A mother in Vietnam gives up one of her identical twin girls at birth as she does not have the finances to take care of both. The girl lands up in California, USA, and after years is now ready to go to UCLA (University of California at Los Angeles) Medical School to become a doctor. She does not know the fate of her twin sister in Vietnam. As a refugee from Somalia in 1993, she finished her Bachelor’s degree in Minneapolis, Minnesota, and is collecting money for the starving children in Somalia. She knows starvation as she fled it when she was six years old. A girl from the orphanage of Mother Theresa’s Sisters of Charity in Calcutta adopted by a friend of mine in St. Louis, Missouri, is a surgeon. She wonders about the children left behind in the orphanage in Calcutta. A boy who was given birth by a 15 year old Brahmin girl in Chennai and abandoned to die in a garbage barrel was salvaged and adopted years ago in USA is a smart young man doing very well. Girls in USA are trying to connect with disadvantaged girls in the world through Girl Up, a campaign of the United Nations Foundation. Many poor children, especially girls, in Africa and Asia who spent most of their waking hours trying to fetch water and firewood to cook the little food they have to barely stay alive. The irony is many affluent girls in the USA are obsessed with their weight and shape, and succumb to Anorexia Nervosa or Bulimia Nervosa (Eating Disorders related to excessive obsession with body shape and weight) while many children ( girls and boys) in the world die of malnutrition or starvation. They also have too many outfits, and are faced with a decision as to what to wear every morning or for a special occasion while many girls in Asia and Africa do not have a change of clothes or are in tatters.
I have been back in the United States from India for about five weeks. The debate about raising the Debt Ceiling so the US would not default on its debt on August 2, 2011, was on everybody’s mind, and consumed a great deal of time and energy through meaningless bickering and theatrics, and brought the US and the world (the US economy, the biggest in the world, affects the global economy) to the brink of an economic disaster. Still the last minute bill passed in both houses of the US legislative body and signed by the US president sent economic shock waves across the world. The debate showed that the government is not only divided but it is dysfunctional. The politicians in the US as well as in India are mostly irrational, and cater to people’s emotions, and tell the majority of unthinking people what they want to hear to get elected. Individuals, families, and governments living beyond their means and spending money that they do not have through unscrupulous borrowing or deficit financing are creating unsustainable and artificial economies that are not related to realities in many developed countries, especially the US, Greece, Spain, Italy. This tragic situation adversely affects hard-working persons who consciously live within their income. Another thing I observed was the preoccupation with temperature and how that affects every one’s work and life. The temperature in St. Louis has been in the 90’s Fahrenheit (90F=32.2C). The effect on people of the frequent weather broadcast during the day, and the dramatic moan and groan the weather broadcaster gives while broadcasting with also the heat index is very profound indeed. Hardly a conversation without the mention of how hot the weather is. [Needless to say, I prefer the naturally air-conditioned weather (mostly in the 70’s F or below throughout the year) around the Ashram in Munnar, India.] What kind of a world are we living in? What is life after all? Are the things that need to prepare us for a rich purposeful life eluding us?