Lotus Temple

The dreary Delhi skies made the Lotus Temple nearly blend into them. It was towards the end of a long sightseeing day, I was tired and it was a long walk from the parking lot. I decided to skip seeing the interior, particularly as this is a temple where a lot of people pray on a regular basis.

In the garden area were several dogs. One sweet looking but skinny blonde female caught my attention. She had an injured back leg and was searching the faces of passersby, hoping to find someone who would help her.

With a slightly lowered head and a wagging tail, she approached person after person and was rejected. One Indian woman in a red sari recoiled in horror and disgust at the dirty starving creature craving human companionship who approached and sniffed at her clothing.

The dog approached me, too, wagging her tail. She’d made a good choice as, under different circumstances, I would likely have taken her home with me. But there was nothing I could do for her at that place and time. I didn’t even have anything edible to offer her.

With all the needy people I had already seen begging at traffic signals, why did the plight of this dog elicit such sadness in me, more so than even some human beings? I thought about that as I returned to the car and never came up with an answer.


2 thoughts on “Lotus Temple

  1. Marie,

    I’ve never been to India, but here I am in Italy for four months; and there are, as usual, beggars.

    An animal cannot dissemble. If it appears injured and hungry, that’s what it is. we humans can and do all act when necessary. I am not saying for a moment that all who beg are acting. Many are in desperate need. But not all.

    I just today read something in a book written for students at the University for Foreigners of Perugia but equally applicable to any visitor to this wonderful city. The author (in his sympathetic section on how to respond to beggars) warns that he once encountered a mute beggar in Asissi. Less than a week later, he ran across the same beggar volubly pleading his cause in Perugia.

    “I saw you in Asissi,” said the book’s author, “but weren’t you mute?”

    “Well yes, in Asissi …” was the response.

    Your dog approached people humbly and hoped for the best. When rejected she didn’t push; she went on her way. So many beggars here in Italy whine about needing money to feed their starving children and follow you, sometimes plucking at your clothing, without the faintest clue that it simply makes them hugely annoying and makes you less likely to give them anything. Aside from anything else, no child has to starve in Italy.

    It’s like the merchants you described in your Ghana blog and book (and whom you’ve mentioned briefly here), who push their wares at you thinking they’re being helpful. When I was in the advertising business, it was called over-saturating the market.

    I am sure India is quite different from Italy, but I think that there is something common between the two: Your sympathy was occasioned by the absolute and unquestionable need of the sufferer.

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