Meter-Down with Sebastian Fernandes
Duration: 00:39:02; Aspect Ratio: 1.366:1; Hue: 42.130; Saturation: 0.112; Lightness: 0.342; Volume: 0.239; Cuts per Minute: 0.205; Words per Minute: 126.501
conversation with sebastian fernandes, a bombay taxi driver, after the attacks on bombay, about this and his life and dreams
See: Meter Down Blog
this is meter down podcast. bombay taxi drivers write the city in conversation with kabi.
the music that opens this clip is the song Boombai Nagari from the movie Taxi 9211, sung by Bappa Lahiri, Merriene , Nisha and Vishal Dadlani. Music by Vishal Dadlani and Shekar, lyrics by Vishal Dadlani and Dev Kohli.
this is my intro to the conversation with sebi.
the sound at the end of the clip is of the meter flag handle being put down on the mechanical meters used in all kaali-peeli (black and yellow) taxis and rickshaws.
welcome to the sixteenth episode of meter down podcast. today we speak to sebastian fernandes. sebi. who was born here in bombay and has always lived here in bombay. this is the first podcast following the 26/11 attacks and sebi has alot to say about it. my name is kabi and i'm an ex-taxi driver. <meter down sound>
kabi: what is your name
sebastian: sebi fernandes
k: where are you from
s: from goa
k: when did you come to bombay
s: my childhood is here in bombay.
k: ok. but where were you born
s: i was born here....
k: where do you live
k: east? west?
s: in the west.
k: what school did you go to
s: I went to the municipal school
k: in dadar?
s: in dadar
k: til what class did you go to school
s: 5th standard
k: then you quit
s: yes i quit
k: why did you quite school in the fifth standard?
s: my mummy daddy didnt want me to go, they couldnt afford to buy the school books. we were very poor.
s: this is why i left school and then i started working a job.
the photo is of sebi fernandes sitting in his taxi at the end of our trip.
k: what did you father do for a living
s: he worked in a Mill
k: which mill
s: digvijay mill
k: when did your papa stop working at the mill
s: he retired
k: he retired from that mill?
s: yes, from that mill
the photos are of the entrance gate of digvijay mill. they were taken in May 2006 when i was documenting the changes to the mill lands and the mills still existing. i was just there again the other day (jan 09). the gate is now purple. digvijay is still an NTC mill. NTC does not operate the mill. It is operated on a contract basis.
k: so in the 5th standard you left school and started working a job.
s: yes i started working a job
k: which job did you do?
s: my job was a helper for a turner fitter
k: and after that?
s: after that i started working in a hotel. searock hotel. i was also a helper there. a kitchen helper.
k: how old were you at this time?
s: at this time when i was working in the hotel I was 23.
k: how old were you when you first started working, your first job
s: i was 10 years old.... 11 years old
k: when you started being a helper
s: when i started. i worked there until i was a kitchen helper. then that bomb blast happened in the hotel.
k: in 92?
s: in 92.
k: were you there when the bomb blast happened?
s: no, no, i wasnt at work at that time. I was at home. after that the hotel was closed so I was home and not working for a little while. then after that the hotel paid me some money.... 35,000 rupees i got, from the hotel. after that i got a taxi, got the taxi badge and now i drive a taxi.
sebi is refering to the bomb blasts tht happened in bombay in 1992 tht followed the destruction of the babro masjod in ayodhya. the photo is of sebi standing outside his taxi with his hand on his taxi meter. the next photo is of the taxi meter taken from the inside of the taxi, through the windscreen. the meter is down. Super meter is a common brand of meter. the meters are very and very solid.
k: how long have you bee]n driving a taxi
s: I have been driving since 94. so if you say 94, now its 200....
k: so 14 years.
s: more than that.
k: 15. its been 15 years
s: 15 years have passed
k: is this your taxi
s: no this isnt my taxi. its belongs to someone else. i ended up selling mine. i had a bit of a problem at home. my house needed work. my house in goa. it was in bad shape and i had to fix it. this is why i sold the taxi. i sold the taxi and fixed the house in goa.
k: how much did you sell the taxi for?
s: i sold it for 60,000 (rupees)
the photo t the beginning of this clip is through the windscreen at the face of the meter.
