He is 23 years old. His parents died when he was very young. At the age of 12 he left school, worked for a bakery, later he learned how to repair air conditioners before he started his career as Riksha driver – with a rented Riksha. He lives with the aunt. “She is strong. She can not support me that much, but she wants me to stay at home, every evening, for dinner and for sleep. She is very busy and she can just survive with the money she gains. Offering me the chance to support further school or professional education? No, she can’t. Every day she works in the factory, sugar can, this is hard work” he explains.
I met him because a friend of mine gave me his contacts. “When you go to Hampi, give him a call. He will show you everything you want to see. You can trust him. And – he is very special. Everyone knows him as “the coffeeboy” in Hospet. He has his own branding. ” In Hospet city there is the railway station, not very far away from the famous Hampi area.
When I arrive in the early morning with the night train, he is already waiting. “Packe mer’s”, a Bavarian way to say , let’s go and see. I’m surprised. He knows a lot of German words and sentences. His spoken English is very well. Good pronunciation and a large vocabulary with correct grammar. He knows even some basics in Spanish, Italian and Chinese. When I asked him where he learned it from, he says: “From the tourists – and I watch action movies in foreign languages.” At the next corner he asks me how to say “street breaker” in German. It will not be his last question during the hours we spend together. I realize how ambitious he is in learning more.
His big dream would have been to study languages, Spanish more than every other language. One day I will go and visit Spain.
At the front window there is name, Bartie. When I ask him, what this name means, he shows me proudly his arm with a tattoo, Bartie is written there. “Bartie is the name of a Dutch fifty-six years old woman. She is the best. In 2009, she enabled me to have a better start into life and to get my own Riksha. This is the dream of many young men like me. She gave me 500 EUR and told me to go to a bank for getting a loan. 2500 EUR. This is the sum I needed to buy my own second hand Riksha. This was the best day of my life. I wanted to pay her back. But she refused. She is not really rich. She gave me what she could. But it was enough. Without any savings you do not get any loan here in India. You rent the Riksha, you work many hours, but it will never be enough to put enough money together to buy your own. So, it is an eternal circle. With the money from her I could repay all within three years.”
“Then,” he adds, “a year later she came back, and in 2014 again. She was very surprised to see her name on my Riksha. But if, one day, I can make it and go to Europe, the first thing will be to visit her. That’s for sure.”
He has plans. As he has no official language certificates, it will be difficult to find a job as a guide or trainer. “I do want to achieve everything in the right way. Not illegally. My next idea? Earning enough money to open a small, nice restaurant in Hampi… “
I do not know whether one day I will come back here, however if you go to Hospet/Hampi ask for the Coffeeboy and enjoy your stay. And let me know if he has realized one of his dreams. I think he could make it.
And he is a really good alternative to a traditional guide – if you want to know Hampi and sourroundings, the monkeyland, the temples, the Hippie Hampi island and the birthplace of Hunaman, the monkey God. For a fair price and a good stay.