Life has an uncanny habit of springing a surprise when you least expect it. On Tuesday, policemen in Kerala’s Kozhikode district got a big one when they inspected the tatty bag of Abdul Gali, a beggar, and found Rs 80,000 in it. And that was not all: there were Rs 13 lakh-worth post-office deposits in it as well. When questioned, Mr Gali told the police that it was “honest money”, accumulated over 30 years of begging. The police, of course, unable to fathom what exactly “honest money” meant, are now trying to gather more information about him.
Begging, as Danny Boyle showed in Oscar-winning Slumdog Millionaire, is an industry, which thrives on certain principles of business. If that is the truth, then hats off to Mr Gali for making a success of his venture. But is it honest money as Mr Gali would have us believe? Well, depends on which way you look at it: you could see him as an honest man working hard everyday in the blistering sun for his day’s takings or a lazy layabout trying to guilt trip you into parting with your hard-earned cash.
We don’t know whether Mr Wali is honest but there’s no doubt that he knows the rules of the game well. So next time you see a Wali at a traffic lights or your car window, what will you do? Open your wallet or just look away and fume about the fact that he probably has a few more bob tucked away than you have? But that begs the question, is everyone quite as adept as raking it in as dear old Mr Wali? So spare a dime for the man/woman on the outside.