One night last week, a bunch of people stopped us at the Brigade Road-Residency Road junction around 9pm. The group of two men, two women (in bright pink saris) and two kids (ten and one) asked us for some money for food, since they had not eaten for a while. In my usual Dilli ki Bandit Queen style, I walked past without paying attention, but the darling Husband stopped to listen. He offered to take them to a restaurant instead of giving them money. The only place we knew of nearby was closed, so we walked up Brigade Road to a shady-ish place. They sat down and we ordered Dal, Sabji and Kerala Parotas (is that how it's spelt?) The Husband paid up the bill and we waited for the food to arrive.
Ten minutes later, there was no sign of the food, and knowing we had a long walk ahead of us, we were keen to leave. However, Cynical old me was convinced this was a scam and right after we left, the folks we brought in would leave too, either with half the money from the restaurant manager, or without anything, coz they'd get thrown out of the place. So we decided to step out and stand in a place from where nobody in the restaurant could see us, and watch what happens.
As I had suspected, barely ten seconds after we stepped out, a guy from the restaurant came out, saw us, appeared to walk past, made a call, stared at us again, and then went and sat on the nearby steps. We stood our ground for a few more minutes, and then walked past the restaurant again. This time, we saw the waiter laying plates on the table. No food was in sight still. The spy was still sitting on the steps, looking at us.
We gave up and walked back home. We'd like to believe everyone was honest, the folks got fed, and the spy guy was probably doing something else. But I think the reason we walked away is because we sort of knew that would not be the case…