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August 21, 2005

Life is Cheap

I get on a rickshaw pulled by a bicycle. The skinny guy peddling is 45 but looks 70. The road is so pot-holed that he has to pull on the handles in order to push the peddles hard enough to get the bike over the ruts. There is only one gear on the bike. 5 minutes into the journey, the back of his shirt it drenched with sweat. He peddles like this for twenty minutes. I pay him 50 cents.

As I walk along the road, traffic travels around me in all directions. Continual near misses are occuring. It's like the dodgems at the fairground, except that no one bumps into anyone else. Pedestrians, cars and bikes all swerving between another. People must get injured and killed all the time.

From a boat, I see people at a ghat, washing in the Ganges. The water contains one thousand times the level of pollution considered safe.

The Tag Ganges hotel has 12 acres of grounds, much of it is covered with lawns. As I walk from the entrance of the hotel, I see a team of 10 Indians cutting the grass in the front of the hotel. Each one has a three foot long sword. He is crouching and hacking across the surface of the grass.


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