India~Where people are happy even if they are poor

Journal Prompt~Poverty in India

Unless you are a Bollywood star or an owner of a seriously successful business, I don’t see that there are any wealthy Indians. During our tour of Northern India, when our guide said the buildings we were looking at were the homes of wealthy Indian citizens, I just shook my head. If that is wealthy, I can only imagine what the poor homes looked like. I didn’t have to wonder for long. There are way more shacks and crumbling houses than solid houses of the “wealthy.”

Suddenly my townhouse IS the Taj Mahal.

Suddenly my townhouse IS the Taj Mahal.

Poverty is everywhere. While at the hotels we watched music videos featuring beautiful landmark like looking backdrops and one of my classmates asked, “Where the hell is that place in India?” and my response was, “Nowhere, I’m sure it’s a sound stage.” This country is poor, living conditions are poor, the people are poor. There is no where that isn’t affected, even those who are “rich” must still live among the poor and therefore are in some way part of the problem for which there is no cure. No magic wand will fix the broken system or erase the, smog, trash and pollution that has infected this country. It is really sad because the people here are caring, kind and gracious and all of them are hard-working, even if it is just sweeping the dirt and trash off their sidewalk, into the street. I have noticed that there are people (untouchables) that collect the trash and take it somewhere—I imagine to burn—so there is some attempt at keeping the towns clean.

The caste system will never change. It may have been abolished and then outlawed, but the Indian citizens still honor the system, carrying on the tradition, marrying within their working class and rarely escaping to a better life. Children are made to sell cheap trinkets or postcards on the streets or even worse, flat out beg as tourist gather in an area. It is easy to fall prey to the begging children because they are so pitiful, sometimes carrying babies with barely a stitch of clothing and never wearing diapers. Many of the beggars don’t speak but just raise their hands to their mouths to indicate they want food. It is hard to ignore them as we are so accustomed to over-indulging and hate seeing someone starving in the street but we are not supposed to start handing out food or money because they will follow us.

The children at HOINA are so full of joy, it is difficult to remember that they are orphans and far below poverty stricken. Most have only two outfits, pajamas, and one toy or personal possession. Every morning then have breakfast and they are served meat (not beef, duh) once a week, fish once a week and all the other days they eat vegetarian meals. Lunch is taken to their schools rather than the orphanage paying for lunches in school. I don’t feel the children here are poor because their basic needs are taken care and they are happy.

There is a big discussion with poor and happiness. In America, I am poor by the standards of the state. I receive health insurance and food stamps to care for myself and my children. It frustrates me when my classmates respond to my statement that all of India is poor because the basic needs, hygiene and infrastructure is not met for its citizens with, “Well, that’s objective.”  I responded, “No, it’s not objective, dirt is dirt and it affects everyone, rich or poor.” And I didn’t get any further responses to my statement.

My next blog will be about the governmental hospitals we visited yesterday. If you want to appreciate what we have in the United States (or your own developed country for my readers who lives outside the USA) read this next blog post. The health care system blew my mind.



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