This happened a couple of years back when I was staying at Jayanagar. I used to walk to the NIMHANS bus stand to catch the bus to Koramangala where my then office was located. It so happened that one day as I was walking past NIMHANS, a girl approached me saying she needed help. She must have been in her early twenties. She kept looking around nervously. Thinking that she wanted to ask me directions I stopped to listen to her. She started telling me a story…
She: I came here with my parents in the morning. Now I can’t find them. They have left me and gone.
Me: Umm… Do you know their mobile phone number? Do you want me call them and tell them you are here?
She: No no.. just give me some money to go till
Me: (now suspicious) Wouldn’t it be better to call them? Wait here, your parents may come looking for you. Or else I can take you to the police station just here. I really don’t have any money on me right now.
She: No, no please don’t say that. Please give me some money. I’ll manage myself.
Me: I’m sorry. Look I need to really go now. Sorry again.
And I got away from there. From across the road where I was waiting for the bus, I could see that she was telling her story to another lady. The bus arrived then and I kept wondering on the way about what had happened… I really don’t know if whatever she said was true. I was finding it hard to buy her story, to believe that her parents left her there and went away. The way she was acting was as if she was running from someone, or somewhere, and the locality being NIMHANS, I wasn’t sure if I should help her or not. I did not see her after that day.
I had almost forgotten this incident until a few days back something similar happened near Double Road. I was on my scooter waiting at the red signal when this short guy in a mechanic’s uniform found his way to a scooter on my left. At first I thought this mechanic guy was waiting for the scooter guy but the conversation said otherwise. The mechanic started telling him the story about how he had to reach somewhere urgently and needed money to get there. The man on the scooter ignored him at first but when he repeated his story, almost pleading, he thrust a 10-rupee note in his hand. By then the signal turned green and the mechanic walked left as we all turned right. Now I see this mechanic at least once a week at the same signal winding his way through traffic when the light turns red. And he is there even on days I am particularly late.
While the second incident does look to be begging, was the first one begging too? I will never really know.