May 15, I made it to Pune—about three hours drive from Mumbai, driven by this great young man, whose name I forgot to ask for.

On the way, leaving Mumbai,

we passed immense and endless poverty.

As far as you can see, as far as you can drive, thousands and thousands and thousands and thousands of people living in crumbling dilapidated apartments and high rises, mud huts, tin-covered shacks, tents.  At a highway entrance a family under a sheet held up by sticks , barefoot children on the ramp, the mother squatting and washing or cooking in a pot on the curb.

Arrival City,

the book mentioned in an earlier post is a call to action for the world to invest in these urban landing places, or else suffer untold consequences. The book sees these places, despite the suffering and infant mortality and despair, as places of great vitality and creativity and tracks how people come into them and contribute to new economies and then either return to their rural homes, or move out into the greater life of the city.

Leaving Mumbai, at one point a little boy came up to the window of the car when we were stopped. I didn’t have any change or small bills on me, so I didn’t roll down the window or give him anything.  It made me very sad.  He reminded me of my own son, Aidan.

Many say not to give, to volunteer somewhere if you want to help. But a few days later, in Pune, I gave some rupees to a woman, the only person who has approached me on the streets (apart from tourist sites), and the little connection we had was positive for both of us.  It costs me almost nothing.  It’s a connection.  She needed it.  Who knows what is the “best” thing to do?   I felt better when I gave her something.

I don’ really feel adequate or knowledgeable enough to really say anything about the poverty here.  Later, I may write about it more. I don’t feel capable now. I also didn’t want to take any photos of the poor.

Thanks for reading. Michael


5 thoughts on “Poverty

  1. Thanks again Michael for sharing your pilgrimage in India. Thanks especially for sharing your experience of the details of poverty: a sheet held up by sticks… a mother washing or cooking on the curb. In these, you made a connection for me. The prayer we offer each week, that “all sentient beings may be free from suffering,” is a profound motivator. If there is a way to lift the burden of sorrow and suffering, I want to be involved. So, let’s talk and then do what we can.
    with Love and a prayer for your safety,

    • Thanks, Dan. Yes, let’s talk about this when I get back. There’s actually a USU student who has started a program for helping schools in India. Mabye we can join forces with her. Thanks for reading, Michael

  2. Hi Michael!

    Wonderful diary. Yes, while traveling, whether for work or just vacation, the intense poverty you may witness always depresses me greatly. First witnessing this in Mexico (which is not nearly as extreme as India), led to my own conversion experience, so to speak. It made me question all of my previous held value systems. I became (and still am) convinced that whatever the merits of charity and volunteer work (and there are many), only systemic political change could alleviate poverty on that scale.

    Safe travels – I am enjoying following your journey from a rainy Logan.


    • Thanks for these thoguhts, Jamie. It’s always so disheartening to see the poverty. And, yes, working for systemic political change, which in part means changing the hearts and minds of those with power to effect such change, directors of the IMF, for example.
      Thanks for coming along on my journey!

  3. Ray sent me your link. Wonderful to see your blog. I will be following you. If you make it to Calcutta, look up Rita. She is a writter and would love to compare notes. She was educated in USA so she can explain India from a different perspective.

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