Early Morning Thoughts (India Blog 27)
14 December, 2018. Friday. 4:15 morning.
It is early, but it seems that I do not need to sleep any more. I went to bed just after ten o’clock. I thought that it was morning when I woke up at half past twelve in the night. Then went back to sleep.
I think that it has been a pretty successful trip and I found out about Calcutta. I saw the conditions here. Of course, I couldn’t go to a real serious slum area. The biggest slums are outside the city. But I have seen enough poverty and destitution to do me.
Humanly, one cannot deal with it. That’s why people just put it completely out of their consciousness and turn to other things. Thinking about poverty, it seems, is a luxury that one can easily engage in in rich western countries. For people facing, living here long term, they know that it is as constant as rain, wind and earth. It is there and there is no possibility of it not being there.
Not under the present capitalist economic systems that exist.
So in order to live, people have to put it out of their minds. I can take a pocket full of small change and it will be gone in a short walk, not giving to every beggar, but just one now and then. It does not seem right to someone from a rich country, or even Turkey, which is not so rich, to just ignore the grotesque forms of human beings that one encounters on the side walks here at every turn.
Just sleeping on the side walk wrapped up in a filthy rag in the middle of the day. No one knows or cares how near to death the person is or if they expire momentarily. They will just be picked up and disposed of.
In fact, it is normal for me to think of Turkey as a rich country, similar to the USA in relation to the poverty in India.
Well, I think personally, that there is something terribly wrong with a society, and a world, that produces such a situation. When there is so much resources and wealth in the world. Isn’t it a form of terrorism to put a person in a position that they have no hope but simply to die on the side walk?
So encountering these people everywhere one went, everywhere, was something that made it very difficult to enjoy being here.
The other thing that made it difficult was the touts, especially around markets, like Hogg Market. After the last time that I was there, I just didn’t feel like going back there again because of being harassed by those touting their shops.
“You don’t have to come. You don’t have to buy. Just come look.”
No! You are not running a museum. It is not a matter of looking but of selling. They will make one feel guilty if they do not buy something. I feel the same way in a book store. I would like to look, knowing that I will probably not buy anything. But then, they make one feel like they are an asshole for not buying one of their books.
And they try to push the most wretched books on one, like by those pushing Hindu communalism.
Except for those things, I enjoyed being here. I wish that I could just enjoy the atmosphere, sights, sounds and smells. But it is disgusting when people bug one too much at every turn. It makes one just want to run away. I got disgusted once or twice and told them to “leave me the fuck alone.” Of course, they pretend not to know what that means. They do not need to. They can see that they made a person angry. But they don’t let up. They keep going. They seem to think that just a little more pressure and then they will break one down. And they will finally in the end sell one something that they really do not want like silk or a sari. Why do I want to buy a sari? And they are not doing it to Indians, just westerners. There is some of that in Turkey too, in Kemeralti, Izmir, but nothing like the way it is here. I found that sometimes it works to just be very busy taking pictures and not to pay any attention to them. Sometimes they see that they cannot get one’s attention and then leave one alone. That’s usually what I did. Not pay attention to them at all. One is busy doing something and they are bothering one with something that they do not want.
I feel very fortunate that I finally got to see some of Calcutta. I had wanted to for years.