Skip to main content

Poor, poor people!

As usual, we were stuck in a mini-jam at the red light near my office today morning. Me and my husband were looking around and making intellectual observations about things around while our car crawled through the traffic.

Down the road, some meters ahead of us, we noticed laborers pushing a cement-mixing machine on the side-walk. Those of you who know what I mean by a cement-mixing machine will picture it as a circular container suspended on bars with huge wheels. Cement along with other material is put inside this circular container and the container is rotated to mix the cement properly. It is not a light contraption; on the contrary, it seems quite heavy.

These laborers were moving quite fast. They were actually running behind the machine while pushing it with their hands. One laborer was pulling it from the front.

"I wonder why they are moving so fast," My husband wondered.

"They must be in a hurry," I suggested.

"But this machine must be heavy and difficult to move," he said, concerned.

"These guys do lead a tough life. After all this, they only earn a couple of thousand bucks in a month," I said.

"Yes. Sad, isn't it?"

"They work so hard to be able to provide two meals a day to their families." I said with pity.

I had already started sweating. It was a hot day. Mid of April was now much hotter than it used to be five years earlier. And we were still crawling.

The laborers were a bit farther now. They were still running with their checked dhotis* moving in tune with their running movements.

"It is so hot. They must be miserable," my husband carried on.

"Yes, true. No one does anything to help them. Their contractor does not provide an automobile that they can drive instead of pushing such a machinery," I mused.

"I feel so guilty of sitting in the car while people have to live such a life," my husband said, wiping sweat off his forehead.

It was getting stuffier inside the car now. It was hot and humid and the car was barely moving.

Then, gradually, the traffic started moving and our car also gained some speed. After a couple of minutes, we crossed the laborers and were forced to stop again as the traffic light turned red.

We turned around to look at them to be able to dwell on their misery.

The laborer pulling the contraption from the front was laughing at some joke that one of the laborers pushing the machine had obviously cracked. As we looked closely, we could see that all of them were laughing while still running and pushing the machine. They were oblivious to the people looking at them from their cars in wonder.

We turned around and sank into our sweaty world.

"It is so hot. I am glad we have the car." I grumbled.

* A long wrap-around garment for the lower body


  1. Yes, we do feel the same way at times. You see poor people by the side, living their own life, and you start wondering about how they are less fortunate than you. Then you see them smiling and laughing, and you realize that they are enjoying their life, atleast for that brief instant.

  2. Ashish,
    It is true. But if we look at our lives, we can see that the same is true for us. We are also happy for a brief while.

    Their problems may be different from ours but essentially it is your outlook that matters. You may choose to laugh while pushing and carrying your burdens or you may crib about small things like sweat etc.

    Just how I feel about it...


  3. its all relative. i look at these folks and wonder that someone else will be looking at me thinking that this guy leaves his family in the morning, drives this tin-box and just makes enough to afford a moderately sized house, few cars and one or two designer dresses :)

    Infact I have debated this so much wihtin my small head that my thoughts (at least for myself) and very very clear.

    fund a few beers and i will share m y wisdom


  4. I agree with you Nandan, either the grass is always greener on the other side or it is always greener on this side.



Post a Comment

Popular posts from this blog

10 Tips for Writing a Good Travel Post

Many of us have read travelogues by Bill Bryson ('Down Under' about Australia is my personal favorite) and William Dalrymple ('The City of Djinns' about Delhi has won a million Indian hearts). No doubt these are extremely well written and very well-researched travelogues. I love Bill Bryson's wit as much as I appreciate William Dalrymple's depth. But this article is not about them. This blog post is about those short travel posts that appear on various blogs adding to a wealth of authentic information available about travel destinations worldwide. I have come to trust these blog posts more than I trust travel agents, 'Places to see' posts on tourism websites, and, I am sorry to say, even the painstakingly compiled travel guides published by reputable travel companies. How many times have you visited a place at a popular tourist destination and been completely disappointed by it? Or you have missed going to a beautiful, 'must visit' place because

Book Review : "The Moonsmith Gulzar" by Shailja Chandra

The Moonsmith Gulzar: orbiting the celebrated words by Shailja Chandra My rating: 5 of 5 stars I have always been fascinated by how accessible Gulzar's poetry seems to be and yet there are layers and layers to unravel before you can begin to understand it. Shailja Chandra's "The Moonsmith Gulzar" inspired me to initiate my own inquiry as a scholar of poetry. The "simplicity" of language in Gulzar's nazms can be very deceptive. And one needs either years of focused study or a mentor to structure one's research. And just like Chandra looks at Gulzar as a mentor to decrypt the mysteries of the Cosmos, I look up to Chandra as my mentor to start my own inquiry into Gulzar's poetry. The word "Moonsmith" would literally mean someone who creates new entities from the Moon. Or it may mean someone who shapes the Moon. So who is it? Who motivates the Moon to change its shape? That is the "Moonsmith". That is the Sun. That is Gulzar.

Poem - I am your past

  I am your past, not the kind that hits you with a blast of wistful nostalgia when you dip the coconut cookie into a sweet sea of chai - your mamma's way, you realise, has become yours now. I don't bring an unexpected smile to you with the memory of a silly antic, a stupid joke. I am not that clown of a friend, the one of whom no one remembers much, except the jokes. I won't cradle you with the memories of a love cherished, though unowned, one that lingered, till it finally faded. And then nothing could bring it back, not even the warmth that being loved so fills you with.  You keep me locked in nested boxes. You know that I am not a threat because pasts can't hurt, at least not in any tangible way. You fear me, yet keep me close and when you feel inadequate, you peek at me with a smug smile. But, I came at a cost. First published on Red Fez  in May 2022