Saturday, May 9, 2009

A Child in India

We take most of our pictures with Marisa's camera, but sometimes I snap things with my phone and forget about them.  I was cleaning out my phone today when I came across this picture.

The picture is both really cute and terribly sad.  The cute little girl with the impish grin is hanging off the back of our bicycle rickshaw.  While the driver was laboring up front, she kept putting her tiny finger over her lips to signal us not to say anything to the driver, who presumably would have been extremely angry had he discovered another 40 lbs of weight hanging off the back.  We shared in her little mischief and kept surreptitiously turning to laugh at her while maintaining conversation with the driver so he wouldn't notice.

After we stopped she hopped off and came around to the front.  She made a sad face, held her tiny hands up to her mouth, and said, "Chapati, Chapati"  (bread, bread)

We didn't give her anything, and it's impossible not to feel sad and a little guilty.  Perhaps we would have given her food if we had it, but all we had was money.  In her case, I'm not sure if she really was hungry.  As you can see in the picture, she is wearing bangles, is reasonably clean, and has decent clothes on, although like nearly all Indian children she is very skinny.  We did see many other beggar children who looked much sorrier.  People in India say you shouldn't give money to children because many of the children do have access to school and should be there, but if they get money and food by begging, they won't go.  Also, apparently just like in Oliver Twist, many of the beggars are in begging rings that are run by older adults.  Perhaps the cute girl was trained by an adult handler to hang onto the back of rickshaws to charm tourists.

In any case, I am glad we found this picture, because for some reason we'd been thinking about this little girl lately.  


  1. Nice reflection. Anything is possible. And in any event, I wonder what the 'parent police' in the U.S. would say. Childhood is certainly different there.

  2. She seems like a very engaging little girl. When there's so little that you can actually know about her particular circumstances, it's easy to imagine all kinds of possibilities. Terrific picture.