Novena Dilemma

3 March 2006

If you go to Novena on Saturdays, you will find that on your way from the MRT to the church, there are many hawkers along the way. And when I say ‘hawkers’, I do not mean the ones who sell food. Instead, they sell other items.

You must be thinking, ‘What hawkers? I thought there were only beggars?’ But you see, these people are not begging for money. They are providing a service. At least, this is the way I see it.

Typically, the moment you leave the MRT station, the entrances are noticeably infested with dozens of students carrying tin cans for flag day. As you go up the escalator and exit the glass door, there is a man on a wheelchair selling Big Sweep tickets. Just before the newspaper stand is a busker who plays the guitar.

Along the path can be found can-carrying students. There is this blind man who peddles tissue. 4 for a dollar. He sings Marian hymns while hawking his wares. So he’s like holding the nightstick in his left hand and holding some plastic packets in his right, while singing ‘I hear the bells, of Mary’s Ave ringing. Joy to my heart, like angels’ voices singing..’

Towards the bus stop can be found more innocent students. On a bad day, you can see some commercial entities who carry charity work for commission. You know, those guys who ask 10 dollars for a ticket? Capitalistic bastards.

At the foot of the staircase is another blind man with a middle aged woman, presumably his wife. Formerly he used to sell Tai Sun Peanuts (2 packets for a dollar), but now he sells pens. The lady carries a NYP Open House 2006 paper bag. Last Saturday I didn’t see the man and his wife. Instead there was a new arrival; a middle aged woman peddling tissue. 4 for a dollar.

After you go up the staircase, there will be another middle aged woman along the path. She has white hair and glasses. She sells tissue, 4 for a dollar. Pleas sound out from her, ‘Please help me, please help me.’ On some days she gives you more packets at the same price.

What is the problem now? We have 1 big sweep man, 1 busker, 3 tissue sellers, 1 peanut/pen man and wife, X number of flag day students, Y number of con jobbing money hijacking profiteers.

Are you going to help all of them? Ok, its all right not to pay the busker if you think his music sucks or his strumming is lousy. It’s also all right not to entertain the machiavellians. We can also assume that we will only donate to one lucky student, most likely the convent girl with the shortest skirt. So that leaves us with 1 big sweep man, 3 tissue sellers, 1 peanut/pen couple, 1 flag day student.

Are you going to buy 12 packets of tissues, big sweep tickets, peanuts or writing instruments, things which you don’t really need? Yet if you help them they will be so thankful.

What a dilemma.

2 Responses to “Novena Dilemma”

  1. 1 Anonymous May 16, 2006 at 8:05 am


    Can I link this post to our blog? (


  2. 2 war in the pocket May 16, 2006 at 11:23 pm

    Sure thing… it’s my pleasure.. =)

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Most Sacred Heart of Jesus, have mercy on us

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