the next photo is of the meter from the side and front. the design in white red and green is done with radium cutouts that are then afixxed to the neter. this is dome by radiumwalas. some have their own stores. some are vendors that walk around, carrying their supplies and hanging out in the areas when the taxis are being fixed. many are from rajasthan.
the next photo is a side shot of he meter, showing the wonderful hood and th meter flag is down.
the last photo is the back of the taxi. mulund is a suburb in eastern bombay area. as are thane and vashi. these lettering are also radium lettering.
years driving taxi
k: how do you like driving taxi
s: its very good. what to do? one has to eat. i have a wife and 2 children.
k: a wife and 2 children?
s: yes. one child is in college and one is in school.
k: so if your child said to you - papa, i want to be a taxi driver, what would you say to him?
s: no, both of them are girls
k: OK. (laughs)
s: both are girls
k: both are girls
s: About being a taxi driver I wouldnt give any one.that advice
s: i drive a taxi, i know how much of a difficulty it is.
k: what difficulty is there?
s: a lot of difficulty.
k: but tell me what are the difficulties
s: first you have to wake up in the morning and wash the taxi. after you wash it, you wait for the passenger. I never refuse a fare, any fare. 9pm at night, i take the taxi out at 7:30 in the morning and bring it back at 9pm at night. and then, i have to listen to people swearing at me, here in this taxi job.
k: who swears at you?
s: the public swears at me. sometimes a drunk man gets in the taxi...some do this some do that. some people run off without paying. sometimes a lot of things happen like that.
photo is of sebi inside the taxi. taken witho a flash. ou can see the pattern of the seat cover material that also covers the ceiling.
difficulty of taxi driving
taxi driving good?
k: that has happened to you, this cheating.
s: yes this happened to me one time that a girl did it.
k: a girl?
s: yes a girl, an 'up-to-date' girl. she took the taxi from mahim and said to me she wanted to go to colaba. afterwards around peddar road, at heera panna she said that she i want to go inside heera panna to get something quickly, s cold drink, i'll get cold drink, you can get original cold drinks there, this is what she said. so she went inside and never came out. i went inside and looked all through it but never found her.
k: you cant trust anyone
s: you cant trust anyone. She was a women, up-to-date, completely presentable, from a good home, she had on good clothes. no one could say from looking that someone like this would do something like that.
k: she spoke english
s: she spoke english.
s: educated. well it seemed like she was educated but after she did something like this it no longer seems that she was educated. her work was just to do fraud.
the photo is a hard one to have turn out. it is sebi in the rear view mirror. yes it has been photoshopped (badly). i keep trying to take this photo over and over. so often this is the medium of communcation between driver and passenger... the rear view mirror. maybe i need to take a photo at the mirror exposure point and then the outside exposure point, and then merge them......
The photo is of the radio that is just above the font windscreen. in the rear view window you can barely see sebi.
the next photo is of the front dash and steering column and steering sheel
christian taxi drvers
k: whose taxi is this?
s: it belongs to a muslim
k: is he from gujarat or ....?
s: no, no. he is from UP.
k: how many christians drive taxi?
s: Probably around 200, 300 men
s: i'm not educated, didnt go to school, so who is going to give me a job.
k: the mills are all closed
s: yes closed
k: if the mills were open would yo drive a taxi or work at a mill. what i mean to ask is a taxi job good or is a mill job good?
s: a mill job is good. a mill job is better than driving a taxi. because in a taxi you have to listen to people swearing at you, you have to listen to all this talk. in the mills it wasnt like that.
The first photo is of the dash on the drivers side
the second photo is of the dashboard on the left side, the passenger side of the taxi. and sebi's leg in the khaki drivers outfit. abd a good shot of the seat cover material, its like a thin sythetic velveteen.
that last photo is taken from the back seat, shot out the back windscreen. ..the Mulund from the inside.
k: you father, was he happy with his mill job?
s: no no. my father was the kind of man, he didnt take care of us children. he was only interested in gambling and playing cards. he spent all his money on that. my family we had many problems. many problems. money was a big problem. many times we had nothing to eat. then we would made rice kanji (rice cooked in water very thin - a thin rice water)
k: how many brothers and sisters were you
s: i had 4 brothers and 5 sisters. There are four that are ahead of me, older.
k: are any of your borhters taxi drivers?
s: no, no, no. not at all. they are all doing well. One brither works on a rig. one brother is a builder's assistant, and one brother is an agent.
