Browsing Tag


Children of the Streets

Slumdog Millionaire, the movie Mark mentioned below… it brought back a lot for me.  A lot I had forgotten.  About the children in India and Nepal.  Not forgotten intellectually… no, images of ragged, dirt-caked children missing a foot or an eye do not easily leave one’s mind… but the visceral emotional experience of maneuvering the chaotic streets of Delhi, Bodh Gaya, or Kathmandu with not one…never just one… but two or three or sometimes four children pulling on my shirt, my hand, my bag, whatever they could grab, and begging for money.  Sometimes food.  Sometimes a pen.  Mostly, money.

(Photo courtesy of

I spent two months in India.  A month and a half in Nepal.  Not a long time of my life, but enough time to get below the surface layer of the culture and see what daily life is like.  Enough time to get to know a couple of these street children, these kids who have no parents and are sent out every day to beg for money from the wealthy.  And if you can afford to eat food each day and to be dressed in intact, relatively clean pieces of fabric, then you are wealthy.

The kids I befriended were a little better off… they didn’t have any adults forcing them to beg…at least not yet.  They were a group of three, two girls and a boy, that stuck together and somehow managed on their own.  They were Nepali children who hung around the big Boudhanath stupa, which is a primarily Tibetan area with a lot of tourists.  I never gave them money, but they would find me most days, making my kora around the stupa.  We would walk up to the top of the stupa and sit down, and I would get out a pad of paper and a pen and we would practice English.  They spoke a surprising amount of English already… they had been in school for a while.  They wanted to learn words that would help them approach tourists, help them beg.  Sometimes a nice Tibetan lady who owned a nearby restaurant would give them food and let them sleep inside after hours.

I can’t remember their names.  I can’t remember their ages.  But I do remember how enthusiastically they greeted me, even after they learned I wouldn’t be giving them any money.  How quickly they learned new words.  How the sun felt when it would hit my face as I sat on the stupa, looking out over the rooftops of Kathmandu, with three young children pressed up against me, so desperate for the slightest bit of attention.  I wanted to take them with me.  To give them a home, a shower, enroll them in school.  I knew the statistics for street kids… their likelihood to be victims of child prostitution, disease, drug addiction.   I was 22.  I knew I couldn’t save all the kids I encountered.  But why couldn’t I save these three? It tore my heart.

And then I left Asia and I began forgetting, throwing piles of laundry and new friends and new jobs and new loves over that little rip in my heart.

I miss those kids.

Generally Disappointing

So. Next time we’ll just reach out to our extended friends of friends and ride one of their horses. Even if we have to make new friends to accomplish this. Sunny Farms North? Generally disappointing. Sure we were probably a bit naive to think it would be anything more than the trail rides offered by… stables of this sort… but damn, their website does specifically say:

“We have fast horses for people who like to ride fast. We have slow horses for people who like to ride slow. We have big horses for big folks & we have little horses for little folks. For those who have never ridden before, we have horses that have never been ridden”.

So I like to think that we had at least some reason for thinking that Leah could at least take off for a short run and not do the usual horse follow horse follow horse routine. Generally disappointing all around. Mind you, I’m probably just bitter about the whole thing – compounded by the fact that we were grouped with other people (and while the people were fine and awesome and no problem at all – it’s a F*cken annoyance when you don’t think that you’re signing up for a group activity. If we wanted a group adventure, we probably would have gone looking for something else instead.)

Basically, if you’ve never ever ever ever ridden a horse, or have kids and want them to ride the type of sad stable horses you feel sorry for – take them here. I could say more, but I have to stop because it’d just all come out really, really mean and completely biased – biased by nothing more than my actual experience with Sunny Farms North in Dahlonega, Ga., just past the end of 400. Oh yes. In order for you to truly get the picture – as Leah was getting onto her horse Max, the owner was holding the reigns – and then Max tried to bite him. Okay, I’m not so naive that I’m surprised by any ‘animal’ trying to bite a human – but this guy, grabs the horses head and loud enough for Leah to hear clearly, in effect says, “If she wasn’t already sitting on you I’d beat your f*cken brains out of your skull” – and you kind of get the feeling that he’s not one to kid about such things. Now, I’m probably out of line and this is how everyone in the um, horse-world treats their animals, but I don’t know. 

After our awesome trail ride we decided to drive into downtown Dahlonega and on our way there we saw this guy selling boiled peanuts on the side of the road! These were exactly how boiled peanuts should be. Their greatness was compounded by the fact (or due to?) that they were prepared on the side of the road, in a huge pot, and with a propane heat source. We’ve been fortunate enough to find one of these both times we’ve gone to Dahlonega – it makes the drive back to Atlanta so much better.

The other ‘event’ we went to last Saturday was the Festival of India – held by the… Indian group of Atlanta… well, that’s not their official name but whatever. Seriously. Like me, you probably understand the depth and general cultural richness of India – so you would expect that a ‘Festival of India’ run by the Indian American Cultural Association – to be better than a sad collection of booths selling cell phone cards, insurance, & vacations. If anything – you would probably think that they’d have some interesting food – and not just 3 sub-par indian restaurants and 1 decent indian restaurant selling up the common goods that the Indian branch of Panda Express will undoubtedly sell at the mall food court in the near future.

Granted – there were a lot of Indians that attended the Festival of India… I’m hoping that they were as disappointed in it as I was. I don’t see how they could find any real value in the whole thing since Anime conventions are more representative of Japan than this was of India. Of course, I could be wrong.

With high hopes for this event, Leah did wear her salwar kameez that she got in Nepal. See? We were totally hoping this would at least be better than the dealer’s room at a SciFi con. Next.

What did make the day better was that our friends Anna & Chris called us and invited us out to dinner with them. First we tried the Vortex down the street in L5P – that was a no go with the 45 minute wait (we don’t wait 45 minutes – not with SO MANY other places in Atlanta to go to). So then we drove over to Los Loros and had some good mexican food. That was our Saturday and Sunday was quite easy and sleepy and like I say every weekend – here comes Monday.