Our Perspective Changing Experience in India

Photo Gallery by Kidus Tewodros



I stepped out of my hotel room and was greeted by a beautiful, tropical jungle. It was an oasis and something that many would call paradise. When I stepped off of hotel property, I was greeted by a completely different scene. The street was packed with cars, people who look like they have not eaten in a very long time, animals, and an overwhelming amount of trash. When I saw this, I realized India was nothing like anything I had personally ever experienced.

I recently traveled to India and visited the cities of Delhi, Agra, Jaipur and Udaipur. I enjoyed my experience which was unlike anything I have ever seen in Omaha or the United States for that matter. India is filled with breathtaking landmarks that show off the wonderful ancient Hindu and Mughal architecture. India is a beautiful country, but there are a few things that make life in India very different than life in the United States.

One of the most shocking things about India was the overwhelming air pollution. According to CNN, breathing in Delhi air is equivalent to smoking 44 cigarettes in a day. When I stepped off the plane in Delhi, it smelled like wildfire. Although I eventually got used to the smell, the experience made me realize how lucky I am to live in the United States where this isn’t an issue. The cleanliness of the streets is very different to that of the United States. Many of the streets we drove by were filled with trash. Thousands of people walk down those streets each day, but the amount of trash surpasses the everyday litter we see in America.

When I was in Fatehpur, I saw a little boy selling pens. His name was Abdul. He was a great entrepreneur. He told me why we should by his pens which happened to be nothing special at all. He was so kind and so good at his job that we bought them and gave him extra money because it was clear he needed it. His face lit up and he told us, “This will help me a lot, I have no father. He is up there.” He then pointed to the sky. Hearing this from a 10 year old was heartbreaking. Our tour guide told us that many of the kids working the streets have no fathers and sick mothers and they work as the main providers for their family.

According to the BBC World Asia News, 29.8% of India’s 1.21 billion people live below the poverty line. It is heartbreaking to see that many people in India call broken down shacks home. The rural areas are filled with huts made of straw. Outside all of the tourist sights in India, there are crowds of people who are old or disabled that have nothing and beg for a living. The wealthy live in palaces and mansions, while the poor sit outside the gates begging for spare change. In the United States, the average income earned was 59,039 dollars in 2016 according to Business Insider. The average income per person in India was 1,670 USD in that same year according to BBC World News-India. A number which is highly boosted by the upper class. An estimated 22% of people in India spend below $1.25 per day. 

This experience showed me how privileged I am as a United States citizen. Even being homeless or poor in the United States is different than being poor or homeless in India.