The doors of perception

October 11, 2014
By Rang De Team

This is a post by Rang De’s team member, Hitesh Bhatt about his recent trip to Parvati Swayamrojgar

If the doors of perception are cleansed every thing would appear to man as it is, infinite.- William Blake

On 6th of October, on the occasion of Baqr’Eid, the second of two religious holidays celebrated by Muslims worldwide each year, I got another opportunity to meet our Rang De borrowers and join them in celebration. Pune, a city which celebrates every festival with a zeal that I have not experienced elsewhere in the country, was the place I went to meet our impact partner (PSW- Parvati Swayamrojgar) and the borrowers. Crossing through the posh areas of Pune, I finally reached the slums of Ghorpadi.

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What a stark difference in lifestyle you can see within the same city. On one hand there are people who possibly have more than what they want and on the other there are those who have less than what they need. It reminds me of Gotham city from DC Comics Batman. Do we also need a Batman to come and fight this crime? But perhaps this is one fight Batman might just lose, because the crime is not so evident. And there is no single perpetrator of this crime. This crime is hidden within bad government policies, lack of moral responsibility and political will, indifference of the well to do and so on. In every Indian Tier 1 and 2 city, there are huge, energy guzzling shopping malls and sky high residential apartments all located alongside dingy, urban slums. It is ironic that people who have constructed buildings for the rich and given up their lands to corporations are often branded as uncivilized, untrustworthy, or lazy. Here are few more adjectives that we don’t hear used too often to describe the poor: kind, generous, hospitable. When I visited people in the slums, all of them, literally, all of them offered me vermicelli which they had prepared for Baqr’ Eid. None of them turned down my request to talk to them for a few minutes, no matter how busy they were. I met a borrower who stitches clothes for Sheikhs and his products are sold mostly in Arabian countries. I met a 65 years’ old woman, a vegetable vendor, who lives all alone and is still as spirited as child. She really inspired me and I couldn’t resist getting a photograph clicked with her. They all gave their precious business time to me without complaining, in fact with much hospitality.

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I conclude this write-up by saying that everyone I met is talented, creative, and passionate about their likes and dislikes, full of love for life in their own ways. Given platforms to showcase their talent; they have the power to surprise the whole world with their entrepreneurial skills and generosity. There is so much more to learn from the people if only we stop stereotyping and neglecting them.

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I appeal to all the readers to do their bits to make a change. No change is big or small. If it brings a smile on someone else’s face, it’s always big.