Monday, October 03, 2005
rules of thumb...
as much as india is an amazingly beautiful place full of wonder and magic, it is also starkly contrasted by poverty and desperation. it's a challenge to look past the street beggars, especially the starving children with oft bloody stumps for limbs and matted filthy hair. even hidden behind the illusionary safety of our huge 'american' sunglasses (a tourist's dead give away) their pleading eyes are nearly impossible to avoid as they hobble up to the autorickshaw while stopped at a red light. we've started carrying extra granola bars and fruit leathers with us and have often handed over our nearly empty soda bottles which serve to provide both a cold drink and a few rupees when redeemed.
(this passing boy was the happy recipient of an oats 'n' honey granola bar as we waited on the roadside while our cabbie changed a flat...i just wanted to give him a hug)
the animals also tug at my heartstrings...the starving dogs on every corner that the residents often throw rocks at to keep their driveways clear...the donkeys carrying loads of rock that are rewarded for their labors with the sharp strokes of a stick to work even faster...the sad-eyed elephants along the roadside who pull fruitlessly with their trunks at the shackles around their ankles while their handlers roughly grab roughly their necks for our photos.
you have to develop a kind of temporary resistance. i'm relieved that we won't have enough time here to build up a true indifference. for all the faults i often find in the gool ol' united states, i'm solemnly aware of the priveleges and convenience of a developed nation. and yet conversely, there is something so pure and unadulterated about the rawness of india...something more soulful, something that doesn't try to hide fault under a perfect veneer of blinking neon lights and strip malls. long live the contrast and disparity between the two. it makes things so much more interesting.