Everything passes. It has to. That's the beauty and tragedy of it.
My bedroom window has an amazing view. Not of the Boston skyline – which would have been my second favorite – but of a garbage dump. Yes you heard me right. It’s a big green dumpster in the back alley where the entire apartment leaves their refuse. People come at all hours of the day, haul their bulging plastic bags and empty carton boxes into it and everyday it fills up like a cavernous, insatiable Raakshas. And when the garbage truck comes to collect in the wee hours of the morning, I don’t need an alarm clock to wake me up to start my day.
At this point I’m sure you are trying to figure out if I’m being sarcastic or am just borderline crazy. But believe me, I’m not either of those things. I genuinely appreciate the view and I have a solid enough reason for that.
It gives me a story every day.
Like this afternoon for instance. When I glanced outside my window, I saw this mismatched couple of guys rummaging through the dumpster. One of them was a dark, bearded, middle-aged man. Thin, smallish, somewhat emaciated, jean clad, gloved. The other was a young guy who could pass off for a student in a city bustling with students, he could be just about anyone, any random person on the street with a backpack and a baseball hat. He had two pairs of sunglasses hoisted on his baseball hat, one red and one white (though heaven knows why two pairs) and a face mask covering his nose and mouth. Their intention was to look through the dump for usable stuff, I guess. A good half hour of rummaging and they left with a bright pink tote bag in good condition, a coffee percolator, a folding chair and a few other paraphernalia that I couldn’t really make out.
I have seen this kind of thing before – people who go through waste bins and garbage dumps to look for little everyday things that they can reuse. Or in some cases, resell. It’s a way of life for some who have to make their living scavenging through human refuse. It’s understandable, heart-wrenchingly depressing, but understandable. In the busy urban streets of India, a scene like this is not uncommon and rarely notable. Beggarmaids and little impoverished children picking out things for their meager subsistence. That’s life for them. And poverty being poverty and survival being survival, it’s the same everywhere I guess, Boston included. Only, in India one wouldn’t probably get to see a beggar scrounging through a dumpster with gloves and a face mask on. Such things are a luxury in themselves.
On the other side of the spectrum, its equally common to see people get bored with their current possessions, find it easier to let go of usable stuff, to make room for new things. Commercialization is the mantra they live by. Old lamps for new. Live and let go. That’s life for them, and that’s understandable too.
When I first came to this apartment and saw the depressing view outside my window, I wasn’t happy. I mean who would, right? Everyone wants the best in life and thinks they deserve a good view from their window at the very least. I did too, and even contemplated getting a different place to stay. But come on, who was I kidding? In a place like Boston having a decent apartment, and a single room to oneself at that, within walking distance from one’s college is not something one passes over in a hurry, no matter how depressing the view outside the window. So, as days went by and I settled in to my new life, grudgingly accepting my “fate” of having to see a dumpster every day, I realized life wasn’t as bad as it seemed. I might not see the River Charles from here, but I could still see. And among a number of other things, stories that made me appreciate how much better off my life was.
A peephole to life – that’s what my window has come to mean to me. It’s all about the vantage point.