Bill Thompson’s in Delhi this week, and is blogging. It’s his first time in India and his reactions are interesting. For example:
When we stopped at traffic lights small children would come over to beg a few ruppees, one showing me her congenitally deformed hands with fused fingers to elicit my sympathy and encourage greater generosity. And knowing that I could never give enough money to make a difference I adopted the standard tourist defensive posture and ended giving them too little to make me feel even remotely good, and too little even to make a difference to them for the rest of the day.
It shouldn’t have bothered me, since I’m not here as a tourist, not here to wonder at the beauty of the city, not here to feel those delightful pangs of liberal guilt as I see the stark contrasts between those who have enough and those who have nothing, or seek some ersatz spiritual enlightenment from a culture which my country spend over a century trying to eliminate.
I’m here to work on a couple of shows for Digital Planet, here with the BBC World Service as a working journalist on assignment and therefore, surely, off the map of conventional morality that would cause me disquiet? Or perhaps not, because the kids did bother me and the extra 30 rupees I gave to my motorickshaw driver as a tip didn’t help at all…