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America for Beginners


A poignant debut that explores unlikely friendships forged in unusual ...
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Many people in Pival's orbit are shocked by her decision to travel alone. What is so alarming to them? Are solo women travelers viewed with the same concern elsewhere?

Created: 07/26/19

Replies: 10

Posted Jul. 26, 2019 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
davinamw

Join Date: 10/15/10

Posts: 2754

Many people in Pival's orbit are shocked by her decision to travel alone. What is so alarming to them? Are solo women travelers viewed with the same concern in other cultures?

"Mrs. Sengupta was traveling scandalously alone, without a husband or a gaggle of women her own age…"

Many people in Pival's orbit are shocked by her decision to go to the US by herself. What about a woman—especially an older woman—traveling alone is so alarming to them? Is it really about safety—as Pival's maid insists—or about propriety? Are solo women travelers viewed with the same concern in other cultures?


Posted Jul. 29, 2019 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
JLPen77

Join Date: 02/05/16

Posts: 304

Re: Fear of Pival traveling alone

Certainly not in our culture, at least not quite to the same degree, and I suspect not in many other cultures. Pival’s own family seemed more progressive than the one she married into, and I had the impression that their wealth and more strict religious practice made them view women as belonging at home, which Ram took to an extreme in his effort to control Pival. From other books I have read, women of Asian and Middle Eastern families who have education and means aren’t necessarily cloistered, though this may depend on the family. I would like to hear more about this from others who may have more information than I do.

I think part of the fear is for women’s safety, but part is fear that women will be exposed to other ways of thinking about their place in the world: fear of women’s independence, especially on cultures/nations where women aren’t allowed to drive.


Posted Jul. 30, 2019 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
ritah

Join Date: 05/26/11

Posts: 62

RE: Many people in Pival's orbit are shocked by her decision to travel alone. What is so alarming to them? Are solo women travelers viewed with the same concern in other cultures?

Pival was in a very controlling family by marriage. Those who were shocked were the family members and the servants; she had been so isolated from others that their opinions really did not matter. I think what was shocking to them was that she was breaking out from their control and making her own decisions.
Solo women travelers are not terribly uncommon today but I have found that people who don't travel much themselves find it a very daring thing to do. I am an older woman who has done this; younger women have expressed amazement and, yes, admiration that I would venture to do so.


Posted Jul. 31, 2019 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
dianeh

Join Date: 08/01/16

Posts: 70

RE: Many people in Pival's orbit are shocked by her decision to travel alone. What is so alarming to them? Are solo women travelers viewed with the same concern in other cultures?

In Kolkata it was not the acceptable thing for a woman to travel alone. Pival was controlled by her husband and by the expectations of her society at the time.
In North America is is quite common for a woman to travel alone. This is very evident on cruises and organized tours. I suppose a woman alone would feel somewhat vulnerable and would feel that there is safety in numbers.
Having said that, I'm not sure that I would do it without some trepidation


Posted Jul. 31, 2019 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
reene

Join Date: 02/18/15

Posts: 406

RE: Many people in Pival's orbit are shocked by her decision to travel alone. What is so alarming to them? Are solo women travelers viewed with the same concern in other cultures?

Pival had been so isolated and kept out of touch by her abusive husband. Even she doubted her ability to take this trip alone. It was out of love for her son that she braved moving beyond all advice and fear. In her society, it was the norm for a woman to stay at home, especially a widow. (out of respect for her deceased husband.) In our society it is common to see women traveling on their own, particularly on tours or cruises where they feel safe.


Posted Jul. 31, 2019 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
tcheer4life

Join Date: 07/31/19

Posts: 4

RE: Many people in Pival's orbit are shocked by her decision to travel alone. What is so alarming to them? Are solo women travelers viewed with the same concern in other cultures?

I have friends, born in the USA, who marvel at me traveling alone so often. I did not get married until I was 37 and I would not have gone anyplace if I didn't get in my car and drive to Chicago, NYC, or DC. Recently I realized a gf from HS thought it was a big deal to drive to Detroit Metro (about 1 hour) all by herself. Another gf who I wish would go on book signings and events with me tells me she admires me and the will just live through me vicariously.
I understand other cultures might not be so open. I guess I take after Rebecca.


Posted Jul. 31, 2019 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
garyr

Join Date: 10/23/12

Posts: 31

RE: Many people in Pival's orbit are shocked by her decision to travel alone. What is so alarming to them?

It’s just not proper in the culture she comes from to be so independent, rather scandalous


Posted Aug. 01, 2019 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
acstrine

Join Date: 02/06/17

Posts: 327

RE: Many people in Pival's orbit are shocked by her decision to travel alone. What is so alarming to them? Are solo women travelers viewed with the same concern elsewhere?

By traveling alone, Pavil stepped outside of the cultural norms regarding the behavior of women. She married into a controlling family, where women accepted their roles as entertainers (in the home) and the big outing was daily tea WITH female family members, NOT friends or other men.

In my opinion, this is an effect of cultural patriarchy. The system is man-centered, men (strong) and women (weak) are seen as opposites-not equals, and an animosity based on competition and rivalry is fostered between women. A woman is restricted to certain places (home, kitchen, laundry room, market, and her children's school. Another aspect of this system is sexism, the thought and behavior related to the belief that one sex is superior to another.

So how would a woman, who is weak and incapable, who has never managed anything more complicated than a Parent-Teacher Conference, be expected to negotiate airlines, hotels, and restaurants, herself???? How would she defend herself from predators or women (like Rebecca) with different ideas?

I like to travel while my husband does not, so I often go places alone. i have never been questioned, warned, or exalted for this.


Posted Aug. 01, 2019 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
AmberH

Join Date: 05/09/18

Posts: 62

RE: Many people in Pival's orbit are shocked by her decision to travel alone. What is so alarming to them? Are solo women travelers viewed with the same concern elsewhere?

I have traveled solo a few times in Sicily and mainland Italy. I met many people who were very kind, yet also concerned about me traveling by myself. I think it was all well intended. I never felt a unsafe for a moment though. I'm thinking this is more what a culture is used to.


Posted Aug. 02, 2019 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
Tired Bookreader

Join Date: 08/19/11

Posts: 172

RE: Many people in Pival's orbit are shocked by her decision to travel alone. What is so alarming to them? Are solo women travelers viewed with the same concern elsewhere?

In the world as it is, anyone traveling alone is not safe. Women are especially vulnerable, and especially in the US. This is NOT a safe country.


Posted Aug. 05, 2019 Go to Top | Go to bottom | link | alert
beckyh

Join Date: 05/08/11

Posts: 98

RE: Many people in Pival's orbit are shocked by her decision to travel alone. What is so alarming to them? Are solo women travelers viewed with the same concern elsewhere?

When my daughter ( a single adult) lived in Kazakhstan, a patriarchal society, many of the people she met expressed shock that "her father allowed her to live alone and travel to Kazakhstan". It was inconceivable that she would not live in her father's house until she married. That is just the way the culture assumed life should be lived. She was accepted because she was "the odd American". Interestingly, she was never allowed to walk anywhere by herself if a male was about. One of them always "had an errand" that would provide her with an escort. No one ever said they were providing her with a culturally acceptable escort, they simply took care of her in their own way. No one ever said she wasn't safe (she always felt quite safe) or that she shouldn't walk alone -- they simply "took care of her." Americans might see that as demeaning or constricting, Kazakhs saw it as normal.


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