It's funny, some of the poverty I've see here has been gut wrenching - I thought I'd seen it all in Lagos, but narhp! However unlike my previous experiences giving what little I can spare to people I've seen in other cities, here in Bangalore I feel like a mark Every. Single. Time I even consider reaching into my wallet.
Perhaps it's the indifference with which I observe my local counterparts treat the poor. Beggars here get ignored worse than the people who hand out flyers and tissues in Tokyo. Slum dwellers it seems are like an annoying distraction; we love their cheap labour, but do they have to bring down the area with their presence?
Perhaps it's because the behaviour of most of the beggars I have encountered here has set off my bullshit detector in some way. People have motioned their hands to their mouths, but given me the side-eye if I actually buy them food. In another instance, a lady attempted to browbeat me into buying her two kilos of rice when I asked the shopkeeper for one.
Still I feel guilty every time I say "sorry, no", feel some kind of way every time a friend or colleague ignores someone, and cringe every time a beggar is shooed away. I think it's because I'm more concerned about the possibility that someone in real need is not being ministered to than the possibility that someone might receive aid they don't deserve.
(Yet another reason why I'm a Dirty Fucking Hippy).