bombay and change
k: to you have lived so many years in bombay
k: your whole life in bombay
s: 50 years
k: you are 50 years old
s: 50 years old
k: so what do you think of the bombay from before and bombay.
s: there is a big difference. Now you are afraid, there is fear. Before there was freedom. Now you can't trust anyone. now you leave your house and there is no surety that you will return. its like that. anything can happen to you on the streets.
k: where you live, before there were all mills, and now the mills are closed and they are tearing down the mills and have built these big buildings
s: they have built them
k: so what do you think of these new big buildings
s: they have built these new building, its a new generation, new things, they do new things, my time has passed now. this is a new generation and they do as they want. they dont want mills. they want to sit in offices, they are used to sitting in offices. they want offices, they want all this, but
k: but for the poor people, this city
s: yes the poor people. this city is not good for poor people now. bombay is not good for poor people. but one thing, bombay will not let you starve.
k: there wil be some kind of livelihood
s: there will be some livelihood. but its up to you to do it or not. even the beggars on the street make 100, 200 rupees a day, begging. and in many places there are free meals, free food given. but a working person will work.
this first photo is of sebi, taken through the front seat passenger side window. the light on the ceiling is a fluorescent light.
job before taxi
s: I have done heavy heavy work. work like an iron worker works. now i'm driving a taxi, it much easier on me. in the hotel i had those big pots to scrub clean, scour the whole kitchen, this, that. Before the employment, i was a contract worker, i had to lift these big machines, these big cooking ranges, these angles, channels, pick them up and carry them. Before i did lots of work, heavy hard work. now i'm driving taxi and it much easier.
k: you are not as strong as you were when you were younger
s: no no, its not like that at all. not at all. I am still very strong. I can still work. When I go to Goa, i do very heavy work at my house.
k: where is your house in goa
s: its at a place called arambal beach
k: do you have a garden there
s: garden, no not like a whole garden but i have a big place there. there are all sorts of trees
k: what kind of trees
s: mango trees, coconut trees. there are a lot of them
k: so you like goa
s: goa.. i dont get to go often. school holidays are in may, that is when i get to go.
k" so one day you will retire to goa
s: i will go to goa when i can no longer do this, when i am not longer earning. then i wont be able to do anything here and i will go to goa and will have to do something.
k: you cant make money in goa.
s: you can make money, but i dont want to make tht kind of money. there are many tourists where my house is. there is a russian family that stays at my house. but i dont want that kind of money. i want to work and earn money. i dont want people to say to my children you father made money that way. i dont want that. i want to earn and work through my efforts. i want to feed myself and my family through my efforts and work. nothing else.
26 november 2008
k: you have seen so much in bombay. 92 bomb blast, 93...
s: yes i have seen so much. in 92. yes i have seen everything
k: so sfter 93 and now. is there a difference in bombay
s: no. at that time there wasn't so much of a difference. it was a little scary but afterwards the taxi business got better. now after the terrorists, there is a difference. Now there is a difference in taxi business. we have to wait for passengers.
k: you mean what happened now on the 26th?
s: on the 26th. the public doesn't go out now. before the public would come home from work, take a bath and go shopping here and there. now, the public doesn't go out shopping. now when they get home, they stick there. because of this business is slow.
sebi talks about the difference in the taxi business following the 92 bomb blasts and 93 riots and now following the events of nov 26, 2008.
sebi talk about his feelings watching the television during the three days that he stayed home, not taking out his taxi because his children begged him not to. sebi believes that there are still terrorists roaming freely around bombay. and he feels so bad for the common man that was killed at VT station. one of my favourite parts is him saying that because the child of the israeli cople was so young, that they should have let him mother live so he could have a mother and not be an orphan....
