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.”