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Life’s Tears & Titters
The following are a series of three of my articles in the series “Life’s Tears & Titters” which were published in the DECCAN HERALD, Bangalore
Begging The QuestionPublished on Sunday August 4th, 1957

There are beggars and beggars but do you know of a beggar who is no beggar at all? He wouldn’t pester, he wouldn’t cringe. He wouldn’t as much try coaxing the benevolent to part with a few coins. He is a refined beggar though in apparel and appearance he is just another beggar. He wouldn’t accept a morsel of food. He finds his own food. But how? He seems to have a regular clientele who always seem to have an anna or two spare to this ‘king’ (at least that is what he seems to believe) of the beggars. He doesn’t go about meeting his clientele but they come to meet him! He has a post and there he stands in a posture reminding you of Napoleon or Nelson and people seem to come to him to pay their ‘dues’. He hardly says a word during the entire day either to his clientele or to other passers by. There he just stands watching disinterestedly the crowd that moves on endlessly all through the day. I have often wondered what thoughts might be passing through his mind. Does he have a home? Does he think about his family if he has one? What does he think about the men and women who take the mundane things in life as the never ending game of their life itself? Of men and women who have a thousand worries, joys and sorrows all of which seem to have nothing to do with him? Has this man a philosophy of life of his own? Wind or rain, whether it is a chilly morning or a hot afternoon, he is there at his posts purveying the mass of people that pass by.

If you want to meet him ( be sure he will not condescend to meet you even if you have a pot full of money to offer), come to the junction of Narayana Pillai Street and Thoppa Mudaliar Street in the vicinity of the Russell Market (Bangalore)-a character you wouldn’t want to miss.

Yet So FarPublished on Sunday May 4th, 1958

I was witnessing, not long ago, a game of football at the Bangalore Football Stadium and there was a sizeable crowd present. The match was being keenly contested and tension was mounting as the minutes trickled away and the favourites were trailing by a goal. There was vociferous cheers by the supporters of the team in arrears at every shot taken at the goal and every ball blocked or saved by the goalie. There was one man in particular who made no secret of his excitement at the performance of this favourite team that evening. I was watching this man-from the top of the improvised gallery running and jumping about, shouting at the top of his voice and generally making himself the cynosure of all eyes. He was seen giving a few hints to the goalie voluntarily and then as sort of an aside he turned towards us and told us in glowing terms about the wonderful and often miraculous performances under the bar of a certain veteran who was past his heydays and now practically retired from big time football. He was seen saying that if only that particular player were there, things would be shaping differently for his favourite team. A wag from the gallery asked him whatever happened to that veteran and what would he do if he were to see that veteran play again. He looked directly at us and said: “I would shower silver coins on him if ever I see him again.”

It is a pity that this ardent admirer of the famous veteran failed to notice the person sitting exactly in front of him and watching his antics all the time -none else than the veteran himself!

Charity UnplannedPublished on Sunday April 29th, 1959

The other day I was taking a ride back home in a rickety and crowded bus. It being an unusually hot day, most of us in the vehicle –a truly heterogeneous crowd- fell into a snooze.

The clinking sounds of dropping coins woke me up from my uneasy siesta and as I bent down to see what it was all about, I spotted under the seat two coins –one of four annas and the other an eight anna piece. Picking them up I asked a few of the passengers if the coins belonged to any of them. None claimed its ownership but a middle aged gentleman sitting opposite me looked at me grimly and snatched the coins from my hands. Happy in the thought that I had done a good deed for the day I dozed off again.

It was evening when the bus pulled up in the city. Reaching home, as I pulled out my purse for some loose change to pay off the cooly, I suddenly remembered that I had changed a rupee note during the trip for a cold drink worth four annas. It was then that it occurred to me that the two coins amounting to twelve annas which had fallen down in the bus were actually mine.

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