Poverty and Destitution
“Health is the greatest gift; contentment is the greatest wealth”
Buddha quoted from the Dhammapada
India is poor. Really fucking poor, there’s no way to explain it other than most people barely have a roof over their heads and food for their bellies. There’s trash everywhere, litter, cows, dogs, birds, little chipmunk rats, and you have to be really careful by the rivers because they are the sewers. I only found one big trash can yesterday.
The people don’t seem to care though. They are focused on their own relationships with their friends, and I didn’t see a single person on a phone binge yesterday (you know when you see someone disappear into their phone for about 30 minutes) and everyone was present to what was happening at that very moment. Many are doing fine, many are not. But they don’t seem to care much about any of that, smiles are just about the easiest things to get out of these people, they are so damned happy they don’t give a shit about where they live, or what they are eating. They are together, connected, and the close proximity of everyone seems to bring everyone together.
So I set out yesterday not expecting to really talk to anyone since I don’t speak Hindi and that taxi driver and I could barely communicate. I walked for about thirty minutes before meeting the woman second to the right, who started talking to me in Hindi. She asked where I was from (everyone asks the same things, ‘name’, ‘where you from’) and I talked to her for a bit and shared some nice smiles. Then she invited me into her house for tapas, or tea.
Her Daughter on the right spoke French, so I talked to her for a bit, though her level of french wasn’t too high unfortunately. We had a blast not understanding each other though! They were all so nice and they fed me some wraps with curry inside that totally did not make me sick at all, it was delicious! I didn’t drink the water though. I think I just need to stick to cooked food and I will probably be fine for a while. The man on the left was really friendly, but this was when I started to really understand how huge the language barrier is here. This was really one of the kindest things anyone has ever done for me, literally inviting me into their home off the street! This picture doesn’t do them justice either, they were all so happy and constantly smiling just to feed me a little food and some tea. I left after about 30 minutes and big smiles and bows.
I took to the street to meet more of these incredibly present and happy people. You can see it in their faces!
So I kept walking around and met more people.
After a little bit of wandering around, I came to a dusty and loud section of town, with lots of burning trash and nasty shit like that around. I met this man, who didn’t want his picture taken. He told me to take a picture of this woman, who was suffering quite a bit, she had some kind of gum disease, though I am not really sure why. So he took a huge pile of trash and threw it at her feet then told me to take pictures haha. So the guy on the left is laughing because she just started to mess with the trash and it was a pretty funny scene, in spite of the obvious implications of the man’s actions. This woman is not even rare, I saw hundreds more like her while I was walking around, but mostly I saw a lot of happy people.
It’s always amazing to me how impoverished people value things differently than those who have excess. They use each other rather than their possessions for comfort and there just seems to be an enormous amount of camaraderie here, if you can catch my drift. Everyone is with their friends conversing, exploring, or with their family along the same terms. These people are in it together.
This kid is the next one that crossed my path and he was pretty cool. I asked him to smile and this is what happened.
Suffice to say I don’t know if he understood me, but we had a good time taking his picture. I really like walking around with a camera, everyone wants their picture taken!
Here are a few of the more memorable moments and scenes from the day.
So you can see that there is a huge diversity in India between the rich and poor, the photos above have some stark contrasts in them. All of the poorer people were so happy though! It makes me think there really is a relationship between the amount of money you have and how much you enjoy your life. If you waste it all thinking about money, what can you enjoy? What moments will be meaningful besides large purchases and consumption if you spend all of your energy on more, more, and more all of the time?
Maybe we receive less by asking for more? Maybe we need to ask to receive in the first place.
You know that silly chart about women, saying that there is a direct proportion between crazy women and their attractiveness? Maybe there is something similar about rich people and depression. In the end, I think it’s mostly about accepting circumstances and being able to move past them, rather than fighting them and sinking where into the quicksand where you are. If you are happy, why do the circumstances matter so much?
Suffice to say I am very grateful for my experience yesterday and for the incredible people who were so kind to me. I’ve spent the last 16 hours recouping from the flight and day 1, onto the second day and registration for Ashtanga. Stay tuned yogis