Journal - India (Week 1)
Updated: Jul 13, 2020
The following content is from the journal I kept during my internship with UNICEF. It documents my reflections during a field trip to India in 2006.
First week: June 12-17 Delhi, The gateway to India
We flew in from all over the world. We will fly out to all over the six continents. So, how precious is this moment of being together!
The First Exploration of India
A group of interns working for UNICEF stayed in a youth hostel in Delhi. As we felt suffocated from not keeping in touch with our families, we wanted to buy SIM cards and use the Internet. As this was our first outing, we were very excited.
The temperature was extremely hot outside. After walking for 15 minutes, we finally arrived at a shop.
However, what we found out was that only Indian nationals can buy SIM cards. One card per Indian. But, one fortunate thing was that Indians can buy SIM cards and give it to others. (What is the point of this policy? It distorts market efficiency and encourages the black market. Everyone needing a SIM card would ask Indians to get one for them.) There were seven of us, but there was only one Indian student, Praya. Even though six of us were not able to buy SIM cards, Praya could buy at least one for someone in our group.
But when Praya went to the store to get us a SIM card, the shopkeeper said he would only accept her passport, when she only had other IDs. So it turned out none of us could now have a SIM card for our mobile phones.
All disappointed, and we headed to the Internet café. There were two cafes.
In one store, their computers were broken down. In the other place, their internet was too slow to use. So they did not provide service on that day.
The only thing that we were able to accomplish that day was to drink chai from a vendor on the street.
I feel like I am two years back in the past in my life in Nigeria. The heat, a large population, children of skin and bones, roads that were not fully paved, honking, and fast food restaurants with security guards.
Street of Shopping
We shopped in a very westernized part of Delhi. We were looking at a beautifully decorated belt with a lot of mirrors. The belts cost about 200-300 rupees.
And a boy came to me and asked for money. I wanted to give him some, but I remembered what I was taught during the orientation. People said I should not give money to beggars. I could not remember why. Aren’t we here to work for these children in need?
So I asked one of the interns the reason. He said,“Well, we don’t want them to be dependent. Also, once you give money to a person, others would also come and surround you, and you may be in trouble.”
I agreed to listen to his point and ignore the begging eyes of the child. He was walking bare foot and extremely skinny. I could not stop thinking about him on my way to a restaurant. If we have money to shop, is it really harmful to drop couple coins into these desperate hands? No reasoning could relieve me from my guilt.
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