Baby on the Sidewalk
India challenges in every way – we’ve made no secret of that – the filth, the poverty, the corruption, the bureaucracy. Don’t get me wrong, the palaces, the wildlife, the stunning tribal clothing thrill visitors, but sometimes the “cultural differences” stop you dead in your tracks.
While walking around Connaught Place in central Delhi braving the 100+ temperatures, we came across beggar woman who was using her baby as a prop. She had laid the naked baby (less than one year old) on the burning sidewalk, the unconscious child covered in a blanket of flies.
Noticing my attention focused on her, she whipped the child up and thrust it towards me gesticulating wildly to make me feel some pity. The malnourished child’s arms and legs hung motionless – there was no movement. I don’t even know if the child was still alive.
When I failed to react to the perverse show, she plopped the baby back on to the burning sidewalk and stared past me looking for someone else. She didn’t even glance at the child.
I stood staring at the tiny body lying on the pavement wondering what on earth to do. Wealthy Indians wearing Paris Hilton sunglasses and chatting on their cellphones strode by ignoring this apparently common scene. Disgusting.
Can you imagine somebody lying a baby on a burning sidewalk? We didn’t know what to do. What could we do? I felt like taking the child away from the woman. Or perhaps kicking her in the face? Of course, I would have immediately been arrested by the police standing a few feet away. Apparently, frying your fly-covered baby on the sidewalk is perfectly legal. The police probably thought she was lower-caste, so who cares. I did.
Sometimes I hate this country. Is this the India Inc. everyone keeps talking about? Is this the new prosperity? the new superpower in the making? And yet, we are heading to Nepal to get another Indian visa to stay another six months. Why? I’m not sure.
(By the way, a hundred yards down the street, I discovered another unconscious, naked child – this time an abandoned toddler – lying in a sea of flies. This is not a one time occurrence.)