Why don’t beggars quit being so gross?

Published: August 7, 2013
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A bunch of lazy people who instead of getting jobs prey on our infinite generosity to get easy money. PHOTO: REUTERS

The following is a graphic description of my traumatic ordeal last week, when I was forced to cruise through a bazaar full of beggars in my handsome new Corolla. I emerged from it with a greater understanding of their sordid ways, of which I shall gladly inform you.

It was an ordinary afternoon that transformed into a grotesque nightmare. I made a fatal mistake of passing through Saddar which was teeming with excited Eid shoppers, and found myself stuck in a gridlock.

That’s when it began. They came at me from every direction; tapping on my window with their yellow, misshapen fingernails; emotionally blackmailing me with their babies and skinny children, saying something about not having ‘rotis.’

I suggested that if they don’t have rotis, they should make their chicken rolls out of pita bread instead. They refused my advice, and continued to pester me.

I soon realised that I had become a victim of the dreaded Fakir Inc that my friends warned me about. It’s a network of lazy people who, instead of getting jobs like us, prey on our infinite generosity to get easy money.

I peeked out of my window at an old beggar dude comfortably sunbathing on the pavement. How revolting! Sure, I understand the glamour of dragging oneself around the streets in sweltering heat and begging for money. I would be doing it too if I wanted, but I don’t because I have dignity….and money that I’ve already inherited from daddy, but mostly it’s because I have dignity!

I rolled down my window and gave the man a crucial piece of advice:

“Uncle! Aap bhi meri tarah mehnat kar ke doctor kiun nahin ban jate?”

(Uncle! Why don’t you work hard and become a doctor like me?)

The man cried out about the lack of money, opportunities, education yada yada. I sneered at these feeble excuses. I can only pray that this epiphany will soon set on him.

And that went for the rest of the shameless lot too. Don’t these beggars know that there are classy Fast Food restaurants just dying to hire them all, and shower them (and their families) in hard-earned cash?

And even if they refuse these jobs, they can always start at the bottom and work as labourers at construction sites. In no time, a mazdoor would get promoted to a Cement Manager, then Captain Wheelbarrow, then Chief of Scaffolding, then foreman, and before he knows it, he’ll be living in a dope mansion fending off hot, young gold-diggers!

Have some faith in non-welfare, free market capitalism, for crying out loud! Take some lessons from my bro Drake,

“Started from the bottom now we ‘ere…”

Heck, some of these beggars were even abusing children, and amputating people’s limbs so they could get more money from us rich, charitable folk! They should all be thrown in jail, because nothing will deter these guys from crime better than threatening them with free prison meals.

If that somehow fails, we can always torture them in our police stations for further motivation!

Perhaps even more infuriating than these beggars, are those moocher-apologists who say that it is the society’s and the state’s fault for failing these poor citizens! Urgh, could you possibly be further removed from reality?

So here’s the plan: we stop paying the paupers. If we work together, enough of these beggars will get jobs (or starve to death, whatever) thereby sending a message to the Faqir Inc that making amputees and child beggars is no longer a lucrative business.

The begging industry will go bankrupt, and disappear!

Now, I must go and pitch this idea to a bunch of friends who insist on giving away a ton of money, food and clothing to the poor this Eid. Their plan is to let the poor know that we acknowledge their disabilities, disadvantages and desperation; and aren’t exploring ways to feel less guilty about turning our backs on them.

______________________________________________

Penned above is a glimpse into how many of those who have been blessed in life view the less fortunate. I hope reading this shows how pretentious and disgusting it sounds.

Faraz Talat

Faraz Talat

A medical doctor and bubble-wrap enthusiast from Rawalpindi, who writes mostly about science and social politics (and bubble-wrap). He tweets @FarazTalat (twitter.com/FarazTalat)

The views expressed by the writer and the reader comments do not necessarily reflect the views and policies of The Express Tribune.

