Today was our last day touring Mumbai! We tried to squeeze in a last minute wish list while in the city. We started the day off by riding on the Mumbai train. That was quite an experience and I am not sure if I would even want to do it again, but at least I can check that one off of the bucket list. After the train ride we visited the Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Vastu Sangrahalya, formerly known as the Prince of Wales Museum of Western India. It was one of the most beautiful things I have ever seen! While visiting the museum an India family approached me and thought I was an actress. They wanted my autograph and picture. Haha! I told them several times I was not an actress, but they never believed me and thought I was lying to them, so I took a photo with them to make them happy. Maybe I will be hanging on their wall soon!
Traveling through the streets on our way to the Gates of India we were exposed to poverty like most of us had never seen before. There were thousands of beggars and vendors lining the streets. All of them following us around and asking for money or to buy something from them. One little boy, probably the age of 8 followed us around for 30 minutes, begging for money, while his mother stood in the background and waited. He then ran off and got bracelets and tried to slip them on our arm so we would have to pay for them. It was one of the saddest things I have ever seen. The most shocking thing I saw on the streets was a baby crawling through hundreds of people on the ground, unwatched and unclothed. The little baby wasn’t even a year old. I couldn’t even believe what I was seeing. Most of our team felt very overwhelmed by all of this. No movie or book can ever set the stage for what we witnessed today. It was unbelievable.
After our emotional experience outdoors, we were in need of a little American flavor so our tour guide took us to McDonalds. I am sure you are wondering how McDonalds works in a city where cows are holy! Ha! I was too. It was actually delicious and after 4 days of India food I was thankful to eat something without any spice. The menu had veggie burgers, pizza pouches and spicy fries. We all indulged in a semi-American meal and headed to the beach.
The beach was beautiful, but again I was saddened at the beggars walking the beach. A little girl who could not have been older than 2 years old was begging for money and it absolutely broke me. It left me with several questions. Why I was so blessed to be born into a family in the US with money and resources, but she was born into poverty, another generation of beggars? How does that cycle ever get broken? Will her kids, kids, kids beg on the street of India too? Today broke me emotionally. I never knew such poverty existed in the world. I knew I would see poverty and brokenness in India, but I never imagined that it would be to this extent. I never imagined there would be so many children involved.
Tonight I am going to bed sad and unsettled. I am sad for those children and their parents. My heart literally hurts for them. I can’t imagine being a parent that has no other means of resources for my children. I also can’t imagine being a child on the street. I guess they don’t know any better and that makes me even sadder. I’m unsettled because I don’t know what I can do for these people in India but pray.
We are leaving Mumbai tomorrow to head to Aurangabad, but a piece of my heart will always stay here. I will never forget the faces of the children I met today. I will never look at the world in the same way and for that I am grateful.