Beggars Can’t Be Choosers

Beggars Can’t Be Choosers

Mike Brunel has recently spent weeks in India training sales managers on how to fine tune their operations. Here’s a series of blogs from his time away.

A term I heard while sitting with a friend in India was “they choose you, the tourist, and it is a constant battle of wills and persistence”.

I recall asking him about the life of a beggar, and he made it really clear that this is often a choice for many of them, it has been part of their life for generations and even though things are changing with more education and more opportunity, some families choose to beg because there is good money in it. According to my friend you can survive on the streets of say Bombay (MUMBAI), on one hundred rupees a week ($2 US). In many cases they make much more than that – the streets are tough, but usually for 10 months of the year the weather is warm and dry. Except for the 6 weeks of monsoon where it rains most days.

They are very smart salespeople, and their job is usually to get a tourist to give them the support they need. One particular scam they run is to put a small ringlet of flowers on your wrist; they come up to you and drop it quickly on your wrist, and then point to their mouth for food (taking actual money is bad Karma). The food they request is usually milk powder, or a non perishable item. They ask you to come to a store close by and buy it for them. If you do that then you have helped them and you feel okay. What you don’t know is that it is an arrangement between the shop keeper and the beggar. After you leave the beggar takes the unopened packet of milk powder back to the shopkeeper and gets a “commission” on the sale – some type of income arranged between the shop keeper and the beggar, unbeknown to the tourist.

Can’t blame them, beggars can’t be choosers. Two happy customers and all sorts of ways to make a sale in India.

More adventures soon.

Good selling

PHOTO – digitaura


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