A moment for "He who fixes your pipe and She who cleans your home"

Image and Content Courtesy: Avinash Krishnamurthy, BIOME Environmental Solutions Pvt. Ltd.,

Meet Muniyappa and his team of well diggers. They have dug over a 150 wells with us in the last two years and perhaps more than a 1000 wells in their life time. While digging Muniswamy (or someone else in the team) is drenched in sweat and is bare chested. He climbs up and down the well which can be upto 40 ft deep on footholds 2 inches deep that he himself digs into the sidewalls of the wells. When he is deep down under, digging, and soil has to be hauled up, Srinivasu and Muniyappa are precariously perched on the side of the well pulling up the rope that holds the basket full of soil. And then once the well is dug, concrete rings (each weighing in the range of 75 Kg to 250 Kgs depending on the size of the well) are introduced down from the top with the help of the rope - and the sinews of Muniyappa, Srinivasu or Muniswamy. And during this process, Muniswamy virtually climbs in and out of the well for each ring that is introduced.

Care to shake their hands ? You will feel their toil on them - how many Fair and Lovely (sorry for them now there is Fair and Handsome !!!) tubes can smoothen them out ? 

Care to watch them work ? Bruises on their legs and backs. No sirs and madams, no ambulances, no first aid kit, no accident trauma doctors on the stand-by just in case something happens. No medical insurance. Not even basic stuff like safety belts and helmets.

Meet Babu, Chitti Babu. Forced to land in Bangalore as a 15 year old boy and spent the first 15 days on the street. He comes from a village near Chittoor in Andhra Pradesh. He then washed vessels in a hotel. He then became a helper to a plumber. Now he is a full fledged plumber himself - and with much pride. He has a small team of helpers - all on a daily wage basis of course. He has learnt how to "operate" a computer (even browses the internet and sends email!) . He shares his income with his parents house in Chittoor, and has now bought a bike for himself (loan still getting paid). He finally has a Bank account! Now aint that one hell of a career growth path ? He of course has had no annual leave, earnt leave, casual leave, medical leave or any of that sort of thing.

And it is said that everyday, everyday, there are 15 to 20 young Chitti Babus coming from here-there-everywhere that land in our very own "Majestic" Bus stand of Bangalore whose stories may or may not be the 'success story' that Babu's is.

What if you and I came from a village with no education and had to live on the streets for 15 days before even some one gave me a job to wash vessels ? And what if you and I couldn't open a bank account because there is no document to evidence your and my existence - Proof of residence and Ration card and what not ?

And what do they do for us ? They build our walls, the roof above our heads, they ensure we get our water and our shit is taken away from our toilets. They clean our houses everyday, cook for us and throw our garbage out. They do all the "little" things without which our lives would be an insanitary mess, out on the streets..and then would our abstractions mean anything? I mean to us, would they mean anything to us?

Yeah, that supreme abstraction that we pride ourselves with, our work ethic, our "professionalism". So we haggle with plumbers, masons, well diggers, maids, the works - to be cheap. We often trouble them for their payments because we think they are "cheats". We pay less because they were not professional, they didn't use the right tools.

We are absolutely pissed off if while a project is ongoing the plumber suddenly has to go home to Chittoor for an emergency or when he suddenly has lost control of his labourers - "Hey that's not professional!!. My garden will get flooded !"

When will we ever come out of the cosy shell of our abstractions - abstractions such as values, ethics, merit - that we define and define only in our own social context - Never asking ourselves what they would mean to us if we were different.

"You've been with the professors And they've all liked your looks With great lawyers you have Discussed lepers and crooks You've been through all of F. Scott Fitzgerald's books You're very well read It's well known You know Something is happening here But you don't know what it is Do you, Mister Jones?"

- Bob Dylan To access the full article online on Biome Solutions click here:

Post By: iwp