Every evening, I would give Ghanshyam about 50 cents -- last year the government set that amount as the daily poverty line, above which Indians no longer qualify for food aid. In exchange, his wife would include me in their meals the next day.
In the mornings, we drank small cups of watery tea with milk, sweetened with a nugget of jaggery made from unrefined cane sugar. In the afternoons, we each ate three rotis, heavy, unleavened bread, which we dipped into a thin gruel of lentils and spice called dal. At night, before walking to their home, I would use a stick to shake a few sour mangoes from the trees. Urmila boiled them in the dal to add flavor, pouring the mixture over some boiled rice.