Wednesday, June 06, 2007

Snake basket

It's is typical morning and I am as usual stranded at the heavy-traffic junction. Awaiting my turn to take a right on my way to office, I notice a couple of kids. Hair haywire and clothes unwashed for ages, they seem to be in an unusual hurry. The reason is not very far from where I am presently. An air-conditioned taxi has come to halt in front of me and I can see two foreigners - executives. The kids in question are rushing towards the car - holding a bamboo basket in their tiny hands.

The little girl opens the basket lid and a small snake appears. I am thinking on the lines that the white people must have grown used to such scenes and would ignore. But that doesn't happen. One of the executives takes out his camera and clicks a couple of pictures. The kids beg for money with their voices raised high. The foreigner calls the girl to his side of car and asks the driver to wind the window glass down. Within a minute, the girl walks away with a hundred rupee note. The boy with her is not happy as he walks away empty handed.

But this day-to-day story does not end here. From somewhere to my left, another boy appears. No, two-three new such characters arrive. The boy starts displaying his agony and hunger (or whatever emotion that can be described as). The foreigner is not impressed. He winds the glass up, and goes back to the air-conditioned comfort. The boy is very disappointed. He has smelled an easy pray here. He goes away somewhere and is back in a flash. He now is carrying another snake-basket in his hand. Opens it, and literally wears the snake around his neck. The poor creatures (snake and the boy too) look even poorer.

The signal light turns green. The car starts and speeds away.

I kick-start my bike and take a right en route to my office. On the way to office, for some reason I can't help but think about what I have just seen. I do not have sympathy to beggars; for no particular reason. I find begging just too much insulting. I think the act begging is a dent to self esteem; probably due to unfortunate circumstances, but that's what it's for me.

Today's incident added another aspect to it. On one hand our country is boasting of our increasing reserves of foreign exchange, we are calling ourselves "almost there" economy, and on the streets, these kids are begging to the foreigners.

I could not draw any conclusion at the end of my ride to office: the whole incident was nothing short of disturbing. Noting more. Nothing less.

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