Chocolate & Charity in India

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I live down the street from “The Chocolate Man” aka “The Chocolate Stand” or ‘Trupti’s,” a much-loved and very packed little storefront whose proprietor, wife,  son and daughter-in-law roast coffee, special-order pasta, organic jam and soy milk for Western tastes and have a little business making their own chocolate. The 40-80 rupee bars, coming in flavors such as chocolate-cardamom, dark chocolate almond and chocolate coffee, stave off many chocolate Jones. Otherwise, the chocolate in India isn’t quite up to US or European standards (albeit Cadbury has a large presence here) and tends to look but not taste that chocolaty. That isn’t to say Indians don’t love their sweets! Sugar dominates cups of chai and coffee and is whipped into plenty of ghee-heavy local delicacies. The price paid is a high rate of diabetes (India leads the world in number of people with diabetes) and tooth decay.

Most likely due to my mom diligently giving us fluoride as children, I’ve made it through my life thus far without getting a cavity.  When I went to the dentist here they reminded me to rinse, but opined I didn’t need a cleaning ‘unless you insist.’
This week I’ve been back at the dentist, albeit helping take some of the children from Operation Shanti who need dental care to their appointments.  These children spent much of their young lives on the street before coming to Karunya Mane, OS’s shelter for children in need, and the concept of a toothbrush is fairly recent to their thinking. As such, many have cavities already— only one girl of the few I took to the dentist Wednesday didn’t need a filling. Instead, she received a cleaning and a good talking to about brushing up and down.
“They are very cooperative,” the dentist noted as the last one got up from the chair.
And they were! As well as surprisingly joyful and easy with themselves. They loaded into the rickshaw with me, holding on tight as we bumped along, and stuck their noses to the wind like dogs in a convertible, inviting the sounds and the views of the fields and roadside sheds we passed selling meals and puffed treats and chai. I marveled at how wise and wonderfully in the moment and far beyond their years they seemed. They took their turns in the dentist chair without whimpering at the drill, shrugged off their procedures like it was no big deal, and delighted in my iPhone photo album as we waited in the lobby.


“Friend?” they asked, pointing to photos of my loved ones in the states. “Friend,” I said. Every time a photo of a friend’s child came up they jumped, cheered, clapped and smiled.
Back home at KM, they clambered out of the rickshaw, smiled and waved to me, and were off to their beds without a backward glance.

Deborah Crooks
Deborah Crooks ( is a writer, performing songwriter and recording artist based in San Francisco whose lyric driven and soul-wise music has drawn comparison to Lucinda Williams, Chrissie Hynde and Natalie Merchant.

Singing about faith, love and loss, her lyrics are honed by a lifetime of writing and world travel while her music draws on folk, rock, Americana and the blues. She released her first EP "5 Acres" in 2003 produced by Roberta Donnay, which caught the attention of Rocker Girl Magazine, selecting it for the RockerGirl Discoveries Cd. In 2007, she teamed up with local producer Ben Bernstein to complete "Turn It All Red" Ep, followed by 2008's "Adding Water to the Ashes" CD, and a second full-length CD "2010. She's currently working on a third CD to be released in 2013.

Deborah's many performance credits include an appearance at the 2006 Millennium Music Conference, the RockerGirl Magazine Music Convention, IndieGrrl, at several of the Annual Invasion of the GoGirls at SXSW in Austin, TX, the Harmony Festival and 2009's California Music Fest, MacWorld 2010, Far West Fest and many other venues and events. She toured the Northwest as part "Indie Abundance Music, Money & Mindfulness" (2009) with two other Bay Area artists, and followed up with "The Great Idea Tour of the Southwest in March 2010 with Jean Mazzei.
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One Response to Chocolate & Charity in India

  1. India Tours January 24, 2012 at 3:58 am #

    I love your blog its look nice and attractive. I visited many places in India like Goa, Jaipur etc. and always remember that trips which i visited and photos are memories of it in my album and heart touching photos is always with me. I always keep in touch with your blog and going to bookmark also.

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