Triplicane, Madras, Tamil Nadu
At 7.45 in the morning, I saw Nagamma buying rubber cement-glue from the corner shop (I was just on my way to breakfast - no intention of spying).
She immediately insisted that the glue was to fix her foot (!??). Sure, everyone applies commercial strength rubber cement to the soles of their feet. Then she immediately asked for a cash refund from the shop man.
By now, I know that these kids are professional liars and con artists. I no longer expect any truth from them. But what's really amazing is that the shop guy, who is probably a college student, then very self-righteously said, "These are bad children, do not help them." I said in fact I do not give them cash at all, but for him to please NOT sell them the glue, for god's sake. He repeated his sermon like a robot, seemingly completely oblivious to his own role. "Do not help them, they are very bad." Well, do not help SELL them the freaking glue, then.
Sometimes I think this is a country of 12 year olds in which absolutely no one can assume any responsibility for their own actions. "What to do?" Grow a spine, maybe? The man is not going to go bankrupt by refusing to sell glue to teenagers.
Sorry for my anger. I have railed before against giving to beggars and this is a perfect example of what happens when you do. In the tourist ghettos I see well-meaning new arrivals to India (who still have loads of money since they haven't been ripped off by everyone yet) very proudly giving handouts to children. You can see the role ego plays in this for the tourists: I am such a big-hearted, generous person; I feel SO good about myself now. Nagamma and Vela go straight to the bookstore and buy glue with your money, even before food. Nagamma had not even washed her face; her eyes were still encrusted with sleep. She had not eaten any breakfast yet, but had to have the glue.
This is what happens to the money tourists give the cute beggar kids, so that they (the tourists) can go away with self-satisfied stories about how they "helped" the poor kids. If you want to give these kids something, give them your time.
I related all this to "MeestaRobett. " He replied that he would pay $100 for Vela's funeral and $100 for Nagamma's.
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