Thursday, February 10, 2011

Some things give you pause

Every now and then I'm reminded of the stark contrasts that surround me. Less than an hour ago I returned from buying chicken. Seems innocuous enough, right? Except this chicken is going to feed my kitten. Still unclear? Let me paint the picture for you: Girl negotiates price of Rs 40 ($0.90) for a return trip on a rickshaw. Girl boards rickshaw and travels to chicken shop. On the way, girl is reminded that she has been craving a glass of wine, so girl asks the bicyclist to stop at the liquor shop on the way (girl speaks only a little Hindi, so she says, "Here, here, here," indicating to the driver he should stop, which puts them near the liquor shop.). She buys a bottle of wine for Rs 700 ($15.55 - more than she would might spend in NY on a bottle, but right now, who cares?), and outside she gets a request for money by a mother who could not have been older than 16 and who was cradling the tiniest, most adorable newborn. She debates the pros and cons of giving the woman some money and this time, opts to apologize and keep moving. They proceed to the chicken shop to buy chicken pieces - Rs 80 ($1.78) for two legs, two wings and a breast (chicken is relatively more expensive here than in the US; go subsidies!). But at the chicken shop something occurs to her. It came to her in the form of a little flick of her brain: How many Indians cannot afford chicken for their families - maybe 60% of them?  And she's buying it for her kitten! Oh, the world is a strange, confusing and difficult place. 

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