26 november 2008
26 november 2008
k: after the 26th the public is very angry at the government
s: very angry. its not that the government did anything but what the government said is all wrong.
k: what did the government say?
s: like deshmukh took the film producer inside the hotel
k: ram gopal
s: ram gopal verma. he took him inside the hotel. and he took his own son. taking his son, ok. thats another matter. but he shouldnt have taken the producer. til that time they weren't allowing the media in. for 8, 15 days they didn't let the media go in. but he took him. that is all wrong. he should think, look at how many people were dead, died, they should have let in people for them. but at that time you do this and you do that, his means that you are doing this only for your own future, your own good. for the common man, nothing. hose that are dead, are dead. like RR Patil said - they came to kill 5,000 and only 200 died. that is all wrong to say that. if one person had died from his family, he would feel such pain. but nobody doed from his family, no. he said something like that. they came to kill 5000 and only 200 died. this is all wrong.
sebi is speaking about response of the government, the complete insensitivity of the government. the (then) chief minister took his bollywood acting son and a famous producer inside the taj hotel right after it had been cleared and declared safe. sebi says that instead of bringing people who could help the dead, could help the affected, he brought someone who would help his and his sons future, as a favour. RR Patil the (then) state home minister made totally offensive remarks. both (were forced to) resigned.
[sebi talk about his feelings watching the television during the three days that he stayed home, not taking out his taxi because his children begged him not to. sebi believes that there are still terrorists roaming freely around bombay. and he feels so bad for the common man that was killed at VT station. one of my favourite parts is him saying that because the child of the israeli cople was so young, that they should have let him mother live so he could have a mother and not be an orphan....
26 november 2008
k: so did you take your taxi out the next day
s: no no. for 3 days my children didnt let me take it out. they said - dont go. because there were still terrorists. 13 14 terrorists are still freely roaming around bombay.
k: and 2 taxis were bombed
s: yes 2 taxis were bombed, thats why my children said dont go. for 3 days i didnt take the taxi out.
k: did you watch everything on television
s: yes at my house i turned on the tv in the morning, i watched the news, until 10 oclock at night. because we all felt this. because it was the common man who died. at vt station it is the common man
k: this is true
s: vt station was the common man
k: the common man
s: innocent people who died. this is all wrong isnt it.
k: but on tv it was like, on tv they didnt show vt much and they showed the taj much more
s: they showed the taj more
k: where did they show the common man
s: they showed vt station very little, vt station. but more of the taj. o, the terrorists were at the taj until the end, right? but everyone was so sad. that family the israeli family, their little child, everyone felt for it, so small and young, they shouldnt have done that. look, they killed his daddy but they should have left his mother alive for the sake of that small child. but...a terrorist is a terrorist. they have no eyes.
26 november 2008
sebi talk about the motivation of the terrosts. and his total distrust for the official number given for how many died.
s: at the oberoi
k: at the oberoi
s: at the oberoi i have a cousin who works there. said 250 people died there. guests included.
k: cousin was there at that time?
k: there at that time.
s: but got out in the morning of the next day
k: so was there the whole night?
s: was there the whole night.
k: works at the hotel?
s: works at the hotel. she is the daughter of my mother's sister.
k: the daughter of your mother's sister
k: so did you know that your cousin was there while it was going on?
s: yes i got to know. that night the husband of my cousin called to say that this is going on, she is inside. It was the end of her shift and she had gone into the changing room to change her clothers..she works in housekeeping. she went to change her clothes and the firing started. so everyone she was with they all hid.
k: its good she was saved
s: she was saved.
k: its good.
these are the stories that we haven't heard as much. the stories of the staff. We might have seen images on tv of the staff as they escaped after hours, nights, days. and we heard stories of the heroes. and we heard second hand stories from the guests about how professional and wonderful the staff was... but we haven't heard too many stories about the majority of staff who were trapped inside, or from their families.
26 november 2008
k:so what do you think? what should our government do?
k: our government
s: what is our government going to do? our government does nothing. whichever government comes it does the same nothing. the common people have no one looking out for them. the common public just goes to work so that they can eat. the rest, our ministers are only out to feed themselves. they are only interested in amassing their own wealth. they aren't going to look our for the common public. they say the are going to give 1, 1.5 rupees to those families who had someone die in the attacks. but they, say, give 1 crore rupees from the fund, government fund, from this if they give 1 crore rupees to anyone, they will say that they gave 2 crore rupees and they will put 1 crore in their own pocket. they get enjoyment out of this type of happening. it is to their advantage, they profit. but to the common man, there is no advantage, no profit. the common man, in their fear, they stay in their..... the government doesn't give from their own pocket. they take taxes, we pay taxes, that it.... the fund... our money they give back to us.
k: our money they give back to us... true true.
sebi talk about the greed of the government and its total lack of concern toward the common public and the common good. he says they like tragedies like this because it gives them a chance to 'profit' it is to their advantage.