  • Namaloom Afraad

    What the…………Recommend

  • Majid

    I am a beggar. Thanks for highlighting this issue. Next time while begging we will try to be more humble. Recommend

  • Hassan

    Don’t quit your day job buddyRecommend

  • Farhan

    The article is sort of confusing … I couldn’t figure out where the “reverse psychology” ends and the “satire” begins.Recommend

  • Waqas

    Sigh, why does everyone think he/she can/should write satire.Recommend

  • Unkown

    Even a medical student gets a brand new crolla car but still young doctors begs that their salaries are low. Recommend

  • Abidi

    It isn’t the fact that we are donating money bothers me but the fact that we are throwing it away. We are just giving away money to people who don’t deserve it; neither morally nor religiously. There are thousands of people in our surroundings or families who are in need but we just give out money to these street beggars not only encouraging them to continue what they are doing but are encouraging not to get employed somewhere. It is us who by giving money makes them confident that they can live their entire life on this trivial amount of money.Recommend

  • Haq

    This post is neither insightful nor effective in its failed attempt at satire. Recommend

  • Hamza

    Pathetic attempt of satireRecommend

  • http://blogs.tribune.com.pk/author/430/faraz-talat/ Faraz Talat

    Writing this article, I was acutely aware of the fact that it will be despised by the elites and the upper-middle class subscribing to the just-world hypothesis:

    A notion that the smart, hardworking people ultimately get rich (like us), while the lazy or criminal-natured are doomed to beg and live off our table scraps.

    When a beggar knocks at my car window, I attempt to soothe my guilt by blaming his condition on some crime/drug syndicate, or his own sloth. I don’t like to think about the fact that this beggar, probably born and raised in the streets, never had the education or opportunities that I received out of sheer luck of being born in the right family.

    I don’t like to think about the fact that he’s begging not because he feels it’s a fun idea, but because there are either no jobs available, or no jobs that can fetch him enough money to feed his (often large) family.

    You might say that this is an extreme, unrealistic portrayal of the public’s apathy towards the poor, but it really isn’t. On closer inspection, these are very common ways in which we rationalize our apathy, even disgust, for the faqirs and bikharis we see in the streets.Recommend

  • Rashi

    How easy it is for the writer to pen down this disgusting suggession to the paupers !
    May I ask the had he been given a similar family economic and social background as the beggers, would he then have the potential and courage to stand up and sit in the same Corolla today ?? Recommend

  • Zia Firdousi

    Good article. Loved the queen antoinette reference (“why don’t they eat pita bread?”)

    Similar attitude can be seen among American fiscal conservatives. If youre poor it’s because you haven’t worked hard enough or because you’re doing drugs or criminal activities or something. Nobody thinks it’s maybe because of cut-throat capitalism.

    Get ready for hate comments from elites. :pRecommend

  • yasir

    the real deserving people cannot be seen clearly becuase these un-deserving over shadow them ]Recommend

  • Irked

    What a horrible piece of writing. Suffice it to say, Mr. Faraz Talat is not my favorite contributor.Recommend

  • https://twitter.com/AamAwam Ms. Farooqi

    GOD I was disgusted reading it I kept myself from screaming out loud! It sounds insanely low!
    People help the needy never the poor. Bur Sorry to tell you all appalled lot. I actually came across many people who think like that.
    As much as am against feeding the poor and putting them to work. I wouldn’t dare think about them in such an insulting way. You never know what life throws your way.

    Nice work Faraz Talat.Recommend

  • S

    Agreed that this was terrible satire. Its because satire has to be subtle, it needs to refer by slight nuances, not make it so very obvious. Recommend

  • Sheikh Saad Ahmed

    If wealth was the inevitable result of hard work & enterprise, every woman in Africa would be a millionaire. -George MonbiotRecommend

  • waqar

    i denounce the post…. you wrote article as u thinking,, but i am not like that Recommend

  • Talat Ali

    Cool it guys. If these beggars had been given condoms this situation would never have arisen in the first place. A while back a young woman holding a baby in her arms and one in her belly pestered me for alms. I told her to stop having kids. She simply said that this was God’s given. I told her to stop giving God a bad name for what you and your husband are responsible for.She started shouting at me and I quickly started my car and went off thinking what I’d said wrong.Recommend

  • Reza

    Wow thts is some hillarious piece of writing egehehehehe.
    Ohh wait @Fraz u could’ve got ur manicure done @home why go through the filthy streets.
    I can’t believe those “skinny” babies hve no food to eat!!
    Thts enough plz stop writing trust me this isnt for u. A satire dosn’t read like a hate column. Recommend

  • Unknown

    20 -24 years old person living with parents and enjoying the ride on his parents car is considered as shameful in the modern world. Actually, it is as shameful as begging :)

    If you are able to do something, come out and earn crolla car with your own money. Recommend

  • Zaidi

    This was such a degrading article. Disgusted. Not everyone is born with a silver spoon. Be humble and give, and if you can’t, kindly shut up and drive your COROLLA…… Begairat log. I am sure this post might be deleted, but, you need better writers.Recommend

  • gp65

    Sadly such attitudes prevail on both sides of the border. Well done with highlighting it.

