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hither/thither A journal of my travels in 2008 I will be traveling to: New Zealand Costa Rica India East Africa

A quick note on India, poverty and space.

INDIA | Monday, 31 March 2008 | Views [3165] | Comments [3]

Something that has been on mind a lot since I arrived here in India is space. The first thing I noticed upon arrival is the way people shove; stand so close they push up against you; pass their bags right in front of your face, sometimes literally hitting you with them; set their children down on your lap; cut in line. At first I thought it must be culturally different, personal space that is. In America we say 'excuse me' for an almost non existent brush against a stranger. This idea of personal space I've found, is not a 'cultural difference', but rather a class difference. I noticed while crammed in a share jeep with fifteen other people, two of which were small children standing or seated on the laps of their parents, a passing jeep of the same size with two Indians, each sitting next to a half open window on opposite sides of the jeep. This is where the difference lies. Money. With money we can afford personal space. In fact, isn't space a good sign of someones wealth? The more money the bigger the car, the more land, the more rooms in a house. While the poor all over the world live in one or two room houses in groups of five or six or more, everything right there, kitchen, bathroom, living room; the rich want an extra room just to watch t.v.

I think of my personal space differently now.

Space is a privilege. And it sets us apart. I honestly believe I will forever feel differently when a stranger bumps into me on the bus, on the street. There is a universal communication between it I believe. I don't own the space around any more than anyone else does. I only own my thoughts and actions.

I believe I am seeing that the more space I have the further I am from everyone else; and that's possibly dangerous. In recent thinking I've come to the belief that individualism is at an extreme right now. We think only of ourselves and what we can do to escape our impact on the world, not how we can change things as a group. I really believe we have to think like a community. Running is no longer the answer, hiding away in our worlds of organic food and farms can't be the answer for the poor. I can afford to feel better about my footprint in the world because I buy local and organic and green, but how can 1 million people pushed together so that I can have personal space translate that? It doesn't translate to the world of the poor.

I don't really know what the answer is, but I know I'm thinking in the right direction... for now!




Three words of advice for you: HUG IT TIGHT!!!!
I love you RL.

  Tiff Apr 8, 2008 1:26 AM


How interesting! Illuminating for me. I shall look at my space differently as well from now on. Thanks!

  marie-pierre maingon Apr 22, 2008 1:33 AM


Really nice blog .

  ayesha Jun 4, 2008 5:44 PM

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