03 September 2010

Cushioned

India is truly a land of diversity.

"A diversity of things is a range of things that are very different from each other."

I went to the mall yesterday. One of those big fancy ones that have cropped up all over Delhi. One of those big fancy ones where you can't figure out where you need to enter. Or exit. Or find anything. Where the people avoid each others' eyes and dress in branded clothes. Where they buy branded clothes.

Where a majority of our population cannot step in because they don't fit. Because they can't even afford a cup of coffee there.

I really miss the expanse of wasteland the used to stretch to the right of the Nelson Mandela road. When we used to drive, I used to look out at the lights on the other end. They seemed so far away, and yet it took merely ten minutes to get to them.

Now there are three bright malls to the right of the road which hurt my eyes with their gargantuan ad pictures and dazzling fountains. And beside them is a long line of workers' tents. They only entered the mall to build it. For people like us.

How is that fair?

Every day is a new discovery. Yesterday, someone told me it was his birthday. Janmashtmi. He was born on Janmashtmi, but he doesn't know the date on which he was born. This was a new concept for me. I couldn't comprehend a world where let alone celebrate your birthday, you don't even know when it is. He said that no one in his family, or the people he knows, know when their birthdays are. Humare yahaan koi maanta hi nahi hai. He's noted down the dates on which his children were born, though.

Next year, I hope he celebrates them. Although, maybe it isn't such a big deal. Life should be celebrated, but why only on one day in a year? Maybe it's nicer not to know. More spontaneity, lesser expectations. No excuse or occasion to celebrate, just a reason.

Two weeks ago, I, being hopelessly unaware of what goes on in the world, volunteered at the National Peoples' Tribunal for Kandhamal. I read about what had happened there, what continues to happen. The loss, the injustice, the fear.

It's funny how cushioned we are. By our class, by our life. It's so easy to keep living like this without even knowing what some people have to face or live through, let alone care.

An installation at the exhibition

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