The Jaipur Kid


 Jaipur, India

This is Naadir.  His name means “rare” or “dear.”  We met while standing along a chaotic and busy street in Jaipur, India.  Naadir was begging for money, money he needed to eat, money he needed to feed his family, money he needed to buy the uniform required for school.  He needed money to survive and that’s why he kept begging.  He begged because he knew I was an American.

When I tried to ignore him (like the guidebooks told me to) and turned my camera in the direction of an interesting blue rickshaw, Naadir followed me, stretched his neck and leaned his head into the frame of my next shot.  Naadir kept begging me for money.  Did I mention he kept asking for money?

Not all I’ve written to this point is true.  I did meet this boy on a recent trip to India.  We met in the middle of a street in Jaipur, about a 4-hour train ride from Delhi.  I don’t know his name.  He didn’t tell me, and I didn’t ask.  But Naadir does mean “rare” or “dear.”

I have no idea how many siblings he has or if he attends the local school.  He asked for money lots of times in our thirty-second encounter; that much is true.  He never told me what he needed it for.  I never asked.  I had no small change to give him.

Without knowing much about his situation, I knew that the money I had in my pocket could have changed his life.  Along with rupees, I was carrying more than $500.  That’s more than eight months of income for the family this kid probably belongs to.  My camera and lens were worth four years of wages to those, like many of the 1.2 billion in India, who live on less than $2 a day.

When the traffic light changed, I turned and crossed the street.  Desensitized is one word to describe it.  I’m not sure this is what Jesus meant when he said, “The poor you will always have with you.”

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  1. Alyce Voss February 27, 2013 at 7:06 pm #

    so did you give him something…can I??

  2. Kris February 27, 2013 at 7:24 pm #

    Dan: I know how you feel. I have always struggled with my response to kids, disabled and other poor who beg. I always feel guilty even if I give them something. How can I have so much and they so little? It’s something I have never resolved and probably never will. I will probably continue on with my weak responses and lifelong guilt.

  3. Rosanne Holton February 27, 2013 at 8:31 pm #

    Interesting snapshot of an ever present problem. It is sometimes very hard to know the truth. Was it true or were you being played? Hard to know.

    Thank you for your comments.

  4. Susan Molstad March 4, 2013 at 8:42 am #

    I am sure you had this particular experience numerous times on the trip, as did I each visit. The only thing I could manage to do was so temporary…I gave the children food. One never knows who has taught them and for what purposes. Such an inadequate solution to such enormous need. Sue