March 4. Bump!

Malte, a Berliner man on a mission, arrives. His venture is making a photographic documentary about couchsurfing. He is meeting two girls he is going to follow on their way down to Goa via Pune and other smaller towns. His camera is very professional. In the afternoon Suyeung, a 24-year old Korean traveler and one of Malte’s falcons, arrives at Captain’s place and we have some conversations together, and I see how Yeon is happy speaking Korean again.

We go out for a long walk through downtown Mumbai and I carry out a long cherished plan of mine: I play a bump. I want to be someone whom the beggars wouldn’t approach. So I find some old rags, a pants and a shirt and something for on the head to cover my too well-kempt hair, I take off my shoes, attach some dirty plastic to my glasses, and rub dirt on my arms, legs, and face. What would be the result? Would I be ignored? Or would beggars look through my camouflage and still see the wealth in my dirty white skin?
I walk for half an hour, with Malte taking some photographs (I reckon I am an excentric couchsurfer) and I am plainly ignored. I see some richer people frowning and wondering as they pass the place where I lay down, I see a kid that is approaching Yeon and the others but does not hold up its hand to me. Police officers don’t see me, nobody sees me. I am living, for a very short while, the life of a nameless street bump. The loneliness must be unbearable for them. How does their spirit survive?
I finish the experiment and change my clothes in a parking lot, observed by a guard that can’t believe his eyes. Then we have lunch in a nice traditional place, and that is about it for this day.

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Published by

Kamiel Choi

Dutch philosopher and poet, sometimes sharing thoughts on the internet.

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