Tuesday, June 29, 2010

My little-bit life - the story of a migrant Indian worker

This is the story of many who toil under the scorching sun...

My little-bit life - the story of a migrant Indian worker

Rajendra K Aneja, Dubai

15 April 2010,

Myself Radhakrishnan Nambiar, from village Pailam, in India. Me, construction worker in Middle East, making very big, tall buildings, in Bahrain, Doha and Riyadh. Some building too much big, 30 floors.

Me getting 600 dirhams per month salary every month, plus six ‘parattas’, every day, for breakfast, lunch and dinner. I also love very much, one girl, Philipa. Philipa, my heart, my soul.

There was famine in my village. No rain-water for my field. I grow rice. But, no rain-water, no rice. So, agent come from big city, and tell, “Go to Riyadh. Become rich. Buy Mercedes. Come back to village”.

Life in Middle East

So, I pay agent, 10,000 dollars. I borrow money. In Riyadh, I learn fast, become wireman. Make big buildings. Go up crane 20 to 30 floors. Very dangerous. But I work hard, to pay loan. In the nights, sometimes I feel too much alone.

Then I run away. Everywhere, Doha, Bahrain, same story. 14 hours work. Salary 600 dirhams. 6 ‘parattas’ every day. And save only 200 dirhams every month, to pay back loan.

My room, too much people - 12 people. We have bunker beds, like army. No bedsheets. No towels. In my room, we have big poster of Aamir Khan and Sridevi. I see them on wall and feel nice. Lavatory - big problem. Every morning big line. I wait 15 minutes. Sometime 1 hour. But, I wait quietly. I have big loan in my life.


Sometimes I dream, India big country, very rich country, have many jobs, too much money. And, lots of rain for my rice field. Then, all Indians stay in India. No need to earn dollar, in other countries. This I dream, many times.

I go up crane every day. I, frightened too much. I, frightened also, for electric current. I wireman.

I miss my village, my mango tree. And, I miss my old mother and father, my small brother, sister. I need money for marriage of my sister. But, I cannot go back. I have big loan in my life.

On Friday, company people take all workers, in bus to big mall. I, very impressed. Many items, many nice clothes, very beautiful people. People in mall always very happy, laughing, smiling, buying, eating fast-food, playing games. But, I only see everything. Me, little money. No buy anything. I have big loan in my life.

Then, I see Philipa. She has white skin, golden eyes. She smile for me. She work in Starbucks coffee. She give me little-bit orange juice. Philipa very good, bootiful. I like.


After I meet Philipa, I no sleep. Every night is big mountain, for me, without Philipa. Every Friday, I see Philipa in Starbucks. Every Friday, she give me little-bit smile.

Then one day we go for movie. Philipa touch me little bit, by mistake. I also touch her. She smile. She smell very good. Like big garden of rose flowers.

We, solid happy! Then, I fight too much hard, not to fall in love with Philipa. I do my best to avoid falling in love with Philipa. But, I make mistake; I fall in love, with Philipa. It just happened, you know. Am, so very sorry.

Now, every night, my heart full of Philipa. Every night, me cut my heart and throw out. But, every morning, my heart is full of Philipa again.

Every Friday, I see Philipa in Starbucks. Every Friday, she give me little-bit smile.

Recession and Philipa goes

Then Philipa lose job. Recession, you know. Few customers. Philipa go home to Manila. She cry too much, at airport. I have ten fingers. So I hold her 10 tears. But Philipa has too many tears in her. Some tears fall on the ground, at airport. I feel 
very sad.

You see, I man, I no cry. But, when Philipa go inside, and her aeroplane become small twinkling star in the black skies, I cry, alone in toilet. Little-bit.

Now, every day, I die little-bit. I don’t go to mall anymore.

The only thing, I want, besides wanting Philipa back, is to be left alone. I stay at labour-camp, every Friday.

Manila and village

Maybe, I run away from here. Go to Manila, and take Phillipa to my village. My family will laugh: “You no bring dollar? No Mercedes? Only Philipa?”

Then, I will stand like the actor Amitabh Bachchan, who defied the whole world, in the movie called the ‘Deewar’. With my hands on my hips, I tell my family, “So what? Philipa will give me baby. I will make small shop in village, selling cigarettes, matches and old clothes”.

