New Delhi Beyond Project WHY's Reach

The traffic here is pure insanity.  Driving on the wrong way on the road is seen as acceptable, provided that you honk to gain the attention of oncoming traffic. I'm not sure if stop signs exist or if they are just ignored, but even turn signals are replaced with honking and the few stoplights there are take forever.  But for an unthinkable reason; according to some members of the community, it is common knowledge that the police sell these areas to traffickers like territories and make the red light longer so vehicles are forced to wait.  Then children fill the streets with to beg, taking everything they are given. If the children don't make enough, they are mutilated so they will receive more sympathy.

Last night, I was sitting in this traffic on my way to watch the weekly religious practices of Sufi's in New Delhi. The roads were so full my auto was caught 3 times at the same light. And as I pondered the differences and similarities of world religions, I kept my head down to avoid more begging children that I wouldn't be able help. The last time I tried, a friend pulled me aside after and said "when you give them money you feed the demand for their imprisonment." I didn't think I had the stomach to be in that position again; there was no right decision to make. So, I lifted my scarf over my head. My blonde hair sticks out like a swollen thumb. If they saw I was white they would assume I was wealthy and reach their hands into my auto, tugging on my clothes and pleading as they have so many times before.  I was hiding. But it didn't matter. A mutalated hand was raised a foot in front of my face. I deemed her about 11, but I would believe it if you told me she was 8. Her hand hung limply off her forearm- black, charred, and completely malformed. I sat straight up, my scarf falling back on my shoulders, too shocked to understand the reality of what I was seeing. No longer than it took for my scarf to fall, the light changed and we were moving before I could finish a thought. My blonde hair was picked up by the cool wind. I sat there in utter shock for about 5 minutes, forcing myself to understand that it wasnt makeup or a costume sleeve and this wasn't a movie; somebody did that to her. Then, sulking back into dusk's cover, I pulled the scarf back over my face, and cried in silence.