Life, Death, and Crossing the Street

I had never left the United States before this trip. I’d been to West Virginia, but I’d never experienced anything like India. The first impression one gets of Delhi is hard to put into words, but it can be compared to playing Frogger. There are few traffic lights, signs, or laws in India and crossing the street gives one a frog-eye view of life and death. I’m exaggerating. Most pedestrians I’ve seen get hit by a car or motor bike get up with a smile on their face. The ones hit by buses tend not to get up but that doesn’t prove that they wouldn’t smile if they could. The taxis, called autos, are motorbikes fitted with a canopy and a bench that can comfortably fit 3 people, but as many as 5 can fit if you pay the driver a little more. One of my fondest auto memories so far involves driving the wrong way up a highway exit ramp. I’d compare it to crawling up the first incline of a roller coaster while dodging other roller coasters-- very exciting. I can only imagine how the guy walking up the exit ramp felt.

Volunteering here, in many ways, feels like crossing the street. I’ll let the other volunteers talk about the specifics, but I do want to say that Project Why is not your cozy excuse to gawk at poverty and feel as if that hour of reciting the alphabet made a difference. You are the difference and one of the few resources these kids have helping them defying their odds.