Tuesday, 11 December 2012

Gone In A Matter Of Minutes

Living in India means I’m constantly faced with unbelievable poverty and immense wealth sitting side by side. (I know this is going to sound terrible) but after while I find myself getting used to it. Not that it stops bothering me - I still see things that upset me –  more that I’ve just become more familiar with my surroundings so I get surprised much less and accept this is the way India is.

Last week however, that was turned on its head.  Just around the corner from our apartment is a street lined with little shops selling all the daily essentials - fruit, veg, water, etc, in some cases they are also home to the vendors. But today when I went down the street, I didn’t see the familiar faces, the children running about and the bustling street; instead it was a mess of broken homes, lost people and bull dozers.  It took my breath away.

 
 
 
I understand that things over here are complicated. These shops and homes were built out of scraps of metal, wood and plastic sheeting, illegally and the government was taking back its land. I also understand that they create other problems like prostitution and child abuse and can be so un-sanitary that they’re a real health hazard. But witnessing this destruction left me speechless and upset.  To witness their lives being ripped down in a matter of minutes...well it's hard to put into words.
 
These people who live and work here have done so for years and the community that's built up around them is vast. This isn't just a group of useless people squatting and being a nuisance, this is a group of people who have built a life for themselves in ridiculously difficult situations. They have set up businesses and are trying to earn a living to support themselves and their families.  Where these people will go and what they will do, I have no idea. They'll probably head to another part of town and try to re build their lives somehow, they may attempt to rebuild their lives here in a few months, but whatever happens, the 'problem' isn't solved it's just swept away and moved on – a ‘quick fix’ – only it’s not fixed.

Of course there are two sides to every story and I’m fully aware that I don’t know all the information.  I know it can be complicated; is it the classic big city immigration from the surrounding rural villages, arriving with no jobs, nowhere to live, not paying any taxes, using the water, hacking into the main electricity line while other, hard working Bangalorians are following the rules and paying taxes? Whatever the situation, as a visitor it’s hard to see, and hard to understand.

7 comments:

Ashwathi said...

Hi Niki! I recently discovered your blog and website through Alex (and am already a huge fan of your Three Ways to Wear section). I can imagine what you must have felt when you saw those homes and shops gone. As you rightly put it the fundamental reason is people from rural areas being forced to move into the cities. Traditionally we've had very strong village economies especially in agriculture, textiles, arts and handicrafts. However very little is being done to promote and sustain these economies (which I personally think are quite vital to our country). With all the emphasis on urbanisation, it leaves them no choice but to move to the cities to look for a better means of livelihood..

shipshapeandbristolfashion said...

Oh Niki, as you say, it's difficult to understand the whys and hows, but that looks and sounds dreadful. It must be frustrating to be there and feel unable to help, but sadly I think it's natural to come accustomed to your surroundings. Bristol has areas that, if you walk through them long enough, become normal when people are shouting at each other or scrabbling on the ground for cigarette stubs. Will those families rebuild or will they have to move?

shipshapeandbristolfashion said...

Oh Niki, as you say, it's difficult to understand the whys and hows, but that looks and sounds dreadful. It must be frustrating to be there and feel unable to help, but sadly I think it's natural to come accustomed to your surroundings. Bristol has areas that, if you walk through them long enough, become normal when people are shouting at each other or scrabbling on the ground for cigarette stubs. Will those families rebuild or will they have to move?

Caroline said...

Very sad to see your pics there, but love the article.

Niki said...

Hi Ashwathi, thanks so much for commenting, it's great to hear from you! The textiles, arts and crafts in India constantly inspire me. It's so important to promote and sustain these traditions, and so sad that the these people leave their homes for what they think will be a better life. I really appretiate you commenting and promise to do another Three Ways's To Wear soon :) x

Niki said...

Hey Sarah, you're so right, it's only natural to become accustomed to our surroundings, but it's scary how quickly this can happen! I think the families will probably start to rebuild their homes here again, but maybe not for a few months. A few people are already selling their veg again...I'll be there Monday morning to purchase mine for the week :) x

Niki said...

Hi Caroline, thanks for commenting! Am so pleased you loved the artical...it wasn't easy to write. Niki x