    Those stating that the satire wasn’t subtle – the truth is that these are exactly the type of things that one hears from a lot of educated people who should know better.

    Of course government intervention needs to be well targetted and not siphoned up by the corrupt but there is definitely a need to help those seeking education and basic healthcare and food but who cannot afford it,Recommend

  • kumail

    I dare you for one day become a beggar and see what life is for them. Just step in their shoes and lead this life for one day and you will realise that you were born with certain priviliges.

    You drive an air-conditioned corolla, buy expensive clothes which they can’t dream, eat in restaurants where a meal costs as much as their monthly expense, go to medical university while they never even step inside a classroom.

    Yet a meagre five ruppees to a beggar compelled to lead this live due to economic situtation is being considered a burden. The more richer somebody get in an economy, the poorer someday else gets. So please accept beggars as a member of the society as well.Recommend

  • Dr.N

    Nice article ,Author/Doctor. Insightful
    Hope to see many more from you.Recommend

  • http://blogs.tribune.com.pk/author/1283/sharaf-zia/ Sharaf

    @Faraz Talat: I’m sorry dude but people are rarely as one-dimensional as you make them out to be. Your post was well-intentioned, yes, but it could have used more nuance. Recommend

  • Parvez

    You should not have written the bottom two lines explaining your article – as its under Poetic License – and then dummies like me would have really got on your case.
    Now you’ve have made it easy for me ………… nicely done.
    Recommend

  • SK

    This post is hilarious! It’s sad the joke was lost on many -it’s hard to look in the mirror sometimes.Recommend

  • Afrooz

    You sound like Rahul Gandhi’s clone. He famously quoted – that poverty is a state of mind.

    Sorry but while I get most forms of satire, this one was way too much in the left field for me to comprehend. Next time maybe?Recommend

  • ABC

    is it a satire?
    im confusedRecommend

  • Reader

    The title is itself so “gross” and “offensive”. Had the beggars knew what civilised way of life is they may not be the beggars in the first place or at least not remain the professional ones. Fix it!Recommend

  • anonymous

    While I agree with the (not so subtle) point that this piece is trying to make, the attempt at satire is so pathetic, it is BEGGING to be TRASHED. Recommend

  • Zia Firdousi

    S,

    Actually satire is never supposed to be subtle. It’s supposed to colourful and exaggerative so the reader knows up front that this is pure sarcasm, and not a real argument.

    If anything the author didn’t mock this disgusting poor-are-lazy attitude enough, because some people are still think the author is serious..

    I mean, really?! “If they don’t have rotis, they should make their chicken rolls out of pita bread instead”. People actually think he’s serious about this?Recommend

  • Gp65

    @Parvez:
    Despite the last 2 lines and the condemnation by many that the satire was in your face and not subtle, you can see so comments that Indicate many people still did not get the point that @Faraz Talat was making.

    Imagine then, what it would be like without that explanation and more subtle style.Recommend

  • Fatima

    Well bravo, thumbs up, hats down. You have pointed out this issue that beggars are just lazy people who don’t want to earn so they beg instead. All the beggars have read this post and they have decided to change their habits. They will clean their nails ( preferably get manicures) before begging.
    Yes fast foods are dying to hire them. Are you kidding? MBA’s stand on McDonald’s and KFC’s counters.
    Engineers are jobless in this country. Doctors are not earning as much as they spend.
    May be people like us will see if we step out of our glamorous ‘burger’ bubble.

    I myself am not a fan of beggars who can ‘visibly’ work but instead they beg.But there are people who need the money, who deserve the money. No judgments. This post is way too offensive.

