complicated social structure

Currently sitting at the dinning room table sipping a cool water melon drink in one of the most beautiful apartments I have ever seen, as much as I want to say that life is good, I can not help but to feel extremely guilty. Mumbai is one of the most beautiful and ugly places I have ever experienced; inhabited by the wealthiest and poorest people I have ever seen. It is absolutely shocking seeing the most expensive residency in the whole world in one instance (a sky scraper inhabited by a family of 4) and then being slapped in the face by one of the poorest slums within the next. It leaves me feeling slightly confused. How can someone completely ignore the needs of their neighbors like that? It seems as though the wealthy have convinced themselves that this is just the way of life and that each person has their place in society, which leaves me feeling pretty uncomfortable. What if I were born into an Indian slum? How would the people who I currently call my friends and companions treat me? It evokes a feeling of skepticism within me, as if I am surrounded by fake fiends. Just as I begin to feel this however I am snapped out of the thought by a warm and comforting gesture made by host family, erasing any traces of the thought that they are not 100% genuine. It is a complicated social structure that I am eager to learn more about.

Beside this major observation, I am very impressed with the mixture of old and new components of Indian culture. The way my host student speaks, dresses and watches the same exact TV shows as I do makes me feel as if I am back in America just talking to your average kid. Similarly to the mixture of poverty and wealth however, the next moment   I will see a cow walking on the side of the street and she will hardly acknowledge it, reminding me that a mosque is nearby.

After coming to my hasty conclusions as to why people are living the lives they do and why they treat each other the way they do, one of the largest topics we touched on as a group today was not making assumptions. To solidify this point we read a short poem called, “The Blind Men and the Elephant,” a piece which emphasizes the power of not only having the ability to observe without objection, but also the power within the ability to combine different perspectives; something that the six blind men within the poem are never able to do.

Looking forward to our trip to Dharavi tomorrow, the largest slum in the world, I know I will have to try my hardest to observe their living situation through a clear lens, untainted by my preconceived notions of their lives that I currently hold. I am thrilled by the opportunity to observe the lives of the impoverished within India, to truly experience the full spectrum of life in India.