[Gen, one of our contributors here at Texas Schmexas, is blogging from Chennai, India, where she and her family are living for a few weeks this summer. You can visit her personal blog for more photos and stories about India.]
Recently my husband and I each presented material to the media studies students at Madras Christian College. After our sessions we were escorted to the train station by one of the students in that department who got on the train with us to go home. It was a long ride home so we sat and chatted with the student for a long time. At each stop more people got on and the train became more crowded.
At one point a beggar lady came up to our seat and held out her hand. She didn’t appear poor. She seemed presentable and put together, with make-up and lots of jewelry. There’s never been a time when a beggar had not approached me on the train. But I had never seen this type of beggar.
Then I remembered a story my husband told me about his first train ride. He heard loud and aggressive clapping in the train but ignored it. The clapping got louder and soon there was someone tapping on his shoulder. It was a woman like the woman I just described but was harsher in her begging. My husband wasn’t sure what was going on so he looked at the man next to him with a face of confusion. The man told him that the beggar was a eunuch and they ask for money from passengers by clapping in their faces. They demand money from people. This is how they survive and most people give to them. Often out of pressure.
The woman who was asking us for money at this point on the train was also a eunuch but I didn’t have any change in my purse and I was reluctant to give. I give money away 2 to 3 times a day here in India. If I give to every beggar I come across I would have no money. We asked the student and a few people around us what to do about this and the student spoke up and said that we shouldn’t give to people because they usually go out and spend it on drinking or drugs. The student said that it is a waste to give to such people. He told us that we should keep the money we would give to the beggar each time we see one and save it for a good charity or orphanage.
My husband said that people often say things like that and actually never end up giving to the charity. They use such reasons as excuses not to give at all.
Often times we say we are going to do charitable things but we end up putting it off.
We need to put our words in to action.
Would we really stop each time we are approached by a beggar and put away the money we would like to give them to save up more money to give to a charitable organization? This was something for all of us involved in this conversation to think about.
A week later the student messaged me on Facebook and said that he saw a beggar at the railway station and thought about what we talked about that day on our ride home. He said he was going to put 10 rupees aside each time he was approached by a beggar and whenever he accumulated 500 rupees he would give it to a good organization.
I was thrilled when I heard this and said that I will do the same. What about you?
Photographs (c) Gen Alexander Photography. Used by Permission.