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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.

Tuesday, April 06, 2010

People Around Us - Dinesh the Barber"

As we came out of the safari ride in the Pench Tiger Reserve(Nagpur,India), a young and thin guy approached our gypsy. Looked like one of the residents of Turia village(where Pench is located) and I was not sure what he wanted - maybe a guide or a gypsy driver wanting to enquire aboutthe next day trip.

He walks upto me and asks in Hindi "Sir, would you like to have a head or body massage". Not sure what made me answer "yes", probably the bumpy4 hour ride in the park. I asked him to come to my hotel room at the MPTDC and meet around 7:00 p.m. Madhu, was quick to add a word of discouragement"Sandip, the massage would increase your body pain and not comfort you", however I stuck to my decision.

We reached the guest house and after a quick round of tea, I was told that someone was waiting for me. There he was standing with a small bag and a big smile. I asked him to come to my room...and told him that I would like to have a head massage only. He was quick to add..."Sir...a body massage would be good". I opted for a head massage first with Navaratan oil, which I know is quite cooling.

As he started the massage I got into a conversation with him and his name was Dinesh and he was a barber by profession. Nothing surprising at all...till he went on to add that he came to Pench from Seoni every Saturday and went back on Monday. I asked him a barrage of questions"Why from Seoni", "What do you do there", "How do you travel" etc.

Dinesh while working his way through my head, started telling me his story...His parents lived ina place called Gopalganj near Seoni. Since his parents were poor he could not study. They were 2 brothers and 1 sister in the family and they owned 1 acre of agricultural land. As monetary needs increased, Dinesh decided to start working and who else to approach, his uncle in Karmajari who was a barber by profession. He picked the tricks of the trade from him and soon
established the way he is only 22 years old.

Soon the family moved to Seoni and Dinesh decided to get his brother and sister educated. The younger brother is in class X and the sister in class IV, both of them in a goverment school. Dinesh started working in a barber shop that operated in partnership mode i.e. all the earnings of the day would be shared between the barber and the owner of the shop. While he was able to generate INR 4000 per month it was not he started looking at alternative
source of income.

His uncle who worked in Karmajari, knew that Pench attracted a lot of crowd during the weekends and probably was a good place to be in. This was an opportunity that Dinesh wanted to capitalize and decided to make Pench his work of place during the weekends. Since last couple of years he has been going to Pench to earn the extra bit.

While in Pench he services the localites(shaving, hair cutting) and the visitors/tourists mostly by offering massage. He added that to save money he bicycles down from Seoni to Pench which is around 60 Kms and completes the journey in 3+ hours without a break.

On reaching Pench he starts his work and with the help of the only food place near Pench gate(Lalani Mess) - he stays overnight and also gets his food...this comes at a cost of around INR 60 per meal. With all this he manages a profit of around INR 800 - 1000 per week...adding around INR 3000 - INR 4000 per month to his existing income.He also shared that though they have one acre of land that has been given as "Thekedari", the family gets a return of only INR 4000 per year...which is hardly anything. The discussion carried on and he shared that he wanted to get a permanent job in any of the resorts in Pench which would offer INR 6000 per month + food/stay, also wanted to get his siblings married first before he decided for his marriage(probably a very nice thought but may not be practicable)

Slowly the massage came to an end and with that his story...Having paid him his fees, I wondered how difficult that world around us is and people are struggling every day to meet their needs... Dinesh was part of that bandawagon and his committment to his family is commendable. I have decided that next time I visit Pench, I will definitely meet him.

Good Luck Dinesh, and may God help you achieve whatever you wanted.

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