Yakitori in a martini glass and a gentle knock at the card window

Yesterday I went to a party, yes me the recluse put on her best clothes and best face and accompanied the husband to the engagement party of a golfing buddy of his, the same person whose house I visited a while back and  wished I had sunglasses on to protect me from the glare of the artefacts on display. It was the most over the top house I had ever seen. Yesterday was the daughter's engagement and one pair of sun glasses would not have been enough. I also discovered that there was a fountain modelled on the Trevi one in Rome spurting precious water at the entrance of the house. I guess I missed it the last time as it was not on. Anyway, everything is Italian in this house. It was, by Delhi standards a small party but everything on offer was uber special. My best clothes paled in front of the glitter and dazzle of the ladies, but somehow it made me stand out. I have always liked that! The guest list was a mix of people who as usual did not know each other and I sat myself on an expensive sofa, hoping the colour of my outfit would not run on the pristine white and gold of the priceless seat. Music was playing through a piped system and there were flowers everywhere. There was an abundance of drinks, soft and hard,  but I settled with my all time favourite H2O. As the husband and I had eaten our vegan food before, we did not eat, but I feasted my eyes on the abundant vegetarian fare on offer with name cards stating what the dish was. I did a double take when I read: Yakitori in a martini glass! It was actually a vegetarian skewer sitting in an empty martini glass! Do a few pieces of vegetables on a skewer become a starred dish if placed in a swanky glass. Maybe they do.

We did not stay long as we were not planning to dine. On the way back, it took some time to get back to reality. After some silent moments, the husband and I shared thoughts about the evening and both of us wondered at the many ways the rich spend their money. If I had surplus money and no project why, I really wonder how I would spent it. I have been blessed from the time I was born to a surfeit of everything and am more than satiated. True there have been times, like now perhaps, where a few extra pennies would be welcome to patch up some cracks in the wall, but what the hell, the cracks have their own story to tell and life is good with them, but I really do not know what I would do were I to win a lottery and not be allowed to use it on project why.

As we reached the traffic light close to home, it turned red and within no time a young girl maybe 7 or so with a baby at her hip knocked at the car window. It must have been well past 9pm. The work day had not ended for these two children of India. That knock was felt deep in the gut by both of us as the husband worded what we both felt: why does this not outrage us?

I ask you that question again: why do we not get outraged when we see children begging! The we here is a collective one. It is me, you and above all the people who are supposed to make and implement decisions, programmes and even Constitutional Rights. Remember the Constitution that everyone quotes and which has a Preamble where WE, the People of India resolve to give all its citizens social, economic and political justice and equality of status and opportunity! Does the child that begs at the red light have equality of status and social justice. And by the way that child also has a right to free and equitable education! Let us forget for a moment about all the other goodies that are sought in her/his name and that we diligently pay for in the form of taxes and ceases. Let me remind you that Delhi has a 2% cess on Primary Education that you pay each time your kid has a hamburger at Mc Donald's. Where does this money go? And how come the kid that begs at the red light not go to an anganwadi as stipulated by the ICDS that has been in force circa 1975 and according to which every child born in this country has a right to nutrition, immunisation and even  proper psychological, physical and social development! And the programme is still very much on the anvil as recruitments for the said programme are on going. So how come these kids are not part of this programme.

I refuse to believe that politicians, government officials and supposedly responsible citizens do not travel along the roads of the capital and do not encounter such children. How come no one sees them and wonders why they have fallen off the safety net we all pay for. Why does this not outrage everyone and compels us to do something. True they are not our kids and not vote banks so why care.

Not one of the candidates in on going elections speaks about beggar children, malnutrition deaths @ 5000 a day or hunger and yet they exist. No one talks about the abysmal condition of habitat for the poor even in the wake of a recent fire that engulfed 700 homes last week in the country's capital. Millions continue to live in squalor quietly servicing the rich who enjoy their yakitoris in martini glasses.

The two Indias are not divided but live side by side. The problem is that one of the sides has blinkers on their eyes and refuses to acknowledge the existence of the other.