Honesty in Dishonesty

I had to travel from Delhi to Indore. I was already late to reach the station. It was almost the time and I was afraid that I might miss it. I was rushing with two bags in my hands, One of which was quite heavy. I saw that the train was delayed by 30 mins and took a deep breath. The train was at the 4th platform. So I had to take carry the luggage to the 4th platform using overbridge. This was a bit irritating after a journey in state transport bus from Rohtak for 5 hours. 

Just as I was taking my last few downward steps, I saw a guy, he was visibly very much helpless. He was asking two men about something. He was somehow now able to converse with those men. Out of pity feeling, I asked him what happened. He tried to talk in his broken Hindi. I somehow sensed that he might be Marathi speaking guy. I said few words in Marathi n suddenly his face lit up. He was indeed a Maharashtriyan guy. He then told me that he had been traveling with his family (He, his mother, father and a sister) before they got separated from his father. His father was having all the cash and they literally have nothing .

Then I probed him, “Which place in Maharashtra?”

He reverted “Nanded.”

I said, “I am from Hingoli district (which is near Nanded) where are you exactly from?”

He reverted, “Sengaon in Hingoli district”

I was surprised as it was my place. So I asked him an exact place and he was from a village 6 kms from mine. I couldn’t believe it, so I asked him for his I’d proof. He showed me his driving license. He was indeed from a place near me. I also got to know that he and I have someone mutual known person. I tried to call that person by taking the number from my dad. I couldn’t reach him and my dad to advised me to not to help unless the uncle ask to do so. I had also heard stories from my friends about people making excuses at Delhi station and then taking money. But, my heart wasn’t listening, it wasn’t accepting that it was a just another coincidence – a person met me at Delhi station, who is in need n is exactly from a place 1500 kms  in Maharashtra. It can’t be just coincidence. I shall definitely help him. I took all my luggage, looked at my watch, I had 12 mins to afford which was a short duration. Still, I went Out and got cash from ATM and gave him 2500 rupees.

I didn’t ask him for return but he himself promised me to return it. He took my dad’s number and address. Hence I admitted to my dad of helping him and asked him to take money whenever this guy visits. Few days went by and my dad kept telling me that no one came. I was asking him to keep patience as it will take time for this guy to arrange money. Finally after months of not turning up, we accepted that this guy isn’t going to return it. It was a bad experience for me and a lesson learnt.

3 years down the line, I was coming from Rishikesh to Haridwar on my bike. I stopped in between just to check a call. By the time I ended my call, I find a couple waiting next to me. They told about how they came to Haridwar looking for work but due to fog there in no work. The couple too was from Maharashtra. Once again I thought what a level of coincidence that I stopped my bike at random outskirt point and found someone looking for help. But due to my past experience, I told them I can only help by a few bucks for a meal and extended 150 rs which I had in my wallet. This guy immediately replied, “I don’t want to lie to you. But I had food in this temple (pointing at a temple nearby) So if you are giving money for food, I can’t take it. I need money for the ticket. 500 is something that shall do”. I told him that I don’t have and shall check if there is an ATM in next 500 meters stretch. If I find one I will come back and give money otherwise I won’t. He said OK. Though I didn’t find an ATM in 500 mtr stretch I found one after it. Somehow I didnt had enough motivation to return from that long. There was one side of me telling not to leave someone in the cold of uttarakhad. The other side of me was reminding about the earlier incident. The later side finally turned victorious.

That night I kept thinking how dishonesty in an honest work broke the chain completely. At least few things should be kept pure. If someone wants to cheat there are so many other ways than taking blanket of some pure things. There should be some honesty even in dishonest things.

My tryst with Beggars

Incident 1: The Sin

During my college days, we used to have a lot of construction workers living in the boundary of the college. Their kids used to roam around in the college. As a part of the social club of our college, we had decided to teach these kids. Over the period, the kids got acquainted with us. Many times that these kids used to ask for 2-3 rupees to get a pen or pencil. We never hesitated in giving them the same. One day He had taken a 2 Rs coin. Just an hour after it, I spotted him at the college entrance gate. He went to a Pan shop and got a tobacco packet. I was stunned to realize that Indirectly I have been feeding that tobacco to him.

Then I decided to stick to my family’s principle to feed a beggar/needy to the fullest,  but never give him money.

