It is my opinion that, should India’s unfaltering stimulation persist unabated against the ill prepared mind, a person in this situation might very well decide the best course of action is to tie their sleeves behind their backs and head straight for the nuthouse. Because this is both unfashionable and awkward to blog about, people instead either flee the county or learn to adapt. This adaptation is a collaboration of the mind & body to raise its defenses and numb the experiences. This iss an invisible process of the unconscious to receive stimuli, store it, and ready for whatever comes next. Processing is only allowed when the world quiets down. It’s only when a new visitor visits and outwardly reacts to the visiting do I notice the “adapting” that my head has been working out.
Tiff (my sister) and Mike (her fella’/friend/my friend) arrived in Mumbai on the 29th of December just in time for New Years.
(see, they brought be loads of chocolate)
(A shout-out to my Pa for that as well)
There are the little things for the traveler to notice: like being on an international flight out of Germany and having the kitchen run out of vegetarian meals (India is home to approx. 70% of the world’s vegetarians…I find it unlikely that the Germans where wrestling for the last green salad). Once in the cities one is struck by the trademark smells to relish or recoil from, tastes aimed to target and explode on those few elemental divisions of the tongue, customs and driving habits to gawk at or narrowly avoid, sights and sounds to desperately capture on digital media, and unimaginable/inexcusable living conditions played out side-by-side by the animal and human poor.
Without exception, it is this poor that are most striking: striking in their dirt stained everything and popular abundance, striking in their sundry ailments, ages, and state of decay, and it is the poor of urban
In Mikes written journal, the poverty is the first thing he writes about, “there isn’t a homeless person in the States to compare”. He also mentions my practiced indifference to the people greeting us at the arrival gate with hands outstretched in need. I think of the practiced indifference Americans have for the elderly greetings shoppers at a Wal-Mart (I go into a place like that and these people frighten me! Why are they there? Instead of hearing, “Welcome to Wal-Mart” I hear, “30 years and this could be you, kid!” Boy, how’s that for motivation to work hard in pursuit of the American Dream. Surprised to find such reminders at the threshold of every Wal-Mart Consum-elot in the world? Anyway…) I begin to wonder, as Tiff and Mike are gaining sympathy for the unimaginably poor at the airport, how it is that I, and nearly everyone in this country, can appear so indifferent to the poor, the lepers lying in the streets, parents presenting to passer-bys children with disfigurements or wounds exposed, legless adults rolling about on cart no bigger than a squared skateboard –all in order to collect a few rupees. How can we continue to say “no” to their needs? Or another question: “What benefit will come from handing out the rupees?” I don’t have an answer, but I do have a rotten excuse: my pessimism has lead me into labeling nearly all impoverished beggars as part of a very real larger circle of mafia men owning street corners. These cannibals own the beggars that patrol the sidewalks, and 90% of the money the beggars receive each day. How does one justify handing over money to support such an industry? When you can’t justify it, it suddenly becomes hard to hand anyone a ten rupee note knowing nine of those rupees will go to a wealthy pimp and fuel a system that enslaves men, woman, and an overwhelming number of very young children to work the dangerous and polluted streets for as long as they may survive. These people are in need but each step is led by denial and we can move along the sidewalks despite the bodies.
Oiy, am I sounding bleak? Have I started this entry by painting Indian cities as unpleasant? If I have, know this: India is one of the most beautiful and diverse places in the world; wealthy in both resources and history the people who live here are likely among the happiest and spiritually healthiest in the world; the sprawling urban slums are inhabited by content people who take care of one another despite the overwhelming obstacles they face as individuals each day. With the exceptions of the lone lepers or decrepitly overaged, the ones holding out their hands for a rupee are smiling and joking with themselves and their customers. The misery some wear on their faces is sometimes genuine but usually revealed as a ploy when they retreat to giggling hysteria back amongst friends.
Oiy again, that doesn’t sound so bad. But let’s not forget the 1 ½ - 2 million child prostitutes enslaved in the county. They’re not smiling. But we’re all well aware of such atrocities and they certainly aren’t specific to
Gosh, where was I? Right! Telling of some of those quirky phenomena
As the morning matures Tiff and Mike begin to notice the smells. The smells that
As I understand it, it’s Tiff’s policy to celebrate the start of each new year somewhere not
Where I lived we were riding the finest ride in the town: the this-is-what-it’s-like-to-make-up-the-entirety-of-a-minority-within-a-population-of-over-one-million ride and so we shopped in the New Year with silks, trinkets, and food. The feasting sprees are often things of legend around here and we pulled no punches in eating everything in sight.
Oh yeah, I forgot about this pre-2006 stuff: A three-hour local-train ride and a hired rickshaw for the afternoon took us to the