On Leaving America – Part 32

I’m looking at this photo—Trichy #2, taken in 1986.
Harem View  BThis is the city 1986. You can see a one of the major temples at the left of the horizon. It was being refurnished when I was there. I’ve never seen so much bamboo.
Below – the city as it is today. This photo taken from a much higher angle. There are twenty-two hotels now. There were three when I was there.

Trich 4
Thirty-six years ago.
India Trichi Temple Scaff2012 – Note lots more wires running across – Ah, progress
Trichi - 2
Trichy is way down south in India. Below Madras. One steps into another world. I’m sure the sultan’s harem is still there, but beauty changes. Would the same two men would be waiting patiently for unlikely tourists?

Temple Guide – 1986
India - Man - Good
I’m sure there is still a sultan somewhere who controls the area, but sure as hell isn’t living there. Beirut was fun once, but no more. The south of France perhaps . . . money no problem.

I’ve been thinking about American affluence, prompted by my many trips to Goodwill. Truckloads of things donated every single day, heavy on Sundays. Mountains of TVs—we all want flat screens now.
There are car lines of good givers at Goodwill Sometimes as few as one car waiting to unload, or as many as five. This is every single day, nothing to do with months or seasons. Not so much the act of giving as the act of getting rid of, stuff nobody wanted at the yard sale. Cars and vans and trucks unloading tons of stuff. There’s stuff stacked all around. I’ve seen some good things, tables, chairs & sofas that were taken care of. I’m surprised at how nice some of this stuff is. We decided not to have a yard sale. Some stuff has been sold, some given to our neighbors, good things, but there’s still a lot of good things left. Lawnmowers and such. No one we know of needs them, they all ready have one of whatever we are trying to get rid of, or perhaps want something better, bigger, newer.
So many of us are now homes. What do the do with their stuff?

I was aware of this before, but now I’m starting to feel this economic cliffhanger. We bought our home when when the bubble was going up . . . made money on it for a few years, then it went the other way along with the the stock market, where we also had a few bucks . . . now gone with the wind. We will be getting less for our home than we paid in to it, and we’ve been lucky–far too many of us not so lucky.

The Seattle teachers were encouraged to get out of ‘Plan 2’ and put their retirement money in some kind of market fund. It was more than encouraged, we were badgered with it. There were phone calls, seminars and meetings. “Are you sure you don’t want to get into this new plan?”
Teacher’s life savings for retirement were decimated. Years of monthly payments down the tube. These were our nest eggs: homes, investments—sure things. But I didn’t made the change the ‘Plan 2’ change, thank God. I knew if they were trying to sell the thing so hard the odds were not so good. It was the smartest thing I ever didn’t do.

The Hard Life:

You will see lots of photos like the one below on TV now, asking for donations . . . Beware of scamers!
I’ve been finding interesting slides as I convert to jpegs. One below’s from Southern India. This woman’s smile . . . as if completely unaware of her surroundings. Why is she smiling? Is she’s posing? Looking for a tip? I’m sure I gave her something.
India - Hard
I’ve seen gravel makers in Sri Lanka: Women with children, with hammers, breaking up a large stone . . . beating on them with their hammers until they have reduced the rock to a pile of gravel about three feet high. Then a truck comes with a new rock and picks up the gravel. That’s a hard life. Can’t imagine what her pay was . . . living in a shack made out of mud and sheets of tin. You don’t see that much wood around. It’s pricey. People have been chopping trees here for a thousand years . . . a lot of cooking fires. Rock chopper woman’s house would fit inside of my garage. I couldn’t bear to take the photo of her. Now I wish I would have. It was just too hard. There might have been a man I’m thinking, her man, working on some mountainside plantation planting tea . . . from dawn until evening.

We Americans have had it better than so many, for so long, but things are changing for the working man, retirees . . . people in their fifties, sixties . . . things have changed for those of us who got to work on time, held jobs had kids, bought houses and saved money, paid for health and life insurance. All those sure things we took for granted . . . gone. And there are no clear leaders, only politicians.

“May you live in interesting times,” The Chinese say.

I guess we’re doing that.
Do You Feel Lucky?


About Bruce Louis Dodson

Bruce Louis Dodson is an American expat now living in Borlänge, Sweden with his wife, cat and dog. He is an artist and world traveler who writes fiction and poetry and practices photography in his less than copious free time. His work has appeared in: Barely South Review - Boundaries Issue, Blue Collar Review, Pulsar Poetry (UK), Foliate Oak, Breadline Press West Coast Anthology . The E-buffet, Qarrtsiluni, Struggle Magazine, Pearl Literary Magazine, Contemporary Literature Review: India, 3rd Wednesday, Sleeping Cat Books - Trip of a Lifetime Anthology, Northern Liberties Review, Authors Abroad - Foreign & and Far Away Anthology, The Path, Page & Spine, The Crucible, Sleeping Cat Books -Trips of a Lifetime, Vine Leaves, Pirene's Fountain,Tic Toc Anthology - Kind of a Hurricane Press, Cordite Poetry Review, Buffalo Almanac and mgv2.
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One Response to On Leaving America – Part 32

  1. Marilyn says:

    Very thought provoking entry. It reminds me again of what I give thanks for and what I am fearful about what may yet to be.

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