“I just came back from Ramanathapuram in the morning today, Sir” told Sivakumar, my Uber driver as I started a conversation with him. The roads were jammed on the eve of Akshaya Tritiya with 48% of the Chennai women on their way to jewellery shops, that night.
Siva didn’t seem satisfied with his job as an Uber driver. “Targets are given for 3 days combined. At times like this when I spend 2 days at home, I won’t be able to meet the targets even if I work overtime. Life was much simpler back home in Ramanathapuram”.
We went back into his past. Siva is a Class XII graduate. He worked as a clerk in a transport company for many years, before taking up driving. As a clerk, his job was to maintain records of lorries and their goods going to different parts of the country from Ramnad. “It’s low margin business, Sir. If you have to transport few tons of goods in a lorry from Ramnad to Delhi, the tolls and entry charges itself will cost 40k. I was earning only 8k a month. I got a good reference to work as a driver in Dubai. I immediately grabbed the opportunity. The earnings there was pretty good. I had to come back to India after I met with an accident that injured my hand. I bought a second hand Scorpio with my savings and some loan amount to use it for transport of fish in my home town. That is a good business there. But after a few years, the car condition deteriorated due to over use and I had to sell it off. That’s when I came to Chennai to work for Fast Track Call Taxi”
Siva is married and has a wife and 2 year old daughter. “Why don’t you get your family here in Chennai?” I asked. “We have our own house in Ramnad. They are comfortable there. I can’t afford a rented house for 3 here. Moreover my wife doesn’t know I work as a driver here. My father in law wants to start a new business in Ramnad”.
His family thinks he is working in some “Private company”. “My daughter will start going to school next year. I need to save as much as possible before that so that her education isn’t affected”.
My destination arrives. Siva’s journey continues.