Dharmender Kumar

Life in Delhi, originally uploaded by shelmes.

I often get questions from the states about living with drivers and maids. The idea that you can have this sort of help is overwhelming for some folks to understand. I'm told how lucky I am, how "good" I have it. And the truth is, it is a luxury - but you can never forget that they are people who go home to their families.

This is our driver / guy friday / super hero. Dharmender has been working for me since August, and I can't imagine navigating Delhi without him. He's our part-time translator, cultural advisor, driver, sometimes cook (he taught me to make a proper chai), friend and colleague.

We visited Pushkar over the weekend, and while Sally, her mother and I checked out the shops, he headed down to the ghats to pray.

Pushkar is one of the most holy cities in India. It is believed that a swan released by the gods dropped a lotus to the ground at the site of Pushkar. The city sits on the edge of a lake & has 52 ghats where devout hindu's bathe in the lakes sacred water. Pushkar also has one of the only temples (or only temple - depending on who you believe) for Brahma - the God of creation.

We ran into Kumar on the main bazaar - He was returning from the Ghats and on his way to visit the Brahma temple. He had just bought fresh bananas and offered some of them to Sally & I. We accepted, I snapped this photo of him, and he was on his way.

Kumar has a wife, and three daughters. Each of them attends private school while he works as our driver & his wife makes handicrafts with an NGO. He's teaching his children English, and brings our old magazines home as study materials. He asks me to teach him new english words & in return he corrects my broken Hindi. "As tea goes in milk, milk goes in tea" - he says.

Dharmender is one of the many people that make India special to us. People like Kumar are often overlooked in the hustle and bustle of India - but they are the ones that I'm sure I'll remember most.


Dreaming Gardner said...

you are lucky to have found someone genuine and trustworthy. in all our experience of renting taxis here, after over 6 months, i just stumbled upon a trustworthy driver.
and the cleaning lady, forget it...her daughters are not in school as she told me when we first hired her, but are all put to work including her 7 and 12 year olds. sad and infuriating all at the same time.