Thanksgiving In India

My friend Aaron in living in India and writing about his experiences there. Here’s part of a longer meditation on Thanksgiving away from the hearth, warmth and comfort of his family in the US:

The moon’s disappeared. I know these people have family next time them and in their villages, but they are still sleeping on the ground, in the cold, outside of the walls. This is the first time I have missed Thanksgiving, thousands and thousands of miles away from home and I miss my family, that warm, familiar scene, but never on this day have I been more thankful. Yes this is an unoriginal comment from the young American living in the face of poverty. But it is true. The absurd amount of wealth, social capital, support I have in my life is, at times, unfathomable; the glasses I wear cost more than that man makes in a year, the credit card in my pocket can mobilize more money than that woman will make in the rest of her life, this bike costs what that boy will earn begging in a month, the ice cream I ate costs more than the whole family will earn today.

I think about the rationalizing barriers I build in my mind. Maybe this is an observation to offer, wondering about how I build that same wall between business school and destitution, plush green grass, and a lack of drinking water, somehow telling myself that the little I do is good enough. I sit in rickshaws for the longest 70-second intervals one can bear. As the clock counts down from 70, red to green, a woman taps my arm again and again, asking me for 10 rupees. Again and again all she says is 10, 10, 10. Her infant child, with snot exploding from its nose, perched on her hip. Ten, ten, ten. Ten rupees is $.25. I have that much and more in my pocket. She doesn’t ask me for a house. She doesn’t ask me why I am healthy, why I have a home, why I can get a job, why I don’t have to beg. She asks me for 10 rupees. Somehow, for that entire 70 seconds I find ways to tell her no, to look her in the eye as I feel my spine melting and my head pathetically sinking into my stomach, my torso like a jelly fish, no integrity, flapping like a plastic bag filled with water. I stand behind some wall I’ve built in my mind.

Chris Hayes is the host of All In with Chris Hayes on MSNBC.


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