Friday, 5 October 2012

Realising how blessed we are

Image for Episode 1
(image from

The FH and I watched a programme one night this week about life in India.  It was eye-opening, and I was  shocked at how people live in what I thought was a reasonably developed country - I know it is not up there with the US and the UK in terms of living standards, but I hadn't realised just how far behind some areas of it are.  And yet the programme description shows that it sets out to celebrate the ingenuity and resourcefulness of the two main people that this programme was about - one man who makes a living sweeping the streets of the jewellery district in order to collect gold dust, and another man who lives in a shack on the beach with his family, has debts with the local moneylender, and who has a "pub" in his house most evenings selling illegal liquor.

We saw the chap who deals in gold dust being lowered into a street drain in order to excavate the sludge from the drain, so that he could sell it to another person who had a large organisation where the sludge could be washed and refined to extract the gold from it.  He went to look at a room in a house, and he was shown the shared "bathroom" which was filthy beyond my wildest imaginings and it seemed to be shared amongst all the rooms on the staircase.

The man who lived in the beach shack had to tear it down one day to prevent it being destroyed by the council bulldozers, and then his wife had to build it up again when they had gone - she was a little peeved that she had to do most of the work.  And she was serving customers the liquor as she was rebuilding the little house around them.

We also saw a gang of young guys who sell books to people in cars when they are stopped at a junction at traffic lights - they are illegal copies of books, and they sell them at knock-down rates.  The gang live in the open air in the local cemetery, where we saw women cooking over fireplaces made from bricks, and then they all bedded down for the night on covers on the ground, including a very tightly swaddled baby, which was then just laid on the ground and covered up with another blanket.  They live like that, but they have mobile phones - one's mother was calling him from her home in a village outside the city to see if he was OK.

It made me think of the Mennonite saying that we should "live simply that others may simply live" and it reminded me of the child I am helping to sponsor in Niger through the Parent Bloggers network.  Perhaps I should live even a little more simply in order to be able to help more.  Food for thought.


Gill - That British Woman said...

they don't know any different. India though is a country of extremes.


Meanqueen said...

My brother lived in India, he loved it there. I declined his offer to go and visit him, I just couldn't face seeing the poverty close up. I have seen similar programmes about it and it looks awful.