Life is not the same for this jatka walla

Yusuf Khan, jatka wala, at Guttahalli Circle in Bangalore.

Yusuf Khan, jatka wala, at Guttahalli Circle in Bangalore.   | Photo Credit: — Photo: K. Gopinathan

Chitra V. Ramani

Bangalore: “Business is not the same anymore. We do not earn anything on some days and have to go home without any money in our pockets,” lamented jatka walla Yusuf Khan.

Yusuf (38) has been a jatka walla ever since he can remember. “My father taught me to ride when I turned 11. I became a jatka walla when I was around 15-years-old,” he said. Even though, he has been in the trade for so long, it was only five years ago that he managed to buy a jatka. “Earlier, the time was bad and difficult. I used to rent a jatka. And, at the end of the day, after I had paid the rent and fed the horse, I would be left with just about Rs. 20. How can one take care of the family with Rs. 20?” he asked.

Perhaps, his fortune changed. “My friends helped me a lot during those hard times. I borrowed Rs. 20,000 and bought my own jatka. I still have to repay quite a lot of it still,” he said.

Yusuf said that since he has become his own master, he has thought of ways to earn more. “I maintain my jatka well. Sometimes, I get calls from directors who want to use my jatka in their films. A few people rent my jatka for their children’s birthday parties. Also, when a white horse is not available, my brown horse is rented for a few weddings. I try to make money during these times and save up for the rainy day. However, these are very rare.” One instance he cannot forget is when BJP workers decided to protest against increase in fuel prices. “They borrowed my jatka and BJP leaders sat on my jatka and protested. I felt so good that day!”

With the introduction of motor vehicles, he said that business had reduced to a great extent. “Now, people remember us only if some ‘long items’ that cannot fit in a goods autorickshaw need to be transported. However, we face a lot of hurdles even there,” he added.

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