Reverse Begging

Image008.jpgIf you cannot innovate, you’d evaporate. That’s a lesson that has apparently been taken quite well by an audience of a different type in Karachi.

Like everyone else, I have gone through the lessons about the problems with begging and how hard should we all try to curb this menace of our society. This theme, along with a passionate dose of ‘giving’ being an essential part of our religion has always prompted me to shake my head in a ‘no no’ action whenever a regular Karachi beggar appear around me. I’d try to save my mandatory and non mandatory alms for the right deserving family or person and would take some pain in finding someone eligible.

Knowing a lot of friends around me who are exactly programmed like myself in this department, I can safely estimate that a very large percentage of fellow Karachites disappoint the regular beggars by tolerating their sticky presence but not giving in to encourage this wrong. However, the problem continues because these beggars have so many people to try their luck on that even the small percentage that intentionally or unintentionally support beggary keeps their business ticking.

Most of us have already noticed how good the Karachi beggars are in reading the psychology of their victim. A single is attacked in one way, a couple in another often making very accurate sense of the situation. They would differentiate if the couple is a father-daughter out for shopping, a Romeo-Juliet out for an evening, a young lad ready for his final exams or an elderly women being taken for health care. Sharp needles of emotional wordings would often pierce the toughest of the ‘no no’ steel heart winning the beggar his earning who would often be spotted immediately looking back towards his gang on the artful feat s/he has just accomplished.

So how do you unlock the potential ‘hundreds and thousands’ of ‘zakaat’ and ‘sadqa’ the begging-basher is carrying with him/her pushing away the ‘sticky’ crowd on the traffic signals, shopping streets and food courts? Simple – reverse begging – a situation where your victim would never ever be asked anything, not even by a physical gesture. S/he would be trapped to assume that s/he has found a genuine case. The result? Unusual amount of alms being handed out and that too with a ‘begging’ – this time from the other side of the fence. ‘Baba/Mai dua karna’ or something to that effect is uttered while the unsuspecting victim hands out an extra-ordinary amount of money to the ‘unfortunate’ s/he was lucky to find and ‘execute’ his monitory obligations.

The image shows one such case moving at a snail’s pace, quietly, on one side of the road near Maskan in Gulshan. The elderly woman has her head over the shoulder of the man who is almost carrying her on the road. They seem unable to rent a rickshaw towards their destination which is clearly a doctor’s clinic. They would not make a single noise. Nor would they attract any passerby with their hand action. They would just walk at real snail pace, confident of the perfection of the plot and the stage that has been set meticulously. Motorist would past them only to notice the ‘plight’, apply breaks, reverse their cars, search their pockets for the biggest denomination they would ever give out for alms and hand it over to the man and ‘beg’ for some miraculous prayers.
I was trapped thrice in this ploy at different time by different ‘actors’ before I started observing the situation with some more details. Very quickly, I figured out ‘fixed routes’ these beggars would follow. At times, I was even lucky to spot them taking a ‘U turn’ because they have to man a certain ‘green zone’ and there is no real destination they are actually headed towards. This particular couple was spotted again today (Sunday) near Khatoon-e-Pakistan college where shiny cars would drive past handing away handsome cash and ‘reverse begging’.

The ‘reverse begging’ certainly makes the case for the real deserving people very difficult. People would be prompted to initiate an extra layer of scrutiny to ascertain the worthiness.

17 Comments so far

  1. Petarian_88 (unregistered) on July 15th, 2007 @ 7:57 pm

    “I was trapped thrice in this ploy at different time by different ‘actors’ before ..”

    i have heard once bitten twice shy”I was trapped thrice in this ploy at different time by different ‘actors’ before ..”

    i have heard once bitten twice shy

  2. Xill-e-Ilahi (unregistered) on July 15th, 2007 @ 9:00 pm

    and i thought ive been helping out terminally ill women. sheesh. its always the woman who’s ill, have you noticed? i’ve seen three couples like this and actually bothered to stop the car and give them some cash. this is what is meant by taking something to an art form.

  3. Tamed~. (unregistered) on July 15th, 2007 @ 10:14 pm

    In Edinburgh, you will see many Scottish highlanders standing by the road side on a tourist attraction place, they play lovely scottish songs on bag pipe & expect few pennies (may be more) from every passer-by.

