For 35-year-old Rajbir, who looks much older and frailer than his age, the heat of the city is not intimidating. “I come from Rajasthan and my ancestral house is in a village in Jaisalmer district, and I am accustomed to much hotter and harsher climate. This city is better,” he said.
Like Rajbir there over 30 families from different parts of Rajasthan who have made this city their home. Driven out of acute poverty from their home state, the families have spread across the city and live in makeshift tents made out of polythene sheets and rags.
But they are happy living here. At least here we and my children get at least one square meal a day. Back in our village we do not even get a pot full of water to drink, forget a simple meal made of coarse grains, as we are Chamar by caste and treated as an outcaste, said Chandbi, Rajbir’s wife.
Most of these migrants make a living selling toys or artefacts, or beg at traffic signals.
“Babuji, we may beg and fill our stomach, but we have some respect as we are not kicked by the people. In our village, even are shadow is considered to be inauspicious. This city is hospitable, even the police or corporation authorities do not harass us. We see a secluded spot and pitch our tents,” said Khatra, Rajbir’s brother.
On why they do not take up regular work, Rajbir said, “Since we do not understand the local language, we are treated with an element of suspicion. Moreover, we are nomads. Today, we are here- tomorrow we might trek down to another city. We moved down about six months ago from Visakhapatnam.”
Peace is all that we want, money is not the criteria. And in our home town we neither have peace nor money, here we at least have both, though in small quantities, said Chandbi.