May 11, 2009

Strategic Begging in Mumbai

Dadar station, Mumbai.

The route: All frequent travelers of the Mumbai local train adopt a fix pathway between getting in to the station and catching the train. They enter the station, go upstairs, walk towards some platform no., go downstairs and reach the final place for boarding. Over some period of day to day travel, the path gets fixed. Normally, one does not deviate for more than 2 meters either side.

The gait: In the rush time, those who walk through the sides walk fast. The others who walk at the central area look down and take small steps because of the rush.

The state of mind:
Not much interest in what's around. The only goal is the train to catch.
Given the context, lets see how beggars work:

It was first week of May. There wasn't much rush as it was a Saturday evening. I saw a blind Hindu beggar saying 'bhagwan tera bhala karega' when i was walking on the sides. There was a poor lady lying down with her child and begging at the central area.

Point 1: The blind guy was standing in the way to slow people down and make them notice what he says. The lady was lying down as people are slow at center.

Last Saturday, there were two fresh faces. A new blind guy standing on the sides at the exact same place, but this time, a Muslim guy, saying 'Allah'. In the central area was an old man lying down at the exact same place. He was weak and had a plaster on his leg and some support on his belly.

Point 2: Notice the change in religion. A new dose of religion for people who take that path.

Point 3: On the other side, there was a dose of emotion. Change from a poor lady with a weak baby to a suffering old man.

Point 4: Notice the week's time they take to shuffle. They might have arrived at this figure after repeated permutations and combination to maximize the income. Given the non- deviation from the path of a traveler and the state of mind, one week actually sounds about right. In a week, one would normally notice the fresh dose of emotion & religion and give away a tip.

One sad reality is that out of the blind beggars i have noticed, most seem to suffer from similar accident. It reminds of what i have seen in many bollywood movies but would not like to mention here. Although, the business aspect of begging shown in movies may be very true.

Sad, but strategic !

Let's see who comes next Saturday ..


Update: my theory works !! .. saw that blind Muslim guy at Andheri station today .. must have shifted last Saturday ..



Narbhaksh! said...

quite an observation :)

Vinay said...

dude read last 2 lines again :) .. proof bhi hai !

Prasad said...

But observant people like you and me will never give alms to this, so the strategy ends up being a waste :-)

Vinay said...

ppl like you and me wouldn't bother anyways .. strategy or no strategy ! .. :P

.. we'll either find the strategy out and then complain or we'll complain for having no strategy ..

Yours Randomly said...

Begging , in our country is a profession. And people are going about it in quite a professional way....astute observations!

Vinay said...

allah ke naam par .. shukriya !