Chris' Original Blogbeque

A fresh, vinegar-based examination of life

A day of firsts and lasts

Posted by Chris on November 3, 2007

Friday I went into the city for the last time. I visited an NGO that has been working in the slums with children for about 15 years but also recently has been administering grants from a larger, international organization, enabling ultra-poor households to start a business. I visited a slum and was actually surprised that it was not as poor as I expected—there are “registered” slums, part of the official city plan, which are going to be close together and small but household prosperity could vary. There, I met some of their beneficiaries who are buying leather from the factory, cutting out glove patterns, and selling back to factory. One woman told me she can cut out 1000 gloves in a day.

Later, we visited a squatter settlement. This was poor. I’m sure they all are—if you got more money, you’d move; and if you move to the city because you have nothing wherever you were before, you’re likely to be and stay poor. kids were literally playing on the train tracks; the “homes”, mainly thatched shacks, lined the tracks on each side. In a different area, the homes were better constructed and away from the railroad tracks, but the floor was below the level of the street, therefore they must flood frequently and badly. During a flood? They have nowhere else to go; they stay in the home.

Besides that, it was a day of other firsts and lasts. For the last time, I rode the metro and made the long walk down park street to the park circus area. I went to the post office for the first time. Nearby, a woman got my attention and talked to me in public, in English, for the first time. Besides beggars, only men have talked to me in public. She was happy because she had just gotten a job with HSBC bank at its call center. I guess she wanted to share that with someone in English.

With someone from FOCUS, I rode in a cycle rickshaw for the first time. I also took a taxicab for the second time (here, and, in my life). I finally saw a Domino’s besides from a car, and had the cheese and tomato pizza. Umm,… giordano’s here I come, that’s all I’m saying.

Two boys were mocking or terrorizing the monkey that is always chained up behind the pole on Park St. there are now two other monkeys just a little farther down, they seemed much happier because they have each other (I have NEVER seen any person sitting with or taking care of these monkeys).

Kids asked me for chocolate instead of money. I’ve barely even seen chocolate here, someone must have given to them at some point. Turns out, they would have been equally happy with the true contents of my pocket, a cell phone.

Finally, I saw some religious things that I will not go into here, “I’ll tell ya later” as we say in the South.

Tonight (Saturday) I will go eat at Haji for the last time with my friends Rizwan and Tina. Then, the countdown to watching TNT’s Thursday night NBA games can begin…


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