Monday, April 25, 2016

People Migrate For a “Better Life”


Whenever I ask my people who have migrated abroad why they migrated to a new country – they always say: ‘We migrated for a Better Life”...’ 

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

During my visit to New Zealand a few months ago – 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.

Conversation with a Taxi Driver in New Zealand

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…” he said, “I came here more than 20 years ago.”

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

“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 have settled down here – and 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 know, Sir – what is the status of taxi drivers back there – but here – there is ‘dignity of labour’ – all types of jobs are respected equally – and even financially – you can earn a decent amount of money…” he said.

“Yes – I saw that everywhere – irrespective of the job they are doing – everyone seems to have self-esteem and are 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.


“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…” he said, “Sir – over there – you have to save money for your old age – especially for medical treatment in your old age if you fall ill – but here – you don’t have to save anything – since everything is looked after…”

“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 than what we would have had 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 arrived at 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 going there 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.

Copyright © Vikram Karve 
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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)

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:

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