Friday, May 12, 2017

Kiwi Indians – “Better Life” Migration – A Story

This morning I read a news story in the Indian Weekender  – a weekly news-magazine for “Kiwi-Indians” (Indian Migrants settled in New Zealand). 

The current issue of Indian Weekender has a story on Migrant Taxi Drivers 

This story reminded me of a story about a Conversation with a Taxi Driver in New Zealand that I had written in January 2016 after returning from my first visit to New Zealand. 

Here is the story...

WHY DO PEOPLE MIGRATE...?

Whenever I ask my people who have migrated abroad:

“Why did you migrate away from India to a new country...? 

the “migrants always say: 

We migrated for a Better Life”...

I did not exactly understand what they really meant by Better Life”.

During my 2 visits to New Zealand in 2015/2016 – I met some people who had migrated to New Zealand for a Better Life”.

And – after talking to them – I began to understand a bit – though not very clearly.

But – it was after this conversation with the taxi driver in Auckland – that the meaning of Better Life” became crystal clear to me.

BETTER LIFE
Conversation with a Taxi Driver in New Zealand
By
VIKRAM KARVE

The taxi arrived on the dot at 6:30 AM – as booked.

We checked out of our hotel in Parnell Auckland – and soon – we were on our way to Auckland International Airport to catch the flight to Seoul – the first leg of our return journey to India.

We had left Pune on the evening of the 21st of December 2015 – to catch our flight which took off from Mumbai in the wee hours of the 22nd of December – and now – it was the 8th of January 2016 – our 18 days in New Zealand had passed in a jiffy – one of the most enjoyable periods of our life.

Like all Taxi Drivers – our taxi driver was smartly dressed – navy blue trousers, white shirt and light blue tie.

He was tall and fair – but looked of Indian descent.

The taxi driver said “good morning” – and helped us with our luggage.

“If you don’t mind – we will drop off our daughter on the way at Epsom,” I said to the taxi driver.

“Sure, Sir,” he said.

We dropped off our daughter near her lodgings at Epsom – a 3 minute drive from our hotel – and continued on our way to the Airport 20 kilometres away.

“Are you from India, Sir…” the taxi driver asked.

“Yes…” I said.

“Is this your first visit to New Zealand…?” the taxi driver asked me.

“Yes…” I said.

“You came to meet your daughter…?” he said.

“Yes – and we did a bit of sightseeing too – all over the South Island – and around Auckland…” I said.

Suddenly – it started raining heavily.

“The weather is very fickle over here,” I said, “one day it is sunny and hot – and the next day it gets rainy and cold.”

“Sir – they say that in New Zealand – you sometimes get all the 4 seasons in one day…” he said.

“Are you also from India…?” my wife asked the taxi driver.

“I am from Lahore – but now – I am a citizen of New Zealand for many years. I came here more than 20 years ago...” he said. 

“Why did you migrate to New Zealand…?” I asked.

“I migrated to New Zealand for the sake of my children – I wanted them to get good education and have a Better Life…” he said.

“So you came here for a Better Life…?” I asked.

“Yes – I am happy I came here – my children got the best education free of cost – now - they have got good jobs – and both my children have settled down here – yes – for me and my family – I really have achieved a Better Life here in New Zealand – than what I would have got back home…” he said.

“That’s good…” I said.

“You must be knowing, Sir – what is the status of Taxi Drivers back there in India – but over here in New Zealand – there is dignity of labour – here  all types of jobs are respected equally – and even financially – you can earn a decent amount of money in whatever work you do – since the minimum wage is good – more than 15 dollars an hour…” he said.

“Yes – I saw that everywhere – irrespective of the job they are doing – everyone seems to have self-esteem – and everyone is well-mannered, polished and educated…” I said.

“Sir – over there – you have to worry about your old age – but here – in New Zealand – once you become a citizen – you get all sorts of social security schemes and welfare allowances – unemployment benefit if you lose your job – they even pay your rent, if required – a superannuation pension – and all your needs are looked after by the government till you die…” he said.

“Really…?”

“Sir – back home – healthcare for old age is a big issue – but here – you get top-class healthcare totally free – just last year – my wife had a knee replacement operation – and I did not spend a single penny – in fact – they even provided a wheelchair and special bed at my home for her period of convalescence – totally free of cost. Sir – over there – in India  you have to save money for your old age – especially for medical treatment in your old age if you fall ill – but over here – in New Zealand – you don’t have to save any money for old age – since everything is looked after…” he said.

“So you are very happy that you migrated to New Zealand for a better life…” I said.

“Yes – we are really having a much Better Life over here in New Zealand than what we would have had back home over there – especially my children…” he said.

“Don’t you miss your roots…?” I asked.

“20 years ago – when I first came – I did miss my original country – and I used to visit once in 2 years – but now – New Zealand is my country – and our children are settled over here – there is nothing left back there for me now – so I hardly visit Lahore – in fact – I have not gone for the last 5 years…” he said.

The taxi had reached the Airport – and  I bid goodbye to the taxi driver.

Earlier – when people who were migrating abroad to foreign countries would say that – they were migrating abroad for a “Better Life – I did not exactly understand what they really meant.

But now – after the conversation with the Taxi Driver in Auckland – the meaning of “Better Life was crystal clear.

VIKRAM KARVE
Copyright © Vikram Karve 
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Disclaimer:
1. This story is a fictional spoof, satire, pure fiction, just for fun and humor, no offence is meant to anyone, so take it with a pinch of salt and have a laugh. 
2. This story is a work of fiction.  Events, Places, Settings and Incidents narrated in the story are a figment of my imagination. The characters do not exist and are purely imaginary. Any resemblance to persons, living or dead, is purely coincidental.

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Copyright © Vikram Karve (All Rights Reserved)

Copyright © Vikram Karve (all rights reserved)

Revised Re-post of my story A BETTER LIFE posted by me Vikram Karve online earlier in my Academic and Creative Writing Journal Blog on 11 January 2016 at url: http://karvediat.blogspot.in/2016/01/a-better-life-conversation-with-taxi.html  and revised and reposted at url: http://karvediat.blogspot.in/2016/04/people-migrate-for-better-life.html  and http://karvediat.blogspot.in/2016/07/why-do-people-migrate-conversation-with.html
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