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Summer samurais: They sweat so you can chill

Summer samurais: They sweat so you can chill

chandigarh Updated: Jun 10, 2015 13:13 IST
Summer samurais,trafficpolice,chanidgrha police

Santosh Kumari

UT traffic constable
Day begins at: 7am
Day ends at: 4pm
Working hours: 9, excluding any emergency duty
Break: Rotating shifts mean several small breaks
Challenges: Air pollution and traffic-enhanced heat, road rage
Health risks: Pollution-related problems and joint ache
When not at work: Spending time with children, watching movies

450 personnel in Chandigarh traffic police

‘Accustomed to heat, no AC off-duty either’

Eighteen years of experience has made UT traffic constable Santosh Kumari tougher than most. But when asked about her hard life especially in the blazing summer, she simply repeated, “Ab to aadat si ho gayi hai (I’ve grown accustomed, somewhat).” Leading a challenging life of raising two children besides her duty, she only smiled about it. When asked particularly about the uniform and its material not essentially being summer-conducive, she admonished, stating that it was her “proud duty” to wear the uniform. She had got the job at the age of 21 when her husband died in an accident.

When most other residents seek ACs, she finds her cool quotient in “balanced cold and normal” water, or lemonade and juice at times. Even off duty, she says prefers not to stay in AC, “as it can limit physical immunity”. Cold water is arranged from offices nearby. Currently working at the Transport Chowk by Sector 26, her duty is rotated every six months. Woman constables are not allowed to hide their features behind any scarves either, because of professional protocol. But Santosh adopts the ‘no-complaints, no-demands’ attitude.

- Reetika Gupta

Amarinder Singh

Day begins: 8am
Day ends at: 4pm (if there isn’t any emergency call)
Work timings: 8 hours (but 24 hours on-call)
Break: Lunch break depends on task for the day
Challenges: Equipment is sometimes not enough for the kind of rescue work needed. Extreme weather makes it tougher. Reaching emergency spot as soon as possible is difficult because of traffic
Health risks: Smoke from fire can cause lung infection, skin and eye diseases. No insurance cover and medical benefits in government hospitals
When not at work: Spend time with children and take part in social work
248 staff strength of Chandigarh fire department

‘Fire within keeps me going’

Working in a private bank, Amarinder Singh, 31, gave up a decent salary to join the fire department of the city in 2010. Firemen like Amarinder work relentlessly throughout the year even in extreme weather conditions, risking their lives to save others.

“I was working at a private bank in Bathinda earlier. I have always wanted to serve my country in some way, so I resigned and moved to Chandigarh to become a fireman. This job not only gives me an opportunity to serve my country, but also to do something highly challenging on a daily basis,” said Amarinder.

For the 31-year-old, his job is one where you have to be on your toes all the time. “You never know what the crisis could be, but you have to do everything even if there is a single chance to rescue survivors,” he added.

– Mohammed Ammar Khan

Rakesh Kumar

Worker at parking project
Day begins at: 6am
Day ends at: 10pm
Work hours: 16 hours
Break: Lunch for half hour, tea breaks

Challenges: Long hours of working in the sun can cause headache, dehydration and skin burns; no safety equipment
Health risks: Hand injuries while working with machines; and no safety for eyes from dust particles, leads to long-term ailments
When not at work: Spending time in gardens with friends
Thousands of construction workers are employed by various agencies in Chandigarh

For his brothers’ future

Rakesh Kumar is just 19 and remains eager to study in college. But, being the eldest sibling to two brothers who are still struggling to get admission in school, the Patna native is the only hope of his family to earn some money. He left home in 2006 and landed in Chandigarh for a better life.

He has worked odd jobs with several other companies in Zirakpur and other peripheral towns where flats are coming up, but is currently working in Sector 17 at a multi-level parking construction site. He says he has gained “a lot of experience in the construction field”, and is now “capable of working on any kind of site”.

In his routine work, he is still very possessive about what exactly he needs to do to save money for his family. He sometimes covers his head while working in the sun, but is slowly getting used to doing without that too. He lives in a small shelter at the site, prepares his meal on his own, and says he misses his family “sometimes”. Visits to family come every six months, but friends from his hometown who met him in Chandigarh are his source of compassion and support.

Raj Veer Singh