The face of Mumbai

Meet Rakesh Mishra.


Rakesh Mishra lives in a tiny house in one of the low-lying areas of Kurla (already a sensitive area in the monsoons). Rakesh Mishra has a wife and two school-going children.

Rakesh Mishra works around 14 hours a day. He drives a taxi around Dadar and south-ward to where the richest of this country’s financial capital live. He also does some ‘tailoring’ in his spare time. In fact he considers that his real job and taxi-driving just something that is done because it is there…people need public transport, he needs the money it brings.

Rakesh Mishra doesn’t like the rain anymore than other Mumbaikers do. But he doesn’t blame the BMC. He thinks that picking up other people’s garbage is a thankless enough job. You or I won’t do it. Why harass someone who is willing to do it, even if they want payment in return? It’s our filth that they are picking. What’s more, when we produce so much filth and don’t even bother throwing it in the right place, why blame the collection?

Rakesh Mishra is as leery of flooding as any Mumbaiker who lived through July 26, 2005 would be. What’s more, Kurla after all was one of the worst-hit areas. So he has instructed his wife to put away all their belongings on higher levels, taught his children how to handle potential crises. Rakesh Mishra believes in God but doesn’t believe in leaving it to the divine powers to coming to his rescue when calamity strikes.

Rakesh Mishra knows that the political situation isn’t great. On the other hand, he realizes that he and all of us are being done in by a set of incompetents we ourselves elected. What does that make us, he wonders. But then again, no time to think of such things. Let them do whatever they do of their jobs while I take care of myself.

Rakesh Mishra isn’t an atheist. He isn’t a cynic, nor a philosopher. His belief is simple. Take responsibility for your protection. Work hard and keep your family and loved ones safe and happy. Nothing more, nothing less. Whatever else, will.

I never met a better living example of my favorite saying:

Lord, give me the strength to change what I can, the courage to accept what I cannot and the serenity to know the difference.

I had the good fortune to take a ride with Rakesh Mishra in his taxi on one rainy, mud-spattered working day. He took me to my destination and he also reminded me of what I love most about this city I call home. Move over coffee bars, pubs, designer threads and Bollywood…this is the real face of Mumbai. A Mumbai that is dreams and not just greedy ambition, that is hard work with pride in it, that is good service with soul in it, that is dedication and not just machinism. Rakesh Mishra is the Mumbai that runs because it must and not because it doesn’t care.

Thank you, Rakesh Mishra.

5 Comments so far

  1. arZan (unregistered) on July 17th, 2007 @ 8:21 pm

    Hi IdeaSmith

    Welcome to Metroblogging. Very nice post.

    Look forward to many more from you.

  2. SB (unregistered) on July 19th, 2007 @ 12:31 am

    Excellent post and very true. I met a whole lot of ‘background’ people like this during my last visit to Bombay. They are the backbone that keeps Bombay running.

  3. Selma Mirza (unregistered) on July 25th, 2007 @ 10:44 pm

    Finally. A post that I read completely after a long time. Nice to have you here! Beautiful post. Very Mumbai!

  4. Manuela (unregistered) on August 20th, 2007 @ 5:18 pm

    Really great article. That is the reason why this city fastinate everz day new.

  5. Chetan Mota (unregistered) on August 22nd, 2007 @ 4:48 am

    Really well written post !

    Good Job IdeaSmith !
    you make me miss Mumbai very much.

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