So... fair warning first that I saw what I wanted to see in India, and it is not cheerful in any sense of the word :> The cheerful-lest part of it for me was me coming back to TOD and squeaking "Pst Irene, someday I wanna go India on mission trip with OM" and being encouraged by Pst Irene's reply. :>
Was there for just four nights and four days (yes, it is possible - I arrived late at night mah. Checked in at close to midnight.) Accounting conference. Fascinating stuff. We sit around and discuss how our clients are affected by the latest accounting policies and tax regulations ;>.
Anyway, when we arrived in the airport, the first thing you notice is that it is not one of the most developed airports you've visited. As soon as I stepped out of the airport, I started having breathing problems from the smog. There were little three wheeled motorised trishaws waiting around but we had transport to the hotel by car.
Along the way someone pointed out the lorries had signs at the back saying "Honk please". Apparently everyone in India takes that literally because there was a cacophony all the way back to the hotel.
And what was the first thing I noticed? Guys relieving themselves on almost every street we passed by (*wry look*). Asthmatic me also saw that there were very few pavements - everything was dry sand and dust, dust, dust everywhere.
The next day after having the tax meetings and audit meetings (don't ask!) the host firm took us on tour around New Delhi. Our hotel was on Embassy Road (btw, quick tip :- 5 star hotel vastly overpriced!!!).
Outside the gated buildings lining the sandy pavements were tents of very rough material. From the bus I could see families living inside the tents. There were pots of cooking oil outside on top of gas stoves often tended by women. Children wearing rather dirty clothes and covered by the dust of the streets played outside the tents.
Strange to say there were men sitting around and lying about everywhere.... be it on the pavements or in the middle of the roundabouts and road dividers. One couldn't help but wonder if there was insufficient employment for them.
Whenever the bus stopped, vendors and little children and women would knock on our bus windows asking us to buy things from them or just begging for money. It was a pretty heartbreaking sight.
The worst was seeing a mother beating a circus drum (there are many street circus children begging on the streets in exchange for tricks) whilst her little daughter who couldn't have been more than 5 turned somersaults on her little tummy in the middle of the hot tarmac road. More worryingly, cars and other vehicles were racing up and down the road whilst the little girl did her performance!
It is one thing to see street people located in one area of the city, but to see them everywhere on almost every road....