Sunday, August 10, 2008


Yesterday Shami and I went to watch Amal, a new Canadian-Indian film, about a rickshaw driver in New Delhi. It is a story about a dying man of wealth who seeks to find one goodman in Delhi (for those of you who are from Delhi, you'll know that people in Delhi - from politicians to rickshaw drivers - are notorious for finding innovative ways of ripping you off, though for many, it is wholly justified considering their economic plight). He finds Amal Kumar, a rickshaw driver whom he believes embodies the integrity and goodness he has not witnessed elsewhere in all the riches of the world. He decides on a last whim to leave his entire inheritance to Amal. Though the story is in some ways clicheed and predictable, it brought me to tears. I think this is because it has a wonderful way of touching on the fact that the poor are often the wealthiest among us, in the spirit, generosity and hope they show in the face of the trying and unjust hand fate has dealt them. It reminded me so much of my dear times in Banaras, of the children and women I met in the slums, of their courage, warmth, and generosity of spirit. I don't want to romanticize poverty, yet I believe there is something in measuring your wealth in the people you know and love, in whittling away the pretensions that sometimes come with privilege and living life with humility and graciousness, in treasuring the simple joys of life - whether it be sitting and drinking a chai on the ghat, or watching a diya cast on silent waters.

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