Mee Migrant-kar

I met a guy named Bilal couple of days ago. I had hired him as a carpenter for fixing up some stuff while shifting to my new apartment. Here is his story. Have a good read.

Bilal hails from a small village on the outskirts of Giridih district, now a part of Jharkhand. He is a carpenter, a profession and skills he inherited from his maternal grandfather. All of 22 years, Bilal too is a migrant in Mumbai.

Little over 3 and half years ago, Bilal came to Pune, Maharashtra for the first time. In his small town , he had heard about the IT boom in the city. He dreamt of capitalizing on the opportunities he thought existed and set a foot here. However, struggling to cope up with the local language, bad work and home sickness meant he was back to Giridih within 6 months. But as they say, dreams never die. An opportunity and luck brought Bilal back to Mumbai, the land of dreams. Its been 3 years since he came here and has never looked back.

Bilal used to work with a furniture shop in Goregaon earlier. But for 1 year, he has developed enough contacts to start working on his own. He went back to his town only twice. Once for his first Diwali and then last year when his mother died of recurring sickness. His face sulked when he shared this to me. He believed if he had enough money, he could have taken his mother to a big hospital in Patna or Lucknow and saved her. So he decided to quit his job and start on his own after coming back.

BIlal’s father workes in a school as a chaprasi (house keeper). He was studying in the same shcool but had to leave after VIII as his father needed economical support. He has a younger sister who too left studies after HSC (XII) and a younger brother, who now is in his VIII. His mother wanted all three to be educated and become white collar employees. He, however, has sacrificed that dream.

Bilal knows nothing about the communal hatred, and he doesn’t care to know either. He has seen enough of it in adjoining villages of Bihar. However he was warned against getting into dodgy situations with locals and policemen as soon as he came to Mumbai. He is a Muslim, a Bihari and a migrant. The combination couldn’t have been worse for him. It also made him change his name from Bilal to Babloo for the professional purpose. He stays in a Muslim dominated locality in Jogeshwari (E) where he shares a room with two others, also from Bihar. One is a taxi driver and other works with him.

Bilal didn’t know much about Raj Thackeray till february this year. He was working for a lady in Matunga, carving a sofa set. But the lady’s husband was connected to politics and feared Bilal’s presence would hamper him. He was paid little amount and asked to leave. He feels he was lucky not to get beaten up, unlike some others he knows. He has made attempts at learning marathi and speaks some broken sentences too. He is obviously upset at the shody treatment given to people from his state. But he is helpless. He retorts at the government saying they just want to squeeze people so that they can be rich. His exact words words were, “Mazhab ke naam pe maa C**** hai saale. Sab ke sab harami hai.”

Bilal wants to marry his sister in a wealthy family in Lucknow and fund his brother’s education. He wants his brother to study engineering. He wants to buy a house in Giridih, put an easy chair in the porch and let his father sit and read early morning news paper. I asked him what he wanted to do for himself. He kept mum. He still mourns the death of his mother and said there were more important things to do in life today. Whatever they may be, he has got dreams and he has the will to fulfil it… like most of us sitting in the offices or homes, reading this and calling each others ‘a bihari’ or ‘a marathi’ or ‘a gujrathi’.

61 years after India became independent, it is really sad that we still have regional boundaries as a cause of hatred amongst us. Its time we become ‘we’ in true sense.

I’m an Indian first, Marathi later

“Beg, borrow, Steal or snatch!” Remember this sentence, it is the theme and I will use it again in my post.

There have been huge mud slinging debates making rounds in the news papers, blogs, television channels, emails and even the lunch time discussions. So when my friend and a fellow blogger decided to eek his thoughts on the issue, I thought let me also pee some more. Why not? Afterall thats the mantra these days.

Raj Thackeray and his MNS have lately been on the rampage, breaking rules, disobeying court orders, losing moralities and literally kick butting the north Indian population out of Mumbai. They have an argument that Mumbai belongs to the Marathi junta and others should not be allowed to dwell here in peace. Unlike his uncle who, in his youth and early days (Late 60s) attacked the South Indians in Mumbai, Raj chooses to do the same thing with the north Indians. To be very frank, there is more hostility than substance in his claim to fame.

Lets go back in time just a bit. Try to find the history of Mumbai. You won’t be able to go much deeper, because there isn’t any. Mumbai was inhibited by fishermen who speak konkani and later by Parsi community who came to India via Gujarat. Britishers found great value in building ports here as it was on the west coast and moreover it never had a ruling family. They made Mumbai. The Marathi population was existent in parts and a bigger chunk jumped in later, near to the independance. Post independance, due to some shrewed politics from local leaders, Mumbai became part of a larger state ‘Maharashtra’. In fact, even Maharashtra has an interesting story behind its name. If you observe, almost all states are  either named after their religion (Ex. Karnataka) or their location (Uttar Pradesh). Maharashtra, on the contrary have been named without much logic. It wasn’t the biggest state (remember Nagpur and other adjoining parts were first part of Madhya Pradesh) nor it was a nation (as the name suggests). It was born out of some Marathi protagonist faux imagination and vacuous pride. Quoting Sudheendra Kulkarni, an article from Indian Express Maharashtra, which means ‘Greater Nation’, is an exception; its self-identification is national. It is, therefore, distressing that certain local political formations in Maharashtra succumb to the temptation of parochialism every once in a while by projecting non-existent antagonism between ‘natives’ and ‘outsiders’. Invariably, it is Mumbai, India’s first and still the most cosmopolitan city, which bears the brunt of their insularity.” That should sum the MNS intentions. But let me remind them, I can name at least 4 other cities outside of Maharashtra where sizable population (if not majority) is of marathi speaking people. They are Indore and Gwalior in Madhya Pradesh, Vadodara in Gujarat and Hubli in Karnataka. If they are kicked out of the cities, will Raj do some thing to accomodate them?

Whether you like it or not, we are what we are because we have build this city together. The burgeoning business in the city largely deserves a creditable mention to most of the non-marathi speaking community residing here. Lets face it, Marathis suck when it comes to business. If you have stayed long enough in Pune, you will now. In fact, read our history (specifically about Peshwas). We were best at pulling some one else down rather than advancing up ourselves. Unfortunately that is what MNS is trying to do. Shoving the north Indians away won’t do much good for the job hopefuls here in Maharashtra. In fact that reminds me of yet another thing. About 10 years back, I remember Raj and Uddhav Thackeray had summoned a meeting with leading industrialists in order to facilitate employement for local youth. I don’t remember the name but it was some Sena. It even had a website and claimed to have given jobs to a handful of people. But it might be election time and all was buried later. Now thanks to the feud between Raj and Uddhav, he can’t possibly lay his hands on the issue again. So he is making good use of his muscle power to win back the lost people. “Beg, borrow, Steal or snatch!”

All said and done, peobably the north indians are migrating to Mumbai for opportunities, for the glitz and glamour or simple for the love of the city. Whatever it is, there is a large influx coming here every day. Without doubt it is inded increasing the problems of the already exploding city. SInce we may not be able to fulfil the requirement of so many people, it might give rise to joblessness, crime and terror. And for that small reason, some where… Raj Thackeray’s fight looks for a cause. But the means and the political angle is certainly gone awry. Its only makinghim a watch dog, wanting to guard his territory in the name of a regional cause.

Not done Mr. Thackeray! If you really want to fight, gun for a national cause. Bullying around your den is useless.