Paradox City

A room full of teenagers, laptops out, air conditioner running, fingers clicking down as they scroll through terabytes of data in just a few seconds. Just outside the window, a boy only a few years younger than them sells balloons to those driving by. He has seen every car that has ever ridden the streets of the city, but can’t even spell the word “car”. He shuffles down the street in his ragged t-shirt to his brother who holds a smartphone in his hand, because the Internet is free, but a meal cost him his childhood.

A few kilometers away a woman walks into a Gucci store, a gentleman brings her a sealed plastic bottle of water and her offers her a seat as she begins to announce her choices for the day. At the same time in a chawl a woman makes her way to the water pump, sweating as the sun beats down on her. She wonders how she will carry the bucket back, an ache in her neck tells her to stop but she has no choice.

The same sun shines down on a businessman boarding his private jet, he slides his Cartier’s further up his nose, awaiting takeoff. Just down the runway, in a jhoppad-patti a man puts on his uniform, the scar on his arm looks uglier than before, but missing a day of work would mean that he would have to starve his family for the night.

Welcome to paradox city, where everyone is in a rush, where everyone is someone’s foil. A place where India’s richest man lives a 100 meters away from some of the country’s poorest. A place where everyone is connected but nobody knows to whom. A place where time is money, but no one has the 24 hours they require. A city that knows how the world beats but can’t seem to find its own pulse.

20 million inhabitants, each calling her their home; living and dying in her arms, what a beautiful disaster you are, my paradox city.

 

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