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AT THE THRESHOLD

A little boy stands on the threshold of a temporary building that serves as a crèche and mini school operated by an NGO. He is one among some 40 children, aged between one-and-a-half to around 6, who attend the crèche, learning the alphabet, numbers and simple rhymes among other essential life skills, while their parents are out working as daily-wage contract labourers at various construction sites across Bangalore.

In the boy’s hand is a bowl that he just washed after a wholesome mid-day-meal of fragrant pulao with spices, vegetables and nuts, with a side of curd — provided by yet another NGO.

That threshold took a whole new meaning when I learnt yesterday that there are an estimated 5,00,000 or so migrant workers in Bangalore who live in temporary labour camps across the city. I also learnt that they come from at least 13 states across India to find work, moving from camp to camp, place to place, city to city, living like nomads in temporary homes for the duration of their contracts at the construction sites… And not every one of them has a crèche like this.

The free meal made attending school worthwhile for this boy, for he would have neither proper lunch nor any schooling, if not for this crèche.

Marathahalli, October 2014

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