I woke up in the middle of the night, convinced I had been sleeping forever. When I checked the time, it was only 12:45 AM. My mind raced, I tossed and turned, fell in and out of sleep, and then finally I heard my roommate Anne whisper, "Lauren, are you awake?" We spent a while talking, and then decided to take a walk at about 6:30 AM.
As we walked out onto the street, Chennai was waking up. Women were walking through the streets in their brightly colored saris, man and women threading jasmine, and people praying in their extensively decorated temples. The most striking thing I witnessed this morning was the extreme poverty. I did not understand how truly bad it was. People were cleaning the sidewalks, which consisted of sweeping the dirt into the street. Women were begging for money for their children, and people were sleeping in the dirt covered streets. I felt overwhelmed with sadness by the sights I saw. But amidst the dirt and garbage, I saw color, spirituality, and happiness.