Message From Mumbai
Hello Friends and Family -- Greetings and Salutations from India! Let me begin by wishing you a Happy New Year in case I was remiss about that (HAPPY NEW YEAR). Craig and I toasted in 2004 while traveling ion Patagonia with his parents.
It is summer break in Argentina, and Rotary kindly provided funding, so I decided to find a travel destination that required 50 plus hours of transit. Why do it if you aren’t going to do it BIG? I am in India attending the World Social Forum, traveling with a group of individuals from the United States who like me, are interested in wrapping their heads around GLOBALIZATION. The World Social Forum is a meeting place for social movements from all over the world. At the Forum a great deal of time is spent denouncing the policies of the US government (other countries also take some hits), and for the most part the information exchange is both heartbreaking and accurate. Some proposals for creating change emerge at pretty much every session, which is mainly what I am interested in hearing about.
I have over a hundred pages of notes written down on notebook paper, and hope to provide a further update on this remarkable (and at times startling) experience once I have more computer time. In the meantime, four of the people in the Global Exchange group are creating a documentary of our experience and have been keeping a travelogue. It is interesting and descriptive and I invite you to check it out if you have the time.
Mumbai is a little bit of everything. Skyscrapers next to slums, sacred cows and holy elephants on downtown streets, an exclusive country club where Indians are not allowed next to a Parsi house of the dead where the deceased are left out for the vultures. Our tour has included information on Ghandi’s life and his legacy. Visits to temples and museums. An introduction to world religions in a very in your face sort of way, such as interacting with Jians who are vegetarian to the point where they wear scarves over their mouths to avoid breathing in micro-organisms. We visited a municipal laundry facility where 5,000 people work, and traveled to the countryside with a non-profit group who works with women’s groups. There, we split up into groups of three and celebrated the beginning of harvest season in small villages.
The World Social Forum lasts for six days, and the Nobel Laureates easily share the spotlight with people from all parts of the world who have traveled here to discuss their issues – patenting of seeds, privatization of water, and an overall raucous denouncement of the WTO from all corners. My feet have never been so dirty in my life, and I have learned (among other things) that squat toilets are better than Western toilets when you are sharing with 120,000 people. I also can’t wipe the grin off of my face. With that, I will say hello and ciao, and send a big globalized hug to each of you,
PS – You can check out the WSF here: