I saw and must acknowledge the poverty I saw as I drove to and from the airport. Witnessing 3rd world conditions is not a new experience for me having traveled extensively already, and it wasn’t as though I toured the slums but we certainly wouldn’t need to to be faced with the extreme poverty and filth people live with here. Jetty boats pulled up onto the shores of a river- seemingly made out of layers of garbage in some spots; the people living under tarps beside the roads, the dwellings so dilapidated I wasn’t sure if they were structures in extreme decay, or ramshackle shanty huts with stones keeping the ever-present corrugated tin sheet roofs secure. Yet, everyone I saws was in clean and bright clothing, and laundry hangs out to dry literally everywhere you look. Even the professional beggars (amputees, the blind, kothis or transgendered persons) looked presentable and clean. It’s a far cry from the personal filth so typical of Vancouver’s homeless. Having seen it for just a few short hours, the contrast is so distinct that it seems completely obvious that Vancouver’s long-term homeless are mentally ill or horrifically disenfranchised individuals. A hallmark of mental illness is inattention or resistance to personal hygiene. I’m probably making a terrible assumption here, but it seems like poor people here are simply poor. I’m sure there are a lot of mentally ill people in the poor population in India, but they do not seem to have been left to their own devices to wander the streets on their own as they are in Vancouver. It’s pretty sickening to think we Canadians, and especially Vancouverites, are so accepting of mentally ill and disenfranchised/abused people being homeless in the long-term and self-medicating with hard drugs. The idea that humans beings become addicted to drugs in the absence of meaningful connection in their lives is an interesting thing to consider looking around at the poverty of India- because here, family and community is everything.
I dunno, I don’t know anything, and I know I’m not adequately acknowledging the social structures that keep this extreme poverty in place. I’m just noticing that it seems very different here- it feels different from anywhere else in the world I’ve been and seen extreme poverty.