By Trisha Thadani, Staff Writer
It was on day two of my trip to Gujarat that I decided to start avoiding mirrors. Day four, I almost went home. Day five was spent wondering why I didn’t go home on day four, but then day six came and I finally realized why I was there.
On day six I found myself in a mountain village looking at the most beautiful view of nothing I had ever seen. While looking at the endless hills and uncharted terrain at the edge of the Nani Khodiyar village in Junagadh, Gujarat, my mind immediately shot back to Mumbai with its abounding skyscrapers and contradicting slums.
India has many drastically different personalities. It has a lot of poverty and corruption, but on day six, I learned of its contradicting beauty and heart.
Day six was spent visiting and interviewing villagers who Aga Khan, the non-governmental organization I was traveling with and writing for, wanted to help. Most potential beneficiaries lived in adverse conditions but contributing members to the society. However, our last visit was to an unpleasant and disheveled man who lived alone in an unventilated, destroyed, and dark hut.
This man neither had a job nor regard for others and I did not understand why he deserved such generosity by Aga Khan. I figured Aga Khan’s charity was “earned” and exclusive to those who were deemed “worthy” enough for it.
I asked an Aga Khan representative why the organization wanted to help him and she immediately shot back saying, “Because he’s a human life. That should be enough of a reason.”
Although I was ashamed at myself for asking such a question, I was so humbled by the answer. Lucky that I had stayed until day six, because had I gone home on day four, I would not have learned that “worthiness” can have such a simple definition.
Also, had I gone home on day four, I would not have ended up in a beautiful mango orchard on day seven, and I also would have missed seeing an elephant casually stroll down a busy street on day 10.