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Living, loving and surviving in urban India

In 2005, when SP Padhy (27) arrived in Hyderabad to work as an engineer in a telecom MNC, he hadn’t planned to stay on. After working for a year, he would move on to the IT Mecca that is Bangalore, he had thought.

delhi Updated: Jul 31, 2011 00:56 IST

In 2005, when SP Padhy (27) arrived in Hyderabad to work as an engineer in a telecom MNC, he hadn’t planned to stay on. After working for a year, he would move on to the IT Mecca that is Bangalore, he had thought.

Five years later, not only has he remained in Hyderabad but has come to terms with the erstwhile city of Nizams.

From a lower middle class family, Padhy’s father retired as a government school teacher in 2009 and his mother is a home-maker in the sleepy town of Berhampur in southern Odisha. After doing a Computer Science degree from the College of Engineering and Technology, Bhubaneswar, he joined a US-based MNC at Hyderabad.

“Initially the language and the food were big problems,” he says.

A few months into his stay into the city, the water tap went dry one

morning. He was told that there was water scarcity in the summer and the pressure was not enough to reach his floor. “ Every morning, it was a struggle carrying buckets of water from the basement through the steep steps to my floor.”

He also misses the warmth of his home town. “There, people stop you on the street to ask about your well-being. The soul is missing in big cities.” he says.

Still he wants to continue in Hyderabad. “Chennai, Mumbai and Bangalore may offer better job opportunities but I will be cut off from my hometown. At least here I can catch a train from Secunderabad in the evening and be at home next morning, which will not be possible if I work in those cities.”

— Ashok Das

‘Bollywood was my best bet’

It’s 9 am at the Cinevesta film studio in central Mumbai. Girls are stepping out of rickshaws. Men are lounging about, sipping tea.

In a far corner, a washed and brushed Attar Hussain Quereshi is searching for a parking spot for his motorcycle. His blue shirt is ironed; his black belt riddled with studs. On his shoes is faux Lee Cooper insignia.

The youngest of eight siblings, Quereshi moved from Meerut, Uttar Pradesh, to Mumbai in 2003.

A Class 12 graduate, he wanted to make a quick buck. “Bollywood was my best bet,” he says. “I never dreamt of becoming an actor, but I wanted to make it big in mega city Mumbai.”

He lives in a two-room tenement in the suburb of Malad and works as a junior artiste, a fancy term for a Bollywood extra. Even this did not come easy. The Junior Artist Association stopped issuing new ID cards in 2003. So, for the first year after he arrived in Mumbai, Quereshi helped out with a cousin’s transportation business. He got his card in 2004. Since then, he has featured in more than 30 Hindi films, including Om Shanti Om and Dhoom 2.

Work is sporadic, but pays fairly well. A six-hour shift earns Quereshi R900 for a film and R775 for a TV

serial and he is paid on the spot.

He recently married a 21-year-old Commerce graduate he met on the sets of Dhoom six years ago. “My wife is a John Abraham fan. She was on the sets to see him,” says Quereshi.

— Humaira Ansari

‘Labourers are not tourists in a city’

Mani bhushan (42)
Moved from Samastipur, Bihar, to work in in the national capital region. Delhi’s rural population reduced by 55% since 2001

In Gurgaon, if you are looking at a factory, you are also looking at a slum — a colony of clustered houses built around dirt tracks, open drains and stagnant pools but always near a road so that welders like Mani Bhushan (42) and Riyaz Ahmed (22) can catch a bus or ride a cycle to reach it fast. “There’s always a sheet to be cut or a screw to be put in place, so you need welders,” says Bhushan aware of his place in the city’s job market, and the extent to which he and his skill can be devalued. According to rough estimates, 75-80% of Gurgaon’s factory workers are temporary workers.

A welder with a factory that makes machine parts, Bhushan earns R5,000 a month. He came to Rampura village, Manesar, two years ago from Samastipur, Bihar. Riyaz Ahmed came two months back from Deoria, Uttar Pradesh. Why Gurgaon? “Where there is possibility of work, never mind conditions, a worker will go," says Bhushan.
— Paramita Ghosh

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