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 worlds homeless, hungry and humiliated.
India has a fat-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?