Whenever I go for a walk or walk to and from Kwantlen(University College) it's a given that I'll see a few of them walking their grandkids or pushing a stroller or just merrily walking with an umbrella in hand no matter rain or shine.
Now many people have a negative view of all babbai as being drunk all the time and just sitting there on park benches playing cards. I think that's the case with a small minority who are pushed into these circumstances. From what I've heard and seen most babbai have a rotten experience at home and so they venture outside and find similar company and lessen their collective 'dukh.'
This pauree From Bahi Gurdass Jee comes to mind:
Over this summer I have gotten to know how bright most of them really are. It's surprising how much general knowledge these folks possess on all matters of life. You just have to get a conversation started.... These guys are on top of everything that happens around town, around the province, country, world and beyond. Its amazing the great number of them can fluently speak English have a crazy British like accent. I would guess it's because they served in the Indian Army, Air Force, taught school etc.
One time in 2002 I was starting work the first day and had to take a bus to get there. I was almost lost. Seeing my confused look two of them came to me told me what the best way to get to Richmond from 22nd Street Station would be and which bus to take. Most of the time I've taken a bus to places outside of Surrey, I've been amazed at how far these guys can go just with the help of the bus pass. More and more of them can be seen in the Downtown core whenever I'm there. Their navigational skills are unparalleled.
One of the most admirable things about them is that they don't hesitate to do what they deem right and stick up for it. One example is asking for rides at the end of a gurdvara program where they come up to you know ask you which way you are headed. I would never have the guts to ask someone who is a complete stranger....
Even the most dessiest of Babbai can get around easily. I have never encountered a baba who was lost and needed any direction.
It would be unfair to mention some of the negative aspects of the baba-life too. There are the ones who drink and urinate in public places. A few days ago there was this guy in his 60s singing a Jamla Jutt song and pointing at cars passing by. THere was the one who passes out across the street and was picked up by an ambulance. This week still one was sighted walking wildly and hit a pole while almost getting killed as he stumbled across to oncoming traffic.
I don't see how things could be different even if everyone tried to solve this. Negative aspects of the baaba life are quite old and old things turn into habits and habits never die. As Bhai Gurdass Jee has said, one naturally finds the company of the same without any problem. I think things are looking up even with the not so good public exhibits.
One thing you can do is to include the Babbai of Surrey in ardass and ask guru sahib to give them good-mutt and realize that death is coming nearer and nearer.... and that its still not too late to change.