Saturday, July 10, 2010

A conversation with Khaleel Pasha

At this time each year, I have to leave the (mental) gated community [fn. 1] in which I normally live, to head off to Wheeler Road to meet our auditor to finalize the taxes. Since there is already enough stress in life, I take an auto to get there to avoid looking for parking and to day dream in the auto while the poor driver is taking all the stress. So I get into this auto and the driver says that he wants 10 rupees more. I, of course, react a little angrily, and then he says that prices of all essential commodities are increasing but their rates are the same. So I acquiesce and agree to his `demand'. He realizes that I am kindred soul and starts to pour his heart out. This is easy as I can handle all the languages of Bangalore, including even Kannada and we chat in Hindustani [fn. 2]. I see his name (Khaleel Pasha) and address and ask him where he lives. He says near Banashankari, but he has to go to all parts of Bangalore to earn his daily bread. He then says that he lives in a `slum area' [fn. 3] and there is such pressure on any and all housing that the rents are crawling up all the time. He tells me that his rent is upwards of three thousand rupees a month, not counting electricity and water. He pays one hundred and fifty rupees a day to the owner of the auto, spends more than a hundred on fuel and oil for the auto. He then adds that he has to work all days of the week to make ends meet. He is indebted by three lakhs of rupees, as he had to take this loan to have his two sisters married, and now is looking out to have his younger brother married. Fortunately, he is already married. Then he goes on to say that the cheapest brand of rice that he considers edible is over thirty rupees a kilogram, and that all vegetables and edibles are becoming more and more expensive. He also adds that if there is an illness in any working person's family or if someone is inform or elderly, then it becomes a real problem. So here was my reality check from `shining' and `resurgent' India. No, I do not need to go to air-conditioned seminar halls or even to lectures Halls in JNU learn about the economic reality in this great land of ours.

fn. [1]: the treachery of language which has named what should really be "walled communities" as "gated communities".

fn. [2]: from wikipedia

Hindustani , literally: 'of Hindustan'), also known as Hindostani or more commonly Hindi-Urdu, is an Indo-Aryan language, the lingua franca of India and Pakistan.

fn. [3]: from the online dictionary



Often, slums. a thickly populated, run-down, squalid part of a city, inhabited by poor people.
any squalid, run-down place to live.

Strange that he should himself call his neighbourhood this.

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