Art of survival



If your name is Ram Naresh, you must be an UP-ite. Doesn’t some Sena or the other trouble you?” I asked the driver of my friend’s SUV in Mumbai. He said he was from Jaunpur and explained.

Running away from home when nine, 19 years ago, he somehow landed by rail, in the city of opportunities; knew no one or the lingo; nor even where he was! Hungry and penniless, he requested a snack-vendor at Haji Ali for some food. That kind soul fed him and gave him work for as long as he wished. The snack-bar became his ‘home away from home’ for the next eight years. The ‘kind soul’ told him that to progress in Mumbai, he must pick up not only a regular job but possibly more. Soon he got into a five star hotel, for cutting vegetables. Increased wages and eight-hour-shift goaded him towards a driving licence, which he got at 18!

How to get a better job ‘without references’? With increasing pressure on parking space in and around five star hotels, he exploited the opportunity as a freelance ‘parking-valet’ for a few years. A Kannadiga took him as a driver and he worked for four years, besides continuing as a valet by night. The gentleman had to move to Bangalore and offered to take him; but he would not, as “opportunities galore were available only in Mumbai”! Luckily soon, he got a driver’s job with a bank official; but he was unhappy at not being treated well; the latter would not allow him inside his apartment; nor offer a cup of tea or even water. But he had his eyes and ears open!

My friend’s driver had to go to Kerala for two months; RN just moved to that opposite flat! That is when I found him, but the regular driver was due. RN was least worried: “Sahib, kuch na kuch mil jaayega; aapke dost se bhi sifarish ki chitti aur reference maanga hoon”. I advised him about a daily shave and presentable clothes and shoes, if he expects to work with a banker or MNC; he just clucked!

Didn’t he suffer with MNS’ anti-North-Indian drive? “Sahib, yeh dekhiye”: producing a Primary Membership Card of Shiv Sena in yellow colour, he gave it for my viewing and said: “Mee Marathi bolkar yeh card dikhata hoon; magic ho jaata hai”!
He knew how to progress but hasn’t picked up much Marathi in two decades; there I agree with Raj Thackeray!

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