Yet another humbling day in India
Who would have thought it when we first met housekeeping assistant Maharaja on his 28th birthday.
It all start when we arrived in Chennai 2 weeks ago and met Maharaja who came to clean our room every day. Maharaja invited us to his native place, Pallipatti a small village 380km west of Chennai so we decide to go. He was going home to be with his 20 year old wife who is going to give birth imminently to their first child. We start at Chennai central station at 6am, it was thronged with every man and his dog, hundreds of people sleeping eating and going to the loo whereever there is a spare space.
Four hours later, after a bum numbing journey on a broken train seat, we arrive at Morappur to be met by Maha’ as he’s known to his friends and his brother, smiles all round he is like a small child for whom Christmas has arrived early.
Maha’ earns £90 per month so after his expences, housing, food etc he is left with £30 which he is trying to save each month with the goal of saving £2000 at which point the local governement will contribute £3000 so he can build himself a house. He estimates it could take him 5 years minimum to save the £2000.
After 30 min drive we arrive to be greeted by his wife, (with bump ) his brothers wife, mother, grandmother, assorted uncles and aunts loads of children from house in the village. It turns out we are the first westen (white) people to ever be seen in the flesh in the village.
Maha’s house is about 10ft sq and that is a living room, bed room combined to sleep about 6 people no furniture other than one table and a big cupboard. The floor is covered with bed speads and fabrics to add colour and comfort. There is no running water or toilet facilities, water comes from a tank in the village and other than one communal toilet, the field is the loo.
It all feels a bit strange to be treated like a celeb by people who have very little and yet are willing to share with us, who by comparison have so much. We were fed and watered and made to feel very welcome by these proud and gracious people. There were so many photos taken that day mostly by them using our camera but also wanting us to take their photo’s too.
The day ended with Maha’ driving us away from the village to the station followed by lots a children running after us. Another four and a half hours on the train back to Chennai to finally sink into a bed, with our thoughts of Maha’ and his family sleeping together on the floor.
I imagine that this is just one of the thousands of families struggling every day in India which is protrayed as a new wealthy country but in fact its wealth is owned by the few and the poverty by many.