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Do we ever realize that we live in the midst of so many dualities? We recently came across two such divergent realities in our own city.
Most of us think that Delhi has become a fast paced metro where in the sprawling mall culture is a validation of this richness that we perceive ourselves to be a part of. However, there are those who may not think so and are so removed from these very malls standing right in front of their homes.
We have been working with a family from a financially impoverished background. We thought of taking them to the mall right in front of their jhuggi, which they seemed to be curious about but had never visited.
To our shock, coming from the democracy that we are all so proud of, they were not allowed inside. Why is it that they were not allowed to go inside this big symbol of richness and opportunity and display of wealth? Apparently, they were not dressed well enough. If you were to ask us, we would think that it had little to do with their clothes but more to do with everyone’s sense of prejudice towards that poor nobody whose poverty is somewhere written all over his/her face.
We did manage to fight our way inside, having argued with the security guards to let us all go as we were all paying for the services provided. All we wanted was an ice cream.
We went inside and had our ice-creams watched by two Security guards standing very close to us. What was their crime? The fact that they looked poor and were not fashionably dressed was reason enough to be barred from stepping inside a mall, something that we take for granted.
When we asked the security guards as to why we could go inside but the family with us could not, they said that they had no problems with this but their customers would not like to be around ‘these’ people.
All in all, this turned out to be a humiliating exercise for the family, which further reinforced their sense of being different and not good enough to even step into a mall. This is India as we didn’t know…an India which is heading towards development and unprecedented growth but it must alienate and exclude so many for this. Then should we ever wonder as to why crimes are committed by so many who are never allowed the opportunities and the possibility of being able to shape their destinies? A luxury we all seem to enjoy and often take for granted. (By Namita, Shahbaz)