A Day in Boombay
Viju had invited me to Bombay. We had a number of things on our
agenda but when I arrived he informed me of a slight change in plans.
The first day there I was to go with him to an AIDS conference.
The next morning we took his scooter to a place where we met one of his friends.
We then drove through Bombay, down crowded streets and eventually through
the center of the city past the Air Inda building and business center and
on to the other side of the city.
AIDS was a growing problem and the government was beginning to hand out free
condoms. Of particular interest to this group was the young prostitutes.
Many of these girls (and they were indeed children) had been kidnapped or
even sold by their parents into virtual slavery as prostitutes and the men
using them thought condoms were unmanly so refused to use them. This
put these young girls at high risk.
After lunch our host announced a field trip. We piled into cars and
shortly thereafter I found myself standing in front of a row of dilaptdated
wooden buildings where these girls were forced to work. I was completely
shocked when one of the madams invited us to go inside and see what the place
was like. It was dark and dingy and each girl had a bed with a curtain
across it where she not only "worked" but also lived. It was appalling and
distressing but intriguing at the same time. Our host told us the going
rate was the equivilant of about seventy five cents. Now I knew why these
people felt so stongly about doing something about the situation.
When we returned we found people crowded around a television set. Thirteen
bombs had gone off across Bombay. The Air India building we had passed
was in ruins and a shop we had passed had been destroyed by a motorcycle
bomb. Viju tryed to call home but the authorities had shut off telephone
service and all main highways were closed and guarded by troops..
The problem was how to get home. Viju hired a taxi who took us as far
as he could go. We walked to a train station and found the cross town
trains were partially running. We took a train to another stop where
Viju engaged a rickshaw to maneuver the back streets. Then we walked again
until we arrived at his scooter and headed home on the scooter.
I knew my wife would hear about this on the morning news so it seemed best
that I let her know I was OK. We stopped at Viju's house to send home
a FAX (this is before email and internet). I sent home a FAX to my wife that I was
safely in Bombay where thirteen bombs had gone off that day and Viju had
taken me to a brothel.
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