Monday, October 20, 2008

"Home is where we tie one end of the thread of life."

Post by: Beth
*Note: these pictures seemed to upload a little bit blurry for some reason.. possibly due to slow internet connection. I'm going ahead with the post, but will fix these pictures ASAP.

Sorry for our prolonged absence … We have been moving into our apartment this past week so we haven’t had internet access during the move. Never fear, though.. I have still been diligently taking pictures and have some new ones to share! :)

As I’ve said before, there are lots of vast differences between the places I’ve lived before and India. Specific to Mumbai (since I can’t speak for the rest of India on this one), the homes are incredibly different and some are like nothing I’ve ever seen in the U.S. As is par for the course in India so far, there’s a broad spectrum covered, with plenty of extremes on either side.

Driving through different areas, some apartment buildings are very nice on the outside and look like any apartment building you can find in any large city in the U.S. They’re tall, architecturally-complex buildings with pretty facades, roof decks, and rows of large balconies. In contrast, and sometimes lining the same streets as the tall luxury apartment buildings, are the small huts and shacks that serve as homes to so many residents here. These are the ones that are different from any home I’ve seen before. Many of these homes don’t have a front door… the “lucky” residents may have a tarp that covers the hole that serves as the entrance. The roofs are usually “made” of crinkled aluminum sheets that are just laid down on top of the rows of shacks. Driving on the highway gives an interesting perspective to these types of houses: The bright sun glints off all of this silver metal, making it hard for your eyes to adjust. Once they do, you can see how large these areas are… Some of the villages have thousands of homes constructed in this way, and trash and debris are piled on top of some of the roofs to keep the aluminum pieces from getting caught in the wind and blowing away. (It sounds silly, but upon seeing these tiny, shaky homes, my first question to Raja was: “They don’t get hurricanes here off the bay, do they?” Luckily, the answer was “Nope.” I can’t imagine what a bad storm or hurricane does to these homes… It’d be a sad sight during monsoon season, I’m afraid, and I hope they have some type of system in place to avoid flooding in these low-lying homes.) It’s a strange picture to see, and further confirms the contrast of life situations here: The tiny shacks piled together with garbage holding the roofs down, and behind it, a huge gleaming apartment building soaring above the fray.

The pictures I’ve taken of different homes in the area show the huge gap between the societal classes here. Raja and I were just talking yesterday about how easy so many of us have it compared to so many of the people here, and it's easy to take so many things for granted. Until you see things like this, it's almost impossible to imagine so many people live without electricity, plumbing, and a house that has 4 solid walls. Despite that, many people in these villages seem genuinely happy. Children skip down the streets laughing, fathers teach their little children to ride bikes, moms rock their babies and chat with other moms, and teenagers play enthusiastic games of cricket in the streets and fields. It's overwhelming and at the same time, humbling, to peek into their lives and homes.


Rhonda Walker said...

wow def. makes you appreciate what you have. glad to see you posting and back amongst the living, civilized world. love ya, mom

The Freeman Family said...

Glad all is well, I was getting worried. No pics of the apartment?

Beth + Raja Gupta said...

i will definitely post apartment pics ASAP.. right now they're literally still building the kitchen cabinets in and working on things. as soon as i can, i'll post some pics :)

Jenny said...

I think you should be a journalist. Even before I saw the pictures your words had created a picture in my mind that fit so well with the reality of your pictures.

Beth + Raja Gupta said...

thanks, jenny! -- what a nice thing to say :)