Beggar kids asking for food

#1 Oct 5th, 2011, 18:50
Join Date:
Jun 2011
  • PeterPumpkinEater is offline
Scenario is this

We are staying at the Oberoi Mumbai. Don't fancy dinner in their ultra-formal restaurant, so we go out to a less formal but still fairly pricey Indian restaurant.

We order to much and ask them to take away the leftovers.

As we leave the restaurant we are set upon by small children who ask for the food and try and snatch it out of my hand.

We are not hungry and have a buffet breakfast included in our roomrate.

On the one hand, they need the food more than we do (we end up leaving it in the room when we check-out the next morning), but on the other it's not nice to be set upon by beggars and will only encourage them to harass future patrons.

#2 Oct 5th, 2011, 19:06
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Jul 2008
  • Boston123 is offline
Leaving it in your room may not be better. Likely the cleaning staff has enough to eat, and would worry about food that has aged.
Children on the street are reacting to a purely biological urge.. they have likely not eaten all day... its no different from what anyone else would do elsewhere in the world.You may recall documentaries of people who have been food deprived for days, who end up eating too much for their weakened systems to handle.
#3 Oct 5th, 2011, 19:07
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Dec 2005
Mumbai, India
  • shahronakm is offline
It's bad if they are trying to snatch from your hands. You should not give in to their tactics & as you said it will become a habit & they will start harassing others also.

Instead, when you are walking / going to your hotel & find some beggar sitting or some other person in need (but he is not snatching & just asking) you can give the food to that person.

#4 Oct 5th, 2011, 19:08
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  • NonIndianResident is offline
Awkward situation! Try eating at a less pricey place perhaps
#5 Oct 5th, 2011, 19:17
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  • machadinha is offline
I'd have to agree with Ronak: I try to give to those that just look deserving. When I can, and feel like it. Those who besiege me, no, no time for them, sorry. There's too many of them, anyway, and there's no way to help them all.
#6 Oct 5th, 2011, 19:17
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Delhi (Saket)
  • pamela1rose is offline
Ignore them. Let Indians take care of their own social problems.
#7 Oct 5th, 2011, 19:31
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Abode of Glooscap
  • PeakXV is offline
No, never had that happen. I've offered bananas to kids who've asked for money occasionally - rarely do they accept. Probably reselling it .....
We shall not cease from exploration, and the end of all our exploring will be to arrive where we started and know the place for the first time. ~
T. S. Eliot
#8 Oct 5th, 2011, 20:31
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Oct 2004
Chennai, India
  • Nick-H is offline
If they were really hassling for food and not cash, then I would say that they need it. If you are not hungry, then what other point is there in taking food away from a restaurant than to give it to hungry creatures. If no humans want it, a dog will, and if it is veg, then maybe a cow will.
#9 Oct 5th, 2011, 20:36
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  • Adiyogi is offline
So what did you end up doing?

#10 Oct 5th, 2011, 20:36
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  • machadinha is offline
<cross-posted with Adiyogi>

I think Nick is quite right.

I've often taken a street urchin or shoe polisher and the likes there for a meal, certainly in Mumbai, and then certainly in Colaba, where after all there are so many of them.*

It would not rarely happen they'd not even finish their meal. I know some here will take that as a reason to go "See! They don't need it!" Whatever, it's not my business; my offering is my own, what the recipient does with it is really not my business.

But so anyway these kids you described must have wanted that food.

Still, though, I'd ignore any, kids or adults, who pester me. Or shoo them off if necessary. What I'd not rarely do on the Mumbai streets and say certainly in Colaba is leave some coins underneath sleeping street dwellers.

* One more note on that: Certainly in Colaba, and perhaps around the Oberoi or whatever, I don't know it nor where it is, there'll be many looking to take advantage of you, yes, and knowing perfectly well how to. These are, after all, the touristy areas. I'd say as a newcomer to the place, this will be next to impossible to deal with. That's not to make me sound "cooler" than anyone else, but it just all takes some experience, some knowing your way around in India. As such a newcomer and if that's what the poster is, I'd say best to ignore it all, yes. I'm sorry, but there's just little else for it. If you feel like giving or sharing, you'll get your opportunities later down the line, when you are more comfortable with it all.

But asking for your food however, no, what are they gonna do with it, but eat it? Selling on a banana? Just forget about it.

Again: I'd still not accept being besieged over it. But they must have wanted that food; or perhaps known that's the best they can expect at that spot. (Many a tourist walking out with their over-orderings, perhaps? I also and in that same vein don't readily see myself carrying out any leftovers in India, btw. That is again not to make me sound cooler than you, nor do I mean to criticize you over it, but after a while of being there, maybe you'll feel the same. To give to some street animals, yes, maybe. Should preferably not be too spicy, though they'll be used to something. Many restaurants will chuck out their leftovers to those same street animals at the end of day and perhaps a few times inbetween, anyway. They'll have a neat pecking order among themselves, so first come the stronger cows, now the lesser cows, now the street dogs, etc.)
#11 Oct 5th, 2011, 21:47
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  • PeterPumpkinEater is offline
Actually I remember at Jagdish temple (Udaipur) the beggar kids held out a bowl for me to pour some Coke into. I did give on at that occasion.
#12 Oct 5th, 2011, 22:09
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Jan 2005
  • machadinha is offline
I don't quite understand; going back over your post history now, you seem to be experienced there, and we've had some good interactions over it.

