Visit to Devaka village in Daman is depressing.
It is a village with beautiful seashore, many hotels and lot of recreation activities. However I did not go there as a tourist, but for work. The purpose of visit always opens another world to me; it exposes me to different reality. After every such visit, I see changes in my perspective - about life, about social situation, about my goal and about so many other things.
We pass a deserted patch and come across many small houses – in a row. Most of the houses are locked but few men come outside to greet us. We start asking questions, they answer. I am watching the area. The houses are not well maintained. The rooms look dingy. I am not sure whether there is electricity and whether tap water is available – I don’t think they have these basic amenities. The men don’t at all notice the stinking smell – they are used to it.
I remember my co-passengers talking about Daman as mini Goa. Lot of fun (and by fun they clearly meant drink), food (especially non-veg) and luxury.
In this small village, there are people from West Bengal, from Odisha, from Bihar, from Jharkhand, from Uttar Pradesh – from every corner of the country. In a small 10X8 feet kind of room at least 8 people stay together. They all work in nearby hotels – they work in different shifts – so the small room could be shared by people in two batches. When one batch is resting, another works and the first batch vacates the room for the second batch when they come “home” from duty. This is sort of “all men” habitat – no women except maybe the local ones – I spend more than half an hour there but I do not see a single woman.
I remember gardens in various towns and cities. I remember constantly watered lawns. I remember my morning walks in lush green Bangalore Golf Course. I remember the two clear blue swimming pools in the Thiruvananthpuram hotel. Life seems to be all green at no cost when I am at such beautiful places. But I forget to ask: how many of us can access these peaceful and beautiful places?
About 350 men do stay here together, they work together, they move together. It is like a family – a family with bonds that are created through work opportunities. Once in a year they visit their native village. They have lost the connection with their land, with their culture, with their people. Their parents, siblings, wife, and children – everybody is there in the native village. They see them only once in a year. They cannot bring them here with them as the space crunch makes the room rents very high. They cannot afford to pay such high rent. Do they feel lonely? I don’t know!
Well, you and me too leave our place and work somewhere else. We too are disconnected. We also seem to have been caught in the same trap. But we are placed in a much better position – we can bargain, we can negotiate – if opportunity comes, we will migrate for better life. We are not here because we do not have options – we actually keep on exploring options.
Their eyes show no dream – there is only desperation to pull on life. They carve out some space to smile to laugh ………but they know it is rare.
My colleagues talk about new job, better salary package, about their ambition, about the competition, about keeping the management happy.
All the theories of urbanization, all the statistics that I have used so far rushes in my mind. To deal with theory, to analyze data is one thing. To face the hopelessness on the faces of so many human beings is very depressing.
Daman is ‘Developed’ – somebody was telling me just yesterday.
I see the other side of development. In-migrants in large numbers are contributing to the local economy – but what do they gain in the process?
I turn, I move. I live. I enjoy. My livelihood seems to enhance quality of my life.
But that does not seem to happen for these people. It seems that they get livelihood. But do they have good life to enjoy that livelihood?
The parasite is going to die one day – because it won’t be able to exploit the tree anymore.
Question is: who is parasite?
Answer is: very clear if I choose to see.
Answer is: very clear if I choose to see.