The poverty and lack of infrastructure in India is impossible to ignore. You are reminded of it with every little child tugging on your arm for money, the endless stretches of shantytowns, the dilapidated buildings, the empty atms, and the sheer dirtiness and lawlessness of the streets. India has 33% of the worlds poorest and no government aid for them.
It feels bizarre to come into so much poverty and stand on the other side of it as a carefree consumer. I’m here for six weeks and oh look how cheap the clothing is. I’ll buy it! And look how quaint the rickshaws are. I’ll ride them! Yes to this and yes to that and more more more before returning to my plush job and my plush life. I feel guilty how lucky I am. I deserve much of what I have because I’m a hard worker and ambitious and compassionate but I also owe a lot of my life to luck. How lucky that I was born a white female to a middle class family in the United States in the current century. How lucky that I was able to go to any university that I pleased and that my dream school accepted me. How lucky am I that despite my health problems, I have access to the top doctors and have a supporting and loving family. How lucky that I have always been taught that I can do and be anything I can imagine. It’s all happenstance that I am standing here so privileged and disconnected from the struggles of these people.
And yet with all my privilege, I feel helpless to provide for these people and ease their struggle. Poverty surrounds you and it takes everything you’ve got to not pet the street dogs who may or may not have rabies and to not help the four year old beggar who’s “pimp” watches nearby. It’s a reality that makes the beauty of India tragic and it’s something I’ve yet to reconcile with myself. With every new adventure and happy moment, I also feel sad and hopeless. People were not kidding when they said India would be an emotional journey.