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Published: November 15th 2010
I think the most overwhelming thing about India is the sheer numbers of people who live here. We are staying at Ranjit's mom's place which is very comfortable. She employs a driver and a cook and a cleaning lady and has a small beauty parlor in the back. It is a beautiful home. We visited Ranjit's relatives in Bombay and like San Francisco, space is hard to come by and is expensive. Small flats are very pricey and space is very limited.
People are everywhere, living in all sorts of huts, tarped dwellings and brick shacks. As you drive from Bombay to Pune, there are people everywhere! When we drive the coast for instance, you can go miles without seeing a single soul. In India, you find people walking the roads, hanging out at toll plazas and the only place where you feel alone is in your bedroom at night and in this country, having a bedroom to myself is a luxury.
When you fly into Bombay for instance, you can see home upon home piled on top of eachother, right next to the airport and meaning...right up against the fence of the airport. Slumdog millionaire paints a pretty accurate picture of life on the streets here. Almost everytime you hit a traffic light, someone is either begging for money or trying to sell you something. Women with babies, men without arms and small children will knock on your window and put their face up to it asking for money. Homelessness in the U.S. and homelessness in India don't even compare.
With that said, people here, even poor people seem to have a bond like no other. You will see lots of people on the streets, eating at local vendors, working side by side in marble stores and packed sometimes 8-10 in a small rickshaw or 3-4 on a motorcycle. People here seem to me to have a sense of dignity no matter where they fall in the pecking order. I don't really know how to explain what I mean but there is a common sense of struggle and community and religion that keeps people hopeful and bonded.
We take so much for granted in the U.S. and are always expecting more. We have sooo many luxuries....like clean water and air, space to breathe even in a crowded city and help when things may get rough in life. I see why everyone I've met is so hungry to talk about the U.S. with me and sooo many want to come to live. I have a new appreciation for all the gifts I have...my family, my kids, access to awesome doctors and facilities, working in a beautiful beautiful city and my friends all mean so much more.
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