Yesterday, after I came out of a shop, some elderly woman was begging. Near that shop, it is not uncommon.
She did not look like a beggar. Yet she was.
At first, I gave her Rs. 50 - which maybe more than what people usually give beggars (I think).
I was surprised that she said I don’t want money, I want rice and daal (lentils) instead. I was positively surprised. Not many beggars ask for things. I told her to buy grocery herself. There is a grocery store next door.
She said, the shopkeeper won’t let me purchase stuff.
This wasn’t uncommon.
So I went with her to grocery store, and asked the shopkeeper to get her rice and daal as she had asked. I didn’t want to get into the transaction, I just wanted to make sure shopkeeper does not shoo her away. Also, Rs. 50 won’t get her the stuff she needed, so I wanted to also pay for groceries.
When shopkeeper was done packing rice and daal, I asked him how much I owed him.
At that time, the lady said : “I also need sugar”
I was taken aback, but didn’t say anything.
Shopkeeper went to pack sugar.
and then she said “cooking oil” as well.
Shopkeeper was now wondering what to do.
At that time, I told him whatever he has packed is enough.
I ended up paying upward of Rs. 300
As soon as I got my change back, I left.
I kept thinking :
- Did I do the right thing ? (Yes, I was glad I helped with her with groceries. I think what took me by surprise was that she asked for more and more stuff once at the shop.)
- I didn’t know how much it costs for bare minimum groceries. (I didn’t pay for cooking oil.) I am aware that there are shops which sell at lower price. Still..
- Is paying Rs. 10/50 to beggars right thing to do ? I know most of them might buy street food, which is easily available for that amount. It is not healthy probably not nutritious either.
I did notice when I left that even though she mentioned that she did not want money, she kept the initial Rs. 50 I gave her 😆