Laal Saha is 48 years old and belongs to Barauni in Uttar Pradesh. For the past 25 years, he has been staying in Shillong. He does three different jobs a day to sustain his family in the hilltop town of Meghalaya. He has a wife and two kids who stay in Shillong with him. The whole family helps out with work. Basically, the family owns a cosmetics shop where his wife sits and manages everything through the day.
In the morning, Saha opens a breakfast stall near Police Bazaar area in Shillong where he serves simple Indian breakfast to people. By 11 am, he wraps up his breakfast stall and works as a caretaker in a garment shop in Police Bazaar.
He is really hardworking and doesn’t complain about anything as he understands that life is hard but he has to be tough. A good-hearted person, he makes hot puris and serves red chai which contains no milk but different spices like cloves and cardamom.
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How and when did you start your profession?
“Initially 25 years ago, I came to this place looking for some work to do. I have always heard the market is really interesting and offers a variety of things and is always full for 12 months of the year. I decided to start a new chapter in my life in this town,” Saha said.
He has tried to do many things to survive in Shillong. He explained, “I got a job in a restaurant then worked in a grocery shop then worked as a labourer on a construction site. All these jobs were temporary things, I couldn’t see any stability in them. Later one day, I randomly asked for a job in a garment shop which is in the Police Bazaar area. Miraculously, I was hired as a caretaker in the shop. The owner told me, he loved my simplicity and that’s why he gave me a chance.”
Now it’s been more than 15 years that he has been working in the same garment shop. It’s trust and loyalty which kept it all together till now. Later, when Saha got some money, he started a shop of cosmetics where his wife now sits and manages everything. “My kids help her and I feel good seeing the whole family working together. When the business was in a loss, I had to start a breakfast stall to earn extra income,” he added.
How do you manage three jobs in one day?
“When the need for money is there, a person can do anything to survive in the world,” he said with a smile. He added, “It was the need to nurture my kid’s education and make them better people, so that they can tackle the world with their knowledge. For that, I don’t mind doing three jobs a day as long as my kids are doing their best. I’m sure they understand their father’s condition and study well. Both my kids are my power and my strength is my wife, which keeps me motivated. She is so hopeful that everything will be good. After looking at her confidence in me, I feel empowered.”
In short, Saha’s family is the reason why he does three jobs a day and works so much to survive. “I want a better life for them and I’m sure they’ll live a better life than what I had. Education is really important in this world, that’s why I believe my kids should have good knowledge of the world which will give them jobs, so that they don’t have to be bothered about their survival,” Saha said.
Has tourism affected your business in any way?
“Yes, tourism has helped me a lot. Every morning, when I setup my stall in the market for breakfast, I get tourists as customers to have food. By talking to them, I get to know where they are from and who all are visiting Shillong. I learn many things from people when I talk to them. Majorly, the place gets heavy tourism during summer and the rainfall. So these are the major months to get business here. Food is something people like to experience and Indian food has an amazing variety which gives freedom to people, to choose what to make and sell,” he said.
Did you observe any climatic change in Shillong over the years?
“Yes, the climate is constantly changing. Earlier, heavy monsoon use to be a problem but now the scenario has shifted from heavy rainfall to very less rainfall. It has also affected the animal and bird life here. The winters used to be very cold and harsh. Sometimes during December, it used to snow but now the scenario has really changed. Constantly, heat is increasing as is the temperature of the place. If this continues, it will affect the place very badly,” Saha ended.
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