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Saturday, February 09, 2008

Selvaraj Duraiswamy

When I went to India last time, I traveled via Dubai. After reaching Dubai, I realized much difference in the way people behave and in the way people were treated while in the airport & flight. The reason is: Most of them were low-wage-class people working in a mass and most of them were ‘imported’ from India. Some slept in the airport floor, some roamed endlessly which was irritating to others (not leaving any way for the ones who come behind) and ‘many’ smoked blocking the pathway before smoking zone. Even between this, the airport had good looks and maintenance. Somehow, I managed to reach my Chennai bound flight staying among the crowd who were gushing out once the terminal gate was opened. Nasty!!

I went looking for my seat (window side) but found somebody else was sitting in that. I asked him in tamil (I can see that he is a worker) whether that was his seat and asked him to show his ticket. It was not his seat. Even after I told the same to him, I didn’t see any movement from him. So, I told him – Ok, neenga aen seatliye ukkarunga, naan pakkuthula ukkandukkuraen (you be seated in mine, I will sit besides that). He said ‘ok’ and I went ahead to sit.

Emirates airlines had some good in-flight entertainment – a good interactive software system to track the current place, position, altitude, wind speed, temperature, local time etc., a good collection of Hollywood movies, Wi-fi and good food too. The software was very interactive, catchy and responsive which grabbed my attention. I was getting to see at the various options provided in it. All the time, I was being watched what I was doing by the ‘unknown’ who was sitting in my seat. I realized that he was not knowing to operate the in-flight personal computer system and that made him to watch what I was doing. He never spoke with me and I too didn’t. In between there was some heavy wobbling due to turbulence. It was announced that we must have seat belts fastened due to the turbulence. Even then, some guy who was sitting some 3 seats before me.. stood in the pathway leisurely, raised his hands and was relaxing! A flight attendant came running towards him and made him to sit after having a talk. It’s because most of the passengers were workers and they didn’t understand English. Emirates should know to make the announcements in local languages – maybe Tamil or Hindi.

An hour before landing they gave us the immigration form to fill. The ‘unknown’ sitting in my seat gave his passport & unfilled form to me (signaling me to fill it for him). I readily accepted that and started filling. While doing it, I got to know that his name was Selvaraj Duraiswamy and I thought of giving a talk with him

Me : Selva, Neenga aenna.. Chennai-ah?
Him : Illanga cuddalore-uh.. Neenga?
Me : Naan trichyla porandu valandaen, appa amma vellorela ippo irukkaanga, but most-ah Chennaila daan iruppaen..
Him : Oh ok..

Between I gave his filled form to him.. He got that and continued..

Him : Aenna panna, English Aeluda padikka theriyaadu..
Me : English padikkuradu periya vishayam illanga.. Sila book irukku.. atha neenga vaangi dinamum konja neram padicha podum.. kathukkalaam.. officela vela ungalukku romba illana neenga panlaam..
Him : Hmmm.. Aana pasangala, oru nalla English conventla sethu padikka vaechuttu irukkaen.. Oru vela patni kooda irunda parava illa thambi.. nalla padichidanum..
Me : Oh, ungalukku kalyanam aageeducha?
Him : Rendu kulandainga.. Varushathukku 10,000 rooba kuduthu oorla English mediumla padikka vaechuttu irukkaen..
Me : Nalla padikraangala?
Him : Hmmm, nalla padikkraanga thambi..
Me : Neenga aenna vela paakreenga dubaila?
Him : Naana.. paint vela pa.. konja naalu kadal-la vela irundadu.. apram paint thayaar panra vela..
Me : Oh..
Him : Periya periya paintuh boxah anda aeriyra veyil-la aeduthu vaekkavum vendi irukkum.. Apdiya aellam karinju poiruvom anda veyil-la vela senju.. Mela irundu verthu.. kaal nananjurum.. anda veyil-la vela paakanum.. (a small sad grin)..
Me : Ungala aenna consultancy moolama aalu aeduthu anuppunaangala?
Him : Aamam thambi.. Oru latcham rooba kattunaen anuppuradukku..
Me : Ohhhh.. Aematheettaana aenna panni iruppeenga????
Him : Theriyla pa.. Anda timela aedo thonuchu.. pannanumnu pannaen.. aepdiyo ippo naanum aen kudumbamum nallaah munnaadi vida vasadiya irukkom.. adu podum..
Me : Aeppo neenga dubaikku poneenga.. aethana naala vela paakureenga?
Him : Naanaaah.. kitta thatta naalra varusham aachu..
Me : Oh.. Ponadula irundu ippo thaan India vareengala? 4 ½ varushama.. hayyo..
Him : Aamam pa.. Aen kooda veetla thangi irukravununga aellam, aenna thitteetu irundanunga.. aenna loosu pudichuducha da unakku apdinnu..
Me : Aen, aenna aachu?
Him : Oru kadasi 15 naala naan sariya saapudala.. thoongala.. thaniya sirichuttey irundaen..
Me : Aen, aenna aachu?
Him : Aamam.. aevlo naal kalichu aen pasangala paaka poraen.. thookamey varala.. adaan.. ‘pongada naan oorukku poraen innum konja naal-la’ apdinnu solleetu naan paatukku loosu maadiri sirichuttu iruppaen.. ippo aellarum aenna paakurathukku airport vandu iruppaanga.. (a big smile)
Me : Inimey oorla thaan iruppeengala? Dubai poga maatteengala??
Him : Illa pa.. innum 3 maasam inga iruppaen.. aprom marupadiyum poganum..
Me : Aeengaaaaa.. anga poi kashtap padrathukku ingiye unga kudambathoda irukkalaam illa? Aedavudu chinna businessah aarambichudlaam illa..
Him : Aenakku aeduvum business theriyada thambi..
Me : Aellamae therinjuh porakkuradu illa illa.. therinjukka vendiyadu thaan..
Him : Hmm.. Kadavul puniyathula oru alavukku aen kudambatha mela kondu vanduttaen pa.. illaina romba kashtap patruppaen.. marupadiyum dubai povaen.. innum oru pathu varusham angiye irundu.. sambarikkanum.. aen pasangala nalla padikka vaechu mela kondavarradukkaagavavudu naan poganum thambi..

