Evening at Zambezi River, Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe, May 2015
and so does everything around... the situation, the people, the perspective, the needs.... and we too change.... the wise and courageous seek change.. because only change is constant!

Friday, April 3, 2009

34. Nonplused!

One routine evening, in the crowded street of the city. I was traveling back home with couple of colleagues after a hectic day. On the way, we were to drop one of the guests. He had to catch flight to Paris from Mumbai. We were to drop him at the private taxi service, which was to take him to International Airport in Mumbai.

After bit confusion about the exact location and finding out way from 'no entry' 'u turn' 'no parking' etc. we reached the spot. We were before time, so bit relaxed. After completing the formalities – registering with the office of the travel company, taking receipt, putting the baggage in the taxi….. I was having some informal chat with the guest. He was an expert in 'Animal breeding', but as I am not livestock expert the talk turned to summer in France, effects of Global Warming and all that.

Suddenly a woman of about 35 appeared on the scene. She was about five feet tall, brownish exhausted face and little anemic. Her eyes were bright and she was wearing a clean green sari with white design, with the pallu covering her head. The guest, a tall man with smiling and calm face took out a ten rupee note from his valet and gave it to the lady. I was bit embarrassed. Not that I do not come across beggars, but at this moment I did not like it.
I smiled at the woman and said in a mild tone, "You should not beg for money."
She was all smiles with the reward and told me into a confidential tone, "All foreigners are good hearted people. They give us a good amount. Sometimes they even give us fifty rupees. They are very good."

I told, "But he is our guest. I understand that you are poor, but why ask to outsiders? He may go with the impressions that Indian people are beggars."

The woman was hardly listening to me. She asked, "Is he your employee'?
"No" I told, a bit surprised at her statement.
"Then are you his employee?" was her next question.
"No, no, he is our guest." I explained. There was no need to have such detailed conversation with her. But I always like to converse with strangers.

"Is his county very rich? Does he have a bungalow? Does he own a car? Does his house have a garden? Has he a big Television in his house?"….the lady was not at all willing to stop. I was surprised at her curiosity. She was asking all these questions not for gaining more money from him, but she was just interested in that unknown guest. I thought that in the name of social science and development research, if we can take interest in other's lives, why can't this lady?

I was smiling at myself. But honestly I could answer none of her questions. To safely come out of the situation without hurting her, I said, "Ok, now he has to go."

"Which country he is from?" the woman had lot of patience.
(I am sure, if the lady could write a blog, she would write how foolish and useless I was….May be, she has already narrated this incident to her friends and family.)
"France", I told.
"How far is it?" she again asked.
"Very far away." I said.
"But exactly where"? The woman might become a good police, I thought.
"Near England" I must have been in my elements to give such a foolish answer. Because her next question was, "Where is England?"
"Oh, it is very far away." I tried to explain.
"Why don't you tell me how far his home is?" the lady was getting angry at me.

I explained, "Now he will go to Mumbai, catch a flight and after eight nine hours will reach home"

"Oh! Just eight hours….. and you are telling me he stays far away" the woman dismissed me. "I have to travel for 15-16 hours to reach my home, he will travel less and you are telling me that he is coming from far away land"

The lady was genuinely disappointed with the information and I was completely nonplused by the turn of our conversation.


  1. Are there beggars who travel 15-16 kms for begging, horrible?
    This seems a rare most specimen of beggars, so insistent and talkative!

  2. she highlights the traffic situation in Mumbai. What did he mention about global warming effects in France?

  3. Very very Interesting and humane! time to write something bigger now! A novelette? A collection of reminiscences?

  4. u seem 2 have lot of time... i mean first u talk 2 beggars .... and then u write it down in so many words.... i envy u ... for the leisure u have and for the capacity u have

  5. Nutan, no, I belive she was referring to her native village, to which she must be traveling once or twice in a year.

    Puja, the person said that 'global warming' is not a matter of discussion any more, it is a REALITY in France and we need to change our practices (not just thinking) to deal with it properly.

    Sachin, thanks. May be I will write something like that one day.

    Anonymous, one doesn't need additonal time (quantity) to interact, it is just quality time. And basically, don't you think we should have interest in others too? Of course, you can envy me...no problem!


Thanks for your Feedback.