Friday, November 16, 2012


The poverty in the city seems bad, and then you take a train with a window seat.  First, as the car lurches out of the station, you see meager tents of canvas, wooden branches, and string -- their tenants scrounging about the drifting waste tossed out by train commuters.  Then there are the squatters that build temporary little hovels on now defunct railway platforms.  The trash is endless, and as the train picks up velocity the world outside the frame becomes a flickering film strip of human squalor and civilization springs up from the living landfills.  Right out of plastic bottle cesspools, cubic brick habitats spring up from the filth like giant soiled lego blocks, one built upon the other.  Okay, you think, it's awful, but it's sadly comprehensible  that there might be a ring of squalor around such an enormous city, its poor subsisting off of the incrementally wealthier's refuse.  But then it keeps going.  You count the minutes passing, praying that each naked child playing with garbage and each polio ridden cripple is the last you'll see here.  I can't properly convey the enormity of it, the poverty.  The homeless of New York seem like royal dukes by comparison.

It takes too long, but eventually the hovels diminish in size and consistency, and are slowly replaced with wild honey colored grasses.  Maybe a field or two of marigolds.  And trees.  Trees bent, brown, and hobbled like beggars' knees, but they're trees.

It all makes my heart ache and I don't know what to do but feel ashamed for my abundance of good fortune.  That's all I can say about it right now.

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