How often have we heard this idiom ? This might be used to convey those in position of disadvantage don't get to make a choice. But reality often is different. It is the 'Common man' who can't choose, Beggar can !
Let us go to a shopping mall. Once there, we are directed by the security personnel about the where and which angle of parking. We are made to pay a parking fees on an hourly escalating basis. Still the security will not allow you to decide which is the best place for your precious vehicle.
The security staff can be extremely rude even if you ask them to spare a couple of minutes for your aged ones to get down. You ask for directions to the main entrance and expect a curt if not downright rude answer. Often you might be shocked by no response at all. If they are very kind, they might point a finger vaguely and you will have to wade through the confusion.
You are frisked by the security at the entrance. You are asked to open your handbag, valet and even deposit it at the reception. All this 'treatment' is for the crime of going to shop there. And you ask yourself, "Are we Beggars to be treated thus ?"
Not for a moment am I questioning the security measures. They are necessary and we live in an era of continued seize in spite of the death of Oasma bin Laden. I was surprised recently by the absolute lack of security during an IPL match at Kochi. But all acts of security checking can be done with a bit of politeness and nicety. Is it too much to expect 'Politeness' ?
Using the word 'Beggar' is politically incorrect today. They probably will be happy to hold the portfolio of "Professional Free Assistance Seeking Officer" or something like that. Can't even call a spade a sickle today. So respect all professions. What he / she does is his / her profession.
There were reports of Rich PFASOs owning houses, properties and big bank balances with the profession being a family enterprise. Well, if a Politician's progeny can be Politician with no questions asked, why not ?
I am on a Pilgrimage, give me 'My Share' !
This post started questioning 'Beggars can't be choosers' idiom. Hence let me elaborate. There was an old man who came every Saturday morning for alms. He was a nice man and polite. But wouldn't budge if he felt what we gave him was insufficient. He wouldn't complain but would stand there till my mother gave him more. After every 3 or 4 months, he would say, "I will not be coming next two weeks. Going to Vellankani. So give my share for the next 2 weeks today itself and add some more for the pilgrimage. The Mother will bless you"
Great Expectations !
We all know how PFASOs refuse coins these days. Many a times, I have come across PFASOs saying, "What will five rupees buy today ? If you give, give something substantial. I can't even buy a meal with this pittance". One beggar threw the one rupee coin I gave him back at me as I was about to leave. I couldn't understand what he was muttering though I could understand he was obviously cursing. God, piety, luck, prosperity, hereafter, heaven and hell and Dharma are the commonest words used by these people to cajole, threaten and even extort.
Curse of a Pious Man !
A family of 8 people dressed very decently came without knocking one day. They had crowded my living room after entering my home without permission. They claimed to be from Maharashtra, belonging to our community. The headman said, "We are one community. We lost our properties due to flood, famine and drought. You must help us because you can't be having dignified people of our community begging".
Looking at a printed letter in Hindi, Marathi and English, purportedly attested by some Gazetted Officer; I offered to pay fifty rupees. He said, "Oho Brother, I said we are not beggars. We are dignified people. We need cloths, money and even food. We don't want this kind of 'Bhiksha'. Be generous and God will be generous to you".
I asked him, "So what do you expect ?". He then started name dropping of his kind. He blurted out the names of big people who had given him thousands of rupees, new dresses and even silverware. I tried to be polite and said, "But I am not a rich man. This is all I can afford to give". He immediately admonished me, "Never say you are not a rich man. The Gods will curse you to eternal poverty. What you give is yours. What you hide is taken by others. A generous man will go to heaven and the selfish will rot in hell. Don't lead your life to hell..."
I could take it no longer. I cut him down and I asked, "So where will you go ? What will happen to those who have all their body parts in good condition and still prefer to extract alms from other people rather than work for a living ?". He became furious and snorted, "You have insulted a cultured and proud family and a pious man. I curse you to rot in hell for 32,000 years. You and your family will never see good days from now".
Worried at rotting in hell for such a long time, my Mom pleaded with me to placate him and give him more money. He immediately jumped in between us and said, "Look, a worthy lady for a Mother. Listen to her and atone your sin. Else all of your family, children and even future generations will suffer the consequences of your sin..."
I gestured him to stop and said, "Stop right there. I would prefer to rot in hell for 96000 years if such a place exists, than give a damned coin to you. You leave my home NOW without uttering another word of your gibberish. Else I will punch your nose till you bleed and then call Police to say you tried to rob us. LEAVE RIGHT NOW".
Look how Beggars choose to choose ! A topic like this can go on and on. We all have these kind of experiences. But I have to stop here for the lack of brevity my posts always attain. May be more stories on another day. There will never be a dearth of 'Choosers' in this land !