Diary Entry – 39
Ever since I grew my teeth and started to eat solid food, my parents have tried everything to try to teach me the value of not wasting food. At first they tried to be strict. They wanted to see their face in my plate after I finished eating. I sat there from afternoon till evening. My mother finally asked me to move because she was worried I will start attracting flies.
They brought god in next to help make me eat. I was told people who did not waste their food became intelligent because god himself is inside ever grain of rice. That failed to convince me because the fattest guy in my class always got the last rank. Persuasion, intimidation and even hope for divine intervention had failed. Guilt was the next thing they tried on me. I was told sad stories about children in Sudan and how they struggled to get even a small grain of rice. Though it did nothing to make me eat, I started to feel bad for people who beg and live without food.
So when I see people begging, I tend to drop a coin. I have to travel by an express train everyday to go to my project place. Begging is so common there and you will find a lot of people with sticks and black cooling glasses singing sad songs. When I saw one of these beggars in the train, I dropped a ten rupee note in his bowl. My friend came close to my ear and whispered, “ARE YOU CRAZY”. I explained to him why I hold on to my coins because the bus conductors threaten to throw me out of the bus when I don’t have proper change for the ticket. My friend asked me if my parents did not tell me to not entertain beggars as they are all a bunch of frauds and crooks. I told him how my parents made me listen to depressing sad stories of children from Sudan during every meal. He told me stone faced that India was not Sudan. I realized what he meant during dinner.
That day was the last time I gave money to a beggar. During dinner, my mom asked me if I knew the price of rice. Another vain effort of hers to try to make me eat properly, I thought. She told me that the price of ration rice in Chennai was 2 Rupees per Kg. She told me that with the amount we eat, we could last for months with just four or five rupees if we got ration rice. Did I just give that beggar enough money to feed himself for a year then? I did a calculation of the amount of money they make per hour and was blown away. The people who I thought were starving in the streets, make more than an engineering graduate.
Just in case you are considering begging as a possible career option, let me point out to you that you can make even more money as an entertainer. Along with the beggars come people who sing songs or play flutes. They don’t pretend to be blind nor do they wear tattered clothes. They just play their song and go their way. They get twice the number of coins the beggars do. But how much you get depends on what song you sing. Last week, one guy sang the Tamil or should I say English song which the whole world is crazy about. I swore not to mention the name of that song in my blog. You probably know what I am talking about, unless you were in a coma for the last couple of months. Anyway that guy was singing this song and everybody was tipping him. These are songs that anybody can sing like a pro. But make several thousand rupees with it in a few hours? You will richer than Yesudas without even singing half as well. A get rich quick scheme for those who have the balls to sing aloud in public. You don’t even have to pay taxes.
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