India – Beggars, Dirt and Poverty or Happiness and Joy – 26 Mar 10

Travelling

Today in the morning we were very happy to welcome an old friend here at the Ashram – finally Reinfried, with whom we have stayed many times in Austria, and his partner Traudi could take two weeks out of their schedule to enjoy a journey to India. We have been inviting him and he has also had the plan to come for a long time but it took until today for him to arrive at the Ashram. We also only have a few days left before we have to go back to Germany but we will surely have a great time together.

Unfortunately we also had to say goodbye today to Jeremy. We were sad to see him leave again but it made us happy to hear from him that he has had a great time at the Ashram and in Vrindavan.

Of course we are happy to hear this and many people really enjoy their holidays here. However we have also heard different experiences and opinions which sometimes surprise us. I told already that once a visitor arrived and one of the first things that we got to know was how surprising all the dust was. Another person came back from a trip to the bazar and complained very much about some beggars there who must have touched his arm to get his attention. With other visitors in that time he talked about it and they were disgusted at the idea of the dirt that the beggar may have touched or that he might have had some kind of disease. Hearing this makes me wonder with what kind of imaginations people come to India! If you ever saw any documentary about India, read a book, saw pictures or just a travel guide you will know that it is a country with much poverty, that many roads and towns are dusty and that poor people, as in all other touristic places, try to get money for a living by begging to those who have enough to travel around the world. I do not say that you should give each beggar money, you might have a big crowd around you if you start doing this and additionally it is some people’s business to encourage others to beg who might as well have a job and work. I just mean that you should not react like this. Look at these people, they are poor! If they are ill, it is because they don’t have money to go to the doctor, you should feel compassion, not disgust! And I know many poor people who pay much attention on cleanliness.

It is actually a basic attitude. Those people who want to enjoy, those who feel the energy of this place, those who are willing to be happy, will be happy. They come home and say ‘Of course there is a lot of poverty but if you look into people’s eyes, they shine!’ And I tell you: if you have this attitude, you will enjoy your stay much more!
 

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  1. Quinton

    it is sad for me to hear of people reacting to… well, really other human with an attitude of disgust.

  2. Mirela

    It can’t be hidden and it is a fact that there are a lot beggars, dirt and poverty in India. But whoever travels to India should know that. This ist not Spain, Miami or Hawaii, it is another kind of beauty. If you are looking for a clinically clear stay India is not the place number one, that’s true. But if you like to get know something completely different, when you want to marvel and get inspired, then India is your place!

  3. Nicola

    For someone to think of someone poor as disgusting, is in itself disgusting. I just hope they didn’t obviously show that poor human being their disgust, as i’m sure the last thing that beggar needed was another person showing him disrespect. People often can’t help the position they find themselves in life. When I came to India, I was aware of the poverty, and the dirt that usually accompanies this factor, but the whole point of India for me was to open my mind to it’s existence by seeing it through my own eyes, but to also appreciate the other areas of Indian life as well. Most western people who are interested in travelling would have likely heard about the festivals, Bollywood, the beautiful nature and scenery, the strength of family sentiment, and the incredible daily connection with such a variety of animals, to name just a few. That is also why people travel through more than one place in one country, to help gain a larger perspective as a whole as opposed to staying in just one place and generalising. I think some tourists need to evaluate their reasons for going to a country, and gain perspective on that before they even arrive.

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