By Ravi J Singh
My daily journey back home does not end here. The last part is riding a rickshaw to my home, of course as a pillion not as a rider. Somehow I feel choosing a rickshaw wallah, is very similar to the way warriors chose their Ikran on the Pandora Island. Out of those 20-25 odd rickshaw pullers, mostly former farmers, and potters and handicraft professionals, who are in this trade now because the urban India needs them more rather than the rural India, choosing a decent one is a task.
I don’t know which ignorant once said that the soul of India resides in the country side. Means, why else would these people flock ‘our’ cities, and do these jobs rather than adding value to the rural India, if the country’s soul really resides in the villages.
So, once my Ikran for the day was chosen it was just a matter of another 7-10 minutes before I reach home and demand water, and cold drink and fresh cooked food from my wife, and really feel like a king.
“Kitna huya (how much)” I asked the short height man in his late 30s, who just stopped his cycle rickshaw in front of my home and was wiping sweat from his face.
“Bauji 25 ruppeya ho gya (Sir, its 25 rupees)”. I handed over a 100 rupee bill to the guy. The fare was 25 bucks but he had only 60 rupees as ‘khuley paise’ to return to me. I told him to give me 60, that would be fine. His reply startled me – “Bauji kuch jiyada nahi ho jayega? (Sir, don’t you think it would be too much)”. I smiled, patted his shoulder, took 60 bucks from him, and entered my home thinking what kind of society we have created where 15 bucks for ‘many’ is “jiyada“, and for ‘some’ it is nothing, not even anything!
“Papa Papa, I need fruity and crax” – My 4 year old son came running to me and took me out of my thoughts towards reality. I quickly estimated his demands to be exactly as 15 bucks. And I smiled; again, while I saw the rickshaw guy going back for his next ‘swari’, a bit happy, may be because of “The extra 15 bucks” he got today!
I went in, had water, had my fav pineapple squash, fresh cooked warm and tasty food, while my son with his grand-mom went out to buy his items. But, this thought was biting me, was teasing me, and FB being a good outlet for these kinds of frustrations I thought of posting this rickshaw puller episode.
While I got 36 likes and 10 odd comments on this post, one gentleman also reminded me through one of his comment – “Sir rickshaw wala’s daily earning is minimum 300 to 500 it means his monthly income is around 10000 to 15000. So don’t worry be happy!”
Yep, why should I worry? And, who am I to worry? And, what will I get to have this worry? What does this worry resolve? And, well said, Mr. Cool Urban Dude, if according to your calculation the rickshaw pullers monthly income is between 10k to 15k, in that case they are doing fairly good. Their daily income is much above 32 bucks per day, so they are not doing badly at all. I am not saying this; my country’s government says this, to the Supreme Court, and us of course.
Yeah, why should I worry, well had I known this fact earlier I would never had given that poor fellow, oh sorry, rich fellow, those extra 15 bucks. At least I would have saved 1.5% amount of my next movie outing with my family, or would have saved 0.25% amount of my spending with friends on a Friday night, or would have met the latest demand of my son of fruity and crax, at least that could have been taken care of with this extra amount I paid to him.
Yeah, why should I care about these rural artistes, and entrepreneurs, and farmers, who don’t know why chose to give up their rural life and come to our cities like ‘parasites’, to do these petty chores, to sleep on the road dividers, to get abused by us ‘urbane’ people, to get smother under some SUVs while sleeping. Why should I worry, after all they are doing well, indeed really good with 10-15k per month in a city like Delhi!
15 Rupees Part 1