Friday, November 7, 2008

Humanity: "The Glamorous and the grasping"

"Walking amid the polychromatic chaos of Mumbai's roads, among the glamorous and the grasping, one might ask: What other city so distills the human predicament, in the fullness of its tragedy, its comedy, its absurdity and its promise?"

-Anand Giridharadas, from IHT

I read a book this past spring titled Shadow Cities: A Billion Squatters, A Urban New World by Robert Neuwirth that looks at cities such as Mumbai and the typically illegal developments taking place there by people who are seeking to grasp the glamorous or at least reinvent themselves. Something about human nature is seen more clearly in the unrefined urban sprawl. Something about what drives us, what holds us back, and as the above author puts so well: our tragedy, comedy, absurdity and promise. Is that not what it is to be human? We are both beautiful and horrifying. What we create is full of so much potential and yet falls so short of what we wish. Our cities fill us with awe, and yet how often do they make those of who are affluent uncomfortable because of who all has been drawn to these pearls of human ingenuity? The litter, the filth, the cardboard signs, the stale breath, the unknown lying around the corner and at the end of darkened alleys.

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