Monday, January 22, 2007

The miracle of India: Peace (and a good shave)

Poverty in India is worse than any poverty you have ever seen or can even imagine. There are people in India who are poor beyond your wildest dreams -- er -- nightmares. Really really really really poor. There are only a few places in America where you can find people this poor.

But what is even more amazing about India is that, despite having hundreds of millions of people living in poverty, there is still civil order. If I was THAT poor, that close to not knowing where my next meal was coming from, would I be that docile too? Or would I just go Berserkers, break the window of the next bakery I came to and at least have one decent meal -- chocolate eclairs! -- before they came and dragged me away? I can understand the horrid violence in Africa -- born of desperation -- but the fact that India is so peaceful is nothing short of a miracle.

And the situation of the poor in India also pertains to India's dogs and cows. There are really hungry, really big dogs on the street all the time but they never bark or bite. And the freaking cows wander through downtown traffic as casually as if the main drag of Jaipur was a pasture or something. And these cows are skinny as rails and have huge horns -- starving cows should be dangerous, right? Nope. They're not. Not at all.

I think that all this stoical and peaceful acceptance of life's miseries is nothing short of a miracle. We've already discussed the effects of poverty on Africa. And when the people of Iraq became suddenly poor, they too struck out in violence. And how would we Americans act if we too were suddenly poverty-stricken? May I never find out!

I have nothing but respect for the forbearance and tolerance of India's poor. And I am totally amazed.

PS: The second miracle of India is that, as starkly poor and obviously without access to "rest rooms" as the poverty-stricken men of this country are, most of them still manage to shave every day!