26 november 2008
26 november 2008
contrary to the malevolent drumbeat of military response and war that followed the attacks, sebi doesn't see war as a response. war only creates difficulty and it is the common man that dies. jang nahin, aman chahiye.
k: but because of this we shouldn't go to war?
s: no no, we shouldnt go to war. why should we go to war. going to war is difficultyo for everyone
k: this is true
s: trouble for everyone. In war it is the common man that dies. there is no profit, advantage in war for the common man.
going to the previous clip about war and aam adaami to this clip about sebi's feelings about his daughters... i waned to keep this clip in because getting 83% in he 10th standard board exams is excellent. but the conversation that preceded it was repeating what had been said before. but i really wanted this fact about this taxi driver's daughters, and his deep feelings about his daughters to be heard. and this is how i am the mediator.. so i let a long silence go, with just the ambient sound. following the difficulty to everyone if there were to be a war.. and have that flow into the difficulty of the present. and hear his heart, his love for his daughters, and his daughter's success.
s: as much as i make in the taxi, i spend on expenses. I don't drink, I don't smoke, i dont do anything like that. my wife is completely a simple woman, my children don't demand things from me, I want this, I want that, nothing. but still there are household expenses. but for my children to keep them happy. for their studies. there are tuitions, my daughter passed her 10 class board exams with 83% marks.
k: whoa! congratulations
s: thank you madam. but to keep them happy, i want to give them things without them asking. if i bring them things then in their hearts they know that their mummy daddy cares about their future, thinks about their future. I think this and I want to keep them happy. my children. that is why i never have savings.
I always ask this question at the end. only after we have reached our destination and pulled over and the engine is off. then i ask - what are your hopes, what are you desires........
k: i want to ask you one more thing
s: ask me.
k: what is your hope, what is your desire
s: no desire. I want to live honestly. i want to live honestly and I want to teach my children to live honestly. this is what makes me happy. I dont do wrong things, i dont think wrong thoughts, I dont look at things in the wrong way. i drive my taxi til 9pm, i go straight home, and i dont out afterwards. I eat, take a bath, and sleep. i dont drink liquor, i dont smoke cigarrates, i dont chew tobacco, i dont play cards, nothing. I am a very simple man. god made me well. I really believe in god. i dont want anything else. i like the life i have. i dont want to be big. i dont want to be small.
k: is there anything else you want to say
s: nothing really. i'd like to say to the government, think about the common man.don't push the common man down any further. indira gandhiji before declared - get rid of poverty. but nothing happened. there is growing poverty. the common man is dying. as for the rest, the government does nothing. one taxi driver, drives his taxi with respect, does a good job at his work, takes the passenger to his home, bring his passenger from his home, takes him to his job, don't keep after this man. who ever has great wealth, lots of money, keep after him. tell him not to do wrong things. the common man is the common man, nothing else.
k: i hope you enjoyed this episode. jang nahin. aman chahiye. pease visit the blog at meterdown.wordpress.com
there are outtakes including one where sebi was robbed at gunpoint in the middle of the day and of course photos of him and the taxi. and join me again when we write the city with another bombay taxi driver. til next time
this is my wrap. its always the ding of the meter being turned off.. meter up. the taxi door opening over the words - til next time - the door closing, the traffic noise and the horn
s: this happens sometims. a person runs off without paying
k: there is nothing you can do
s: there is nothing you can do. it you can get him you can do something, but if you cant get him, there is nothing you can do.
k: has anyone ever pulled a knife on you? has that kind of robbery ever happened?
s: no no. i was robbed like that once. what happened was i got some passengers in dharavi.
k: at night?
s: no during the day. at 11am. my business had been doing well that day. so i had 400 rupees in my pocket. they were in a wad of 100s. and i also had money from the house. it was money i owed someone. i owed 4,500 rupees to someone. i had brought it from home and i thought that in the evening when it was time to go home, i would go and pay him. he is a relative of mine. so i got these passengers in dharavi..4 young men..i picked them up in dharavi and brought them to chunabatti. so he took out 100 rupees and i didnt have change. he said give change. the meter was 40 rupees. he said i dont have change, you go get some, so i opened the packet. i opened the packet then the one sitting in the front said to the young men he has lots of money. so then two of them took out a revolver.
