Recently, I had a most wonderful opportunity to have some of my ignorance dispelled. A good friend at work, a devout Muslim (who pulls out his prayer mat five time a day in his cubicle--talk about an example*) came back from Lahore, Pakistan where he had gone to get married.
On his return, he shared with us the pictures from his wedding and I was astonished. The pictures showed a family looking very much like a family in one of those Bollywood films--the clothes, the settings, the surroundings, were all rich and sumptuous. His wedding clothes were like something out of the Arabian Nights--absolutely beautiful.
When I think of third world countries, my predominant thought is of mud, rutted roads, and buses with chicken cages on top or chickens running loose with the bus itself.
Naturally in a set of wedding pictures one would not see this aspect of Lahore. But what I did see suggested the same sense of civic pride one might find in a small Southern city, or even town like Waynesville or Bucyrus, Ohio. The outdoor spaces were well-kept and lovely and the indoor spaces were decorated for a celebration.
I don't know why I'm always surprised by pictures and experiences that suggest that the third world might have some of the amenities of the twenty-first century, but it is always nice to have that kind of parochialism knocked down a notch or two.
*While the prayer mat is not only tolerated but encouraged because of our sensitivity to diversity and the training that we received, I can't help but wonder what people would make of me taking out the Rosary twice a day. I already get funny looks at the prayer book open on my desk at all times. However, I must say that I am exceptionally fortunate in the place that I work at the amazing toleration of religious observance of all sorts.