The Homeless Experiment / Experience

Update: There are several easier ways to read this whole experiment:


Leave my house in Austin, TX. and live on the streets for 5 days and 4 nights.

Purpose of Experiment:
There’s simply not one solid reason for performing this experiment, but several:

  1. To learn what it’s like at the bottom rung of the socio economic system
  2. I’ve studied how many successful people get successful…it would be interesting to see how some people have “failed.” Getting to live directly with these people would be a great way to learn.
  3. I’ve always considered myself pretty spoiled. Not in the spoiled brat kind of way, but in the fact that I’ve never once in my life really have been worried where my next meal was going to come from or where I was going to lay my head down at night. It seems important that every once in a while I give myself a good whack over the head to realize just how good I’ve got it, and that all those opportunities I have should be utilized to their full potential.A few examples stick out in my mind:
    -It was weird as a little kid going to India and visiting relatives and seeing the things they treasured or worked for as opposed to what I did. For example: a magazine subscription to National Geographic. This was just something that showed up in our mail and often sat unread at home. However over there it was a relatively big deal to have, and to absorb all that information. Books, magazines and other literature were thoroughly read and reviewed.

    -I went on a two week hardship hike when I was a Boy Scout to Philmont, New Mexico. You load up with gear at the home base (which itself is 6,000 ft. above sea level making every physical activity much harder than normal), they load you up in a bus, drive you way the hell out in the country and leave you. The whole trip is definitely a physical and mental strain.

    When I got back to base camp, I remember two experiences I had which I can still remember crystal clear: 1.) I sat down in a chair…and this regular everyday chair just seemed like the most comfortable thing I’ve ever sat in. The closest thing I had to a chair in the last few weeks before that were perhaps a stump or rock. 2.) I bought a $0.75 Coca-Cola from a vending machine, and remember thinking it was the BEST thing I had ever tasted. It was cold for one, and two it was sweetened. We weren’t allowed to have sweetened things because bears would smell the containers and try to eat them. I remembered thinking I would’ve paid $75 for the Coke.

    SO the last few years I’ve been a little spoiled and haven’t done anything like that. Even if you go backpacking, it’s usually pretty clear where you’ll sleep and what you’ll eat. You end up going with enough resources to make it through pretty comfortably. You’ve got the tent, high quality sleeping bag, energy bars, GPS and all sorts of other stuff which make the trip safer. This experiment will force me to actually seek out shelter from either homeless shelters, in the woods or other places where city officials won’t force me to move. It will also force me to beg for food.

  4. Ostracism. I’m Indian, but have never experienced any real discrimination that I know of. If I walk into a fine hotel to use the bathroom, I’m always allowed based on my overall appearance. However what if I was disheveled looking, carrying bags, looked like I was dirty and smelled? It might be a different story. I personally discriminate against these kind of people who come up to me on the street. It’d be interesting to see what it’s like on the other side.
  5. I’ve always wondered: If someone got kicked out of their apartment, had no money and no friends/family to stay with…what would they do?

So on Thursday, June 4th, 2009 I will officially begin my Homeless Experiment and start living on the streets for 5 days and 4 nights.

More info to come.