k: they took out a revolver?
s: yes. two of them did. and this is in the daytime at 11am. they took out the revolver and hit me here. they hit me here. the one sitting in the front he pointed a revolver. i said what is going on why are youtaking out all these revolvers. if you want the money, here take it but my license, my things, give them back to me. so they took the money and left.
sebi describes when he was robbed at gunpoint in the middle of the day. this is the first gun or revolver story i have heard, and only the second robbery.
s: 4,500 of this money and 400 of that money. they took it all.
k: this is one months worth of earnings?
s: what? one months worth of earnings.
k: were you afraid?
s: afriad what am i supposed to do? now i dont keep money in my pocket. anytime, anything, anything can happen. out here anything can happen.
k: so after that happened you took the taxi back and went home?
s: no no no
s: what can i do. i have to earn my daily money. my daily home expense is 100 per day. then also the children's school fees, the things my children want there is that too. so i have to work. then there is the daily rental of the taxi i have to give that.
k: how much was it then
s: 300 rupees
s: i have to give 300 rupees and a full tank of gas to him. but he didnt take the money from me. i told him what happened so he didnt take it
k: thats good
taxi driver daily expenses
this clip gives an idea of the daily expanses of this taxi driver, father of two children, who dont go to municipal schools, who have tuitions, who lives in a chawl in dadar west and drives a taxi. 100 rupees a day daily expenses, that probably just the food and housebills.
k: when you sell a taxi does the permit stay with you?
s: no, the permit stays with the person who owned the taxi. you dont sell a permit. you renew it every 5 years.
s: you cant sell a permit. for 5 years he gives me 5,000 rupees
k: the permit is in your name
k: after 5 years you have to renew it renew it.
s: i have to renew it
s: the permit stays in your name?
s: in my name. in my name. i only have to make an agreement with the new taxi vehicle owner. the new owner will drive the taxi for 5 years so we have to make the agreement. i dont have to do anything for 5 years.
k: so who bought your taxi
s: someone from UP
s: he bought it
sebi explains how taxi permits work when a vehicle is sold to someone else. the new owner doesn't own the permit. permits aren't sold. but i think that if a driver doesn't renew the permit, the permit goes into a hiatus stage. the new private fleet owners are trying to, or have gotten, these permits that werent renewed. which made the taxi unions angry because they weren't allowed to get the unrenewed permits.
25 years old
s: now look 25,000 taxis are being cancelled. look what they have done. some of them still have outstanding loans against the taxi. why are they coming after the taxi drivers? the union should be saying something. the RTO. why are they coming after the taxis? there are so many private cars. they dont cancel them.
s: an taxi driver that cant read and write, tomorrow who is going to give him a job? but they dont think about that.
this is sebi talking about the cancelling of taxis vehicles that are 25 years and older. he says 25,000 taxis, but i think he gets the 25 years mixed up with the number of taxis. its somewhere between 11,000 and 8,000. they have been trying to cancel these vehicles for a long time. the unions actually were able to put it off for over a year but it finally came into effect. a friend of mine, jamid ali, who just came back from UP visiting his family, is now trying to get a taxi and is having hard time bcause bombay is full of the drivers of cancelled taxis all trying to find another taxi to drive.... sebi tells us there isnt much choice a ways to earn money.. the taxi was something an unschooled person could always do. this space, jobs for unschooled, and less schooled man is shrinking. mills are closed. taxis are under assault. thelawalas are under assault, hawkers are under assault. the unoganised sector in the city, where so many earn their livelihood, is shrinking. does anybody think about that when they make these policies?
k: are you in the union?
s: no i threw away my union card. i threw away my card because... i was a life member in the union
k: nav jivan?
s: nav jivan. so one day i had to renew my license. so i went to the union and said i had to renew my license. so i went to renew my license and the man there said i want 5 photos. so i had 4 photos with me. 4 photos. The RTO want 2 photos. but these guys want 5 photos. officially 5 photos. these guys were so stubborn about these 5 photos. they were really stubborn, they wanted 5 photos. so i said i have 4 photos with me. i live in dadar. i said when i come tomorrow to pick up my license i will bring the 5th photos. they told me you give it now. we want 5 photos. so we got locked in this struggle. i said i am crhistian you are christian. the guy, the one i was speaking to. i said i am christian you are christian. if you wont solve this problem then who else will? i have to go all the way to dadar.
