Tonight, I wish to introduce my readers to a certain group of people that I’ve come to admire.
They are the taxi drivers of Guwahati.
I believe they have a strong message for the world.
Generally not indigenous people, this group consists of people who’ve migrated from the heartland Indian states like Bihar, U.P. etc.
Why do I admire this set of people?
Reasons are many.
Capable of huge sacrifices.
So very different from the lazy bums who seek hand-outs.
It’s important that you know a little of their history. Not much – I won’t bore you.
The home states of these drivers are still/were plaqued with illiteracy.
The villages they’ve come from are still/were sans electricity, schools, hospitals, healthcare.
From such backgrounds come these people, and by dint of hardwork, they make things work.
Guwahati is the gateway city to Northeast India – a major tourist destination. So, there is an opportunity to make quick money if you are willing to work hard.
These people drive tourists to all spots spread over all the seven North Eastern States. Communication skills are their forte. A bit of street-smartness also saves the day at times.
These drivers live in squalid, little rented rooms here. Frugal ones don’t rent rooms. They sleep in their taxis.
A portion of the money earned has to be given to the cab owners. A portion is siphoned off to please Police and local mafia.
The remnant remains with them.
What do they do with this money?
They send it to the folks back home. They lead minimalistic lives here. Expenses are few.
Over the years, they persist and improve the financial situation back home. Some have been able to gather enough money to build multi storeyed homes in their villages. Some save enough money to buy cabs of their own.
Back in their villages, they are a respected lot.
But not everything is easy. They face intimidation from localites who complain that their jobs have been taken away by ‘foreigners’. But then this is a classic debate. Refugees v/s Localites.
Some are murdered ruthlessly by car thieves masquerading as tourists.
They are a begrudged lot.
But I believe they have a lesson for today’s world.
The world economy is in doldrums. Job losses, budget cuts, unemployment, bankruptcy.
But, good old honest hard work never fails. Never.
The thing about Guwahati or any other cosmopolitan city is that – if you are willing to work hard, the city will never let you sleep hungry.