Thoughtful..., Uncategorized

Orange Juice

I stood at the juice shop. I ordered some mango juice for myself. I was looking forward to the rich cool pulp skidding down my throat like it was some huge water slide in an amusement park. Some vivid imagination, eh? I waited. The shopkeeper was still finishing up his morning prayers (it’s a common sight in India…they start their day and their business with prayers) so I was aware of my wait. I sat down. Someone I knew from work stood next to me. He’s German, I think. I have seen him around but I haven’t known him. I smiled. He didn’t smile back.

“That’s rude!” – I thought to myself.

A woman dressed in rags walked to us. Her clothes, her ruffled hair, her sorry state, her pleading eyes – she was a beggar (another common sight in India, unfortunately). She begged for money. She pleaded when I said I cannot offer her money (I have my reasons…most beggars have to beg and give away the collected money to their superior – of course, another beggar! It’s a huge racket in India and it’s saddening to see all of it around me. It’s saddening to be aware of reality!).

I looked away with a heavy heart…Many thoughts ran through my mind.

“They didn’t choose to be what they are.”

Asking for something…Begging…It is the toughest thing to do.”

I remembered something someone had told me long back.

Shame kills a man more effectively than arms ever can.

I cried in my heart. I wanted to help. But I couldn’t. Or could I? I definitely should. But we are only encouraging the racket by giving them money (I am aware that people kidnap children, disable them purposely and then force them to beg on the streets – disability attracts sympathy and sympathy gains monetary support! The only way to stop the racket from spreading was to stop encouraging beggars…). But the racket was a bigger picture, a bigger problem. How could I see a life suffer like this when I dreamt of enjoying my mango juice? I was torn. I had to do something. But what? I prayed. I always do. It is one of those few moments when I wish and hope that God exists and that he listens to me.

The shopkeeper saw the beggar. He shooed her away.

I cringed at the sight. I asked him to not be so rude to them.

“I run a business madam. People won’t step into my shop if I encourage beggars here.”

I saw his point but I wished he wasn’t right. In either case, being rude to them was not the right thing.

Two glasses of orange juice were placed on the counter. The German guy picked up both. He walked out of the shop. He stood. He searched a bit. He called out to the beggar. He offered her a glass. He walked back into the shop with his glass and sat there sipping.

I had never felt so ashamed in my life until that moment. I felt cheap and belittled in front of his huge heart.

Why hadn’t I thought of it?

I smiled at him, acknowledging what he had done, my heart full of love and gratitude. He didn’t smile back.

This time, I didn’t care! I smiled anyway…

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74 thoughts on “Orange Juice”

    1. There’s always so much to learn around us! I feel small and stupid very often when I see the kindness of huge hearts around me πŸ™‚
      There’s still hope for humanity with beautiful people like him around us πŸ™‚
      Have a beautiful day!

      Liked by 1 person

  1. Reblogged this on and commented:
    Aishwarya writes about humanity in its rawest form. No matter the culture, there will always be “beggars” and divided hearts on what to do. I love the honesty and passion in her writing.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Wonderful post Aishwarya…your message in the end was superb. I heard a line from someone once, it said that you should never think twice before helping people, earlier I used to ignore sometimes those who needed help, but now I don’t ignore. You taught me a great lesson..
    Keep posting..

    Liked by 2 people

    1. For most it was just another incident. For me it was what you have put in words beautifully – a compassionate story!
      Have a grateful day and don’t forget to count your blessings πŸ™‚

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Excellent….Yes! That is precisely what I would have done….’Sharing’ food and drink…quite different and more helpful than sharing ‘money’ with the desperately needy… πŸ˜‰ Hugs! ❀

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Yes I would think so. India’s population leads to majority of the issues – unemployment being a big one. And begging stems from that in a certain way! It’s unfortunate… They don’t choose their fate. My heart reaches out to them!
      Thanks for pausing here πŸ™‚

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you for pausing here and reading through my anecdote Izrael! It’s wonderful that this post is reaching out to so many people. It’s lovely to meet you. I’ll head over to read your work soon πŸ™‚

      Liked by 1 person

  4. It is such a heart-warming story. I feel you.. It is a wretched situation and we can do something, even a small gesture of kindness. But, I also don’t believe in giving money. Thank you for sharing.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yes I think so too. Giving money isn’t going to solve their problems. It’s unfortunate we have to face this awkwardness day in and day out. I wish there was a better way….
      Thank you for your thoughtful words Anne. πŸ™‚

