Palanisamy (52), Scrap collector
I am from Tirukovilur near Kallakurichi. From there, I had come to Chennai about 30 years ago looking for a job to support my family. The first job was that of a construction worker, which I did for about 10 years. During that time, life used to be very difficult; those days, it would take 12-18 hours to earn Rs 50 to 100 a day. After a decade, I decided to try something on my own. I raised some money as loan from various sources and bought this tricycle to collect scraps. I start by 8 am and work till 7 pm. I usually go around Velachery and the nearby areas. It is only on the days when there is no business there that I go to other areas.
I can’t afford to take any holiday, as my family is dependent on the money I earn. As my son doesn’t have a regular job, I have to take care of the grandchildren as well. Even after working for about 11-12 hours a day, getting Rs 300 to 400 is a great deal. Certain days, I have returned home empty handed. We live in a rented house that is in a corner of Velachery. Half the money I earn goes to pay the rent. I came to the city from outside, but Chennai has been like a motherland for me, helping me take care of my family. I came to this city with lots of hopes, most of which has been fulfilled. I am happy about that. Though there are times when I had to face the ire of the moneylender now and then, I am satisfied with the money I earn. Because it comes solely through my honest hard work.