I hate seeing beggars in any country because I don’t know how to deal with it. I can’t give every man a fish and I have no time when travelling to teach even one to fish. I feel it’s better to ignore them so they’ll find a way to deal with their own problem, and when possible to help those that are able to pass on the favour.
I manage to harden my heart enough to ignore them when they tap me and show me the starving babies, but my last day in India took the challenge to a new level. I was sitting on the beach after seeing a Bollywood film in a Mumbai theatre, when three kids approached me. My camera was out, displaying my wealth to everyone on the beach and making me an obvious target. I tried to ignore them by looking through the lens at what was going on around me. I thought the beggars would try to stand in front of the camera, forcing me to look. Instead, they politely stepped out of the way whenever I moved it near them.
Earlier in the day, I’d been for a walk along the beach and found a slum camp on a section of flat sand above the beach. A change in the wind brought a repulsive smell. I looked back down towards the sea and saw a line of squatting people, squeezing their bowels onto the wet sand. I guess the idea was that the sea would carry it out, but a line of dark shapes at the tide line showed that not to work.
The children eventually left me alone, but […]