Queued up at Kathmandu Airport
I arrived at Delhi on 30 Sep and headed straight over to Agra to photograph the Taj Mahal. I hadn't slept for about 24 hours at that point. I'm not sure which location won the award for the noisiest place out of the two. What has been consistent in both locations has been the lack of a quiet, clean hotel.
The depths of poverty that I have witnessed in India rivals that of Pakistan with the same sorts of stunts pulled by beggars off the streets. The man I saw in Delhi yesterday went one worse. As we were stationary in traffic waiting to cross a junction, he appeared with a lifeless child aged about two years old in his arms. One of her arms had been amputated below the elbow, a blood crusted bandage covering the stump. In his other hand a child's milk bottle that appeared to have been dried for days with various substances crusted on the inside of the bottle that made me feel that the bottle hadn't been used in days. I felt anger as the thought emerged that the child was in all probability dead and was just being used as a begging tool and sadness in the knowledge that life is worth close to nothing in such places. She probably never even got her foot in the doorway to innocence, let alone experienced it in some way. Born into poverty.
By contrast, I found myself thinking about the beggar girl that I had met in Agra. I photographed her and gave her some rupees. She looked to be the same age as my daughter but her eyes looked older. I sat in my room reviewing the photo of her and compared her life and the possible outcomes to that of my Laila. My paternal instinct made me want to take her away from there as it seemed that her eyes have probably already seen and experienced much that would disturb, or even traumatise westerners. I sit here wondering whether she will be able to break free from the chains of her current karma or whether she will sold into child prostitution or purposely disfigured in some way to make passers by feel more sorry for her and turn her into a more effective begging asset for those who control her life.
I face my own limitations in this situation, knowing that I don't have the financial resources or any political contacts that could help me do anything about the situation of this girl. I'm reminded of the press giving celebreties a hard time over adopting such children. I say good on them, every child they manage to adopt and rescue is spared a life unimaginable by the majority of westerners.
If you go to see the Taj Mahal, you'll see her near the entrance way. You will also see a young man who is approximately 6 feet tall that walks with an unsteady gait. I have a feeling that he has severe MS as his speech is also impaired. He tried to sell me something but I didn't want it. I offered him some rupees though and he wouldn't accept them. He isn't a begger..just a guy trying to make a few rupees to get by with some dignity. I bought one of his keyrings and attached it to my camera bag and there it will stay.
I arrived in Nepal yesterdy and I was hoping to photograph Mount Everest from the air today but the flights are all grounded owing to poor visibility.
I still can't seem to be able to get any sleep at all. I don't think I've had any in the last 72 hours and can feel my body begin to shake when I lift my baggage. I was in a lovely hotel last night with a good energy about the place. It's called the Ambassador Garden Home and well worth a visit. The food is also excellent there; I had spaghetti bolognaise made with buffalo meat..YUM! It's also lovely and CLEAN! They have no vacancies today though and I'm now in a place that doesn't even have clean bed sheets. It might be sensible to use the sleeping bag tonight.
Have a good one whatever you're doing.