Monday, January 09, 2012

The Beggars of Prague

The beggars of Melbourne are gaunt and bloodless, wearing stained tracksuit pants and the stereotypical visage of a junkie. They shamble, always a list to their posture, and leaning forward to ask you for change, voice nasal and monotone and barely waiting for your refusal before moving on.

The beggars of New York have meat on their bones and less stains on their clothes. They work on captive audiences, entering the subway and narrating their tale of misfortune to commuters over the roar of the track and train beneath. Some of them sing. The majority stand with straight spine.

There are no beggars in Reykjavík.

The beggars of Berlin are small women with beautiful faces and dark hair bound in scarves. They may or may not have a small child with them. They ask if you speak English and present you with a hand-written plea, and follow your retreating footsteps with "please, please, please."

The beggars of Kraków are similar to those of Melbourne, but wear the mien of the alcoholic instead of the junkie.

The beggars of Prague say and do nothing.