Though France's endless winter is finally thawing, for tens of thousands spring time marks the beginning of another cold spell: evictions and the wild goose chase for a new place to sleep. People waiting for years to get into public housing, those living in unsafe conditions, the homeless, and those crammed into dilapidated hotels make up the over three million people in France classified as mal-logés, or the 'poorly housed.' French housing laws prohibit evictions during the winter, thus for the mal-logés, the season's changing brings little relief.
The first sign that welcomes visitors reads, "Caution: Children at Play." Back in the West, a sign of this sort wouldn't even cock an eyebrow, but up in the Himalayas, it stopped me dead in my tracks. Indian street life is defined by chaos. Clogged with cars and cows, lepers and beggars, roads are forged like white water rapids, not splashed in like puddles. Yet, I'm visiting the Tibetan Children's Village, a residential school for underprivileged Tibetan refugees.
The generally clogged New Delhi, India streets were uncharacteristically clear on the afternoon of Tuesday October 30th, 2007. The auto rickshaws continued buzzing between pedestrians and cows, the denizens of Delhi. With the arrival of Janadesh, a movement of 25,000 landless farmers and tribal people who drilled into New Delhi just days before, one would have expected a city under siege. Raj Gopal, the leader of the protesters, warned that if the government decided to ignore the people's demands, it should start "making arrangements for picking up the bodies of those who had participated in the march."