Attitude towards Money: Poverty and Hunger

Only a person who has slept hungry may be able to appreciate this. While writing about the first incident I get goose pimples – and the incident is etched in my mind like it happened yesterday. It happened in 1988 or 1989, not sure about the year.

I will not name the participants as most of them are alive. It happened in South Mumbai at Liberty restaurant. This restaurant had a separate open place where pav bhaji and fruit juice – this does not have a door and opens on to the footpath. 2 persons me and my client Mr. J were standing there waiting for Mr. J’s driver (Mr. J had an office in the same building). One beggar woman (aged perhaps 18-19, herself a kid!) carrying a kid came begging for food (being hungry not knowing from where the next meal will come from MUST be far more difficult than keeping a ‘upvas’ like I do for Ekadesi – i stuff my self with fresh fruits, dry fruits, milk, dahi so I keep saying fast means eating ‘fast’ food).

The server mercilessly threw water on her face and on the kid. Most of us were shocked, but like the ‘aam’ janata would not have had the guts to do anything.  I looked at Mr. J who had seen the incident partially – and I taunted Mr. J saying, “Mr. K the owner of the hotel is your friend is he not”. Mr. J called the manager and said ‘In this mood if I speak to your owner, this boy will lose his job’. So please take this money and feed this beggar woman…NOW…..

Lessons – the ANGER of Mr. J was towards the hunger of the beggar woman. He was still compassionate towards the boy – when I probed he said it is easy to have him sacked, but it means nothing to me or Mr. K, THE BOY WILL SUFFER and might become more bitter with the world.

This way the woman is well fed for today and the boy will not feel malice towards me. I do not need him as a fan, but surely do not need him as my enemy either. The other incident where I saw Mr. J’s behavior i have written about in another post of attitude towards money…it is about a poor flower seller. That incident is also etched in my mind like it happened yesterday!

The second incident is about a girl I know. She has had a decent upbringing but in a lower middle class background. She may not have exactly slept hungry but she has not seen much surplus during her childhood.

Recently in an auto when a beggar girl (kid) came begging the kid touched her – what she got as a reply was a vicious kick.

Now I am in a dilemma – do I call her boss and have her sacked (I know I can even without giving the reason), forget the whole incident (easiest to do), talk to girl and counsel her (she would hate to know that I saw the incident), ……no clue! All an attitude towards money is it not? Or worse lack of money.

Money is a simple hygiene factor – not having it is a problem. Having tons of it does not bring happiness. How ironic, but alas, its true!

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10 Responses to “Attitude towards Money: Poverty and Hunger”

  1. Dear Subra, Thanks for posting this gem. It’s time for the introspection of my innerself for my attitude towards money. I’m not in category of Mr. J & in future ‘ll try not to be included in the group with that GIRL.



  2. Subra,

    You’re close to attaining Nirvana. Incidents such as these keep us grounded.

  3. What you have written seems to be one-sided. Yes, the behavior of some people seem insensitive (and probably is) *but* the rest of us seem to use beggars (by paying them) to attain salvation. Encouraging begging can be really dangerous. See the article below where the beggars rent a baby for Rs100 a day. Instead of paying them, lets start supporting NGOs which do our work better.

  4. @shanu
    encouraging begging is dangerous I agree but what about such cruel behavior towards them? Do you think they are begging because they love to? Most of the times they are begging because someone tricked them thru traffiking.


    very well written sir. This is one PF blog who actually talks about real issues rather then just phony and trivial issues.

  5. On attitude towards money: I believe, money in itself has no meaning.
    It is a means to an end…and not an end unto itself.

    If you are interested more, read a related thought here:

  6. /qoute
    Brijesh on May 10th, 2010 at 11:29 am


    You’re close to attaining Nirvana. Incidents such as these keep us grounded.


  7. Some people are very comfortable subjecting others to the same cruelty that they suffered.

    Author Fatima speaking about Benazir.

    as told to me on sms by a reader…:)

  8. Dear Subra

    It is easy to have such a compassionate view and I, at times am also moved with the plight of millions sleeping hungry around us. Post like this bring upon the humbling effect, reminding us not to waste, be compassionate and work towards removing the structural unemployment.

    But Subra, I have a question. What do we do if people have made it a profession, comfortable way to negotiate their plight with your guilt/compassion/need for salvation and when they know that more appalling they look better chances they stand in begging business and then their plight is not real but a performing art? This, when coupled with an aggression to meet their numbers, will evoke the physical abuse.

    Will you ever get anyone sacked for hanging up on an insurance agent?

    I wonder what compels them to stay in a metropolitan city, when they have no jobs and railways will not hole them up for traveling ticket less to hinterland. Probably for the same reasons as us: ‘better opportunities’

    Are we, as taxpayers, not paying for a successful employment guarantee scheme and a food security bill is on the drafting table. This is when in my part of the rural country, their is an absolute scarcity of cheap unskilled labor to work in the fields, produce food and earn decent wages.

    Why there are just so many, part of a syndicated mafia, profiting on your emotional needs. They as through professionals, come across in a perfectly pitiable condition that you will be willing to cough up money for the nukkad natak, do u bit of punya (good deed), philanthropy or whatever… in a same way you are willing to pay for a movie if it is worth it.

    I may be sounding acidic, but with due regards, I can’t help.

  9. Srinivas Muthadi on May 11th, 2010 at 10:25 am

    Your write-up on these incidents are touching. But there is other side of it. Not all beggars are poor. Not all poor take to begging. I see so many hard-working people, at my work place, the maid servants, the fruit and vegetable vendors whom I see regularly, some times the much maligned autowallahs, not getting enough to live decently that I would rather give them more money than giving it to beggars. Perhaps as a reward for not taking to begging.

  10. see all the responses..most people have argued against begging. Either we try to solve them, or we do not. What ever our thoughts about begging, we have no RIGHT to treat a fellow human being badly – that is what I mean.

    Also everybody needs a few people whom they can kick around – a boss kicking his subordinate, the sub kicking his wife, wife abusing the kids, kids abusing the pet….it is a chain.

    if u see urchin kids abusing the street dog…you realise that they are at the end of the chain, that is all.

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