Posted tagged ‘how much can a goat be expected to eat’

Inside/Outside (Thoughts on India)

April 12, 2013

Two things that strike one very powerfully about India are (i) there is so much to be done, and (ii) there are so many people who seem to need something to do, who seem in other words to be underemployed, even some who have jobs of a sort.

I am not saying that people do not lead very hard lives here, They certainly do; many work a lot. The women office workers we met in Ahmedabad, for example, get up super early every morning to cook breakfast and lunch for the whole family (usually including mother and father-in-law) packing lunches in aluminum tiffins, little round stacked cannisters. After work, they must go home and shop and cook again–dinner for family and in-laws. Cooking, especially in a traditionally vegetarian context, involves several dishes–I do not think people typically use pre-prepared food, as they have very little refrigeration. (Hence, the fresh cooking twice a day–morning food will not last till night.)

Clothing must also take a lot of work. People, by and large, especially women, look immaculate. They are clean and super-pressed, all but the very poor and Western tourists who tend to look grubby, rumpled and mis-matched.

The homes and even hotels I have seen have not a speck of dust or grime or even much clutter. Inside floors are spotless. Everyone takes their shoes off to keep them that way.

And then one steps outside.

Let’s take Cochin. How shall I put it? There are limits to what a few wandering goats can eat.

That means that plastics and litter and crud line pathways, and roadways, and the parade ground, and any thing resembling a possibly public or unused space.

In the meantime, there seem to be a lot of people–men mainly–who sit or stand around much of the day. Watching the action. Or inaction. In one empty lot in Ahmedabad, for example, there was a security guard who sat on the dirt and grass and litter and moved his chair to follow the shade all day.

Am I saying that it would be nice if someone decided to pick up some of the trash?

If the hotel owners on this street in Cochin, right next to a large public field called the parade ground, for example, decided not only to keep their interior gardens immaculate but to occasionally pick up the parade ground itself?

Well, yes.

But there’s seems to be just an enormous divide here between inside and outside, between private and public, between what’s mine and what’s everyone’s, with seemingly not terribly much care about everyone’s.

The immense diversity – all the different religions and types of people–probably leads to some difficulty in identifying with “everyone.”

I also wonder whether there is not still some issue arising from latent concerns re purity and pollution. (In other words, that it is far more demeaning to pick up garbage than to walk around on top of it.)

(And it is hot.)

Sure, we have plenty of litter in the West. Just perhaps a lot more embarrassment and discomfort about it. It is the seeming lack of care about the refuse–this intense division between one’s own space and the greater world that feels so troubling, especially in the context of the really greater world.

PS – for any worried, I am feeling somewhat better, if not yet 100%, and very glad to have managed without antibiotics. Christina is a little worse for wear and for dealing with her mom. She is a trooper.

Below are some inside/outside pictures –Inside the gate of the little yard of our little guesthouse, and then some of the garbage burning just outside and the park/parade ground across the way.

I would note that you do sometimes see street cleaners. My sense is that they are very low caste people who are basically born into these jobs. In Ahmedabad, there was a woman sweeping up leaves with her hands. Touching anything on the ground would be deemed very low here.

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