Just as the story of Annawadi is not representative of a country as large and diverse as India, it is not a neat encapsulation of the state of poverty and opportunity in the twenty-first-century world. Still, in Annawadi, I was struck by commonalities with other poor communities in which I’ve spent time.
In the age of globalization—an ad hoc, temp-job, fiercely competitive age—hope is not a fiction.
Water and ice were made of the same thing. He thought most people were made of the same thing, too. He himself was probably little different, constitutionally, from the cynical, corrupt people around him.... If he had to sort all humanity [as he sorted garbage] by its material essence, he thought he would probably end up with a single gigantic pile. But here was the interesting thing. Ice was distinct from—and in his view, better than—what it was made of.
He wanted to be better than what he was made of. In Mumbai’s dirty water, he wanted to be ice.