This I Believe

JG - Miami, Florida
Entered on March 30, 2007

As I did my groceries, Thursday night, I realized what I believe in. I believe in shallowness. Yes, pure unadulterated shallowness. I stood in the center aisle of Wal-Mart and I was struck with a serious question. The 24 pack of Nestle bottled water was $2.89, should I or should I not buy it?

First Let me apologize, I must back track to explain the conundrum with which I was faced. A couple of weeks ago I found myself lying on the couch of our Miami condo, and here we were once more in front of the screen watching yet another Indian Film. The title Swades, honestly I don’t know how to pronounce it, the length, probably one that most Americans would laugh at, but the plot that was something that patience would reward. The plot was simple enough an Indian who had been Americanized, and now was faced with the harsh reality of country life in India.

Throughout the movie an ongoing theme caught my eye; this NRI (Non Returning Indian) would not drink the water of his country. With him at all times he had his bottled water. The theme resounded in my head as I had previously traveled outside our country and given the same warnings, DO NOT DRINK THE WATER! Yes, do not drink the water, because I’d get sick if I did. My body was no longer accustomed to the different bacterium, parasites, and viruses found in these countries. Our protagonist found himself in the same state, traveling across his home land and not drinking the water.

The life of his friends, family, and finally strangers overwhelmed our protagonist and he found himself in a train ride back to the village he had been visiting. The proverbial train ride in Indian cinema, but this ride was different for the actor and me. As the train came to a non-relevant stop, a boy runs up and down the train station. The boys scream, “Paanil, Paanil, Paanil!” the boy is offering water. But not water from a crisp clean bottle, or maybe even a gallon jug. No the boy offered paanil from a bucket and served on clay baked cups. The boy was skinny and in rags, he was not supervised by a nearby parent, and much less was he pretending to start his own business compared to a lemonade stand. No the boy was not learning about what it means to be an adult. The boy was making his living, because if he didn’t he would starve. If he didn’t, his family would starve. If he did not, he would die. The protagonist paid the boys a couple of cents and obtained his cup of water, and he drank it as tears ran down his eyes. I won’t lie, I cried also. I swore then never to buy bottled water.

But here I stood, within Wal-Mart. I looked at the price twice, thought about the movie, and bought the 24 pack. I believe in Shallowness.