Thursday, December 13, 2012

The Happiest Day of My 'Career'

And you thought that the project was over! Well for me, yes but for you (if you care to read in the first place) it's not gonna end so soon. Because there are still a lot of experiences stored in my memory (surprising indeed!) and many more written in my little diary that I would like to share here.

But today, after a long long time (12 days to be precise) I would like to share a good news. In fact, I can easily anoint 12th Dec as the happiest day of my entire Ricikshaw-walla life, if not the entire life. I also realized that one must not give up the pursuit of happiness because some things have a habit of giving you a delayed gratification - in my case, the delay was by 12 days. And I was lucky to get it only when I egged on it.

I don't know how many times I have mentioned in my blogposts about the utter chaos one witnesses at the Vishwavidhyalaya Metro Station. Its an ideal place to make the worst opinion about a rickshaw-walla which sticks with you for a lifetime, tough to be overridden by any pleasant experience subsequently.

Ironically none of my rickshaw-friends like it, nor want to do this "aao-ji aao-ji" ritual but collectively they all are involved in it. Its like the current scenario of Indian Media. Ask any individual Media house about their  views on Paid News, Private treaties, Advertorials, Blackmailing, Editorial bias etc and they all banish it in the harshest possible manner but then it's also a mystery how a minister gets favorable coverage in Newspapers and TV channels before a major election despite embroiled in half a dozen corruption cases if not murder and rape, how some very pressing issues are suppressed while most other never make it to main-stream media!

As an ex-rickshaw-walla, I was catching up with all my friends and colleagues at my favorite adda - Gwyer Hall Hostel when this gentleman came. Its a shame that I don't know his name but taking into account his seniority and the profound knowledge, wisdom and experience he has, the name that comes to my mind is "Bhishma Pitamah". So let me call him Bhishma sir! :)

He enlightened me on the freak accident that happened two days back with a DU girl sitting in a rickshaw and the huge fuss in the morning between a Traffic Cop and the Metro Security Guard at the Station. But we soon digressed to our pet peeve - falling income and 'rule of the Jungle' at the Metro Station.

Its not that nothing has ever been done to bring some order among rickshaw pullers. Can't say much about the measures taken since the inception but a lot of attempts have been made during my own 'tenure'- by metro security guards, by traffic cops, by local Police (and once by me as well). But the status quo never changed and even if it did for a while under the force of a 'danda', it quickly regained its dubious equilibrium.

But today was a different day. There was no external force but and internal resolve to change. Championed by one of their own men - very sensible and highly respected! My presence, probably acted as a catalyst (if anything at all) for this 'endothermic' reaction. An endothermic reaction consumes heat and cools down its surrounding!

One of the most prominent feature (if not a cornerstone) of Democracy is - equal opportunity for everyone to do or aspire anything. In this respect, Metro station is not a very democratic place. The Campus-special buses are the first among equals. The entire width of the exit gate is panned by the bus while the rickshaws are relegated far away from the gates whenever line system is cracked down with brute force. Otherwise the rickshaws are simply juxtaposed with the buses creating the much-talked-about chaos and leaving almost no space for a person to go across the road.

So once 'Bhishma' sir sold the idea to his colleagues and got them on-board I went ahead and talked with the Bus Driver. It was one of the most sensible talks I ever had with a bus driver. We hardly disagreed with each other's opinions. He welcomed the idea of a disciplined line and agreed "in-principle" to my request to halt the bus only till middle of the exit gate and leaving the other half free for people. The deal was sealed when the Manger of this Special Bus service also agreed over the phone to my request! I gave a personal guarantee that the extra space thus created wont be cluttered by more rickshaws bringing everything back to square one.

The rickshaw line started from the other end of the gate giving them a fighting chance to be spotted along with the Bus and the Auto the moment a person comes out of the gate. Now it's the person's prerogative which one does he chooses. An equal opportunity to all.