So whence the question? You gave some kids some coca-cola? Wow, that should earn you a day less in purgatory, no doubt.

I'm sorry, but I really just don't understand.

How's about next time, invite them all in for dinner, now make sure there'll be plenty of leftovers for them to take to their families. No, at a regular common eatery at least, it will cost you peanuts, and you'll have made their day. They don't normally get to even sit down at such a place.

--> Check this pic of mine. And this, and this, etc.
#13 Oct 5th, 2011, 22:36
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  • machadinha is offline
I know I'll have posted this here before; it remains such a powerful little book to me though, as I know it is to many, there's little unique about my liking it: Khalil Gibran, The Prophet:


Then said a rich man, "Speak to us of Giving."

And he answered:

You give but little when you give of your possessions.

It is when you give of yourself that you truly give.

For what are your possessions but things you keep and guard for fear you may need them tomorrow?

And tomorrow, what shall tomorrow bring to the overprudent dog burying bones in the trackless sand as he follows the pilgrims to the holy city?

And what is fear of need but need itself?

Is not dread of thirst when your well is full, thirst that is unquenchable?

There are those who give little of the much which they have - and they give it for recognition and their hidden desire makes their gifts unwholesome.

And there are those who have little and give it all.

These are the believers in life and the bounty of life, and their coffer is never empty.

There are those who give with joy, and that joy is their reward.

And there are those who give with pain, and that pain is their baptism.

And there are those who give and know not pain in giving, nor do they seek joy, nor give with mindfulness of virtue;

They give as in yonder valley the myrtle breathes its fragrance into space.

Though the hands of such as these God speaks, and from behind their eyes He smiles upon the earth.

It is well to give when asked, but it is better to give unasked, through understanding;

And to the open-handed the search for one who shall receive is joy greater than giving

And is there aught you would withhold?

All you have shall some day be given;

Therefore give now, that the season of giving may be yours and not your inheritors'.

You often say, "I would give, but only to the deserving."

The trees in your orchard say not so, nor the flocks in your pasture.

They give that they may live, for to withhold is to perish.

Surely he who is worthy to receive his days and his nights is worthy of all else from you.

And he who has deserved to drink from the ocean of life deserves to fill his cup from your little stream.

And what desert greater shall there be than that which lies in the courage and the confidence, nay the charity, of receiving?

And who are you that men should rend their bosom and unveil their pride, that you may see their worth naked and their pride unabashed?

See first that you yourself deserve to be a giver, and an instrument of giving.

For in truth it is life that gives unto life - while you, who deem yourself a giver, are but a witness.

And you receivers - and you are all receivers - assume no weight of gratitude, lest you lay a yoke upon yourself and upon him who gives.

Rather rise together with the giver on his gifts as on wings;

For to be overmindful of your debt, is to doubt his generosity who has the free-hearted earth for mother, and God for father.
#14 Oct 9th, 2011, 10:53
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Aug 2004
  • goangoangone is offline
Order less. & there..Goa
#15 Oct 9th, 2011, 11:51
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Aug 2011
Texas, USA
  • Big Texan is offline
It seems that most of us struggle with the question of begging .... Several of us have written in the thread entitled "How To Deal With Beggars" - there is some worthwile discussion there. I've had some magical experiences providing food to begging children and a few nasty experiences.

I'm sure that we've all had the experience of buying a couple of pieces of fruit and handing them to a beggar only to be swarmed by a dozen more. And once, I was entering an upscale restaurant in New Delhi. There were several older begging children hustling outside. I didn't give them anything as I went in, but before leaving, I purchased several orders of naan and a few take out items. I gave them to the begging kids outside the restaurant. The kids threw the food in the gutter and demanded, "We don't want food ... We want money"! I was shocked and saddened. At least, the street animals got something to eat.

I swore that was the last time I'd give food to begging kids. ... But it wasn't and won't be.

For me, if I was eating in a restaurant, ordered too much food, was taking it back to the hotel (Oberoi) where I would likely leave it to spoil, and was approached by small, hungry children wanting food (even if being "set upon") ... I wouldn't have to ponder for long whether to give it to them or what long term behavioral aberrations I might be influencing. I've got food to spare ... They are hungry ... End of deliberation. (Without being too judgmental here ... Sometimes, I sense that our - me included - debate whether "to give or not to give" is simply an exercise in justifying not giving.)

I think we western, relatively affluent, educated world travelers (like me) tend to over think these delimmas. In another thread, I quoted Mother Teresa who said, "If you can't feed 100, feed one". Sounds like you had a terrific opportunity to feed a few! Celebrate the opportunity, and you'll sleep a lot better than laying awake worrying whether you did the right thing or not.
"I am in love with India...where I find the heat and smells and oils and spices, and puffs of temple incense, and sweat and darkness, and dirt and lust and cruelty, and above all, things wonderful and fascinating innumerable." Kipling 1893
Last edited by Big Texan; Oct 9th, 2011 at 21:06..

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