Sunday, February 21, 2010

Surreality in India

So I was in India for a few days for my brothers wedding (more on that later). And on one of the evenings that I was relatively free I decided to go out to eat all the stuff that I dont get that easily in UK. So out I went with mom and sister to the local market.

I spied a fellow selling kachaloo chat (sweet potato, roasted on coal, served diced into squares with spices and lemon juice - FANTASTIC). I used to love this chat and I was dying to eat it. However there was also the more pressing need to go to the toilet. Sister points out the McDonalds and says she shall wait in the car while I use the toilet and come.

Off I go to McD and on the way ask the Aloo chat guy to make me a plate quickly. On my way out of McD a beggar woman (lets calls her AMMA) comes and tells me that she is hungry and has not eaten in days. She follows me to that chat guy and keeps begging. I handed her a Rs10 note and she walked away whispering blessings for me.

Now comes the turn of the chat guy to get paid. Its Rs 15. I hand over 20 as I had no change. Turns out neither did he looks left and right and spots Amma, the beggar. He asks me to walk with him, so I do.

We go to the beggar, he asks her for change for a 10 rupee note as I watch.

She pulls out a large-ish bag full of coins and notes of a small denomination....

I stretch out my empty hands in front of the beggar for money...

She hands over a Rs5 coin to the chat guy and one to me, as my sister watches.

I was indeed taking money from a beggar!

Weird. Very weird.

I know I should re think my preconceived ideas...but I never did think that i would ask a beggar for change. In fact one of the standard excuses one gives a beggar is that you have no change to give him/her. Not only did I get change from her. The idea of standing in front of a beggar with my hands outstretched was one of the things I never thought I would see myself do!