Me : (was surprised at his words.. the pace at which he told.. the way he told.. his thinking.. moreover the dedication and focus he has got to bring his family up.. though he works in such hot conditions in dubai.. he was wanting to go back and work endlessly to earn for his family.. even at the cost of leaving his family in india.. was really astounding.. pulluh arichuduchu aennakku appo)..

For a while, I was dumb.. thinking his words.. recalling everything whatever he said.. I stood up to go to the restroom. I was able to get a complete view of all passengers. Most of them were low-class workers. It made me think that ‘a whole bunch Selvaraj Duraiswamys are sitting in the flight’ and I’m the one ODD person sitting among them. I’m nowhere near Selvaraj in terms of ‘perspiration, the way to live & urge-to-do-more mentality'.

That’s how the low wage workers from India in dubai are.. Away from India without knowing much about the foreign land.. Working in horrible conditions of dubai.. extended work timings.. family pressure.. kids.. wife.. parents.. separation.. without able to go back and see them.. Shrugging off all these things, they want to work even for many years to bring their family up.. that makes them really great!!

After the flight landed, Selvaraj helped me in pulling my luggage out of the conveyor belt. Then, he suddenly disappeared. Hope he should have seen his family eagerly waiting outside and went running towards them.

The whole incident put me in shame showing me that I’m nowhere near Selvaraj and the whole bunch of low-wage Indian workers in Dubai.



Anonymous Anonymous said...

i dont see any difference between you and that guy. for pete's sake.. what you doin? sloggin all day to make the life easy for some fcukin yank! enna onnu.. you can read and write english and can call yourself a 'high skilled' worker.

not jus you. its everyone of us. money drives us all!.sorry to say this

9:29 AM  
Blogger Karthik said...

did he really say "sambarikanum" :D

6:24 AM  
Blogger Sriram K said...

> i dont see any difference between you and that guy.

Maybe, if you had been in my place that time, you would have felt the difference what i felt.

Money drives everyone in this world. That's true. But, the thing which drove Selvaraj was.. to bring his family up and to make his sons study in a nice 'English medium' school. This in turn means that he should have some good money in his pocket. And that's why he has taken up a job in Dubai. I concur.

But, he really moved me when he told that he will work for 10 more years in such a harsh job. Anyone else will earn for two or three years and return back howling at the job. But he didn't. Such is his passion! Its because he is more focussed on 'bringing his family up' rather than 'earning money'. He clearly differentiated both! I was able to see it!!

1:09 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Workers in s'pore also fall into this category..

8:56 AM  
Blogger Brenesh SF said...

I am basically from kanyakumari Dist. Around 40% of our male population works in Gulf and 40% in Kerala and 20% govt employees. I have seen many live examples, where these guys works so hard in gulf, hardly they take food twice a day and they wanna send that money back to sweet home.. But wats happening here back in India? Around 80% of the cases, their hard earned money is misused by their siblings or by their children. The people in gulf knows poverty and the value of money, whereas their kids being grown up so rich and were given plenty of money, which u cant imagine.. So at the end of the day, these guys harldy studies till 10th and either fails or goes to polytechnic college.. The Hard earned money gets spend unwantedly. More over this new generation dont wanna work so hard, dont wanna dream something big..., but just wanna pass time.. In my school 10th std were 23 people. arnd 13 guys failed and most of them were grown with Gulf money.. Again this is only in 70% of the cases..Def.ly there are exceptions.. I am waiting for some kinda awareness among these people to make use of the money in real good means and let the young generation shine like stars!! Just my 2 cents. Nice article!
In most of the cases, the reason is, these gulf guys gets married to some gals again who are illiterates ( As per our Dist Standdards : may be 8th or 10th std), poor money management which spoils the young budding new generations..

11:16 AM  

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