Bloomington Diary – Part 7 – Homeless… is there a Utopia?

Both my husband & me belongs to different schools of thoughts & they say opposites always attracts so we are still together after donkeys’ years of marriage!! When I say something he always wants proof… just like the modern day youth…

Couple of years ago when we were in Boston for the first time, we saw a homeless man. It was the first summer weekend & practically the whole city was out either picnicking or just walking around or just doing something. When I asked my daughter why everyone is out she simply said its sunny & bright!! So even the homeless were out in the park-bench enjoying the sunshine! When I told my husband, his first question was, “how do you know?”… Well, I said, you should watch the movies or TV shows, then it’s easy to identify. He went to my daughter to confirm what I said was correct!!

Then I explained to him there is no such thing as Utopia in this Universe & no country is sans poverty (zero percentage) no matter what ever one says. I also added perhaps in yonder, somewhere in the distant past…. couple of centuries ago or more, before the Mughals, Portuguese, French, Britisher, etc., etc., came, India was almost close to Utopia… so good were some rulers starting from Sri Rama!! If only the correct history of India is in order…. not mixed-up-history we could learn so much….

So when I saw the first homeless in Bloomington & mentioned it to him, he agreed with me for a change. But the good thing was the next day morning we found her push cart lying empty around 350 meters from where we saw her the previous day. I said that’s a good thing & my daughter who was with us at that time said did you know that if this kind of cart is returned to the store by a homeless person, they pay money to them!! I don’t know who that they are?

It was on 15th when we were going out in the morning I saw a young woman standing opposite side pavement of Funeral Chapel with a placard that said, ‘help needed; family in trouble’. She was standing with all the humility which was soul touching. Perhaps it was the first time she was standing & I was wondering who could help her standing so far away. On 16th again I saw her still standing there in the evening. Then I said poor thing she is still standing there.

On 17th evening I saw a slim young man & another lady standing almost at the same spot holding a placard seeking help. Incidentally on the same day morning my husband read out to me in Indiana Daily student newspaper that Indiana closed the books on fiscal year 2014 on June 30, ending the year with a $106-million surplus & more than $2 billion in reserve. I said the economy must be still recouping even though some states have surplus. That’s why even with surplus there are homeless… For some obvious reason my husband got angry with me & said that does not mean the percentage of poor people is still much lower than India.

My argument was that I did not compare people & I never said that America is poor… I am just telling no country is sans poor or with families below poverty level. India has one too many mouths to feed & our politicians are greedy & selfish, we don’t teach the general public about family planning, etc., etc. This went on till both of us got tired of the subject.

On the 20th of July we went to Chicago to spend two & a half days there. A lovely city in summer & then I started counting the homeless… on the Lake Michigan banks, in the garden, on the footpath, in the park, I totally counted 16 of them. Some sitting on the bench asking extra change (disposable), some that can’t work for health reasons, some with messages on placards, some simply sitting without expecting anything from anyone & some sleeping. After the 10th my husband started showing them to me… either he had become an expert in identifying them… or he was simply teasing me, I have no idea.

I said listen my dear husband, I am not condemning or comparing anyone with anyone but many a times people try to say or project Indians as poor or snake charmers or beggars. When the Superpower could not control the homeless & jobless & poverty, how could India which has one billion plus population eliminate these problems? We still manage to educate our children as best as we can & best of all, we still have something left after so many countries tried to loot us to the core.

24th July the day before we left Bloomy we saw yet another man with pony tail standing opposite to the funeral chapel with a placard. I have no idea why everyone chose that particular place. And we saw a cart of a homeless person abandoned on the road opposite to Indiana Physicians Center. The first one which I had seen still lay close to where it was abandoned, slowly moving towards the Marsh!! For some reason both of us were not interested on discussing that matter!! Later I saw two young men with a trolley bag searching in different dustbins around the complex block. I have no idea what they were searching for. It reminded me of the scene opposite to our apartment in Kuwait where sometimes I see people searching & collecting the fruits & vegetable discarded by the nearby shop. So no county is a Utopia & free from some kind of poverty – poor or homeless!!

Around one kilometer from where I live there is a large garden called Rumaithya garden. One middle aged gentleman (I was told he is a local) used to live in the park for more than a year. It was the way in which he lived was the interesting factor. He used to have crates of mineral water, juice, fan (I don’t know how he got the electricity supply or perhaps battery operated), mattress, blanket, etc. He used to lean on the pillow & sit (typical divaniya style), at times he had visitors too. Sometimes he used to leave his domain, & sit on the bench & pass weird comments to passing women in particular. I don’t know how he managed his food. I made futile attempt to take his picture from far & half succeeded. Someone told me he has own house nearby… but why he was staying there God only knows!! One fine day he was forcibly evicted from there it seems…

Wonder if the CEO taxi driver I had met in Chicago could have some answer to my doubt.

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