Wednesday, June 22, 2011


(PICTURE: A pretty common scene in India.)

I hope I don't come off as completely insensitive and as a total a-hole by writing this blog because well, that's how I feel a lot out here. As most people know, poverty is a huge issue in India. Like in most Indian movies you've seen, there are street beggars everywhere. It seems that you can't go more than ten feet on a sidewalk without someone asking you for money or rattling their can at you.

My heart goes out for the kids who are on the street because god knows how the hell they ended up in their situation. The thing is, there's millions of kids begging in this country and after a while you start to almost become desensitized to them -- and well, that's terrible and makes you feel rotten.

More than a few times, I've had kids and other beggars latch onto my arm. Coming from the states (or I would think almost any developed country), having homeless people grab you is something that is way beyond our code or acceptable conduct. Frankly, you feel violated. But worse than that is when you end up feeling like the bad guy because you have to yell at a homeless ten year old to get off your arm.

But then, the cynic is me starts to think: Are these kids trying to scam me like half the people in the country (another blog coming up)? For example, the other day Huyen and I were walking down the street and some kid (probably around ten) starts asking us for money. The kid was filthy, very skinny and walking with a limp. After I told him no about six times, he grabbed me by the bicep and basically had me drag him along with me for ten feet. I finally stopped, gave him an evil look and said, "No!". I clearly scared the kid and he let go. I then watched him walk away WITH NO LIMP.

The point is, the begging here is a double whammy. First you feel horrible that so many people have to beg. Second you feel like a jerk for getting mad at people for the way they beg.

Oh, and then there are stories like this (where I got the picture from)...