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Enigmatic India

This blog captures the life experiences of the Enigmatic India team in the beautiful and enigmatic country of India.We capture our experiences through our writings, photos and products that depict the very essence and fabric of India.Through this platform, we invite you to join us in our journey as we explore.

Sunday, September 03, 2006

People Around Us - " Story of Jagan the wood polisher"

The teak door frame of our house required another coating of wood polish and I requested the maintenance manager to send someone. Saturday afternoon, as I waited for that "someone", a short, middle aged(around 30 yrs) fair complexioned person wearing dirty clothes, carrying sandpaper, a bottle of brown colored liquid and couple of dirty cloth pieces walked in. "Sir, I will polish the door frame, please show me around he asked in hindi.

As I watched him do the work, I struck a conversation with him. Jagan, quite a common name is South India, has been a wood polisher since sixteen years. He works for a contractor Jagan Mohan Rao and what a coincidence, and has been working with him since 5-6 years(a greater case for future to understand employee retention).

A school drop-out after seventh grade...he did not study further as he failed once and all his classmates moved to the eigth grade. He felt bad about purusing schooling after that and also admitted that he was poor at English. His parents didnot force him, rather thought that he should add to the family income and there went another kid of this country towards child employment. Since then his life has been these few pieces of old clothes, different grades of sand paper, wood polish and turpentine(to clean the floor dirtied by the wood polish).

Jagan has four sons....Mahesh, Chandrasekhar, Sandip and Ramesh. Three of them are going to the school and the fourth one probably a recent addition to the family is yet to start school. His wife works as a domestic maid to supplement the family income. They live in a rented place i.e. 2 rooms with a bath and he informs that the basic eligibilty to get a house for rent is that the tenant has to own a gas stove atleast.

He works on weekly wages and earns Rs.180(around $4) per day, translating to around Rs.5,500 per month. He spends Rs.1,500 towards house rent and around Rs.500 for the education of his kids. He is interested in educating his sons, but feels that if they donot want to pursue he will not force them. Since he is not educated he send the sons for tuititions every month and spends around Rs.100 per child. The tuitition teacher as I guessed was the class teacher. Apart from the house rent he has to pay for electricity and water bills i.e. around Rs.300 per month. The rest of the money goes towards daily expenses and some degree of savings. His wife earns around 500 per month and even his motherr contributes another Rs.500 though stitching clothes.

As Jagan applies final touches to the door, he mentions that the day starts for him at 6:00 and around 8:00 he start for his work on a rickety bicycle. Paddles down for almost an hour to reach work which would change periodically depending on the contractors assignment. Leaves for home around 7:00 p.m. and reaches by around 8:00 p.m. Life as per him is though but he knows his limitations and is trying to do his best.

As I hand him Rs.50 for the work(even though its a part of my maintenance), I see a smile on his face and he said "Thank you sir"(in english), I will take home some sweets for my children".

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