Then, Philipa and I, just live. But, I work 3 more years. I have big loan in my life.

My life not very good. Little-bit hard also. But I work. For, to pay back loan. And then, meet Philipa.

This, my little-bit, life.

Sunday, June 27, 2010

The power is back..

Finally the power was restored on Thursday after one full week.

It was indeed great to be back in our flat.There was this constant fear if it would go again but so far the going has been good and the temperature has also climbed down. Let me also thank the current Ambassador who has finally let us Indians feel the presence of our Embassy!

Looking back I feel we were lucky in many ways. We had a flat where we could move into and there was always this hope that things would improve. But not so in the case of many others. In places like UAE I read that many stay in labour camps were A/C's are not provided. They are often between the devil and the deep sea since returning to their home country would mean facing the debtors and their hopeful families. As for me and my family, if things get worse, I can always return to my country and I shall not starve.

And then there are those who have to work under the hot sun even in these extreme temperatures. I always wonder how they manage.

Here in Kuwait too like a few other GCC countries, they have the midday break rule whereby the companies are instructed to give those who are working outside a break from 12 -3 PM, when the heat will be the maximum. But I wish they are paid better since they are literally working in hell even if there is a break.

I am also seeing posters asking the residents to conserve power. But if this message is to be driven into them, then they ought to stay without power for at least an hour! As for us, it is been many years since we shifted to the low energy bulbs and switching off lights when not needed is a habit that most of us have acquired from our home country. The same is being taught to our children too. One knows not where they would have to survive!

Sunday, June 20, 2010

The First time..

There is always a first time for certain experience.

Some of us here in Kuwait experienced the worst power outage since 1995. (the year I landed here in Kuwait and for others they may remember the period during the invasion)

That is a long time to gain certain confidence in a country but now I fear the worst. I do remember the time a few years back when we lost power in our building due to a fire but the Ministry of Electricity and Water was quick to place a generator until the power was restored in the building. Yes.. This was the Kuwait that I knew. But this confidence is all shattered and in a few minutes some of us were rendered homeless and as helpless as refugees in a war torn country with the temperature soaring above 50 degrees.

Preposterous one may say.. yea..

You are exaggerating! Oh yea…

But is this not Kuwait?

Even a person with a rudimentary knowledge of Kuwait knows the basics. It is an oil rich country, ranked 10th in the world for the production of oil and the 3rd among the Middle Eastern countries. Maybe it is nowhere near KSA but Kuwait is much smaller when compared to KSA and I am sure if things are managed as it should be, there ought to be no issues.

It all started last Thursday afternoon while I was still at work and we never ever had an inkling of things to come. (Back home, the authorities are prompt in telling us the time and they are the most efficient in maintaining the time of the power cuts!) Hubby took the children out and by the time we returned the power was back and we thought the problem was solved. But it was only the beginning. That night we stayed in the car each time (every 2 hours) the power went off and as soon as morning came, we packed off and went away to my brother’s flat. Some said a transformer had blown up, but even in India such cases are solved sooner. We may know the telephone number of the local lineman and the poor fellow would be quick enough to at least apprise us of the situations and it will be solved at least in a day. But today it is the 4th day and the situation is still the same. Some of our ever loving brethrens and countrymen advices that one should move out of the area. Oh yes.. where to? Shall we move in with you? Do you have buildings vacant for all those who hope to move out? And before we do move out can you tell us the reason why only certain areas are targeted for this inhumane approach? Yes.. more buildings have come up in this cursed locality and now we have 5 Indian Schools in this place alone (in addition to the Arabic and Pakistani Schools) but is it our fault? Yes.. a few Kuwaitee blocks have also been built right next to this area and the power consumption must have shot up. Yet those of us who have been paying the rent and the electricity bills promptly are now told to suffer so that the rest of you can enjoy!

It will not be fair if I don’t mention that the ministry offices have also been asked to shut down power from 1 PM. But then they wind up their jobs at 2 PM anyway so none will suffer. Not so in the residential areas where there are families with children and some have nowhere to go. My friend has taken up two families and that is all she can do. Our neighbor with 2 small kids has joined us and now we shuttle between 2 homes.

