I am a cabbie or popularly known as taxi-driver in the streets of Bombay, yes I live here, earn my bread & butter, and feed my family, braving the tough life here, the rains & the unthinkable adversities of life! You can call me any name, Ram, Kishan, Rahim, Abdul… anything! A name won’t change my face or struggle…the imprint of struggle is all over Bombay, irrespective of caste, creed, religion even for that matter the strata of the society…only the nature of the struggle differs!
This is my story…I live in the chawls of Bandra, yes Bombay has chawls all over, I share a room with eight others for a Rs. 450/- a month, I wouldn’t go very deep into the living conditions..I hear its portrayed time again in the cinema & books in the recent times. I have taken the taxi on rent, have to pay Rs. 260/- per day to the owner with an additional 150 that I pay for the fuel...oh yes, I forgot…I got to clean it for a 15 per day…With this 425 in mind I start my day… They say, Bombay is a city of dreams…I dream of earning those extra bucks every day, which I am going to send home to buy a few better quality seeds for the small land I own in one of the lesser known villages in Uttar Pradesh, pay for the education for those two children at home, & tend to household expenses. To fuel my dreams, I need to fuel my stomach too…not less than 100 bucks per day, Though there have been umpteen days when I have skipped meals! When I am lucky, I make about 800-900 in a day…& there are bad days too… all in all, I make about 9000 in a month…I work about five-six months in a year, then I go back to my village, for the rest of the year looking after the land & some small time work that I find for myself! But things are changing…There is unrest in Bombay for UP’wallahs’ & Bihari’wallahs” like us, the sleeker comfortable cars are coming as taxi…commuters prefer those…but we’ll fight, we’ll survive.