Tuesday, 5 June 2012

The children

We were taking a walk the other day on our way back to our hotel.  We changed hotels again.  Now we're in Bandra West, which is a part of the city a little north of South Mumbai.  It is connected by the "sea-link", a connector built over the ocean, kind of like a bridge, but it really serves just to avoid the traffic in the city.  It costs a lot.  About $1 each way, so the traffic is light.  We like it here a lot.  There is a lot more green and the area feels a little more contemporary than where we were staying.  Malabar Hill felt very "old money" traditional, where Bandra feels commercial, modern and like I'm in LA.  At least for a minute.  There is still the filth and the India-ness of it all, but there are a few restaurants and bars which could be in LA.

Anyway, we heard some music and a microphone, kind of reminiscent of Karaoke.  We peeked behind the bushes and saw a child's birthday party happening in the yard of her apartment building.  The kids were holding hands in a circle, playing a game to the music.  There was a DJ.  There were the mandatory "birthday goodie bags" with Angry Birds logos on them.  Wow, culture clash.  This could be San Francisco.

But then, we turn the corner and there is a little boy, maybe three, filthy, wearing torn clothes and no shoes.  He is begging for some money.   There are two girls, about 4 and 6 cleaning the floor of their house with big openings where there might be windows and doors.  They are squatting on the ground sweeping and scrubbing.  They are really little to be cleaning the house.  Stella clears the table and likes to help clean, but I think it's just because she likes to spray the soap.  Later that night, on the busiest corner I've ever been on in my life (including Times Square), I see a little girl laying on the ground sleeping next to her mother.  She is young, sleeping on the filthy pavement, as thousands of people pass her by.  They're all just kids, some luckier than others.   I feel powerless. 

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