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.

#MeToo

It was one of the lucky Sunday that I had a weekly off on. I have lately found an interest in cycling, that Sunday too I had decided to cycle for 50 km. Hence after completing half the journey, I reached banks of Ganga in Haridwar.

While walking along the Ghats, I reached a famous place in Haridwar named as Har Ki Pauri. Despite being just another common day, it had attracted huge numbers of devotees. Everyone was there for different reasons and was from a different class. Some of them were doing a Pooja for someone recently passed, someone was doing prayer with family and someone was just there on a picnic. Few of them were coming via fancy cars, having n number of material with them and most importantly accompanied by a priest. On another hand, some had chosen Ghat as a bed last night and had hardly anything to offer than the prayers. Only one thing was common among all of them and that was praying to Ganga. Dubki (taking bath) in Ganga was an integral part of that prayer.

Walking along the banks, observing all this, I reached an area with relatively less crowd. I finally decided to sit there while sipping a cup of tea. I opened my mobile to post about my cycling journey on Facebook. As soon as I opened Facebook, I noticed a #metoo message. The way in which it was written I couldn’t avoid reading it. As i scrolled down the newsfeed, I realized that there were many more such messages posted that day. Unaware of what was going on I googled what was all this and got to know the situation. I was happy to see such a taboo subject was being discussed showing a mirror to everyone.

Suddenly, i looked back as a thought stricken my mind. There were so many women who were practicing the ‘dubki’ in the auspicious place. No matter what was the background and what were they doing there, everyone was doing it. And after the Bath, they obviously had to change the cloths. Both the times, they faced an issue of being observed by people. They were conscious but helpless. Few men found it like an open opportunity to ogle. The men who were supposed to be there for auspicious reasons had assumed that they are permitted to check the women out. I thought may be the people who were working there every day may not be practicing this as it is common for them. But after some observation I found my assumption to be wrong. The situation was so worse that, some ladies tried hiding behind hardly helpful boxes while others had accepted that there is no use of all hiding.

I was wondering how these #metoo issues were very much accepted? Who would be writing #metoo on behalf of so many women who don’t have facebook but have seen serious #metoo situations? So I just thought of initiating on their behalf.

VP – Netmeds, IIM Lucknow, VNIT Nagpur

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