Friday, January 04, 2008

The Business of Emotions

If you live in New Delhi, you must be aware of the beggar menace here. They’re just about everywhere, but I feel their most common haunt are the traffic signals. However, the interesting thing to note here is that these beggars don’t just “beg”. They sell. And how!

It’s always amazed me to see how creative these people are. Traffic Signals are actually very good business playgrounds for these people. The innovation they bring in every single day is really mind boggling. From books to newspapers, from balloons to dusters, from paintings to idols, you get everything on the streets. Some of them are even pretty good gymnasts and perform flawlessly on footpaths. If it’s Christmas, they’ll sell Santa caps. If it’s Saturday, they come with a donation can in the name of Lord Shiva. If it’s Valentine’s Day, they sell just about everything from flowers to perfumes to all sorts of gifts. What I think was absolutely the last straw was when I came out from a movie hall after watching Taare Zameen Par, I was greeted by kid beggars carrying drawings that apparently they had ‘made’ themselves. You’ll know how this is relevant if you’ve seen the film, which talks about a dyslexic child who is a gifted artist. But anyway, the point is these guys play on our emotions so well, we almost miss it.

It’s not like they’re handicapped. If only they would put their creative skills to better use... I seriously believe they would make excellent marketing managers. It’s just sad to see all that energy go waste. I don’t pity them. Because they are capable of doing a lot more to sustain themselves.


Anonymous said...

Begging is a profitable business and many leaders are involved with it :(

Rahul Rad said...

I think it is significant that you don't pity them. I do wish we would stop encouraging all beggars but the elderly, the invalid or the otherwise unable to work...

c e e d y said...

interesting way to look at it. i have worked with urchins and you are right they are extremely smart to make the best out of nothing
sometimes the best skills come from ppl who have nothing to loose

Jeevy said...

Well, same is the state here in Bangalore too!
but frankly speakin there are some really talented people! :)


KP said...

I didnt know this....its profitable business...i always thot...poor guys are barely survivng.....really a creative skills....even u r right they can be used better way.....;)

Mirage said...

@Ashu: True...if only they'd do somethin abt feeding the country.

@Rahul: Yep. There's a lot that can be done, but no one cares to know where all our tax money goes. We're all just so used to seeing them on the road, that we dnt take notice anymore.

@c e e d y: You have? Mustve been some experience! Do write abt it, wud love to know more.

@Jeevy: I guess it's in every part of India. Necessity is the mother of invention.

@KP: Yes they can, and they should. If only someone gives them some direction.

Stone said...

Well, everyone knows they are a part of bigger murkier racket!!

I'm totally against giving in to their 'playing on emotions' tactics.

And there are better ways to help, all we need is a WILL.

Sandeep said...

aah.. this menace is there in Bangalore as well. i had written this previously:

Child labor?!
What the heck with the kids begging on streets @ signals!? well.. almost begging..
Kid contortionists, selling ear buds, and yeah santa claus caps for christmas on Brigade road-MG road junction, cubbon road and god knows where else!
Wearing clothes worse than that wore by the conventional beggers, with disgusting hair, and expressions of a helpless kid they seem to emotionally blackmail the commuters to buy stuff from them!

My attention was caught by one particular girl (with her younger sister and/or brother) about 8-10yrs old on cubbon road which i take on my way to office in the morning. She does unusual form of acrobatic display on the road and footpath to commuters caught on the red signal. Her act lasts for about a minute and then she starts to ask money from the on-lookers!
I was totally shocked by this sight! God damn.. what the heck is the police doing?! or the government which has this 'child labor' ban....
If the ban on child labor is made more stringent we can only expect more young contortionists and earbud sellers on streets.

Yuppie said...

a great outlook on beggars.. as u said they are performing artists

Mirage said...

@Sandeep: Yep, acrobatics is one of the many ways they try n woo us...

@Yuppie: That they are...but I just wish they weren't doing it on the streets of Delhi!

John F said...

Ermmmm pardon me if I am wrong but if they are selling something then they aren't beggars right? I mean they are businessman trying to woe you anyway that they can to sell a physical artifact.

If you take a look at the tube(tv) youd notice these beggars playing on your emotions everywhere(re'r the mastercard advert?). What makes you think the ones sitting in the offices wearing blue collared suites those whom you just called Marketing Managers are any different then those whom you just called beggars?

IMHO those who try to make a living on the redlights and streets by selling something are much much much better than those who sneak up on your side window and thrust a blood red stump on their elbow in your face.

Mirage said...

@John F: Interesting contradiction.
Lemme rephrase...they are "beggars" who sell stuff but still shove their red stumped elbow into ur face and make pitiful faces at you to 'melt ur heart' and shell out money.

However I did like the point u made abt Marketing Managers who try and sell us stuff we really dnt need. The only diff here is the way we look at it. If the same guy was dressed in tatters, we would call him a beggar, regardless of what he is "selling".

anuj said...

thy knw wht wud tease u so u cud get rid of thm .. d first thing thy wud do is touch ur feet .. which is quite humiliating .. i mean a small kid touchin ur feet n all .. aint tht comfy u knw ..

thy knw it all ..

Amod said...

I dislike beggars and I don't pay any alms! I'm emotionless.

gunj said...

love ur perspective

Ravi said...

Hi there!

Good article!

What you've narrated here, I see that everyday while driving to work and back, and I have the same feeling some times (about their creativity)and once in a blue moon I do buy from them..

However, I guess, we all are so busy in our already stressful lives that we just avoid looking at them or just overlook such things when it suddenly catches your attention (while waiting@red lights)

And yes, I agree with John when he says that these people are better than those who just shove up their mutilated body parts to gain sympathy!

Anyways...thank you for visiting and leaving a comment on my blog, mam :o)

Take care!

ATAullah said...

loved the way you narrated it . wonder how marketers get their inspirations ?