The metro security guard also volunteered to assist in the implementation of the newly conceptualized discipline. He monitored that the proper sequence is followed, the free space remains free and nobody enters the metro station to woo a customer leaving his rickshaw unmanned.

It was going great. The rickshaw-wallas were happy because they were getting customers without belittling themselves, the bus-wallas weren't complaining either and the people were smiling too because nobody was pouncing on them. Everybody had a last laugh! :)

But is that sufficient reason for me to call it the happiest day? NO.

The reason why it's the happiest day is - the experiment survived the test of the time! It came into existence at around 3 PM. But when I returned to the Metro station at around 6 PM, the system was still in place WITHOUT THE SUPERVISION OF THE GUARD! 3 hrs might not see long enough to you but trust me, it takes them just 3 seconds to return to their old ways. After all, that's their comfort zone! But everybody was still following the line and peacefully taking 'sawaris' as per their order.

This was unprecedented. A truly WOW moment for me. And that's why it's the happiest day of my entire rickshaw-walla career. A long cherished happiness which came long after my "retirement" !

14 comments:

  1. You are really making difference by using your influence on Rikshwalas positively..

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    1. thanks man, I just hope that the change stays!

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  2. One more very impressive read. way to go.

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  3. Gaurav ji hindi me bhi likha karo na ..
    Vaise kam hi samjha me aya par jitana aya must ha. ..

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  4. great achievement, I must say! Congrats. And yes, we are eagerly waiting to read more experiences on your blog. If you didn't know, you are gradually gaining popularity in Bangalore.

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  5. Congrats Gaurav! The moment you achieved the project, I think you felt very happy at your project, by reading the title of your post "The Happiest Day of My 'Career'" we understood how happiest day it is for you.

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  6. hi again, this time i am in such an awe bcoz here you first tried to understand the problem by being a party to it not a meek spectator like planing commission and then tried to suggest a solution which is mutually agreeable to all sections which the so called government officials find impossible as seen from cases like land acquisition and rehabilitation,nuclear power plant establishments etc.i think its your good will which has shown actually the other side of fence which is in itself a remarkable case study to be taught in best b-schools.also the happiness you find in smallest of things make your experiences serene,bcoz others like me try to find happiness "on that one fine day" which culminates in jostling with present. moreover by your hardships n groundlevel work you have also broken the myth that indians love to talk but they hardly act. it indeed should be happiest time of ur learning phase as it is for me. kudos to your spirit.

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  8. Hi Gaurav,
    had been going to vishwavidyalay for last three weeks and could see what you mean by the positive change. Much is still be done though. I do find less of chaos, the rickshaw wallah not jostling so much in last two thre days.

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  9. Great story...too good post...well-written..thanks for posting!!

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    http://www.nepalguideinfo.com
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    I did Everest Base camp and Gokyo with the Independent trekking guide Mr. Sanjib and after such a nice trek I can only recommend the service that Sanjib and his team provided it. Experienced guide, a clear itinerary with lots of room for your own personal pace, a personalized approach: you go to him as a client and you leave as a friend. All this and more make the service of this trek, out of the rest. Prices are very good and the quality of all the services, were excellent. We got only great rooms and they always make sure, we have a nice view from our room (probably this is not always possible, but I like that Sanjib and Raj. were taking time in such a details to make his clients happy) He also advise you in all the matters of the trek and more importantly he was very clear about what you get. Many companies will promise you all kind of things even if they know is not possible (flying to Lukla for example is one of them or how many days you can reach certain altitude being safe from AMS) There’s a lot of companies in Kathmandu and I know how difficult and overwhelming the search for the right one can be, but if you’re reading this and looking for a person who can make your treks in Nepal smooth and a very enjoyable experience… go to Sanjib and he’ll handle the rest ☺ Thanks a lot Sanjib, for organizing my trek in Nepal and if I come back someday I definitely know where to go for treks!!

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