    I lecture every beggar i see on the road to work. But this doesn’t give me the right to comment on their yellow fingernails.Recommend

  • Parvez

    @Gp65: ha ! ha ! I suppose you’re right………… but its Poetic License and the whole idea is to make the reader think………… and then explain it.
    Recommend

  • talat

    @Unkown:
    Not everyone is fortunate. I just bought a city aspire and thats because my parents have enuf and not somehow th govt has startn doling out money to young doctorsRecommend

  • Gratgy

    Beggary is not always in black and white. In my city most of the begging sites are run by a local begging mafia which acquires children, mutilates them and forces them to beg. The money we give the children ultimately goes to the begging “boss”. The more money we give them the more is the motivation for the boss to kidnap/acquire more children and force them to beg.

    Similarly I see a woman in a particular traffic signal carrying a sleeping baby. Infact for the last few years she has always been carrying a sleeping baby. Does the baby never grow up or wake up? The reason is that the baby keeps changing and it is being continuously drugged. Can you imagine what would be the mental condition of the baby when continuously sedated or drugged?

    It is a systemic issue more to do with law and order. I want to help them but really dont know if I am really helping them by giving them money or giving incentive to the “begging boss” to mutilate other children and force them to beg.Recommend

  • http://blogs.tribune.com.pk/author/430/faraz-talat/ Faraz Talat

    Fatima, this is obviously dark satire.

    It’s fascinating, I think, how half the critics feel I wasn’t being subtle enough with the satire, and the other half thinks that I’m a seriously suggesting that we ignore the poor.

    What, I simultaneously overdid it and underdid it?Recommend

  • Noman Ahmed

    lame. wondering who let this article be published. my only question to Faraz is, what bit have you done to get the poor employed with full dignity?Recommend

  • Poker

    God creates a child in beggars house and god creates a child in kings house. Why should i be worried?Recommend

  • Hassan

    Why doesn’t the author give the next beggar he meets a temporary job cleaning his corolla? Recommend

  • Arzoo

    “Why don’t beggars quit being so gross?” Is this question directed at the Government of Pakistan in general or PPP’s Government in particular????Recommend

  • https://twitter.com/Pugnate Noman Ansari

    Even further evidence that there needs to be a license to breed in Pakistan. Recommend

  • billy pilgrim

    this is not good satire and neither is it very funny or enlightening. better luck next time. Not everyone can be Vonnegut or even nadeem f parachaRecommend

  • Anwar.S

    Satire! dude. Good luck next time.Recommend

  • http://[email protected] Mariyah

    Come on guys, cut her a slack!
    All shes saying is stop feeding the ‘begging industry’.
    By doing so you’ll be just feeding a monster rather than helping the unfortunate.
    I give them food or drinks instead of money (just the children though) that feeds them and not their bosses- something I learnt from the Convent nuns.Recommend

  • I am a Khan

    @Mariyah:
    “I give them food or drinks instead of money (just the children though) that feeds them and not their bosses- something I learnt from the Convent nuns.”

    You should have learnt about the importance of feeding the poor and needy from the Glorious Quran, if only you had read it with translation. There are numerous verses on feeding the poor and telling others also to feed the poor. Recommend

  • lolo

    The idea of the article is catchy, i like that… Its a bit too heavy writting and we kind of get confused in the middle, i wish we understood a bit earlier in the article that it was a reverse psychology thing so we read more after about the real issue … But still i read it till the end, so I guess its successfull. Recommend

  • Indian

    Good writing,Doctor. Too bad most people didn’t get it. Look forward to more articles ,penned by you.Recommend

  • Dp

    @ Gratgy

    A solution to your dilemma-I faced the same dilemma in Delhi-don’t give money,give food.I always keep 2 dozen biscuit packets in my car-they don’t get spoilt and I hand out two packets to anyone who begs…if they show interest-I follow up with more packets.
    Sometimes I carry cooked food in disposible containers/noodles/eggs/soap for washing up/a bag of clean clothes in good condition/bottles of water/old bedsheets for elderly beggars. When you give these,the beggars use it up for themselves- its of no use to their bosses. So you help the beggar,without letting the boss profit.Recommend

  • Gratgy

    @Dp

    I gave food to a kid, but she threw it on my windscreen and ran away. These kids are not always hungry, they just beg for money and sometime start abusing you if you give then food instead.Recommend

  • Gp65

    @Dp:
    Wonderful solution. Thank you for suggesting this. While I don’t live in Ondia, many of my cousins livin in Mumbai face the same dilemma. I will share your suggestion with them.Recommend

  • Gratgy

    @Dp,gp65

    I was told a shocking story by my friend. One of his friends used to leave their infant son with a maid when they went for work. Once the mother of the baby left home from wrk early and was driving past a traffic signal she saw a beggar with a sleeping baby. The baby looked strangely familiar. She reached home and saw that the maid was there but there was no sign of the baby.

