School pen, madam? But of course!
I have so many pictures of Mysore and I haven't even told you about Mustafa. Now Mustafa is that CHALO! kid that I met in 2006 when Karenji and I visited Mysore. Since he was a tiny kid he has been working as a tour guide while supporting his 2 sisters, mom, and good for nothing drunkard of a father. The first time Karen and I met him, he was pestering us, so I told him to CHALO! (go!) Were were surprised when he began yelling back at us, "Chalo! You chalo! This is my country, you chalo! Don't tell me chalo, you chalo!" We laughed our heads off and then chatted with Mustafa for awhile. He speaks 5 languages perfectly yet has never been to school. After all, how can a child that works constantly ever find the time for school? So this year he saw me at the internet cafe and came walking up to me, and reintroduced himself. We had a chat where I found that his life is still very much the same, drunken father, etc. I slipped him some rupees when noone was looking and he hid the money in his underwear. Afterall, when you are a 4'6" little boy, you're easy to shake down. Mustafa, you are only 12 years old, yet you are more of a man than your own father. To you, I wish you all the best and you deserve it.
As some of you know, people in India are not huggers like we are here in the United States. You know how we are, we hug everyone! And also, I have been told, that I touch everyone on the shoulder or arm when I talk to them as well. I never notice that I do that, except when I am in India because sometimes I shock people with the touching. So, when I said my final goodbyes to Mustafa, I was the one left surprised when Mustafa reached his arms up around my neck and gave me the biggest, warmest hug. I held him for a long time, and yes, it caused a bit of a scene, but I wasn't going to miss out on this moment. I will miss you, little man Mustafa.
There is so much more to show, but what's the hurry. I want to mention the Slumdog Millionaire phenom before I go. I have been asked, "Is it really like that in India? Do people really live that way?" Yes, it really is that way, I am afraid. It is estimated that 50% of the population of India lives in poverty.
Eileen said to me on the way home that she would never take for granted one single grain of rice, ever again. Nor one single drop of water. With 600 million people living in intense poverty in India alone, how could you ever?