Once again drunk off my ass. Today I finally met up with A., my travelling companion for the rest of the trip. I also ended yet another impromptu experiment.
Due to both the lingering effects of Bombay Belly and my secret desire to reclaim my flat stomach by any means necessary, I chose to embark on a 30 hour fast. This had the added benefit of reminding me what hunger really is, something we tend to forget as we get older and more flush with cash.
I come from a lower middle class, working class background. While I never personally felt hunger due to economic duress, thanks to my parents’ vow that their children would never suffer from the ailments of their experience, I am constantly reminded of true hunger by my parents’s stories of their tragic youths in the struggling Guyana of the 1940s and 50s. This becomes all the more important in a place like India, where real poverty is thrust in your face at every turn.
I’ve gone to extreme lengths to talk about the new India, where wealth, youth and Westernness abound. But the old India is still here. Bombay may resemble New York, but you can’t forget it’s in India because of the prevalence of whole families, clothed only in rags, sleeping on the filthy streets.
One quickly develops a hard heart, or at least a strategy for ignoring anf avoiding the beggars, because to open your wallet to one means being buried beneath a horde of similar applicants. It’s easy to let oneself forget the sheer sensation of going without.
And thus my lame personal experiment. Clearly, it is not comparable to true hunger, since I was aware that a belly-filling meal awaited me at the end of my 30 hours. But I felt the pangs. Combined with the oppressive heat, the need to walk for miles, subsequent dehydration, and being surrounded by both face-stuffing friends and skinny mendicants, this was not a pleasant experience. I encourage you all to try it.
In contrast, I spent the evening in a local bar in the Fiaryas hotel (which I like to call “fairy ass”) watching college-age Indian kids suck back 100 rupee drinks (quite expensive for many) while singing along to Brian Adams and Abba. Yes, they can be that lame.