New Delhi, India – Sunday February 18, 2007
I'm traveling in India with my family. One wonders if there is anything to say that has not been said before. A delicate smoke fills the air, coloring the sky with an endless smog. It's somewhere between burning wood, incense and exhaust fumes. This is a city of extreme contrasts drawn together by sights and smells that all can enjoy and none can avoid from the remnants of the British Colonial empire that exude an opulence that one could almost mistake for Hong Kong, London or even New York to poverty that is not beyond what I had imagined it to be but nevertheless at this intimate closeness is intense well beyond what I am prepared for. It stops me from walking. My eyes can not drink in enough of sights that I have never before seen.
Four-year old children run barefoot in the street. Emaciated dogs lie somewhere between dead and almost dead. Hauntingly beautiful faces of seven-year old girl beggars, presumably chosen because someone has determined their beauty in our Western eyes. Architectural sites can’t seem to compare with the traffic that rushes wildly through the streets, bicycles, rickshaws, cars, buses, trucks in all sizes and shapes competing for the same space on roads that have no lanes. Shops no wider that the width of two doorways selling things I don’t understand. Smiling, kind, pleading faces. These seem a very sweet and gentle people. Soft voices fill loud spaces with our raising up to shout. Standing amidst such a rush of humanity the poverty is less sad than I expected. Proud and almost, mostly happy. This feels richer than the streets of New York, or even Rio. It is filled with a humanity that seems more apparent, resting right on the surface. Not ashamed to bath in the street or to persistently but not pleadingly insist that you ride in a cab, hire a guide or purchase a souvenir. I am happy to be here.