BangaLore #15: Charity case

March 9, 2009, midnight | By Sonalee Rau | 14 years, 11 months ago

Last month I saw a beggar woman sprinting down the street. She had stolen a businessman's laptop, hoping to make a quick buck by selling it - and he was at her heels. But not all lower-class Bangaloreans are thieves. Many are generous and charitable despite their financial situations. Random acts of kindness aren't extinct in Bangalore quite yet.

One Sunday night, I was coming home after an overnight field trip. Since we have no family car here, traveling in the city can be difficult, especially given the type of gridlock that exists on Bangalorean roads (think 495 times worse than I-495). Circumstances were such that I was only able to ride halfway home with a classmate and after getting dropped off by the curbside, I was stuck and out of options: I had no cellphone and no small change to make a payphone call.

Oh, and the streets of Bangalore are not a place you want to be in the middle of the night; I'd been warned about pickpockets and other dangers lurking in dark alleys. It was a transportation dilemma far worse than any activity bus mishap I've faced in Montgomery County. Finally, I set about asking auto rickshaw drivers whether they had change for a 50 rupee bill. Most didn't.

It was a role reversal. Suddenly, I knew what it felt like to be a beggar in India.

I had been sitting on the curb for over two hours when one kind auto driver who had seen me asking around came up to me and handed me one rupee. I asked him if I could give him 50 rupees and accept change for the sum instead, but he protested. "It's from me, madam. It's a gift; you keep it."

The man probably needed it more than me; rickshaw drivers don't earn much. But had it not been for him, I couldn't have made a phone call, and I might have sat there all night.

I didn't know the man, but I hope I can repay him someday. From those to whom much is given, much is expected - but sometimes, those to whom little is given give so much.

Tags: BangaLore

Sonalee Rau. Sonalee (suh-NAH-lee) is a chipper Chipper and a would-be magnet junior. She spends a great deal of time playing tennis (Blair is red hot), doodling, reading, quoting famous people, quoting not-so-famous people and lamenting her inability to play the piano. She is also a big … More »

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