Here's a little experience I had when I was road tripping last December. It's been up on my Wordpress for a while and since I haven't had time to post anything here, I thought I'd put up a skimmed down version of it here
Our family has this tradition where we visit some place every vacation. We usually stay at a nice hotel and there’s also a long car ride with the 5 of us crushed in an average sized car. Hopefully this will change soon as my parents are in the process of buying an SUV.
Me, being the techie I am, kept feeding route information (using GPS with Google Maps) to my dad, who was driving. We passed through towns and fields and the over time we could tell that we were moving away from the busy roads and cities to the rural villages of the country. This usually goes really well except one time when I forgot to check the map and he missed a turn. So we had a choice, turn around and go back (which was a couple of kilometers), or else, take another route which was a dirt road that showed up on the map which seemed to be rarely used. The dirt road was just ahead of us and it was quite wide so we went ahead with the second option.
Taking a dirt road in the middle of nowhere is almost never a good idea, but this was certainly something to experience. Firstly, it was so lonely. There wasn’t a soul in sight, even though it was the middle of the day. Google Maps told me that the track was 5 to 6 kilometers long and I kept checking up on it to make sure we were making progress. My dad drove slowly. A sedan can easily be damaged by the uneven bumps on a dirt road and that was the last thing we wanted out here.
The environment was dusty, the few houses were very sparely placed and the ground was very uneven. It was like the opening scene from the 2003 version of the horror movie ‘The Texas Chainsaw Massacre.’ There was a little room standing by the side of the road, which I thought was a toilet from a distance. Upon nearing, it turned out to be a house (confirmed by a clothesline and a few flower pots). There was just a door, and no visible windows. It was unimaginable to me, how a family could live inside that. There were a few other farms along the track with pointy fences made out of wood. I’m not going to lie, it felt a little unnerving driving by all that isolation.
It was crazy how we struggle with school and work to earn money to buy a car or to go on holiday and out here, people were just struggling to earn money to scrape a meal.
We were maybe 60% of the way through when suddenly we saw someone in the distance. It looked like a small kid, and sure enough it was. This small boy was maybe 5, or 6 years old. He was dressed in average clothes (I wouldn’t say homeless like, but still worse than what a happy child would wear). What was strange at this point, was that this little boy, was standing in the middle of the road, completely blocking our path. Sure it was a wide track but he looked like he was determined on stopping us. Call me a coward but I was reminded of a scary scene from some show on Nat-Geo where a gang of thieves stop a moving vehicle using a small kid before pouncing on it and killing everyone.
So my dad eventually stopped the vehicle and this brave kid walked over to the window that rolled down. He said something in Tamil (which none of us could understand) and made the universal gesture for asking money. Now I’ve seen tons of shows on TV and on Youtube where all these kindhearted foreigners travel to far away places like little villages in Africa and hug the locals and give them water and food and the other things they need; but I just couldn't get myself to even consider the possibility of me getting out of the vehicle and maybe asking the kid if he wanted some water or a bite of food (which we didn’t really have at the time anyway). Hell, I even forgot to take a picture of the poor guy. Of course I knew it was wrong and I hated myself for not having the balls to get out and do something. I just wanted to give him some money and quickly move on.
I was reminded to Youtubers like Roman Atwood who help the homeless by talking to them and hugging them, before actually helping them out with some cash or food. Sure he’s doing it for the views, but it still makes all the difference to the homeless guy, and I guess that’s what really matters in the end.
So through the window, my dad asked the boy if he goes to school, to which he replied with some words we couldn’t understand. My dad then pulled out his wallet and gave the kid a hundred bucks. The kid took the money with dissatisfaction in his face, and again said something we couldn’t understand. So my dad pulled out another 100 bucks and gave it to the kid, who seemed very much satisfied. He then half smiled and was about to walk away when my dad said ‘thank you’ out loud in English. The kid stopped and looked back and my dad repeated what he said. The kid then managed to mumble back a ‘thank you’ in English before finally disappearing off into the dust.
Picture shows the dirt road as seen from the rear window.