chandi chowk.

I, leading the group, turn the corner from the main road, we’re on a hunt for the biggest mosque in India, but we get much more than we could have ever imagined. Slumdog Millionaire had come to life before our eyes – the India we had all expected to see was right in front of us.

There were buildings all connected, with power lines taking them over, stray dogs wandering everywhere you look, goats eating whatever lay around and sleeping on cars. I’d turn to see a cart full of fruit, then glance down to see a woman rolling on a board – no legs to stand on. I’d turn back often to make sure everyone was together. Through all this poverty, all the eyes looking toward the white tourists, we had a sea of smiles. It was incredible to me. The blind man shaking his cup of coins, the man with a hand cut off, the young girl with no hands, all smiling at us. They looked at us in awe and enjoyment.

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There was a jumble of twenty or so motorcycles, half pulled apart, parts scattered along the road and a dozen or so men leaning down trying to sort it all out. As we passed, one head rose, followed by the rest – smiles on every face.

Through the distinct smell of urine, there were kids walking and chatting excitedly. They were so excited to say ‘Hello!’ and put their hand out to shake a white hand.

Motorcycles holding entire families were whizzing in and out between the bicycles towing loads of ladders and propane tanks, as we walked down the street getting honked at to move over further in the single lane that was infringed by street venders and people napping on a blanket behind a bike or two.

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It was nothing any of us had ever seen before. You’d think one would leave such a place feeling depressed and sad, but we all walked out of Chandi Chowk wondering where all the smiles came from. It just shows that there are people all around the world that are much happier than us, with so very much less. Lesson received India.

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