(This is supposed to be a 'Manvir Singh' style post)
On tuesday of this week my brother and his family came to visit and see how dad was getting on. Having been to the hospital to see dad we managed to demolish a fair amount of food, including raj mah di dal, rice, mattar paneer, raita, not to mention the sweets, chocolotaes and ice cream afterwards. This was naturally followed by a nice cup of cha (not yogi tea). We then had a short 'kirtan jamming' session, a pretty amateurish affair.
I and my brother (or should it be my brother and I?) decided to pay another visit to the hospital at about 7 o'clock in the evening to see dad. So we drove there, parked in the hospital car park and began walking towards the main hospital entrance.
As we were about to come out of the car park an asian 'girl' (looked like she was in her late 20's) came up to us, obviously in distress (lips quivering, a shake in her voice) and said to us that she had just heard about her husband being involved in an accident in Milton Keynes, and that she was short of £12 for the train fare to get there. She seemed to be in a panic, had her mobile on her, and said we could have her number. Our first impressions were she was in distress and our hearts were saying we should give her the money.
"Another predicament you have put me into, Rab Ji", I thought to myself. Because the ligting in th car park wasn't so good my brother suggested we walk up to entrance and we would see what we could do (I think both our minds were trying to think rapidly wether this was a genuine request, or we were about to be conned). This gave us time to analyse the situation and to ask her some questions as we walked. We learnt that she lived about 15 minutes walk away from the hospital. This made me wonder why she didn't walk home to get the money, especially as it was on the way to the train station.
By the time we'd reached the entrance I felt 95% sure that this was just a ruse to get us to part with our money (a number of times when I had been duped in similar circumstances came to mind). I suggested that we were willing to take her home to enable her to get the money she needed. "Oh no" she replied, "I never keep money in the house, I've been burgled several times." I was even more convinced by now that she wasn't genuine (I could see my brother was still considering giving the money), so I said to my brother (in front of her) that I'd had some bad experiences in similar circumstances, and that I wasn't sure. At this point she very quickly got the point and realised the bait hadn't been taken and left, saying she would never have asked if she wasn't in real need.
"Chalo" I thought, "Rab da Hukam", feeling a little guilty because there was still the tiniest possibility that she might have been genuine.
This could well have been the end of this post, but guess what, Rab Ji had another similar experience in store for me! A few days later I and my sister were leaving the hospital after visiting my dad and this time we were 'accosted' by a middle aged muslim man (I could tell from his Punjabi). "Waheguru", I thought, "am I a magnet for these type of people?". The man displayed a handful coins to us, apolgised profusely for what he was going say, told us about how he often went to the gurudwara and sometimes even had langar, then got to the heart of the matter. Basically he was £1.50 short for something (I can't remember what) and asked if we could spare him the money. His whole performance was well rehearsed and not too unpleasant. My view is that the money was probably to finance his next bottle of alcohol. Having learnt from my recent experience I politely but firmly said I couldn't help him.
I hope I don't become such a hard liner that I fail to recognise and help a genuine person in need. 1/6/06