I’d been to Chennai recently and it was an experience I can never forget. The train journey was terrible, to say the least – 13 hours in all; 13 hours of sitting cramped in a crowded second class seat, listening to the thuds and the bangs of the train as it snaked across the South Indian plains, the screams of the vendors selling everything from toys to bananas to masala dosas to pirated DVDs of the latest Hollywood movies, the obligatory noisy baby, and not to forget the beggars, who seemed to live on the trains.

I saw a boy, barely 12, who had 2 flat stones in his hands and was using them as a makeshift drum, beating them together to get a rudimentary beat, and sang all the latest kannada songs and stretched out his other hand for money. If there’s one thing that hurts me the most, it is seeing kids in such a pathetic condition. I then saw a man with no legs crawl across the length of the train wiping the floor with his shirt and begging for deliverance from this horror. There were many who had deformed limbs and  sometimes, none at all.  Women carried their babies and asked us to place alms in the baby’s hands rather than hers, and I was caught between abetting a moral crime and feeding a hungry kid. I did my part… I ignored them, silently wishing I was heartless, because if I were heartless, then this wouldn’t hurt so much…

The Chennai trip was successful. I returned back to B’lore on the same train, and had to undergo the same sights and sounds again. Sometimes I wonder if its all worth it – going abroad, earning more money than my wife and I can spend, going to expensive places to eat and fatten ourselves. Well, I guess this is what the lion king meant by The Great Circle of Life.