I was standing in a queue at the railway station to get a ticket to Kuttippuram, and this man approached me ,and requested to get one for him as well. The person at the counter didn't have a change for the 100Rs bill I had given him, neither did we. So he adjusted both the tickets from the same note(now hell with him! I thought ) and my stranger friend now owed me his ticket's cost.
Oh god.. Now I have to keep an eye on him till I get my money back.. That he doesnt get away...
He suggested that he would pay me after getting a tea inside the train( so that he can ask for a change.. So we waited, together, for the train to arrive....
See how much trouble you can get into if you are not having a change at the right time..!
Now the story begins.I got to know more about him. This man, Shaju, earned his wages by driving his( I mean his boss') Thrissur-Kannur private limited stop bus, daily.
He had a wife and two children at home. I inquired more and learned that his roots drew back from a very poor family. After dropping out of school from 6th std, he had worked at a workshop and later managed to become a lorry-driver. After his marriage, he got a job as a bus-driver. When asked he was going today, he told me that he had to settle an accident case in the court at Tirur. He had very narrowly escaped death that day, he remembers...
He went on bragging about this and that, though I found most of it interesting, and also told me about his daily wages as well.If the bus collected Rs 100 per day, Rs 6 was for the driver, 4 for the conductor and 2 for the cleaner. So he says, with an average collection of 14k-18k per day, he got around 1000 bucks per day, when multiplied by 25 working days, gave him more than what Infosys and Wipro promise to give. WOW..!
But he also mentions the high level of risk involved in their profession. When at the steering wheel, he is responsible for all the lives clinging behind him. He has to make it to the destination in the specified time, not late, nor early. Just seconds difference would spark a feud with the drivers/conductors of other buses running according to their respective time schedules. And the terrain of our roads needs a special mention as well. From water logging to dry patches, boulders to vegetation, everything can be found here. To drive in these extreme conditions without tiredness/sleep is real hectic. And overloaded buses would mean extra care while manipulating sharp curves and overtaking, because momentum and inertia could call for a disaster if anything goes out of control.
So he says after a tiring long day, he spends most of his income at the bars and beverage shops, thriving for liquor. All these bad habits(everything you can imagine), he says, is a part and parcel in their profession.! He was advising me not to get hold these bad habits, and all this time he was taking out a pinch of Hans in his hands, pressing(pressurizing) it, and inserting it in somewhere his mouth. Amazing personality.
I am telling you, the thing smells yuck...
Also he asked me " Da nee endu padikua.." I replied, "Engineering ".
" ee engineeringil endokeya padipikua ?"
" Chetta nammukku schoolil okke science ,maths angane kore subjects ille? athu pole engineeringil Electronics Computer angane oro vibhagangal undu.. Njan computer science aanu padikunne...."
Well how else could I make this man understand.. suggestion ?
My journey ended at Kuttippuram :). Thats all. Thank you for listening my bla bla bla.
PS : Chewing tobacco is injurious to health
PS.2 : I got my money back :)