When I look into their homes through open doors and windows as the train passes along, I come to wonder about their lives. What do we have that they don’t have? …they have gods by the lacks (that’s 10,000 to us!), they have food, they have water, they have family, they have community, they have a place, no matter how small and précaire where they can put their head down at night and sleep. What do we have that they don’t have? Liberty? …to do what? Dignity? … When I think of the kids in “Slumdog Millionaire” or the ones in the documentary we saw at Daly College once, they were doing the filthiest jobs, by our western standards, but with such grace and joie de vivre, this is dignity! They are doing what they know best in order to survive.
When I look into their homes through open doors and windows as the train pass along, I come to wonder about their lives. What do we have that they don’t have? …Liberty to dream and succeed in moving out of the zone where we were born. Whether we want to or not, the possibility is there. We can formulate the dream. Some succeed some don’t. But the dream can exist. Here, this belief that where you were born is where you must stay is suffocating, to me as a foreigner. What is life without dreams, hopes for knowledge, a better tomorrow for ourselves and our children?
When I look into their homes through open doors and windows as the train pass along, I remember a quote from Nehru that I saw at an exhibit at the Nehru Science Center in Mumbai: “India with all her infinite charm and variety began to grow upon me more and more, and yet the more I saw of her the more I realized how very difficult it was for me and for anyone else to grasp the ideas she has embodied.” I could spend a lifetime in India, I don’t think I would ever fully understand it. I feel frustrated with this idea of "place". My favorite quote of course you all know is Gandhi's words: "Be the Change you want to see in the world." In a small way, I tried to tell everyone I met here if only in the small gesture of saluting them on campus for example that I believe their "place" didn't matter to me. I valued their presence and felt them worth the acknowledgement. I am in awe of the diversity here. My time here has helped me come to term with some of my ideas. I have more questions about my life now (I needed that, right?!). Some I have answered, some are still out there. I know I am more accepting of myself now. I am less afraid of finding myself in new surroundings. I am much less judgmental of other people's ways of responding to life. I try my best to accept that each and everyone of us have different experiences that makes us tick differently.
India, I may not understand you, but I've reveled in your diversity.