Monday, April 28, 2008

And now...Grime Collar jobs!

Have you seen the handicapped beggar at the India Garage junction on Richmond Road? I am talking about the young guy who goes around parked vehicles at the traffic signal, showing off his legs with multiple oozing sores! There is another guy at this very same junction, who will come close to you and suddenly bare his arms showing the skin peeled off and the white flesh beneath. When he did that to me, I nearly passed out and the next thing I know is that people were chasing him down the road. For a business man I must say, he went a little overboard in selling his wares! Now if you are wondering if I am talking of the same beggar, then I am.

Beggary is big business today. Gone are the days when you saved all those five paise coins to give to the beggars sitting outside the Church after Sunday Mass. Today there are no beggars in the city. Instead we have a business called begging.

Like most businesses, this too is an organized trade, with careful strategizing and marketing to the target audience for maximum profit. Most of the beggars you see on the road are simple businessmen and women. The wounds you saw on the legs of the young man is carefully done with chemicals and simple surgery! The same with the peeled off arm! If you want to know how to look sick and fool your teachers or bunk school, head to where a “sick” beggar is sitting and he will teach you a thing or two in faking authentic diseases that will leave your Chemistry teacher proud yet a little sick in the stomach.

The beggar lady with the baby you see on the road is not the mother of the baby. The babies are borrowed from construction workers, drugged and carried round in the hot sun and a fraction of the pickings from this heartless activity is shared with the mother. The baby is handed over to the mother after the “business day” is over. When the baby is too old to be carried around, he/she is discarded for another small baby to be drugged and carried around in the hot sun amidst vehicle fumes for close to twelve hours a day! Can you imagine the amount of drugs that is needed to keep that baby asleep for 12 hours?

When you put that coin into the “poor” lady’s hand you are arming her to carry on the abuse and toxify and pickle the baby forever. The real beggar in this story is the mother of the child and our concern must be with her than the lady who walks the roads in torn clothes looking pitiably at you. Try and give that lady a piece of bread and see the reaction! She will possibly walk away glowering …because she can afford to eat better!!!

Most beggars are quite well off. Yet they live in squalor as it is part of their profession. It is their very existence! And they will do nothing to threaten it. They are not interested in homes and hearths. All they are interested in is the money. Most of them are money lenders, some have land back home that they support, but everyone of them carry on the profession just like any dedicated workers in a regular job!

Real beggars have no place in the scheme of things on the road unless they are willing to follow the rules and regulations of the road! By rules and regulations, I mean, give a part of the pickings to the local area goon and some other pacts that only they know of! And when the money is good (beggars earn close to Rs 3000/- a day), why fight the system?

Remember that ad that says “When you give alms to a beggar you condemn him to begging for life”? Nothing can so succinctly summarize the situation as that simple sentence!

It took me some time, but no amount of pitiable looks will move me now! I’d rather give the money to the NGO that works towards educating children of construction workers!

Information above gathered from talks with a friend who worked in an NGO that tried to rehabilitate beggars only to learn that it was foolish to tell a person to leave his well paying job for a lower paying job!


mathew said...

Very true..The real beggars or who are doing it as a last resort, they are waiting outside homes of some charity organisation which serves food and not money.As a kid I always felt upset when Dad didnt entertain beggars..and at the same time Amma used to feel sorry about it..Many of them are really hell bent on hitting the people from where you garner max sympathy..

What is sad the way they use kids as sort of a liability and it is difficult to close eyes on that..It is our religious scriptures which mentions not to turn a blind eye on someone who seeks help that is manipulated into a full fledged business proposition as you mentioned..

Anonymous said...

...nice to see a post after such a loong time!! wait chaiyudhu mushinju! grr

silverine said...

Mathew: Even I never understood why my folks never let me give alms to beggars. I used to think they were cruel. Now I know. It is getting alarming now, with organized crime sensing the moolah in begging!

Anon: I suggest taking a bath! :p

Anonymous said...

I cringed when I read the term 'beggar lady' in your otherwise well written blog. The term 'lady' is used only when the woman concerned has refinement, education and superior social position.
I do enjoy your blog,keep up the good work!

Philip said...

I have never given money to beggars. I always knew that it was nothing but organized 'soft' extortion and that it wasn't helping anyone.

But what I didn't know was that the money was so good... 3000 per day?? I'm quitting my job. Can you put me in touch with the local begging union leader so that I can forward my resume to him? I'm sure that with such huge amounts of money involved, there must be stiff competition for begging rights!

Deepti said...

Talk about telepathy..I was just abt to do a similar post .. had a horrible experience today morning .. ( now giving up the post for anti piracy :P )
A so called poor beggar with "her" baby.. fell at my feet the rickshaw i was travelling stopped at a signal and refused to let the rick go till I paid up ,even after the Signal turned green .. Talk about new age exortion .. :(

Thomas said...

@philip: lol!!!

Isn't there any placement process for it?? 3000 bucks/day => 90000bucks/month => 10.8 lakhs/annum.

Now who needs Microsoft, who needs MBA?? Count me in!!! :D

silverine said...

Anon: Thank you!

Philip: Get on the train to Blr and join in. You will soon know who is who :p Best of luck!!

