Time traveling . . . my first passport with exit stamp from Pakistan 24/12/74 and entry visa to India (which I just now noticed incorrectly is dated 1975 so that it expired before it took effect!) I arrived in Old Delhi on Christmas Eve 1974. I was eighteen. As soon as I stepped outside the train station, I saw that generations of families lived in makeshift encampments against the wall near the station.
An old woman sat on the ground, naked except for a rough piece of burlap tied to her front with a piece of rope at her waist. She sat with her bony back to the chaotic mass of travelers elbowing through the crowd, one frail palm turned up, hoping someone might drop her a coin. I paused, broken-hearted and overwhelmed and unable to respond to what I saw. I thought, "Who have I become that I can walk past this?"
Just then, an Indian man wearing nice trousers and dress shirt stopped, squatted down, and talked with the woman. Then he unbuttoned his shirt and literally gave her the shirt off his back. He hurried off to wherever he'd been going wearing nothing but a white sleeveless undershirt. The kindness he showed the woman, even though he must have encountered countless similarly sad scenes like this in his life, humbled me. I swore I would never become so jaded that I could pass by someone in need.
But of course I did. And I do.
That little scene in Old Delhi haunts me like a Dickens novel.