Monday, August 06, 2007

Stenographers express to Jet airways

Stenographers express. This was the name that the Jayanti Janatha express that plied between Trivandrum (later, Kanyakumari) and Mumbai and perhaps other Chennai trains used to have. South Indians arrived in Mumbai by the train loads, leading to many a tension. As a second generation Tam from Mumbai, I can claim to have seen some of it.

It was a standard pattern. My dad (uncle/brother/grandfather) hopped onto a train from Alwaye (or any destination on the above train routes) to reach a relative (uncle/brother/grandfather) who found him a job - later moved into a PG/shared accomodation in Mulund (Chembur, Matunga, Bhandup and later Thane, Dombivli, Antop Hill) - and then went on to own a house in one of these suburbs. Multiply by a few millions. They built temples nearby that looked exactly like the temples in their villages. They built temples honouring their every god.

And that was how the suburbs of Mumbai had entire ecosystems transplanted straight out of any South Indian town - probably better. There were a thousand Murugan flower sellers, idli sellers, coffee shop owners, murukku shops and then some. Summer meant tender mango pickles, karuvadam, thayir molagai and a visit to the "native places" for the chariot festival or just like that. That in turn meant an overnight stay at VT to be first in line for a ticket two months down the line, or else you had to travel on an RAC ticket. There were a thousand Ganapathiyan temples, Murugan temples, Shastapreethis and Bhagavatisevais. There were avani avittam gatherings and entire suburbs woke up to the Suprabhatam. Coffee stores mushroomed and the local Gujarati traders learnt Tamil et al to serve their customers better. I can write and write about this (and perhaps will...)

As time went by, stenography as a job lost its prestige (remember that in those days, a stenographer was a fairly well educated chap and the fastest way to get a job) and the South Indians, always at the top in education moved onto Company Secretaryship, Engineering, Chartered Accountancy, Medicine, Professorgiri and so on as time progressed. Then, the reservation thing happened and very soon, it was as easy to take a flight to the US as it was to take a train to Mumbai and soon was the land of slums rather than opportunity.

Thats what this study found out.


Kavi said...

I probably will be settling down in Mumbai..sometime soon! And this post is kind of tugging on an undescribable emotion..!

Neelakantan said...

hopefully, you are migrating at a much higher end than a stenographer :-), where there is a lot of activity happening :-) not mentioned in the post!