His name is Mohammed Firozalam. Pretty impressive name for a fellow who is about five feet tall and weighs ninety pounds at the most. He says he is 28 years old and came to Delhi from his village in Bihar at the age of eight. His parents stayed behind. He did odd jobs and saved money. After ten years he went back to his village. He said he made a house for his parents. I think he is talking about a hut. Anyways, later on he got married and now has two children, one son and a daughter, ages five and three. He goes back to his village, to his wife and kids, about three times a year. There he works on farms. In Delhi he makes about Rs. 300 a day. He sends most of this to his wife.
By this time we had reached our destination. His fare was forty rupees. I took a photograph of him and gave him a hundred rupee bill. He made no attempt to give me change. I told him to keep the change and he left with a big grin on his face.
hummm.... was that a good story or what? Well, there is skeptic in me, who says trust no one. Let me see, there was this fellow on my last big trip to India, who was our guide. He was telling Brian that on weekends he goes to tribal village and takes gifts for the local poor people. He also said he had a masters degree in Mathematics. Made me a little suspicious. Why would a person with masters in math work as a tour guide. There is a shortage of math and science teachers in India. There is no custom of city people going to tribal villages taking gifts with them. The story was a hoax. He had tried different stories on tourists and came up with the one that allowed him to take money from the tourists to give to tribal poor people.
I need to check out the story of my rickshawallas. Next time I will ask two or three other rickshawallas the same questions. If they all give me the same story, then I will know.
P.S. I tried another Rickshaw today. The guy was in his forties/fifties. He was a farmer from Bihar. He came here two years back. No other heroics from this one. Okay Mohammed may be legit. But the skeptic in me is not convinced yet. I have to catch rickshaws two more times even if I do not need them. So I can get stories from two others.
P.S. Well today I talked to two other rickshawallas. They had very different stories. So I guess Mohammed Firosalam is legit. My skeptic side has to accept him.
For more photos of other Rickshawallas click here