Eating is an agricultural act - Wendell Berry

Monday, April 02, 2007

push cart

bombay has a lot of hand carts.
especially in the congested market areas, one would find this mode common for transporting things.

even in non-congested areas, i see a lot of hand carts. especially to transport construction material. as most cities are nowadays, mumbai is always under construction.

and you could imagine, its heavy stuff. there are 3-4 men per cart typically.

so on way to office, i join to push along with this group of 3 gents.
just to feel the physical aspect. i have around 300 mts or so to get to office. some steel girders sort of. very heavy.

chatting up with the guy (not much as it is recommended to save your breath while pushing carts), i learnt a bit on this 'profession'.

they get paid around Rs 300-500 for a trip of say 7-10 kms. takes them over 3-5 hours. at best they do one trip a day. that boils down to Rs 100-150 per person per day. for a task which i super exhausting.
it would cost approx Rs 1500-2000 to do the same by motorised transport.
the builders need tons of material and obviously they choose this mode. there is no real rush.

this is pure exploitation. even the 300 mts left me massaging my legs and arms and catching up my breath. especially, when one has to start, i understood the real meaning of 'inertia'. and over bumps and slopes i could imagine the effort. and am sure that much of this is spent on getting drunk. to dull the pain, is the usual banter.

it is good exercise i must admit.


Preeti Aghalayam aka kbpm said...

did cars impatiently honk at when you were pushing? did they make you stop, and then put in extra effort to start all over again?

csm said...

no problems with cars in that stretch . we had to stop when the BEST bus was coming. the start up is quite an effort. also the momentum decay is rapid, almost exponential. high friction as well as poor cart maintenance, i would conclude.

Vanessa said...

poor people - no education - tough physical work - pushing carts - earn ok (2500 pm roughly)- spend a lot on liquor (to forget the pain!) - wife beating - quarrels - more liquor - no money to educate children - new generation of poor people - more poverty ? No way out of it?

csm said...

there are of course solutions. it need not be the vicious cycle like you mention.

the question which partly was raised in the 'cars' post is 'are we ready to pay the real cost?'

for eg, if we paid them a better wage as the so deserve, there would be a cost increase in the house you buy, in the car you use, in the food you eat.

as we are not ready for that, next generations will be severly penalised by having to atone for these lapses.

Preeti Aghalayam aka kbpm said...

why do you need money to educate children? we have free schools. upto tenth at least is possible on very little money. its another matter that children are made to skip school so they can cook, fill water, and so on.

csm said...

kenny - kids will bunk (unintended)school as long as free public schools remain outside the realms of accountability.
even otherwise, you yourself have seen how autocratic is the functioning of schools, indicating a serious supply side constraint or actually a perverted demand side.
if only parents would queue up at a BMC school, like at school No.1, they could really get the BMC school to become accountable.

Vanessa said...

Just fail to understand their ideas about school and education. Free or not...
Had a maid whose daughter was around 16, had left school in 7th. Her mom wanted her to give SSC externally. I offered to buy books for her, and even prepare her for the exam. The offer was ignored. The daughter was interested only in stealing my watch, my lipsticks. God knows what else if i had not fired her.

csm said...

can understand your frustration.
thats will be the typical case for any adolescent in that phase after 2- years beng out of school.

if you did nothing else but watch k soaps for 2 years at a stretch, the kind of regressive impact it would have is exactly what you have witnessed.

flip it with 2 years of high quality educational/inspirational experience and you cant even imagine the positive impact that could have.

the q then is how do we make that happen for 200 million kids?
tough q.

Vanessa said...

200 million kids csm? Don't even know how many 0s it has.
There is one basic question that keeps haunting me. Is there any sex-education / family planning methods introduction given in slums etc? The maid i mentioned above has 5 kids.
You see beggars at signals with infants in arms. If they don't have anything to eat for themselves, why do they give birth? Even if a pregnancy occurs, abortion is cheaper than bringing up the kid?
I have read about govt. campaigns about family planning in rural areas. Don't know whether they do it in urban slums.
Middle class families too opt for a single child these days. Bringing up and educating a child is getting expensive. And these people have string of children to be taken care of by the society?

csm said...

v - not much actually.
urban slums are a non-recognised unit of settlement, and because of this, are not under the full umbrella of public services.

in the kurla school, where we are working with the girls, we will see a drastic reduction in births when they raise families.

in a fair number of cases, we had found that the women did not know about contraception and the men did not care much.

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