Now, we do have an Indian Embassy here in Kuwait and I am sure all the multitude of associations has already given their attendance. The news and names of many have also appeared in the local newspapers. But then is our Embassy here to solve these kinds of problems? Of course not! Where shall they find time for such minor nuisances when their time is devoured by functions and inaugurations and such other important tasks?

HARAM is all I can say to this injustice.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Still a long way to go...

Continued from previous post...

Year 1961, 2003 & 2005

(please click to enlarge)

As you can see, some states in India have come a long way but as a whole India is yet to tackle hunger and poverty.

The following are the states which are showing an upward trend and it seems to continue in year 2008 too.

The following are the 2008 figures for India:

The performance is not good while compared to other countries and China seems to be doing better even here.

The infant deaths can be due to hunger as well as the poor health of the mother. The healthier the mother, the more chance there would be for an infant to survive.

Four diseases-pneumonia, diarrhoea, malaria and AIDS-accounted for 43 per cent of all deaths in children under five worldwide in 2008. Pneumonia and diarrhoea together account for a third of all under-five deaths. Most of these lives could have been saved through low-cost prevention and treatment measures, including antibiotics for acute respiratory infections, oral rehydration for diarrhoea, immunization, and the use of insecticide-treated mosquito nets and appropriate drugs for malaria. The need to refocus attention on pneumonia and diarrhoea—two of the three leading killers of children—is urgent.

Worldwide mortality in children younger than 5 years has dropped from 11•9 million deaths in 1990 to
7•7 million deaths in 2010, consisting of 3•1 million neonatal deaths, 2•3 million postneonatal deaths, and 2•3 million childhood deaths (deaths in children aged 1–4 years). 33•0% of deaths in children younger than 5 years occur in south Asia and 49•6% occur in sub-Saharan Africa, with less than 1% of deaths occurring in high-income countries. Across 21 regions of the world, rates of neonatal, postneonatal, and childhood mortality are declining. The global decline from 1990 to 2010 is 2•1% per year for neonatal mortality, 2•3% for postneonatal mortality, and 2•2% for childhood mortality. In 13 regions of the world, including all regions in sub-Saharan Africa, there is evidence of accelerating declines from 2000 to 2010 compared with 1990 to 2000. Within sub-Saharan Africa, rates of decline have increased by more than 1% in Angola, Botswana, Cameroon, Congo, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Kenya, Lesotho, Liberia, Rwanda, Senegal, Sierra Leone, Swaziland, and The Gambia.

Neonatal, postneonatal, childhood, and under-5 mortality for 187 countries, 1970–2010: a systematic analysis of progress towards Millennium Development Goal 4 www. thelancet.com

Monday, June 7, 2010

The news that we would rather not read...

Kerala seems to be treating it's children comparatively better, but since I cannot find the data for previous years, I am not sure if the figures have risen or are falling.

Edited to add the following:

Source: Hindustan Times, Wikipedia: NFHS-3 Nutritional Status of Children".

Wisdom speaks....

Saw this in many blogs and I am tempted to post it even here...

The wisdom of a great Father shines through.....

A letter written by Abraham Lincoln to the head master of his school in which his son was studying...

He will have to learn, I know, that all men are not just, all men are not true. But teach him also that for every scoundrel there is a hero: that far every selfish politician, there is a dedicated leader…

Teach him that for every enemy there is a friend. It will take time, I know a long time, but teach, if you can, that a dollar earned is of more value then five of found.

Teach him, to learn to lose…And also to enjoy winning. Steer him away from envy, if you can, teach him the the secret of quiet laughter.

Teach him, if you can the wonder of books…But also given quiet time wonder the eternal mystery of birds in the sky, bees in the sun, and flowers on the green hillside.

In school teach him, it is far more honorable to fail than to cheat…

Teach him to have faith in his own idea, even if everyone tells him they are wrong…

Teach him to be gentle with gentle people and tough with tough.

Teach him to listen to all men…But teach him also to filter all he hears on a screen of truth, and take only the good one that comes through.

Teach him, if you can, how to laugh when he is sad. Teach him there is no shame in tear.

Teach him to sell his brawn and brain to the highest bidder but never to put a prize tag on his heart and soul.

Teach him gently, but do not cuddle him, because only the test of fire makes the fine steel.

Teach him always to have sublime faith in himself because only then he will have faith in mankind.

This is a big order, but see what can you do… He is such a fine little fellow, my son!

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