Q – Well we made it to India yesterday. Arrived at the hotel at 4 AM. Begin our tour today with a half day of sightseeing in Mumbai and then tomorrow off to Udapur. 

The hotel (Taj Palace) is off course lovely, historic and well maintained. I pointed out to my wife that they repaired all the bullet holes from the 2008 terrorist attack. She of course felt much better.

What can I say about Mumbai? It’s called the City of Dreams. I am dreaming of getting out of here.

Just one question. We are, in the first 24 hours, seeing people we pass on the street who have, we would guess, not had a healthy meal for a long time. Is it a good idea to purchase gift cards from a local chain restaurant and give them out when we see someone who might really need it. I am not entirely comfortable carrying cash and handing it out. I have budgeted about $1,000 for this purpose but I don’t want to be just another ugly American. How do I know it won’t be used for drugs?

A – That is so kind of you. Don’t worry about any money being used for drugs by the homeless on the streets. Crime is not a major issue but carrying a wad of cash is always a bad idea. The restaurant gift card is not a bad idea but we would suggest you discuss this with your local guide. You would need to know that the recipient can read and understands how to properly utilize such a gift. Our recommendation would be to do your giving in a different way. You may want to make a brief visit to an orphanage and bring them something they need – like a computer. You will also see versions of the soup kitchens we have in our own inner cities that are always in need of support. That would be a way to address the truly hungry without giving them cash on the street. Your local guide should be more than willing to help you achieve your goal of giving money to those who most desperately need it.  Thank you so much for the question.