Luxury v. Poverty
Two days ago I found myself in the back of a BMW on a 3 hour drive to Agra, the city that plays home to the Taj Mahal. It was the former capital of India, and is significantly smaller and more rural then Delhi.
We left at 6am from the hotel, passing through the rarely uncongested roads of Delhi, across the river and South. Despite being a rainy day, the sun still brought the city to life around me as we drove away from chaos, into rural India. Farmland suddenly surrounded the car. If it weren’t for the dark skinned people, and driving on the left side of the road, I would have easily thought I was back in the Midwest.
The entire drive – 2 hours total – I spent wishing I could rent a bike and just go for hours on the back roads where women carried crops on their head, and men hoed their fields by hand.
Its something we don’t see anymore in the States. In fact, its something I’ve never seen in my lifetime.
The worst contradiction is that I was comfortable in my car, driving down the new “Expressway” that just opened 20 days prior. It cuts the travel time between Delhi and Agra down to 2 hours, from 5 – at least for those who can afford the high 400 rupee taxes.
This contradiction seems to be the theme of my time in India. Luxury vs. poverty.
Only once before have I seen such stark contrast between the poorest in a nation, and the most wealthy – in Cape Town. There, similar to here in Delhi, the homeless live just around the corner from million dollar houses, home to the rich and famous of each place. I remember 3 years ago when I first saw such a contrast, I couldn’t believe it.
Now, I’m older and wiser, and instead of worrying, I have come to accept it as part of our world. There are the wealthy, and there are the poor. It doesn’t mean that this can’t change, or that I’m encouraging a communist world where everyone shares everything. It just simply means that our world isn’t perfect.
We’ve still got a lot of work to do.
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