Tag Archives: poverty

Tooth Ache

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The sun had set and an all-pervasive inky blackness had descended over Delhi. Vehicles inched through the chaotic traffic, their headlamps piercing the darkness with their bright yellow-orange lights. My toothache kept getting worse with every passing minute. Waves of shooting pain passed through my ears, head, and eyes. I was beginning to feel weak and helpless. I thought I was going to faint and I wanted to just stop for a while and cry.

As I began crossing the road, my gaze fell on 2 men. They were spreading their bedding rolls on the pavement, getting ready for a long night;  a night that could well be their last. Did they have dinner? There was no one to ask them this question. Surely, their pain and sorrow were much greater than mine, I told myself. My tears dried up instantly and I kept walking.

My feet propelled me to a dentist’s clinic…

Some more pics…

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A Painful Distinction

It was a hot, steamy day in Noida, a developing city of Delhi NCR. The rains had taken a break and the sun glared at the whole world through a clear, blue sky. The beggars, their monkeys, and a baby monkey sat expectantly on a path literally strewn with slippery mud, stones, and broken tiles. It was a very sorry sight. Quite embarrassing too, making the distinction between the haves and have-nots far too clear and painful.

While the huge buildings with their swanky glass exteriors and plush air-conditioned interiors cast their impassive shadows across this sad landscape, the beggars kept on crying themselves hoarse.  It was obvious that CSR (corporate social responsibility) is just a theoretical concept for these companies located just a few yards away.

The office goers rushed past the beggars without giving them a second thought.  They were more worried about fingering their office attendance machines in time because late arrivals always imply loss of earnings that could have been spent on toys for their kids, medicines for their old parents, gifts for their wives and girl-friends, etc, etc.

Just like the beggars, the attendance machines were also greedily waiting for their share of pennies from the daily earnings of the hapless office workers…

Here are some pics…

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A Tomato God

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Golu during my very first meeting with him

All fairy tales have some amount of human reality. And sometimes real stories sound like fairy tales…

A few months ago, while I was walking towards my home after work, I saw a small group of 3 little boys picking up something from the diyas (earthen lamps) people had placed below a tree outside a temple while praying. My first thought was that perhaps they were setting them right to ensure that they burn properly. But my next thought was that little boys don’t care much about God and prayers and are generally more interested in playing boisterous games. Feeling rather curious, I walked up to them to take a closer look.

“What are you doing with these diyas?” I asked them.

“Sometimes they contain coins. People leave them here while praying and we pick them up.

With my curiosity quenched, I turned and continued walking towards my home, which was just a few yards away. At least, they were not stealing, I reasoned with myself. But I wondered why people didn’t just give the coins to people who need them instead of leaving them like this and making their hard lives much harder.

Last week, however, the same spot below the tree had a completely different look. A few new idols stood there on a lovely, brightly embroidered rectangular table cover.  The diyas too were much more in number and seemed to be burning much more brightly than ever before.  One more thing was different. There were no sweets, which was rather unusual, because Indian Gods are normally offered only sweets. Well, that day, a little priest had given them a little, bright red tomato! It looked quite cute and I was quite impressed. I couldn’t resist the temptation of clicking some photos.

I was suddenly startled by a squeal of delight. I turned around. It was one of those three boys I had noticed a few months ago.

“Where have these idols come from?”

“I brought them.”

“And what about these new diyas, the tablecloth, and the tomato?”

“I bought the tablecloth for thirty rupees and the other things I brought from home.”

“This looks very good.”

The boy smiled. I looked closely at his face. He looked happy and innocent with his big, black eyes.

“Do you live here? What is your house number?

“We don’t have any house. We stay in the park over there.”

I was quite taken aback with his answer and I pursued further.

“Where are your Mummy and Papa?”

“They are over there below the Metro Bridge. Sometimes we sleep here in the park and sometimes below the bridge.”

“Oh, my God, that’s rather sad. But where have you come from? You must have had some home before coming here.”

“Yes, we did. We have come from Haryana.”

“Don’t you go to school?”

“No.”

“What about food? What do you eat?”

“Someone comes to the bridge everyday and gives us food. That’s how we manage.”

“What’s your name?”

“Golu.”

His matter-of-fact way of talking made my eyes moist and I wondered why God makes little, helpless children face uncertain lives like these.  I hope and pray that this child has a better future ahead…

Here are some more pics…

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Two Different Worlds, Two Different Women

While travelling in the ladies compartment of the Delhi Metro on 12 September 2015, I came across 2 women. They sat opposite to each other and had a clinging toddler in their laps with constantly changing moods. When I observed them individually, they did not look very extraordinary. But when I compared them in my mind, the differences between them seemed to be so striking that I just couldn’t resist taking their pictures on the sly. The 2 women seemed to have originated from 2 different planets. I am sharing these pics with you here.

While one woman had only one child to worry about, the other woman had two more little, naughty children sitting beside her, constantly fidgeting, trying to grab her attention. The 3 kids were most probably born in quick succession, one after the other. No sooner was one baby out, another one must have taken its place! Did she get any time to recover from the previous pregnancy? I doubt it and I guess the 4th one was already growing inside her. It was obvious that she was from a world where they thought the best way to keep a woman is bare-footed in winter and pregnant in summer! The middle child’s nose was running, but she took no notice of it. The youngest one kept her preoccupied. Somewhere during the journey, she had to breastfeed the youngest one. Phew! What an epitome of patience!

As the metro glided on the rails, I tried to imagine the kind of lives these women must be leading. The first woman and her child were obviously leading better lives. They were loved and respected as human beings and their lives had value to their loved ones. The other woman, the less fortunate one, was obviously leading a very tough life; her family was probably very poor; but worse than poverty, their lives did not have much value and she had no say in matters concerning her body; her husband perhaps looked at her as just another pot to plant his seeds in; there was also no awareness about hygiene and family planning.

When I looked around, I found that there were several other families in a similar state. I guess they were all part of a big group heading to some congregation at some place. One can well imagine what kind of people these unfortunate children would turn into; they will be uneducated and uncouth and will not be of any value for this huge nation of ours.

When we look at the bigger picture, I think population explosion is the mother of all of our problems. Our politicians must put into place a system of incentives and disincentives for controlling population. This is more important than all the ‘yojnas’ put together till date. Once this is done, there would be no need for reservations. When people are fewer, each person gets a bigger share of the benefits of the progress made by a country, as you can see from this example. Most important of all, men who have no respect for women and treat their bodies like door mats must be dealt with harshly.

In a country like India, which is already so heavily populated, no family ought to have more than one kid; if they need more, they should adopt.

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