Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Perspectives: Bombay Flip-Flops

From time to time, I think I'll post some of my favorite photographs, and tell readers of this blog a little about them.  Some are full of spiritual or other significance, others are just fun, and some may be both. 

I took this picture in 1984, at Church of the Good Shepherd, in a slum in or near Bombay, India.  (Now called Mumbai.)  What struck me about the church -- in which I think spoke briefly -- was how clean it was, an island of beauty and order in a sea of ugliness. 

We had parked several blocks away, and walked into the sprawling slum on foot.  One had to watch one's step, as the streets were full of garbage.  I took another photo of an old woman sitting crunched up under an umbrella in the hot sun, by the side of a concrete culvert / river / open sewer.  I remember the smell.  Later that day, we also visited a school that was heartbreaking to me: large rats ran along the tops of partitions between classrooms during the middle of the schoolday, with classes full of children. 

But this church was, as I said, living proof that cleanliness often is next to godliness.  Good to pile one's sandals outside: Heaven knows where they had been that day. 

And notice how nicely the child is dressed -- much better, let me add, than is the standard in comfortable America.

Ugly as the slum was, two of my other favorite photographs were also taken here, which I may share some time: a beautifully-dressed woman carrying an idol on her head, and a small girl standing by drapes and a rusty old can -- the beauty of which scene is best shown, rather than described.

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