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Lahore: Migrants' experience living away from home

LIVING in a metropolitan city means continuous struggle, which often leave tears in the eyes of migrants of small towns who dare not bring their families to the provincial capital due to high house rent, lack of job opportunities, rising inflation and a tense life.

Many people refer to the provincial capital as a magnet since it lures countless daring outsiders. A great number of newcomers eventually realize that Lahore is not as easy and friendly as they once thought. Therefore, some people decide to travel to the city alone, instead of bringing their families with them, to look for jobs and business opportunities.

After weeks, months and sometimes years, some of these people succeeded in getting a good life while many thought that they have wasted so many years during which they gained nothing.

Maqsood, 46, a roadside vendor specializing in making bamboo craft, is one of those who can not dare to bring their families to the city due to lack of resources. I have been in the business of making bamboo crafts for the past seven years, he said. He said he belonged to Patoki where his wife and two daughters wait for him.

While most residents of Lahore are in their homes enjoying a nice sunny Sunday, Maqsood was spending a busy day knitting thin bamboo sticks to give them the shape of hand fan, a purely domestic type of fan, which people use during outages.

Sitting along the main Faisal Town road, Maqsood said he came to the provincial capital some 25 years ago and started his career as a mason. However, after some years he found it pretty hard to earn enough for him as well as his family after which he joined a bamboo craftsman to learn the art. After five years of working as a trainee, I started my own business, he said and maintained that due to lack of resources he failed to establish any shop in the city and was running his business on city roads.

Answering a question about his daily income, he said it depends on weather as well as the buying capacity of his customers. A decorative fan or bamboo craft, which he sells at Rs 100, was available at a branded shop for over Rs 300. He said discrimination in price was because he was sitting at the roadside due to which the customers did not give him much price. He said he was unable to expand his business due to lack of resources.

No politician cares for the poor,” he commented while answering a question about the change of government in Punjab. He said making bamboo crafts was an art but no government tried to give it the status of a cottage industry. All politicians get heavy loans from banks while I can not even dream of borrowing even a little amount,” he said.

When someone occupies a piece of government land or constructs a big plaza on it without giving parking, the LDA as well as the city government do not take any action, but when a poor man starts business along a road to earn bread and butter for his family, they call it encroachment and take strict action,” Maqsood said. Providing him a good life is the responsibility of state but instead of fulfilling its duties, the government is increasing miseries for poor,” he said. His bitter tone reflected his sufferings. “I am not interested in politics. What I want from the government is a tension-free life with equal opportunities, he said and again started working on a piece.

Source: The News

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