Viju had invited me to Bombay. We had a number of things on our agenda but when I arrived he informed me of a slight change in plans. The first day there I was to go with him to an AIDS conference.
The next morning we took his scooter to a place where we met one of his friends. We then drove through Bombay, down crowded streets and eventually through the center of the city past the Air Inda building and business center and on to the other side of the city.
AIDS was a growing problem and the government was beginning to had out free condoms. Of particular interest to this group was the young prostitutes. Many of these girls (and they were indeed children) had been kidnapped or even sold by their parents into virtual slavery as prostitutes and the men using them thought condoms were unmanly so refused to use them. This put these girls at high risk.
After lunch our host announced a field trip. We piled into cars and shortly thereafter I found myself standing in front of a row of dilaptdated wooden buildings where these girls were forced to work. I was completely shocked when one of the madams invited us to go inside and see what the place was like. It was dark and dingy and each girl had a bed with a curtain across it where she not only “worked” but also lived. It was appalling and distressing but intriguing at the same time. Our host told us the going rate was the equivalent of about seventy five cents. Now I knew why these people felt so strongly about doing something about the situation.
When we returned we found people crowded around a television set. Thirteen bombs had gone off across Bombay. The Air India building we had passed was in ruins and a shop we had passed had been destroyed by a motorcycle bomb. Viju tryed to call home but the authorities had shut off telephone service and all main highways were closed and guarded by troops..
The problem was how to get home. Viju hired a taxi who took us as far as he could go. We walked to a train station and found the cross town trains were partially running. We took a train to another stop where Viju engaged a rickshaw to maneuver the back streets. Then we walked again until we arrived at his scooter and headed home on the scooter.
I knew my wife would hear about this on the morning news so it seemed best that I let her know I was OK. We stopped at Viju’s house to send home a FAX (this is before email and internet). I FAXed my wife that I was safely in Bombay where thirteen bombs had gone off that day and Viju had taken me to a brothel.