Incident 2: Feeding the hungry

Next time when I was in Mumbai I saw a kid outside McDonald’s. He was there with his mom. The mother kept asking us to give a burger only for the kid and she doesn’t want anything for herself. Sitting inside the restaurant, I couldn’t take my eyes off the activities of the kid. So finally I gave up, got a burger and gave it to him.

Surprisingly next two times, when I went to that place I again saw the mother and kid there. I was angry by this time and questioned her why she keeps sitting there. She explained it to me that someone offered a burger to the kid and now he is unwilling to eat the normal food prepared. She said it would have been very cheap and easy to prepare food worth a few bucks and feed completely to the kid. But it is almost impossible to feed him with the burgers or anything else which is so costly.

Incident 3: The empathy

By now, I had made up my mind that I shall help in giving something permanent to any beggar or nothing. I thought of giving them something which shall help them in long term.

Unfortunately, I faced a similar situation just 10 days after the McD incident. It was raining heavily that day. I was going in a cab somewhere. The cab took a long time at a signal due to some congestion. I saw two kids selling some items in that rain on a traffic signal. I saw an honest effort to make money there than simply begging. They were wearing just a vest on the top and were fully drenched in the rain. So, I couldn’t resist but offer my umbrella to one of them. He could have accepted but he was indeed a genuine guy. He smilingly told me that it will be better if I buy something from him. If he starts using a raincoat or an umbrella then people who shall be buying from him out of empathy, they too shall not buy.

Incident 4: Finding the best way

Finally one day, outside a mall I again saw a group of kids. They were selling some sketchbooks and the basic elementary books like that of ABCD. This time I thought let me take a book from him but I had no use. Then I thought about it and took a book from him after agreed payment. Immediately I tore down the cover pages of it. I asked the kid did you ever get a chance to read it and he replied with a no. I handed over him the same book and said do read it this time. Now he had no option to sell that again.

An hour after while coming out of the mall, I saw those kids again.  the kids were done with selling all their books and were sitting on the footpath. One was holding the book that I gave them and the other four were sitting with a flower formation around him. I was happy to see this. I thought maybe this is the best thing I could have done –  something which will help them for the future.

Sunk cost of a property

I had just settled in Mumbai in a rented flat. This we got after paying a handsome amount of rent. Cost of the property was good but we happily paid for it. Reason being this is kind of society we were looking hard for almost a fortnight.

One of my school friend, who is now a driver of a JCB crane, too had settled in Mumbai. He had been repeatedly inviting me to his place from the time I had told him about my job in Mumbai. I was unable to meet him for the first few weeks as I was busy with the search of the accommodation. So, I planned to go to his home as soon as I settled with it. I conveyed to him that I will be coming to his place and asked him about the address. Surprisingly he asked me my address instead and did not give his own. For a moment I thought maybe he was inviting me to his place just out of formality.

After an hour he called me and told me that he has reached my apartment. That was a pleasant surprise. I went down to receive him. While coming upstairs he was asking me about who lives in the next flat and other such kinds of stuff about society, about which I had no idea at all. Then he met all of my roommates too with all the warmth. He expressed admiration about the flat, expressed the happiness of knowing that I was living in a good place.

After a while, we left for his place. He had got a car to take me to his place. I enquired about the car and got to know that it was his boss’s car. He got it from him in the context that his best friend (me) was visiting him. We drove to his place. It was in ‘not a good’ area. So I almost had a thought “how is he living here?”. To not make him uncomfortable, I kept all these thoughts in my mind. When we finally reached his home, I sat down. He had called his sister and brother-in-law too, who otherwise used to live at a km distance to the home. Again this was on the context of his best friend coming his home. His mother, wife, and kids too had been waiting to welcome me.

As I sat down, I ran my eyes here and there, as if inspecting the house. He had almost the same things which I had at my place as a necessity. The food that they made for me included much more variety than I ever had my place. By the time I had my lunch, even the two-three neighbor families came. They were having the chit-chat. They knew each other so well and also tried knowing me in the short duration that they interacted me.

While I left his home, only thought that was on my mind – ‘What was the difference in his and my place?’ The difference was in the so-called society. The ‘posh’ nature of it. The people living might be more educated and all. So I paid more to be among comparatively elite class but what was the use of it? Nothing. Why? Because we hardly interacted or I should say, we avoided the interactions as much as possible.

So, the ‘society’ cost is a big component of the cost of high worth properties. At the same time, it is a sunk cost, as we never use it.

VP – Netmeds, IIM Lucknow, VNIT Nagpur

Skip to toolbar