    The maid was giving vague answers when asked about the baby, so the police was called. When questioned by the police, the maid confessed to renting out the baby to beggars every day. Each day when the couple left for office the maid would rent out the baby for Rs 200 to beggars. The beggars would sedate the baby and it would be carried around during the day by the beggar she saw on the traffic signal. By evening before the couple returned the baby would be brought back and bathed as if nothing had happened.Recommend

  • shahida kazi

    It really intrigues me how so many people do not understand satire when they see it.I think this is mainly due to the lack of reading habits,or maybe due to the shortage of humorists in our country.However on a serious note I would like to tell the writer ,who seems very young and idealistic that things are not always as simple as they appear.Begging is a very lucrative profession in our country and is controlled by powerful mafias who not only kidnap children but also mutiliate them,and are also into other anti social activities.Annd needless to say ,our law enforcers know all about it and regularly get their share.So givin g to them is only encouraging them.The real needy do not beg in the streets.There are several other ways to find them.Recommend

  • Servant of God

    @Rashi:
    It’s a sarcastic article. Clearly mentions at the end, D’oh!Recommend

  • South Indian

    @ Gratgy

    Little kids who used to beg and bother me in college also ran away from me when I offered them samosas from a shop nearby-that was an eye opener.
    But later, an older boy,in a train,asked me for food and not money…

    To distinguish between the two sets of beggars now,I hand out biscuits to beggars-the ones who look happy are hungry-and get more from me and the ones who look unhappy and back off are in it for the money-a good litmus test…Recommend

  • Maya

    Good satirical write up Doctor and I agree with many here that there are no easy solutions to this nightmare. There are as the, Victorians put it the, ‘deserving poor’ everywhere and I would like to share my story of our ‘gross beggars’ and our attempts to overcome this problem in the UK.

    Here , in the UK we have the same problem and the subject has been very controversial here. Some generations, mainly the white low socio-economic have NEVER worked despite being medically fit. They get free accommodation and generous other benefits derived from the taxes of the hard working here. This has gone on since the birth of the welfare system here. However, as a doctor, I am almost on a daily basis ‘forced’ as the patients advocate to write out sick notes for people in their 20’s who feign illness. The same patients then bring me back gifts from their overseas ‘benefit paid’ holidays ! Of course, there are the truly disabled here who cannot work where benefits are justified but their cause has been dragged down by the majority who claim deceptively. In fact,the benefits are now so generous that for most people on lower income scales they are actually better ‘off’ not working ! Truly bizarre and this is why so many millions of Eastern European immigrants have arrived in the Uk to do the jobs that the indigenous population here decide are ‘not’ worth doing.
    The coalition government have recognized that a whole industry has evolved around trying to ‘sponge benefits of the welfare system and that the state cannot go on forever budgeting billions for this. They are now trying to ‘wean’ whole generations of families who have NEVER worked off benefits. This has proved a popular move with most of the electorate here but it’s still early days here, so let’s see what happens.
    So, in summary we share the same problems and despite throwing billions of pounds at it still do not have the RIGHT answer!Recommend

  • Wat???

    Faraz I usually like your articles but while going through this one, I was like “am i actually reading this?”
    I think the desk editors also coudnt read it any further after reading a quarter or maybe half of it and eventually got it published. Or maybe because you are “known” and all of your writing must be published.
    But still I do not know what did I just read?
    The famous facebook pic “This post gave me cancer” with spider man lying on bed would be appropriate description of my feeling.Recommend

  • Oh

    Penned above is a glimpse into how many of those who have been blessed in life view the less fortunate. I hope reading this shows how pretentious and disgusting it sounds.

    I didnt go throught these the first time I read it,

    Faith in Mr. Talat: RestoredRecommend

  • Sane

    Enjoying the parents money, commuting on brand new Corolla and earning easy money can make a man mad to write such kind of thing.Recommend

  • Stranger

    Just stop giving money to beggars. Instead give food or old clothes. After a time they will realise that there is no income and will stop on their own. Recommend

  • http://gmail-saima.blogspot Saima

    it seems your college fellows don’t like you much! too many negative comments. nice blog. light and funny. Recommend