Week 8 Main Blog: Psychogeography (Or the-Field-Trip-that-I-Missed)

Psychogeography was defined as “the study of the precise laws and specific effects of the geographical environment, consciously organized or not, on the emotions and behavior of individuals” in 1955 by Guy Debord. Wikipedia defines psychogeography  “..an approach to geography that emphasizes playfulness and “drifting” around urban environments”

(Confession: I got both definitions off of Wikipedia)

Both those definitions sound like a great pass time to me, which is why it disappoints me that I spent those class hours pitifully ill in bed.

So instead I attempted to do all the readings assigned to us this week, and what I gleaned from the article The Three Cities Within Toronto by David Hulchanski, is that the city of Toronto can be divided further into three separate cities, based on the income groups of their respective populations. Not only is the distribution of wealth and economic gap between the three cities steadily worsening, but these hypothetical cities are actually physically divided based on neighborhoods – there existing specific low-income and high-income neighborhoods.

Unexpectedly, the first thing I thought of when reading this extremely long 32-page article was home. I moved to Gurgaon, Haryana (a city close to New Delhi) in July 2013. When I moved, Gurgaon was already the established commercial and industrial hub that it is today. But not too long ago, Gurgaon was merely an agricultural village. The rabid urbanization that transformed this dusty village into the  city with the third highest per capita income in India, left behind the remnants of this pauper- prince transformation. The village still exists in Gurgaon, except now it exists right in the middle of an industrial urban hub. Half of Gurgaon, the half that I know of lives in obscenely expensive apartments and houses in high-rise buildings and condos. Living lavish lifestyles and working high powered jobs, this half of society is directly contrasted by the poorer farmers and other low income groups who represent Gurgaon’s past as a small village. Whole sections of Gurgaon are nothing more than farmland, with people living in small houses or actual shacks.

The economic disparity between these two groups is starkly apparent. So much so, that the view out of my bedroom window (on the 16th floor of a condominium), was directly of a large slum created by the construction workers who worked on the development of one of the many similar condominiums that were being constructed in the area. The stark visual contrast only served to exacerbate the irony of the situation.

The rich seem to get richer, and the poor seem to get poorer everyday. As Bernie Sanders has argued countless times “There is something profoundly wrong when the top one-tenth of one percent owns almost as much wealth as the bottom 90 percent”.

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