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Of ticking clocks and outstretched hands

Our version of ‘Winter’ is here. Can tell by the difficulty I have waking up each morning. The alarm goes off faithfully like it should. I put it on snooze, promising myself just five more minutes of sleep. Five minutes later, the clock has suddenly fast-forwarded itself 45 minutes and the mad scramble begins. How did that happen? Beats me every time! 🙂

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How does one deal with beggars? This morning, a lady climbed in the train with a baby in her arms. She had burn marks on her hands which were healing. She pleaded for some money, saying that her house had been burnt and she was all alone with her kid. Nobody paid her any attention – there were too many of her kind around each day. And then the tears started rolling down her cheeks. And it was too much for most of the passengers. Some gave her coins, but most of us talked to her, asking her why she resorted to begging when she was healthy enough to work. Her reply was that nobody gives her work. Fellow women gave her well-meaning advice on how even working as a domestic in a few houses each day would carry her through better than extending her palm for coins. She shrugged, wiped her tears and moved on.

How does one deal with people who depend on the generosity or pity of others for survival? I don’t give, as a matter of principle, because I feel that it just encourages them to come back the next day hoping to find others who give as well and the cycle continues. A coin will not make a dent in my pocket, but how many does one give to and for how long? Seeing children beg dutifully just breaks my heart, but I find it easier to say no to kids than to old people – callous as it may sound, the children are resilient, they manage somehow. But the aged have nothing going for them – they sit there shivering, trembling with age and hunger and my resolves melt…It’s a quandary that most of us face each day – to give or not to give. And there’s really no standard answer. It’s a misery we have to deal with individually – turn your face away, pretend they don’t exist, give a coin and alleviate your conscience for a minute; an average MW has only so many options when it comes to dealing with outstretched hands……..you choose.

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One comment on “Of ticking clocks and outstretched hands

  1. Hey MW, Congratulations on your embarking on a new journey! Wanted to write to you earlier but had been swamped off late and hence the delay. But wanted to make sure that I caught you before your countdown ended 😉
    My lil cousin sis too is getting married soon i.e the 3rd of Jan ’05, so have been real busy one with her marriage preparations and two with renovations going on at home. However me too going on leave post the 15th of Dec, so will get a lil breathing space.
    I’m sure you’ll miss Mumbai once you move to new shores, I get so homesick everytime I move out of this city, like they say, “There’s no place like home!”

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