  4. Imran (unregistered) on July 15th, 2007 @ 11:24 pm

    Tee Emm,

    Are we both living in the SAME city? : )

    PLZ tell me u did not just discover the “creative talents” of these and (many other) scam artists . . . the ailing couple, the boy with the spilt pomegranate seeds, the blind man & his suffering daughter, the mother with the burnt toddler, the toddler who just escaped from his village . . . should i go on? : )

    Come on, Tee Emm. I think we do live in the same city/ Country. It’s what our entire NATION is notorious for around the World … from our roadside beggers to our engineers, doctors and leaders!

    Not saying everybody is the same, but by and large as a Nation we are ALL in the same boat of scammers and con artists – which is really sad. As one airport security official at NYC once said (some 2 decades ago), “We have learnt a LOT from you Pakistanis”. I heard this disgraceful remark as a child, but it has stayed with me; i guess bcz its true. even today.
    What a pity!

  5. Nabeel (unregistered) on July 16th, 2007 @ 12:26 am

    Agree with Imran – this country is one of conmen and hustlers and scanners,and I’d say Karachi heads the country in this regard.

  6. Imran (unregistered) on July 16th, 2007 @ 2:06 am


    Conman and Scanners agreed, but as far as hustlers go, i can think of a few other cities which would beat Karachi hands down. LOL : )

  7. SS (unregistered) on July 16th, 2007 @ 2:36 am

    Nabeel, so sad that you singled out Karachi. Grow up boy!!!

  8. ShahidnUSA (unregistered) on July 16th, 2007 @ 3:17 am

    Cons are scam artists are in all over the world.
    Known as “white collar criminals”

  9. Salman A. (unregistered) on July 16th, 2007 @ 3:26 am
  10. ShahidnUSA (unregistered) on July 16th, 2007 @ 3:41 am

    Atleast we agreed on presence of Art, talents and creativity.(not trying to make fun of beggars)
    Possible room for entertainment and honest earnings. :)
    Thanks SALMAN A

  11. Salman A. (unregistered) on July 16th, 2007 @ 3:44 am

    like i said, while the extremists are busy defaming Pakistan, there is one guy out there, trying to portray a cool image of Pakistan to the outside world.. Kashif Memon rules!

  12. Arfeen Godil (unregistered) on July 16th, 2007 @ 10:17 am

    Not only cash, but my dad and I even gave them a ride to Aga Khan hospital a couple of years ago. We found out that this was a scam a few weeks later when an acquaintance of ours told us that he fell for the same ploy in the same neighborhood.

  13. ShahidnUSA (unregistered) on July 16th, 2007 @ 11:15 am

    Its not easy for a human being (the shame and the pain of staying out in the sun for so long) to come out and beg. But once they get addicted to it, its hard for them to go back and make an honest living and be the productive part of the society.
    Its hard to judge who is worthy and who is scamming.

  14. Jamal Shamsi (unregistered) on July 16th, 2007 @ 6:06 pm

    An Average Street begger in Karachi makes 3 times more then ANY of US here, that too TAX FREE, vacation at will.

    :) Elsewhere when people run out of ideas to make money they come over to karachi and choose signals n roundabouts to BEG at WILL. Karachi Feeds the country :) – read it in a WIDER perspective.

  15. ReallyVirtual (unregistered) on July 17th, 2007 @ 4:44 am

    Ever tried asking the (obvious con) beggar for alms before they do? That’s ‘Reverse Begging’. Fastest way to get rid of them that I know of.

  16. Sufi (unregistered) on July 17th, 2007 @ 1:01 pm

    Just yesterday, I was around the National Stadium area when I noticed these artists. I knew right away what was going on since I saw 2 more couples elsewhere in the city.

    The most shocking was when I was approached by a Pakistan Male (in Ehraam) while I was performing the Tawwaf. He sounded ridiculously fake, and I refused to help him. He said that he lost his wallet and has no money to go back :/ .. how low can a person be?

  17. Quamail Hussain (unregistered) on July 17th, 2007 @ 4:50 pm

    I have been stopped during Hajj in the middle of “Saiee” by a guy asking for some help but he was obviously very fake and the stories he was giving me did not add up.

    This was a very awkward situation for me, I wanted to tell him off but I was in “Ihram” and had to concentrate on Ibadat and not allowed to show anger. It was very difficult to get rid of him.

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