I am currently on holiday in India. During the stay with my parents, I realised how difficult is it now to get manual workers to handle certain jobs like harvesting of cocount, tamarind, pepper etc. My parents complained and I realized myself how difficult it was to get a manual labour now in Kerala. A guy came to pluck tamarind and pepper, after several calls and pleadings. He arrived at 11:00 am and did finish the job with the tamarind trees by around 2:00 pm and then had lunch and then looked at the pending jobs and said, I will come tomorrow. Now, I am tired. My mother asked him, what is your rate. He said Rs 700/-. No choice and no talks – we paid. Next day, he never turned up!.
Meeting friends and family, I reached Ernakulam. Even there the conversation lead from one to another and then to the exodus of workers from Bengal. Although many of them say that they are from West Bengal, looking at them, I believe they are migrants from Bangladesh. They are now the reliable source of manpower for physical labour in Kerala and many other states.
Our conversation went on and on and it was dusk time. We were sitting outside the home and suddenly I had a whistling sound and it was solitary first and then it became like an orchestra starting to perform. In a minute, I had to rush inside the home.
That was the arrival of the only punctual set of activists now in Kerala. The mosquitoes!. My cousin told me, they are the only group who are punctual now. They arrive sharp at 5:30 pm or maximum 6:00 pm. They are there to stay, whoever rules and whatever changes brought in!.
A Cochin without mosquitoes is unimaginable!.
Ramesh Menon, Abu Dhabi
26 January 2016.