Thursday, March 17, 2011

A Richer India We Do Not Know....


On so many occasions as 2011 began.... I came close to canceling my participation at the Pallava Symposium 2011. Reason - artists were supposed to pay their own dues and take care of their entire expenses. I had very little money left in my bank account. We were also expected to get our own power-tools along... I did not own any, I couldn't spare to buy any.

And then this gentleman called S.Kumar called and made false promises for a free stay and free food at Mamallapuram. I was naive, or maybe gullible... that I fell prey to his words. Or maybe I was seeking desperately to create something I could call my own... something that did not bear another person's vision. After a flood of commercial ventures, an opportunity in Fine Art had finally come knocking... and this was a welcome chance to quench my puritan thirst. So I entered Tamil Nadu very optimistically, looking forward to 3 weeks of spiritual cleansing through Art... pure Art.

Before the Chennai Express reached its destination, it halted at some random station where an old crippled woman beggar entered the train. She was crouching, crooked, bent.... almost like a piece of abstract Art. However much the scene hurt, I couldn't help the lady as I was strained for cash myself. I looked at my wife who consented with her eyes. My hands in my jeans pockets, came out with a 50paise coin. That's the only loose coin I had.... and I thanked God for every little penny left with me. I donated that blessed coin to the shaking woman beggar as the scene evoked a silent conversation between me and my wife. I could sense Aamrapali feeling sad for the woman who had to beg at this age, as the beggar moved from person to person in our compartment. We looked at each other and then looked out of the window, almost turning our back at the woman. And just before we could conclude our sympathy-wave.... a little tinkle fell on my lap.

It took me time to recover from that shock. The old woman had actually thrown my 50paise coin back at me. Her body language revealed that it was more an issue of ego than self-respect. The very same coin that I was thankful to have in my pockets, was an insulting sum for a beggar in the train.

This is poverty in India. India may be a poor country, but Indians aren't poor any standards. An average beggar earns Rs.2 per donor...  that is at-least Rs.1000 per train. Even if they choose not to beg in beyond  2 trains per day, their average monthly income is Rs.60,000.... quantums more than an artist's... by a ratio of multiples.


1 comment:

artbeautysociety said...

Oh my! Not sure what to say after reading this post. The amount of money or comfort needed for satisfaction varies so much from person to person.


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