It was the last week of September, 2014 and It had been over ten days of me doing the up down. Rakish Sir was happy that he is finally going to get transfer to Ahmedabad as I joined the company with the posting in Anand. I joined the company as Rakish Sir’s reliever. Apart from Rakish Sir, there was one more person of our company who was posted in Anand and he used to commute with us. His name was Dharmendra. He used to board the train from Maninagar. Maninagar is one of the stations in Ahmedabad. Dharmendra Sir was posted at divisional office of the company while me and Rakish Sir were posted at branch office of the company.
I was introduced to Dharmendra Sir on day 7 of commuting. When I started the commuting via local train, he was on leave. But before being introduced to Dharmendra Sir, I was introduced to one of the arts of the local train. Begging. Begging has become a business. And this business has such a return that beggars can lend money at the end of the month and can survive on its interest. I discovered this fact in the local train only.
A 19 or 20 year old able guy used to come and clean the floor of the seating coach with his t-shirt. In return, he used to ask for money for cleaning floor. That was his style of begging. He never cleaned the whole floor. He used to clean the floor under of couple of seats in his range and ask for money. He had a habit of wearing the t-shirt after cleaning all the rows of the coach to create the sympathy. One day, a man asked him “Why don’t you do some meaningful work instead of begging?”
“The amount of money I get by begging in trains, I won’t get that amount by working at any place,” there was wicked smile of the face of the beggar. “How much do you get by begging in trains?” That man became curious after hearing that. “That’s none of your business.” Beggar wore his t-shirt and got off the coach. He knew he is not going to get any money in that coach after that conversation. So he didn’t clean rest of the coach and straight away went into another coach.
In very early phase of my commuting, I realised that beggars do various kinds of tricks to get sympathy and money from people in trains. Some use the cuteness and innocence of their children, some will show their disability and their disease, some will use the name and the photo of the God, some will sing their own remix of ‘Shirdi wale saibaba’, some will clean the floor of your coach, some will tell you about the miseries of their life and others will curse people for not giving the money. One thing is common in all of them, they are experts in playing with people’s emotions. They are experts in getting sympathy and money from the people. Very few are really needy, homeless and disable but they are very difficult to recognise.
I also fell in their trap in the first month of my commuting. In the third week of my commuting, I was coming back to Ahmedabad in the evening. A guy boarded the train. His backbone was in the shape of egg. He was begging by saying that he needs money for treatment. Seeing his condition, I thought he really needs it. So I gave him the money. Rakish Sir was on leave that day. So only me and Dharmendra Sir were there in the train. Dharmendra Sir’s stop was Maninagar. As Maninagar arrived, I also got up with him. I was bored and tired of sitting at one place. I got up started walking towards the door to get some fresh air. Meanwhile, train left Maninagar station and stopped in the yard of Ahmedabad station.
There I saw that guy with egg shaped backbone. He was in the coach ahead of mine. I decided to go and ask him about disease and his condition. As I went into that coach, I heard the conversation. And that conversation swept away the floor beneath my feet. He got off the train to pee. A man sitting at the door asked him,”How much do you earn by begging?”
“It depends on the train in which I am begging. I get the amount ranging from Rs. 700 to Rs. 1500.”
“How much have you got today?”
“Around Rs. 1000.”
“Do you have a girlfriend?”
“What’s here name?”
“Her name is Kali and we are going out tonight.”
Then the beggar climbed up and train approached Ahmedabad station. I felt like punching him on the face but his condition stopped me from doing that. It was my mistake that I thought his need is genuine and he is actually asking for money for his treatment. No one would have given him a penny if everyone knew that he is asking for money to go out with his girlfriend. He was successful in creating sympathy for himself that’s why he got money from everyone. I summed up his earnings and the total was more than my salary. On that note, I commended his skill and moved on with the journey.
In this way in the very first month of my commuting, I realised that begging is an art.