India is a hard place in all aspects, just traveling even as a normal tourist has its challenges. Running the country has taken it to a new level. I have seen poverty hardship and have experienced my fair share of difficulty and hardship. I basically live like a local. Each day is a grind of 45-50km, and then find a place to camp, cook food with whatever we can find at the village market, eat and then collapse till the next morning.
What I go through is nothing compared to what I have seen on the streets of the villages in India. A lot of the villages that I have been traveling through are so poor, there is nothing but the absolute basics, and I mean basic, the big village shop sells oil, rice flour, veg, salt and spices. One can see the people on the street just make it from day to day and really grind through it. In amongst this there is still another level of poverty, and a big segment of this. These are the hundreds that just come to the end of their work day in the field, working on the roads or in the town. There is no where to go that’s it, when darkness comes wherever they are they will sit down, scrape together what they have found to eat, cook it where they sit and then huddle together in one big pile and fall asleep. The evenings are cold, little kids run around half dressed and huddle into the middle of the group for warmth.
The food is finally cooked and shared amongst the group, who are leaning up against a pile of street rubbish. They eat and then lean back and pass out still hungry and exhausted. Cows, passers by and dogs step over them as they walk on into the night.
I came running into a small village the other evening, late and getting dark. It was freezing cold and a chill of a wind was blowing. I turned the corner to head up a little road between the houses to meet up with the crew at a street shop. As I rounded the bend, my light caught a large group of people just lying huddled against the wall out of the wind, kids crying, women trying to get some warmth into them. They saw me and came running to me, their little hands out-stretched pleading for something, anything, just some kind of help, in a way just pleading for a chance to live. I stood there, I could not draw myself away as these scruffy little kids tugged at me pleading.