Saturday, October 22, 2005

Born into Brothels

An interesting title to this post? It will come out later.

I decided to head out on the ANT through Waltham, passing Bentley College and continuing on Totten Pond Road. I took a right onto Wyman Street paralleling 128 and stopped to explore a vacant office building adjacent to the on ramp. It may have been on of the Polaroid buildings at one time. I kept on Wyman, heading toward Arlington and came to Trapelo Rd., where I stopped a chatted with two cyclists, one from Colorado, one from California, preparing for the rain and on their way to NYC. I made sure I stopped and chatted to be sure they were "all set". I wouldn't want anyone to think New England cyclists are jerks now would I. One of the gents, named Stephen, is a Rock Shox employee, well "SRAM employee", as he put it. Small world. We talked about the new SRAM road group; had to get some shop talk in there.

I left the GPS duo and took a left onto Trapelo and then a right on Old County, forgetting that it was interrupted in its journey by route 2. I pulled a U turn and headed back to Trapelo, continuing on toward Lincoln. I took another right onto Lexington Street, a road I'd never ridden or driven on, and again ran into route 2. Darn. Another U turn, back toward the Lincoln town offices, but not before I took a detour through the Lincoln Cemetery. I love the sense of stalled time and reverence I feel when pedaling silently amid the memorials of lost family members.

Back near the Lincoln library, I took a right onto Bedford Rd and headed into Lexington. This time crossing route 2 and taking a right onto North Great Rd/route 2A headed back to Lexington. Before passing Minuteman Voc Tech, I took another right onto Mill Street, remembering all the Saturday morning Cycle Loft rides I did when I worked there in 2001. The road was beat up an bumpy then, now it was smooth and silent. The hard left onto Lincoln Street led me back to 2A and onto 2/225 Mass Ave to a bear right onto Pleasant Street passing Wilson Farms on the left. The place was mobbed, with pumpkins the same color as my bike in piles awaiting eager hand and Halloween Hay rides for people of all ages. The police officer directing traffic for the farm motioned me along as I dutifully awaited passage with the queued autos. I bore left onto Watertown Street passing over route 2. The street becomes Winter Street, though I am not sure where, probably at the Belmont town line. Merging onto Concord Street, bearing right onto Mill Street, and left onto Trapelo brought me back to Waverly Sq., where I started the ride after dropping two sold ebay items into the mail. Overall, I felt good, though my right leg below the knee felt less than stellar in some stretches. Getting better.

On to the title of the post.

Any good feelings I had following my ride this morning have been wiped away by watching Born into Brothels, a 2004 documentary about nine children growing up, struggling to make it out of their impoverished lives in the red light district of Calcutta. It is a smack in the face of my jaded western sensibilities, a reminder of our privileged lives living where we do, with access to what we have.

A woman social worker befriends these children, deciding to teach them photography. Through this artistic expression, the children learn and grow, revealing their resilience amid their horrendous conditions. They caught glimpses of the life they were headed for, as sons and daughters of prostitutes, and knew they wanted to get out. At the age of ten, the wisdom in their eyes was unmistakable. I was moved to tears more times than I care to admit, yet I could not hide my feelings of helplessness. I could help if I really wanted to, couldn't I

The imagery is so compelling, real and disturbing that the feelings invoked can not be resisted. Yet even amid the grinding poverty, danger, and depravity, there is hope hidden in the desperate eyes of the children. They see that there is a way out through education, and some of them committed to school, though the battle to remove the children from the families can be tough. The loss of a wage earner needed to support the impoverished family is strong, and relatives are loathe to give it up.

One boy, Avijit, no more than 12, said the following words to sum up the class on photography and what it meant to him, "we are nine bodies and one soul".


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Anonymous said...

thanks for the visual (and virtual ride!) wayne...eloquent for sure!

Ironic that the post was from the 22nd, as that night while I was riding my bike home I was hit/run by a motorist. Ended my year of cycling as I have a seperated clavicle, concussion and sprained left foot to deal with. The frame of the bike is a-ok so it will be resurrected soon enough.

In the meantime I'll be checking this blog regularly so keep the posts coming and keep the racing up too!


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