I realized in the rickshaw ride home today why I want to work on development and transportation at the supranational level. I don’t think I could stand to work and live day to day in a place that I am so powerless to change.
I recently started reading a book about Mumbai, called Behind the Beautiful Forevers, a book about a Mumbai slum and those who toil day in and day out just to survive and maybe make it out. My experience in Mumbai has been with a city where people jostle and push and there is no consideration for the person next to you. That’s not to say that I haven’t met great people, but the street is a whole different world. Cars don’t give a damn about who they might run over and neither do motorcyclists, bus drivers, or even the man walking next to you. There is no stepping aside to let someone pass, but instead you just push on. Even into the old lady standing next to you, because believe me, she will not hesitate to leave you behind.
To me, this is indicative of Mumbai’s problems. The luxury tower goes up next to the slum because by golly, I’ve made it and I’ll live wherever I want. The trash goes on the street because I’m not going to be bothered that it bothers you. Police are corrupt because I just need to get ahead and don’t care who I step on. I don’t think I could deal with this day-to-day. I have experienced it and I want to help change it. But I can’t do that here. Because I am powerless to make a difference.
My only hope is to empower and influence those down the line who might be able to make a difference. Or make it harder for police to be corrupt, for buses to break down or anything in between. I have the means to make it to the top of my profession, and maybe, just maybe, that will make a difference in someone’s life on the ground. But if I sit here and go to work everyday and watch it, I am just going to become more and more disillusioned with the world.