Dispatches from Delhi: Report 2

There’s certainly nothing similar about Delhi and Scottsdale from a purely aesthetic point of view. In Scottsdale, drive for 30 minutes in any direction and you’ll see a new city in relatively decent condition. Relative to what, you ask? In Delhi, you can drive a straight hour in any direction and you would still be in the same city, and regardless of what part you were in, you’d see trash, filth, and poverty.

I’m not talking about the couple of people seen around Scottsdale or Tempe or Phoenix with slightly humorous cardboard signs asking for spare change. It’s easy to spare change when the surface-level only shows a handful of homeless. But what about in-your-face-dozens-of-people-living-on-the-streets poverty, the kind of stuff that makes you look pass the immediate novelty of Slumdog Millionaire and think about how large-scale the word “poor” becomes in just one major city of one subcontinent of one billion people?

When I was younger, around 15-16, I never had much spending money in my pocket, but any time I did, I would give what I could part with (usually most of it) to someone I thought needed it. Considering the landscape in Delhi, anytime I did so made me feel like I was contributing a small amount to the collective human effort for better lives across borders.

Today, I left the house with the US equivalent of about $100 in my pocket. If I gave a dollar to every person I saw on the street who I thought desperately needed it, I would have been flat broke in 10 minutes.

Arjun Chopra
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