I came to Pune at the age of 13. I started with Gore sir in Heerabagh and slowly graduated to the WIE Sports complex. Since then it’s been my second home. It’s the place where I work very hard and relentlessly towards achieving my personal goals. Though complex could never be complex without the staff which has been working here since 1982 when it was built. This story is about one of the staff member who has been here since 1984 and has been synonymous with this place. Be it a tournament, the net falling down or wiping of the courts,or getting chai the first name that comes to mind is ‘Shinde kaka’. If he is not around ,complex does feel a little weird. The following is his life in his own words. I loved to hear it first hand.
” I come from a small village called Patas. I did my schooling there only. Though just like every village in India I had to help my family in the farms,we were never asked if we wanted to or not. It was just taken for granted. Though I had my parents I was really raised by my elder cousin brother. I dont really have many memories from my childhood. I dont know where it went by. I guess I was just too busy farming. After I grew a little older I joined the forest department. I was just too tired farming I could just not make a decent living with it. Forest department as I figured out later was as bad too. They would just not pay us. It was a every day struggle to get food on the table. I had heard a lot about city life and I decided that I am going to get myself a better living.”
“I was working in the farm and was in my usual avatar. I was covered with mud all over my body and one could hardly see my face, thats when my would be wife’s big brother came upto me and asked if I would marry his sister? I told him on his face,” Whatever is there is right in front of you,I have nothing more if she is ok with it I will marry her”. Before I knew it my marriage was fixed. I ,neither she had seen each other not even in a photo. We didnt have a choice like now-a-days. I dont really remember my marriage day it happened so quickly. Dont look at me like that I will tell you why. My elder brother had decided to conduct his sister’s marriage on the same mandap as mine. I was the only karta-dharta so I had to run around everywhere to see that everything was in place. I was so busy attending to the other marriage that my wives relatives had to confirm again if I was going to get married today. Before I knew it in 45mins I was a married man. I think my marriage was a good omen it gave me that final push to come and risk it in the city for my family’s future.”
Comes to Pune:
“I came to pune in 1984 and stayed with my cousin Haribhakta(who also works in the complex) for the first few months. He was the one who got me to complex and landed me in this job. At that time the manger was Mr.Dabeer and he immediately took me on board for a salary of Rs.250. I had come alone to Pune leaving my wife and children in Patas. Once I had settled down and got myself a kholi for Rs.50 a month I called them to pune. I have been leaving in that kholi for all these years. Ofcourse now the rent is Rs.4000 for a month, but it is ok my salary has come to Rs.9000 now so I can afford it. My kholi is in Warje and for the last 26 years I have been coming up and down on my cycle. It takes me around 45mins one way. It gets tiring now with me growing older but I can still manage.”
Memories of the complex:
“I have some really fond memories of complex I will tell you a few. There was this group of members who used to come to play. One day as I was doing my usual cleaning up I found this bag under a chair. I looked in to see and saw 10 grams of gold in it. I was worried. First thing I did was that I kept it in my cupboard in the complex and locked it to safety. For a week-ten days nobody came to claim it,then suddenly Mr.shetty mentioned it to me and I immediately got him that bag. It belonged to Mr.Punniya and he rewarded me with 100 bucks for my honesty. Another incident was when in the monsoons the electric meter caught fire and I and Dilip kaka(another staff member at the complex) risked our life to go and stop the fire. The WIE committee at that time gave us a certificate for our gesture and I still have it framed in my house.”
A good life:
“As I look back I have no regrets about the life I have lived. I have two sons whom I have got educated. One of them has done MBA and is working in a company. Another one is a hardware engineer and has a job too. When I came to Pune I didnt have a penny in my pocket, but today I think I am a successful father and hopefully a husband. In my early years and even today my wife has never questioned my decisions .She’s been with me like a shadow following me everywhere without a word. I am hoping that I have given her some happiness. I do feel guilty sometimes, in all my life we have never gone for a movie or a Marathi play. We have a small television at home which I never really watch, that’s the only source of entertainment for her. I just have my little transistor on which I listen to old Marathi, Hindi songs. What to do? I never felt I was missing anything. I was as happy with Rs.250 as I am with Rs.9000. I managed to live honorably then and do so even today. I did my work with as much honesty and sincerity as possible and will continue to do so till I live. Complex is my home away from home. I am just so grateful to all my bosses here that they just never gave up on me for all these years. I have my own identity today. People have respect for me here. That is all I have ever wanted.”
When I heard his story the simplicity of it absolutely amazed me. In today’s world with cut throat competition, with rising economies, with Blackberrys and Iphones, it’s important to know that there are people living these simple lives untouched by it all. It is important to know that ultimately every person is striving to be happy, to be satisfied and money no matter what day and age will never be able to buy it. It will and will always come down to one simple thing karma and the values with which you choose to live by. The rules to happiness will always be the same be it Shinde Kaka who earns Rs.9000 or a software engineer earning Rs.9 lakhs a month. The most important question will always remain not what you have achieved but always how you chose to achieve it?