Monday, July 09, 2007

Torn

I'm riding on my scooter. I'm dodging traffic. I'm taking the short-cuts -- the by lanes and the side lanes. Why do I feel like I'm invading somebody else's space? It is a thoroughfare after all. Why does it feel like I am riding through people's homes? Is it because some people have to bring part of their homes to the road as they cannot contain it within the walls of their actual home?

A small two-room house. One kitchen. One bed-room-cum-living-room-cum-miscellaneous-room. One family. Five members to the family. The toilet may be in the house or the family may need to share it with the rest of the community. Water collected from the tank near the house.

I ride throught the small roads and slums to arrive in a nice neighbourhood. I go in and shut the door... To the road... To the world...


One small, cozy little apartment. Four rooms. Two bathrooms with loo attached. Running water. Two people living in it. The bedroom the size of the house described above.


I love the comfort. I like the space. I work with people who live with their family of five in a house as big as my bedroom. The disparity bothers me. I'm feeling torn.


p.s. - I have gotten past the guilt stage (I hope). I am really ok. I simply wanted to highlight the disparity that i see - not just between the worlds out there, but even between my own and the one that I interact with.


p.p.s. - Pictures have been added as suggested by Ryan and Chronicwriter

12 comments:

Ryan said...

Bungi, this is a time where a couple photo's would help your story.

Even here in America with the 10 room or more houses people spill over out of their houses. Though rarely do they use the street except to park a car, boat, camper, let kids play, or shoot off fireworks.

chronicwriter said...

welcome to india.A lovely post. A pictorial representation would have really added more colour to this post.
But believe me; you would not have any guilt if you happen to visit any of the african countries.

Bungi said...

I was very skeptical using picutres as i feel a bid dodgy about them. Anyways, i have found a few pictures that are not offensive, i think...

CW - What do you mean 'Welcome to India'? Am i not in India already?!
About not feeling guilty if i were to visit an African country - I don't think it is really about the country as much as about disparity... And disparity in my personal life at that...

cloverr said...

nice one...i sometimes feel guilty and helpless too...

Anju said...

"I See The Kids In The Street,
With Not Enough To Eat
Who Am I, To Be Blind?
Pretending Not To See
Their Needs" - guess which song? Gitu will know. It's sometimes easier to just look the other way because we don't know what to do. All the beggars target my car and I don't want to give them money and I feel bad. I want to yell at them for giving me guilt when I know money will only make them worse! They don't really take real help. Some of them might sell what we give them and continue to live in the world they know. So what do we do??

Bungi said...

Gitu - I think we should work past the feeling of guilt and work towards achieving a balance - whatever that may mean to you.

Anju - I googled it. :P It is true that sometimes they don't take real help. But do we know what should be real help that we offer them?

Sandy Carlson said...

Your description of your scooter ride could be a description of a journey through parts of Waterbury, Connecticut--though the degree of disparity is not the same as the degree of poverty. It is remarkable to me that such circumstances live side-by-side. It's also remarkable how very little can change the circumstances of the haves to turn them into have-nots. That realization could kick-start some sharing and some movement toward achieving equity. Thanks for a thoughtful post.

Ruksana said...

Yup, I've been there too, in India and out here in Atlanta. It gets you into thought mode, and makes you want to act on it but I'm not sure I or even most others know how to. At least, out here there is organized help in some form that people can turn to. In India, I don't know to what extent that exists.

Beth said...

this is a great post...but don't feel guilty. it will get you nowhere...

when my daughter got back from Kenya, she felt such guilt eating food...and plain old food that we take advantage of in America...cuz the people there lived on maybe a piece of white bread a day.

She stayed in Kiberra and it was very hard for her. But it's not her fault that she lives here in America....we're just blessed beyond belief.

sometimes it's nice to be slapped in the face with reality.

Bungi said...

Sandy - I agree. And i think being sensitive to these kinds of injustice is key to bringing about change.

Ruki - Hm. Well, i wouldn't be able to compare really. But i think things are happening. However, a lot more needs to happen.

Beth - Thanks, Beth. No. I think i have worked past the guilt stage. One of the things we tend to do to avoid guilt is to shut our eyes on poverty or things that make us uncomfortable. I wish to keep my eyes wide open. I think this post is one such post. Where i want to be reminded of the reality. It really must have been tough on Rae, but i am glad she got to see the other side of the story like i did. It keeps you real. It does good for the soul, i think.

Trish said...

I have never been to India before but whenever I hear stories about life there it always makes me wonder about the disparity and how people deal with it. I think the thing is not to be guilty but to appreciate what you DO have and not complain about what you DON'T have.

I also love how the colourful the pots are in the picture. That right there is what I mean. Even if the family lives in poverty and has to collect water from a communal tap they do it with colour.

And, yes please post pictures when you can.

Good post, Bungi.

Bungi said...

Trish - The way most of us deal with the disparity is by desensitizing ourselves to it. I am just trying to resensitize myself so that i don't ignore it.

The resilience of these people will take another post altogether. They indeed make the best of what they have.

Will try to post pictures when i can. And thank you... :)