Life Snippet – Dilemma

As I walked back after seeing off a friend, I was accosted by, what appeared to be, a large family of migrants. On a busy road in Bangalore.

They asked me if I speak Hindi or Marathi. I answered affirmatively, offering to speak in Hindi.

The main guy, who was holding an infant in his arms, started to narrate his tale of woe. He told me they had come here to visit a temple and on the way back, they were robbed of Rs. 6000 and had no idea on what to do. A general murmur of agreeable noise to support him emerged from the rest of his party. I looked at him, his family members and wondered what to do.

I offered, ‘Why don’t you go to the police station? I can direct you to the nearest one’

A general groan went around the group. They said they had done all that but right now they had no money to get food for their hungry and cold children. Now I was stumped.

I told him, ‘I really have no money to spare. Why don’t you check with the police?’ , I ventured again as a lame way out of this conundrum. They appeared poor and in need of help. But, I was unsure if I should buy the story. I didn’t think much then and I handed over the last big note I had in my wallet to him. They wanted more. To avoid further dilemmas, I walked away, shaking my head firmly.

As I walked away, I was confused. For starters, I felt quite terrible for doubting what could be a very genuine plight of a migrant family. It made me conscious of my prejudices. Was I so biased by the stories I hear and know that I always doubt first, before believing? On the other hand, what degree of credibility could I associate with his story?

What would you do in such a situation?

Life Snippet – Dilemma

14 thoughts on “Life Snippet – Dilemma

  1. This has happened to me too. Not an entire family, though… but just one man. Again, speaking in Hindi, he narrated his tale of woe… but I couldn’t bring myself to believe him. Besides, I really did not have even a paisa on me, as I was on a walk. I told him as politely as I could that I couldn’t help him, and walked away quickly. I later told this to many people, and nearly everybody had a similar story to tell. That made me feel even more sure that this man had been just trying to con me, and I felt less and less guilty.

    But of course, you can never tell, can you?

  2. Vinay Karajagi says:

    Hi maga, i was in a similar situation and i gave him money, he took my telephone number and said he would give me back my money once he reaches his intended destidation. Guess what , i haven’t heard from him ever since. Now i don’t bother to stop and listen to what such people have to say. Was this the first time you encountered such a situation?

  3. @vinay: maga… for some reason you seem to have had bad luck with lending money eh? Actually I have had a similar situation but that was with some astrologer lady and I got fleeced.

    But the dilemma here is always going to prick at your conscience I think. And, I somewhere sub-consciously decided I’d much rather feel foolish for being duped than having to think I may left a hapless family in dire straits.

  4. dodo says:

    In Mumbai, I face this situation regularly ( 1-2 times a year)!

    And part with rs. 50/- on each occassion. I do not care whether they are telling a true story or a fabricated one, what I felt at the first time ( in my postgraduation days) when I looked at the face of an old man narrating the situation is that they needed the rs. 50/- more than I did.

    That loss doesn’t hurt me slightest, but is a big gain for the seeker. But of course, in occassion they try to seek more, but as you see,I have set myself a limit for such occassions and do not cross that.

  5. Couple of options
    he’s lying u pay him, he’s saying the truth u pay him
    he’s lying u dont pay him, he’s saying the truth u dont pay him

    But ultimately it boils down to:
    u dont care u dont pay
    u care u pay – as also how convincing he/she is.

    Simple …

  6. @dodo: Very practical solution that – setting yourself a cap. And yes, I completely agree with what you say – they need the money more than I do. But, for some reason, the fact that someone could be duping me rankle the most.

    @Shamit: I know those are the options but how do you choose? For example, I always may care but if I am not convinced he/she’s not being honest, what then?

  7. Aayisha says:

    Its the easiest way to make money, so simply look straight and keep walking. They make more money this way than many of those who slog it out through the month to make ends meet. And for your conscience- make up your mind and your conscience will follow suit.

  8. I’ve come across such people many times!
    and I just ignore them, But later i feel “what if he told was true?”
    and somewhere in the deep corner of my heart i feel sad!


  9. Priyanka says:

    I’ve come across such ppl too..
    I offered them to pay for their tickets back home along with getting some food packed.. But they boldly refused and asked for the money.
    I think the best way to know what their intention is to offer them what they want but not the money.. If they are genuine, they would be happy if they get what they want otherwise “MONEY” plays… :)

  10. @Priyanka: Hmm.. smart tactic! Unfortunately, I behave quite awkwardly in such situations and am often just waiting to run from there…. !

    Thanks for dropping by :)

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