I’m reassured that Dina finds India paradoxical as well – I worried that I was the only one. Travelling from Bangalore to Bombay, Rajastan and New Delhi earlier this year, I described India to friends as having the highest standard deviation of anywhere I’d ever been. That is to say, I’ve been to places much poorer than villages I saw in India, but I’ve never seen poverty in such proximity to widespread wealth.
Dina’s recent blogpost provides a great photographic example of this disparity. A cultural anthropologist based in Bombay, Dina often is asked by companies to study how products are used in different Indian environments. Blogging from a recent trip to a village in Utter Pradesh, Dina notes that the village has no electricity, no working phone lines, and six cellphones. She, on the other hand, is able to post her digital photos from her laptop via a CDMA phone:
And here I am sitting in this taxi with a laptop and my Reliance CDMA connection, being able to beam these images to the world in real time through my blog. India is a strange paradox!
(The photo is from Jaisalmer, in western Rajastan, February 10, 2005.)