So last night we had the honour and pleasure of dining with the astoundingly lovely Nasir, a friend of Leila’s mother’s and director of the nascent Shantaram Foundation, a charitable organisation set up by Greg Roberts (of Shantaram fame) with the initial aim of eradicating tuberculosis in Colaba. Nasir, his wife Zuleikha and his family were hospitable to a fault – they fed us (with some fantastic food, too), gave us presents although they’d never met us, offered to drive us around, the works. It was humbling.
I got to thinking that you’d never receive this sort of hospitality in a ‘rich’ country such as Australia, the UK, etc. It might sound like some guilt-ridden Western romanticisation of poverty or the East in general, but it seems to me that it’s a fact nonetheless: the more you have, the more paranoid you become about protecting it, and the less generous you become. Or so it seems, anyway. You can draw your own conclusions about our home country, and the fact that we lock people away indefinitely in glorified concentration camps for having the temerity to want to go there.
Bah. Anyway, the upshot of this is that it was a rare pleasure to meet such good people, and it was fascinating to hear about the Shantaram Foundation – the idea is that it will self-sustaining, run from the profits of various businesses that will be set up around Mumbai (motorcycle dealerships, bars, etc). Tackling TB in Colaba is an initial aim – from there, they hope to spread outward, and expand to other projects as well. It’s a thoroughly worthy goal, and here’s to hoping it takes off like a rocket.
Enough for today. This afternoon we’re heading to Haji Ali’s Mosque and perhaps to Fashion Street, a conglomeration of clothes markets that apparently puts the hectic street stalls of Colaba to shame. Should be… interesting.