Sunday, March 13, 2011

Mumbai: Haji Ali, II

Before reaching the shrine, the visitor has to run a gauntlet of merchants and beggars. The system is simple: going out to the island, the merchants are on the left and the beggars on the right. I imagine the best selling and begging spots must be near each end, which was borne out by the comparatively prosperous look of the beggars in those positions when compared with those at or around the middle. Near the ends, most beggars had some kind of shelter, e.g. an umbrella, but the near the middle they were sicklier and more ragged and most had no shelter. I imagine that the competition for good begging spots must be fierce, and this is a good begging spot: the weekly estimated number of visitors is around 80 thousand, and pilgrims tend to be generous when it comes to giving to beggars.

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