Sunday, September 8, 2013

The curious case of Patna Porter

Equality, Poverty, Needs, Resources. These are very important words we seldom use in our daily lives. We rather prefer to use Cool, No Yaa, \m/, Cya, Hiking, Damn-it etc instead. No offence to the smartphone generation. But lets see how our indifference towards not referring to the former set of words (in our daily lives) have made us hugely ignorant towards the other side of India.
Somewhere in Motihari, Bihari

I got down at Patna Station few weeks back. There is some sort of heat, something closely associated with sweating which lingers in such areas. Its hard to describe it, maybe it is psychological but it exists. I was greeted by a set of minion porters (will be calling them Coolie now onward) , while getting down the train. I made myself to overlook their shouting, dropped down my heavy suitcase and started rolling it, my eyes fixed at the nearest over-bridge on the platform, wondering, how will I lift the rolling baggage. K. Meanwhile, the Coolie(s) followed me and I increased my speed. I knew, sparing, say 200 bucks, which usually is the charge everywhere wont make much sense. I hurried. He hurried and said, “Saab bas bees rupaye dedijiega.”  

I stopped and looked at him. He was frail, around 65 plus. I reached the over-bridge by then and had to decide now, at a snap. Couple of questions broiled up in mind, What do you get in 20 rupees? What could have made him work this hard for this less? Is there no market for him? Inspite of huge population, is this what the purchasing power is?Do Biharis prefer to be weightlifters when it comes to saving their 20 bucks? I thought of giving away 20 bucks to him, just like that. But then that would have left him being a beggar, inspite of his readiness to work. No, I had to hire him and I said yes, amused and saddened by this cheap price of being a real Saab.  

PS: Thought of ending this piece on a dramatic note. Will be getting back with more insightful analysis on some broad issues related to poverty in some time. 

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