India Uncut

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Friday, December 31, 2004

Despatches 1: Clothes and garbage

All the way from Chennai to Nagapattinum through Pondicherry, Cuddalore and Karaikal, I see clothes. Heaps of clothes strewn across the road like punctuation marks in a mad sentence. From a distance, many of them look much like Mumbai’s garbage dumps, splashes of colour on a dirty heap. In Mumbai, those splashes of colour are plastic bags; in Tamil Nadu, they are used clothes.

I had written in my previous post that sending clothes was futile and pointless, but people keep doing it anyway, and most of the relief trucks that we pass are packed with used clothes. Every local we speak to ridicules the idea of wearing those clothes, but they keep on coming in an unstoppable tide. Crises like this represent a good chance for city people to empty their cupboard of old and unwanted clothes, but are they shedding some kind of guilt as well? I wonder.

(Dilip D’Souza, my travelling companion, took pictures at many of the places I will write about in my despatches, but on an SLR that is not digital. Those pics will be uploaded in a few days’ time. Saransh Mehta, a software engineer who travelled with us, was invaluable for his translating skills and his good cheer.)
amit varma, 11:30 PM| write to me | permalink | homepage

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