Sometimes you find a picture that draws you in and then as you stare at it a tears drops from your eyes.
I’ve been in india for something like 30 hours now and gone from shock, to awe, to pity, to disbelief, to thanks, and much more. I’m meeting a fellow antarctican up north and she mentioned that she thought Delhi was like the states. I thought that comment seemed so odd, but then I realized it’s probably because of where I am. The Tibetan refugee colony is a walled .5 kilometer stretch between the yamuna river and the NH1 bypass, occupied by 370 Tibetan refugee families. It’s dense, it’s hot, it’s loud (especially when the generators kick in for a daily power outage), it’s serene with prayer wheels and monks, and very, very odd juxtaposed to the river just behind the colony.
The kids above were part of the group next to the river. The river is poor farmland. The children are happy, but are persistent beggars, and love to have their picture taken (then see it). Picture a 5 story “modern” hotel with Air Conditioning as well as a balcony that over looks a multi-colored wooden hut that’s air drying colorful clothes in a flooded farm field of rice and the river beyond.
Then I wander a bit more inside this enclave to find out that some in the government want to flatten this colony this month. They are fighting to keep it, but it’s a factional fight between two parts of the government that disagree. The Tibetans are lost in the mix as usual, and are still fighting just to stay alive with peace, activism, and avid vegetarianism.
Here I am in a country where it takes 46 rupees to make one dollar and where my meal tonight at the “Ex-Soldiers Restaurant” was 90 rupees. Realize that my meal was a stunning Thentuk or Tibetan noodle soup plus a large plate of ginger rice with hot ginger lemon tea. Yea, yea I know I’m crazy as the air temp was 36c/96f so I should have found something cold to drink, but it was yummy! So I spent just under 2 dollars for a meal that is 15-20 in the US for a similar restaurant (it was fine dinning, with beautiful chairs, glass tables, and ambiance) in a pacifist colony of refugees where the apparently have ex-soldiers.
Add in the fact that a monk asked me to help him out on a 1000 rupee fair to get back home (apparently Tibetan monks travel here to congregate). So not only does the children who have open sores and flies buzzing with a big smile on their face ask for money, but so do the monks who travel around in clean robes and have expensive cell phones.
Something about this place is defiantly ironic.
I begin to understand why India is such an eye opening experience for people. I’m also wondering what the Paharganj spot is like as well as the rest of delhi. Is does the contrast get more strange with high rises just a few kilometers away and what makes my friend think this is like the states? I’ll have to catch it on my way back out of india.
P.S. I’m just making sure you get a better view, you should be able to just click the picture to enlarge it. If not you can view these pictures in a larger format by going to the blog and click on them. http://wonderfullyrich.blogspot.net These and more should eventually go into my web too, but bandwidth and time is required.