonding very much same, it is all a matter of the way one looks at it and gets involved. I chose in every field to see the likenesses during my life here and have never regretted the choices made, neither did some very particular circumstances from the beginning of married life create doubts upon it.

Another point are the restrictions which were prevalent on being out of house not matching what was presented before marriage. Well, my child was tiny anyways so I had no problems with stopping what I had been doing (mission and personal aspirations). Patience is the key and it was taken as a good opportunity to have much time on hand for the child. Automatically with the raising of a child, a mother finds herself on out duties (school & such) and thus its’ acceptance increases.

This is the motherly view on it, not necessarily matching the mother - centered offspring’s view. Having had his full care under own hand permitted with the use of a hand doll who took part in everything and “understands only French” had the additional benefit of his learning thoroughly the “matribhasa” and Bengali was his ‘Pitribhasa.” There was no need for moral upbringing. He was born with all the needed values. I was very much focused on his nutrition and physical development, much to the town’s friendly amusement at seeing the mother – child duo on cycle carrying tons of equipment. Guests on the route would be told to stand ready for the sight. 

I keep silence on another more spiritual angle which helps me much in handling the vagaries of life and which ties one more bond between India and me, as this is not everyone’s cup of tea. Let us say that I view failure or still pending some of my projects in India as not important compared to keep trying to influence circumstances in a positive way for everyone. And it just not matters what “religious category” one belongs to. Language was learnt fast with the help of my husband. With the gradual learning of how a Bengali society functions and it’s ways of communication and work, and patient husband – aided introduction into being accepted into society of the suburban town which was much better than now preserved in its’ ancestral ways, I resumed professional action. 

Under conditions of 2 hours of public transport to nearest modern Science Research Center in Kolkata, field of research maintaining irregular hours clashing with family duties,and the need for assistance to the excellent architect cum civil engineer Balbeer Singh for the restoration by INTACH of the Institut de Chandernagor as he underwent exactly the same newcomer’s hurdles, which I had been trained to handle. And yes now I feel indeed

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