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Published: October 14th 2017
It’s my 3rd
time in India and each time I feel privileged to be able to be part of the culture and daily life but when people in my office ask me how I feel about their city, I don’t always know what to say. For a westerner it’s an absolute culture shock and the emotional toll it takes on me, witnessing some of the sights is real.
Last night for example, I was sitting in the boardroom of our office and noticed, that for a few nights now I kept hearing this dog bark. This in itself isn’t rare, as the amount of street dogs in this city is out of control but suddenly, the barking stopped and was replaced with a few very loud wolf howl like sound, followed by absolute silence. I am sure I don’t have to explain to you what that means. The number of dogs that get killed by locals, simply because they feel they are a nuisance is out of control and it’s not uncommon to see dead dogs alongside the road, sick dogs walking through traffic or entire litters trying to survive in some sparsely found green space.
The other big emotional problem I am encountering is poverty and to be more precise, poverty in combination with children. India is poor, many people live on $2/$3 a day. Seeing toddlers roaming the streets naked at 2am in the morning without any parent or adult nearby or children carrying babies, begging for food or money makes you feel numb. I’m fully aware why this gets to me so much. I see my own child in all those kids. 4 years ago, when I wasn’t a dad yet, I witnessed the same things but it didn’t get to me like it does this time.
All in all, I feel “lucky” that I can witness life in India. It makes me realize how lucky we are in Canada, it makes me want to explain to my son how fortunate he is. Of course, he is too young to understand what reality is on this side of the world but one day, when he gets it, I hope he will use this knowledge to his advantage.
As I mentioned before, this is my 3rd
time here and I have been fortunate enough to have done some amazing things. In my next blog I will share some of these funny, emotional and dangerous stories.
Did I tell you I am writing this blog in the back of a car, driving to my next stop? Yes… I am on the road to Pune, a smaller city about 3 or 4 hours outside of Mumbai. It’s a bit of a crazy drive, roads are winding around hills and mountains and cars pass each other like ants heading for their burrows. Two lane highways become four lane racetracks and at times we even drive straight into oncoming traffic, simply to overtake a slow-moving truck or a motorcycle carrying a family of 5.
I open my eyes and am confused where we are. I seem to have dozed off. Traffic isn’t moving. I try to shake off my sleep by opening my eyes wider than ever trying to find the bright daylight through my window. Funny enough I look straight into the eyes of a monkey. He is sitting on a raised piece of concrete, on the side of the highway. His three friends are about a foot away from him. Two of them are watching traffic and moving their arms as if trying to guide and move the trucks and cars along. One of them can’t be bothered, he’s encountering a romance with a banana he just found and isn’t aware of what is going on around him and that’s probably a good thing
Life is hard here, it’s a constant battle against the elements. The rain, bad roads, air pollution, garbage, overcrowded trains, traffic problems and the endless injustice of rich versus poor . Here is to hoping the future has better things in store for all Mumbaikers and Indians in general.
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