a Target

As a Westerner, I am targeted by people that want my money. The vast majority of people saying hello or approaching me want me to buy a service or an item–or simply give them money. It happens so frequently and so brazenly that I find myself avoiding looking at people or answering their hellos. As I am walking, people step right in front of me and thrust some article of merchandise in my face. People pull at my sleeve and hold on to my elbow. One young beggar sat on my foot.
I do meet people who are interested in me as a tourist and foreigner; they want to talk or take my photo. But they are in the minority. I find myself with my defenses up and initially reluctant to talk with anyone.
I suppose it’s not so onerous and poor people are simply trying to make a living. But it’s so in my face. The frequency and intensity are tiresome. In an hour’s walk it might happen 10 – 15 times. In certain spots, it can happen 10 – 15 times in ten minutes. I met two Brits. They were keeping score. After three weeks, they were looking for encounter #4, meaning someone would say Hello to them and have an interest in them personally rather than trying to sell or be something.
Philosophically, I have commited to giving to charitable institutions in each country I visited, but not giving to beggars, especially beggars using their children as a means to gain funds.

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