Thomas: Rs 3000/- is in the lower band. There are people earning more depending on their skills and the area, time etc. Best of luck! :)

Deepti: Please put up that post! I think the more the people know about this menace the better. On the other hand we will be doing a great disservice to Philip and Thomas :p I am now getting death threats from HR folks and B-Schools for the rapid fall in aspirant applications after this post lol!!!

Karthik Sivaramakrishnan said...

Not to worry about them mba folks Silverine. You'll also probably be getting a big commission and some protection from the beggars union if you alert them about this post! :p

Anyways, I never gave money to able-bodied beggars, but you're saying people get their legs or hands amputated just to make money? :O

On the other hand, I did and do give money to beggars who show talent. Like those guys who play some popular songs on a flute or harmonium when travelling in trains. If they were from a different background, they might've been earning lacs for that same skill set.

George said...

Glad that one of the most read blogs mentioned this. I hope more people realize the truth.

Jiby said...

haha...a grime collar job indeed! the ones who take a fortnightly round of our home in tvm will not be satisfied with nothing less than Rs.2...otherwise they spit on the ground in disgust and leave. my mom tells me never to give money but i don't listen...after reading this post maybe i will rethink.

Nikhil Narayanan said...

I have been "closely following" beggars, the people who give cards that say "Appanu thalarvatham, ammakk cancer,5 chechimar mooka badhira" and likes.
Very organized,very successful, very competitive business.
From Malayalam media I had learnt most of the things that u wrote. Also that they have a manager to report to who gets his cut at the end of day.

They are planted in front of Churches,Temples etc where we are most vulnerable targets.

A menace that is difficult to curb. Terrorists can be shot down, beggars dont let you rehabilitate them.


PS: Have you noticed that you rarely find a Mallu beggar be it in Kerala or outside. All the beggars in Kerala are from other South Indian states. Any thoughts? High social indices speaking???

silverine said...

Karthik: Read this!

George: I sincerely hope that people realize the truth!

Jiby: I hope you will rethink and stop giving alms. Thats the only way to stop this trade from growing and pulling innocent lives into it!

Nikhil: I remember those types. My Dad would ask them to give their address and they would quietly vanish! Begging requires a suspension of pride. Which mallu would do that? ;)

Zahra said...

Very, very relevant post. There used to be a time when my parents nd I believed in giving alms to such folks, but not anymore. One of the ppl I see on my daily commute is a woman who begs for money to bury her husband. she keeps pointing at a body-shaped bundle on the pavement to drive in her point. Never mind that she's been collecting money for this every day of the last year.
The only upside of this 'business' is that my 'practical Hindi' vocab bloomed wonderfully in 2 months flat ;-).....Delhi urchins give you an earful when you refuse to pay!

jj said...

Nice post Silverine. Today morning we had this lady at our door-step who kept on banging the gate till I gave her the money. They have become such a nuisance. I asked her like "Why doin't you find some work" and she gave the typical reaction. Spat on the floor in front of our gate and walked off.
The new trend here is that people come begging for money which is to be given in offering, which they had promised in religious places. The interesting fact is that, they possess different photos of deities which they show depending on the house they walk into.

As a child I used to think why my parents are being so mean when they refused to give money to the beggars.
But, hands on experience in a similar NGO changed all that. The saddest part is thw ways in which kids are being abused for this purpose. Today it has become a big business.
And the people you mentioned about on M.G. Road, it puts me off everytime.

jj said...

another experience...
This happened when I taking driving lessons. We stopped on the road-side and a beggar approached us. I refused to give any money and this is what he said,
"Vandi idichu chaavum nokkikko".
(you'll die in a vehicle accident, wait and see)"
Nevertheless, that statement gave me the shock of a lifetime at that moment.

shruti said...

2 things I started sometime back -
1) keep biscuits in my purse to offer to beggars
2) Look starting into there eyes when they beg at a signal
in the first case they refused the take the bicuits or were disgruntled. If the idea is to feed hunger I think its better to give a pack of buiscuits than 2 rs. but dint seem to excite them at all .
Most of the times when I look at them straight in the eye for 30 secs or more they cannot meet my eyes which makes it clear that they know they are not following the conscious . This also helps to demarcate the truly needy from the fakes .

fantasia said...

A matter that certainly needed to be taken up...good one...

Pradeep said...

Couldn't agree with u more. Rarely am I too moved.

Neena Padayatty said...

Have often felt appalled at the audacity of people opting for this "profession" that joke goes
a beggar says.."ee joli kittiyillayirunnel njan thendi poyenne!"

silverine said...

Zahra: lol!! That woman takes the cake! And I am sure there are suckers who will pay day in and day out without thinking! :))

JJ: The curse is their ultimate weapon in a country like ours steeped in superstition! And they utilize this fear well! I have worn quite a few beggars patience thin by ignoring their rattle at the gate. A fall out of experiences with door to door salesmen :p If begging is not curbed then kids will be the biggest victims of this trade.

Shruti: That is a good idea! But have you seen the beggar kids who are doped on Erazex, industrial glue and Cough Medicines? They are very hard to shake off!

Fantasia: Thank you! :)

Pradeep: Collectively we can eradicate this menace. I hope the media takes a lead in this!

Neena: lol!! That joke speaks volumes! :)