Mahesvari Autar in Rome
The National monument Vittorio Emanuele II

This month I experienced Rome like Audrey Hepburn did in the film Vacanze Romane. I must admit I roamed around the ancient city by foot in stead of a stylish Vespa. Nevertheless, it was a memorable journey. I’ve done pretty much every touristy thing possible. Eating Italian cuisine in front of the Colosseum, shopping designer wear in a luxury mall and visiting monumental sights. But those weren’t the highlights that made me realize how exciting my life is.

Rome highlights

It was a visit to Vatican City, in particular the Sistine Chapel and attending the Open Air Opera Il Trovatore (1853) at Circus Maximus that gave me best memories and made me realize that I’m fortunate.

Mahesvari Autar at the Open Air Opera
Open Air Opera Circus Maximus

While the Opera story, relating to the tragic exchange between people, was being performed and Verdi’s music intensified every relatable emotion, my mind made a connection of feeling blessed. Being in a position where my heart can be soaked with the Finest Art made in the history of mankind is the highest possible reward that can be given to a great-granddaughter of a Kantráki (indentured laborer) from Suriname.

Material lineage

Every day of my life is build on the sacrifices of my ancestors of my maternal lineage. The mother of my grandmother didn’t have the opportunity to travel the world, I even wonder if she had seen more than her own village. As a young girl my grandmother only had the opportunity to attend elementary school. My mom worked around the clock to ensure her children had a stable and successful future in Holland.

Build on sacrifices

So when you read this blog about my holiday adventure or any other post about my entrepreneurial projects or achievements on social media, know that I’m the outcome of their sacrifices and that I’m standing on the shoulders of three strong women. They are the foundation of my education system. Every tiny success that I gain is build on the bricks of their relentless hard work and support. Their persistence opened doors for me, giving me the freedom to make my own decisions. Every window of opportunity that crosses my path is carefully carved by them in the past 148 years.

Hindorama tribute

My only way to pay these Goddesses back is by giving back to society. A couple of months ago I read that publisher Sampreshan-Hindorama is working on a special tribute brochure about female contract workers in Suriname and I decided to support this cause.

Hindoestaanse contractarbeidsters in woord en beeld

These contract workers from India came to Suriname with a five-year contract to work on the plantations. Female workers who arrived between 1873 and 1916 had three types of burdens: they worked outside the house, had to take care of their partner and raise children while managing their households. It’s because of these women that our Hindustani population flourished. They nurtured our Indian culture and gave our community economical prosperity.

As a tribute to them, Hindorama has published a 50-page brochure, with historic photographs. The brochure is compiled by Professor Chan Choenni. Copies of this brochure will be sold for 5 euro’s and can be ordered on the website of Hindorama.com.

Vendicami

With the loud sound of cheerful clapping my thoughts evaporated. I’m back in Rome! Enjoying a dramatic ending of Il Trovatore, a play by Guiseppe Verdi. In the final act Verdi sums up the plot. A lover losing her beloved, a brother unknowingly killing his own brother and a mother dedicating 20 years of her life to avenge the murder of her gypsy mother. Vendicami….

You see….It is up to us how we break the shackles of our past. They can be used as stones to throw at others or be turned into a string of pearls that adorn our necks.

With Love,
Mahesvari

A special note to our dear Deputy Prime Minister of the Netherlands and Minister of Health Hugo de Jonge: you cannot reduce real life Arts&Culture to a DVD recording. No matter how many DVD’s you’ll recommend of open air Opera’s filmed with the best 4K camera’s or drone shots it will never replace real life experiences. Without Arts&Culture our society will be meaningless. It’s my trip to Rome that inspired me to write this blog linking an opera written and composed in 1853 with 148 years of Sarnami-Hindustani migration.

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