Beggars in the streets of Kathmandu
Wherever I walked around the streets of Kathmandu I was confronted by a variety of beggars. These ranged from little children with big brown alluring eyes as young as three or four through to cunning and very street wise teenagers. Mothers with babes in arms begging for milk money are also common. Poverty seems to be very much a problem in this nation struggling to come into the twenty first century world. Their political problems of the last decade have not helped. While begging is common place, seeing derelicts like the man in the above photo do not appear to be so common, at least in the areas I visited.
It is worth quoting from my travel journal at this point.
Begging in Kathmandu
Sadly I was pestered by at least four beggars today. They are very persistent but one just has to turn away and walk quickly. Mothers with babes in arms asking for milk for the baby is a common approach. I felt mean but all the guides tell one not to give to beggars here in Nepal.
I also had a very interesting encounter with a canny teenager.
A different approach to begging
Walking back to the hotel I was approached in a different way. A young lad, perhaps 12 or 13 years old, was leaning on the wall of a building with several friends. He started walking alongside of me and struck up a conversation. I was astounded by his general knowledge of the world. His specialty was capital cities of the world. He knew all of the Australian cricketers and many place names in Australia. He said he didnâ€™t go to school but had learned everything by reading books and using the internet. Then came the sting; he asked me for money to buy a drink. I steadfastly refused and wouldnâ€™t give him a reason, even though he asked several times.
I just kept on walking and gently but firmly told him he should go back to his friends. Eventually he did leave me. Twenty steps on I looked around and one of his friends had been following us. Had I given in there may have been far more to contend with. I didnâ€™t feel unsafe; I was just being very cautious. Lesson learned!