One of the most annoying things about being in Europe (which conversely is something I miss about Singapore) is the presence of beggars on the streets and in the markets.
Being a liberal bleeding heart, I cannot but help to give spare change to pregnant mothers, grubby children, gypsys and anyone else who gives me a stupid excuse and pleading look.
Fabien and I have had countless discussions on this point, with the conversation usually begining with the words "you are not helping them you know" YES i know they mostly don't need it/earn more than I do/use the money to buy drugs/alohol etc...
However, unlike him, I have not been hardened through travelling through India on less than 3 USD a day, besieged into numbness by suffering humanity.
So today, when I went to the market, and the usual pregnant woman comes to me asking for money (I must have the word "sucker" stamped on my head), I decided to try something equally compassionate but not involving a cash donation. I opened my shopping bag, and let her pick up from my own fruits and veggies whatever she wanted- she took some baby tomatoes, carrots, a banana and an apple.
It may have cost me more money than giving her the loose change in my wallet. But I felt generally better for it.