Pavement Dwellers

When I was in Delhi, in ’97, I was struck by the numbers of people living on the streets, living over, among garbage dumps, part of unguided tours given by savvy street kids to American or otherwise well-off tourists.

People were coming into the cities from the countrysides, often lush with green and color, for work. Entire families from less prosperous outlying areas were caught up in the rush, arrived in the cities, on the pavement.

I saw little children pull up some curb and go to sleep like it wasn’t a thing. I learned that just because they were small didn’t mean they were young, just missing meals. Caste was a real thing and I met the Dalits, many who lived amid some of the crumbling ruins of colonial origin. They were still considered untouchable and mistreated shamelessly by those of ‘wheatish’ complexion.

Now, the pavement dwellers are 163K strong in California. In a way, pavement dwellers here are more restricted in where they can live than were those in the subcontinent’s hub cities that experienced high rates of in-migration from the countrysides. Now, in America, we are kicked out of housing because we cannot afford the rent/we lost our job/we have three jobs/all sorts. Replacement housing isn’t available to match the rate of people being made homeless, daily. People and families.

We are awash in rhetoric while people dwell on the pavement, in the wretched heat, in the numbing cold, in increasing numbers. People and families.

Who was that just bought a $76.2 million house?

6 thoughts on “Pavement Dwellers

  1. Caste was a big issue in 90s just racism was in the 70s or rather still is in the states. Indians have come a long way since then though we still struggle with poverty due to overly excessive population.
    It’s really sad to know that even a country as rich as US cannot provide shelter to all of it’s citizen while the president can put in the money to build a wall, sponsor the decade old wars, and provide billions to country that are known for their hidden terror agendas..

    I can understand the frustration that comes when your own people are suffering. I hope and wish that things get better..

    Warm regards
    Dee Kay

    1. I was studying work and the effects of the implementation of set asides for inclusion of the ‘backward and scheduled castes’. Much preferred the countrysides to the concentration of population in the cities. Despite the crowding, no one ever trod upon my feet, though a man did strike me in the chest in passing, and I was frotteured in a ticket station. Ah, India memories.

      1. Some people are really the worse example of humanity. Moreover, we often cross paths with downright idiots irrespective of the country..

        There is more to the country then these men and I’d like to apologise for the bad experience you had but I would also wish if you ever get a chance to make a trip back to the country then you will see a lot of changes too..

      2. I would like to return to Goa, Kerala (though it has flooded), and places near Bangalore. India always seems to be in a process of change even as it remains India. That is what fascinates about the place.

      3. It’s been a rough monsoon season for most of the states in India. 😥

        You have visited Goa and Kerala so I am assuming you must have had seen some parts of the northern India too.. I would suggest you to visit the Northeast India in the summer or winter season.. It’s a completely different part of the country unlike any other..

        As Sadguru said, “India is place of cosmic chaos” which only goes on to show how the place changes with time 😊

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