      Liked by 1 person

  5. This is a common dilemma faced by many of us while travelling in train, outside Hotels,Cinema Halls, Temples,Churches, Mosques etc. Government has also instructed to not encourage begging. In Mumbai, professional begging is a big menace. Organised gangs maim small children.Women hire infants & keep them drugged them while they go around begging. These infants don’t trouble these woman by crying and are not properly fed as they are in a drug induced slumber all the time. I have seen old persons being dropped in a Taxi by family members at their regular ‘work’ spots We have a great Proverb in Tamil which says “Ascertain the character of the one you help”. I know it is very difficult to make a judgements. I do drop a few coins now & then when I come across severely deformed persons asking for alms. My conscience does cringe when I follow my intellect ignoring my heart.
    Your article is indeed very touching. It also reminded me about a German man I met after completion of a 12day Vipassana course. He remarked that Indians are a very inquisitive type as well as very helpful, but he prefers solitude.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Yes organized gangs and their effects are what bother me most. I have to admit that I do give away a few coins here and there, sometimes even significant amounts. And say whatever, but my conscience feels at peace. When I listen to my intellect instead, the cringe and the nagging thought of having walked away from the needy when it was in my capacity to do something bother me too much! I wish there is a way out of this dilemma soon.
      Thank you for your wonderful comment πŸ™‚ and have a beautiful day!

      Like

  6. Quite an interesting recount. Probably he has bad dentition and doesn’t like smiling πŸ˜‰ I can quite understand the gamut of thoughts that ran through your mind at about the beggar. It’s such a sorry shame that people have to kidnap and exploit children and all these things make people skeptical. What I do, is give what I can from my heart and move on.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Giving them love is the kindest deed Jackie. Yes, it pains me to know how these people are tied to their fate and how they cannot escape it, even if they would desperately want to!
      I learnt a good deal from a stranger that day and I will remember to always share what I have when a beggar walks to me the next time. πŸ™‚
      Thank you for your wonderful comment dear, it is greatly valued.

      Liked by 1 person

  7. This is a sight in India upon which you can not have a fixed point of view. Some times it feels gravely confusing that how are we a developing superpower if we cant feed these people.

    Anyway, this was written very nicely. The blog is great!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you Sarang for taking a moment to stop by and read my work. I’m glad you liked the post. I will head over to your blog soon.
      Cheers and have a grateful day, be thankful for what you have! πŸ™‚

      Liked by 1 person

  8. Thank you for a beautiful story. I feel those same feelings. Here in the USA they sit at busy intersections with signs, or on the curb near the grocery store. I give when I am called, and struggle when I have to pass by. When I am in a position to, my attempt is an offering of acknowledgement – a look into the eyes of another Human Spirit. Blessings, in lak’ech, Debra

    Liked by 1 person

  9. It’s so difficult to know what to do is these situations. We do have that problem, on a different scale. In the warmer states, there is a lot of begging on street corners and often it is a racket, too, although not an organized one. Sometimes if you offer them food or drink they just throw it away because they just want money.

    And yet there are definitely people who are in real need, too. And there are addicts or drunks who just want to drink it away or get high . . .

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yes I have faced this problem once. My father used to give away biscuits every day to the needy. And one fine day he saw them throwing the packets of biscuits away as soon as my father turned his back. And he felt extremely sad and angry because it was hard earned money he was spending for them… And those were difficult times for us too, in spite of which this was being done. So he decided to not indulge them anymore with biscuits. Quite sad! 😦

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Me too an Indian but I believe even small Asian countries n African countries growing like anything..this is being eaten up by so called policitians..this country won’t ever become a developed nationπŸ˜ƒ and people won’t be as educated as they do in collegeπŸ˜ƒso I never mind of being bothered about much of these issues..

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Politics and corruption are an issue everywhere and I believe one must have hope. If we stop believing in a better future I’m afraid there won’t be one. Faith and action are meant to be hand in hand!
        Please do have faith and do encourage education, perseverance and love! That’s the only way forward.
        Have a grateful and thoughtful day! Cheers.

        Like

  10. I visited India in 2003 and had some very memorable moral dilemnas of this nature. I had to do a LOT of soul searching for every situation was different. My favourite drink was the fresh mango juice – I LOVED it. I look forward to following your blog.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Aww thank you so much for stopping by! Yes I can imagine how different your life must have been in India. It’s a radical change from anything anywhere else. I would love to have your opinions on my future posts and those of the past. Please feel free to explore this space and voice your opinions on posts.
      I’m glad we could meet here! Cheers and have a beautiful day.

      Liked by 1 person

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