Saturday, 13 December 2014

TALK TO STRANGERS, IT’S WORTH IT

picture source: Google
“I have been working in project DANTAK for the last 35 years as a daily wage worker. And the last decade or so has been quite lonely as I am on my own,” said an unknown labourer working on the road widening works near Narphung with whom I struck up a conversation.

I was heading to Dewathang to bring home my son from school after he wrote his last exam on December 13. I had to wait for the road to open for traffic at an ongoing road widening work site. It was cold, and the overcast weather isn’t doing any better for the labourer working on the shaded side of the mountain. I took out some pieces of Doma-Paan and offered the labourer who accepted it gratefully.

It was a brief talk but, talking to him just reminded me on how lucky even those Bhutanese who consider themselves as poor are. Even the so called poor in Bhutan have a roof over their head and also own a plot of land. We are not poor at all.

This man whose forefather migrated from Nepal must have struggled to get a legal status in India. Despite having been born in India, he hardly had time to stay at home. He had to find a source of income to support his family. And without education, the only way to find even a menial employment was as a road worker in DANTAK and that kept him separated from his family for a long time.

“My wife died long time back when my daughters were still kids. And despite the struggle, they have now all grown up and left me all alone,” he said ruefully.

I learnt from him that one of his daughters was married off to a man in Kathmandu, another in Gauhati and the last one stays in another place, the name of the place just trailed off as he scampered to attend a signal from one of his friend.

The brief interaction made me realize how unkind life has been for him. He is ageing and he does not even have a home to go or any social security from an organization he dedicated his life to. Even today, he is a daily wage worker. He is worried but the road ahead is just a blank…why?
Picture source: Google

Little ahead someone flagged me down. Another Indian man looking dignified asked for a ride. I agreed to take him if he is willing to go till Dewathang.  I begin talking in English to ignite conversation. He spoke few words and then asked me if I knew Hindi. We begin our talk in Hindi. I wondered if my Hindi was any better than his English.

I learnt that he is an engineer working on the road widening work. He is going to Gauhati to meet his family where they have made temporary home to enable him to work in Bhutan. He is from Uttarkhand. We talked about the tragedy of flood there and the beauty of mountains. The image of tragedy is still vivid in everyone’s mind.

We talk about Indo-Bhutan friendship. He is a fan of Prime Minister Narendra Modi. “I think he will bring back all the black money and also root out corruption.” He mentioned some figure of black money but I have difficulty remembering figures.

I asked him what he thought of Bhutan. “Ah, this is a beautiful place, friendly people, clean environment and so peaceful,” he said. He added that Bhutan’s entire population of about seven lakhs can all become prosperous with abundant resources if the income is equitably distributed. I couldn’t agree more.
picture source: Google

He appreciated availability of organic vegetable for consumption and said that, there would be a niche market for Bhutanese organic fruits and vegetable in Gauhati as many affluent people are becoming more health conscious. This is what I always felt possible and if explored may provide our farmers a lucrative outlet for farm produce.

We would have talked a lot more but we reached our destinations. He said, it was first time he was travelling with a Bhutanese and it was an entirely different experience. “I thoroughly enjoyed this trip,” he said. And he asked me to drop at his place when I travel on this highway for a cup of tea. He asked my phone number and dialed a call back so that I can register his number.

Finally when I reached my destination little further from where I dropped my travelling mate, I checked my phone to see time and I saw a missed call. I called the number back thinking it must be important and the voice on the other end said, “Sir, hum haain…Sushil.”

Who Sushil? And then I remembered it was my travelling mate’s cell number and yeah, it is him Sushil, my new friend. I had to save embarrassment, so struck a short conversation.

“Haan Sushil…..gaari to milenga na?”
“Milenga sir,  zaroor milenga.”
“Aacha…tab to thrik haain.”
“Daaniya baad…thank you.”

It was an eventful day interacting with strangers. I urge, we need to talk more, break the ice and there is always something interesting to learn. Everyone has a story to tell like the labourer and Sushil, if you want to hear their stories, talk to strangers instead of shutting yourself closed inside invisible walls.
 
picture source: Google
Gyembo Namgyal
December 14, 2014
09:00 AM

Note: I am so sorry; my blogs are always becoming long. I know, you don’t have time to read them but, if you begin reading, I am sure you will read it to the end.

Happy weekend and HAPPY NATIONAL DAY on December 17.





10 comments:

  1. It's always nice to talk with strangers, indeed. Keep writing la Sir :) Great weekend to you too!

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    1. Thank you Rima, for finding time to read and also leave behind comment.

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  2. The definition of rich and poor is certainly prone to be subjective and relative but I could not agree more than the words of that labourer. Our kind of poor would be better if things are really considered and thought properly. There's certainly the salt that end up missing.

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    1. I agree things would certainly be better, even best; if we make careful thoughts and wise decisions. Thanks for reading and leaving behind thought provoking comment.

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  3. Yes Sir i totally agree with you. We always learn when we interact with people. Nice article

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    1. Thank you Tshering for vising my blog and finding time to comment. Keep visiting and commenting and have a good week ahead.

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  4. It's good to talk to strangers most of time. Enjoyed your article, thank you for sharing.

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    1. Thaank you choki. I am glad you enjoyed it.

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