Friday, February 17, 2012

Money Can't Buy Me Love

Where do you begin in a blog about India? For me, poverty seems like a good -- but sad, heart-wrenching -- starting point, and it starts here in Paris. That is to say, we've been discussing Indian poverty for weeks before our trip starts, trying to prepare the girls for what they will see. My sister and her family visited India over Christmas break, and my sixteen-year old nephew was heard to mutter, more than once, "I am so lucky." Everybody in her family has wondered how my girls -- much younger and, in the case of G, particularly sensitive and empathetic -- would fare here. My nephew and sister both warned, "It's going to be so hard for her to see all those people begging and not be able to help them, and to see all the stray dogs and not be able to pet them." And they're right, of course. So we have already been prepping them.

At one point, P asks, rather logically, "But how will they know to beg from us? Can they just look at us and tell we're rich?"

"Well, they can see we're tourists, so already we had to pay a lot of money to travel there, so we must have money."

And G responds, "But we're not rich. Are we?"

So we go through the list:

"Do you have enough food to eat, whenever you need it? And is it expensive, good food -- organic fresh vegetables and fruits, expensive meats? Fancy treats? Even restaurants?"


"Do you have clothes? Lots of clothes? More clothes than you can wear? Choices of clothes? Clothes just for playing dress up? Whole closets full of pretty things?"


"Do you get to live in a nice home in safe, clean neighborhoods, and in expensive cities no less?"


"Do you both go to good schools, and get an excellent education, and even take extra classes just for fun?"


"Do you get medicine when you're sick? And visit doctors whenever you need to?"


"Do you get to take fun trips, trips where we have to pay for airplane tickets, trains, hotels?"


"Are there toys, books, arts-and-craft materials, computers, cell phones, and electronics in the house? Are you a six and an eight-year old, each walking around with $100 digital cameras?"

G & P think about all this for a while. And G says, "Yeah, but we're not rich like that Beatle guy."

"No. That's true. We're India rich, but we're not Paul McCartney rich."

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