The Long Lens blog: Photography with added snaps, art and culture

The photography site for sore eyes. Featuring: Art, photography, performance and theatre. With extra writing because I'm also a writer.

Beggars belief

I visited India for ten days. I went to a lovely wedding, explored Ludhiana, walked round the Golden Temple at Amritsar and visited Chandigarh. To top it all off I spent two nights in the fabulous Himalayan mountain town of Nainital.

It was quite and amazing experience. So why do I keep questioning if I should be enjoying myself in this exceptional multi-cultural country?

The answer is poverty. Deprivation is not exclusive to India but this country holds a sizeable chunk of the world’s homeless, hungry and humiliated.

India has a fast-growing economy built on industry, particularly manufacturing. But still it harbours huge misery and desperation.

You see it immediately from the train when you leave New Delhi Station heading north. Amongst the litter-strewn wage ground between the track and slums squat dozens of human beings in what acts as their open-air toilets. They shit on the ground.

The stench of the slums, even from 50 metres away in Agra is unbearable. So unbearable I didn’t dare go near.

And the beggars at every street junction and corner, who traipse up and down the trains (first-class excluded) or, like these two girls pictured (above), who relentlessly smile into carriages in the desperate hope of a few rupees.

I gave them a (large) packet of crisps and some biscuits. Does that justify taking the photograph?

Possibly not. But at least writing about it and showing this photo is better than ignoring it. Do I sound like Bono?

One comment on “Beggars belief

  1. David
    August 18, 2009

    I found myself thinking something similar when I was in Egypt – although probably on a much smaller scale to what you experienced. In Luxor, the tour guides were very full on when it came to moving on the kids who were begging for food and the t-shirts one of the tour companies provided. The desperation in the eyes was frightening and made me wonder whether being there as a tourist is effectively condoning a country which allows communities to live in such poverty so close to the trapping of a richer life.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s


This entry was posted on May 18, 2009 by in beggars, india, poverty, slums, trains.
%d bloggers like this: