AS

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?