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Saturday, 17 December 2016

Knights in Shining Karma

The history of all hitherto existing society is the history of class struggles.
-Karl Marx

Before you think that this post is some esoteric anthropological rhetoric, let me clarify that it is not the case. This article is a much wanted, yet seldom expressed gratitude for the people that make the life of ordinary citizenry easier. Just bear with me, have patience, and read a while as I lay the background. To fully appreciate this article, it is very important to have a little knowledge about the social fabric of the society. 

The prince, the plebeian, and the pauper

A satirical representation of the classes

Society has long since been divided into three classes. These divisions are as old as time itself and will likely continue for times to come. Let us briefly look into the break-up of the economic strata of civilisation:
The Oligarchs: The people belonging to oligarchy are at the apex of the anthropological pyramid. The oligarchy or the elite are pretty high up in the hierarchy. They are the ones with abundant means and high social status. Well-buffered, they are least affected in case of sudden financial tremors.
The Bourgeois: The bourgeoisie forms the crux in the socio-economic build-up. They have the means but just about for themselves. They manage a more than an average sustenance and can spare a few for a rainy day.
The Proletariat: The lowest rung of the social build-up, they suffer the most in any economic shake-up. Their capacity is limited to a hand-to-mouth existence and are usually the first to bear the brunt of the economic hardships.
All these classes have been humorously labelled prince, plebeian and pauper respectively.

This piece is unabridged appreciation of the third section of the society.

Identifying the knights, beyond the adorned veil

Gandhi championed the cause of the downtrodden and the disadvantaged. It is but natural to look to our earnest Father of Nation when we speak of the underprivileged. The great idealist, both in thought in practice, most likely referred to the ubiquitous people all over the world that do not have the means to fend for themselves and sway by the word of the higher two echelons of society.

As I now open upon the title, let us now get down to the somewhat awkwardly phrased label. A knight is usually associate with shining armour. That seriously makes one wonder the reasoning of the tweak in the phrase. Another equally important but much pronounced question would be "Just who is this so called this knight in shining karma?"
The answer to both these questions is simple. A knight, in my terms, is a person, who serves the community for a very less remuneration in return for his services. Be warned that this definition, though pleasantly succinct, is definitely not exhaustive.

Let us now take a look at our first knight. For the all the early birds out there, the morning feels incomplete without the mandatory update on the previous days happenings(I would know because I simply cannot go on with the day without the early morning newspaper). Yet how often do we think of the newspaper boy who delivers it? The newspaper is usually is delivered at 6:30. So I am guessing that the poor boy's day starts at 4:00 in the morning. 

(Note: All the images in this section are taken from a 5 MP ordinary camera.)

You will see such newspaper walas throughout the city in the morning.

That's just the normal scenario. Imagine his plight in winter and the rains. Braving all the elements of nature, they make the newspaper circulation so reliable.
By the time I am done with my ablutions it is customary for me, as is for a majority of the people, to have a good cup of coffee. The milk is already at the door. The milkman delivers his goods at my door, just as he does the same to the many others.
As I hear the distant roar of the bus, I get in the queue to board the bus. I cant help but spare a thought for the driver and the conductor of the bus. 
Imagine sitting on that hard chair for the better part of the day
From morning to dusk the driver has to navigate through the traffic in the polluted city.
Jams like these are a common occurrence in the city.
And the ticket conductor who has to dispense tickets to all of the passengers. A thankless job, considering he has to manage exact change to all the commuters. In case of a traffic snarl he has to face the ire of the passengers for no fault of his.

Ticket, Ticket, Ticket. Ticket ghetle ka?
As I look out of the window I see a new power line being laid out on the road.

Laying a new power line
While we enjoy all the electricity and internet at home we never think of the people who actually did all the hard work. The following picture was taken at around 10 pm at night. So it is a 8 to 10 shift.

On a tight schedule, work goes on at breakneck speed. 
Looking at them toiling on the power line, it really makes me wonder what happens in case of accident and whether they have any healthcare. 

As I peek out of the bus, I see this scene everyday. Poor fellows stay rooted to the spot the whole day selling coconuts all for a measly Rs 30 each. I fear he only manages to eke a living. Profit margins do not really come into the picture.

Waiting for his first customers

A sale in progress

As a person who has spent a majority of his life in Mumbai. It is impossible to forget the humble rickshawala who ferries people all over the city.
The humble rickshaw vala
A similar case can be made for the black and yellow cab drivers.
All good fellows, black and yellow
As I cross over from Ghatkopar Railway station and head to Mumbai Metro, I pause to thank the ticket dispensers at both these places without whose help it would have impossible to collect revenue for the transport facilities. 
Ticket counters early morning

Now the above image is only the early morning. The crowd swells as the time approaches the peak office hours both in the morning and evening.

I reach office and head to the cafeteria for my breakfast. And I see the cafeteria staff preparing thus.
Bun Maska, Anyone?

 I have long had the urge to thank the cooking and housekeeping staff. I am not sure this is ever going to reach them, but thank you for keeping me healthy and my desk clean at all times. Your contribution to the company goes unnoticed but you are the unsung heroes that surely deserve to be feted.

I fill in my time, finish the tasks for the day and set out from my office. Once again,as in the morning, the chivalrous rickshawalas help me return to the Metro.

I occasionally have a craving on my way home. I turn to many of the vendors selling snacks along the station
The smiling Kulfi-wala who so readily obliged for the picture
I live in an area that is a little away from my office so sometimes it necessitates me to take the metro, bus and the monorail.
The monorail driver working away at the controls 
When I reach home, I drive away all the pains and frustrations of the day by playing guitar, listening to music or watching some television. As I lie on my bed after my dinner, a thought crosses my mind that makes me twinge. I wonder if all these noble people who have served me so well throughout the day have the luxury of a warm bed and a good meal.

Life is a journey of self discovery. This part of my journey has brought me closer to a truth about life. Fortunate to have such wonderful people around. I salute these Knights in Shining karma for providing their indispensable assistance day-in and day-out.

Thank you. Keep shining!

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