Magencia, or Nana Maggi, as we fondly call her, hangs her vakul on a tree. “The new generations don’t use vakuls anymore.” They don’t want to. she tells us. “Because how are they going to use it in the office?” She chuckles.

She doesn’t need to use a vakul anymore. She used to wear one when she worked in the fields. She gazes off in the distance and tells me, “I miss my house of stone and straw. That was my home. I miss it.” She lives in the same place. She misses home.

We still live in a world in which a significant fraction of people, including women, believe that a woman belongs and wants to belong exclusively in the home; that a woman should not aspire to achieve more than her male counterparts and particularly not more than her husband. Even now women with exceptional qualities for leadership sense from their parents, teachers and peers that they must be harder-working, accomplish more and yet are less likely to receive appropriate rewards than are men. These are real problems which may never disappear or, at best, will change very slowly.

We cannot expect in the immediate future that all women who seek it will achieve full equality of opportunity. But if women are to start moving towards that goal, we must believe in ourselves or no one else will believe in us; we must match our aspirations with the competence, courage and determination to succeed; and we must feel a personal responsibility to ease the path for those who come afterwards. The world cannot afford the loss of the talents of half its people if we are to solve the many problems which beset us.
Rosalyn Yalow, 1977 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine Winner

I was watching "55 Days in Peking" again when this dialogue struck me...

  • Empress Tzu Hsi: China is a prostrate cow, the powers are no longer content to milk her, now they are butchering her for her meat.
  • Sir Arthur Robertson: If China is a cow, your Majesty, she is indeed a marvelous animal. She does not only give meat as well as milk, but at the same time grows stronger. She's learning new arts of peace from the West. But China's greatest virtue is her patience. And if she will exercise that now, she will achieve everything.
  • Empress Tzu Hzi: And if not?
  • Sir Arthur Robertson: If not, if the counsels of violence and impatience prevail, then the blood of millions will be shed, and the agony will be prolonged.
  • I wonder if China's leaders remember the lessons of history as they pursue their policies in the South China Sea. I hope though that their leadership would not inspire and support a new group of "boxers."