Wednesday, June 22, 2005

the rising

my spirit wanes when i watch children beg for money...india: the sleeping giant that rolls over and crushes the less fortunate. progress: a man on fire that burns anything standing in its path while it rushes madly for water. in the mad dash to modernize, westernize, and super-size india conveniently forgets its problems; like an alcoholic drunk on a heady brew of technology and growing wealth. like all alcoholics though it wakes to face the mirror and finds the lines under the eyes a little deeper , the same problems that lurk under the skin spreading like cancer.
to say that india has changed is an understatement. every industry in india grows at rates equalled only by china, and because of its status as a democracy (albeit one as corrupt as richard nixon) it also carries the strength and support of the u.s. that the chinese lack. more cars, more malls, more high rises are merely cosmetic differences though. as we sat in our air conditioned car, on our way back to my aunt's lush home, a young boy, clothes ragged and face weary from absorbing the blast of heat and suffocating pollution of india's streets all day, hobbled up on two crutches and one leg, knocked on the window, and extended a bone thin hand. my mother,luckily, saved her leftovers from dinner and gave both containers to the boy along with 10 rupees. his first proper meal in god knows how long happens to be scraps from somebody else's plate.
sadly, most of india's poor are children. poverty here varies vastly from poverty in the u.s. when in big cities; chicago, new york, even indianapolis, many of us confront a few beggars here and there, mostly aged men and women, or rambling alcoholics and drug addicts. here they number in the thousands, their faces are young, their bodies are small and they live on the streets. life here offers no options, as the closest thing to upward mobility is an elevator in a nearby glass-plated high rise. a quality education is a right reserved for the wealthy and india still toils in a nameless caste system that they claim to have discarded decades ago. if you are a servant's son, in all likelihood you end up a servant as well. there are no rags to riches stories here, no dickensian fables of a poor boy done good. i cannot help but keep my eyes open to the horror of the truth.
i am struck by the duality of india. the beauty of its untouched regions, of its outer layer is unmatched. the himalayas majestically providing a barrier between two growing superpowers, ancient temples and forts a testimony to its inherent spirituality and its glorious past. but when you get to the city centers, the heart of this country, you find underneath the facade of gloriously modern buildings and spiraling highways, a country allowing itself to rot from within. there are thousands of indians overseas that have made a profound mark on their adopted countries (my parent's included) but they return to their ancestrial homes as outsiders, aping concern for the state of their mother land but doing nothing about it. the wealthy within india's own borders(and there are quite a few) are content as long as their coffers continue to grow, walling themselves inside modern housing developments, complete with their own supermarkets, health clubs, golf courses, and gas stations, so that they're only foced to face the truth on their way to work and back. india cannot survive if its foundation, the people without, continue to suffer. desperation is a mighty force, and progress cannot build a wall strong enough to contain it.

8 Comments:

Blogger Riggsy23 said...

Despite the obvious tragedies you have confronted and witnessed personally, I cannot help but think that if India plays its cards right, things could turn out alright. Lets be clear, poverty and hunger will never realistically be completely wiped out…hopefully you can eliminate the kids, but you’ll always have the “aged men and women, or rambling alcoholics and drug addicts.” But everything that you have described in your post clearly paints the picture in my mind of late Gilded Age America. Lets look at the parallels:
1. The few elite rich, the majority at the poverty level...certainly no middle class to speak of (not until the late 1940's in the US)
2. A highly corrupt government dealing within their own rules: clearly representative of the back room deals that elected our congressman, senators and yes even presidents back in the late 19th century.
3. Certainly technology was on the rise here as in America – this period was the Industrial Revolution. This propelled us to the age that we live in today, and probably seemed to create an atmosphere of America being very advanced and ahead of it’s time - yet listen to the horrors that surrounded it (pointed out very obviously in "The Jungle".)
3. America at 1900 was nothing more than exactly what you described as the "duality of india. the beauty of its untouched regions, of its outer layer is unmatched." Our majestic rocky mountains, and beautiful great plains were there…yet laying in the murky underbelly of downtown Chicago, or New York were conditions far worse than anything we can imagine our poor going through today.
Conclusion: tell the whiny bitches to buck up, elect a Harry Truman, and propel your country to the greatness it's on the verge of. I don’t have time to read sappy blog posts about it.

2:52 PM  
Blogger xXxGooDxCharlotteXxX said...

you know the words shibby and ness and Benji and good charlotte ushually can cheer up a random person i dont know espeacilly the word dookie

4:19 PM  
Blogger Red Egg said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

4:35 PM  
Blogger MagicWilliams said...

Gary--did you say "eliminate the kids?"

12:26 PM  
Blogger Riggsy23 said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

1:21 PM  
Blogger Riggsy23 said...

clearly it is my agenda to 'eliminate the kids'

1:23 PM  
Blogger Mackenzie said...

I hear what you are saying, dear Krishna. When I was in Rome I had a few gypsy kids come up to me and try to steal my wallet. I ended up throwing my wonderful gelato on them and running away (I was 14 at the time). But, I still feel the internal struggle with looking at your life and how much we take for granted and how much we have, when we look at these beggar-children, that aren't that much younger than we are, but still it's hard.

Me being the overly-selfish and shallow person that I am now am comfortable turning my head and pretending that I don't see. So, maybe the US is what needs the fixing. Maybe we should have learned more compassion. Maybe we should have set a better example of how to deal with such situations, but when we have nothing but a buffoon and Satan presiding in office, one must consider that it can't be completely our own fault. Our society says it's ok to not care.

I guess what I am trying to put out here, is that I think you see India falling apart because of what we have and have always had. I don't see it falling apart. I see it fighting to survive.

7:56 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Good Charlotte? What?

For those anti-gov't and nay sayers: Look at what we have here people....You wouldn't have the choice to hate our US gov't if we were in such an extreme socially stratificated mess. Take the anti and move to a place where the only choice is to resent the gov't...you'll fit right in.

Anyhose....who are you crazy intellectual something to actually say people?

11:54 AM  

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