Friday, September 11, 2009

What if he is not a bum?

What if he is not a bum?

Friday afternoon, returning home from office, I pulled in a gas station. The place was selling gas at 10 cents less than the next door station and was packed. I had to wait a while to get my turn.

While waiting, I watched a young person swiping a credit card through the processor on the other isle. He tried couple of times, started shaking his head, and walked away.

As I finished pumping gas and started placing the cap back on the tank, I saw the person approaching me. A young white male with heavy pink-blue tattoos on both hands, wearing a jean and a white shirt walked up to me.

He stood by my side and said, “Sir I am not a bum or something. I do not have any cash on me and need to get gas. My card is not working. That red Chevy over there is mine. I am from Indianapolis and trying to get back home. Can you help me?”

I pulled out my wallet instantly, but then hesitated for a few moments. I have been duped many times and heard many fake stories. Not again, thought for a moment.

Then I don’t know why, I thought of my daughter. She would probably be of the same age as him.

I pulled out a few singles from my wallet and handed them over to the young man.

He took the money and said, “It is a start. Thank you very much Sir. Have a great day.”

I boarded my car, and asked myself, have I been duped again? Was I wrong to give him money?

What if he was telling the truth? I sure could afford to buy him enough gas that would take him up to Indianapolis? However, I did not.

I do not know what the right action is and what is wrong, in a situation such as that.
Perhaps you do?


  1. Mohit: Very well done!! I salute you!!

    What if he was not a bum? My re-action might not have been too different from yours. I would have to see something compelling, and I do not know what that might be, to fill up the tank for the kid to return to Indy!

  2. Observation during the month of Ramadan ...

    Typically, I fast (if I am not travelling), even though I do not perform many of the other Islamic rituals.

    I was in Shanghai during the latter part of August. It was a mind boggling, eye-opening experience to see so many new, ultra-modern sky scrapers scraping the sky!! Multi-lane roads, all the European luxury brand cars, people hustling down the roads in a frantic pace, restaurants filled with patrons, businesses busy trying to get the next global project, etc, etc. No where did I see any trace of Islam, Muslims, South Indians, for that matter, a single dark skinned person!
    Shanghai with a population of 20 plus million, probably, does not even know the meaning of Ramadan. In fact, a very small % of the 1.4 billion Chinese population might have any clue about Ramadan. I spotted not one physical evidence or structure of any religious significance.
    On to Thailand ... 90% Buddhists. Many images of Buddha and many temples everywhere. Life seems to be moving fast as well. 100 million people here don't really know what Ramadan is all about.
    Then, on to Dhaka. It is Ramadan. It is immediately obvious. Restaurants have shades pulled. Many people are fasting and many others are not, but no blatant feasting in your face. Even the saree store wala's did not offer me a coke or a cup of tea. They did not even ask if I was fasting or not. It seemed that the entire city had to put up a facade ... fasting or not, they felt compelled to indicate that they were.
    Two thoughts come to mind ...
    First, the need by everyone to show everyone that everyone was fasting was disturbing!
    Secondly, visiting Dhaka after Shanghai and Bangkok was a striking contrast. How is it that the non-believers (I have to be careful here) seem to be faring far better than the believers? While all of Dhaka seemed to be leading a pious, restrained, life of abstinence, billions of people, at the same time, are moving at their merry space doing their merry stuff. Who is on the right track?