Sunday, July 14, 2013

The Early Years 2010: The Dark Side

Originally Posted on June 18th, 2010.

Every day my feelings about Bangalore change.  Some days I love it and I want nothing more than to be here.  And then other days, I see things so beyond repulsion I just want to run.  I want to run down the block and find my home, my real home, the off yellow one hidden behind the maple.  Sometimes I have to think I am there to numb myself to what I see.

Today I went walking.  I have had a completely unprogressive day.  One of those days that I feel like I’ve wasted and wish I could change.  So I went walking, hoping to have lunch at my favorite restaurant near home.  No, they are closed.  It’s after 4 pm and the restaurant is closed. There are no regulatory hours here.  People open their shops or bring out their “trollies” to sell their goods when they feel like it.  Or if weather permits.  Nobody wants to keep their shops open if they get drowned in the process.  The restaurant is close, and I am hungry.  I have no energy, and I feel like crawling in hole to finish sleeping.  I don’t want to go back now.  I’ve ruined the day already, the least I could do is walk my ass down to the end of the road.
Everyday I walk a little farther than before, and everyday I continue to tear open the wound a little bit more after I see what I see.  I can’t stop and observe what the hell I see, or drop my jaw in amazement.  About a mile from my home there is a field, somewhat of an open area, where development of apartment buildings hasn’t taken over.  It’s about three acres in expanse, and about one acre of the land is covered with makeshift tents.  Tents made out of collected scrap plastic.  There are so many, and all I see around them is children running.  From the road, they are small, but they see me and they run to watch me.  Some start to wave, and as soon as I wave back they all start to do the same.  I can hear them yell, “hi auntie!” “auntie!” I do not stop as I see them.  I do not want to see the look in their eyes.  I keep walking instead, I may stop on the way back.  Along the way to the end of the road, I see hundreds of people, and a huge percentage of them look directly at me.  Some look me right in the eye and are not at all intimidated.  Most men smile at me, this type of admiration towards me.  I laugh sometimes the looks they give me, because they are just so different.  So I walk, wear my sunglasses so people can’t see my eyes, and listen to my Ipod because I need a little bit of home.  Something to drown out the energy of Bangalore, always in attempt of crawling in with my breath.  I stare ahead and keep to myself, I cannot muster energy to speak to someone.  I cannot help but smile at the school children walking home from school.  They all have their uniforms and the girls have their hair braided in pigtails.  I also cannot help but smile at the women, dressed in their saris who are so curious they shyly smile at me when I show them mine.
By the end of the road, I am a little anxious, I just want the staring to stop, and I just want to walk invisibly. The main road gives way to a left and a right turn.  There are no more shops here, it is all residential.  If you can call India’s settlements “residential.”  What it really is is lots of shacks, and smaller brick buildings.  There are some decent apartments too.  Unlike America, India’s decently making it people live alongside the poor.   I walk past theses places, so many people are outside still.  I am starting to feel like I am roaming too far, the shift away from people brings uneasiness.  So I turn around and head back.
On the way, I see babies, literally a half naked 15 month old walking with another baby, a little older.  They walk along the edge of the walkway, where there is a drop into the ditch about 4 feet deep.  There is no one watching them, and they roam too far to get the photographs I want.  Across the street is the start of the field with the tents.  The children see me and they start to call. I have to stop to see them, I know they want a photo.  So I cross the street and walk into the entrance of the field.  The children slowly come up, in pairs of two or more.  They run from their “front yards” and up the incline to me.  Ten or more come to see me.  I take their pictures and then show them on the screen.  There is no child that will not smile when I show them.  They are dirty, they have on what clothes they own, and all are malnourished.  A baby, barely of walking age comes too.  An older boy walks with him.  He has tears in his eyes, and food on his mouth, rice is what he gets to eat.  My heart is sad seeing him, and after I take a few more pictures I am done.  I tell them I am walking back, and I wave. The shops near the tents are dirty and the people are poor the farther I am away from home this way, the poorer the people get. I do not like the stares I get there because most are serious.  There are two men that are on the streets all day.  One is older most likely in his 70s, the other decades younger.  Both of them are disabled.  They cannot walk, so they drag themselves across the streets, there are no wheelchairs to be had.  The old man looks like he’s gone insane from the life he’s lived, he’s half naked.  Both of them scare me.  I walk a little faster to get through this part of town, and once I get to a better area, I stop at some shops.  I buy soil and a pot for my plant “Sodka.”  It costs me 40 rupees, 87 U.S. cents.  I continue down the road and I find handmade rugs to buy Amula so she can sleep on something other than concrete. Each is 10 rupees , 43 cents.  My restaurant still isn’t open when I get back to 7th phase, and I don’t want to stop anywhere else, so I head back home.  Some days I love Bangalore and I am so happy to be here.  Today wasn’t one of them.  Another day I’ve see the streets in Bangalore, another day I experience its charm.

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