k: at wadala?
s: no dadar. no no there.. at tardeo. so then i said i cant get a photo immediately. if i have it taken today i dont get it until tomorrow, so i said i wont be able to get it. i said i'll bring it and give it to you tomorrow. he said no, you take back your license. so i got angry. i said cant you wait one day? then i went to qadros. i said sir, this and this is happening. please make him understand.
k: go via reclamation
s: you make him understand. he said no, we want 5 photos. I said RTO only wants 2 photos. i have no idea what you want with 3 photos. then he got angry. he got angry and he told me to get out. bring us 5 photos. that was he was saying. i took the union card and tore it up. i told him i dont want your union. after that i left the union. if because of one photo a common man gets stuck then what advantage is it.
k: no advantage
its not like they pay fines for you. nothing like that. they dont do anything for the taxi drivers.
k: they dont do anything?
s: nothing. o
taxi union. taximans union
sebi talk about the people who live on the footpaths. he talks about the size of their families. but remember,he comes from a family of 10 children himself, yet he has taken family size to be such an important thing. he also has made a connection between the footpath people and the cost of living, the current high prices. i am not sure of this connection and i didnt ask him what the connection is. missed oppotunity. i think at the time i was interested in letting him speak his mind but now that i listen to this, i see i should have asked.
k: a meru taxi just went by
k: people say that bombay should be made into a modern city
s: first before they make bombay they should get rid of the shanties and those on the roads.
s: i am telling you a true thing. please do not be offended.
k: i wont
s: those people who live on he footpaths, those people who beg, who forcefully beg, get rid of them. they have 10 children. why do they have so many childre? thats why its so expensive now. oday they beg on the streets and have many children. who is going to raise those children. the population is increasing isnt it. this increasing population comes onto the common man. the common man who has a job, they die under this weight. they should stop all of this
k: how would they stop all of this?
s: the government should stop it. like, look at all the families, they tell all the big people only have two children, only two children. they should tell that to th epeople who live on the footpaths. they have more children and it gets more expensive. what is a worker supposed to eat? they have children, go and beg and eat. I'm hardly going to go out and beg. would anyone give me alms anyway?
k: you are a worker
s: i am a worker. the government should stop all of this. all these beggers on the street, they should stop it. because of the people on the street it is getting more expensive. they get money, they beg, they make their money and then they drink liquor. they send their children here and there and tell them to bring food, bring this bring that. the government should stop all of this.
k: if they tear down the shantys, where will the people go?
s: These is a restriction against them. look at all they built in chembur.
s: mankhurd. they gave them all those places and they go there and come back to beg here. they live there but beg here. at every traffic signal. but this shouldnt be. look they al have a job. look at dadar, at the flower market. those people sell flowers but they live on the footpath. but in selling flowers there isn't any money? there is lots of money in flowers.
k: its very hard to find a place to live in bombay. there is one scarcity in bombay and that is a place to live.
s: a place to live. no. if you have a livelihood the government will give you a loan. the bnk will give you a loan.
k: people who live on footpaths can get a loan? the cant get a loan.
s: they make their money there, they drink alcohol, they ruin everything. their womenfolk drink liquor, the men drink liquor also,they dont cook their food, they go to nice restaurants and eat. so how will they have money left over for their home.
one can usually hear these stereotypes mouthed by people in bombay, but not usually taxi drivers who usually have more empathy for the poor. one often hears that the poor who are displaced by the destruction of the shantys get free housing which they then sell or rent so that they can come back to either 1) build another shanty or 2) live on the sidealk. because they 1) like it there or 2) make more money begging and dont want to work. its so much more complex than that. sometimes the places they are moved to are so far away, and dont have water or electricity and there is nowhere at all to make a living. or they cant afford the maintenance charges.
mankhurd is an eastern suburb full of transit housing where people waiting to get their allotted flat are mde to live... for years, decades at a time. its a mess there. an the politics of who gets alloted and when are intricate. my friend sapana doshi is doing her phd research on exactly this, from a feminist perspective. we have spent many lovely hours discussing her ideas, critique and research.
sebi has taken a position that is very interesting and aligns his aspirations within a certain class, and adopts their ideas. he is the common man and the visibly poor aren't.