Mumbai, a City of Contradictions

In this weekend’s New York Times, author Alex Kuczynski writes about his experience visting Mumbai, speaks a lot about the dichotomy of worlds between the new rich and the exceedingly poor. A couple of quotes jumped out at me:

Simply walking along a city street is an exercise in yogilike self-composition. If you walk, you must be comfortable with the press of warm bodies and the dense, meaty smell of skin and hair that has not been washed in weeks, perhaps months.

The ladies who lunch don’t speak of their philanthropic work to end the city’s abject poverty. “There are simply too many suffering,” one socialite explained. “So we focus on things we can actually have an impact on, like art and gardening.”

I wonder what happened to the girl [who was seen earlier playing in sewage]. Was her tarpaulin home washed away? As I imagined the all-night parties continuing at Privé, the Bordeaux flowing and the young investment bankers paying for bottles of Stolichnaya with black American Express cards, I wondered: was she able to even salvage a T-shirt, a pair of underwear, a favorite book of cartoons? I have no answer. The city of contradiction carries on, oblivious.

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