A Memoirby Christa Hillstrom
If I define my neighbor as the one I must go out to look for, on the highways and byways, in the factories and slums, on the farms and in the mines—then my world changes.
October. In Yamuna Bazaar.
I wanted to find out about the nature of goodness. What it means. What it changes. What it’s worth. Why it matters. So, with money awarded to a glossy grant proposal, I flew away from those warm-colored autumn Minnesota tree lines toward Delhi. I bruised my arms with immunizations for what I imagined to be exotic diseases. I did a practice walk around the block with a backpack of microphones and cameras and equipment I later realized was frivolous. I convinced my best friend, Susan, to go with me to haul my tripod around, when what I really needed was her presence.
In my mind I projected reels of poignant images of poverty and pathos and India and pain. I imagined the almost mythical ashram and its downtrodden inhabitants. The Mother Teresa–like work performed there—cradling the destitute in welcoming arms. Giving them community, purpose, and space. I had already planned how the story would end. What the tapes would reveal. What the poor would cry out from the depths of their hearts.