Posting by Deanna Barton
I have made it through my first week in Chennai. Sounds of car horns, barking dogs and exotic birds are commonplace. My taste buds crave curry and spices. Busy streets and crowds of people generate a sortof energy that forces me to feel alive. Being approached in stores and asked if I am from here is now a common occurrence; I simply reply, “No” and proudly state, “I’m from the U.S.” I look forward to my free time when I can jump in an auto-rickshaw and explore the town. Moving rapidly through the streets dodging people, bicycles, buses and cars is an adrenaline rush unlike anything I have ever experienced.My previous night mingling with the “in-crowd” at Chennai’s Leather Bar in the posh Park Hotel has left me feeling groggy as we shared our knowledge about art therapy with the community through oration and art-making at the Forum Gallery. All I could think of all day was going back to Radha Silk Emporium to buy a sari. I was engrossed in a color vortex as the salesmen pulled out elaborate silks with sparkling jewels and intricate embroidery. As I contemplated about what color combination to buy, flashes of the poor and hungry locals on the streets clouded my mind- so much beauty and wealth in the midst of so much poverty. Before leaving for the silk shop today, Martina, HaeMin, Suzanne and I decided to take our leftover food with us to give to people in need. After shopping, we handed over the food to a man and a woman on the street asking for money. They seemed grateful. Now, as I reflect on my day, I wonder if they ate the food and whether or not they will find shelter for the night. Will my philanthropy bring them as much joy as my shopping spree has brought me?