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Cirque du Soleil
Eyes wide closed
Radhu is 22 years old. She has just received an embryo transfer. A night watchman sleeps in the background. This is the the first night of 10 before she will know if the transfer was successful.
The daughter of one of surrogates is sleeping on her bed while women discuss a new sari. Some have no choice but to have their children stay with them, and share their bed.
Three pregnant surrogate mothers discuss a soap opera. In the background are piles of books about surrogacy in English and Hindi.
Umravati is 27, and her family are Hindu. She has given birth to three children, but she does not know their actual birth dates. In January 2011, she gave birth to a boy for an American couple - she has no contact with them. That money paid for a new house. Now Umravati is pregnant again and she is planning to save this payment for her daughters weddings. She has hidden the fact that she is a surrogate mother from her neighbors and friends. She feels OK about her decision, but is unhappy to be locked up in a surrogate house.
Apna is 28. She heard about surrogacy from a friend and found the idea unbelievable. When she got more information she decided to give it a try. Her husband is a motor-rickshaw driver but he does not own the vehicle. Through surrogacy, she can make enough money to buy one of their own. Apna told everybody that she has gone away to take care of her old wet nurse. While she is gone, her husband care for their 2 small children - it is very difficult for him.
Many women undergo a cesarean section. Some had never been to a hospital and have never even had an injection. The prospect of surgery can be very disturbing.
All the major religions share the altars: Hinduism, Islam, Buddhism, Catholicism, Jains. Each religious group patiently awaits its turn.
A laboratory technician takes blood samples to see if the once frozen embryo has survived transport and transplant.
Jaya is 29, and she is a Christian. She became a surrogate through a nurse friend. Now she is four month pregnant and the biological parents are Japanese. She has not met them, though she would like to, and is intrigued by the fact that she will give birth to a Japanese child. She has three children of her own who are being cared for by her mother-in law. She has not kept her surrogacy hidden. Her family, friends and neighbors know where she is, and she is even planning to bring some of her friends to Doctor Patel’s clinic. Jaya is fine living in the surrogate house. With a lot of new friends she hasn't time to be bored. She plans to spend the money on a major house renovation and save some for her children’s education.
Jayesh and her husband Paul. Jayesh is second time surrogate mother, pregnant with twins. Jayesh and Paul claim that their motive is not so much money, but the desire to make others happy. They know that they will experience a painful separation from the twins, but they are both prepared and convinced that what they are doing is right and that it will bring them luck.
Cooking is allowed only in the common kitchen. In the evening it is closed. Women sometimes sneak a kerosene stove into the dormitory and cook rice masala or tea with milk.
Many are here for a second time. Friendships are formed, and visits from relatives are an important social event.
Mutmaz is 35, married and has two children from her first marriage. Their father died. Her new husband does not want any more children. They hope that her surrogacy will mean that they can buy a house, even put a little aside for the future.
As in any crowded there are unwritten laws. Order is established by seniority and experience. So the inmates of second floor spend most of their time on balconies, rarely in the courtyard, which is claimed by the residents of the first floor. Women who stay more than half the term have more authority than newcomers.