Saturday, December 3, 2011

Mumbai, U.S.A. A bedtime story.

Picture this… You’re a diplomat stationed in Bombay, India, late 1960’s. You live in the diplomatic compound, a high-walled community that virtually shuts out the outside world. Within the compound live diplomats and their families from all over the world. The grounds are beautiful. Lush vegetation and colonial-style buildings. Servants attend to their every need. They have all of the amenities and social interaction of any close community. A club with pool and tennis and restaurant and bar and snooker… you get the picture.
By day the diplomats go to their various embassies or consulates and represent their respective country’s interests, which often gets pretty heated. But by night they lounge and enjoy cocktails together at each other’s homes or at the Club.

No one leaves the compound on foot or unattended. If you do stubbornly decide to go for a walk outside of the compound, a couple of Gurkas go with you. Although this is highly unlikely because there is every reason not to walk outside. For outside the walls of the diplomatic compound lie the streets of Bombay, a teeming mass of humanity living on the verge of extinction.

This scenario is true, related to me by my uncle who was a diplomat working for the U.S. Information Service at the time. Propaganda was his game and he was good at it because he liked and embraced the different cultures in which he was stationed. People naturally gravitated to this tall, handsome American with gentlemanly manners. 

Uncle Milo told me he once insisted on taking a walk outside but it took some time for the two Gurkas to open the man gate. Something was blocking it. It turned out to be a dead body on the sidewalk outside. He told me that the thing that got to him most on the streets outside of the compound was the stench. Even more than the permeating filth and poverty and death. He said that the contrast between the haves and have nots in India was so stark as to be shocking.

It wasn’t at all unusual to see great antique Rolls Royce’s, Bentleys, Auburns or Dusenbergs on the street in perfect operating condition because the wealthy owners simply had new parts milled every time anything broke. He said the cars were often better than new.  Uncle had the best of everything while there, tailored clothes, the finest medical care, household servants… because he could afford the best of everything. A bureaucrat’s salary made you a well-to-do man there, in that place and time.

Here’s the take-away. Do gated communities adjacent to public housing ghettos sound familiar? Do run-down county medical clinics crowded with the unwashed, or simply unlucky, sound familiar? Do people who are simply cast aside and living on the street because of accident of birth or situation sound familiar?

No child in this country should go hungry, but they do. No one who is disabled and unable to take care of themselves should have to fend for themselves on the street, but they do. No one should be left destitute in old age because they’ve been stripped of everything they have by the medical industrial complex, but they are.

The scene depicting India above is happening to some degree or another right here, right now, in the good ole U S of A every day. If you believe that good medical care, a good education, a meal and a roof over your head is the least we can do for each other, it’s time to speak up.  If you voted for and really want Change, you had better start raising hell about it! The money grubbers are pulling out every trick in the book to kill it...  and you.


  1. I'd say welcome to the fight but we have been at this awhile now. As long as there is breath we can speak and as long as we get on th4e same note they can not but help hear.

    This motherfucker is a liar too, this is not the change we voted for and he takes his 100k fundraising dinners too in NYC with his buddies who rule him.

  2. I think that the revolution may be at hand. History can repeat itself. Maybe it is time.

  3. You evil socialist! I'll have you know the United States of America is the freest, greatest land God ever graced this planet.

    Just do not look to closely to the infant mortality rate, the increasing chasm between rich and poor, the political corruption, the encroaching police state, pollution, general ignorance of the world, and utter arrogance by a people who can not pull their heads out of their collective asses.

  4. What a sad commentary, because there is way too much truth in it.

  5. I still think Obama is the best thing to have happened to the USA in quite awhile. But the evil right has done everything to oppose his changes. He has not had the freedom to do what he wanted. Let Obama be Obama and maybe the things that you so rightly highlighted in this post may start to be solved. It certainly is not going to be solved by business as usual.

  6. We of the middle class all want so desperately for things to go back as they were. We don't want to be afraid. We'll do almost anything to avoid that peek outside the gate. But it's too late for that.

    Your story began so like Gautama's.

    Syd may be right. Deep down, I think he is. We skate on the thinnest ice.

  7. wonderful post...should make a lot of people think....

  8. If people won't open the gates in their minds, is it any wonder they see nothing wrong with living behind them as well?

    History insists no gate or wall lasts forever. Eventually they all get torn down.

  9. Outside in the cold distance a wildcat did growl.

  10. I was in India (a long time ago) and saw the contrast you're describing -- luxury high-rises next to shanties and people sleeping in the street, etc.

    And this is definitely where the U.S. is headed if the teabaggers have their way.


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