The light turns red. My car comes to a halt. I look out of the window and my eyes drift upon four gaunt men squatting on the sidewalk outside the Mahim Restaurant. I have seen them before on my way to school. A dark blue Mercedes approaches. The window rolls down. A hand thrusts a 100-rupee note out. The restaurant owner grabs it. The four men spring up and are led into the restaurant. The unknown man in the Mercedes just paid for their meal. Today was a good day; on others they would wait all day, hungry. These restaurants feed the poor, homeless and unemployed, but only when the wealthier inhabitants decide to assuage their guilt. This is Bombay. On the surface, life blurs between the wealthy and the poor but the disparity is brutally displayed everywhere else.
At school, the thought of these men stays with me. I cannot even begin to imagine what it must be like to be a part of their world, where even the most fundamental right, food, is not available. Where basic human dignity is long compromised. How do I make a difference? Not one of giving handouts, but one that lasts. Using what I learn in class, I try to think of ways to make an impact in their lives –like setting up a program that promotes change through awareness; similar to the theatre workshop I conducted last summer with underprivileged children.
I have looked out at Bombay, the city that is my home, through many windows. Bombay has tempered me. It has taught me to look past my needs and wants, to look past myself and see the world around me.