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Mohammad Jamaludin , a 27 year-old, owner and driver of the Rickshaw I sat in seemed super excited when I told him about my personal project of collecting life stories of Rickshaw/Taxi Drivers. “You’ll get the best story from me,” he exclaimed.

I like the life where there is saving- where someone in front of me says that yes man; he’s done something in his life!

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Mohd. Jamaludin, 27-year-old Rickshaw Driver, Mumbai (Photograph with permission)

We used to previously stay in the slums of Gautam Nagar in suburbs of Mumbai.

Everybody was mixed there- Hindus, Muslims, Sikhs, and Christians. All were mixed- all had to wake up early morning and fight for water. Bhot lafda hota tha. [There would be a lot of quarrel]

I stopped studying at an early age.

Abba had a vada pav shop that time. I used to help Abba with his shop.

If I just had to study, I understand that leaving school would be wrong. But, I had to study and work with Abba as well, now a person’s brain can only function in one direction – study and only study, work and only work.

How to manage both?

We were going through a lot of monetary trouble, that’s why I would help Abba but he never paid me.Never. Nothing.

So I too figured a way out of this.

I started working at somebody else’s Vada Pav shop. He asked if I’d be willing to work, I questioned if he’d be willing to pay. We both said yes. He paid me Rs 400/ for 2-3 days.

Humko paise ki latt lag gayi. [I got attracted to earning money]

I just wanted to earn more- wherever I’d go, wherever I’d look, I’d plan to make money.

Bas dimag mai ghus gaya paisa. [Making money got stuck in my brain]

Phir Pdhayi ko tata kr diye aur paise ke liye nikal pade.
[So, I bid farewell to my education and followed the path to make money]

With 400 bucks that I made from the Vada Pav shop, I prepared the papers for my driving license.

I learnt driving rickshaw randomly, asking friends to let me drive for a while, many of them were drivers.

Thoda tu de bhai, thoda tu de bhai. [Let me drive for a while brother]

In the year 2004, I made my license with a lot of difficulty.

Then I started driving a rickshaw on rent. In the year 2007, I bought my own rickshaw.

Soon, my younger brother was married, sister also got married. By now, I was able to take part in the expenses of their marriages.

Then my heart said I need to earn more. A lot more! I started contemplating on how to earn more money.

One day, my mind got the idea of running abroad- anyway I had all the papers in place. I had my license with me- hum daal diye passport bnane ke liye. [I submitted my papers for making a passport]

I got the passport, after that a visa. I sold the rickshaw to a friend, received about thirty five thousand rupees.

In 2011 after selling the rickshaw, I left for Saudi Arabia.

Then in Saudi – I earned, earned more.

It’s very difficult to earn money in Saudi- it’s a terrifying nation.

 Hum tab bhi ladhte, jaghadte, musibat sehte, kaam krte, do saal wahan nikala.
[With great difficulties, I stayed there for 2 years]

I used to drive a four wheeler there- still have my license. I worked for two years and earned around four lakhs rupees.

All this was my saving- Hum kisi ko nahi dete. Gharwalon ko bhi nahi. Jab unhone humko nahi diya to hum kya den?
[I don’t share my money with anyone, not even family. When they didn’t give anything to me, then why should I?]

I came back to Mumbai in 2013 with a saving of four lakh rupees. I bought another rickshaw and gave it to my elder brother. Told him, see, how you’ll pay the shift to someone else, you’ve to pay the shift to me as well.

I thought let’s settle here only.

But I always had a dispute with my family members on little-little things. They’d suggest something, I won’t pay heed.

Bhot tu-tu mai-mai ho jati thi.Hum bole, Bhai chlo yahan se!
[We had constant disagreements. I thought brother, move from here]

Again I sold the Rickshaw for thirty two thousand rupees and went to Saudi Arabia.

Now there also, a lot of difficulties , in twenty seventh month, I came back to Mumbai after earning about five lakhs.

I bought a new rickshaw for myself.

After having so much money, I kept wondering what should I do with it?

Thought I can have plenty of rickshaws with this money but I should do something different- should I buy a house? So I bought a place for ten and a half lakhs.

One and a half lakh is the loan out of which one lakh I’ve paid, now only fifty thousand is left. I had kept gold on mortgage, now I’m releasing that as well.

My family knows if they say anymore, I’ll leave for Saudi. My future plans are also to earn much more ahead.

Ab kya hai na, hum waise nahi hain ki din mai kamaya aur raat mai khaya. Humko line par reh kar chlna hai. Kuch niyam hain hamari zindagi mai, unpe chalna hai.
[I’m not the type of person who earns in the morning and spends in the evening. I want to live a secured stable life- I have some principles of my life, I have to make moves according to them]

 

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Mohd. Jamaludin, as we reach our destination. (Photograph with permission)

I like the life where there is saving- where someone in front of me says that yes man; he’s done something in his life!

Hum soch liye, shaadi se pehle sab karo – hum chahte hain apni family ho to hum ekdum datt ke jiyen. Kisi ke sahare pr nahi jiyen . Ki 11 mahine yahan hain aur 11 wahan.

 Humne room bhi le lira hai, gaadi b le lia. Ab aage dekha jaega – Allah malik hai.

I’ve thought of settling down before I get married- I want my family to live a king sized life, they shouldn’t be on anyone’s support- I don’t want them to live 11 months in one room and next 11 months in another room.

I’ve already purchased a room to stay, have my own rickshaw; now I’ll see ahead – Allah will take care.

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